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The Senator Was Indiscreet

The Senator Was Indiscreet(1948)


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The film opens with the following written foreword: "Dedication: To every politician who has ever jeopardized a baby's health with unsanitary kisses, who has ever delivered a three-hour Fourth of July oration about himself and George Washington, who has ever promised peace, prosperity and triple movie features in exchange for a vote, this picture is not too humbly dedicated." Set decorator Ken Swartz's name was misspelled in the credits as "Schwartz." The Senator Was Indiscreet was the only motion picture ever directed by noted Broadway playwright-director George S. Kaufman. According to modern sources, Kaufman was so leery of the technical aspects of filmmaking, associate producer Gene Fowler, Jr. was put in charge of the mechanical portion of the production. Fowler said in interviews that he would give the "action" and "cut" directions, and that Kaufman did not even look at the actors as they performed, preferring to direct with his ears, rather than his eyes. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, Kaufman also planned to co-write the screenplay with Charles MacArthur, but only MacArthur received an onscreen writing credit. Myrna Loy, William Powell's co-star in numerous M-G-M films, including The Thin Man series, made an uncredited cameo appearence at the end of the film, as "Mrs. Melvin G. Ashton." This was the last film in which they appeared together. Powell received the 1947 New York Film Critics' award for Best Actor for his performances in this film and Warner Bros. Life with Father (see entry above).
       According to the film's pressbook, portions of the film were shot on location in New York City. The film company spent one week shooting at New York's Grand Central Station, where they were allowed to film only between the hours of one and six o'clock in the morning. Technical advisor Nina Lunn was a Washington, D.C. debutante and the granddaughter of Senator Wallace H. White of Maine. Hollywood Reporter production charts include Hester Sondergaard in the cast, but her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       According to information contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, a final shooting script for The Senator Was Indiscreet dated May 13, 1947, was rejected by the Breen Office for its "characterization of a United States Senator in such a derogatory and ridiculous manner." On June 10, 1947, Universal representatives argued with the Breen Office that the picture could be made in such a way as not to be "derogatory to the dignity of the United States Senate." On June 20, 1947, Joseph I. Breen met personally with Universal representatives, where he tried once again to convince the studio to "scrap" the film or change the character of Ashton from a United States Senator to a state governor. The Breen Office finally approved the project when William Gordon, director of public relations at Universal, agreed to personally check the script for any problems. Hollywood Reporter and New York Times news items reported that Bank of America foreclosed on the picture in 1953, along with nine other independently produced films released by Universal between 1946 and 1948, after Inter-John and the other producers failed to repay their loans. Modern sources also state that The Senator Was Indiscreet was declared "traitorous and un-American" by noted anti-communist Senator Joseph McCarthy.