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Anthony Adverse

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
Written by Hervey Allen
Sheridan Gibney
Milton Krims (screenplay)
Starring Fredric March
Olivia de Havilland
Donald Woods
Anita Louise
Claude Rains
Louis Hayward
Gale Sondergaard
Steffi Duna
Akim Tamiroff
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Cinematography Tony Gaudio
Editing by Ralph Dawson
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) Los Angeles:
July 29, 1936 (1936-07-29)
General release:
August 29, 1936 (1936-08-29)
Running time 141 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Anthony Adverse is a 1936 American drama film directed by Mervyn LeRoy. The screenplay by Sheridan Gibney is based on the sprawling 1,224-page novel of the same title by Hervey Allen. Neither Michael Curtiz, who assisted with the direction, nor Milton Krims, who contributed to the script, received on-screen credit for their work.



The plot of the epic costume drama follows the globe-trotting adventures of the title character, the illegitimate offspring of Maria Bonnyfeather, the wife of the cruel and devious middle-aged nobleman Marquis Don Luis, and Denis Moore. When he learns of his wife's affair, Don Luis challenges her lover to a duel. Denis is killed, and shortly thereafter Maria dies in childbirth. Don Luis leaves the infant at a convent, where the nuns christen him Anthony, and lies to wealthy merchant John Bonnyfeather, Maria's father, telling him that the infant is also dead. Ten years later, completely by coincidence, the child is apprenticed to Bonnyfeather, his real grandfather, who discovers his relationship to the boy but keeps it a secret from him. He gives the boy the surname Adverse in acknowledgement of the difficult life he has led.

As an adult, Anthony falls in love with Angela Giuseppe, the cook's daughter, and the couple weds. Soon after the ceremony, Anthony departs for Havana to save Bonnyfeather's fortune. The note Angela leaves Anthony is blown away and he is unaware that she has gone to another city. Instead, assuming he has abandoned her, she pursues a career as an opera singer. Anthony leaves Cuba for Africa, where he becomes corrupted by his involvement with the slave trade. He is redeemed by his friendship with Brother François, and following the friar's death he returns to Italy to find Bonnyfeather has died and his housekeeper, Faith Paleologus (now married to Don Luis), will inherit the man's estate fortune unless Anthony goes to Paris to claim his inheritance.

In Paris, Anthony is reunited with his friend, prominent banker Vincent Nolte, whom he saves from bankruptcy by giving him his fortune. Through the intercession of impressario Debrulle, Anthony finds Angela and discovers she bore him a son. She fails to reveal she is Mlle. Georges, a famous opera star and the mistress of Napoleon Bonaparte. When Anthony learns her secret, he departs for America with his son in search of a better life.

Principal cast

Principal production credits

Awards and nominations

Critical reception

In his review in the New York Times, Frank S. Nugent described the film as "a bulky, rambling and indecisive photoplay which has not merely taken liberties with the letter of the original but with its spirit . . . For all its sprawling length, [the novel] was cohesive and well rounded. Most of its picaresque quality has been lost in the screen version; its philosophy is vague, its characterization blurred and its story so loosely knit and episodic that its telling seems interminable." [1]

The film was named one of the National Board of Review's Top Ten pictures of the year and ranked eighth in the Film Daily critics' poll [2].

Historian Bob Packett recommended this film in January 2008 for its scene in which a smaller vessel defeats a larger one through exploitation of the tactics of war at sea.

In culture

The initial theme of the second movement of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's violin concerto was drawn from the music he composed for this film.


External links



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