And One Was Beautiful

And One Was Beautiful is a 1940 romantic drama film directed by Robert B. Sinclair and starring Robert Cummings, Laraine Day, and Jean Muir. It is based on the story of the same name by Alice Duer Miller. Two sisters are attracted to a rich playboy. One runs over and kills a man, and lets the playboy take the blame.[2][3]

And One Was Beautiful
Film poster
Directed byRobert B. Sinclair
Produced byFrederick Stephani
Written byHarry Clork
Kathryn Scola (uncredited)
Based onnovel by Alice Duer Miller
StarringRobert Cummings
Laraine Day
Jean Muir
Music byDaniele Amfitheatrof
CinematographyRay June
Edited byConrad A. Nervig
Distributed byLoew's Inc[1]
Release date
  • April 5, 1940 (1940-04-05)
Running time
68-70 minutes
CountryUnited States


Glamorous socialite Helen Lattimer (Jean Muir) is reaching for the top of society, while her younger sister Kate (Laraine Day) is perfectly content as she is.

Helen is very determined not to go to a seemingly dull party, so she sends Kate instead. At the party, Kate meets playboy Ridley Crane (Robert Cummings). They hit it off and spend the evening talking about cars. Kate is instantly smitten by Ridley, but he is more interested in her beautiful and more glamorous sister.

The night after, Ridley gets drunk at a road house and passes out. Helen decides to drive him home in his sports car, but she is not used to the roadster manual shift gear and hits and kills a bicyclist. Helen runs away, leaving Ridley behind in the car. Ridley is arrested and charged with manslaughter.

When Helen returns home very upset, Kate suspects that there is something wrong. Helen has stains on her driving gloves and she immediately starts burying a small package in the garden. Kate digs up the package, which contains her sister’s shoe with a missing heel. Kate knows that a heel was found in Ridley’s car, but when she confronts her sister, Helen denies everything.

Kate goes on to tell Ridley about what she has found, but he decides to shield Helen and pleads guilty. The judge makes an example of him and sentences him to five to ten years in Sing Sing. Kate takes every opportunity to remind her sister that she is responsible, driving Helen to marry a lawyer to escape the incessant accusations.

Kate visits Ridley as often as allowed. Ridley has arranged for the dead man's family to be financially secure, and Kate sees them regularly as well to make sure everything is alright. Kate eventually has them write letters to the governor asking for a pardon. It works. Meanwhile, Helen separates from a husband she finds excruciatingly boring. When Ridley is released from prison, she is eagerly waiting for him, assuming they will get married, but he proposes to Kate instead.



The film was based on a novel by Alice Duer Miller which was bought by MGM in October 1937.[4] The book was published in February 1938, the new York Times calling it "an exciting story of manslaughter".[5]

In November 1939 MGM announced that Maureen O'Sullivan would star, Frederick Stephani would produce and Kathryn Scola was writing the screenplay.[6] Virginia Bruce was cast in January 1940.[7]

In February Laraine Day replaced Maureen O'Sullivan and Bob Cummings and Billie Burke joined the cast.[8] Filming took place from February to March 1940.[9]


The New York Times said it was "more prosaic than lyric."[10]


  1. And One Was Beautiful at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. And One was Beautiful Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 7, Iss. 73, (Jan 1, 1940): 89.
  3. And One was Beautiful Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 7, Iss. 73, (Jan 1, 1940): 89.
  4. NEWS OF THE SCREEN. New York Times 29 Oct 1937: 19.
  5. Lighter Fiction: AND ONE WAS BEAUTIFUL. By Alice Duer Miller. 239 pp. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co. $2. By CHARLOTTE DEAN. New York Times ]27 Feb 1938: 104.
  6. DRAMA: Maureen O'Sullivan Wins Lead at M.G.M. Comedy Role Los Angeles Times 9 Nov 1939: A10.
  7. SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD New York Times ]27 Jan 1940: 13.
  8. By DOUGLAS W CHURCHILL (1940, Feb 07). NEWS OF THE SCREEN. New York Times
  9. "United States Court of Appeals For the Ninth Circuit - Cummings vs Universal 1944". Internet Archive. p. 565.
  10. THE SCREEN New York Times 11 Apr 1940: 35.
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