Easy Living (1949 film)

Easy Living is a 1949 American drama film directed by Jacques Tourneur, starring Victor Mature, Lizabeth Scott and Lucille Ball.[1] The film features the real-life Los Angeles Rams football team.

Easy Living
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJacques Tourneur
Produced byRobert Sparks
Written byCharles Schnee
Based onstory Education of the Heart by Irwin Shaw
StarringVictor Mature
Lucille Ball
Lizabeth Scott
Music byRoy Webb
CinematographyHarry J. Wild
Edited byFrederic Knudtson
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • October 8, 1949 (1949-10-08)
Running time
77 minutes
CountryUnited States


Star professional quarterback Pete Wilson (Victor Mature) thinks nothing of his future after football, not even after longtime teammate Bill "Holly" Holloran (Gordon Jones) is released by the team. Pete gets advance after advance on his salary from Anne (Lucille Ball), the secretary of team owner and coach Lenahan (Lloyd Nolan).

One day, however, he goes secretly to see a doctor (Jim Backus) about various symptoms he has been experiencing and learns that he has a heart condition due to a childhood bout of rheumatic fever, one that could kill him if he continues playing football. He starts to tell his wife Liza (Lizabeth Scott), but changes his mind when she is cool to Holly, whom she describes as a has-been after he is gone.

Liza is struggling to make her own interior design business a success, and drags Pete to a fancy party to try to land Gilbert Vollmer as a client. Gilbert knows she has no talent, but is interested in her for other reasons. So is his father, Howard (Art Baker). The older man is looking to replace his young girlfriend, Billy Duane, and dangles before Liza the prospect of redecorating his apartment. Knowing what he is after, Liza is willing to do whatever it takes to further her ambitions.

Meanwhile, Pete is bitterly disappointed when his friend, retiring college head coach Virgil Ryan (Everett Glass), informs him that he cannot recommend him as his replacement because Liza is unsuitable for the duties of a coach's wife. Instead, the job is given to Pete's teammate and friend, Tim "Pappy" McCarr (Sonny Tufts). Tim offers Pete the position of his assistant, but Pete turns it down.

Afraid of physical contact, Pete turns in a very poor performance and loses the next game. Lenahan cannot afford another loss if he wants to make the playoffs (and earn $100,000), so he benches Pete in favor of Tim. Tim plays well, and they win their next game.

When Pete proposes taking the assistant coaching position, Liza breaks up with him. However, when she gets dumped by Howard, she tries unsuccessfully to get Pete back. Pete is given another chance at glory when Tim is injured, but ultimately tells his teammates about his condition and walks away from the game. Though Anne has made it clear that she loves him, Pete decides to take Liza back, making it clear, however, that it will be on his terms.




The film was based on a screen story by Irwin Shaw, Education of the Heart. RKO purchased it in April 1946. In June Robert Sparks was assigned the job of producing and Charles Schnee the job of writing the screenplay.[2]

In May 1948 the title was changed to Interference.[3]


In May 1948 RKO announced Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum would play the leads.[4] Neither ended up in the final film.

Victor Mature was under contract to 20th Century Fox but had an obligation to make a movie at RKO which dated from before the war. He was announced for Battleground and Mr Whiskers before eventually being cast in Interference in June 1948. On the same day this was confirmed he was also announced for the lead in Samson and Delilah, which would be filmed after Interference.[5] (He would end up playing Mr Whiskas which became Gambling House.)

In June Jacques Tourneur was assigned to direct. Other key roles went to Sonny Tufts, Lucille Ball and Lizabeth Scott.[6]


There was a great deal of turbulence at RKO at the time due to the fact that Howard Hughes had bought the studio and head of production Dore Schary had resigned. Films such as Battleground, Bed of Roses and Setup were cancelled. However Interference went ahead started July 12, 1948.[7][8]

Tourneur called the film "a hard one" for him because he had no interest in football. He later said it was "a very bad film."[9]

The film was originally meant to end with Mature's character leaving his wife for Ball. However it was rewritten during filming so Mature stayed with his wife.[10]


The film was not released until October 1949, by which time its title had been changed to Easy Living. The delayed release meant it could cash in on the publicity for Samson and Delilah, which came out in December.[11]


The New York Times critic gave the film a favorable review, writing that while it "doesn't have the searing candor and impact of some of its predecessors, neither is it a conventional rah-rah cream puff. For Charles Schnee has written a bright, well-knit adaptation of an Irwin Shaw short story, a capable cast has given it the works and the off-screen coaching of the director, Jacques Tourneur, is as crisp and telling as the late Knute Rockne's."[12]

The Los Angeles called it "moody cinema".[13]

Box office

The film recorded a financial loss of $625,000.[14]


In November 1949 screenwriters John Stone and Frederick Bond claimed Easy Living was based on their story Never Say Die which they submitted to RKO in 1947. They sued RKO, RKO's story editor and Shaw for $150,000 in damages.[15]


  1. "New York Times: Easy Living". NY Times. Retrieved July 19, 2008.
  2. Melvyn Douglas Will Star for RKO is 'Pittsburgh Escapade' -- Barbara Bel Geddes in Cast By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES June 18, 1947: 31.
  3. KELLY, SINATRA SET FOR BASEBALL FILM: They Will Appear in Musical Comedy, 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game,' at Metro By THOMAS F. BRADYS New York Times May 18, 1948: 26
  4. Looking at Hollywood Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune May 1, 1948: 14.
  5. THOMAS F BRADY (June 12, 1948). "TWO MOVIE LEADS TO VICTOR MATURE: He Will Co-Star With Lamarr in 'Samson and Delilah,' Be Seen in 'Interference'". New York Times. p. 9.
  6. LEADS IN FOX FILM TO HARRISON, CRAIN: Actor and Actress Will Appear in Screen Version of Book by John Mason Brown By THOMAS F. BRADY New York Times June 5, 1948: 9.
  7. Schallert, Edwin (June 30, 1948). "Tufts in 'Interference;' Foster 'Big Cat' Star". Los Angeles Times. p. 19.
  8. Article 1 -- No Title The Christian Science Monitor June 17, 1948: 5.
  9. Fujiwara p 158
  10. Fujiwara p 159
  11. "Of Local Origin". New York Times. August 5, 1949. p. 23.
  12. H. H. T. (October 13, 1949). "At Loew's Criterion". The New York Times.
  13. Easy Living' Has Football Background Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times September 5, 1949: A3.
  14. Richard B. Jewell, Slow Fade to Black: The Decline of RKO Radio Pictures, Uni of California, 2016
  15. BEFORE THE COURT: Lawsuits in Hollywood Crowd Week's News to Tune of Claims in Millions By THOMAS F. BRADYHOLLYWOOD. New York Times November 27, 1949: X5.


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