Gypsy Wildcat

Gypsy Wildcat is a 1944 Technicolor adventure film directed by Roy William Neil starring Maria Montez, Jon Hall and Peter Coe.[2] It was co-written by James M. Cain.

Gypsy Wildcat
Original film poster
Directed byRoy William Neil
Produced byGeorge Waggner
Screenplay byJames P. Hogan
Gene Lewis
James M. Cain
Story byJames P. Hogan
Ralph Stock
StarringMaria Montez
Jon Hall
Peter Coe
CinematographyW. Howard Greene
George Robinson
Edited byRussell F. Schoengarth
Universal Pictures
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • August 2, 1944 (1944-08-02) (United States)
Running time
77 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office2,426,447 admissions (France)[1]


A king's messenger (Jon Hall) protects a Gypsy dancer (Maria Montez) from a wicked baron who knows her secret.



After the success of Arabian Nights Universal requested a series of films starring Montez, Hall and Sabu. It was followed by White Savage and Cobra Woman. The studio then requested three more, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, a gypsy tale, Zorya, and a tale of the modernisation of Turkey.[3][4]

James Hogan was signed to write and direct Zorya which became Gypsy Girl then Gypsy Wildcat.[5] He fell ill so he was replaced by Roy William Neill.[6]

James M Cain was hired to work on the dialogue.[7] He later said he agreed to do it because Universal guaranteed him two weeks work. They showed him a Maria Montez film "so I would know what kind of a creature I was writing for," he said years later. "Well, when she came on screen, I suddenly realized that I knew this girl personally. Her voice and every gesture were completely familiar to me. But I have yet to figure out where I met this girl. I think she must have checked hats some place in Hollywood."[8]

Cain said he took and script "worked on it day and night, got order into the story and simplified it. I turned in the script and thought, "I've done something that makes sense"." When he left the studio, he walked past the office of producer George Waggner to say thanks and saw him rewriting the script. Cain said he was sorry the producer did not like it. Waggner said he was "delighted with what" Cain had done but said Montez "couldn't play your dialogue. It has to be translated into the kind of baby talk she can handle... I'm pinching myself for the wonderful thing you've done with this bad dream I threw at you. Now I can put this thing in front of a camera."[8]

Cain said the script "was the beginning of a new phase of my picture career. After that I was a professional at the business; after that, I did all right" even though he did not have many credits.[8]

Filming started October 1943.[9]

The role of Tonio was meant to be played by Turhan Bey. However he was loaned at the last minute to MGM to play a role in Dragon Seed and was replaced by Peter Coe.[10] Coe was a former swimming champion, Acquacade performer and stage actor.[11] He later claimed that he and Montez had an affair.[12]

Neill reportedly was one of Maria Montez's few directors to not fight with her.[13]

"My other pictures were just corn", said Montez. "This one is more golden bantam. I'm tired of being a fairy tale princess all the time. In every picture I have royal blood. I told the studio I wanted to do something else. I thought everything was fixed when they put me in Gypsy Wildcat. But do you know what happens at the end of that picture? I turn out to be a countess."[14]

See also


  1. French box office of 1948 at Box Office Story
  2. Gypsy Wildcat at Maria Montez Fan Page
  3. "SCREEN AND STAGE". Los Angeles Times. 16 May 1943. p. C3.
  4. Telephone to THE NEW YORK TIMES. (5 May 1943). "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Joan Crawford Gets 6 Months' Leave of Absence From Metro After Casting Dispute TWO FILMS OPEN TODAY 'Next of Kin,' British Drama, at Rialto -- 'Johnny Doughboy' Will Be Seen at Palace". New York Times. p. 23.
  5. "Of Local Origin". New York Times. 9 June 1943. p. 17.
  6. Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. (29 Sep 1943). "SCREEN NEWS". New York Times. p. 19.
  7. Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. (11 Sep 1943). "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Helen Walker to Be Featured With Nils Asther in 'The Man in Half Moon Street' JEANNIE' ARRIVES TODAY Comedy Will Be at Carnegie -- Selznick Pays $125,000 for Rights to 'So Little Time'". New York Times. p. 11.
  8. TOUGH GUY Brunette, Peter; Peary, Gerald. Film Comment; New York Vol. 12, Iss. 3, (May/Jun 1976): 50-57,64.
  9. Schallert, Edwin (25 Sep 1943). "DRAMA AND FILM: Farley Granger Takes 'Purple Heart' Lead Multilingual Leo Carrillo Assigned as Romany Rye in Maria Montez Romance". Los Angeles Times. p. 7.
  10. Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. (2 Oct 1943). "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Turhan Bey, Czech Actor, Will Appear Opposite Katharine Hepburn in 'Dragon Seed'". New York Times. p. 19.
  11. Schallert, Edwin (4 Oct 1943). "DRAMA AND FILM: Sacrosanct Chaplin Studio Stage Invaded Long Hiatus in Lana Turner Career Approaching End; Coe Gets Bey Role". Los Angeles Times. p. A8.
  12. "Peter Coe Interview". Cult Movies Starbrite. p. 58.
  13. Schallert, Edwin (18 Dec 1943). "DRAMA AND FILM: 'Turnip's Blood' Looms as Wood's Next Picture Lugosi, Zucco Signed for Shiver Cinema; 'Sub Buster' Announced by Columbia". Los Angeles Times. p. 7.
  14. Mason, Jerry (12 Mar 1944). "FAIR AND SULTRY: Maria Montez has changed in the last year--she says...". Los Angeles Times. p. F15.
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