Saratoga Trunk

Saratoga Trunk is a 1945 American romantic drama film directed by Sam Wood and starring Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman, and Flora Robson. Written by Casey Robinson, and based on the novel Saratoga Trunk by Edna Ferber, the film is about a Texas gambler and a Creole daughter of an aristocratic family who work together to seek justice from a society that has rejected them.

Saratoga Trunk
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySam Wood
Produced byHal B. Wallis
Screenplay byCasey Robinson
Based onSaratoga Trunk
1941 novel
by Edna Ferber
Music by
CinematographyErnest Haller
Edited byRalph Dawson
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • November 21, 1945 (1945-11-21) (USA)
Running time
135 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$4,250,000 (US/ Canada rentals) [2][3] or $7,801,000 (worldwide)[1]


In 1875, Clio Dulaine, the illegitimate daughter of an aristocratic New Orleans French Creole father and a light-skinned Creole woman of color who was his placée, returns from Paris to her birthplace in Rampart Street to avenge her mother's mistreatment at the hands of her father's family, the Dulaines. Years ago, Clio's mother accidentally killed Dulaine when he tried to prevent her from committing suicide, and the scandalized Dulaines then exiled Clio and her mother to Paris. Clio is accompanied by her Haitian maid, Angelique, and her dwarf manservant, Cupidon.

After fixing up the rundown house in Rampart Street, Clio ventures out, hoping to encounter the Dulaines, now comprising her father's widow, the widow's mother, and the widow's daughter (and Clio's half-sister) Charlotte Thérèse. At the French marketplace, Clio stops for a bowl of jambalaya and is immediately attracted to Clint Maroon, a tall Texan in a white hat, who is eating at the counter. The attraction is mutual, and Clint offers to drive Clio to the cathedral in his carriage, but a disapproving Angelique interferes, and Clio leaves without him. After the service, Clio, Angelique, and Cupidon breakfast at Begue's, the restaurant patronized by the Dulaines every Sunday. Announcing to the maitre d' that she is a relative, Clio sits at the table reserved for the Dulaines, but when the Dulaines arrive, they recognize her by her resemblance to her mother and leave without a confrontation. Clint and Clio meet again at the restaurant, and afterward he drives her home.

Soon after, Clio and Clint begin a courtship. Eventually, Clint moves into Clio's house. Although they are in love with each other, Clio, who is obsessed with her plans for revenge, intends to marry a rich and powerful man to prove that she is as good as her father's family. Clint, a gambler, who never intends to marry, is out for revenge against the railroaders who ruined his father in Texas.

Clio continues to embarrass the Dulaines at every opportunity, planning, if necessary, to sabotage the society debut of her half-sister Charlotte Thérèse. Exasperated by Clio's unrelenting machinations, Clint leaves for Saratoga Springs, New York. As the result of Clio's scheming, the Dulaines pay her $10,000 and agree to destroy the Rampart Street house and bury her mother in a New Orleans cemetery. Later, Clio joins Clint in Saratoga Springs, where she plots to marry wealthy railroad heir Bartholomew Van Steed. Clio's arrival with Angelique and Cupidon causes quite a stir, and because the hotel is completely booked, Clint, who is now calling himself Colonel Maroon, offers Clio two of the rooms in his suite. Privately, he explains that Bart owns a railroad, the Saratoga Trunk, which is suddenly worth millions of dollars because it connects the coal country with New York.

Railroader Raymond Soule, the same man who ruined Clint's father, is trying to steal the railroad from Bart. Clio poses as the widow of a French count, a claim that many doubt until she is unexpectedly backed up by socialite Mrs. Coventry Bellop, who intensely dislikes Van Steed's mother. Clio's beauty and melodramatic posturing quickly capture Bart's attentions.

Meanwhile, Clint offers to save the Saratoga Trunk from Soule in exchange for shares in the railroad. When Clio learns that Bart is paying Clint to do his dirty work, she hysterically accuses him of cowardice and sends him away. This excites Bart, who explains that he knows about her background, but wants to marry her anyway. The costume ball that evening is interrupted by the arrival of Clint and Cupidon, who were seriously wounded during a pitched battle with Soule's men. Clio realizes that she loves Clint too much to marry another man and nurses him back to health. Clint then tells Clio that, having saved the Saratoga Trunk from Soule, his railroad shares have made him a very rich man, and he plans to eventually take over the trunk line himself from Van Steed.


Production notes

Ethel Waters and Lena Horne were both considered for the role of Angelique, the Haitian maid. Instead of a woman of color, Warner Bros. cast British actress Flora Robson in dark makeup. This was unusual, as by this time, the use of what was essentially blackface was considered inappropriate and offensive.[4] Robson was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.[5] Shot in 1943, the film was not released until 1945.[4]


Box Office

The film was Warner Bros' most popular movie of 1945-46, earning rentals of $5,148,000 domestic and $2,653,000 foreign.[1]


  1. Warner Bros financial information in The William Shaefer Ledger. See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 26 DOI: 10.1080/01439689508604551
  2. "All-Time Top Grossers", Variety, 8 January 1964 p 69
  3. "60 Top Grossers of 1946", Variety 8 January 1947 p8
  4. Bogle, Donald (2011), Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters, Harper-Collins, p. 369, ISBN 978-0-06-124173-4
  5. Awards for Saratoga Trunk at Internet Movie Database.
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