Susan and God
Susan and God is a 1940 American comedy-drama film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer directed by George Cukor and starring Joan Crawford and Fredric March. The screenplay was written by Anita Loos and was based upon a 1937 play by Rachel Crothers. The supporting cast features Rita Hayworth and Nigel Bruce.
|Susan and God|
theatrical release poster
|Directed by||George Cukor|
|Produced by||Hunt Stromberg|
|Screenplay by||Anita Loos|
|Based on||Susan and God|
by Rachel Crothers
|Music by||Herbert Stothart|
|Cinematography||Robert H. Planck|
|Edited by||William H. Terhune|
The film follows the story of a society matron whose new-found religious fervor changes the relationships around her.
Susan (Joan Crawford), a flighty society matron, returns from Europe earlier than expected waxing enthusiastic about a new religious movement. She is estranged from her intelligent and sensitive husband, Barrie (Fredric March) – who has been driven to drink by his wife's insensitivity – and she has neglected her introverted and maladjusted daughter, Blossom (Rita Quigley). Barrie tries to meet her boat as it arrives in New York City, but she avoids him and absconds to the country home of her friend, Irene Burroughs (Rose Hobart).
While at the house, her fervor and sermonizing alienates friends "Hutchie" and Leonora (Nigel Bruce and Rita Hayworth) by insisting Leonora leave her elderly husband and return to the stage. Susan also insults Irene by telling her that she's unsuited for her lover, Mike (Bruce Cabot). While they all blow off Susan's musings, it sticks with them, and Barrie comes to the house to beg for forgiveness. He asks her to give him another chance for the sake of their daughter Blossom, and offers to finally grant Susan the divorce she seeks if he takes another drink. Susan consents and agrees to spend the summer with the family, thus making Blossom very happy. At first, Barrie is taken in by Susan's new passion, believing it is a sign of maturity, but he suffers disappointment when he realizes it is simply another manifestation of her shallowness. Gradually, Susan begins to understand the pain she has caused her family and determines to put her own house in order before meddling in the lives of others.
The film Susan and God was based on Rachel Crothers' play Susan and God, which premiered in Princeton, New Jersey before opening on Broadway on October 7, 1937 at the Plymouth Theatre. The original run was a production directed by John Golden and designed by Jo Mielziner, starring Gertrude Lawrence and ran for 288 performances. MGM reportedly paid $75,000 (USD) for the rights to the play. Crothers' play was reportedly inspired by a real-life religious movement of the day, Dr. Frank Buchman's Oxford Group of the 1930s.
It was intended as a vehicle for Norma Shearer, but the star refused to play the role of a mother with a teenage daughter. Greer Garson was also considered for the role before it went to Joan Crawford.
Rita Hayworth was loaned to MGM for this film by her studio, Columbia Pictures. This was also Fredric March's return to film after a year and a half's absence appearing on the stage.
Variety noted, "Joan Crawford provides a strong portrayal of Susan ... George Cukor's direction highlights the characterizations he unfolds." Howard Barnes in the New York Herald Tribune commented, "[Crawford] is not entirely successful in blending silliness with romantic power."
On June 7, 1938, an excerpt from Susan and God was the first Broadway play with its original cast to be broadcast on television. Station W2XBS used exact replicas of the stage sets, with Nancy Coleman, Gertrude Lawrence, and Paul McGrath appearing on the broadcast.
Susan and God was released on Region 1 DVD on April 6, 2010 from the online Warner Bros. Archive Collection.
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- "Susan and God". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
- Quirk, Lawrence J.. The Films of Joan Crawford. The Citadel Press, 1968.
- Kane, Joseph N. (January 3, 1940). "Some Television 'Firsts'". Variety. p. 88. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
- Susan and God at Rotten Tomatoes
- Susan and God on IMDb
- Susan and God at AllMovie
- Susan and God at the TCM Movie Database
- Susan and God at the American Film Institute Catalog
- 1953 Best Plays radio adaptation of original play at Internet Archive