The Bramble Bush

The Bramble Bush is a 1960 American drama film, based on the controversial novel of the same name,[2] directed by Daniel Petrie and starring Richard Burton, Angie Dickinson, Barbara Rush, Jack Carson and James Dunn. It was released by Warner Bros. [3]

The Bramble Bush
Original theatrical poster
Directed byDaniel Petrie
Produced byLeon Chooluck
Milton Sperling
Written byMilton Sperling,
Philip Yordan
Based onnovel by Charles Mergendahl
StarringRichard Burton
Angie Dickinson
Jack Carson
Barbara Rush
James Dunn
Music byLeonard Rosenman
CinematographyLucien Ballard
Edited byFolmar Blangsted
United States Productions
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
February 24, 1960 (United States)
Running time
93 min.
CountryUnited States
Box office$3 million (US/Canada rentals)[1]


Dr. Guy Montford moves back to his seaside Massachusetts hometown at the request of old friend Larry McFie, who is dying of cancer. Over the objections of Larry's father, hospital administrator Dr. Sol Kelsey puts the patient in Guy's personal care.

Guy runs into Bert Mosley, an unscrupulous lawyer who is running for district attorney. He is unaware that Mosley is having an affair with Kelsey's chief nurse, Fran, until one night he is summoned to a motel fire and finds that Bert and Fran were secretly meeting there.

Larry knows his condition is terminal, despite Guy's mentions of a possible miracle drug. Larry's death-bed wish is that his wife, Margaret, will end up married to Guy, whom he trusts. Sam McFie, for some reason, does not want his son being treated by Guy.

Margaret goes sailing with Guy, but is devoted to her husband. She is also unhappy with Guy's cruel treatment of a town drunk, Stew, until she learns that the man once had an illicit romance with Guy's mother, resulting in the suicide of his father. Margaret and Guy briefly become lovers.

Fran has hopelessly fallen in love with Guy, but is being blackmailed by reporter Parker Welk, who knows of the motel affair and threatens to go public unless Fran poses for provocative photographs. Bert finds out about it and assaults Parker, who receives medical attention from Guy.

Complications develop when Larry pleads with Guy to put him out of his misery and Margaret discovers she is pregnant from the one-night stand. Guy can't bear to see his friend in pain. He gives him a fatal overdose of morphine. Fran realizes what happened and tells Bert, who has Guy placed under arrest.

Larry's father lies on the witness stand that his son feared for his life in Guy's care, believing the doctor was in love with his wife. Sol, however, testifies that he personally heard Larry beg Guy for euthanasia. A jury acquits Guy, who hopes he and Margaret can move beyond all that has happened someday.



The film was based on a novel by Charles Mergendahl which was published in 1958. Reviewers compared it with other novels about the underbelly of small towns such as Peyton Place and King's Row.[4][5]

In August 1958, film rights were bought by Milton Sperling, who had a production unit, United States Pictures at Warner Bros.[6]

In January 1959 Richard Burton signed to play the male lead.[7] Sperling wanted Carolyn Jones to play the female lead.[8] Eventually the part went to Angie Dickinson, who had just impressed in Rio Bravo. In February Daniel Petrie, best known for his work on television including adaptations of Wuthering Heights, signed to direct.[9][10]

A support role was given to James Dunn, making his first film in eight years, and his first movie at Warners since 1935.[11]

Filming began 30 March 1959.[12] The film was mostly shot at the studio, with a few days location work at Newport and Balboa to look like Cape Cod.[13]

During filming, Mergendahl died after a fall at his home. He was only 40 years old.[14]

Bantam Books published 1.5 million editions of the novel to coincide with the release of the film. It was the largest order in Bantam's history.[15]


The film earned rentals of $3 million in the United States and Canada.[1][16]

See also


  1. "Rental Potentials of 1960". Variety. January 4, 1961. p. 47. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  3. BRAMBLE BUSH, The Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 27, Iss. 312, (Jan 1, 1960): 51.
  4. Novel a Lightning Rod Put Up to Entice the Flash of Best-Sellerdom: THE BRAMBLE BUSH, Mergendahl, Charles. Chicago Daily Tribune (31 Aug 1958: b3.
  5. The Doctor Takes a Wife: THE BRAMBLE BUSH. By Charles Mergendahl. 382 pp. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. $3.95. Dempsey, David. New York Times 24 Aug 1958: BR27.
  6. 2 U. S. FILM UNITS OFF TO AUSTRALIA: Hecht, Hill, Lancaster Plan Movies There in Winter -- 'Bramble Bush' Assigned By OSCAR GODBOUTSpecial to The New York Times. New York Times 27 Aug 1958: 33.
  7. FILMLANDE EVENTS: Richard Burton in 'Bramble Bush' Los Angeles Times 29 Jan 1959: B8.
  8. Carolyn Jones May Do 'Bramble Bush' Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 7 Jan 1959: 18.
  9. FILMLAND EVENTS: Anne Aubrey Will Star With Taylor Los Angeles Times 20 Feb 1959: A9.
  10. M-G-M PLANS FILM OF 'BUTTERFIELD 8': Studio Buys Rights to Book by O'Hara -- Newcomer in 'Bramble Bush' Cast By THOMAS M. PRYOR New York Times 11 Mar 1959: 41.
  11. HESTON TO CO-STAR WITH GARY COOPER: Actors Get Roles in M-G-M's 'Wreck of Mary Deare' -Dunn Returning to Films New York Times 30 Mar 1959: 24.
  12. Method Described as Self-Hypnosis: Margaret Leighton Airs View; Angie Dickinson Revives Legs Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 11 Mar 1959: B7.
  13. Sin Behind 'Bramble Bush' to Test Code's Laxity By Thomas Wood. The Washington Post, Times Herald 15 Nov 1959: H9.
  14. Charles Mergendahl Dead at 40;] Novelist Wrote 'Bramble Bush'I -'epectal. to The New York Times,. New York Times 30 Apr 1959: 31.
  15. FILMLAND EVENTS: Nancy Walters Gets Contract at MGM Los Angeles Times 3 June 1959: A9.
  16. DAN PETRIE, THE "UNDERGROUND RAILWAY" FROM CANADA TO BROADWAY Moore, Jacqueline. Maclean's; Toronto, Canada Vol. 74, Iss. 11, (Jun 3, 1961): 24.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.