Cast & Crew
On Christmas Eve, frustrated, Oscar-winning screenwriter Mark Christopher, who has given up frothy comedies in favor of high-brow dramas, is visited at home by two Los Angeles police detectives, Sgt. Sam Hanlon and Sgt. Marty Maizel. Hanlon, who once helped Mark on a script, announces that he has found the perfect research subject for Mark and drags screaming seventeen-year-old Susan Landis into the apartment. After revealing that she was arrested for hitting a sailor, Hanlon begs Mark to let the runaway stay with him for a couple of days so she will not have to spend Christmas in jail. The thirty-five-year-old Mark at first balks at the suggestion, but eventually agrees to watch over her. Once calm, Susan makes herself comfortable in Mark's posh apartment, but when he catches her cracking nuts with the head of his Oscar statuette, he rushes her to the nearest motel. No motels will take the teenager, so Mark reluctantly deposits her back at home, then heads off to dine with his girl friend, Pasadena socialite Isabella Alexander. Before he gets to the elevator, however, he discovers that Susan has just talked to Isabella on the phone, and Isabella, assuming the worst about Susan, has broken their date. Irritated, Mark goes back inside and starts playing gin rummy with Susan, who does not trust him and refuses to go to bed. Hours later, Susan finally is asleep in Mark's bed, and the next morning, answers the phone when the marriage-hungry Isabella calls. Susan again upsets Isabella, then cheerfully cooks a large breakfast. While eating with Mark, Susan admits that she is homeless because her mother recently remarried and, at Susan's insistence, went to Peru on her honeymoon without her. Impressed by Susan's selflessness, Mark gives her the mink stole he had bought as Isabella's Christmas present. Susan refuses the expensive gift, but eagerly kisses Mark under some mistletoe. Just then, Virgil, Mark's assistant and former Navy buddy, bursts in with Harvey Butterworth, Mark's lawyer. Seeing the kiss, Virgil starts to panic, but Mark assures him that he has been a gentleman. Mark then asks Harvey how to prevent Susan's incarceration, but Harvey insists that without visible means of support, she will be jailed on vagrancy charges, if nothing else. At that moment, Sam returns unexpectedly to collect Susan, but Mark claims that Susan, who is hiding in his bedroom, is at his secretary Maude Snodgrass' home. As soon as Sam leaves, Mark telephones Maude, instructing her not to answer her door, and announces to Virgil and Harvey that he will marry Susan to keep her out of jail, then obtain an annulment. Susan at first refuses to go along with the scheme, but Mark insists on driving her to Las Vegas. Fearing the worst, Virgil telephones gossip columnist Louella Parsons and declares that Mark is marrying a Virginia debutante. In Las Vegas, meanwhile, Mark marries Susan in a "quickie" ceremony and takes her dancing all night. After the exhausted couple returns to Los Angeles, Mark puts Susan to bed, then packs for Big Bear, leaving his bride with Virgil. Just as Mark slips out, Sam and Marty appear, having read Louella's column, which correctly identifies Susan as a local girl. Isabella, who also has read the paper, shows up next and confronts Susan. Confident that Susan is indeed married, Marty and Sam depart, carrying the irate Isabella with them. Later, when Susan confesses to Maude, who is headed for Big Bear to help Mark on a new script, that she does not want an annulment, the spinsterish Maude advises her to fight for Mark. Once alone, Susan studies some home movies of Mark and Isabella and decides to learn golf and horseback riding in order to compete with Isabella. Isabella, meanwhile, sneaks into Mark's mountain cabin, hoping to reunite with him, but Mark convinces her that they are not right for each other. Back in Los Angeles, Susan has two confusing dreams about Mark, and that morning, is summoned to Harvey's office to sign the annulment papers. After Susan refuses, a frustrated Harvey declares that Mark cannot divorce her because the marriage has not been consummated. Susan is unmoved and goes to eat in the coffee shop in Harvey's office building. Soon after, Harvey notices her eating strawberries and pickles and, assuming she is pregnant, telephones Mark in Big Bear. Enraged, Mark insists that he did not consummate the marriage and concludes that Virgil must be responsible. Mark races back to Los Angeles and knocks the unsuspecting Virgil out, then interrupts Harvey in the middle of his therapy session. Harvey's psychiatrist becomes intrigued by Mark's predicament and gets him to admit that he is jealous of Virgil and loves Susan, despite their age difference. After pondering the doctor's words, Mark finally returns home and finds Susan, dressed up and waiting to serve him a romantic dinner. When Susan confesses that she frequently eats pickles with strawberries, Mark realizes that she has been faithful and admits that he cannot live without her. Mark is still hesitant until Susan reassures him that his age does not matter, and the two finally disappear into the bedroom together.
John O. Aalberg
Albert S. D'agostino
Susan Slept Here
Twenty-two-year-old Reynolds and 50-year-old Powell form an unlikely yet engaging couple in the satirical comedy, which takes aim at psychiatry, conspicuous consumption and the Hollywood establishment. The Francis character's new romantic interest allows for an unbilled guest-star appearance, the surprise of which won't be spoiled here. It does seem safe, however, to note that the mother of producer Harriet Parsons, gossip maven Louella Parsons (also uncredited), provides a telephone voice. Susan Slept Here won Oscar® nominations for Best Song, the Jack Lawrence/Richard Myers "Hold My Hand," and for John Aalberg's Sound Recording.
The movie proved to be the swan song as an actor in feature films for Powell, whose career had begun as a baby-faced crooner in such Warner Bros. musicals as 42nd Street (1933) and took a surprising turn when he switched to tough-guy roles beginning with hard-boiled detective Philip Marlowe in Murder, My Sweet (1945). By the time of Susan Slept Here, Powell had already begun producing and directing feature films. He remained active through the early 1960s in television, where, with his Four Star Productions, he was considered a leader in the development of dramatic anthology series.
Producer: Harriet Parsons
Director: Frank Tashlin
Screenplay: Steve Fisher, Alex Gottlieb, from their play Susan
Art Direction: Carroll Clark, Albert S. D'Agostino
Costume Design: Michael Woulfe
Cinematography: Nicholas Musuraca
Editing: Harry Marker
Original Music: Leigh Harline, Jack Lawrence, Richard Myers
Musical Direction: C. Bakaleinikoff
Choreography: Robert Sidney
Cast: Dick Powell (Mark Christopher), Debbie Reynolds (Susan Landis), Anne Francis (Isabella), Glenda Farrell (Maude Snodgress), Alvy Moore (Virgil), Horace MacMahon (Sgt. Monty Maizel)
C-99m. Close captioning.
by Roger Fristoe
Susan Slept Here
Onscreen credits include the following written statement: "Academy Awards statuettes were used in this picture by special arrangement with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, copyright owner of the symbol." Offscreen narration, spoken by radio announcer Ken Carpenter as "Mark Christopher's" Oscar, is heard intermittently throughout the picture. Although Steve Fisher and Alex Gottlieb's play, Susan Slept Here, was published in 1956, it was not performed until July 11, 1961, when it ran for sixteen performances.
According to Hollywood Reporter news items, Dan Dailey, Mickey Rooney and Robert Mitchum were considered for lead roles in the picture. As noted in a October 14, 1953 Variety news item, because of production delays, RKO lost the services of Dailey, who had a prior commitment to Twentieth Century-Fox, and of actor David Wayne, who was scheduled to appear in a play in New York. Cary Grant was being considered as a replacement for Dailey, according to the Daily Variety item. RKO borrowed Debbie Reynolds from M-G-M and Anne Francis from Twentieth Century-Fox for the production. Louella Parsons, who was producer Harriet Parsons' mother, plays herself in the picture.
The song "Hold My Hand," which was nominated for a Best Song Academy Award and became a popular song after the film was released, is heard as a phonograph recording, sung by Don Cornell. "Susan Slept Here" is performed over the opening and end titles. Eddie Rubin is listed onscreen as associate to the director but is credited in a Hollywood Reporter news item as dialogue director. During the film, "Maude Snodgrass" talks wistfully about "Oswald," her old flame from North Dakota, and at the end, Oswald-Red Skeleton in a nonspeaking cameo-reunites with her.
According to an August 1954 Daily Variety news item, the Chicago censor board designated the film as "adults only." Producer Parsons protested the board's action, pointing out that no other censors had objected to the film's content. In addition to its Best Song nomination, Susan Slept Here received an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Recording. Although he was not listed in the onscreen credits, John O. Aalberg, the head of RKO's sound department, received specific mention in the nomination.
Released in United States Summer June 1954
Released in United States Summer June 1954