Cast & Crew
At a charity ball in Alpine Lodge, Idaho, Argentine millionarie Paco Del Valle asks Mr. Bliss for permission to marry his daughter Caroline. Bliss replies that Paco should seek permission from Caroline's husband, New York publisher Anthony Mason. Heeding her father's advice, Caroline cables Anthony that she is coming to New York on "urgent business." While waiting at the airport for her east-bound plane, Caroline remarks to Paco that she feels as if she'd "lived all this before." Caroline's sense of deja vu is commented on by Anthony, who has landed at the Idaho airport minutes before and now is observing his wife and her new beau. Anthony, who deplaned carrying a bust of Caroline, recalls receiving another urgent wire two years earlier, when his wife was enamored of dilettante sculptor Paul Martindale in Palm Beach, Florida: Rushing in from New York in response to the cable, Anthony finds Caroline at the Palm Beach airport bidding farewell to Bliss and Paul as she prepares to fly to New York to ask her husband for a divorce. Caroline, surprised to see her husband, introduces him to Paul and they return to their Palm Beach mansion, where Anthony observes his wife's new interest in sculpture and surmises the relationship between her and Paul. When Caroline attempts to ask Anthony for a divorce, he slips out of the room and invites Reverend Dr. Curtis, the family minister, to visit. Ashamed to ask for a divorce in front of Dr. Curtis, Paul and Caroline decide to sneak away later that night on a train bound for Santa Barbara. Finding their travel arrangements written on a discarded cocktail napkin, Anthony schemes to derail their plans. Caroline instructs Helen, her divorced friend, to drive her to the station at seven o'clock that night, but when Helen arrives at the appointed hour, she finds Caroline sobbing with second thoughts, having spent a romantic afternoon with Anthony. Ten minutes before Paul is to depart for the station, he is visited by Anthony, who insists on driving him to the depot. Realizing that the only way to avoid a scene between Anthony and Caroline is to miss the train, a tremulous Paul makes small talk with Anthony. When enough time has elapsed to ensure that Paul will miss his rendezvous, Anthony instructs his chauffeur to drive him to the station. Meanwhile, Caroline boards the train to keep her appointment with Paul and realizes that she has been stood up. Outside of Paul's house, Anthony anxiously awaits the final outcome. Soon after, an angry Caroline appears at Paul's door and demands an explanation. As Anthony watches them argue, he asks Bliss if he should grant Caroline a divorce, and Bliss reassures him that Caroline needs him. Bolstered by his father-in- law's encouragement, Anthony knocks on Paul's door and Caroline ducks behind the bar. When Anthony asks Paul if his wife has been seeing another man, Caroline pops up from behind the bar and accuses Anthony of manipulation. Anthony apologizes and when Caroline accepts his apology, he asks Paul for a bust that he has scuplted of Caroline. Returning to the present in Idaho, Caroline sees Anthony's pilot carrying her bust and, realizing that her husband must be near, follows him to Anthony, who embraces her. Paul, a chance spectator of the reunion, proceeds into the airport terminal, where he joins Bliss and Paco.
John L. Cass
John Van Druten
Vernon L. Walker
My Life with Caroline - My Life With Caroline
Colman plays a rich publisher named Anthony Mason who marries Caroline (Anna Lee), a flighty socialite who, for ill-defined reasons, has no compunction at all about continuing to chase men after she's tied the knot. We even see Caroline attempt to accept a marriage proposal from another man (Gilbert Roland), but, old-fashioned girl that she is, she won't do it without Anthony's approval! This situation triggers a lengthy flashback to a similar escapade involving Caroline from a few years earlier.
Hilarity theoretically ensues, but the majority of the interest lies in seeing Colman in such a daffy, ill-fitting undertaking -- he even turns to the camera and addresses the audience during the movie, which is a surprising departure from his usual, buttoned-down screen persona.
Colman and Milestone were as responsible as anyone for My Life with Caroline's poor showing-- they were very much leading the charge with this picture. In 1940, the two men, along with William Hawks (the brother of the legendary director Howard Hawks), and director Anatole Litvak formed United Producers Corporation, which was obviously intended as a sort of second-tier United Artists, the groundbreaking production company run by Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D.W. Griffith. UPC was contracted to make 10 films for RKO Pictures, but Colman and his cohorts never came close to that number.
It seems odd that Colman and Milestone would have felt My Life with Caroline was a good fit for their particular skill sets. Milestone was most famous for his influential anti-war epic, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), and had made a few other sturdy war-based pictures. He was more of a technical innovator than anything else, and never showed much flair for comedy. His movies were hardly light on their feet.
Colman, on the other hand, was Hollywood's go-to Englishman for many years, and too suave and self-possessed to be believable as a guy who would hopelessly fall for a fickle, much younger woman like Lee's Caroline. It's understandable that audiences at the time couldn't really warm to the picture.
Milestone, however, felt that Lee's performance - a stage actress, this was her big screen debut - was underappreciated, saying "you couldn't help but be amused by her; she was an original." (Colman, always the gentleman, never discussed Lee's work, feeling it was improper to critique a fellow performer, even if he was the producer.)
Milestone, at the very least, enjoyed the brief time that he toiled closely with Colman. "There was never any tension between us," he said. "If I wanted to talk to him, I always could. He wasn't a recluse who hopped into his dressing room and locked the door, but, like all actors, when he had a difficult scene, he liked to be alone beforehand. Whatever the scene, he would throw himself into it wholeheartedly and do it as well as he could."
Obviously, Colman wanted his movies to be successes, but his friend, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., felt Colman didn't think it was all that big a deal if one of them tanked. "Colman had a tremendous inner sense of security," Fairbanks once said. "He didn't worry much about films that failed or gloat over ones that were hits. He just went quietly on to the next, whatever it was."
Colman was no dummy and could read the writing on the wall -- he simply wasn't much of a movie producer. He abandoned United Producers Corporation after two straight bombs - the first one, also directed by Milestone, was called Lucky Partners (1940) - and worked on radio for a while until a better script came along. He would finally win a Best Actor Oscar® in 1948 for A Double Life (1947), by which time he and most likely everyone else on the planet had long forgotten about My Life with Caroline.
Producer: Lewis Milestone
Director: Lewis Milestone
Screenplay: John Van Druten, Arnold Belgard (screenplay); Louis Verneuil, Georges Berr (play)
Cinematography: Victor Milner
Music: Werner Heymann
Film Editing: Henry Berman
Cast: Ronald Colman (Anthony Mason), Anna Lee (Caroline Mason), Charles Winninger (Mr. Bliss), Reginald Gardiner (Paul Martindale), Gilbert Roland (Paco Del Valle), Katherine Leslie (Helen), Hugh O'Connell (Muirhead), Murray Alper (Jenkins), Matt Moore (Walters, Mason's Butler).
by Paul Tatara
My Life with Caroline - My Life With Caroline
The French play was written in 1935.
The production company, United Producers Corp., was founded by executive producer William B. Hawks and actor Ronald Colman.
Janine Crispin, Jim Farley, Jack Mulhall and Max Wagner are listed as actors in studio records and/or casting call lists, but they did not appear in the movie,
According to a pre-production news item in Los Angeles Times, director Lewis Milestone collaborated with writers John Van Druten and Arnold Belgard on an early draft of this screenplay entitled Palm Beach Limited, which was also the working title of this film. In the opening credits, cast members ride across the screen mounted on merry-go-round horses. United Producers Corp., the production company that co-sponsored the film with RKO, was established by producer William Hawks and actor Ronald Colman. The collaboration marked Hawks's first and last production for RKO and Colman's first picture for the studio. According to pre-production news items in Hollywood Reporter, Hawks was originally slated to produce the picture, but his credit was changed to executive producer when Milestone took over production chores.
Other news items in Hollywood Reporter note that the studio considered Miriam Hopkins and Eva Gabor for the title role. Post-release news items add that British actress Anna Lee, who played the title role, was awarded a term contract on the basis of her performance in this film. Another news item in Hollywood Reporter adds that background shots were filmed in Palm Beach, FL.