Cast & Crew
On a ship headed from Europe to America, immigrants sing and have fun in steerage. Heather Gordon, a Scottish woman whose parents have died, is going to live with an uncle in Idaho. Her Russian friend Sascha, who wants to make it as a composer in New York City, is traveling with relatives. Wealthy Americans Larry Beaumont and Diana Van Bergh travel in first-class. Diana's mother wants the two married and Larry has proposed, but Diana has merely stated that she will think about it. Heather and Sascha sneak into the first-class section for some fun, but they are spotted and chased. In the ship's stable, Heather meets Larry and mistakes him for a groom. Sascha and Heather meet up again in the ship's music room, where they are caught by the crew and accused of shipboard thefts. Larry, however, along with his Swedish valet Jansen, vouches for the pair. After Heather has a dream about her arrival in America, in which she is greeted by "Mr. Ellis" and a welcoming committee, who give her the key to the city, the ship arrives at Ellis Island, where Heather discovers that her uncle now refuses to take her in. According to the law, she must be sent back to Europe. Sascha offers to marry her so that she can stay, but she refuses, saying that she doesn't love him that way. Larry cannot see Heather before he departs, but he leaves a letter for her with Diana, whose mother tears it up. While Inspector O'Flynn, who is sent to make sure that Heather stays on the boat, is distracted by Jansen, Heather hides in a horse van, which is lowered directly onto a train. The horse turns out to belong to Larry, and Heather arrives at his mansion just as O'Flynn drives up to question him. Jansen hides Heather, but she is eventually discovered by Larry, who finds out that she never got his letter. Larry offers to help the girl, but she goes away during the night, leaving a note explaining that she cannot accept anything from him. Heather goes to Sascha and his family, who put her to work in a café show disguised as a Russian. Olga, one of Sascha's relatives, sends Larry a telegram explaining where Heather is. O'Flynn almost catches Heather, but he is fooled with the help of Larry, Jansen, and Olga. Diana and her mother show up to invite Heather and the Russians to play at the engagement party for Diana and Larry the following week. Heather, who has fallen in love with Larry, is crushed, and when Sascha proposes to her again, she accepts. The Russians buy them a radio as a wedding present, and they are all listening to Larry's polo game when they hear that he has been injured. Heather rushes to Larry's, where Diana lets her in, but then calls the police. Sascha realizes who Heather really loves and calls off the marriage. Meanwhile, Jansen proposes to Olga and she accepts. Heather escapes with O'Flynn hot on her tail and, after a mad chase around the city, gives herself up. A judge orders her deported, and she is sent to a ship bound for Europe. Larry, however, finally realizes Diana's true nature and rushes to board Heather's ship. On the ship he proposes to Heather, who accepts, and they plan to be married by the captain on the high seas.
J. Harold Reeves
A. J. Cristy
Bert Le Baron
Durwood Von Zeuthen
R. H. Bloem
With a screenplay by Guy Bolton and Sonya Levien, based on a British play by Bolton, Delicious went into production on August 29, 1931 (under the working titles of Skyline and Sky Line) and finished on November 10th. Directed by David Butler, who had written and directed Gaynor and Farrell in Sunnyside Up (1929), the film co-starred Brazilian singer Raul Roulien (replacing Alfred Cordova) in the role of Sascha, the Russian composer in love with Gaynor, and Virginia Cherrill, as the wealthy Diana, Gaynor's rival for Farrell. Cherrill is best known as the blind flower girl in Charlie Chaplin's classic City Lights (1931), and, for a few years, as the real-life Mrs. Cary Grant.
Delicious was the first film in which George and Ira Gershwin were hired to compose a full score. Among the songs was "Blah-Blah-Blah," the Gershwin's pointed commentary on sappy love songs of the era. Originally titled "Lady of the Moon," it was supposedly written for an unproduced Florenz Ziegfeld musical called East Is West, then reworked for another production, Show Girl under the title "I Just Looked at You," but was cut from that show. It would later appear in the 1983 musical My One and Only. In Delicious, the song is sung by El Brendel, an American who made a career playing Scandinavian characters, and Manya Roberti, the sister of actress Lyda Roberti.
According to studio records, the Gershwins were signed to compose both a full score and eight songs, including "Mischa-Jascha-Toscha-Sascha" that did not make it to the final cut. Critics praised the score but were disappointed that it was so heavily cut for the film. The "New York Rhapsody" (known today as "Second Rhapsody") was explained by Gershwin in a letter to a friend, "I wrote it mainly because I wanted to write a serious composition and found the opportunity in California. Nearly everyone comes back from California with a western tan and a pocketful of motion picture money. I decided to come back with both of these things and a serious composition - if the climate would let me. I was under no obligation to the Fox Company to write this. But, you know, the old artistic soul must be appeased every so often." Gershwin scholars believe that George Gershwin may have played the piano on some of the recordings.
Delicious premiered in New York City on December 25, 1931, with a simultaneous release the following day in 162 theaters across the country, which spoke to the studio's faith in the team. Mordaunt Hall wrote in The New York Times that "[t]he story, which is credited to Guy Bolton, is a conventional piece of sentimentality with dialogue that is scarcely inspired...[F]rail though this narrative is, it may be just the thing for the Christmas holidays. Mr. Gershwin's melodies are a help to the scenes...Miss Gaynor gives an appealing performance. Mr. Farrell's diction is still wanting in tonal quality. El Brendel, he of the Swedish accent, spoke several of his lines so that they had the desired effect at this performance. Mr. Roulien, a Brazilian, sings and acts agreeably."
After the release of Delicious, Fox was sued by Corinne Swenson (aka Marie Manix) for plagiarism, alleging that the film was based on her story, Lucky Molly Bawn. The suit was settled two years later, with the studio purchasing the film rights for $3,000. In 1935, the newly formed Twentieth Century-Fox remade the film as Paddy O'Day with Jane Withers.
Director: David Butler
Screenplay: Guy Bolton, based on a story by Sonya Levien and Guy Bolton
Cinematography: Ernest Palmer
Editing: Irene Morra
Art Direction: Joseph C. Wright
Music: George Gershwin
Cast: Janet Gaynor (Heather Gordon), Charles Farrell (Larry Beaumont), El Brendel (Chris Jansen), Raul Roulien (Sascha), Lawrence O'Sullivan (Detective O'Flynn), Virginia Cherrill (Diana Van Bergh), Mischa Auer (Mischa).
by Lorraine LoBianco
Bradley, Edwin The First Hollywood Musicals: A Critical Filmography of 171 Features, 1927 Through 1932
Gavinson, Alan The American Film Institute Catalog: Within Our Gates: Ethnicity in American Feature Films 1911-1960
Hall, Mordaunt "Janet Gaynor in a Sentimental Romance With Musical Compositions by George Gershwin. Poor but Honest", The New York Times 26 Dec 31
Hemming, Roy The Melody Lingers on: The Great Songwriters and Their Movie Musicals
The Internet Movie Database
Bet you fifty dollars you don't know the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner."- Diana Van Bergh
I don't even remember what show it was in.- Jerry Beaumont
I gave a bride away once.- Sascha
You should have let the husband find out for himself.- Chris Jansen
The plot summary was based on a screen continuity in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, and the onscreen credits were taken from a screen credit sheet in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, both of which are at the UCLA Theater Arts Library. This film's working titles were Sky Line and Skyline. According to information in the legal records, the story was based on a play by Guy Bolton, which was produced in London, but no other information concerning the play has been located. Also, according to the legal records, Buddy DeSylva was connected with the film's production in some unspecified manner.
The opening credits read, "Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell in Delicious with George Gershwin Music." This was the first film for which George and Ira Gershwin wrote the full score. According to the legal records, the Gershwins were signed to compose eight songs for the film, in addition to the score, including theme and incidental music. The records include an assignment for the song "Mischa-Jascha-Toscha-Sascha," which was not included in the final film. Gershwin's "New York Rhapsody," which was entitled "Rhapsody in Rivets" during production, was highly praised by the critics. Motion Picture Herald commented, "Gershwin's 'New York Rhapsody,' which is presented against a striking background of New York life, is an outstanding feature of the production and probably constitutes one of the finest, if not the finest, musical composition originally conceived for motion pictures." Variety remarked that this composition, "which the composer is booked to play in concert shortly, is mutilated as spotted in sections in this script....Gershwin's new rhapsody is cut in pieces when first used as the musical background in a studio scene, but later gets into full play in a symbolic manner as Janet [Gaynor] wanders through the city in a daze." New York Times notes that Marvine Maazel played the composition in the film. The work was also entitled "Second Rhapsody." Film Daily reported on July 5, 1931 that a rehearsal of "Second Rhapsody" had been given under the auspices of NBC. The premiere of the work on New York on Christmas Day, 1931 occurred one day before the opening on Broadway of the Gershwins' musical Of Thee I Sing. According to modern sources, the song "Blah-Blah-Blah-Blah with You" was originally entitled "Lady of the Moon" and written for the never produced Florenz Ziegfeld musical East Is West, then revised and retitled as "I Just Looked at You" for the musical Show Girl, but discarded from that. Modern sources also state that the song "Thanks to You" was written for this film but dropped and that George Gershwin May have played the piano for some of the songs in the film.
According to the legal records, Alfred Cordova was originally cast in the role of "Sascha." The legal records also contain information about a $1,500,000 suit by Corinne Swenson, also known as Marie Manix, for the alleged unauthorized use of her story "Lucky Molly Bawn." The suit was settled in May 1933 when the studio bought the story for $3,000. A Variety news item, dated June 31, 1935, stated that Twentieth Century-Fox was remaking Delicious under the title of The Immigrant. That title was the working title for the 1936 film Paddy O'Day, which starred Jane Withers (see below). While the plot of the later film has similarities to Delicious, neither of the writers of the earlier film are credited in connection with Paddy O'Day.