Cast & Crew
William D. Russell
In 1895, a pair of confidence women, sisters Letty and Jane Stanton, finagle $25,000 out of married millionaire Oswald T. Lederer by taking an incriminating photograph of him with the pretty Jane. While on their way to Canada by way of the small town of Grove Falls, Maine, the sisters take refuge from a storm in the house of Robbie McCleary, a kind-hearted gravestone sculptor. Robbie soon discovers the women's racket and forces them to turn over the money and work for him at the house, which he rents from the town's wealthy shrew, Hester Rivercomb. The shiftless sheriff, Vern Tewilliger, who is a friend of Robbie's, has been faking a bum leg for weeks in order to avoid making the round of evictions Hester has ordered, which include Robbie. To save the town's poor from Hester's wickedness, Robbie begins to deplete the women's money by secretly giving it away in their name. One night a mob forms outside of Robbie's house, and Letty and Jane think they are about to be arrested when, one by one, the townspeople thank them for their kindness. After babysitting a poor widower's children, and seeing David, a young boy with a crippled leg, limp for lack of a brace, Jane begins to soften her hard attitude, and willingly gives the money away. Meanwhile, Sam Stoaks, the town's deputy sheriff who is trying to build a power plant to bring electricity to the town, falls in love with both sisters. In order to determine which one he should marry, Sam invites Jane to a look-out at Crown Point, and she kisses him. Later, while looking through a telescope, Jane sees Robbie taking their blackmail money from the Rivercomb Mausoleum, for which he has been carving a bust of Hester in anticipation of her death. At the town's power plant meeting the next day, Letty offers to match Hester's contribution of $15,000 for the plant, planning to steal both sums and skip town. Later, after Jane, who is completely reformed, tells Letty their money is in Hester's tomb, Letty divulges her plan to steal it, along with Hester's contribution. Touched by her seemingly generous offer for his power plant, Sam proposes to Letty instead of Jane, and Letty finally admits to Jane that she loves him. As Letty and Jane are deciding what they should do, a storm breaks, and lightning strikes Robbie's house, which goes up in flames. When Sam goes in to rescue the women, Vern pulls off his phony leg cast and saves Sam. David then tells Robbie that the women are heading for the river, and he goes to say goodbye. Suddenly remorseful, Jane and Letty return the money to Robbie, planning to go to New York and face arrest. Letty also gives Sam's engagement ring to Robbie. After serving a jail sentence, Letty and Jane return to Grove Falls in time for Christmas. Letty is reunited with Sam, while Jane kisses Hester's sweet nephew, Abel.
William D. Russell
Gene Buck Jr.
N. Richard Nash
The Sainted Sisters
Directed by William Russell with a screenplay by Harry Clork and N. Richard Nash, The Sainted Sisters was based on Elisa Bialk's short story The Sainted Sisters of Sandy Creek , which later became an unproduced 1944 play by Bialk and Alden Nash, intended for Tallulah Bankhead and the Theatre Guild. It languished in limbo until Paramount bought the film rights in July 1946 as a property for Betty Hutton and Diana Lynn, with Cat People director Val Lewton set to produce, and Paramount veteran director Mitch Leisen to helm. When Hutton and Leisen were assigned to Dream Girl (1948), The Sainted Sisters was put back on ice for several months until Hutton was ready. By then, William Russell replaced Leisen, and Caulfield had replaced Diana Lynn, but things were further complicated when Hutton became pregnant and was replaced with Veronica Lake.
Although The Sainted Sisters was a comedy, Lake took the role seriously and wanted to inject some realism into her costumes. When Paramount's leading designer, Edith Head, showed Lake a suit she had created, Lake complained that it looked too new for the scene, which required it to be moth-eaten. Head agreed and she and Lake ripped holes in the suit, but Lake was still not happy. To get it appropriately rumpled, she took the suit home and slept in it. When her then-husband, director Andre DeToth, came home and saw her in bed, he didn't recognize her in the outfit and thought it was one of his wife's aunts visiting, so he slept on the couch instead.
The film was premiered at the Paramount Theater in New York on May 19, 1948, with the mysterious reviewer "T.M.P." of The New York Times wrote that "Laughter being one of the scarcer commodities of the day, one perhaps should not be too critical of a picture such as The Sainted Sisters which aims to spread a little joy. [...] Most of the laughs come from visual situations, tried and true bits of business such as Miss Lake and Miss Caulfield gadding about in period undergarments and bathing suits on attempting to outfox old foxy grandpa himself. In short, The Sainted Sisters is fluffy and cloying, but so good-natured withal that its faults merit indulgence."
SOURCES: Bansak, Edmund Fearing the Dark: The Val Lewton Career Hopper, Hedda "Looking at Hollywood" Chicago Tribune 4 Mar 47 Hopper, Hedda "Looking at Hollywood" Chicago Tribune 11 Sep 47 The Internet Movie Database Jorgensen, Jay Edith Head: The Fifty-Year Career of Hollywood's Greatest Costume Designer Reid, John Howard Hollywood Gold: Films of the Forties and Fifties T.M.P. "'The Sainted Sisters,' With Lake, Caulfield and Fitzgerald, Opens at Paramount" The New York Times 20 May 48
By Lorraine LoBianco
The Sainted Sisters
Sterling Hayden was replaced by George Reeves.
According to the SAB, this film was also based on an unproduced play titled The Sainted Sisters by Elisa Bialk and Alden Nash. A Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Sterling Hayden was suspended by Paramount for refusing to appear in this film. Hayden reportedly maintained that the role was not suitable for him.