Dangerous Curves ♦ Dark Victory ♦ Delmer Daves ♦ Marion Davies ♦ Bette Davis ♦ Dolores Del Rio ♦ William Dieterle ♦ Divorce ♦ Dr. Monica ♦ Dr. Socrates ♦ Dodsworth ♦ Billie Dove ♦ Deanna Durbin ♦ Otto Dyar
Dangerous Curves. Paramount, 1929. Directed by Lothar Mendes. Based on a story by Lester Cohen. The film is really notable today for being Clara Bow’s second sound film, though both a silent and sound version was produced for theaters not equipped for sound. Third-billed, Kay plays the vamp who seduces Clara’s boyfriend played by Richard Arlen in this circus drama. This was the first movie Kay made in Hollywood. Her previous two films, 1929’s Gentlemen of the Press & The Cocoanuts, were filmed at Paramount’s Astoria Studio in Queens.
Dark Victory. The property was originally brought to MGM for Greta Garbo in 1935 to make for producer David O. Selznick. When Garbo chose Anna Karenina instead, the project never materialized. Two years later the property was brought to Warner Bros. for Kay. “I think you would have a good Kay Francis picture in a reasonably short time and one that would not cost a fortune to make. Moreover, Kay herself is, I understand, very much in favor of it” (PL). That note was written to producer Hal Wallis, Kay’s boss at Warner Bros.
Daves, Delmer. (July 24, 1904 – August 17, 1977) A screenwriter for Warner Bros. Kay and Daves had a long-running affair after her one with Maurice Chevalier hit the skids. Her relationship with Delmer went on for about 2 years, ending in the fall of 1937 when she wrote in her diary, “I am sick of his superiority” on September 20, 1937.
Of their breakup, Daves later said, “…so I went to Europe alone, and suggested that she find a new love while I was gone” (PL). Kay Francis being Kay Francis, she most certainly did. By Christmas of that year she was with Baron Erik Barnekow.
Daves only worked on one movie with Kay, 1935’s Stranded. Odd, considering it’s one of her weaker films and Daves had decent credits to his name, including 1936’s Petrified Forest and 1939’s Love Affair (which was made at RKO).
Davies, Marion. Wonderful film actress whose lover, William Randolph Hearst, had a production company, Cosmopolitan Productions, which produced Give Me Your Heart (1936), one of Kay’s best roles (the film was still released through Warner Bros.).
Davis, Bette. Both Davis and Kay made their first films for Warner Bros. in 1932. Kay starred in Man Wanted, while Bette had a small role in The Man Who Played God. As the decade went on, Kay was further and further eclipsed by Davis, especially in 1937 & 1938. Davis’ position at the studio was one of the major factors that had the higher-ups at Warner Bros. convinced it was time to push Kay out after her fall 1937 lawsuit with the company. As Davis was paid a fraction of what Kay was, but her films were earning more and more money, the trouble they had with Kay Francis seemed pointless to put up with.
When Davis learned about Kay’s mistreatment from Warner Bros., she was surprisingly defensive of Kay. Actually, until the very end of her life she remained supportive of Kay Francis. In her later years she was quoted as having said of it all, “Out of the blue, it was announced she would complete her contract by starring in B pictures! It was simply unprecedented and no reason was ever given. A huge embarrassment for such a star—she had many, many fans… Jack Warner was despicable to Miss Francis. I felt awfully sorry for her and it certainly scared every actress in town.” (BF)
Davis and Kay remained sort-of close after Kay left Warner Bros. Actually, they had such a good relationship that Davis was enticed to watch one of Kay’s performances on the stage in Theatre on August 18, 1952. After that performance, the two actresses talked about their past careers with the studio. When Davis asked why Kay didn’t fight back, she famously said “I didn’t give a shit. I wanted the money.”
It should be noted by readers about the lack of tension or feuding between Kay & Bette Davis. Considering that they both were constantly pinned against one-another for roles at Warner Bros., they never spoke badly about the other. It’s a true piece of evidence that both ladies knew their real problems were with the management, not each other.
Del Rio, Dolores. (August 3, 1905 in Durango, Mexico – April 11, 1983 in Newport Beach, California) Actress who worked with Kay in 1934’s Wonder Bar. Kay was very annoyed that her star power was used to lure viewers into the film, but that her role was cut down to showcase Del Rio’s. Kay did have the satisfaction of a bit of payback when she lost out on the part of Madame DuBarry that same year to Del Rio. It became the flop which partially drove her out of Hollywood.
Dieterle, William. (July 15, 1893 – December 9, 1972) One of Kay’s best directors. His work with Kay included 1932’s Man Wanted & Jewel Robbery, 1934’s Doctor Monica, 1936’s White Angel, and 1937’s Another Dawn. Dieterle may be most famous for his biopics, which not only included White Angel, but also The Story of Louis Pasteur (1935) and The Life of Emile Zola (1937).
Divorce. Monogram, 1945. Directed by William Nigh. Produced by Jeffery Bernerd & Kay Francis. Kay’s first film for Monogram Pictures. The film is notable for being so bad, it’s good, and that it was a return for Kay to the seductive, manipulative vamp roles she played in her early years at Paramount.
Dr. Monica. Warner Bros, 1934. Directed by William Dieterle. Costarring Warren William, the film marked the second time Kay played a doctor on the screen. Monica is also memorable as being Kay’s last Pre-Code movie, and she certainly went out with a bang! The censors had a fit with the suggested abortion references.
Doctor Socrates. This 1935 film was remade by Kay and Humphrey Bogart as King of the Underworld (1939). Kay played the part originated by Paul Muni. She wrote in her diary, “I’m going to be Paul Muni in skirts” (PL).
Dodsworth. Kay was considered for a part in this film which eventually went to Mary Astor. Apparently, Warner Bros. refused to loan her to Samuel Goldwyn for what they felt was very much a supporting role to Walter Huston and Ruth Chatterton, both of whom Kay was a more valuable box office player than. Kay, not caring about box office, was furious. This played a factor in her lawsuit with Warner Bros.
Durbin, Deanna. Star of 1940’s It’s a Date. Kay played her mother in the film.
Hollywood was a bit confused at the time as to why Kay would choose to have appeared in the film. Considering that the Durbin pictures were some of the most popular in the entire country at the time, it was a wise decision and good exposure for Kay following her Warner Bros. troubles.
Dyar, Otto. Born on July 25, 1892, Dyar began working at the Paramount studios where he photographed their top stars such as Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Gloria Swanson, Gary Cooper, William Powell, Kay, and others.
Dyar left Paramount and worked for other studios, crafting the outdoor shoot which was an innovation of the time. He died at 96 years old on December 26, 1988 in Honolulu.
Perhaps the most creative photographs of Kay were shot by Dyar during her Paramount years (1929-1931). See the below example for the artsy, creative side of Kay from Dyar versus the polished, glam Kay photography by Elmer Fryer at Warner Bros.