For Ayn Rand’s next screenplay, Paramount was given more reason to believe the Production Code Administration would prevent the envisioned production from reaching the screen in a form that would enthrall an audience. You Came Along would generate more comment from the reviewers of the Production Code Administration than had Love Letters.
In a magazine advertisement for You Came Along purchased by Paramount, the studio related how its story reached them. Robert Smith had “sent the script of ‘YOU CAME ALONG’ to Hal Wallis with a note which began, ‘Take what liberties you like with my story, but don’t foul up my flyers—as I turn them over to you, they’ve got the breath of life in ‘em … they’re on the level … keep them that way … and as for Ivy (Lizabeth Scott) … what really counts is that she makes a place for herself on their ball team—she belongs.’ When you see ‘YOU CAME ALONG,’ ably directed by John Farrow, you’ll agree with us that Hal Wallis did not ‘foul up’ Smith’s flyers and that Lizabeth Scott really ‘belongs’ on their team … and that team is in the big leagues.” (All ellipses above are in the original ad.) No mention was made in this advertisement that Ayn Rand had rewritten the screenplay, although display ads designed to appear in magazines and posters displayed by theaters did state “Screen Play by Robert Smith and Ayn Rand.”
The flyers whose characters were so intimately important to Mr. Smith are named Bob Collins (referred to as “Ace” in some of the Production Code correspondence but not called this in the picture), Handsome and Shakespeare. Some idea of their personalities may be gauged by this: Paramount’s publicity department devised a radio ad that described Handsome as a character “who’s not exactly a ‘bright’ guy, but who is a ‘right’ guy.”
What would concern the self-professed defenders of morality at the Production Code Administration was not that these characters did not value their brains but rather that they allowed themselves to be ruled by their testosterone. The plotline concerns these three characters carrying out a war-bonds sales tour under the watchful eye of a superior officer, Ivy Hotchkiss (Lizabeth Scott), whose being a woman surprises and pleases the flyers.3 Even with supervision, the three flyers pursue quick satisfactions with the attractive young women they meet in the several cities they visit in quick succession.
Ayn Rand would come to advise a friend in a private letter that
As to You Came Along, it was originally a very cute story—not profound—but clever and appealing. The picture represents a compromise between Hal Wallis, the director John Farrow, the original author Robert Smith, and me. Like all compromises, it could only turn out as a second-best.4
A theme echoed in much of Miss Rand’s previous and subsequent work would have been communicated by the title of the film had it not been changed from that originally chosen. Don’t Ever Grieve Me is the title which identifies You Came Along in the earliest correspondence between Paramount and the Production Code Administration. This working title was not replaced by You Came Along until 38 days into the correspondence. In the completed film You Came Along, the expression “Don’t Ever Grieve Me” is used in conversation by the male romantic lead to the female one. The combination of these four words were meant to convey that two people who love one another should strive not to bring pain into their relationship, that constant happiness was possible to them were they to pursue it. Ayn Rand would return to this theme in her novel Atlas Shrugged, where numerous details suggest that heroes can recognize the impotence of evil and of the villains who embody it. In that novel’s final chapter, heroine Dagny is asked by hero John Galt, “We never had to take any of it seriously, did we?” A novel dedicated to this theme was planned by Ayn Rand as her fifth novel but was never truly started and certainly not completed; the principal message of this proposed novel, To Lorne Dieterling, was to be “the art of spiritual self-sufficiency.”.5 You Came Along seems to offer her most unmingled exploration of this theme. The release title of the film was not hers to choose, and all studios had to consider filmgoer predispositions.
Promoting a Film By Echoing a Song
Paramount’s pressbook for the film, distributed to theater owners to offer advice in promoting the film, reports that the old song “You Came Along (From Out of Nowhere)” was expected to elicit the public’s fancy once people began to hear the song again on radio and in the film itself. Paramount compared their efforts to that of Warner Bros. in resurrecting the old song “As Time Goes By” and turning it into a contemporary hit upon inclusion in Casablanca. As producer of both Casablanca and You Came Along, Hal Wallis may have chosen to repeat an aspect of this earlier success.
(The refrain in the song usually has in its lyrics “You Came to Me/From Out of Nowhere,” yet the sheet music distributed in connection with the film was titled “You Came Along (From Out of Nowhere).” In this film, the song uses the lyric “You Came Along” only when sung by an offscreen chorus over the final scene and end title.)
The Production Code Administration, which a few months before had examined the script and script elements for Love Letters, now applied its guidelines and procedures to a series of readings dissecting You Came Along. Once again, they would observe that British characters were incorporated into the actions. This time, though, they would not write off that characteristic as merely “unsympathetic.” Rather, this time they would warn of possible offense to the citizens of that Isle and to the market for the film in that part of the moviegoing world. Another screenplay element repeated from Love Letters was a wedding scene, and here, too, the censors were concerned about British audiences. “The material included in your script at present, will not be approved by the British board of film censors,” the PCA helpfully warned. The PCA, drawing on their knowledge, suggested a specific source to consult to make the scene suitable for Britain.
Whereas on Love Letters the censors might have merely intuited that the filmed screenplay might transgress into prohibited content, this time they found content in indisputable violation of the written, distributed Production Code. In the screenplay of Love Letters, the readers found passages pertaining to “the use of liquor in American life,” but the studio in that case might have disputed any PCA readers contending that this drinking was “not required by the plot or for proper characterization.” What the creators of You Came Along would find more difficult to contest was a specific word with two connotations, when at the time of the film one connotation was so objectionable that the word was listed among the vulgarities collected within the Production Code as samples of what were often outright prohibited. That word was “nuts.” “Nuts” could mean “crazy,” but its other usage struck the general populace as crude. Such terms as “fanny,” “slut,” “SOB” and “son of a,” and “whore” were categorized with “nuts” as verboten. (Section V: “Profanity”)
On Love Letters, the Administrators seem not to have had an outline of the story until they prepared one more than a month after beginning their readings of the screenplay. On You Came Along, the censors seem to have been similarly unclear of how the events in the story reflect the overall message. The censors are frequently troubled by the “over emphasis on the characterization of the three aviators as immoral men.” They point to presumed, brief incidents of this as swiftly as they object to a scene of Bob Collins removing his trousers and their inference (without cited evidence) that a hotel clerk could come across as “prissily” or a “pansy.” That the intimated carnality may have been intended not to come across as desirable but rather as a psychological symptom within a man lacking the normal long-term opportunities to achieve his values, does not seem to have been considered by the readers. Later, they seem to have grasped this, and that would affect the comments they would make about the screenplay as it related to suitability under the Code.
A First Draft is Submitted and Discussed
On December 18, 1944, Paramount sent Joseph I. Breen two copies of the script dated 12-15-44 entitled DON’T EVER GRIEVE ME. The accompanying note called the pages “Our first temporary script of DON’T EVER GRIEVE ME.” In his response of December 20, Breen wrote four pages:
In the completed movie, the Pour Le Merite remained. These small ribbons attached to a pin are affixed on women’s clothing to denote at least some approval of these women by the flyers. Were there details in the first script which would make it unmistakable that the ribbons were given for sexual services, these indications were removed. The line which had brought notice on Page 9 would be spoken in the movie as “And you won it in Washington”—essentially the same line, seemingly denoting the same triumph, differing from the original only in detail. As for “the inescapable suggestion of the medals on the chests of the three girls,” what took the place of this in the completed movie was “Merite” ribbons on the necklines of the hostess and a cigarette girl at a nightclub.
Bob does take off his trousers in his hotel room in the presence of Ivy (whom he doesn’t realize had been booked into the same room as he owing to “Ivy” having been registered by telephone as a “Mr. I. V. Hotchkiss”); however, this was filmed with an open suitcase blocking any view of Bob below the waist. We see him crouch and hold the pants he has apparently removed, but there is no exposure of his undershorts.
The movie as completed and shown today contains a line where Ivy says, “I know you’re God’s gift to the women of America, but I’m not having any.” She does not say anything about any “sultan.”
The only photos seen of any stage entertainers within the completed film are those displayed outside of nightclubs. All such photos are modest and would have been considered appropriate to be displayed on the sidewalks of a medium-sized city of the time.
The movie has two well-dressed drunks at a nightclub saying “You take the English, for instance. Hard people to do business with,” to which the other responds, “Can’t understand a word they say.” After a few more remarks along the same lines, the second man says, “You’d think they’d learn to speak English[!]” These men get their comeuppance when the lead characters feign British accents by which to embarrass the tipplers for their derision.
On December 28, 1944, Breen and his Production Code Administration colleague A. Lynch met with Wallis and his associates. In his notes about that meeting, Lynch recorded the following:
The concessions made by the filmmakers to the Administration were recorded in A. Lynch’s note of December 28, 1944 (see end of above sidebar), but any acquiescence by the censors to the moviemakers was not preserved in any known writings. Breen and Lynch may have been argued into recognizing that the flyers were not the “immoral men” whom Breen had seen in his mind’s eye as he read the first screenplay provided him, or perhaps Breen and Lynch were shown that the fates befalling the characters provided an alternative voice to the proposed storyline that would render the womanizing aspects ineffectual. A few of the objections made by Breen were henceforth sustained, but a few of the other objection-provoking items were submitted again in subsequent scripts and were again cited by Breen as unfit for movie screens. As eventually released, the movie nonetheless retained much of the flavor and suggestion that had been originally declared by Breen as contrary to the Production Code.
A censor who focuses on every minutia that strikes him as salacious is prone to missing the panorama of an integrated perspective. This might explain why the Production Code Administration personnel who worked on You Came Along were prevailed upon to accept details which they originally decreed abhorrent. A reader experiencing fleeting glances of the screenplay might come away remembering licentious pursuers of women. Someone thinking of the script as a whole might notice also that the lead flyer knows that he isn’t the man for a self-respecting woman. As he flatly tells Ivy, “Nice girls should never take me seriously, never give me a second thought. No future in it for ‘em. Can’t be.”
Ayn Rand, Robert Smith, John Farrow and Hal Wallis had structured the womanizing into a narrative that exposes that the lead male character’s rakishness owes to his certainty that his death is imminent. His friends are not so much encouraging a libertine as helping him forget that an incurable disease will soon take his life. While Ivy is ignorant of this, she is the voice against promiscuity. Early in the movie, Bob expects her to contact some of the women listed in his address book of women’s phone numbers, which is so full that it is organized by city name. Ivy doesn’t hide her contempt of a man apparently placing little value on any specific woman. In time, Ivy pieces together the import of Shakespeare’s evasions and Handsome’s reactions when a doctor friend of the two mentions an unnamed friend of Shakespeare and Handsome who seemed healthy but whom he diagnosed as terminally ill. Ivy recognizes that the three flyers are practicing a harsh regimen to placate a soul that without ephemeral joys would be overwhelmed with realizations about mortality. Bob, she realizes, constantly forestalls recognition of his own fatal illness.6 The movie had seemed to be about passing pleasures. From this point forward, Bob no longer seems enviable, his lifestyle isn’t the choice of someone pursuing a rich array of the emotions that life can offer. Rather, he will be seen by the audience as a man reacting to an undesirable fate.
The Production Code Administration, in following the guidelines of the MPPDA’s Production Code, could object to a film which on the whole promoted promiscuity. There were grounds for doubting whether they should object to random incidents of womanizing when the context of these actions were in a screenplay that severely limited the conditions under which the characters themselves would find the actions acceptable.
Here are the three flyers and leading lady Lizabeth Scott, who played Ivy Hotchkiss. Robert Cummings, playing Bob Collins, is the man in the center, affixing near Ivy's chest one of the Pour Le Merite medals that upset the Production Code Administration.
Another Screenplay Draft, Another Round of Correspondence
A new script for the film was dated January 8, 1945, and sent to the Administration on January 9, 1945.
Breen responded January 11. Many of the lines on pages 9 to 12 previously listed as objectionable remained. So did the subjunctive declaration “join a harem.” Breen asked that this be removed as well as the repeated line about “God’s gift to the women of America.”
Breen cited a few specific new points:
The completed movie would contain a statement that the medals were given for “valor in the face of the opposite sex.” What’s more, the line appeared in press materials intended by the studio to guide theater owners in crafting publicity for the film.
Apparently, given the characters of the flyers and the context that points to the targets in question being women to be conquered, the “strategy and tactics” cited were means of attaining the consent of women.
The completed movie does have a discussion in which Ivy, speaking to her now-husband, Bob, says that before he arrived home she had intended to bathe. He responds with a gently-spoken offer to wash her back. Later, when it seems that they will be apart while he is to carry on either a military mission or the undergoing of medical treatment, she sighs that he won’t be available to scrub her back. Neither statement is spoken in a salacious manner, and there is an undertone that these offers are part of a deep marital bond.
When this note was prepared on January 25, 1945, to introduce the new script dated that same day, the typist pounded out the keys to spell “DON’T EVER GRIEVE ME” as the title. However, these four words were crossed out in light pencil and replaced by hand with “You Came Along.” Hereafter in the correspondence, the picture will be called You Came Along.
On January 29, Breen responded. He made pretty much the same objections as before—indicating that Paramount was not deleting all of what Breen had regarded as objectionable from the studio’s subsequent scripts—but also made one new complaint:
His saying “You’re sure full of something” is in the movie, but it certainly is not suggestive of any sophomoric topic. His tone is respectful even as he is lovingly chiding. He says this as he puts a wrap around Ivy. She responds, “I’ve got to stop eating those desserts. Wait til I let my breath out.”
Just two objections in the January 29 letter are repeats from earlier correspondence:
The clerk whose “prissily” character had concerned Breen here as before was almost certainly the hotel deskman who in the finished movie is annoyed that the military personnel use the expression “Roger” to signify a grasp of the information communicated to them; the deskman repeatedly communicates that he does not recognize the name as that of a hotel guest and begs indulgence as he looks for it. Such actions certainly would not stigmatize a man as “prissily.” Nonetheless, to portray this role, Paramount
By February 6, 1945, Breen could summarize his remaining concerns about the movie in just a brief letter. He itemized just two aspects of the production. The second of these was the line “You’re full of something.” This had been cited before but not removed. The first of these items was the lyrics to the songs, which he stated he was awaiting. He wouldn’t wait long, for these were sent to him from Paramount that same day and then found by him to be satisfactory. In the letter he wrote about the two aspects which concerned him on February 6, he mentioned that changed pages dated 2-3 and 2-5 had been deemed satisfactory.
By now, only small changes were submitted by Paramount. On all such occasions, Breen deemed acceptable the new material. On February 9, a changed version of Page 79 was found to meet the requirements of the Code, Breen reported. On February 14, Paramount sent new versions of pages 76, 81 and 101 dated that same day; Breen approved them the next. Pages 50 and 66 were changed February 16, sent the 17th, and accepted the 19th. Pages 71, 72, 119, 120, 121 and 121a dated February 26 were sent and approved February 27. Pages 57 and 57A had changes dated February 28, sent March 1, and accepted March 2. Changed pages labeled 105 and 105a were prepared March 2, sent March 3, and accepted March 5.
To writers such as Ayn Rand, a film can be an artist’s expression of his deepest beliefs. To functionaries working at the PCA, films and screenplays may have been nothing more than a succession of images about which one’s impressions could be categorized. You Came Along was no different in the sense that the agency prepared a chart communicating a few facts about the characters and their activities.
THE PRE-PRINTED FORM GIVING AN OVERVIEW
When the time came to fill out the form listing the characters of You Came Along and how they were categorized, no characters were labeled “unsympathetic” and the only ones designated “indiff” (by means of an “X” in that column) were “Journalists (Reporters)” and “Miscellaneous: U.S. Army & Navy Personnel.”
As with Love Letters, a previously-printed form was filled out with a typewriter to indicate whether and how some particular sensitive subjects were to be treated in You Came Along:
The printed form had as its default words “Night club” and “Bar”; in each of these two lines, an “s” was newly typed onto the printed form to create a plural where the form had been prepared to show the singular case. The resulting items now read “Night clubs” and “Bars.” where the printed text had been “Night club” and “Bar.”
A wedding handled without dignity would have been regarded as a sacrilege to religion and would have had to be re-edited, deleted or reshot to secure permission to release the picture as a whole. As it was, the Production Code reviewer found the scenes as written had been “handled with dignity” and thus were in compliance with Section VIII of the Code.
Hollywood Goes On Location
The wedding was filmed at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California, the same city which is identified in the film as the locale of the ceremony. The Mission Inn remains an elegant destination sixty miles east of downtown Los Angeles (further yet from the Paramount lot, which is west of downtown Los Angeles). Interested persons can learn more at sites about Riverside maintained by that city: one and two.
Once the Production Code Administration gave You Came Along a “seal” of approval, the film had the imprimatur of the industry. This assurance that the film was in compliance with rules that were supposedly so stringent that they had staved off boycotts and legislation eleven years earlier, was not enough to keep local censor boards from viewing a film to determine for themselves whether the film could be permitted unedited into their jurisdictions. None of the state boards in the United States are known to have objected to You Came Along either in whole or in part, but one Canadian province exacted one cut.
: Another Censor Weighs In
You Came Along was released with the Production Code Administration’s “seal” of approval, a designation intended to convey to local and state censor boards that the film as issued did not require any deletions. The censor board of British Columbia, however, decided differently, and on September 28, 1945, ordered deleted one section of film, as identified by this passage:
“Section B” refers to the second half of an approximately 20-minute reel; labs developed and processed film in 10-minutes rolls which would be spliced together two on each reel. The fact that the censor referred to a “page” indicates that they had at hand a “continuity script,” which contained a transcription of the completed film, taking note of reel breaks and specific shots.
In recounting Ayn Rand’s experiences as a playwright, documentarian Michael Paxton wrote that Ayn’s having her plays produced was “an unfulfilling but illuminating chapter in her career. As a writer, she had witnessed what could happen to her words at the hands of others.”8 On You Came Along, she experienced what could occur when a film was shaped primarily by four creators directly paid by the studio, then secondarily by an industry-empowered quasi-governmental censorship agency. Her one remaining battle with the MPA would be on a film for which she eventually secured a guarantee from the studio to preclude the studio interfering in her screenplay being shot as she had written it.
See cast and credits for You Came Along and Ayn Rand’s other movies. (Opens in a new window)
This article © 2000, 2005 David P. Hayes
3. This Treasury Department-provided chaperone is once referred to as a “wet nurse,” the same term used to describe the bothersome government-supplied inspector at Rearden Mills in Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, the plot of which she was devising at the same time she was writing for Wallis. (Return to text)
4. Letters of Ayn Rand, edited by Michael S. Berliner (Dutton Plume, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc., New York, NY, 1995), pg. 232. Miss Rand dated this letter August 21, 1945. Dr. Berliner helped bring more accuracy to the article now being read by relating some pertinent factual material to the author after reading an earlier version of the manuscript. (Return to text)
5. A variation on this idea was offered by Ayn Rand as an example of how a “white lie” backfires. You Came Along offers as story a husband attempting to not worry his wife about his upcoming prolonged medical treatments by telling her that he will be flying an overseas mission. His wife knows the truth, but doesn’t admit the conflicting knowledge, preferring to let him maintain the charade he is playing on her behalf. Miss Rand’s later version recognizes that a conceptual wife wouldn’t “localize” the deception, but rather let it “undermin[e] … her confidence in him to be a truthful partner.” As told to Rand’s friend Charles Sures, this variation probes honesty through the more common example of a “husband who has to have minor surgery, [but] tells her he is going to play golf… . After his treatment and he is fine, he tells the wife about the surgery.” Sures recounts this conversation in Facets of Ayn Rand, by Charles and Mary Ann Sures, edited by Scott McConnell (Ayn Rand Institute Press, Irvine, CA, 2001), pgs. 84-85. (Return to text)
6. Journals of Ayn Rand, edited By David Harriman (Dutton Plume, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc., New York, NY, 1997), pg. 709. This note is dated February 10, 1959. (Return to text)
7. Charles Barton in conversation with Jeff Lenburg, Greg Lenburg and Randy Skretvedt, as related to this article’s author by Brent Walker and Skretvedt. (Return to text)
8. Ayn Rand: a Sense of Life, a documentary film written, directed and produced by Michael Paxton, theatrically released 1998, by Strand Releasing. The remark quoted occurs a few seconds after the 60-minute point. (Return to text)