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Eric Busch, a novelist/playwright, and his wife, Janet, go to New York where he arranges to have Matt Saxon, who has a reputation for ruthlessness, produce his play. Saxon insists on so many meetings, changes and revisions that it cause a rift between Eric and Janet. Saxon goes to Hollywood to get a prominent actor to play the lead but the actor, no fan of Saxon, declines. Saxon then deliberately robs his own girlfriend of her chance in Hollywood. The actor then comes to New York and offers to do the play, if someone other than Saxon is the producer. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Robert Montgomery patterned his portrayal of a ruthless Broadway producer who lets nothing stand in the way of getting what he wants, after Jed Harris, a noted Broadway impresario who had the same reputation. See more »
Robert Montgomery was able to break out of the mold that Hollywood and MGM pushed him into in the early 1930s - he was usually playing weaklings and society bounders. While this kept him working, he did fight to get atypical parts like Danny in NIGHT MUST FALL, the paranoid industrialist in RAGE IN HEAVEN and Prince Florizel in TROUBLE FOR TWO that demonstrated range and acting ability (not completely successful - his mad industrialist is supposed to be British, and Montgomery just can't bring up an accent to match George Sanders - here his friend and victim). By 1941 he was branching out with films like THE DUKE OF CHICAGO and HERE COMES MR. JORDAN. Unfortunately World War II broke out, and Montgomery signed up. He was out of Hollywood for three years in the Pacific, and then returned. Immediately he shared acting honors with John Wayne in THEY WERE EXPENDABLE, and then he did something interesting again: He began to direct films. THE LADY IN THE LAKE (with his "I am a camera" approach) was the first film he directed, and it became a noir classic. RIDE THE PINK HORSE followed. Then came THE SAXON CHARM.
It was different from the other two films, for it does not deal with criminals or an underside of life that most of us avoid. Instead, THE SAXON CHARM dealt with the legitimate theater. Montgomery's Matt Saxon was a successful Broadway producer who did not stop at anything to get his way. As such, he represented many Broadway performers or writers or choreographers worst nightmares, for Broadway was full of people like Saxon. Years later David Merrick would have such a reputation - brilliant producer/absolute rat. In 1946/47 the person most people would have thought of was Jed Harris. Jed Harris should not be confused with George M. Cohan's partner Sam Harris (a nicer man from most accounts - portrayed by Richard Whorf in YANKEE DOODLE DANDY). Jed Harris was a first rate heel. If you read Katherine Hepburn's memoirs ME:STORIES OF MY LIFE, Harris was the producer of her famous Broadway flop THE LAKE. Today it is recalled because it is used by Hepburn in the movie STAGEDOOR, where we hear it's dialog, beginning with "The kallallillies are in bloom again..." In 1936 it was not a laughing matter to Hepburn, who found that Harris had botched the production out of malice towards her. She had to pay him a huge sum of money to get out of her contract on the play when he took it on the road. Harris also made an enemy of Laurence Olivier, whom got his revenge in a neat way. When making up his features for RICHARD III, Olivier made his evil king look like an exaggerated Jed Harris (and most of Broadway approved).
Matt Saxon is similarly selfish, ready to turn on everyone and anyone who does not do as he says. He wrecks the home life of his playwright (John Payne) to get a play according to his specifications. He demolishes the career of his girlfriend (Audrey Totter) with rumors, although she's able to continue without him. He even turns on Harry Von Zell when that harmless fellow just makes a mild comment of disagreement to him. In the end, he destroys almost everyone - even himself. Only at the last moment does he get a bit of advice that MAY save him.
THE SAXON CHARM is not a great film about the theater, but in showing a particular type that infests it's body politic it is an interesting film on the subject.
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