Toward the end of his life, F. Scott Fitzgerald is writing for Hollywood studios to be able to afford the cost of an asylum for his wife. He is also struggling against alcoholism. Into his life comes the famous gossip columnist.
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In 1936, the witty columnist Sheilah Graham leaves her noble British fiancé and travels in the Queen Mary from Southampton, England, to New York. She seeks out the editor of the North American Newspaper Alliance, John Wheeler, offering her services but he sends her to the Daily Mirror. Sheilah becomes successful and John offers a job in Hollywood to write a gossip column about the stars. When Sheilah meets the decadent writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, they immediately fall in love. Sheilah discovers that Scott accepts any job to financially support his wife Zelda that is in asylum, and his daughter at a boarding school. She opens her heart to him and tells the truth about her origins; but their relationship is affected by his drinking problem. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Deborah Kerr and Gregory Peck are Sheilah Graham and F. Scott Fitzgerald in "Beloved Infidel," based on Sheilah Graham's autobiography. 20th Century Fox gave this a big, glossy production, with Henry King as director.
In the movie, Sheilah goes to the set of In Old Chicago with one "Mr. Harris" (Zanuck) and we see an actual scene from the film re-enacted. Graham has apparently criticized the actress Jane Pierce (Alice Faye) and Miss Pierce isn't happy to see her. In the cafeteria, there is a large photo of Shirley Temple, and next to her is Tyrone Power. Yes, we're at Fox, all right.
Graham is an aspiring writer looking for work, and at a party, she meets F. Scott Fitzgerald, who has come out to Hollywood and is writing screenplays. The two fall in love. Zelda, Scott's wife, has been institutionalized by then, and his daughter Francis is in school. Fitzgerald needs the film work to pay his bills.
History tells us that Fitzgerald was a big flop writing for movies; most of his work is uncredited or just not used. His glorious prose did not translate to the screen. In this version of his story, he starts drinking heavily after he is fired from the studio. In reality he had been an alcoholic since college. The alcohol temporarily breaks them up.
Certainly one of the most fascinating people who ever lived is F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Sheilah Graham pulled herself up from nothing to become an important columnist. But neither of these people come off as especially fascinating or interesting.
For me, Gregory Peck was miscast as Fitzgerald, whom I believe was, for one thing, much less robust, had a weaker character, and was probably drunk most of the time. Peck does as well as he can, but I think he was smart enough to know there was no way he could convey the personality of the real Fitzgerald. It wasn't in the script. Deborah Kerr, in my opinion, was an underrated actress, and she gives a marvelous performance here. But she probably wasn't playing Sheilah Graham.
The script simply isn't specific or detailed enough to give us an idea of who these people really were.
People have speculated how much of this story is true. Most of it - Fitzgerald did move to Hollywood, he did flop out in movies, he did fall for Sheilah Graham, they did live together, he did start to write The Last Tycoon; the incident toward the end of the movie at the theater did happen, and the end of the film was basically correct. As far as what they were both like -- you'll have to find another source for that.
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