6.8/10
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Keeper of the Flame (1942)

Passed | | Drama, Mystery | December 1942 (USA)
Trailer
2:05 | Trailer
Journalist Steve O'Malley wants to write a biography of a national hero who died when his car ran off a bridge. Steve receives conflicting reports and tales that make him question what the truth about the hero is.

Director:

George Cukor

Writers:

I.A.R. Wylie (novel), Donald Ogden Stewart (screenplay)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Spencer Tracy ... Steven O'Malley
Katharine Hepburn ... Christine Forrest
Richard Whorf ... Clive Kerndon
Margaret Wycherly ... Mrs. Forrest
Forrest Tucker ... Geoffrey Midford
Frank Craven ... Dr. Fielding
Stephen McNally ... Freddie Ridges (as Horace McNally)
Percy Kilbride ... Orion Peabody
Audrey Christie ... Jane Harding
Darryl Hickman ... Jeb Rickards
Donald Meek ... Mr. Arbuthnot
Howard Da Silva ... Jason Rickards (as Howard da Silva)
William Newell ... Piggot
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Storyline

American military leader and war hero Robert Forrest, universally beloved and respected within the country and thus touted as Presidential material, has just died in a freak car accident on his sprawling estate, where, during an unexpected rainstorm, the car he was driving plunged over a ravine as he didn't notice the washed-out bridge. While the nation mourns, the national reporters descend on his small hometown to write the story of the incident. One reporter who won't is renowned Steven O'Malley, who wants instead to write an in-depth piece on the man to preserve his status within the public consciousness. Although happy to use official documents and records, O'Malley wants most specifically to speak to his wife, Christine Forrest, which may be a difficult task as she has refused to grant any interviews as a very private person. O'Malley is able to meet with Christine in person, and although she is reluctant to oblige his request at first, she is convinced by Robert's aide, Clive ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A FIREY LOVE DRAMA WITH THE REPORTER GETTING HIS STORY...AND THE WOMAN! (print ad - Lubbock Avalanche Journal - Midway Theatre - Lubbock, Texas - Feb. 11, 1935- all caps) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Mystery

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to contemporary articles in The Hollywood Reporter, MGM bought the film rights to the book from RKO for $50,000. See more »

Goofs

Correction: the amount on the cash register when O'Malley buys the football is backwards to the customer - not $5.20 but $1.25. Keys pressed were for $1, .20 and .05. See more »

Quotes

Doctor Fielding: Hero fever, I call it. Very modern. Ever since we've been getting out of touch with God, we've been pushovers for it. And the young get it the worst of all.
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Connections

Edited into Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

Marcia Funebre
(uncredited)
from "Symphony No.3 in E Flat Major "Eroica", Op.55" (1806)
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
played as background music during the funeral
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User Reviews

 
The Midnight Oil
12 August 2001 | by telegonusSee all my reviews

This film is early in the Tracy-Hepburn canon, and not widely regarded as one of their best efforts. The thing is, coming out so shortly after their landmark Woman Of the year, it isn't properly a Tracy-Hepburn vehicle so much as a George Cukor-Donald Ogden Stewart movie in which they happen to appear.

It is the story of a newspaperman (Tracy) out to investigate the circumstances behind the death of a much beloved American hero, meets and falls in love with the man's widow (Hepburn)who, along with everyone else whoever knew the man, seems to be harboring some dark secrets as to the true nature of his character. The film owes some obvious debts to Citizen Kane in being the inside scoop on a recently deceased man presumed to be great but who was in actuality something else altogether. In its somber mood, forbidding mansion, enigmatic and generally paranoid aspect, Keeper of the Flame suggests Kane in many regards, but is, to be fair, its own film.

Tracy and Hepburn play their roles exceedingly well. The supporting cast is well-chosen, and Percy Kilbride does a nice turn as a cab-driver; while Margaret Wycherly is scarifying as the dead man's mad mother; and a young, Aryan-looking-as-all-getout Forrest Tucker scoots about on a motorcycle like he'd join Hitler's minions at the drop of a hat. Richard Whorf in what at the time must have seemed a 'daring' performance, plays a fussy secretary to the dead hero in a manner which suggests a combination of repressed mania and strong homosexual tendencies. His character is wholly unbelievable but awfully fun to watch.

The movie has a dark, gothic cast to it, and was obviously filmed on a studio back-lot, but the result is not so much unreality as the suggestion of a fairy tale or a fable strangely consistent with the film's intent, and hence satisfying, making its woods and country roads look at times like a weird and twisted perversion of a Norman Rockwell painting.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

December 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Keeper of the Flame See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,172,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$15,392
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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