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

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Taglines:

A FIRST RUN PICTURE (IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT) (print ad - Lubbock Avalanche Journal - Midway Theatre - Lubbock, Texas - Feb. 11,1945 - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Mystery

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Second of nine films pairing Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. See more »

Goofs

When Geoffrey is driving toward the Arsenal, initially you see three people inside the car and one person hanging on the outside of the driver's door. But on the next cut when Kerndon gets ready to shoot at the oncoming car; the person is now hanging on the passenger side door. See more »

Quotes

Steven O'Malley: We don't want to be slaves, do we?
Jeb Rickards: Slaves?
Steven O'Malley: That's what they're fighting for.
Jeb Rickards: Well, that was the Civil War, 1861-1865. There aren't any slaves now.
Steven O'Malley: Not here, maybe. But Europe is full of them. It might be our turn next.
Jeb Rickards: How?
Steven O'Malley: Well, there are so many ways, it'd take me the rest of the day to explain it to you. But general idea is that they try to get us all confused and scared and, uh, sore at each other and then before you know it, clamp the handcuffs on us.
Jeb Rickards: hmmm. Would they put handcuffs on me?
Steven O'Malley: Not on ...
[...]
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Connections

Featured in Katharine Hepburn: All About Me (1993) 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

 
An Absorbing and Sadly Overlooked Mystery-Drama.
26 March 2002 | by kryckSee all my reviews

"Keeper of the Flame"(1942)was the second film starring the team of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Their first was the delightful George Stevens comedy,"Woman of the Year",which was a smash hit at the Box Office. However,many critics consider their second film to be a not bad, but lesser teaming. This is mainly because the characters Tracy and Hepburn play lack the romantic chemistry that was evident in their other films. Also,because of the dark theme of the plot,there is no room for any comical moments. With that said, "Keeper of the Flame" is a brilliant mystery-drama with a timely theme:the dangers of false hero-worship. Steven O'Malley(Spencer Tracy)is a reporter wanting to write a story on the life of Robert Forrest,a beloved American hero, who has suddenly been killed in a tragic car accident. O'Malley has found it difficult to get an interview with the devastated widow,Christine Forrest(Katharine Hepburn). While waiting for the interview, he encounters peculiar people well-acquainted with the deceased. He meets Forrest's brother-in-law(Forrest Tucker),an embittered man,who seems to despise Forrest, a young boy(Daryll Hickman),who admires Forrest so much,he feels responsible for his death,and Forrest's fussy secretary(Richard Whorf),who isn't what he seems to be. The young boy leads O'Malley to Christine Forrest. O'Malley expects Christine to be well in her middle-age,but he's startled to see she isn't that old. Christine isn't very helpful with the story;she's quite distant when O'Malley asks her certain questions. O'Malley also finds out that Forrest's mother(Margaret Wycherly)is still living. Her identity is near-hidden, so he decides to meet her. Christine claims she's a mentally-disturbed invalid,but O'Malley feels she knows more than she has been given credit for. Meeting these people,O'Malley comes to the startling realization that Robert Forest,a supposed "American hero",isn't such a great human being. The acting is vivid and realistic. Katharine Hepburn is excellent in the challenging role of a woman who knows what her husband was really like,but must be "the keeper of the flame." Spencer Tracy is extremely effective as a reporter,who's beliefs have been shattered. The sparkling supporting cast makes the mystery even more intriguing. George Cukor does a terrific job of directing by never having unnecessary scenes and building up the suspense slowly to make the ending have a lasting impression. Cukor's work here foreshadows his work on the psychological dramas,"Gaslight"(1944) and "A Double Life"(1947). The cinematography is stark and always draws the viewer's attention. The score is appropriately overpowering. The film has some similarities to the overrated,"Citizen Kane."(1941) It's similar in that the main character is a deceased American figure,who's isn't what he seems to be. Also,in both films,the main character lives in a dark,mysterious house. However,the viewer has sympathy for Charles Foster Kane,whereas no one feels sorry for Robert Forrest. I recommend this film and give it a strong 8 1/2 out of 10.


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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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