FOREVER AMBER: FROM NOVEL TO FILM (paperback)
One of the most popular and controversial novels of the twentieth century was Forever Amber. In 1944, author Kathleen Winsor submitted multiple drafts to MacMillan, but when her story of Restoration England and the sexual exploits of beautiful Amber St. Clare was finally released, more than half of her composition had been edited out.
Despite the excisions, many reviewers admired the story’s relevance, comparing Amber's fortitude during a plague and fire to that of the women who held hearth and home together through the blitzes of World War II. Others condemned the book, including the Catholic Church, for its blatant sexual references and perceived indecency. Fourteen U.S. states even banned the book as pornography. Despite the bans, Forever Amber sold over 100,000 copies in the first week of release and went on to sell over 3 million copies.
Within a month after publication, the movie rights had been purchased by 20th Century Fox, despite the Hays Office having condemned the novel. To pacify them and other watchdogs, substantial changes were made to the script by Jerome Cady, Philip Dunne, and Ring Lardner, Jr.
Production began but ran into immediate problems. Actress Peggy Cummins, originally cast as Amber, proved to be too inexperienced for the role, and she was replaced by Linda Darnell. Director John M. Stahl was also replaced after thirty-nine days of filming and more than $300,000 of production expenses. Otto Preminger took the director position, and the film proceeded, eventually costing nearly $4.5 million. The romantic Tehnicolor film co-tarred Cornel Wilde, Richard Greene, George Sanders, Dolores Hart, and Broadway veteran Jessica Tandy.
Author Gary A. Smith sheds new light on the much maligned movie version of the bestselling novel and shows how misguided censorship can ultimately damage artistic expression. This research work also features glimpses into behind-the-scenes casting, costuming, and an appraisal of David Raksins original score.
206 pages. Illustrated with many rare photographs, including set photos from several cut scenes. Also includes many contemporary film reviews. ISBN 9781593935436.