|Escape Me Never|
|Directed by||Paul Czinner|
|Produced by||Herbert Wilcox|
|Screenplay by||Robert Cullen|
Carl Zuckmayer or Carl Mayer
|Based on||Escape Me Never|
1935 play and
The Fool of the Family
by Margaret Kennedy
|Music by||William Walton|
|Edited by||David Lean|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|1 April 1935|
|102 minutes / USA: 95 min|
Escape Me Never is a 1935 British drama film directed by Paul Czinner, produced by Herbert Wilcox, and starring Elisabeth Bergner (recreating the role of Gemma as she created it onstage in New York and London), Hugh Sinclair and Griffith Jones. The score is by William Walton with orchestration by Hyam Greenbaum. Bergner was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance, but lost to Bette Davis. British readers of Film Weekly magazine voted the 1935 Best Performance in a British Movie to her. The film is an adaptation of the play Escape Me Never by Margaret Kennedy, which was based upon her 1930 novel The Fool of the Family. That book was a sequel to The Constant Nymph, which was also about the Sanger family of musical geniuses, but there is a disjunct among the books and the films: The Sanger brothers are never mentioned in the 1943 film of The Constant Nymph. Another film adaptation of Escape Me Never was made in 1947 by Warner Bros.
In Venice, Gemma Jones gatecrashes a party being held by Sir Ivor (Leon Quartermaine) and Lady McLean (Irene Vanbrugh), dressed as a schoolgirl. When she is found in a private part of the palazzo, she confesses that she is not a guest: She is a poor unwed mother, living with her child 's father, a composer, the son of the famous maestro Sanger. The McLean's daughter, Fenella (Penelope Dudley-Ward), is engaged to a composer, the son of the famous maestro Sanger. The McLeans jump to the obvious conclusion and, outraged, whisk Fenella off to the Italian Alps. When Gemma meets Caryle Sanger (Griffith Jones) the brother of her lover, Sebastian Sanger (Hugh Sinclair), all is made clear, and they set off into the mountains to find Fenella and explain. (Unfortunately, Fenella falls in love with Sebastian the first time she sets eyes on him.) When Gemma explains the confusion, Fenella and Caryle are reconciled.
Gemma, Sebastian and the baby return to London, and she goes into service while Sebastian prepares his ballet for production. But even after they are married, Sebastian continues to see Fenella in secret. Gemma goes to Fenella and warns her that Sebastian cares about no one but himself and nothing but his music. Indeed, he ignores the baby's failing health, and when Gemma seeks him at the Opera House, she is forced to leave the building. When Gemma fails to appear on Opening Night, Fenella tries to persuade Sebastian to run away with her. Sebastian knows his ballet is a triumph. He does not yet know that his child is dead. When Caryle learns the whole story, he tries to kill his brother. Sebastian survives and returns to Gemma, chastened. 
This summary is based on facts presented in the American Film Institute Catalog and on TCM.com, not from viewing the film, but this is presumably better than no summary at all.
According to TCM.com, contemporary reviews of this film describe Gemma as an unwed mother, but bowdlerized versions of the film's copyright materials indicate that Gemma was a widow and that the baby was not Sebastian's but was born of that previous marriage. This was the approach used to satisfy the censors in the 1947 movie version, with Ida Lupino as Gemma.
The film was shot on location in Venice and the Dolomites.
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