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The Girl Who Had Everything

The Girl Who Had Everything(1953)


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teaser The Girl Who Had Everything (1953)

When MGM's 1953 remake of the classic A Free Soul hit the screen as The Girl Who Had Everything, the title was ironic in more ways than one. Shortly before shooting started on the film, Taylor wed second husband Michael Wilding. Not only was she blissfully in love with the British actor, but she was thrilled to discover herself pregnant with her first child. MGM had to juggle the film's production schedule to get her more physical scenes completed before she started to show. That certainly didn't take any of the sizzle out of her love scenes with Latin heartthrob Fernando Lamas. The story of a willful heiress involved with a gangster represented by her lawyer father (William Powell) helped Taylor build a new image as a screen sexpot after years of juvenile roles. The story had worked much the same magic for Norma Shearer, who played the lawyer's daughter opposite gangster Clark Gable and lawyer Lionel Barrymore in the 1932 version.

On the down side, however, the girl who seemed to have everything was almost broke. She and Wilding barely had any money left after paying off their agents, lawyers, secretaries, and accountants. And once the film was completed, Taylor had to accept a reduced salary while on maternity leave. They only survived financially because Taylor turned 21, which allowed her to cash in the trust fund her parents had established with her childhood earnings.

Their financial problems wouldn't last for long, however. With television making inroads on Hollywood's profits, MGM was desperate to keep their top female star. For her part, Taylor loved the comforts of the studio system. So when MGM offered her a new contract at $5,000 a week, she signed on the dotted line.

But while The Girl Who Had Everything marked a new stage in Taylor's meteoric career, it was the end of the line for another great MGM star. William Powell had joined the studio in 1934, scoring a hit with his first film there, Manhattan Melodrama, which had also marked his first teaming with his favorite co-star, Myrna Loy. The two shot to superstardom the same year with their second team-up, The Thin Man. By the early 50s, however, studio executives weren't exactly going out of their way to find material for him. In fact, his role as the alcoholic lawyer in The Girl Who Had Everything, which had brought Lionel Barrymore an Oscar for Best Actor in 1932, was reduced to supporting status in the remake. The Girl Who Had Everything would be Powell's last MGM film. After supporting roles in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and Mister Roberts (1955), he retired, living out of the limelight until his death in 1984.

Director: Richard Thorpe
Producer: Armand Deutsch
Screenplay: Art Cohn, Willard Mack (play), based on the novel A Free Soul' by Adele Rogers St. Johns
Cinematography: Paul Vogel
Editor: Ben Lewis
Art Direction: Randall Duell, Cedric Gibbons
Music: Andre Previn
Cast: William Powell (Steve Latimer), Elizabeth Taylor (Jean Latimer), Fernando Lamas (Victor Y. Raimondi), Gig Young (Vance Court), James Whitmore (Charles Chico' Menlow)

by Frank Miller

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