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Night of the Quarter Moon

Night of the Quarter Moon(1959)

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This film was re-released in 1961 under the title Flesh and Flame by Cinema Associates, according to Hollywood Reporter, and in 1966 under the title The Color of Her Skin, according to Filmfacts. In August 1958, prior to production, M-G-M considered using two titles for this film, planning to use an "exploitation" title, either I Crossed the Color Line or Quadroon, and a "prestige" title, Night of the Quarter Moon, according to a Daily Variety news item. The studio planned to let exhibitors choose to play either one, but realized that the exploitation titles "would not play in the South." No further information has been located concerning the exhibition of the film under the exploitation titles.
       According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, PCA officials, upon reading the script for this film, warned the producers about showing "Ginny" in the nude, urged them to use restraint in the vandalization scene and asked them to review the police interrogation scene, complaining that the third-degree methods "constitute a very bad portrayal of our police." In addition, the PCA objected to the climax of the film in which "Ginny" is instructed to disrobe in the courtroom: "The business of a woman being allowed to expose her intimate parts in the presence of a judge and other principles, in order to prove that the color of her skin is the same all over, is in our judgment an unacceptable portrayal of our Courts of Law. The thought comes to mind that any judge in maintaining the dignity of the Court would in a situation of this kind appoint a female doctor to make this examination privately and report her findings." According to Los Angeles Mirror-News, Anna Kashfi, who portrayed "Maria," protested this scene as it was filmed and ran from the stage "in hysterics." Kashfi stated, "It's humiliating. I am not a Negro but what they are doing is exploiting the race." Kashfi, according to the article, was forced to return, and though she expressed the wish to leave the project, director Hugo Haas said that would be impossible.
       Many reviews were critical of the courtroom scene. BHC complained that the film "ends on a note of the preposterous" and "descends to mere cheap sensationalism." Monthly Film Bulletin called the film "vulgar, sensational and humanly false." The film was refused a permit by the Atlanta Censor Board in 1959. Reviews praised James Edwards' performance. Motion Picture Daily called his the film's best, while Hollywood Reporter wrote his character was "brilliantly enacted." Hollywood Reporter also praised Nat King Cole's performance as an "off-beat and interesting characterization of a self-made, successful colored man who is sick of racial issues." Cole sang the song "To Whom It May Concern" in the film, while Cathy Crosby, the daughter of Bob Crosby, made her film debut singing "Blue Moon" in a nightclub scene. Kashfi, in her book about her life with Marlon Brando, to whom she was married at the time of this film, stated that originally her character was to have been the daughter of a character played by Louis Armstrong, but when Nat King Cole got the role instead, her role was changed to his wife. Kashfi also stated that she won the best supporting actress award for this film at the 1961 Cartagena Film Festival.