That Brennan Girl

6.51 h 35 min1946UHD7+
A feisty girl has bad luck in this comedy. (1946)
Alfred Santell
James DunnMona FreemanJune Duprez
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Alfred Santell
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3.7 out of 5 stars

32 global ratings

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Richard Davis McLeodReviewed in the United States on March 19, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
Life during and after World War II in San Francisco
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Adela Rogers St. Johns has written a story centering in San Francisco and dealing with women and the loss of their husbands during World War II. Mona Freeman is very good in her role as initially a young teenager, a few years pass, then a quick marriage to an out of town G.I. (played by William Marshall) in San Francisco, only to shortly leave and fight in World War II. She learns after a few months he was killed in action and also now pregnant, living alone and with limited funds from a Military Pension. Her plight in this film represents many situations women found themselves in, when losing their husbands to an early death during the War and oftentimes left with few resources or emotional supports. Adela Rogers St. Johns, who in 1933 became one of the first women screenwriters to be nominated for an Academy Award, along with Jane Murfin for the Original Story of "What Price Hollywood" which later became "A Star Is Born".

Good sets, story line, and excellent scenes of 1947 San Francisco are noted throughout the entire movie put out by Republic Studios. Adela Rogers St. Johns was known as the "Mother Confessor to the Stars" in the 1930's and also worked for William Randolph Hearst for the Hearst Newspaper line. She knew Hollywood and Washington Politics at the time. Her eldest son had died in an Airplane crash in the early years of WW II. This aspect is noted in "That Brennan Girl", as life does imitate art. Her most famous script came from her influence in the making of "A Star Is Born", which she essentially wrote and sadly not given the credit. In all, Adela Rogers St. Johns wrote many screenplays (including "The Single Standard" with Greta Garbo), articles for newspapers and magazines, and her books were very popular during the 1960's with her Best Seller novels, especially "Some Are Born Great" and "The Honeycomb". Her father was a famous Los Angeles Attorney who never lost a case. He also died at an early age from alcoholism. The later character of Perry Mason was based on the life of Adela Rogers St. Johns father, Earl Rogers.

Adela Rogers St. Johns received the Presidential Medal of Honor from President Richard Nixon in the early 1970's. Oddly, Richard Nixon had been either her paperboy or grocery boy in earlier days when she lived in Whittier, California and he was just an early teen. Adela Rogers St. Johns appeared as herself in Warren Beatty's highly acclaimed film, "Reds" and also was interviewed extensively in the 13 hour Documentary series done by Kevin Brownlow in conjunction with Thames Television of London. It was titled, "Hollywood A Celebration of the Silent Film". Highly Recommended Hollywood film history showcasing a unique period of time, from the early days of Hollywood, up until "the talkies" took over the silent screen.

Top-billed James Dunn was the male lead, and had just won an Oscar for his role in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (1945) as the male lead. He had a very successful early career, but succumbed to alcoholism early on, which ended a career that had great potential. He was at his peak when he made "That Brennan Girl".

Dorothy Vaughan played the role of James Dunn's mother in "That Brennan Girl", and a very devout Roman Catholic mother. She was born November 5, 1890, in St. Louis, Missouri, and passed away March 15, 1955 in Hollywood of a cerebral hemorrhage. She was 64 years of age. She was one of the great character Actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood you know the face, but not the name. In the film, she lives in a small, humble apartment down a lonely alley-way in San Francisco. She is content to live there even though her son, played by James Dunn, wishes to put her in a fancy apartment with the money he earns through criminal activities. She prefers giving the money from her son to help the poor through the Catholic Church she attends. Dorothy Vaughan appeared in 143 movies or episodes of a TV series and it was by no accident. The reason why she was in such demand is that she was everybody's mother and generally always played such roles. Of course her roles were often brief, just like when you come across an ordinary person you barely notice in everyday life. But she could occasionally get more meaty roles, like in "Trail to San Antone" (1947) in which she portrayed the bossy 'Commodore' with obvious relish. In "That Brennan Girl" she has a larger role in helping her son through her prayers and those she requests from her Catholic Priest make on behalf of her son, played by James Dunn. Her confrontation with Mona Freeman and her private conversation with James Dunn as her son, are a few of the high points in this film, as she becomes the mediator for all the other characters and the problems in their lives.

June Duprez (born May 14, 1918 and passed away on October, 30 1984) was an English film actress, who very convincingly plays the part of Mona Freeman's "hard-boiled" mother very effectively leading her daughter into a life of criminal activities, passing her off to friends and associates as her sister. This isn't a spoiler, as the situation is brought out early in the film "That Brennan Girl". The daughter of American vaudeville performer Fred Duprez and Australian Florence Isabelle Matthews, she was born in Teddington, Middlesex, England, during an air raid in the final months of the World War I.
She began acting in her teens with a theatre company and made her first film, "The Crimson Circle", in 1936. Her next film, "The Cardinal" (1936), was also a success, and she had a small role in "The Spy in Black" (1939), but it was her fourth film, the epic London Films adaptation of A. E. W. Mason's "The Four Feathers" (1939), that made her a film star, acting opposite John Clements, Ralph Richardson, and C. Aubrey Smith. Her peak of success came with the landmark fantasy film "The Thief of Bagdad" (1940), which she also made for Alexander Korda's London Films (on locations in the United Kingdom, northern Africa, and the Grand Canyon in Arizona).

Alexander Korda took charge of her career after this point and took her to Hollywood where he set her asking price at $50,000 per film. However, as Duprez had not yet achieved the level of popularity in America that she had in Britain, this tactic only served to place her out of contention for most roles. When she was finally released from Korda's contract she appeared in such low budget fare as "They Raid by Night" (1942), "Little Tokyo, U.S.A." (1942), and "Tiger Fangs" (1943). Clifford Odets' grim "None But the Lonely Heart" (1944), in which she co-starred with Cary Grant and Ethel Barrymore, commenced a brief return to films of higher production values. Duprez performed well amid a top ensemble cast in René Clair's film version of Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" (1945). That same year she appeared opposite John Loder in "The Brighton Strangler". It was at this point she made "That Brennan Girl". In the film noir "Calcutta" (1947) she starred with Alan Ladd, Gail Russell, and William Bendix. After a few more motion pictures, Duprez moved to New York City for a brief career on and off Broadway. Her final credited film performance was in "One Plus One" (1961).

She largely retired from acting when she married for a second time in 1948, to a wealthy sportsman. The union produced two daughters but ended in divorce in 1965. Duprez lived in Rome, Italy, for several years, then returned to London to live out the remainder of her life. She died there, after a long period of illness, at age 66. Alfred Santell was quite adroit in getting the overall cast he assembled for this Republic Picture.

Producer, Director, Actor and former husband of Ginger Rogers, William Marshall had a small role playing the short lived Military husband killed in Action during World War II. That primary scene takes place in an Art Deco Nightclub in San Francisco, appropriately called, "The Bird Cage" with a large actual birdcage on the interior. It was probably a Studio set at the Republic Studios in Los Angeles. The exterior scenes of 1947 San Francisco all appear to be the actual locations. Such exterior shots of San Francisco give an individual a very good insight as to how San Francisco looked just after World War II. Definitely not the San Francisco of today. Much more real than the artificiality of the City today. That scene where Mona Freeman meets her future husband at a Telephone Booth in the Nightclub was his biggest scene in this film for William Marshall.

William Marshall was noted in many other films during his long career both in the States and in France, where he was living at the time of his death in 1994. You may not recognize the name, but you will recognize the face or remember his marriage to Ginger Rogers which lasted until from 1961 to 1969.
The onetime vocalist with the Fred Waring orchestra was also married to actress Corinne Aboyneau and was a friend of Clark Gable, Errol Flynn and Marilyn Monroe. He became Ginger Rogers' fifth husband in 1961 in a North Hollywood church ceremony. He recounted his professional and marital life in his 1983 memoirs, "The Sixth Season." Morgan took him to court to have intimate passages about their life together removed from the book. Born in Chicago, William Marshall started his career with Fred Waring's Orchestra in 1936. The next year, Marshall was leading his own band, and he began making film appearances in 1940 with "Flowing Gold" and "Sante Fe Trail". His credits are often confused with those of another actor of the same name, who has appeared in films since the early 1950's.

When Mona Freeman was 18 year's old her first role was as Barbara Stanwyck teen stepdaughter in Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity" (1944) but she photographed so young, she was replaced by Jean Heather. She still made her debut in the movie, however, when she was instead handed a one-line bit part as Edward G. Robinson's secretary. She was also cast to play Elizabeth Taylor's older sister in "National Velvet" (1944) but once again was replaced (by Angela Lansbury) because she did not look old enough. In truth, Mona was six years Taylor's senior. The versatile Mona Freeman co-starring with Betty Grable in the Oscar-winning musical Mother Wore Tights (1947), opposite Best Actress Oscar winner Olivia De Havilland in "The Heiress" (1948), and the comedy smash" Jumping Jacks" (1952) with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Producer/director Alfred Santell made scores of silent shorts and features, then made a successful transition to sound with the 1930 version of "The Sea Wolf", the 1932 version of "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm", the classic "Winterset" (1936) and "The Hairy Ape" (1944). "That Brennan Girl" marked his final feature film.

A professional model while still in high school and the original Miss Subway of New York City, Mona Freeman was eventually signed to a movie contract by Howard Hughes, who then proceeded to sell her contract to Paramount. Starting out in typical juvenile parts, she developed into a very competent actress. As she worked her way out of the teenage ingénue role, however, she found that she had less success in adult roles, and instead of landing parts in "A" pictures she found herself relegated to "B" westerns and crime dramas (e.g., Flesh and Fury (1952), Shadow of Fear (1954) and a popular "A" Western "Branded" with Alan Ladd among many other film roles). She basically retired from film work in the late 1950s, but worked steadily in television for quite some time after that, as her television work is quite extensive.

Her appearances in films ended in the 1950s but she continued to work in television. Among her appearances were seven guest roles on The United States Steel Hour from 1960-1962 and three on Perry Mason, all of them roles as Mason's client: Jane Wardman in the 1962 episode, "The Case of the Lurid Letter", Rosanne Ambrose in the 1964 episode, "The Case of the Illicit Illusion", and Ellen Payne in the 1965 episode, "The Case of the 12th Wildcat", with Perry himself portrayed as the title character by Ellen.

Mona Freeman was also a portrait painter and after 1961, she concentrated on painting. Her best-known portrait is that of Mary See, founder of See's Candies seen in every store, and on every box of See's Candy.

Mona Freeman was born in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up in Pelham, New York. She married Pat Nerney, a car dealer, in Los Angeles in 1945. The couple had one daughter, Mona. They were divorced in 1952. In 1961 she married H. Jack Ellis. She dated Bing Crosby for a time, and it was rumored they were to be married, but that marriage never came to fruition due to their Catholic Faith.

Sadly, we lost Miss Freeman this past May 23, 2014, as she passed away at the age of 87 at her home in Beverly Hills, California.
20 people found this helpful
LuReviewed in the United States on October 9, 2020
2.0 out of 5 stars
Moralistic Tale Right Down to the Catholic Church
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Predictable period piece. Too moralistic for me to enjoy. The old old story of woman is a tramp, woman is taken to task and taught a lesson, woman learns her proper place and becomes a Madonna.
3 people found this helpful
laweegieReviewed in the United States on May 22, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
World War II in SanFrancisco
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This movie is about a young girl raised by an opportunistic floozy. She is taught by her mother that a people are only to be used for personal gain. But somehow she escapes from a frivolous life by a chance meeting with an honest young soldier and finds herself a mother. The rest of the movie is charming, sometimes poignant in her search to find her true self. It is not a classic, but fine entertainment.
VickyReviewed in the United States on December 3, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
History and enjoyable.
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This was enjoyable, and showed how it was a man's world as far as work in business. Brannon works her way in the office and is automatically putting in a few femine things, that makes the office a bit warmer. She becomes the test, can women work in a man's world? Yes!
MarkReviewed in the United States on April 9, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Surprisingly good, relatively unknown
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Tells a good story with realistic attitudes and situations.
2 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on October 29, 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
That Brennan Girl movie
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The setting of the movies is better than the movie itself. I just wish the director/producers would have made better use of showing location shots of San Francisco/Northern California. The ending of the movie was a little disappointing because I did not like the man the main character was left.
LLCReviewed in the United States on June 29, 2016
3.0 out of 5 stars
Held my interest.
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Could have been better, could have been worse. James Dunn was more of father figure type for the lead character, he was too old for her.
2 people found this helpful
Kindle CustomerReviewed in the United States on February 17, 2016
3.0 out of 5 stars
Great Scenes of San Francisco in the Late 1940's
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Great Scenes of San Francisco in the Late 1940's, with a tear jerker of a plot. James Dunn is miscast. Mona Freeman is charming. This movie left a flat taste.
2 people found this helpful
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