The House on 56th Street

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Original title The House on 56th Street
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1933
length 69 minutes
Director Robert Florey
script Austin Parker
Sheridan Gibney
production Warner Brothers
music William Franke Harling
Bernhard Kaun
camera Ernest Haller
cut Howard Bretherton

The House on 56th Street is an American feature film with Kay Francis . The film, with its focus on the heroine's numerous strokes of fate, is typical of the kind of films that made Francis one of the highest-paid stars of the 1930s.


The story spans from 1905 to 1933 and is under the theme Forever , so forever . The focus is on the eponymous house on 56th Street near Park Avenue in New York. In 1905 the story begins with Peggy Martin, a showgirl, who leaves her older lover to become engaged to Monte Van Tyle, the scion of a respected family. They both live happily for a while in the large house on 56th Street, an elegant brick building with many rooms. There is an imposing fireplace in the salon, above which a medallion is set. The two lovers make the medallion a symbol of their love forever , is expected to continue so forever. Peggy, who has meanwhile become the mother of a little girl, finds herself exposed to blackmail attempts by her former lover after a while. On an impulse she secretly visits him one night in his apartment to bring him to his senses. A scuffle breaks out, a shot is fired, and Peggy is charged with murder. Monte believes alone in her innocence, and his influence is sufficient to lessen Peggy's manslaughter charge. She is sentenced to 20 years in prison and soon after that Monte dies in the war.

Peggy was released from prison in 1925 and Monte's family paid a large sum of money in return for her disappearance from society. On a cruise, Peggy meets Blaine, a player who tries to cheat her with marked cards. However, she knows about the tricks from her father, who was a professional gambler himself, and soon the two are a couple and live from their trick series. A few years later, Blaine obtained a New York gambling license, and to Peggy's surprise, he is starting his casino in her former home on 56th Street. Reluctantly, Peggy begins to work in the establishment; every evening she goes to the fireplace and tenderly touches the locket, in her thoughts with her deceased husband.

One day, Peggy's daughter comes into the casino and gambled away a huge sum. When Blaine asks her to stop playing quite drastically under threat of violence, the young girl shoots him in a panic and in self-defense. Peggy, in a surge of maternal love, wants to take the blame, but Bonelli, the casino owner, offers to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of all concerned if she works at the casino forever. In the last shot, Peggy goes to the fireplace, touches the locket and softly says Forever ...


Kay Francis moved from Paramount to Warner Brothers at the end of 1931 as part of a legendary talent raid together with Ruth Chatterton and William Powell . Within a few months, she rose to become a popular actress in romance films and quickly gained a significant female following. Most of the time, Francis was seen as a long-suffering woman who had to survive emotional problems with weak men and / or a bigoted, petty-bourgeois society, who rejected the self-confident lifestyle of Francis or her film character. The House on 56th Street was originally intended for Ruth Chatterton, who refused. The role went to Francis and the script had to be adjusted accordingly when Franics had slight problems with the pronunciation of the letter 'r', which mostly sounded like a 'w' and earned her the nickname the wawishing Kay Fwancis . The studio made sure that the film was produced with considerable effort and was careful to let Kay Francis tailor as many different costumes as possible. The film was a great financial success and Kay Franics, who was always very open and honest in her answers, sums up the reasons precisely:

"If the film is more successful than my previous productions, then that's the 36 instead of the usual 16 costume changes."


The contemporary critics complained on the one hand that considerably too much material was pressed in too little playing time. Kay Francis received special praise, a critic certified that he was one of those actors who would never exaggerate in their roles, but always acted realistically and comprehensibly.

There were benevolent words to read in Photoplay:

“Kay Francis gives a superb performance in a multi-faceted role. She turns the film into engaging and deeply moving entertainment. Everything is very well done and Kay is outstanding. "

The film historian Lawrence J. Quirk found in his book The Great Romantic Films , a few decades apart:

"The House on 56th Street" isn't just the perfect Kay Francis movie - it's a moving, nostalgic romance that sticks in the mind. In the film, Kay Francis shows her best dramatic portrayal. It's those kinds of roles that made her a star. "

Theatrical release

Production costs were just $ 211,000, but that didn't detract from the film's box office popularity. In the United States, he already grossed $ 410,000, to which a further $ 284,000 came. The total of $ 694,000 shows that Kay Francis, when used correctly and in the right role, has generated huge revenues.

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  1. If it does better than my other films, it's because I parade thirty-six costumes instead of sixteen.
  2. Kay Francis's superb performance of a rich role, lift this tale into poignant, compelling, drama. It's grandly done by all and Kay is superb throughout.
  3. ^ "The House on 56th Street" is not only the perfect Kay Francis vehicle - it is a touching nostalgic romance, that haunts the memory. The film also contains Kay Francis's finest dramatic performance, in the type of role that made her househould name in the 1930's.