Leslie Howard Plans a Double Life (1935)
Leslie Howard Plans a Double Life
Actor in Hollywood: Producer in England
The movements of that damned elusive Pimpernel, Leslie Howard, have been steeped in mystery lately–in real life as well as on the screen.
A short time ago, when Howard became a partner in the independent producing company formed by Anna Sten and her husband, somebody announced that he would henceforth confine himself to making films in this country.
A little later, somebody else insisted that he would return to Hollywood to work exclusively for Warners.
He was thus apparently committed to being in two places, thousands of miles apart, at the same time.
I felt that the Scarlet Pimpernel might do it, but that even so clever an actor as Leslie Howard would find it difficult.
Hollywood and Elstree couldn’t both have him. There obviously have had to be an explanation somewhere.
Film Weekly scouts, on looking into the matter, discovered that Howard had taken an office in Jermyn Street and was addicted to sitting behind a desk in a little room marked “Private,” looking very like a Wardour Street magnate. Hollywood seemed very far away from his thoughts, and I almost believed the story that he intended to stay in this country.
However, when I eventually met him the other day, he cleared up the position in a few words.
He has not broken, nor does he intend to break, his contract with Warners.
“I would not do anything so temperamental,” he told me, with a charming smile.
By the time you read this, he will be well on his way to Hollywood, where he is to do The Petrified Forest, a screen version of the Robert Sherwood play in which he acted in New York last year.
While he is making this film, he will try to come to an “amicable arrangement” with Warners permitting him to play in at least one picture of his own each year in England.
His British film plans largely depend on the success of this arrangement. If Warners accept it, he will go to New York, after finishing The Petrified Forest, to play Hamlet on the stage, and will return to England early next year to take the part of Lord Nelson opposite Anna Sten in Lady Hamilton.
He also hopes to take the title role in Bonnie Prince Charlie, which he will produce himself.
Should Warners refuse to release him, Howard will not do a walk-out, or anything silly like that.
“I shall fulfil my contract with them to the letter if they insist,” he assured me, “and shall not attempt to act in any pictures for my own company until it has expired. I am prepared to produce both Lady Hamilton and Bonnie Prince Charlie with other actors in the parts I have tentatively chosen for myself.”
Howard expects The Petrified Forest to make a very fine picture.
“It is to be directed by Archie Mayo, for whom I have the utmost respect,” he said, “and I am hoping that it will be as good as Of Human Bondage.
“It should, at any rate, be a great deal better than British Agent, which was a disappointment to me. The direction was good and there were moments of great suspense, yet the finished thing was superficial. It was a typical example of the mass-produced film.
“I believe that The Petrified Forest will escape this superficiality, for it has a reasonable theme and the dialogue is good.”
(Film Weekly, September 27, 1935)