My Foolish Heart (film)

My Foolish Heart (film)
My Foolish Heart
Directed by Mark Robson
Produced by Samuel Goldwyn
Written by Julius J. Epstein
Philip G. Epstein
J. D. Salinger (short story)
Starring Dana Andrews
Susan Hayward
Kent Smith
Lois Wheeler
Jessie Royce Landis
Editing by Daniel Mandell
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date(s) December 25, 1949 (1949-12-25)
Running time 98 minutes
Country United States
Language English

My Foolish Heart is a 1949 American film which tells the story of a woman's reflections on the bad turns her life has taken. It was directed by Mark Robson and stars Dana Andrews and Susan Hayward. Adapted from J. D. Salinger's 1948 short story "Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut", it remains the only authorized film adaptation of Salinger's work; the filmmakers' infidelity to his story famously precluded any possibility of film versions of other Salinger works, including The Catcher in the Rye.




After being disappointed, according to biographer Ian Hamilton, when "rumblings from Hollywood" over his 1943 short story "The Varioni Brothers" came to nothing,[1] J. D. Salinger did not hesitate when independent producer Samuel Goldwyn offered to buy the film rights to "Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut." His agent Dorothy Olding later explained this uncharacteristic relinquishing of control with the simple statement that “we thought they would make a good movie."[2]

Indeed, "a good movie" would seem to have been implied by the production’s pedigree, which included Oscar-winning actress Teresa Wright and Casablanca screenwriters Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein. (Some years earlier, Salinger had actually referenced Casablanca in his 1944 short story "Both Parties Concerned"; one of its characters, upon learning his wife has left him, re-enacts the "Play it, Sam" scene from the film with an imaginary pianist.) However, the eventual film, renamed My Foolish Heart and with Susan Hayward replacing Wright at the last minute,[3] was critically lambasted upon its release.

The New Yorker wrote that it was "full of soap-opera clichés,"[4] and, while allowing for "some well-written patches of wryly amusing dialogue," Time rejected it as a "damp fable....the screenplay turns on all the emotional faucets of a Woman's Home Companion serial."[5] Goldwyn biographer A. Scott Berg explained that “in the Epsteins’ version, more than had ever been suggested [in the original story] was shown, resulting in a ‘four handkerchief’ movie with a farfetched plot."[6] Berg even called the film a “bastardization.” Because of what Salinger's agent later called "'a terrible movie' made in the 1950's [sic]" of one of his stories,[7] the author never again relinquished control of his work to Hollywood filmmakers, despite persistent interest in adapting his most famous work, The Catcher in the Rye, for the screen.

Despite a critical drubbing, the film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Susan Hayward) and Best Music, Song (Victor Young and Ned Washington for the title song, sung by Martha Mears), which has become a jazz standard. Although in recent years the film's standing has not improved (Christopher Durang called it "a soggy love story" in 1996),[8] the film critic Andrew Sarris has notably defended the film. Sarris admitted that it was his deceased brother's favorite film and much of the movie's appeal for him is nostalgic.[9]


  1. ^ Hamilton, Ian. In Search of J. D. Salinger. New York: Random House, 1988. ISBN 0-679-72220-3. p. 75.
  2. ^ Fosburgh, Lacey (1976-11-21). "Why More Top Novelists Don't Go Hollywood" (fee required). The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-04-06. 
  3. ^ Brady, Thomas F (1949-04-02). "MISS HAYWARD SET FOR GOLDWYN FILM; She Will Be Seen With Andrews in 'My Foolish Heart,' Which Mark Robson Will Direct" (fee required). The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  4. ^ McCarten, John. "The Current Cinema: Sad Scot in Burma," The New Yorker 28 Jan. 1950. 74-5.
  5. ^ "The New Pictures". Time. 1950-02-06.,9171,811872-2,00.html. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  6. ^ Berg, A. Scott. Goldwyn: A Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989. ISBN 1-57322-723-4. p. 446.
  7. ^ "Depositions Yield J. D. Salinger Details" (fee required). The New York Times. 1986-12-12. Retrieved 2007-04-14. 
  8. ^ Durang, Christopher. Durang/Durang. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1996. ISBN 0-8222-1460-1. p. 128-30.
  9. ^ Sarris, Andrew. "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter." Film Comment 27.1 (Jan/Feb 1991): 42-7.

External links

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