Murfin, Jane 1892(?)-1955
Murfin, Jane 1892(?)-1955
(Alan Langdon Martin)
Born October 27, 1892 (one source says 1893; one source says 1884), in Quincy, MI; died August 10, 1955, in Brentwood, CA (one source says
Los Angeles, CA); married Laurence Trimble (divorced); married Donald Crisp (an actor and director), 1932 (divorced, 1944).
Screenwriter, playwright, and film producer. Motion picture supervisor for RKO Studios, beginning 1934.
Academy Award nomination for best original story (with Adela Rogers St. Johns), 1932, for What Price Hollywood?
The Right to Lie (play), first produced 1908.
(With Jane Cowl) Daybreak (play), 1917.
(With Jane Cowl; under pseudonym Alan Langdon Martin) Smilin’ Through (play), first produced in New York, NY, 1924.
Also author of other plays, including Flaming Sign; collaborated with Jane Cowl on other plays, often under the pseudonym Alan Langdon Martin, including Lilac Time; author, with Anita Loos, of play The Women, published in Twenty Best Film Plays, edited by John Gassner and Dudley Nichols, 1943.
Daybreak (based on Murfin's play of the same title), 1917.
The Right to Lie (based on Murfin's play of the same title), 1919.
The Silent Call, 1921.
(And coproducer) Brawn of the North, 1922.
Smilin’ Through, 1922, remakes filmed in 1932, 1941.
(And coproducer) The Love Master, 1924.
(And codirector and coproducer) Flapper Wives (based on Murfin's play Flaming Sign), 1924.
White Fang (based on the novel by Jack London), 1925.
A Slave of Fashion, 1925.
The Savage, 1926.
Meet the Prince, 1926.
The Notorious Lady, 1927.
The Prince of Headwaiters, 1927.
Lilac Time (based on Murfin's play of the same title), 1928.
Half Marriage, 1929.
Street Girl, 1929.
Dance Hall, 1929.
Seven Keys to Baldpate, 1929.
The Pay Off, 1930.
Lawful Larceny, 1930.
The Runaway Bride, 1930.
Too Many Crooks, 1930.
Friends and Lovers, 1931.
White Shoulders, 1931.
What Price Hollywood?, 1932.
Young Bride, 1932.
Way Back Home, 1932.
After Tonight, 1933.
Ann Vickers, 1933.
Double Harness, 1933.
Our Betters, 1933.
The Silver Cord, 1933.
Little Women (based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott), 1933.
Crime Doctor, 1934.
The Fountain, 1934.
The Life of Vergie Winters, 1934.
The Little Minister, 1934.
Romance in Manhattan, 1934.
This Man Is Mine, 1934.
Alice Adams (based on the novel by Booth Tarkington), 1935.
(Coauthor) Roberta, RKO, 1935.
Come and Get It, Goldwyn, 1936.
I'll Take Romance, 1937.
The Shining Hour, 1938.
Stand Up and Fight, 1939.
(Coauthor) The Women, 1939.
(Coauthor) Pride and Prejudice (based on the novel by Jane Austen), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1940.
Andy Hardy's Private Secretary, 1941.
Flight for Freedom, 1943.
Dragon Seed (based on the novel by Pearl S. Buck), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1944.
Jane Murfin gained success in the first half of the twentieth century as a writer for stage and screen, and she also produced and directed some of her own films. Starting with 1908's The Right to Lie, she built a career on the stage over the next several years before turning to Hollywood around the time of World War I. A number of her stage works, such as
Daybreak, Lilac Time, and Smilin’ Through, were also made into movies. In fact, Smilin’ Through was adapted for film three different times. A tragic tale that belies the happy-sounding title, Smilin’ Through is about a young woman named Kathleen whose adoptive uncle, John Carteret, forbids her to see the man she loves; the reason for this is that Kenneth Wayne is the nephew of the man who killed Carteret's fiancée on their wedding day. Eventually, though, young love wins, and even Carteret's heart finds some room for forgiveness in it.
In addition to the popular success of Smilin’ Through, Murfin was also known for bringing Hollywood's first dog star, Strongheart the German shepherd, to the big screen. Strongheart starred in five films in the 1920s and was about as popular as Rin-Tin-Tin at the time. A prolific writer from the 1920s through the mid- 1930s, Murfin's output eased somewhat after she was named the first woman supervisor of motion pictures at RKO Studios in 1934. She continued making films, however, through the early 1940s, including 1940's Pride and Prejudice, an adaptation of the Jane Austen novel, and 1944's Dragon Seed, based on the Pearl Buck book about Chinese farmers living through the hell of Japanese occupation.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Moving Picture World, March 18, 1922, Fritz Tidden, review of Smilin’ Through.
New York Times, August 9, 1940, Bosley Crowther, "The Screen in Review; Pride and Prejudice, a Delightful Comedy of Manners, Seen at the Music ;h3 "; March 7, 1941, Bosley Crowther, "Andy Hardy's Private Secretary Adorns the Capitol— another Melodrama at the Rialto"; December 5, 1941, Bosley Crowther, "The Screen in Review; Smilin’ Through in Its Third Reincarnation, with Jeanette MacDonald, at the Capitol—Aherne, Raymond in the Cast"; April 16, 1943, Bosley Crowther, "Flight for Freedom,; a Film Speculation on Fate of Woman Flier, with Rosalind Russell in Lead, at the Music Hall"; July 21, 1944, "Dragon Seed, Picturization of the Pearl Buck Novel, with Katharine Hepburn, Walter Huston, Arrives at Music Hall."
Variety, March 10, 1922, review of Smilin’ Through.
Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/ (July 30, 2006), career and biographical information on Jane Murfin.
Norma Talmadge Web site, http://www.stanford.edu/??gdegroat/ (July 30, 2006), includes movie reviews from old periodicals, including reviews of Murfin's films.
New York Times, August 12, 1955.