The Wedding Night

  • 1935
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Cooper stars as a troubled writer (reportedly modeled after F. Scott Fitzgerald) whose latest manuscript fails to impress. On the advice of his publisher, he retreats to a Connecticut farmhouse with his devoted wife, Vinson, where he hopes to get back in touch with his roots as a writer. He soon meets a Polish farm girl, Sten, and is enthralled by her simple...read more

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Cooper stars as a troubled writer (reportedly modeled after F. Scott Fitzgerald) whose latest manuscript fails to impress. On the advice of his publisher, he retreats to a Connecticut farmhouse with his devoted wife, Vinson, where he hopes to get back in touch with his roots as a writer.

He soon meets a Polish farm girl, Sten, and is enthralled by her simple ways and philosophies. Their talks become more frequent, and, when Vinson complains of the confines of the country, Cooper suggests that she return home to New York City for a while. Cooper becomes increasingly interested in

Sten and decides to use her and her heritage as the basis of his new novel. He then learns that she has been betrothed by her puritanical father, Rumann, to the rather drab Bellamy. Sten has no feelings of love for her betrothed, so she sets her sights on Cooper, spending time cleaning his house

and listening to the drafts of his latest chapters. One day a particularly violent snowstorm brews; Sten is forced to spend the night with Cooper, who makes romantic advances but decides instead to retreat to his bedroom alone. Rumann, in a fit of rage, rushes through the snow to Cooper's and

drags his daughter back. Convinced that she is up to no good, Rumann demands that she marry Bellamy within the next two days. Sten is determined to fight her father's wishes and returns to Cooper's farmhouse, where she finds that Vinson has also come back. After reading the draft of Cooper's

novel, Vinson easily deduces that the lead character, "Sonya," is really Sten and convinces the farmgirl that she will not be able to lure Cooper away. Sten relents and marries Bellamy, but spurns his advances on their wedding night when he suggests that she has lost her virginity to Cooper. In a

drunken rage, Bellamy heads for Cooper's. Sten goes along to warn Cooper. The confrontation comes to a head at Cooper's on a staircase. In the midst of the brawl between the two men, Sten falls down the stairs and dies as Cooper admits his love for her. A love triangle with a high tragedy ending,

THE WEDDING NIGHT just didn't make much of an impression on the Depression-era audiences. Although the film has a great deal of artistic merit--Goldwyn's influence, Vidor's directorial skill, and Toland's sharp photography--it fell victim to indifference on the part of moviegoers. Goldwyn had been

determined to make his Russian-born discovery, Sten, a star of the magnitude of Greta Garbo or Marlene Dietrich, and there was no real reason he shouldn't have succeeded. He commissioned his friend Knopf to write a scenario specifically for Sten, hoping to succeed where her previous vehicles--NANA

and RESURRECTION--had failed. Goldwyn even found himself on the set to help pack a Cooper-Sten love scene with all the sexual energy he could muster. Stepping into Vidor's shoes for a while, Goldwyn began to coach the actors, exclaiming "If this scene isn't the greatest love scene ever put on

film, then the whole goddamned picture will go right up out the sewer!" Well, it wasn't, and though the film didn't "go right up out the sewer," it did, unfortunately for Sten and Goldwyn, leave the audience unimpressed. Sten was soon gone from Hollywood, remembered only as "Goldwyn's Folly" or

"The Edsel of the Movie Industry." THE WEDDING NIGHT did mark a momentous return for Cooper to Goldwyn's company, which 10 years previously let Cooper slip away to Paramount. In addition to dealing with Sten's thick accent (she received endless vocal coaching to subdue it), director Vidor had

Cooper's laconic delivery to worry about. "I remember well the first day I directed him," Vidor recalled in his book King Vidor on Film Making. "He had difficulty remembering or speaking two or three sentences consecutively. We had to stop the camera again and again and put the scene together

piecemeal. This was one of his early speaking parts: he had not needed words before to communicate." The Goldwyn-Cooper marriage was short-lived, however, as the actor returned to Paramount for his very next picture, THE LIVES OF A BENGAL LANCER. It would be another eight years before Cooper would

return to Goldwyn in THE ADVENTURES OF MARCO POLO (opposite Goldwyn's next discovery, Sigrid Gurie) and 14 years before he would reunite with Vidor in THE FOUNTAINHEAD.

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  • Review: Cooper stars as a troubled writer (reportedly modeled after F. Scott Fitzgerald) whose latest manuscript fails to impress. On the advice of his publisher, he retreats to a Connecticut farmhouse with his devoted wife, Vinson, where he hopes to get back in t… (more)

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