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The Cabin in the Cotton

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Genre  Drama
Language  English
7.1/10 IMDb

Director  Michael Curtiz
Music director  Leo F. Forbstein
Country  United States
The Cabin in the Cotton movie poster
Release date  October 15, 1932 (1932-10-15)
Writer  Paul Green (screen play), Harry Harrison Kroll (based on the novel by)
Producers  Jack L. Warner, Darryl F. Zanuck, Hal B. Wallis
Cast  Richard Barthelmess (Marvin Blake), Dorothy Jordan (Betty Wright), Bette Davis (Madge Norwood), Hardie Albright (Roland Neal), David Landau (Tom Blake), Berton Churchill (Norwood)
Similar movies  Self/less, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Captain Phillips, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Tagline  They said this book was "throbbing, vital, absorbing." (N.Y. American) You'll say the same thing about the picture!

The cabin in the cotton clip

The Cabin in the Cotton is a 1932 American pre-Code drama film directed by Michael Curtiz. The screenplay by Paul Green is based on the novel of the same title by Harry Harrison Kroll.


The Cabin in the Cotton movie scenes

The film perhaps is best known for a line of dialogue spoken by a platinum-blonde Bette Davis in a Southern drawl -- "I'd like ta kiss ya, but I just washed my hair." -- a line lifted directly from the book. In later years it was immortalized by Davis impersonators and quoted in the 1995 film Get Shorty.

The Cabin in the Cotton The Cabin in the Cotton 1932


The Cabin in the Cotton Still image from The Cabin in the Cotton Pretty Clever Films

Marvin Blake is a sharecropper's son who wants to better himself by continued schooling instead of working in the fields under the heat in the Deep South. Initially, greedy planter Lane Norwood is opposed to the idea and says he needs to work in his fields, but after the sudden death of his over-worked father, he grudgingly helps Blake achieve his goal and gives the young man a job as a bookkeeper when his vampish daughter Madge intercedes on his behalf. Blake uncovers irregularities in Norwood's accounts and soon finds himself embroiled in a battle between management and workers and torn between the seductive Madge and his longtime sweetheart Betty Wright.


The Cabin in the Cotton The Cabin in the Cotton 1932 Movie classics

When producer Darryl F. Zanuck urged Michael Curtiz to cast Bette Davis as Madge Norwood, the director responded, "Are you kidding? Who would want to go to bed with her?" Angry that he was forced to use her against his will, Curtiz fumed throughout the shoot, loudly deriding her as "a goddamned lousy actress" or calling her a "God-damned-nothing-no-good-sexless-son-of-a-bitch!" under his breath during her love scenes with Richard Barthelmess. In later years, Davis observed, "Mr. Curtiz, I must say, monster as he was, was a great European moviemaker. He was not a performer's director . . . You had to be very strong with him. And he wasn't fun . . . He was a real BASTARD! Cruelest man I have ever known. But he knew how to shoot a film well." She went on to make six additional films with Curtiz, including The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex in 1939.

The Cabin in the Cotton The Cabin in the Cotton 1932 Starring Richard Barthelmess Bette

Davis liked Barthelmess personally but was stymied by his acting style. "He did absolutely nothing in the long shots, followed basic stage directions for medium shots, and reserved his talent for the close-ups. In that way it was necessary to use his close-ups almost entirely." Barthelmess said of Davis, "There was a lot of passion in her, and it was impossible not to sense . . . one got the sense of a lot of feeling dammed up in her, a lot of electricity that had not yet found its outlet. In a way it was rather disconcerting - yes, I admit it, frightening."

The Cabin in the Cotton The Cabin in the Cotton 1932 Toronto Film Society Toronto Film

Davis later confessed she was a virgin when she made the film. "Yes, that's absolutely true. No question about it," she added for emphasis. "But my part called for me to exude raging sexuality. Well, if they had known I was still a virgin, they wouldn't have believed I could carry it off. They wouldn't have trusted me if they'd known, but no one asked. It was assumed that a young actress had lived a bit of a loose life."

Cast (in credits order)

The Cabin in the Cotton The Cabin in the Cotton Wikipedia
  • Richard Barthelmess as Marvin Blake
  • Dorothy Jordan as Betty Wright
  • Bette Davis as Madge Norwood
  • Hardie Albright as Roland Neal
  • David Landau as Tom Blake
  • Berton Churchill as Lane Norwood
  • Dorothy Peterson as Lilly Blake
  • Russell Simpson as Uncle Joe
  • Tully Marshall as Slick
  • Henry B. Walthall as Eph Clinton
  • Edmund Breese as Holmes Scott
  • John Marston as Russell Carter
  • Erville Alderson as Sock Fisher
  • William Le Maire as Jake Fisher
  • Clarence Muse as A Blind Negro
  • Critical reception

    In his review in the New York Times, Mordaunt Hall described it as "a film which seldom awakens any keen interest . . . Richard Barthelmess gives a careful but hardly an inspired performance. His general demeanor lacks the desired spontaneity and often he speaks his lines in a monotone . . . Michael Curtiz is responsible for the direction, which is uneven, and sections of the narrative are rather muddled."

    The Cabin in the Cotton was one of nine 1932 releases in which Davis appeared. Still relatively unknown, she managed to draw the attention of many critics with her performance. In the New York American, Regina Crewe described her as "superb." Richard Watts, Jr. of the New York Herald Tribune stated, "Miss Davis shows a surprising vivacity as the seductive rich girl," and Variety declared that her "rising popularity is the film's best chance for business." Davis also caught the eye of director John Cromwell, who was impressed enough to cast her as Mildred in his 1934 film Of Human Bondage, which went on to cement Davis' reputation as one of the best actresses of the era.


    The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

  • 2005: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
  • Madge Norwood: "I'd love to kiss you, but I just washed my hair." – Nominated
  • References

    The Cabin in the Cotton Wikipedia
    The Cabin in the Cotton IMDbThe Cabin in the Cotton Rotten TomatoesThe Cabin in the Cotton