Let's Live a Little

Last updated
Let's Live a Little
Let's Live a Little 1948 Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Wallace
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Albert J. Cohen
  • Jack Harvey
Produced by
  • Robert Cummings
  • Eugene Frenke
Cinematography Ernest Laszlo
Edited by Arthur Hilton
Music by Werner R. Heymann
United California Productions [1]
Distributed by Eagle-Lion Films
Release date
  • December 9, 1948 (1948-12-09)(USA)
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.5 million [2] or $1 million [1]

Let's Live a Little is a 1948 American romantic comedy film directed by Richard Wallace and starring Hedy Lamarr and Robert Cummings. Written by Howard Irving Young, Edmund L. Hartmann, Albert J. Cohen, and Jack Harvey, the film is about an overworked advertising executive who is being pursued romantically by his former fiancée, a successful perfume magnate, who is also the ad agency's largest client. While visiting a new client—a psychiatrist and author—to discuss a proposed ad campaign, his life becomes further complicated when the new client turns out to be a beautiful woman, who decides to treat his nervous condition. [3]



At Montgomery Advertising in New York City, Duke Crawford (Robert Cummings) is having trouble handling the account of cosmetics manufacturer Michele Bennett (Anna Sten), one of the company's most important clients—and his former fiancée. Still determined to win him back, Michele refuses to sign a contract until Duke reciprocates her affection. When Duke threatens to quit Michele's account, his boss James Montgomery (Harry Antrim) assigns him to do the book promotion for a new client, a nerve psychologist named J.O. Loring.

While taking a taxi to the psychologist's office, Duke shaves with an electric razor he invented, but his nervousness and stress result in leaving half his mustache intact. When he arrives at the client's office, Duke discovers that J.O. Loring is in fact an attractive woman named Jo (Hedy Lamarr). Staring at the half a mustache, Jo mistakes him for one of her mentally disturbed patients. Determines to prove to himself that he is anesthetized from women, he kisses the doctor. Jo reacts by recommending that he read her book on stress relief titled Let's Live a Little. Later that night, Duke is unable to fall asleep.

The next morning, after Duke makes an appointment to see Jo as her patient, Jo advises him that if he wants his former fiancée to sign the contract, he must wine and dine her. Following her advice, Duke arranges a date with Michele at a nightclub. Wanting to observe the encounter for scientific reasons, Jo arrives at the nightclub with her stuffy surgeon boyfriend, Dr. Richard Field (Robert Shayne). When Michele notices that Duke and Jo are falling in love, and when she is served a cake with an advertising contract inside instead of a marriage license, she throws his drink at him and storms out of the nightclub. Duke is reduced to a nerve-wracked state—repeating ad slogans over and over.

Feeling responsible for Duke's psychological condition, Jo takes him to a lakeside lodge for a rest cure. One moonlit night, while the two are on the lake in a canoe, Duke kisses Jo passionately, proving to himself that he is cured of his misogyny. Duke soon returns to New York, rejuvenated by his love for Jo, and organizes a successful radio ad campaign for her book. During one radio interview, Jo discusses one of her recent patients who suffered from a nervous breakdown brought on by a failed relationship. She describes how she helped him recover by pretending to fall in love with him to help him in a transference of his affections. When Duke hears the interview, he becomes angry at being depicted as a guinea pig in a love experiment. Duke resolves to forget Jo and pursue Michele.

Soon after, Jo reads the newspaper announcement of Duke's engagement to Michele. Unable to think about anything but Duke, Jo begins to have a nervous breakdown of her own. As Michele and Duke's wedding day approaches, Jo's colleague Dr. Field takes her to the lakeside lodge in an effort to cure her of her obsession with Duke. Even after he proposes to her, however, she can see only Duke's face, and rejects him. Meanwhile, as Michele tastelessly redecorates Duke's apartment, he gets a telephone call from Field, who defiantly announces that Jo is now in his care. Duke leaves Michele and drives to the lakeside lodge, where he finds Jo, embraces her, and convinces her that his kisses are real.



Let's Live a Little was the first film produced by Robert Cummings and Eugene Frenke and their company, United California Productions (UCP). [1] Hedy Lamarr signed in December 1947. [4]

UCP originally arranged for the film to be financed and released through United Artists but this was eventually terminated and they made a deal instead with a new company, Eagle-Lion. [5]

UCP had Douglas Sirk under contract as director but because he was busy on another film they hired Richard Wallace to direct Let's Live a Little. [6]

Anna Sten was married to Eugene Frenke. [7]

Filming took place in March 1948. According to an article, the film cost $1,100,000 to produce. [1]

Stanley Cortez was meant to be cinematographer but left the film during filming. It was reported in the trade press this was because Lamarr objected to the focus being given to Anna Sten over her. Hedy Lamarr said it was because she was unhappy with his work. Frencke said it was because Cortez was sick. [8] [9]

Cummings announced a slate of independent productions to follow but was unable to obtain finance. [10]

Radio Version

A radio version of the film was broadcast on Screen Directors' Playhouse on January 16, 1949 and starred Robert Cummings and Betty Lou Gerson. [11] The film was later reissued in the United States with the title Hell Breaks Loose.


Let's Live a Little received mixed reviews, with most critics reserving their positive responses for Lamarr. Following the previews on October 21, 1948, the reviewer in Daily Variety wrote, "Lamarr is a knockout!" [12] In his review for the Los Angeles Times, Philip K. Scheuer wrote, "Miss Lamarr is her customary self—vague, cool, and bewitching." [12] Despite earning some money, Let's Live a Little turned out to be the only film ever produced by United California Productions. [13] For the film itself, most of the positive responses were far more reserved. The reviewer for the Hollywood Reporter wrote, "The not too discriminating filmgoer might reasonably find it much to his liking." [14] In New South Wales, Australia, the film was double billed with Tokyo File 212 . [15]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hedy Lamarr</span> Austrian-American actress and inventor (1914–2000)

Hedy Lamarr was an Austrian-born American film actress and inventor. A film star during Hollywood's golden age, Lamarr has been described as one of the greatest movie actresses of all time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George Antheil</span> American avant-garde composer, pianist, author and inventor (1900–1959)

George Johann Carl Antheil was an American avant-garde composer, pianist, author, and inventor whose modernist musical compositions explored the modern sounds – musical, industrial, and mechanical – of the early 20th century. Spending much of the 1920s in Europe, Antheil returned to the United States in the 1930s, and thereafter spent much of his time composing music for films, and eventually, television. As a result of this work, his style became more tonal. A man of diverse interests and talents, Antheil was constantly reinventing himself. He wrote magazine articles, an autobiography, a mystery novel, and newspaper and music columns.

<i>Samson and Delilah</i> (1949 film) Film by Cecil B. DeMille

Samson and Delilah is a 1949 American romantic biblical drama film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille and released by Paramount Pictures. It depicts the biblical story of Samson, a strongman whose secret lies in his uncut hair, and his love for Delilah, the woman who seduces him, discovers his secret, and then betrays him to the Philistines. It stars Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr in the title roles, George Sanders as the Saran, Angela Lansbury as Semadar, and Henry Wilcoxon as Prince Ahtur.

<i>Ecstasy</i> (film) 1933 film

Ecstasy is a 1933 Czech erotic romantic drama film directed by Gustav Machatý and starring Hedy Lamarr, Aribert Mog, and Zvonimir Rogoz.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert Cummings</span> American actor

Charles Clarence Robert Orville Cummings was an American film and television actor who appeared in roles in comedy films such as The Devil and Miss Jones (1941) and Princess O'Rourke (1943), and in dramatic films, especially two of Alfred Hitchcock's thrillers, Saboteur (1942) and Dial M for Murder (1954). He received five Primetime Emmy Award nominations, and won the Primetime Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Single Performance in 1955. On February 8, 1960, he received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the motion picture and television industries, at 6816 Hollywood Boulevard and 1718 Vine Street. He used the stage name Robert Cummings from mid-1935 until the end of 1954 and was credited as Bob Cummings from 1955 until his death.

<i>Algiers</i> (film) 1938 American drama film

Algiers is a 1938 American drama film directed by John Cromwell and starring Charles Boyer, Sigrid Gurie, and Hedy Lamarr. Written by John Howard Lawson, the film is about a notorious French jewel thief hiding in the labyrinthine native quarter of Algiers known as the Casbah. Feeling imprisoned by his self-imposed exile, he is drawn out of hiding by a beautiful French tourist who reminds him of happier times in Paris. The Walter Wanger production was a remake of the successful 1937 French film Pépé le Moko, which derived its plot from the Henri La Barthe novel of the same name.

<i>Tortilla Flat</i> (film) 1942 film by Victor Fleming

Tortilla Flat is a 1942 American romantic comedy film directed by Victor Fleming and starring Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr, John Garfield, Frank Morgan, Akim Tamiroff, and Sheldon Leonard based on the 1935 novel of the same name by John Steinbeck. Frank Morgan received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his poignant portrayal of The Pirate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joe Pasternak</span> American film producer

Joseph Herman Pasternak was a Hungarian-American film producer in Hollywood. Pasternak spent the Hollywood "Golden Age" of musicals at MGM Studios, producing many successful musicals with female singing stars like Deanna Durbin, Kathryn Grayson and Jane Powell, as well as swimmer/bathing beauty Esther Williams' films. He produced Judy Garland's final MGM film, Summer Stock, which was released in 1950, and some of Gene Kelly’s early breakthrough roles. Pasternak worked in the film industry for 45 years, from the later silent era until shortly past the end of the classical Hollywood cinema in the early 1960s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Philip Yordan</span> American screenwriter

Philip Yordan was an American screenwriter of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s who produced several films. He acted as a front for blacklisted writers although his use of surrogate screenwriters predates the McCarthy era. His actual contributions to the scripts he is credited with writing is controversial and he was known to some as a credit-grabber. Born to Polish immigrants, he earned degrees from both University of Illinois and Chicago-Kent College of Law.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Loder (actor)</span> British actor (1898–1988)

John Loder was established as a British film actor in Germany and Britain before migrating to the United States in 1928 for work in the new talkies. He worked in Hollywood for two periods, becoming an American citizen in 1947. After living also in Argentina, he became a naturalized British citizen in 1959.

<i>H. M. Pulham, Esq.</i> 1941 film by King Vidor

H. M. Pulham, Esq. is a 1941 American drama film directed by King Vidor and starring Hedy Lamarr, Robert Young, and Ruth Hussey. Based on the novel H. M. Pulham, Esq. by John P. Marquand, the film is about a middle-aged businessman who has lived a conservative life according to the routine conventions of society, but who still remembers the beautiful young woman who once brought him out of his shell. Vidor co-wrote the screenplay with his wife, Elizabeth Hill Vidor. The film features an early uncredited appearance by Ava Gardner. In February 2020, the film was shown at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival, as part of a retrospective dedicated to King Vidor's career.

<i>White Cargo</i> 1942 film by Richard Thorpe

White Cargo is a 1942 film drama starring Hedy Lamarr and Walter Pidgeon, and directed by Richard Thorpe. Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, it is based on the 1923 London and Broadway hit play by Leon Gordon, which was in turn adapted from the novel Hell's Playground by Ida Vera Simonton. The play had already been made into a British part-talkie, also titled White Cargo, with Maurice Evans in 1930. The 1942 film, unlike the play, begins in what was then the present-day, before unfolding in flashback.

<i>I Take This Woman</i> (1940 film) 1940 American film

I Take This Woman is a 1940 American drama film directed by W. S. Van Dyke and starring Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamarr. Based on the short story "A New York Cinderella" by Charles MacArthur, the film is about a young woman who attempted suicide in reaction to a failed love affair. The doctor who marries her attempts to get her to love him by abandoning his clinic services to the poor to become a physician to the rich so he can pay for her expensive lifestyle.

<i>Her Highness and the Bellboy</i> 1945 film by Richard Thorpe, Gladys Lehman, Richard Connell, Charles Walters

Her Highness and the Bellboy is a 1945 American romantic comedy film directed by Richard Thorpe and starring Hedy Lamarr, Robert Walker, and June Allyson. Written by Richard Connell and Gladys Lehman, the film is about a beautiful European princess who travels to New York City to find the newspaper columnist she fell in love with six years earlier. At her posh New York hotel, she is mistaken for a maid by a kind-hearted bellboy. Charmed by his confusion, the princess insists that he become her personal attendant, unaware that he has fallen in love with her. Her Highness and the Bellboy was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the United States on July 11, 1945.

<i>Come Live with Me</i> (film) 1941 American romantic comedy film directed by Clarence Brown

Come Live with Me is a 1941 American romantic comedy film produced and directed by Clarence Brown and starring James Stewart and Hedy Lamarr. Based on a story by Virginia Van Upp, the film is about a beautiful Viennese refugee seeking United States citizenship who arranges a marriage of convenience with a struggling writer.

<i>The Strange Woman</i> 1946 film by Edgar George Ulmer

The Strange Woman is a 1946 American melodrama film directed by Edgar G. Ulmer and written by Ulmer and Hunt Stromberg, starring Hedy Lamarr, George Sanders and Louis Hayward. Originally released by United Artists, the film is now in the public domain.

Picture Mommy Dead is a 1966 American horror film directed by Bert I. Gordon and starring Don Ameche, Martha Hyer, Susan Gordon and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

<i>Joe MacBeth</i> 1955 film by Ken Hughes

Joe MacBeth is a 1955 British–American crime drama, directed by Ken Hughes and starring Paul Douglas, Ruth Roman and Bonar Colleano. It is a modern retelling of Shakespeare's Macbeth, set in a 1930s American criminal underworld. The film's plot closely follows that of Shakespeare's original play. It has been called "the first really stand out movie" of Hughes' career.

<i>The Female Animal</i> 1958 film by Harry Keller

The Female Animal is a 1958 American CinemaScope film noir drama film directed by Harry Keller and starring Hedy Lamarr, Jane Powell, Jan Sterling and George Nader.

<i>Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story</i> 2017 American film

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is a 2017 American biographical documentary film directed, written and co-edited by Alexandra Dean, about the life of actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr. It had its world premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival and released theatrically on November 24, 2017. The film was broadcast in the United States on the PBS biography series American Masters in May 2018. As of April 2020, it was also available on Netflix.


  1. 1 2 3 4 A.H. WEILER. (Oct 17, 1948). "BY WAY OF REPORT". New York Times. ProQuest   108258717.
  2. Variety 18 February 1948 p 14
  3. Sandra Brennan. "Let's Live a Little (1948)". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times . Baseline & All Movie Guide. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013. Retrieved February 16, 2013.
  4. "STUDIO BRIEFS". Los Angeles Times. Dec 31, 1947. ProQuest   165779766.
  5. THOMAS F BRADY (Jan 7, 1948). "LAMARR TO APPEAR AS A NEUROLOGIST". New York Times. ProQuest   108153443.
  6. "STUDIO BRIEFS". Los Angeles Times. Jan 9, 1948. ProQuest   165790187.
  7. "Of local origin". New York Times. Feb 17, 1948. ProQuest   108296080.
  8. Hopper, H. (Mar 17, 1948). "Looking at hollywood". Chicago Daily Tribune. ProQuest   177591540.
  9. T. F. (Mar 21, 1948). "HOLLYWOOD MEMOS". New York Times. ProQuest   108246549.
  10. "Cummings Smiles and Keeps Busy". Los Angeles Times. June 6, 1948. p. B3.
  11. "Notes". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved February 16, 2013.
  12. 1 2 Shearer 2010, p. 241.
  13. Shearer 2010, p. 242.
  14. Barton 2010, p. 167.
  15. "City Theatre". National Advocate . Bathurst, NSW. February 16, 1952. p. 3. Retrieved 17 May 2015 via Trove.