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Mandalay (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Theatrical film poster
Directed byMichael Curtiz
Screenplay byAustin Parker
Charles Kenyon
Story byPaul Hervey Fox
Produced byRobert Presnell Sr.
StarringKay Francis
Ricardo Cortez
Warner Oland
Lyle Talbot
CinematographyTony Gaudio
Edited byThomas Pratt
Music byUncredited:
Heinz Roemheld
Sammy Fain (music)
Irving Kahal (lyrics)
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • February 10, 1934 (1934-02-10)
Running time
65 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$629,000[1]

Mandalay is a 1934 American pre Code drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and written by Austin Parker and Charles Kenyon based on a story by Paul Hervey Fox. The film stars Kay Francis, Ricardo Cortez, Warner Oland and Lyle Talbot, and features Ruth Donnelly and Reginald Owen.

The film is about a world-weary woman (Francis) nicknamed "Spot White" at the local brothel-bar who does what she can to survive. Curtiz used cutting edge wipes and opticals in the film.[2] Future child star Shirley Temple appeared in a walk-on role as the daughter of the Donnelly and Littlefield characters.[3]

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Russian refugee Tanya Borisoff is suddenly abandoned penniless in Rangoon by her lover, Tony Evans, when he accepts a gunrunning deal from Nick, the owner of a sleazy local nightclub. Nick made the deal hoping to get Tanya as his main "hostess," which Tanya accepts after an initial refusal, just to make the best of a bad situation.

Using the name "Spot White," she becomes notorious for her affairs, which provokes the commissioner of police to order her deported. She reminds him of a tryst he had with her, and extorts 10,000 rupees from him to start a new life. Calling herself Marjorie Lang, she leaves for Mandalay via river steamer. On board she meets alcoholic Dr. Gregory Burton, who is on his way to help in an area plagued with a deadly contagious fever.

As they begin to fall in love, she learns he's seeking to make amends for once fatally operating on a patient while drunk. She decides to go with him so they can put their pasts behind them together. But Tony is on the steamer too, and tries to convince Tanya he still loves her.

Tony gets a wire from Nick telling him the police are on his trail and will pick him up at the next port. He fakes taking poison and jumping overboard, then hides in the boat’s hold. The captain finds the evidence and believes Tanya murdered Tony, and arrests her. At the urging of Dr. Burton and the first mate who finds the wire, he finally decides it was a suicide and frees her.

When Tony returns to an astonished Tanya he tries to convince her to open a club with him in Mandalay, where she can prostitute herself as a "hostess" again. Through with that life, she eyes the poison still in the cabin as Tony asks her to make him a drink.



The lead roles were initially offered to George Brent and his wife Ruth Chatterton. Chatterton turned down the role because she did not want to play a prostitute again, and Brent because he did not want to make the trip to the Stockton, California location on San Joaquin River, where the film shot for 10 days. Afterwards, Ricardo Cortez was assigned by the studio to play "Tony Evans".[6]


Although the critics did not see the film as anything better than a good "B-movie", it was well-received and was a moneymaker for the studio.[4]

Box office

According to Warner Bros records the film made a profit of $83,462.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Mandalay at Kay Francis Films Archived 2014-04-05 at the Wayback Machine accessed 16 March 2014
  2. ^ Baxter 54
  3. ^ Edwards, p. 49
  4. ^ a b Stafford, Jeff. "Mandalay" on
  5. ^ Mandalay (1934) details Archived 2013-01-16 at,; accessed August 30, 2015.
  6. ^ Mandalay (1934) - film notes,; accessed July 22, 2015.


  • Baxter, John (1968), Hollywood in the Thirties, A. Zwemmer Ltd, London, UK, ISBN 0-498-06927-3
  • Edwards, Anne (1988), Shirley Temple: American Princess, New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.

External links

This page was last edited on 4 November 2023, at 02:22
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