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My Bill
Kay Francis in My Bill trailer.jpg
Kay Francis in the film trailer
Directed byJohn Farrow
Written byVincent Sherman
Robertson White
George Bilson
contribution to treatment
Lee Katz
contribution to scr constr
Milton Gropper
Based onplay Courage by Tom Barry
Produced byBryan Foy
StarringKay Francis
Bonita Granville
CinematographySidney Hickox
Edited byFrank Magee
Music byHoward Jackson (uncredited)
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • July 9, 1938 (1938-07-09)
Running time
60-65 minutes
CountryUnited States

My Bill is a 1938 drama film starring Kay Francis as a poor widow raising four children. It was based on the play Courage by Tom Barry.[1]


In the late 1930s, Mary Colbrook is the widow of Reginald Colbrook, Sr. She has four children: Muriel, a young adult; teenagers Gwendolyn and Reginald, Jr.; and, the youngest, Bill. Mary has financial difficulty in maintaining the home. Bill befriends Adelaide Crosby, an elderly woman, who considers Bill a nuisance after he accidentally broke her window with a thrown football. However, Bill's concern for Mrs. Crosby eventually endears him to her.

The late Reginald Sr.'s sister, "Aunt" Caroline Colbrook arrives. She criticizes Mary's parenting in front of the children, and says that Mary squandered her brother's money which resulted in their current financial strife. Caroline insists on the three oldest children living with her, insinuating that Bill is not her brother's son. Now angry with their mother, the three oldest children agree to live with Caroline who is more financially able to fulfill their desires. Caroline moves into Mary's house when Mary's lease expires and kicks Bill and Mary out. Bill and Mary take up residence with Mrs. Crosby.

Bill sells newspapers to help raise money for his mother, and is assisted by local banker, John C. Rudlin. Soon, Caroline's strict demands on the three oldest children cause them to have a change of heart. They write a letter to Mary asking for forgiveness. Mrs. Crosby dies, and leaves her entire estate to Bill. Bill is surprised Mrs. Crosby's estate includes not only her house, but also the house where his family lives. Bill returns to his home, now as its owner. Mary joins him and accepts her children's forgiveness. Caroline returns, and it is revealed that Reginald, Sr. was just as mean as his sister, and Mr. Rudlin was always Mary's true love. However, Mary remained loyal to her husband out of financial necessity; and, he fathered all four children. Rudlin says he still loves Mary. Caroline is kicked out of the house and the Colbrook family is restored.



The film was based a 1928 play by Tom Barry, called Courage. Warners had previously filmed it in 1930 under that title with Belle Bennett. The number of children in the play was eight; this was reduced to four.

It was the first movie Kay Francis made for Warners' B unit under Byrnie Foy. Francis was being paid a high salary and Warners were keen for her to quit but she refused in order that she could still get her salary. She would make five films for him in all.[2]

Vincent Sherman said he had to rewrite the script in only a few days – he was given the play on Thursday and he handed in a script on Monday.[3]

John Farrow was attached to direct in March 1938.[4] Farrow later said he directed Francis by polite but businesslike suggestions, Louise via picturesque comments that would amuse her and arouse her imagination, Granville needed encouragement and praise, and Bobby Jordan required occasional sarcasm.[5]

In popular culture

The film was popular enough to be adapted for radio in Hollywood Hotel in 1939 and Lux Radio Theatre in 1941.


The Los Angeles Times called it "pure, unadulterated hokum" which "will get to you sure as blazes".[6]


  1. ^ My Bill at Kay Francis Films Archived 2014-04-05 at the Wayback Machine accessed 16 March 2014
  2. ^ "My Bill". Turner Classic Movies.
  3. ^ Davis, Ronald L. (2005). Just Making Movies. University of Mississippi Press. p. 89.
  4. ^ "NEWS OF THE SCREEN: Horton Added to 'Holiday' at Columbia--'Courier de Paris' at Metro--Three New Films Here Today The Toy Wife" at Metro Of Local Origin Coast Scripts". New York Times. Mar 19, 1938. p. 10.
  5. ^ "Director Tells Psychology of Direction". Los Angeles Times. 13 July 1938. p. 12.
  6. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (June 14, 1938). "KAY FRANCIS PLAYS MOTHER OF FAMILY IN "MY BILL"". Los Angeles Times. p. 8.

External links

This page was last edited on 10 August 2021, at 15:34
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