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The First Traveling Saleslady

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The First Traveling Saleslady
Film poster
Directed byArthur Lubin
Written byDevery Freeman
Stephen Longstreet
Produced byArthur Lubin
StarringGinger Rogers
Carol Channing
Barry Nelson
CinematographyWilliam E. Snyder
Edited byOtto Ludwig
Music byIrving Gertz
Arthur Lubin Productions
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • August 15, 1956 (1956-08-15)[1]
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States

The First Traveling Saleslady is a 1956 American western comedy film directed by Arthur Lubin and starring Ginger Rogers, Carol Channing and Barry Nelson.[2][3] Commercially unsuccessful, it was among the films that helped to close the already struggling RKO Pictures.[4] Future western stars Clint Eastwood and James Arness have supporting roles in the film.


Corset company owner and independent-thinking suffragette Rose Gillray has her wagon struck by a 'horseless carriage' in 1897 New York. This early automobile is driven by Charlie Masters, who tells her it is the transportation of the future.

At work, Rose is helping singer Molly Wade into a boldly designed new corset when she gets the idea that using it for Molly's costume on stage would help to promote sales, but instead the show is shut down by the police.

With her business failing, Rose owes money to Jim Carter, whose steel business manufactures the metal used for a corset's stays. Jim takes a shine to Rose and offers her a chance to sell his barbed wire, which is not selling well out west, where his salesmen get run out of town ... or worse.

She ends up in Kansas City, accompanied by Molly and followed by Charlie. A cattlemen's association convention seems a good place to try to sell the barbed wire. However, cattle rancher Joel Kingdon gives her the runaround, attracted to her personally but warning her against peddling wire. She tries his home state of Texas next, but once again, Joel interferes, putting the women out of business temporarily. Rose eventually disproves the claim that barbed wire injures cattle, but she demonstrates that the cattle are smart enough to avoid impaling themselves, and the sales start rolling in.

Joel and Jim both fall in love with Rose and propose marriage, but she rejects both. Charlie, though, comes along offering a ride to California, where he is got another new notion that he wants to explore: machines that fly.



The film was based on an original story by Stephen Longstreet. It was Ginger Rogers' first movie at RKO for a number of years.[5] "It's a very cute story", said Rogers. "It's for the whole family and I was delighted to make a family story."[6] The role was originally intended for Mae West and according to an article in the November 8, 1955 issue of The Hollywood Reporter, Betty Grable was set to play Miss Rose Gillray.

The movie marked the film debut for Carol Channing.[7] It was Barry Nelson's first film in five years. Clint Eastwood was under personal contract to producer-director Arthur Lubin, who used him in a number of films. James Arness was under contract to John Wayne and had just established himself in the CBS-TV western Gunsmoke.

The movie was part of a $22 million slate of 11 films announced by RKO for the first half of 1956. Others included Back from Eternity, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, Stage Struck, Bundle of Joy, A Farewell to Arms, The Syndicate, Cash McCall and Is This Our Son.[8] Ultimately, RKO would only make a few of these films.

Filming took place in January and February 1956.

RKO's head of production, William Dozier, signed Channing to a five-year contract at two films a year. It was to begin with a musical remake of Stage Door but RKO went out of business some time after the contract was signed.[9]


The film was not a financial success. According to a history of the studio. "the picture quickly faded into oblivion. RKO Teleradio needed a box-office rocket to blast off its first program of movies; instead, it tossed out a fizzling cherry bomb."[10]

See also


  1. ^ "The First Traveling Saleslady: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved June 2, 2014.
  2. ^ Variety film review; August 15, 1956, page 6.
  3. ^ Harrison's Reports film review; August 18, 1956, page 132.
  4. ^ Vagg, Stephen (September 14, 2019). "The Cinema of Arthur Lubin". Diabolique Magazine.
  5. ^ "Drama". Los Angeles Times. November 15, 1955. ProQuest 166846634.
  6. ^ Hopper, H. (April 29, 1956). "FAMILY FILMS". Chicago Daily Tribune. ProQuest 179756754.
  7. ^ THOMAS M PRYOR Special to The New York Times. (January 10, 1956). "CAROL CHANNING TO BOW IN FILMS". New York Times. ProQuest 113603332.
  8. ^ "RKO sets up budget of $22,500,000 for films". Los Angeles Times. January 16, 1956. ProQuest 166862956.
  9. ^ Schallert, E. (March 13, 1956). "Drama". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 166936217.
  10. ^ Jewell, Richard B.. Slow Fade to Black: The Decline of RKO Radio Pictures (Kindle Locations 4417-4418). University of California Press. Kindle Edition.

External links

This page was last edited on 5 August 2023, at 15:18
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