Top Secret Affair

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Top Secret Affair
TopSecretAffair.jpg
Spanish theatrical release poster
Directed by H.C. Potter
Produced by Martin Rackin
Milton Sperling
Written by John P. Marquand (novel)
Roland Kibbee
Allan Scott
Starring Susan Hayward
Kirk Douglas
Music by Roy Webb
Cinematography Stanley Cortez
Editing by Folmar Blangsted
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates 30 January 1957
Running time 100 min.
Country United States
Language English

Top Secret Affair is a 1957 romantic comedy film made by Carrollton Inc. and distributed by Warner Bros. that starred Susan Hayward and Kirk Douglas. It was directed by H.C. Potter and produced by Martin Rackin and Milton Sperling from a screenplay by Roland Kibbee and Allan Scott.

The plot is very loosely adapted from the 1951 novel Melville Goodwin, U.S.A. by John P. Marquand, which had previously been adapted in 1952 for television's "Pulitzer Prize Playhouse." The film's credits state that it is "based on characters" in the book, rather than on the book itself.

Like the novel, the movie features a romance between a general named Melville Goodwin and a wealthy journalist named Dorothy "Dottie" Peale. But the storylines are drastically different in the details of the characters' romance and personalities. (In the novel, the affair is adulterous, but in the movie both parties are single.) Some minor characters' names from the book are also used in the movie, but with no particular fidelity to the originals.

The music score was by Roy Webb, the cinematography by Stanley Cortez and costume design by Charles LeMaire.

The film co-stars Paul Stewart and Jim Backus. The original leads were to be Humphrey Bogart and wife Lauren Bacall, and they were filmed doing a wardrobe test in 1956. But Bogart's illness forced his withdrawal from the project, and Bacall opted to remain at home to care for him until his death in 1957.

Plot

Melville A. "Ironpants" Goodwin (Kirk Douglas) is a much-decorated U.S. Army major general who has just been appointed chairman of the Joint Atomic International Commission by the President of the United States. This is upsetting to wealthy Dorothy "Dottie" Peale, a media mogul who wanted a close friend of her father's to get the position.

Dottie is accustomed to getting her way and decides to do something about it. She gets the Army to send General Goodwin to her estate on Long Island for a lengthy interview and photo session for one of her popular Peale Enterprises publications. Her plot is to ruin Goodwin's reputation as a squeaky-clean, red-blooded American. Dottie hides a tape recorder in her home, and assigns a photographer to catch Goodwin in compromising situations. Having heard rumors that he is secretly a ladies man, she also hopes to get the general to disclose something scandalous.

Every attempt to catch Goodwin off guard or make him appear a fool fails. Drastic measures are called for, what Dottie terms as "night maneuvers." She takes the general to a nightclub, tries to get him drunk, coaxing him to sing and dance in a vain attempt to humiliate him. Nothing works. A little tipsy herself, Dottie falls off a diving board of her swimming pool at home. Goodwin rescues her, leading to a night of romance.

Dottie's attitude is changed. She plans to marry Goodwin and maybe even help him become President of the United States, which would make her First Lady. To her surprise, the general has no plans to continue this romance. He tells her about a love affair with a woman named Yvette to whom he revealed top-secret information during the Korean War. When he found out Yvette was an enemy spy, he had to have her shot.

A rejected Dottie goes back to her original plan to ruin him. Her magazine's story, "Blabbermouth Goodwin," results in a Senate inquiry into his behavior. Unfortunately for the general, his activity in the Yvette spy case is still top secret, and he is forbidden to discuss it.

Questioned by hostile Senator Burdick (Roland Winters) about another girl in the story, Goodwin reveals she was not a grown woman but a seven-year-old orphan. He has explanations for everything else and his conduct has been exemplary at all times. Dottie feels ashamed of her role in this and confirms on the stand his assertion that the article was filled with exaggerations and lies. Yet she cannot say the same about the matter of Yvette.

Goodwin is unable to get permission to speak about her through the usual channels; in desperation, he sends Colonel Homer Gooch (Jim Backus) to see the President. Finally, the spy case is declassified. He testifies that the Army knew that Yvette was a spy. When he was informed, he decided to break off the affair, but was ordered to feed her false information in advance of an important counterattack. After he is cleared, he drags a not-unwilling Dottie into a waiting car.

Cast

  • Susan Hayward as Dorothy "Dottie" Peale
  • Kirk Douglas as Maj. Gen. Melville A. Goodwin
  • Paul Stewart as Phil Bentley, Dottie's assistant and conscience
  • Jim Backus as Jim Backus as Col. Homer W. Gooch, Goodwin's Public Information Officer
  • John Cromwell as General Daniel A. Grimshaw, Goodwin's commanding officer
  • Roland Winters as Sen. Burdick
  • Arthur Gould-Porter as Holmes, Dottie's butler
  • Michael Fox as Reporter Laszlo "Lotzie" Kovach
  • Frank Gerstle as Sgt. Kruger
  • Charles Lane as Bill Hadley

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