Big Pond, The (1930)

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Pre Code Hollywood Season: FD Cinematheque

The Big Pond (1930)

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Director: Hobart Henley

Cast: Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert, George Barbier, Marion Ballou, Andree Corday, Frank Lyon, Nat Pendleton, Elaine Koch

72 min

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The Big Pond is a 1930 American Pre-Code romantic comedy film based on a 1928 play of the same name by George Middleton and A.E. Thomas.[1] The film was written by Garrett Fort, Robert Presnell Sr. and Preston Sturges, who provided the dialogue in his first Hollywood assignment, and was directed by Hobart Henley.

The film stars Maurice Chevalier and Claudette Colbert, and features George Barbier, Marion Ballou, and Andrée Corday, and was released by Paramount Pictures.

The Big Pond was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for Maurice Chevalier, and also provided Chevalier with his first American hit song “Livin’ in the Sunlight, Lovin’ in the Moonlight” written by Al Sherman and Al Lewis.[2]

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Pierre Mirande (Maurice Chevalier), is a Venetian tour guide from a poor French family who falls in love with Barbara Billings (Claudette Colbert), a wealthy American tourist whose father (George Barbier). Although Barbara loves Pierre as well, her suitor, Ronnie (Frank Lyon) and her father see him as a fortune-hunter. Barbara’s mother (Marion Ballou) persuades her husband to give Pierre a job in his chewing-gum factory in the States. Despite living in a dingy boardinghouse and being given the hardest job in the plant, he manages to captivate his landlady (Andrée Corday) and the maid (Elaine Koch) with his humorous songs. Unfortunately, he falls asleep on the night he is to attend Barbara’s party, and is then fired when he is wrongly accused of spilling rum on some chewing gum samples. He wins back his job, and is promoted as well, when he sells liquor-coated chewing gum as a sales gimmick. Barbara disapproves, and plans to marry Ronnie, but Pierre whisks her away in a speedboat.

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The Big Pond and its French language version La grande mare[6] were shot simultaneously at the Paramount Astoria Studios in AstoriaQueensNew York City.[7][8]Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert, Andrée Corday and Nat Pendelton played the same roles in both versions.[6]

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Maurice Chevalier was nominated for a 1930 Academy Award for “Best Actor in a Leading Role” for his performance in The Big Pond as well as his performance in The Love Parade (1929).[8]

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French version

The French language version of The Big Pond, which was filmed simultaneously with the English version, was called La grande mare. The cast was:

  • Maurice Chevalier as Pierre Mirande
  • Claudette Colbert as Barbara Billings
  • Henry Mortimer as Mr. Billings
  • Maude Allen as Mrs. Billings
  • Andrée Corday as Toinette
  • William B. Williams as Ronnie
  • Nat Pendleton as Pat O’Day
  • Loraine Jaillet as Jennie

Writer Preston Sturges was fluent in French, but additional dialogue was provided by Jacques Bataille-Henri. The technical credits for the two versions are the same, except the editing for the French version was done by Barney Rogan.[6]

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Film Collectors Corner

Watch The Big Pond Now – Instant Video on You Tube

Blu Ray

Not released on Blu Ray



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