2 February 2010 | jknoppow-1
Charming and Clever
Robert Wyler was a director for Universal whom Laemmle Jr. had promoted; and he had a familial connection. Robert Wyler's maternal grandmother was a first cousin of Universal owner, Carl Laemmle.
There had been turn downs by Wyler, Whale getting the assignments instead, and also cases in which Wyler had failed to be able to make a satisfactory start, and then Whale was asked to continue them.
'By Candlelight' was one of those latter cases.
It had been very successful a few years earlier as a British stage play. Because Whale had already turned down some efforts by Robert Wyler, who did not have the talent to direct, he was nearly forced to take on the film. Perhaps it was a matter of discretion over valor. In the end, he took it on.
He took Ted Kent, his favorite cutter, and the then competent John Mescall as the camera director. Whale started the film over from the beginning.
He filmed the script as it was for the most part, but he also made a game of it, putting in his own special tricks of the trade.
Carl Laemmle was very happy with the result. He liked the film himself, and it brought in good money just in the nick of time to help save the studio once more, adding some good revenue to the spectacular revenues from Whale's 'The Invisible Man' which were then really piling up.
Whale had a contract offer from Paramount as director. He was very actively considering it, but wasn't sure of LeBaron's own firmness in the position of producer; it was LeBaron's offer.
Laemmle offered Whale both a set of raises to automatically kick in, and producer's credit even though Whale would not actually be the producer.
And it's a good thing for us that Whale took Laemmle's offer, or we'd not have had 'Bride of Frankenstein' or 'Show Boat'.
But I'll always wonder what would have become of Whale's career had he taken LeBaron's offer to come and direct at a really powerful studio, which could have offered him some of the best talent, actors, writers and crew, in the world.