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This is something we've never discussed before...

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I didn't know what to call this thread...but here's the general idea. 

Some stars spend a large part of their early career under contract to one major studio. Then the studio finally drops them or they leave to go over to another studio or else freelance. However, their career is usually associated with that studio where they made their most popular films.

But every now and then, after they break away from the home studio, they go back (sometimes years later) for one more film.

Examples:

Kay Francis was dropped like a hot potato by Jack Warner in 1939 after the release of WOMEN IN THE WIND. He had tried to get rid of her in 1937 but was forced to honor the rest of her contract. Yet she manages to come back to do ALWAYS IN MY HEART in 1942.

Tony Curtis was under contract to Universal from 1949 to 1964. He then moved on to Paramount and freelancing assignments. But he returned to Universal in 1980 for one more film, the remake of LITTLE MISS MARKER.

Lana Turner ended her association with MGM in 1956 with DIANE. But apparently she still owed them one more film on her old contract, so she returned to do BACHELOR IN PARADISE in 1961.

Any other examples?

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I'm pretty sure Ronald Reagan had gone freelance by about 1950. I think I remember Robert Osborne discussing this when introducing Storm Warning. He'd still turn up in some WB films in the '50s, however, though they tended to place him down in the billing, since they had no need to promote him anymore. He's billed below Ginger Rogers in Storm Warning, below Doris Day in The Winning Team and below Virginia Mayo in She's Working Her Way through College (which just aired).

I think Spencer Tracy's final MGM film was Bad Day at Black Rock after a 20-year run at the studio. But he was back to narrate How the West Was Won.

Pretty sure James Stewart's MGM contract expired during his WWII service. I recall an anecdote in a Stewart bio I read some years ago, where Stewart had a private meeting in Louis B. Mayer's office after the war and told him he didn't want to be tied down to one studio anymore and, according to Stewart, Mayer threw a tantrum like a little child.  Yet somehow, one of his collaborations with Anthony Mann, The Naked Spur, ended up getting made at MGM, and Stewart was in How the West Was Won also.

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Great example regarding James Stewart. Another one that came to mind is Bette Davis. She parted company with Warner Brothers in 1949 after making BEYOND THE FOREST.  But she would return to the studio later in 1964 to do DEAD RINGER. 

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Alice Faye. leaves Fox in 1945 after Fallen Angel doesn't get a warm reception. Appears for them again to finish her contract in State Fair in 1962.

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I think there were a lot of negotiations involving Gone With the Wind.  Like the example of Bette Davis.  Olivia DeH. also had problems with her studio.  Slightly off topic, but some studios never purchased the rights to certain characters.  I think that happened with Philo Vance (remembering William Powell played him once).  I also wish someone would enlighten me about the career of Ida Lupino (groundbreaking female director).  There were probably a lot of contracts dropped or stars not being hired during HUAC/McCarthy era (e.g., John Garfield).

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54 minutes ago, chaya bat woof woof said:

I also wish someone would enlighten me about the career of Ida Lupino (groundbreaking female director). 

I provided a mini-bio of Lupino, mostly cribbed from imdb, when I discussed her as a potential SUTS day recipient in the thread about that month that should still be in the first handful of pages, I think. If I can find that particular post again, I'll post it on here.

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From 1933 to 1943 Ginger Rogers called RKO her home studio. But after TENDER COMRADE in '43, she left to freelance. 

She made an independent film (HEARTBEAT) that was released through RKO in '46. But she didn't return to work at the studio until she made THE FIRST TRAVELING SALESLADY in 1956. By then, RKO was about to go out of business and would soon be bought by Desilu.

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     Off the top of my head I can think of  three people : Joan Crawford, Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell.  Crawford was a long time MGM star that left in 1943. Some stories say it was by mutual agreement and some say Mayer let her go. She went to Warner Bros. and spent several years there before freelancing. If I'm correct her first freelance was back at MGM in 1953 for "Torch Song". Janet Gaynor was a huge star for Fox studios in the 1920's and early 1930's.  She  left Fox after it became 20th Century Fox . She didn't get along with Darryl Zanuck the head honcho at the  studio. She signed with David Selznick and made a few more films before retiring in 1938. She returned to 20th Century Fox in 1957 for "Bernadine" with Pat Boone.  Charles Farrell was also a big star at Fox, often teamed with Janet Gaynor.  He was fired from Fox in 1932 and freelanced for a few years. He signed again with Fox in 1934 for 2 films then went back to freelancing. In 1938 He signed one more time with 20th Century Fox for a 2 picture deal. 

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     I know this is a bit off topic but I was thinking of William Powell and how he went from Paramount to Warner Brothers and then to MGM. He re invented himself with each studio move and received his best acclaim as Nick Charles in the Thin Man films for MGM. 

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15 minutes ago, midnight08 said:

     Off the top of my head I can think of  three people : Joan Crawford, Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell.  Crawford was a long time MGM star that left in 1943. Some stories say it was by mutual agreement and some say Mayer let her go. She went to Warner Bros. and spent several years there before freelancing. If I'm correct her first freelance was back at MGM in 1953 for "Torch Song". Janet Gaynor was a huge star for Fox studios in the 1920's and early 1930's.  She  left Fox after it became 20th Century Fox . She didn't get along with Darryl Zanuck the head honcho at the  studio. She signed with David Selznick and made a few more films before retiring in 1938. She returned to 20th Century Fox in 1957 for "Bernadine" with Pat Boone.  Charles Farrell was also a big star at Fox, often teamed with Janet Gaynor.  He was fired from Fox in 1932 and freelanced for a few years. He signed again with Fox in 1934 for 2 films then went back to freelancing. In 1938 He signed one more time with 20th Century Fox for a 2 picture deal. 

These are good examples. Especially Crawford returning to MGM as a freelancer. 

Speaking of MGM, Robert Taylor was under contract at the studio  from 1934 to 1959. He was seldom loaned out during that 25 year period. In 1960, he began freelancing. And in 1963, he returned to MGM as a freelancer for the western CATTLE KING.

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6 hours ago, CinemaInternational said:

Alice Faye. leaves Fox in 1945 after Fallen Angel doesn't get a warm reception. Appears for them again to finish her contract in State Fair in 1962.

Alice Faye didn't leave Fox due to the lack of Fallen Angel's warm reception. She left because Darryl Zanuck cut her part down to give more coverage to Linda Darnell. Alice had wanted to get away from the musicals and prove her ability as a dramatic actress.  Zanuck finally relented and gave her the part in Fallen Angel. When the film was completed and Alice saw the first rushes she was horrified to see that her part was cut drastically in favor of Darnell.  She packed up her belongings from her dressing room and left. She didn't return until 1962 and by then Zanuck was gone. 

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13 minutes ago, midnight08 said:

Alice Faye didn't leave Fox due to the lack of Fallen Angel's warm reception. She left because Darryl Zanuck cut her part down to give more coverage to Linda Darnell. Alice had wanted to get away from the musicals and prove her ability as a dramatic actress.  Zanuck finally relented and gave her the part in Fallen Angel. When the film was completed and Alice saw the first rushes she was horrified to see that her part was cut drastically in favor of Darnell.  She packed up her belongings from her dressing room and left. She didn't return until 1962 and by then Zanuck was gone. 

I think this story is often repeated but it's not entirely true. First of all, Faye was upset that her song for the movie was cut. Also, Darnell's character is killed off two-thirds of the way into the picture. And Faye is prominently featured in the last third of the movie. She has plenty of screen time. 

I think the reason she stormed off the Fox lot is that she and Zanuck were embroiled in a power struggle over her career and the kinds of films he wanted her to do, versus the kinds of films she wanted to do. Interestingly, her husband Phil Harris would continue to make films for Fox.

Also we should note that Zanuck did not terminate Faye's contract and for 17 years she still owed the studio one more picture, which prevented her from freelancing and working for any other studio. They offered her a lead role in STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER (1952) which would have been perfect for her, but she was still fighting with Zanuck and refused it, so she remained on indefinite suspension. If she hadn't been so stubborn and compromised, she could have wrapped up her contract with Fox and moved on. By 1952, Darnell  was let go and did not do well as a freelancer. Yet Alice Faye was still in demand as a radio performer and because of being at stalemate with Zanuck for so many years, she ended up being the person who remained under contract at 20th Century Fox the longest!

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One more actress came to mind: Gloria Swanson. She worked for Paramount for several years. Her last Paramount film was in 1926 and she formed her own production company. She made many films thru her company then freelanced during the 1930's. She returned to Paramount for "Sunset Boulevard" in 1950.

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Here's what I found about Ida Lupino a month or so ago:

Ida Lupino was born to a show business family in London in 1918. Her mother took her to a film audition in 1932 when she was 14, and she won the part she was seeking. That picture was Her First Affaire. At the age of 16, she came to Hollywood with bleach blonde hair in 1934 and played a number of small and mostly not-well-remembered parts. About her only noteworthy role was in 1935's Peter Ibbetson at Paramount when she was 17. It wasn't until The Light That Failed (1939), also at Paramount, that she began to consistently get good parts. She got typecast mostly as hard but sympathetic women from the wrong side of the tracks. She spent pretty much all of the decade of the '40s at Warner Bros., defining herself quickly as Hollywood's leading hard-luck dame in films like The Sea Wolf (1940) and High Sierra (1941). Her tough, knowing characters held their own against the biggest leading men of the day - first Ronald Colman in The Light That Failed, and then at Warners, Humphrey Bogart, John Garfield and Edward G. Robinson. She played everything from a traveling saleswoman in Pillow to Post (1945) to a tough nightclub singer in The Man I Love (1946). She became less in demand as approached her 30s - there was a lot of competition for good female roles between up-and-comers and established stars. She opted to leave Warner in 1947, hoping she'd have more success securing good roles as a freelancer. This didn't happen, so she began working as a director, writer and producer. She co-wrote the screenplay for Not Wanted (1949), made at Universal, and when the director Elmer Clifton fell ill, she took over, although he still got sole credit. She joked that as an actress she'd been the poor man's Bette Davis and now as a director she was the poor man's Don Siegel. She continued to write, direct and act, mostly on low-budget melodramas, in the '50s, sometimes doing more than one of those jobs on the same film. She moved to television at the end of the decade and directed episodes of everything from The Untouchables to The Fugitive (both on ABC) for the next 10 years. In the '70s, she returned mostly to acting, making guest appearances on multiple television shows and occasional small parts in movies. Her final film was My Boys are Good Boys, a tiny independent production with Ralph Meeker and Lloyd Nolan in 1978. She died from a stroke while she was battling colon cancer in 1995 at the age of 77. She was married three times. The first, for seven years, was to the actor Louis Hayward. The longest marriage and the one that gave her her only child, a daughter, was for 33 years to the actor Howard Duff (I'm not too familiar with him, but late in his career, he played Dustin Hoffman's attorney in Kramer vs. Kramer), which ended in divorce.

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Another example is MGM’s June Allyson. She remained on contract until 1956 with THE OPPOSITE SEX. Then she freelanced in the late 1950s before switching to television roles. She later returned to her old stomping grounds in 1972 to make THEY ONLY KILL THEIR MASTERS. 

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James Cagney. He was under contract to Warner Bros. from 1930 to 1943(??), then went on to do films made by his own company that were not very successful. He came back to WB to do "White Heat" (1949), "Come Fill The Cup" (1952), and "Mr. Roberts" (1955),  all very successful films. For all of the acrimony in Cagney's relationship with Warner Bros., they seemed to be a much better judge of films that would showcase his talents than Mr. Cagney was. 

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Actors/actresses with their own production companies (e.g., Kirk Douglas, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez (sp?), etc. seems to be a whole different topic.  

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Shirley Temple comes to mind. Her days as a child star at Fox ended in 1940 with YOUNG PEOPLE. 

But then she returned for one more film in 1949, as a grown-up in MR. BELVEDERE GOES TO COLLEGE.

Screen Shot 2020-05-28 at 7.28.01 PM

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