Nancy Steele Is Missing [The Lost Nancy Steele]

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1930s Cinema

Los Angeles: Twentieth Century-Fox, 1936. First Draft Continuity [pre-production] script for the 1937 film, "Nancy Steele Is Missing!," seen here under its working title, "The Lost Nancy Steele." Producer Darryl F. Zanuck's working copy, with his name and extensive annotations in holograph pencil on the title page and rear wrapper recto, and brief annotations throughout. Additionally, the script also includes fourteen typed pages, on onionskin stock, headed "NOTES ON 'THE LOST NANCY STEELE’," presumably also written by Zanuck.

On the title page, Zanuck reveals his dissatisfaction with Fowler and Long’s first draft of the script: “What should have been a powerful box office smash melodrama with a dynamite situation has turned into a dull gloomy uninteresting tragedy that will scare even adults away / the whole flavor has been lost completely / the punch and fire has been cast aside / this is a sure box office flop as well as a very dull sappy picture / the character of Chadwick is OK / but the only bright spot / not only have we killed the flavor and real essence of the story but the story is also lost / the main character is a combination of lunatic — I.W.W. Red — Communist — Radical — Jean Hersholt and the most stupid man I’ve ever met / he is disgusting and kills the whole idea / the entire idea of regeneration is gone / I do not think we can save one scene or anything but Chadwick / the story was so simple, sound and now it is a lot of nothing / we must start over from scratch / why change plot? / we had a great idea / wonderful opening and a powerful theme / it could be a combination of G Men and Les Miserables.”

Zanuck has added further holograph annotations on the rear wrapper recto: “Horrible disgusting uninteresting character / a Red / must be criminal not lunatic or radical / a shrewd clever criminal with a great plan and only one hole / Chadwick great guy.”

Based on a story ("Ransom") by Charles Francis Coe, the film is a sympathetic portrait of the kidnapper who leaves the baby (Nancy Steele) with two close friends who raise her. The kidnapper is later arrested and sentenced to two years in prison that become a life sentence after he is framed during a failed escape. He is eventually released and immediately visits the girl, whom he regards as his daughter. She thinks he is her father. Together, the two go to New York, where he gets a job working as a gardener for her actual father. One of his old cellmates seeks to blackmail him for the evidence against him involving the kidnapping, and he is forced to make a difficult decision.

Set in New York.

Light blue studio wrappers, noted as First Draft Continuity on the front wrapper, dated July 24, 1936, with credits for screenwriters Fowler and Long. Title page present, dated July 24, 1936, noted as First Draft Continuity, with credits for Fowler and Long. 145 leaves, with last page of text numbered 144. Mimeograph duplication. Plus fourteen onionskin pages laid in, Very Good plus. Pages Near Fine, wrapper Very Good (now encapsulated in mylar), bound with three gold brads.

[Book #134535]

Price: $650.00