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LOS ANGELES TIMES
December 26, 1948
Wins Her Battle to Play Role of
By Edwin Schallert, Times Drama Editor
Joan Crawford’s “Miss O'Brien,” story of a schoolteacher, which she fought for a year and a half to do, is near a starting line. Harry Cohn of Colombia Pictures, a man of decisive action when he gets interested in something, probably will put writers to work on a script after; a conference with Miss Crawford tomorrow. Cohn likes the basic idea of the film. He is not afraid to star Joan as a schoolmarm. He wants to be sure there is a good scenario before he actually closes a deal.
It Was Off and On
While this knocks into a cocked hat a widely circulated report that Columbia had clinched the picture subject, the interest of the studio's headman in "Miss O'Brien” is definite, and he indicated he will give the plan of the picture a full-fling.
Miss Crawford, herself, who was lately in “Flamingo Road” at Warners, praises Cohn's cooperativeness and understanding to the skies. She hopes that this may lead to the fulfillment of her dream and determination about the picture.
Warner Bros and especially Producer debated "Miss O'Brien" for months. They invested about $40,000 in advance preparations and the original story. They finally rejected the whole project.
Schoolteacher and Joan, who won an because of "," just didn't seem to match up in the minds of the high executives. Joan took a suspension once for five months because she wanted to do the picture, and not another “A Kiss in the Dark."
Finally, she took over lock, stock and barrel for $40,000, and set to work looking for another studio tie-up. Columbia, it is understood, has long been the likely organization, and much will be told beginning tomorrow about the working out of the alliance.
"The most underpaid, under-privileged and misunderstood people in the world are probably the schoolteachers of the nation, considering the work that they do and the responsibilities that are placed on them," declared Joan, “I know our picture can't be a preachment, but I think it may do good. I hope, it, will awaken parents to their obligations.
“So many parents throughout the land have only one thing in mind and that is to get rid of the children in school so that they can have personal freedom. They welcome the advent of fall because they know that the children will be off their hands and they can throw a large, weight of their training on the teachers.
"If the youngsters do not fare well in school they blame the teachers. They never seem to think that home training is the first essential, and that it will be reflected in the school life of their children. They think only of one thing, blame the teacher."
Joan Has Experience
Joan with her four children spent an hour and a half waiting in line at the last school session to see that her older two were rightly entered. Because her son Christopher got in the wrong class to start with she had to have a retake on the proceedings. She was having servant trouble at the time, so she had to take .the two younger children of less.than school age with her, one on each arm, when she accompanied Christopher back to the school. "I wanted to be there when my children entered,” continued Joan. "I wanted to be sure that their teachers knew what I knew about them. I have been back since to find out the teachers’ reactions.
“When I learned that Christopher had hidden out from one of his classes I told them to give him a spank if they couldn't find any other way to discipline him. But the one thing parents should assure teachers is their co-operation and their complete interest in their children."
Story to Be Told
"We will have to a story to tell in ‘Miss O'Brien' but I am hoping we can tell it in such a way that it will carry significance for mothers and fathers, as well as teachers, and the children themselves.”
Joan with her family of four has not so far considered another marriage, but I stirred up fireworks when I asked about Greg Bautzer, attorney, with whom she is frequently seen. "Greg," she cried. "Help, help, I need help."
Greg, who had been in another room talking to Publicist while I was chatting with Joan, appeared.
"I've just told Ed that we've never discussed marriage," she said.
He Almost Did
"I've never had the courage to ask her," said Greg,
"Well, there's no time like the present,” interjected this writer.
"She does make a wonderful hostess, doesn't she," said Greg.
“Yes," I said, "but there's still no time like the present."
"Now you're going to embarrass us."
“If I do marry it's going to be away off some place where nobody will know about it,” said Joan.
"You forget there'll have to be witnesses"—it was the legal mind speaking.
Said I to myself: "That isn't too far off."
[Thanks to Norman for this article.]