Friday, June 30, 2017

Hope for the Best (1945)

Hope for the Best ran for 117 performances between February 7, 1945 and May 19, 1945. Produced by Jean Dalrymple and Marc Connelly, the play was first housed at the Fulton Theatre and then in late April, moved to the Royal Theatre. Writer William McCleery's plot revolved around a newspaper writer who is dissatisfied with only covering gossip and is encouraged by a young woman to pursue more groundbreaking territory. Although his fiancée prefers him not to "rock the boat," the main character attempts to investigate and report on American politics.

Franchot Tone starred as the writer and was supported by a cast of Leo Bulgakov, Jane Wyatt, Jack Hartley, Doro Merande, Joan Wetmore, and Paul Potter.

Hope for the Best. Source: scan from my collection.

Theatre Arts Monthly reviewed the play in April 1945. Rosamond Gilder wrote:
In Franchot Tone, the producers, Jean Dalrymple and Marc Connelly—and Mr. Connelly as director— have found a convincing as well as a winning interpreter of the leading role. Mr Tone, last seen as a ‘round actor’ in Ernest Hemingway’s The Fifth Column, proves that he is still a skillful craftsman in the theatre in spite of his protracted dallying with the screen. He has balance and proportion in his acting, precise timing, a nice sense of humor. One of the hilarious moments in the play is the scene in which the columnist, about to launch forth on the new type of writing he is so eager to undertake, bogs down under the subtle discouragements administered by his dark angel. Mr. Tone sits alone on the stage in front of his typewriter; absorbed, intent, concentrated. His fingers dash over the keys, the little bell rings a cheerful note, he slams the carrier back with a masterful flip. Then doubt creeps into his mind. He stops, re-reads the paragraph, types on, tears the sheet out of the machine, puts a new one in, starts again. The tapping goes more and more slowly, becomes uneven, hesitant. The jubilant song of the keys has turned into a disheartened pecking; Mr. Tone’s very spine wilts, his hair stands on end, his face seems drained of vitality. The curtain goes down on a dogged pounding of keys that presages no good.
The New York Times was not as glowing in their review of Mr. Tone's performance. In his February 8th review, Lewis Nichols wondered if Franchot was the best actor for the part. Nichols' wrote:
He is easy and likable, of course, and he manages a vague, shy quality which is all right part of the time. several scenes, he is shy to the point of cuteness.
Hope for the Best. Source: scan from my collection.

Hope for the Best: Source: New York Times clipping

Gilder, Rosamond. "Foxhole Critics. Broadway in Review." Theatre Arts. April 1945. 
Internet Broadway Database:
Nichols, Lewis. "The Play." The New York Times. February 8, 1945.
Playbill Vault:

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