Rockabye (1932 film)


Cover of the DVD released in Spain
Directed by George Cukor
Produced by David O. Selznick
Written by Jane Murfin
Based on a play by Lucia Bronder
Starring Constance Bennett
Joel McCrea
Music by Harry Akst
Jeanne Borlini
Nacio Herb Brown
Edward Eliscu
Cinematography Charles Rosher
Edited by George Hively
Distributed by RKO Pathé
Release dates
  • November 25, 1932 (1932-11-25)
Running time
68 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Rockabye is a 1932 American pre-Code drama film directed by George Cukor. The screenplay by Jane Murfin is based on a play by Lucia Bronder.


When stage actress Judy Carroll testifies on behalf of her former lover, accused embezzler Al Howard, she loses custody of Elizabeth, an orphan she had planned to adopt. Her devoted manager Antonie "Tony" de Sola urges her to travel to Europe with her alcoholic mother Snooks to alleviate her emotional pain. While there she reads a play entitled Rockabye, which eerily resembles recent events in her life. Despite Tony's qualms, she is determined to star in a Broadway production.

Playwright Jacob Van Riker Pell is certain the sophisticated Judy will be unable to portray convincingly his heroine, a tough girl from Second Avenue, until she confesses she was raised there herself. The two hit it off and Judy convinces Tony to produce the play. On the verge of divorce, Jake proposes he and Judy wed as soon as he is free.

Jake fails to appear at the opening night party for Rockabye, and his mother tells Judy her daughter-in-law has just had a baby and asks her to forget her son. When Jake finally arrives and assures her he still wants to marry her, Judy insists he return to his wife and newborn child. Devastated, she is comforted by Tony, who finally reveals his feelings for her.


RKO purchased the rights to the play from Gloria Swanson and hired George Fitzmaurice to direct the film adaptation. Anxious to accommodate exhibitors who were awaiting a new Constance Bennett film, the studio rushed the script into production with Phillips Holmes as the male lead. When the completed film was shown to executives, they declared it unreleasable and called in George Cukor to salvage it. The new director replaced Holmes with Joel McCrea and Laura Hope Crews, in the role of Judy's mother, with Jobyna Howland, reshot all their characters' scenes, and re-edited the balance of the film.[1]


Critical reception

The New York Times observed, "There are tears enough in Rockabye to drown a plot, a circumstance which is a form of mercy in the case of this particular plot . . . As for the performance of Miss Bennett, a conservative opinion would be that she is a better actress than Rockabye makes her seem . . . Joel McCrea as the young playwright is better than the lines he has to recite." [2]


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