The Unsinkable Molly Brown
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The Unsinkable Molly Brown

128 min
Biography | Comedy | Musical | Romance | Western
IMDB rate:
Charles Walters
Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 5 nominations
Country: USA
Release Date: 1964-06-11
Filming Locations: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios - 10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, California, USA
Gross: $13,167,200 (USA) Rentals $6,040,000 (USA)
Debbie Reynolds
Molly Brown
Harve Presnell
'Leadville' Johnny J. Brown
Ed Begley
Shamus Tobin
Jack Kruschen
Christmas Morgan
Hermione Baddeley
Buttercup Grogan
Vassili Lambrinos
Prince Louis de Laniere
Fred Essler
Baron Karl Ludwig von Ettenburg
Harvey Lembeck
Lauren Gilbert
Mr. Fitzgerald
Kathryn Card
Mrs. Wadlington
Hayden Rorke
Malcolm Broderick
Harry Holcombe
Mr. Wadlington
Amy Douglass
Mrs. Fitzgerald
George Mitchell
Monsignor Ryan
Martita Hunt
Grand Duchess Elise Lupavinova
Vaughn Taylor
Mr. Cartwright
Anthony Eustrel
Audrey Christie
Mrs. Gladys McGraw
Grover Dale
Brendan Dillon
Maria Karnilova
Gus Trikonis
Maria Andre
Countess Feranti (uncredited)
Eleanor Audley
Mrs. Cartwright (uncredited)
Robert Banas
Dancer (uncredited)
Pat Benedetto
Count Feranti (uncredited)
Martin Bolger
Denver Stock Society (uncredited)
Nick Borgani
Waiter (uncredited)
Peter Camlin
French Waiter (uncredited)
Phyllis Coghlan
Passenger (uncredited)
Cathleen Cordell
Passenger (uncredited)
Jennifer Crier
Passenger (uncredited)
Beppie De Vries
Simonetta (uncredited)
George Dega
Maitre d' (uncredited)
James Drake
Denver Party Guest (uncredited)
Minta Durfee
Denver Party Guest (uncredited)
Charles Giorgi
French Waiter (uncredited)
Clive Halliday
Passenger (uncredited)
Chuck Hamilton
Party Guest (uncredited)
Ramsay Hill
Lord Simon Primdale (uncredited)
Jimmie Horan
Miner (uncredited)
Michael Jeffers
Party Guest (uncredited)
Anna Lee
Titanic Passenger in Lifeboat (uncredited)
Moyna MacGill
Lady Prindale (uncredited)
Scott McCartor
Ben (uncredited)
Sheila Menzies
Passenger (uncredited)
Pat Moran
Denver Party Guest (uncredited)
Ottola Nesmith
Courtiere (uncredited)
George Nicholson
Hotchkiss (uncredited)
Mary Ann Niles
Dance-Hall Girl (uncredited)
Maruja Plose
Model (uncredited)
Joe Ploski
Miner (uncredited)
Michael St. Clair
Man at Tiller (uncredited)
Herb Vigran
Denver Tour Spieler (uncredited)
Kathryn Wilson
Denver Party Guest (uncredited)
Did you know?
This is Debbie Reynolds's personal favorite of her movies.
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As with most Hollywood biopics, there are differences with the real story, most notably in that Margaret (Molly) and J.J. never reconciled. They separated in 1909 although they remained good friends who cared deeply for each other until his passing. She was also not quite the social outcast as depicted in the film. Other aspects of her life that were missing from the movie: they had two children, a son and daughter. Margaret Brown was a passionate social crusader and philanthropist; she was a champion of women's rights, including education and getting the vote. She also championed worker's rights, historic preservation, education and literacy, and child welfare, including being instrumental in founding the modern juvenile court system. After the sinking of the Titanic she was noted for her efforts in having the heroism of the men aboard the ship commemorated. After WWI she was also a leader in helping rebuild France and aiding wounded soldiers, and received the French Legion of Honor. She also ran twice for the U.S. Senate. She died in 1932.
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The story of J.J. Brown accidentally burning his money after Molly hid it in the stove didn't really happen. It was made up by a Denver journalist after Molly Brown became a hero on the Titanic. When asked by her daughter why she didn't refute the false story, Molly Brown supposedly replied, "It's better that they write *something* about me than nothing." (Kathy Bates, as Molly Brown, repeats the story in James Cameron's Titanic (1997).) Molly Brown is also said to have reported the story with a slightly different ending. Molly did hide money in the potbelly stove in their Leadville cabin, and Johnny unknowingly started a fire on a particularly cold night. That's in keeping with the other version, but the end of the story, as told by Molly and reported in newspapers interviews during her lift, was a little different. Her addition was "Just think if it had been paper money!" The "money" was gold and silver coin which melted and melted to the stove. Miners didn't trust paper money in those years. The stove had to be broken apart and resmelted to separate the iron, gold and silver.
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When Molly first meets John, in the 1880s, they look at some picture postcards she has with her. The picture occupies one entire side of each card, but postcards of this type were not available in the USA until 1907.
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When the Duchess is coming down the staircase at Molly's party, Molly elbows Gladys and tells her to curtsey. In the next shot, which is from farther back and takes in the guests and the staircase, the same exchange between Molly and Gladys is shown again.
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The Molly Brown House in Denver is actually quite small. Only one room had a smidgen of red wallpaper (she also thought too much red to be gauche). Her parties were well-attended (although the orchestra played from the balcony outdoors and serenaded the whole neighborhood), and she was accepted by her peers even before the Titanic. The larger house, which she named Avoca, was at the time outside of Denver. Both houses are restored and open to the public.
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Molly Brown: But it's lies, all lies! Everybody knows the Merry Christmas Saloon ain't no fancy house! And the things he quotes me saying! All those blanks that stand for bad words!
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Molly Brown: Sure I may be tuckered, and I may give out, but I won't give IN!
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Molly Brown: I mean more to me than I mean to anybody else.
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A Note Regarding Spoilers
The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
What is 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' about?
The film is a fictionalized account of the life of Margaret 'Molly' Brown. The story begins with Molly (Debbie Reynolds) at six months of age (the baby who played her was actually ten months old at the time) surviving a flood of the Colorado River and being raised by woodsman Shamus Tobin (Ed Begley). Sixteen years later, Molly moves to Leadville where she is wooed by miner John 'Johnny' J. Brown (Harve Presnell). The two eventually marry and, when Johnny strikes gold, they become fabulously wealthy and move to Pennsylvania Avenue in Denver, where Molly longs to be part of the elite '36'. Unfortunately, the '36' are not ready to accept the flamboyant, rough-talking Molly Brown.
What does Johnny's nickname for Molly, 'Chick-a-Pen', mean?
Chick-a-Pen makes a lot more sense if you're familiar with the stage version. There's an entire song sung by Johnny to Molly while they're courting called "Chick-a-Pen". The song got axed for the movie, but the name stayed. The source of the word is thought to be chinquapin, from the Virginia Algonquin chechinkamin, meaning 'chestnut'. It refers to a species of the Chestnut genus of the family Fagaceae (Beech family) and a related species, the golden chinquapin (Castanopsis chrysophylla), an evergreen that ranges into the Pacific states. There's also the so-called Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muhlenbergii), but its range does not extend anywhere near Colorado. The Western endearment Chick-a-pen seems to derive from the idea of calling a person a 'little nut'.
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Photos from cast
Gertrude Astor