“I just can’t yell convincingly unless I am really spanked.”
Funnily enough, just a couple of days after posting about an off-screen spanking by Tom Conway, another Conway film – The Falcon and the Co-eds – was on TV here. This 1943 movie, about a private detective who investigates a murder at an exclusive girl’s school, also has the English actor delivering a spanking…off screen!
At least the director William Clemens doesn’t leave much to our imagination in this one. We see Conway lift Amelita Ward off her feet and draw back his hand, but cut to two grinning male witnesses while three slaps and the girl’s cries are heard. My screen grab shows just how close we come to seeing Amelita get spanked.
Chross posted this scene a while back, under the wrong title initially, but there was a comment by Dan, which said:
That clip is from “The Falcon and the Coeds” (1943), and it is NOT a real spanking. The only “swats” take place OFF screen — which means, they don’t take place at all.
But Conway’s record of two off screen spanking scenes might not be quite as mediocre as it sounds because I’ve found apparent proof that Amelita Ward really DID get spanked in The Falcon and the Co-Eds.
This report appeared in the St Petersburg Times on September 5 1943 under the headline “Director Has Hands Full With These Forty Beauties”:
Forty beautiful teen-age girls are creating a major problem at the RKO radio studio these days. They all have been cast in small speaking roles in The Falcon and the Co-Eds and each is grimly determined to focus attention upon herself as a stepping stone to future assignments. And the result is a 24-hour-a-day headache for the cameraman and the director.
Each of the young screen aspirants has acquired every known trick for distracting attention from the other players in a scene and directing it upon herself. Here are a few of them:
- They “up-stage” each other until all are backed against a wall and can go no further.
- They jump on the end of each other’s lines to kill a possible laugh for a rival.
- They twist a handkerchief in their hands or move about when another player is reading lines.
- They move into the foreground so as to take up almost all the screen.
- And when reproved by director William Clemens, they register wide-eyed innocence and are “so sorry.”
And it is not only against each other that they turn loose their tricks. Tom Conway, who plays “the Falcon” gets a terrific kick out of their maneuvres for the limelight, but laughingly declares that he has to be on his toes all the time if he doesn’t want to find that only the back of his head has appeared in a scene.
“You can’t help but admire their fighting spirit and their determination to be singled out from the mob” laughed Conway, “We try to give them all the breaks possible.”
Sometimes a girl is lucky enough to find a legitimate way to build up her role and gain the spotlight of attention she craves. That was the case with Amelita Ward, who is caught rummaging around in the desk of a dead woman shortly after the discovery of the murder.
She had been hunting nothing more incriminating than a letter to her mother stating that she has flunked her final examinations and would be dropped from the student list. The script called for the Falcon to say: “You ought to be spanked, and I think I’ll do it.” Then the spanking was to take place supposedly offstage with only Miss Ward’s outcries to indicate what is happening.
“I just can’t yell convincingly unless I am really spanked,” insisted Miss Ward. So the director put the scene into the picture. And Conway really spanked Miss Ward and her screams were authentic.
And such is the price of film-land fame.
This is my own clip recorded from the BBC this week. It shows the full scene as Amelita’s character is caught stealing the letter by two policemen. Under the threat of a body search, the letter is recovered and Conway leads up to the spanking with the line “There’s an old saying about sparing the rod…” At no point does anyone say “You ought to be spanked, and I think I’ll do it.”
If the newspaper report is to be believed, Clemens must have edited out the swats. It would have been a satisfactory compromise for all concerned: Amelita was allowed to build up her part; the hitting bit was discreetly left on the cutting room floor, but Tom Conway really DID get to spank her. And let’s not forget that she had acted like a scene-stealing diva and so deserved a spanking just as much as her character – who knows, perhaps that played a part in the director’s decision to film the scene too!
In fact, Clemens should have lined up all 40 Co-Eds and handed a sorority paddle to Conway. That would have cured his 24-hour a day headache.