” ‘Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loses Girl, Boy Gets Girl’. Or ‘Love will find a way, love never loses, put your money on love!’ “
For no particular reason I awoke this AM with the above snappy, oft-repeated refrain from 1938’s ‘Boy Meets Girl’ stuck in my head. It serves as a motto of sorts for the two lead characters, a couple of madcap screenwriters played by James Cagney and Pat O’Brien. The characters were based, supposedly, on the prolific and colorful screenwriting team Grahame Baker and Gene Towne ‘(You Only Live Once’ among many others). George Abbott directed the original Broadway production in 1936, assisted by a very young Garson Kanin. Two years later Kanin was in Hollywood looking for a break as a director (this story is recounted in his charming memoir ‘Hollywood’). When he heard that a movie version of ‘Boy Meets Girl’ was in the works at Warner Brothers he decided to sell himself as the perfect young director for it, given his history with the play. He was told to appeal directly to James Cagney who was going to star–Cagney’s star was so bright at that time that they’d hire anyone he wanted. Kanin and Cagney met and the actor was apparently impressed by the young director. At the end of the meeting Cagney told him that he’d be fine with Kanin directing it. ‘Just one thing’, he added. ‘Anything Mr. Cagney. What is it?’ Cagney stared his hard Cagney stare at him and said, ‘Just don’t tell me what to do.’ And for whatever reason Garson Kanin did not wind up making his directorial debut with ‘Boy Meets Girl’.