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Francis Covers the Big Town

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Francis Covers the Big Town
Directed byArthur Lubin
Produced byLeonard Goldstein
Written byOscar Brodney (story and screenplay)
David Stern (characters)
StarringDonald O'Connor
Yvette Duguay
Gene Lockhart
Nancy Guild
CinematographyCarl E. Guthrie
Edited byMilton Carruth
Universal Pictures
Distributed byUniversal-International
Release date
  • June 17, 1953 (1953-06-17)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.8 million (US)[1]

Francis Covers the Big Town is a 1953 American black-and-white comedy film from Universal-International, produced by Leonard Goldstein, directed by Arthur Lubin, that stars Donald O'Connor, Yvette Duguay, and Gene Lockhart. The distinctive voice of Francis is a voice-over by actor Chill Wills.

This is the fourth film in Universal-International's Francis the Talking Mule series continuing the misadventures Peter Stirling and his friend Francis. Diabolique argued it was the best in the series.[2]


Peter lands a job at a big New York City newspaper and while on assignment gets framed for a murder.



Production of the film was announced in July 1951 and was to be the third in the Francis series.[3]

Oscar Brodney was assigned to write the script.[4] David Stern reportedly also worked on the script.[5]

Filming started in August 1951 and involved ten days location shooting in New York.[6]

Francis was flown to New York and back on a cargo plane, which cost $700 plus airfares for his trainer and two handlers.[7]

At one stage of production, the film was going to be known as Francis, Racket Buster.[8][9]

Director Arthur Lubin complained during filming that he was becoming typecast as an animal director. He hoped to make The Interruption from a suspense story by W. W. Mason "just to remind producers that I can direct people too."[10]

Video releases

The original film, Francis (1950), was released in 1978 as one of the first-ever titles in the new LaserDisc format, DiscoVision Catalog #22-003.[11] It was then re-issued on LaserDisc in May 1994 by MCA/Universal Home Video (Catalog #: 42024) as part of an Encore Edition Double Feature with Francis Goes to the Races (1951).

The first two Francis films were released again in 2004 by Universal Pictures on Region 1 and Region 4 DVD, along with the next two in the series, as The Adventures of Francis the Talking Mule Vol. 1. Several years later, Universal released all 7 Francis films as a set on three Region 1 and Region 4 DVDs, Francis The Talking Mule: The Complete Collection.


  1. ^ 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1953', Variety, January 13, 1954
  2. ^ Vagg, Stephen (14 September 2019). "The Cinema of Arthur Lubin". Diabolique Magazine.
  3. ^ THOMAS M. PRYOR (July 14, 1951). "U.-I. WILL PRODUCE THIRD FRANCIS FILM: Studio to Make Picture About Talking Mule and Reporter --Brodney Writing Script". New York Times. p. 7.
  4. ^ THOMAS M. PRYOR (July 14, 1951). "U.-I. WILL PRODUCE THIRD FRANCIS FILM: Studio to Make Picture About Talking Mule and Reporter --Brodney Writing Script". New York Times. p. 7.
  5. ^ Schallert, Edwin (July 21, 1951). "Drama: Stars of Drama Quartet Get New Roles; Wanda Hendrix to Star at Ivar". Los Angeles Times. p. 9.
  6. ^ THOMAS M. PRYOR (Aug 28, 1951). "LADY LUCK SMILES ON MOVIE PLAYER: Arthur-Franz Gets Top Role in Kramer's 'Sniper' After He Attends Mass Interview Gomez to Sing in Film". New York Times. p. 18.
  7. ^ THOMAS M. PRYOR (Sep 21, 1951). "VIDEO HURTS FILMS, GOLDWIN ASSERTS: But, Producer Writes in Story for a Magazine, Hollywood Needs No 'Crying Towel' Houdini Story Planned". New York Times. p. 21.
  8. ^ Schallert, Edwin (Jan 1, 1952). "'Devils' on Hot Schedule; Coleen Gray in 'Models;' Laughton May Do Pirate". Los Angeles Times. p. A7.
  9. ^ Hopper, Hedda (Feb 24, 1952). "How Donald Danced to Stardom: O'CONNOR". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. c4.
  10. ^ THOMAS M. PRYOR (Sep 2, 1951). "HOLLYWOOD DIGEST: Change in Taft–Hartley Act Sought by Actors Guild--R.K.O. Survey--Addenda European Canvass Songstress Returns Out of a Rut". New York Times. p. 57.
  11. ^ [1] (The DiscoVision Library)
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