Oscar Movies: Peter Ibbetson (1935)–Love Story Starring Gary Cooper

Peter Ibbetson, a kind of surreal love story, was directed by Henry Hathaway from a screenplay by Vincent Lawrence, Waldemar Young, and Constance Collier, based on a novel by George du Maurier.

Architect Peter Ibbetson (Gary Cooper) visits Paris and returns to garden now ruined, where he (then called Gogo) used to play as a child with Mimsey.

The Duke of Towers commissions the firm for which Ibbetson works to build new stables on the Duke’s country estate.  Peter is sent, but soon fired by Mary, the Duchess, for not following orders.  She relents, however, and he is given a free hand and they become close friends.

The Duke believes that Peter is in love with his wife, and thus asks him to leave.  During an argument, Mary recognizes him as the beloved Gogo of her childhood and, when he realizes that the duchess is really his Mimsey, they embrace each other.

Mary explains to her husband that they were childhood sweethearts.  Later, knowing that they’ll soon be parted forever, the couple embrace just as the Duke enters the room.  When he fires, Peter kills him and is sentenced to life imprisonment.  In his cell, he dreams of his childhood and cries out.  The guards, thinking he is rebellious, beat him, which damages his spine.

While in semi-conscious state, Mary tells him that they will always be together — in their dreams.  Peter disbelieves, but Mary sends him a ring the next day as proof that their dreaming is real.

Peter rand Mary are getting old in age, but they remain young in their dreams.  Mary dies, promising to wait for him in their garden, and when Peter dies they are reunited.

Production values are lavish, especially cinematography by Charles Lang and score by Max Steiner, who was Oscar-nominated.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Score: Ernst Toch

Oscar Context:

The winner of the Scoring Oscar was Max Steiner for The Informer.


Gary Cooper (Peter Ibbetson)

Ann Harding (Mary, Duchess of Towers)

John Halliday (Duke of Towers)

Ida Lupino (Agnes)

Douglass Dumbrille (Colonel Forsythe)

Virginia Weidler (Mimsey)

Dickie Moore (Gogo)

Doris Lloyd (Mrs. Dorian)

Elsa Buchanan (Madame Pasquier)

Christian Rub (Major Duquesnoit)

Donald Meek (Mr. Slade)

Gilbert Emery (Wilkins)

Marguerite Namara (Madame Ginghi)

Elsa Prescott (Katherine)

Marcelle Corday (Maid)

Adrienne D’Ambricourt (Nun)

Theresa Maxwell Conover (Sister of Mercy)



Paramount Picture.

Director: Henry Hathaway.

Producer: Louis D. Lighton.

Scenarists: Vincent Lawrence, Waldemar Young.

Adaptation: Constance Collier.

Additional Scenes: John Meehan, Edwin Justus Mayer.

Photographer: Charles Lang.

Musical Score: Ernst Toch.

Editor: Stuart Heisler.

Sound Recorder: Harry D. Mills.

Art Directors: Hans Dreier, Robert Usher.

Special Effects: Gordon Jennings.

Musical Director: Nat W. Finston.