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 Posted:   May 23, 2023 - 10:57 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

THE HAWAIIANS was based on a section of James Michener’s epic 1959 novel, Hawaii, and served as a sequel to the first film adaptation of the book, titled HAWAII (1966) after the book. James R. Webb’s script for THE HAWAIIANS was taken from a portion of Michener’s novel around 100 pages in length, “beginning somewhere after page 600,” that dealt with roughly thirty years in the life of “Whipple ‘Whip’ Hoxworth.” In the film, Hoxworth returns to Hawaii with a boatload of indentured Chinese laborers to find that his grandfather has died, leaving his fortune to Whip's cousin, "Micah Hale" (Alec McCowen).

Charlton Heston’s casting as Hoxworth was announced in the 4 November 1968 Daily Variety. Reportedly, Heston was to be paid $750,000 plus 10% of the profits. Since the actor’s contract also granted him the power to select the director, he was able to choose Tom Gries, with whom he had recently collaborated on WILL PENNY (1968) and NUMBER ONE (1969). THE HAWAIIANS marked Gries’s first assignment in a multiple-picture deal he signed with Mirisch Productions. Original cinematographer Lucien Ballard fell ill during production and was replaced by Philip H. Lathrop.

The film was described as a “multi-million dollar production.” Daily Variety later cited a budget of $8 million, and stated that $1 million alone would be spent on a Chinatown set to be built in Honolulu, Oahu, that would ultimately be burned down toward the end of the shoot. Fire sequences called for 100 large rats. To procure the animals in Maui, a “sugar cane field specialist” was hired, and arrangements were made to transport them to Kauai. Location manager Charles Mulvehill was quoted as saying that ten weeks of production would take place in Hawaii, including one week on the island of Oahu, three weeks on Maui, and six weeks on Kauai. In Maui, Maalaea Harbor doubled as Honolulu’s harbor circa 1870. Following the Hawaiian portion of the shoot, three weeks of filming were slated to take place in Los Angeles.

THE HAWAIIANS opened on 17 June 1970, garnered mixed reviews, and had disappointing grosses of just $7 million in the U.S. Henry Mancini's score was re-recorded for a United Artists LP. Forty years later, in 2010, Intrada re-issued the LP on CD, along with the original soundtrack (in mono).

 Posted:   May 24, 2023 - 11:25 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Sidney Poitier reprised his role as “Virgil Tibbs” from 1967’s IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT in the crime drama THEY CALL ME MISTER TIBBS!, a story unrelated to that of the earlier film. Once again, he is a veteran homicide detective, this time in San Francisco instead of Philadelphia. He is currently investigating the murder of a prostitute. The primary suspect is San Francisco political activist “Reverend Logan Sharpe” (Martin Landau), the last person seen with the victim. Tibbs and Sharpe are friends, and Tibbs would like to believe the priest is not guilty. After Sharpe admits to Tibbs he has slept with the late hooker, the detective intensifies his focus on his friend. On the home front, after dealing with dope peddlers, pimps, murderers, and other crooks all day, Virgil returns home to his wife “Valeri” (Barbara McNair) and his two children, only to be firmly chided for being late for dinner and spending too much time on the job.

Gordon Douglas directed the Mirisch Company film, which was released on 8 July 1970. Although garnering lukewarm reviews, the picture still had decent grosses of $7.1 million in the U.S. Quincy Jones re-recorded his score for a United Artists LP. Rykodisc re-issued the LP on CD in 1997, with a few dialogue excerpts and the Quincy Jones score for IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT. The original soundtracks have not had a release.

 Posted:   May 26, 2023 - 2:12 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In the 1970 western CANNON FOR CORDOBA, “Hector Cordoba” (Raf Vallone), a bandit who is also a general in Pancho Villa's Mexican revolutionary army, attacks a U.S. Army fort a short distance over the border. General John Pershing (John Russell) blames “Captain Rod Douglas” (George Peppard) for not alerting the soldiers to the impending attack; he orders Douglas to capture Cordoba and bring him back to the U.S. for trial. For the mission, Douglas assembles a small commando band, including “Andy Rice” (Pete Duel), “Sergeant Jackson Harkness” (Don Gordon), “Peter Andros” (Nico Minardos), and “Lieutenant Antonio Gutierrez” (Gabriele Tinti), the Mexican envoy.

Paul Wendkos directed this action adventure, as one of his contracted films with the Mirisch Company. Location shooting was done on the outskirts of Madrid in Spain, while interiors were filmed at Studios Roma in Madrid. Some post-production sound work was done in Rome, Italy. The picture was initially rated [R] by the Motion Picture Association of America; however, a re-rating to [GP] was secured before the film first opened on 5 October 1970 in Boston. Elmer Bernstein's score was released by Varese Sarabande/Masters Film Music in 2007.

 Posted:   May 28, 2023 - 4:46 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES originated in 1963, when Billy Wilder signed on to produce and direct for the American company, Mirisch Productions, and the British entity, Sir Nigel Films, which had an agreement with the estate of “Sherlock Holmes” creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Peter O’Toole and Peter Sellers were the frontrunners to play “Sherlock Holmes” and “Dr. John H. Watson,” respectively. Once the two were firmed for the leading roles, Louis Jordan was cast as their co-star, according to the 25 Oct 1963 Daily Variety. Mirisch was set to finance the $6 million production.

Billy Wilder said that his and I.A.L. Diamond’s screenplay was based on “four previously unpublished adventures of [Sherlock Holmes], purportedly written by Watson.” Wilder claimed they hadn’t been published due to the “personal and somewhat delicate matters” they centered around. He also explained that “the stories come to light when Dr. Watson’s grandson visits present-day London and opens a battered tin-dispatch box which has been lodged in the vaults of a bank for many years.”

In May 1965, however, it was reported that the film was put on hold so that Wilder could take advantage of Jack Lemmon’s availability for THE FORTUNE COOKIE (1966). However, another report indicated that THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES had actually been postponed so that Wilder could “cast it properly.” Wilder later acknowledged in an 8 June 1969 Los Angeles Times interview that he had had a falling out with both Peter Sellers, whom he had called “an unprofessional rat fink” after Sellers’s “unfriendly comments to the British press” following his experience on Wilder’s KISS ME STUPID (1964), and Peter O’Toole, who had made demands that Wilder wasn’t willing to accommodate.

After resuming work on the project and securing the involvement of United Artists, named as distributor 1967, Wilder cast Robert Stephens as Holmes and Colin Blakely as Watson. Wilder praised the virtues of casting lesser-known actors like Stephens and Blakely, claiming that bigger stars often detracted from a film’s “dramatic values.” He also stated that, after developing the project for so many years, he was “in no mood to be dictated to by an actor.”
Principal photography began on 5 May 1969 at Pinewood Studios in London. Shooting also took place in Loch Ness, Scotland, which stood in for itself. Following two weeks on location at Loch Ness, filming was set to resume in London but was delayed when Robert Stephens collapsed from exhaustion and had to be hospitalized. The actor’s illness was the third such incident for Wilder, after Peter Sellers had been felled by a heart attack during the filming of KISS ME STUPID, and Walter Matthau had suffered a heart attack on THE FORTUNE COOKIE. Stephens’ absence caused the production to shut down for at least two weeks, and although the actor was able to resume his duties, he was forced to pull out of a future commitment on THE THREE SISTERS (1969).

Principal photography was completed by 25 November 1969. With a final shooting script of 260 pages and a budget of $10 million, this was set to be a two hour and forty-five-minute roadshow movie with an intermission. The rough-cut came in at three hours and twenty minutes. The movie was originally structured as a series of very specifically linked episodes, each with a particular title and theme. The opening sequence was to feature Watson's grandson in London claiming his inherited dispatch box from Cox & Company, and there was also a flashback to Holmes' Oxford days to explain his distrust of women. All sequences were shot, but the declining popularity of roadshow films and the fact that United Artists suffered several major movie flops in 1969 caused the studio to jettison the roadshow format for THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES.

Studio executives ordered the movie to be cut to fill a regular theatrical running time, whittling it down to a two hour and five-minute version. The episodic format made the pruning process relatively simple, so cut were the opening sequence, the Oxford flashback and two full episodes titled "The Dreadful Business of the Naked Honeymooners" at fifteen minutes, and "The Curious Case of the Upside Down Room" at thirty minutes. The cuts were discarded, and no full print of the film is thought to exist.

Because of schedule conflicts, Wilder couldn't supervise the cutting of the picture demanded by United Artists. He entrusted the task to editor Ernest Walter. Wilder strongly disliked the cuts made by Walter, but couldn't re-edit the movie because of lack of time. Wilder recalled that "when I came back [from a trip to Paris], it was an absolute disaster, the way it was cut. The whole prologue was cut, a half-sequence was cut. I had tears in my eyes as I looked at the thing. It was the most elegant picture I've ever shot." Some of the cut scenes have been partially recovered, but never with both the audio and the picture intact.

The film opened on 29 October 1970 at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, and nearly two months later, on 23 December 1970, at the Fox Wilshire Theatre in Beverly Hills, CA. A theatrical release in London also occurred in December 1970. Critical reception was lackluster, and the box office was worse, with a U.S. gross of just $4.5 million.

At the request of Wilder, composer Miklós Rózsa adapted music from his own 1956 Violin Concerto as the basis for the film score, supplementing this with further original music. Rózsa also made a cameo appearance in the film as an orchestra conductor of the Swan Lake ballet. No soundtrack album for the film was released. The first representation of the score came via an isolated score track on the film’s 1994 laserdisc release from Image Entertainment. In 2007, Tadlow Music rerecorded the score with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Nic Raine. In 2013, Quartet Records released the first official edition of Rózsa’s original recording, an archival disc sourced from music stems located at MGM. Quartet issued a remastered edition in 2021.

 Posted:   May 29, 2023 - 5:40 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Sidney Poitier’s second sequel to IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT was 1971’s THE ORGANIZATION, which followed 1970’s THEY CALL ME MISTER TIBBS!. THE ORGANIZATION is set in San Francisco, where “Police Lieutenant Virgil Tibbs” (Poitier) helps a group of idealistic vigilantes expose a drug ring controlled by powerful businessmen. Barbara McNair and Wanda and George Spell, who respectively played Tibbs's wife and children in THE ORGANIZATION, played the same roles in THEY CALL ME MISTER TIBBS!. Maxwell Gail, Jr., more commonly known as Max Gail, made his feature film debut in the picture.

Don Medford directed the film, his last. Gil Mellé’s score was released by Intrada in 2010. Although producer Walter Mirisch asserted in a June 1971 Los Angeles Times interview that he planned to shoot a fourth installment in the series, Poitier stated in the same article that he had little interest in revisiting the character again.

As noted onscreen, THE ORGANIZATION was shot on location in San Francisco, and the nearby location of Sausalito. Some scenes were shot in the then-unfinished Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway system. While reviews were generally favorable, some critics cited the recently released THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971) as a grittier version of a similar story. The film had decent grosses of $8.2 million domestically.

 Posted:   May 30, 2023 - 11:36 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Shortly after the musical opened on Broadway on 22 September 1964, Ross Hunter and Harold Prince were considering producing a film version of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF for Universal. In January 1966, United Artists (UA) purchased the rights to the play, under the stipulation that the film not be released until 1971, in order to avoid interfering with the play's profits. By July 1968, UA had engaged Norman Jewison to produce and direct the film version, which would be produced by his Simkoe Productions and Walter Mirisch. At that time, it was expected that either Zero Mostel or Israeli actor Topol, who performed the role in 1967 on the London stage, would play the lead. Jewison felt that Mostel’s more comedic approach would not translate well to the film, and he wanted a first- or second-generation Russian Jew in the role.

The choreography for the film was taken mostly intact from Jerome Robbins' choreography for the stage version. The script, too, is almost verbatim of the stage play, but some sequences were added, such as Perchik’s capture and arrest in Kiev, Golde’s visit to the Orthodox Church, and conversations between the constable and his superior, a character who did not appear in the stage version. Shots of the countryside and village, which were only implied in the stage play, were explicit in the film.

The music was prerecorded in May 1970, before principal shooting began, using a double playback system. Although the tempo of the music was set at that time, the performance of each song could be altered and re-recorded over the orchestral accompaniment during the shooting of the scene.

The film was shot in Yugoslavia and London. Technical facilities were furnished by Jadran Film in Zagreb, Yugoslavia and Pinewood Studios in London. The fictional village of Anatevka was filmed at Lekenik, Yugoslavia, located twenty-five miles from Zagreb. The buildings for the town were built out of wood from dilapidated houses in the area that would have existed at the time of the film’s setting. Production designer Robert Boyle studied over 100 plans of synagogues from the Ukraine to ensure the set’s authenticity.

The 1971 film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, losing to THE FRENCH CONNECTION. Topol was nominated for Best Actor, Leonard Frey for Best Supporting Actor, and Jewison for Best Director. John Williams won his first Academy Award for Best Scoring. Gordon K. McCallum and David Hildyard won Best Sound, and Oswald Morris won Best Cinematography. Morris was unable to attend the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles since the producers of the film he was then working on would not give him any time off. He was awakened in the early hours of the morning in London by a telephone call from producer Walter Mirisch who told him he had just won the Oscar. The film also received a nomination for Best Art Direction, but lost to NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA. The film also won a Golden Globe Award as Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

Even though roadshow releases were almost extinct by late 1971, UA give FIDDLER ON THE ROOF the full reserved-seat roadshow treatment. The gamble paid off, and the $9 million production became the highest grossing film of the year, with a $91 million domestic take. Jerry Bock’s songs, as orchestrated by John Williams, were released on a 2-LP set from United Artists Records. EMI re-issued the recording on CD in 1984. A 30th anniversary edition with 5 extra tracks was released by Capitol/EMI in 2001. La-La Land released a 3-CD 50th Anniversary edition in 2021 that included alternate versions, and early “playback” versions of the songs as well as selections of Williams’ underscore.

 Posted:   May 31, 2023 - 10:25 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN RIDE! was the fourth Mirisch Productions film based on characters from the 1960, John Sturges-directed United Artist release THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Lee Van Cleef took over the lead role of former hired gun-turned-marshal "Chris Adams." George McCowan directed the 1972 film. While the earlier "Magnificent Seven" films were shot in Mexico and Spain, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN RIDE! was shot in Southern California, with portions of the film shot on the Universal Studios lot.

Elmer Bernstein’s thematic material from the earlier films was fit to sequences in this movie by his orchestrators, Leo Shuken and Jack Hayes. A single day was spent recording at the Universal Scoring Stage in Los Angeles with Bernstein conducting. While the master tapes remain unfound, Quartet accessed the monaural music stem to provide 45 minutes of the music in their 2022 “Magnificent Seven Collection” set. The $3 million production had mediocre domestic box office of $3.2 million.

 Posted:   Jun 1, 2023 - 1:57 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

The film AVANTI! (which means among other things, "go ahead" in Italian) had a typically long title in Italy. The film's Italian release title was “Che cosa è successo tra mio padre e tua madre?” (What Happened Between My Father and Your Mother?). In June 1971, it was reported that director Billy Wilder was preparing the script for the film with screenwriter Norman Krasna, but that was likely an error as Wilder had collaborated with credited co-writer I.A.L. Diamond for many years and had never worked with Krasna. In the film, successful businessman “Wendell Armbruster, Jr.” (Jack Lemmon) goes to Italy to arrange for the return of his tycoon father's body only to discover dad died with his long-time mistress, whose daughter, “Pamela Piggott” (Juliet Mills), has also arrived.

Walter Matthau was to have appeared in the film as diplomat "J. J. Blodgett," but because of a scheduling shift for PETE ‘N’ TILLIE, in which Matthau co-starred with Carol Burnett, the role of J. J. was taken over by Edward Andrews. Juliet Mills gained twenty-five pounds for her role as "Pamela Piggott" to accommodate the story's theme that she is overweight.

The picture was shot on location in Italy, in and around the island of Capri, in Sorrento and other areas along the Amalfi coast, with additional shooting in Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Airport and some interiors at the Rizzoli Film Gestione Palatino Studios in Rome. While the film was set almost entirely on the island of Ischia, the bulk of the film was actually filmed in and around Sorrento.

AVANTI! marked the fifth collaboration between Wilder and Lemmon, and their first film together since THE FORTUNE COOKIE (1966). The film was also the seventh collaboration between Wilder and Mirisch Productions. AVANTI! was the second film adaptation that Wilder had made from a play by Samuel Taylor, who had written the play on which Wilder's 1954 film SABRINA was based.

Although trade reviews were generally positive about the film, newspaper critics dismissed the picture, with many reflecting the words of Los Angeles Times critic Charles Champlin, who wrote, “The good moments in it are the measure of its wasted competence.” Carlo Rustichelli's score for the 1972 film was released by Quartet in 2010. The $2.75 million production had average grosses of $4.5 million in the U.S.

 Posted:   Jun 2, 2023 - 10:26 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Longtime C.I.A. agent “Cross” (Burt Lancaster) wants to retire in peace with his wife “Sarah” (Joanne Linville), but finds himself training a new recruit: “Jean Laurier” (Alain Delon), alias SCORPIO. Things go badly for Cross, and he is accused of treason. Cross finds himself in the agency's crosshairs, and, expectedly, Scorpio is the man strong-armed into hunting Cross down. The hunted travels to Vienna and seeks refuge with fellow operative “Zharkov” (Paul Scofield). Cross desperately seeks assistance getting Sarah out of the United States alive, and receives an unexpected offer from his once-and-future master.

Michael Winner directed this 1973 Cold War thriller, which was personally produced by Walter Mirisch. Mirisch originally considered Ryan O'Neal and Rod Steiger as his two leads. SCORPIO was shot on location in Washington, D.C., with additional location shooting in London, Paris, and Vienna. Mirisch received special permission to film an assassination scene at Orly Airport in Paris.

The film crew also had to obtain a special authorization before shooting in the CIA building. Burt Lancaster asked Senator John V. Tunney, who then asked a CIA head director to authorize the filming. Although the crew received permission to enter the building, filming and recording was not allowed in the building. But Michael Winner secretly did it anyway. No identification of any kind was asked for the crew members, but they had to wear badges made by the CIA especially for them, with a scorpion on them. Those badges had to be destroyed after the visit.

Jerry Fielding prepared an LP of his score for United Artists Records, but it was ultimately not issued. It was finally released in 1978 as part of the Elmer Bernstein Film Music Collection. It was re-issued on CD by Bay Cities in 1991. Intrada released an expanded edition in 2008, and an isolated score track appeared on the 2015 Twilight Time Blu-ray release of the film. It came full circle with a 2022 LP release of the original by Quartet. The $4 million production returned just $4.2 million at the domestic box office.

 Posted:   Jun 3, 2023 - 12:43 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In THE SPIKES GANG, Lee Marvin is “Harry Spikes,” a wounded outlaw on the run who appears as a romantic figure to three impressionable youths, played by Ron Howard, Gary Grimes, and Charles Martin Smith. Nursed back to health by the boys, the crooked Spikes enlists them as his partners. Walter Mirisch personally produced the film, which was directed by Richard Fleischer.

THE SPIKES GANG was filmed in Tabernas, Almeria, Andalucía, and Madrid in Spain. Ron Howard later praised producer Walter Mirisch saying, "When I...acted in one of his productions, THE SPIKES GANG, I learned that a prolific and brilliant producer could also be a terrific guy and a wonderful teacher." Fred Karlin’s score has not had a release. The 1974 film generated below average domestic box office of $2.6 million.

 Posted:   Jun 4, 2023 - 11:23 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Producer Walter Mirisch collaborated with director Richard Fleischer on their second consecutive film with Charles Bronson’s MR. MAJESTYK. Bronson played the title character, a melon farmer who battles organized crime and a hit man who wants to kill him. Linda Cristal played “Nancy Chavez,” a migrant worker and a union organizer with ties to the National Farm Workers Association.

A 24 May 1972 Daily Variety news item announced that film rights to writer Elmore Leonard’s original story, “Mr. Majestic,” were purchased by Walter Mirisch, and production was set to begin in late 1972. Leonard was slated to write the script, and United Artists had already agreed to distribute the film.

The film was shot in Colorado because Charles Bronson was not available to start until September 1973, and the melon-growing season in California was over by that time. When the filmmakers offered a farmer with a 160-acre “Rocky Ford” melon ranch near Manzanola, CO, $3,500 for the rental of his property, the farmer insisted on $10,000 because the film had been publicized in the La Junta Tribune-Democrat as a multi-million dollar venture.

Although the 1974 film was not one of Bronson’s more popular pictures, it grossed $10.6 million and finished in the top 50 films of the year. It was, however, eclipsed by another Bronson film that opened a week later, DEATH WISH, which earned $26.7 million and finished in the top 25 for 1974. Intrada released Charles Bernstein's score in 2009.

 Posted:   Jun 6, 2023 - 12:58 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

MIDWAY was a dramatization of the battle that was widely heralded as a turning point of the Pacific Theatre of World War II. While Charlton Heston played a fictional character (“Capt. Matt Garth”), most of the other stars played real-life figures (e.g., Henry Fonda as Admiral Chester W. Nimitz; Robert Mitchum as Admiral William F. Halsey). Hal Holbrook co-starred as Cmdr. Joseph Rochefort of Navy Combat Intelligence, responsible for breaking the Japanese code.

Walter Mirisch personally produced MIDWAY, a film that—similar to Mirisch’s production of 1952’s FLAT TOP—made considerable use of actual film shot during combat in World War II. The production had only 3 wartime aircraft at its disposal—so stock footage from other films, including TORA! TORA! TORA! and BATTLE OF BRITAIN, was also used. Only $60,000 was spent doing blow-ups and editing of the stock footage from various sources for the film's battle sequences, a fraction of the cost of recreating those scenes afresh.

The film marked the end of The Mirisch Corporation’s nearly 20-year association with United Artists as the distributor of their films, and the beginning of a five-year deal with Universal Pictures.

Almost all the on-board scenes were shot during 3 weeks of filming on the U.S.S. Lexington, an Essex-class "fast carrier" commissioned in February, 1943. It was the last World War II ship in service. Universal paid to cut the hair and to shave the modern crew members of the Lexington to conform to World War II Navy regulations. Even some of the Japanese carriers shown in birds-eye views were actually the Lexington, with the film reversed to put the island superstructure on the port side (all U.S. carriers had it on the starboard side).

Jack Smight directed the 1976 release, replacing John Guillermin, who was let go before filming began because he kept hounding Walter Mirisch for more money. The picture was the second Universal film to be released in Sensurround, after EARTHQUAKE (1974). John Williams’ score was re-recorded for Varese Sarabande in 1998 by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Rick Wentworth. In 2011, Varese released the original tracks.

MIDWAY cost $4 million to produce, and Charlton Heston, who owned a percentage of the film and toured Asia to promote the picture, believed $5.5 million had been spent on advertising and publicity for the film. MIDWAY was a smash hit, and was one of the biggest money-makers of The Mirisch Corporation. It came in as the 7th most popular film of the year, with a $65.5 million gross.

An extended pan-and-scan television version of the film was created for the picture’s 1978 airing on NBC. This version ran 4-hours (with commercials), and featured new footage of additional characters and a re-creation of the Battle of the Coral Sea. The complete alternate version is now thought to be lost, although 10 minutes of the additional footage appeared as a bonus feature on the Universal DVD and Blu-ray releases of MIDWAY.

 Posted:   Jun 6, 2023 - 11:54 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Producer Walter Mirisch and Charlton Heston next worked together on the 1978 action-adventure disaster movie GRAY LADY DOWN. Heston starred as U.S. Navy Captain “Paul Blanchard,” whose nuclear submarine, the U.S.S. Neptune, has collided with a Norwegian cargo freighter. The Neptune has sunk off the coast of Connecticut and is stuck on an underwater ocean ledge but is falling off the ridge. The question is, will the rescue operation be in time?

David Carradine plays Navy officer misfit “Captain Gates,” who has developed a small experimental submersible, nicknamed Snark, which is brought in as the only hope to reach the nuclear submarine for a rescue. The Snark’s operator is “Mickey” (Ned Beatty). Stacy Keach plays “Captain Bennett,” the commander of the U.S. Navy rescue force, and a young Christopher Reeve (in his feature film debut) is one of the officers, "Phillips."

Charlton Heston and Walter Mirisch embarked onboard the U.S.S. Gurnard (SSN 662) to get one day of submarine service experience. The Gurnard was homeported in San Diego and transited early one morning to pick up the star and the producer in Long Beach. The Gurnard ran numerous drills that day which included flooding and fire.

Even though the submarine depicted in the movie is a Skate-class submarine, in the opening credits, footage of the real-life submarine U.S.S Trout (SS-566) was filmed specifically for GRAY LADY DOWN, depicting the fictional U.S.S. Neptune. GRAY LADY DOWN also re-used submarine special-effects footage and the large-scale submarine model originally used to portray the fictional submarine U.S.S. Tigerfish in the 1968 movie ICE STATION ZEBRA.

David Greene directed the film. Jerry Fielding’s score was released by Intrada in 2009. The film had moderate box office grosses of $10.4 million.

 Posted:   Jun 6, 2023 - 9:53 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In 1975, the film rights to Bernard Slade’s stage play SAME TIME, NEXT YEAR were sold to Universal for $1 million, plus a ten percent cut of the gross rentals. The ten percent of gross film rentals would apply only on rentals above $10 million, and Slade would receive sixty percent of this royalty, with producer Morton Gottlieb and the play’s financial backers splitting the remaining forty percent. Gottlieb had turned down a $400,000 offer from Twentieth Century-Fox. The contract precluded the film version from being released before 1 June 1978.

The play was a comedy featuring only two actors. The movie version expanded the cast list to seven, but the other five characters are all minor parts, none of them supporting roles. The play opened 14 March 1975 at the 1,100-seat Brooks Atkinson Theatre. The play moved to the Ambassador Theatre on 16 May 1978 and played through 3 September 1978, running a total of 1,453 performances on Broadway.

Playwright (and now screenwriter) Bernard Slade wanted the two leads from the Broadway production—Ellen Burstyn and Charles Grodin—as the film’s stars. Burstyn was originally rejected by the studio due to her age, and Grodin wasn't considered a name actor. Producer Walter Mirisch ultimately signed Burstyn and Alan Alda to star in the film. Alda was Bernard Slade's first choice to play “George” in the Broadway production, but other commitments prevented him from doing the play.

Burstyn and Alda play a married man and a married woman who end up sleeping with each other, and decide to meet at the same place every year on the anniversary of their one-night stand. As the years go by, they observe changes in each other and their relationship.

Robert Mulligan directed the film and made a conscious decision not see the stage play (it was still being performed when the film was in development and was being shot). Mulligan wished to have an unaffected vision for the film, but this was a bone of contention for writer Slade. The film originally received an [R] rating from the Motion Picture Association of America due to its use of offensive language. Universal successfully appealed the rating, and the film was re-rated [PG] prior to release.

Universal Pictures was releasing seven of the sixteen movies slated for release during the 1978 Christmas season, and screen space was at a premium with so many movies vying for attention. A spokesman for Universal noted that multiplex theaters would make up for the lack of large first run houses. Universal had decided to open SAME TIME, NEXT YEAR on 22 November 1978 instead of the originally scheduled 22 December in order to “alleviate some of the product log jam.”

Paul McCartney was first asked to write theme music for the film. He came up with a title song called “Same Time, Next Year,” which McCartney & Wings recorded. However, the song was rejected and was not used. It was later released as the B-side of McCartney’s 1990 single "Put It There".

Marvin Hamlisch’s score for the film has not had a release. Hamlisch and Alan and Marilyn Bergman received an Oscar nomination for their song "The Last Time I Felt Like This.” The songwriters also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song - Motion Picture. They lost both awards to Paul Jabara’s song “Last Dance” from THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY.

The film received additional Academy Award nominations in the following categories: Best Actress (Ellen Burstyn), Best Cinematography (Robert Surtees), and Best Screenplay [based on material from another medium] (Bernard Slade). The screenplay also received a nomination from the Writers Guild of America in the category Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium. Alan Alda received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actor - Musical/Comedy; and Ellen Burstyn won the Golden Globe as Best Motion Picture Actress - Musical/Comedy. The film grossed a moderate $19.7 million.

 Posted:   Jun 6, 2023 - 10:53 PM   
 By:   Bill Carson, Earl of Poncey   (Member)

What a phenomenal compilation CD of film themes Mirisch's CV would make! And an impressive array of composers. Good work Bob

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