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HISTORY

The 28 Mar 1968 DV announced that Richard Morris was finishing the script for Universal Pictures forthcoming Change of Habit. According to the 3 Apr 1968 Var, the picture was based on real-life nun Sister Mary Olivia Gibson, whose work with speech-impaired children at the Maria Regina College speech clinic in Syracuse, NY, had garnered her recognition. Gibson was currently meeting with producer Joe Connelly to advise on the film.
       On 21 Aug 1968, DV reported that Mary Tyler Moore had been hired to play Gibson onscreen.
       The 17 Sep 1968 DV noted that filming was expected to begin in Jan 1969, and a 6 Dec 1968 DV production chart listed a 20 Jan 1969 start date.
       According to the 10 Jan 1969 DV, Elvis Presley had signed on to the picture, prompting his character to be rewritten from a minor to a lead role. A 3 Mar 1969 start date in Los Angeles, CA, was announced, with the delay presumably due to the script rewrites. Actress Barbara McNair was being pursued for one of the film’s three nuns, and William Graham was favored to direct. The 5 Feb 1969 DV confirmed the hiring of McNair and Graham, and reported that filming would get underway on 4 Mar 1969. Television actress Jane Elliot was later cast as the third onscreen nun, marking her theatrical film debut.
       DV production charts listed additional start delays from 5 Mar to 8 Mar 1969, and the 7 Mar 1969 DV noted that production would begin on 10 Mar 1969. However, on 26 ... More Less

The 28 Mar 1968 DV announced that Richard Morris was finishing the script for Universal Pictures forthcoming Change of Habit. According to the 3 Apr 1968 Var, the picture was based on real-life nun Sister Mary Olivia Gibson, whose work with speech-impaired children at the Maria Regina College speech clinic in Syracuse, NY, had garnered her recognition. Gibson was currently meeting with producer Joe Connelly to advise on the film.
       On 21 Aug 1968, DV reported that Mary Tyler Moore had been hired to play Gibson onscreen.
       The 17 Sep 1968 DV noted that filming was expected to begin in Jan 1969, and a 6 Dec 1968 DV production chart listed a 20 Jan 1969 start date.
       According to the 10 Jan 1969 DV, Elvis Presley had signed on to the picture, prompting his character to be rewritten from a minor to a lead role. A 3 Mar 1969 start date in Los Angeles, CA, was announced, with the delay presumably due to the script rewrites. Actress Barbara McNair was being pursued for one of the film’s three nuns, and William Graham was favored to direct. The 5 Feb 1969 DV confirmed the hiring of McNair and Graham, and reported that filming would get underway on 4 Mar 1969. Television actress Jane Elliot was later cast as the third onscreen nun, marking her theatrical film debut.
       DV production charts listed additional start delays from 5 Mar to 8 Mar 1969, and the 7 Mar 1969 DV noted that production would begin on 10 Mar 1969. However, on 26 Mar 1969, Var announced that principal photography had commenced on 11 Mar 1969. The 2 Apr 1969 DV confirmed that filming was underway at Universal Studios in Universal City, CA.
       DV “Film Castings” from 2—23 Apr 1969 added the following cast members: Paul Factor, Tony DeCosta, Jim Beach, Lilith Miles, Troy Melton, Frank Corsentino, Ray Ballard, Howard Curtis, Stardent Kaaua, Rita Conde, Timothy Carey, and Araceli Rey. The 23 Apr 1969 DV stated that Hal Belfer was choreographing dance sequences.
       Although the 2 Apr 1969 DV reported that Change of Habit would be released in 1970, an advertisement in the 10 Sep 1969 Var announced a Thanksgiving 1969 opening.
       The 14 Nov 1969 LAT noted a citywide Los Angeles release would take place on 19 Nov 1969. Change of Habit opened in New York City theaters on 21 Jan 1970, where it played on a double-bill with House of Cards (1969, see entry), according to the 22 Jan 1970 NYT review.
       Reviews were mixed. Both the 17 Oct 1969 DV and the 20 Nov 1969 LAT praised the performances of Presley, Moore, McNair, Elliot, and six-year-old Lorena Kirk. However, LAT complained that the picture was “out of touch” by making light of contemporary social injustices. DV deemed the plot line “intriguing” and “well developed,” and described Presley’s two songs featured in the film as “superior.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
28 Mar 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Aug 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
17 Sep 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
30 Oct 1968
p. 1.
Daily Variety
6 Dec 1968
p. 10.
Daily Variety
10 Jan 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
5 Feb 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
7 Feb 1969
p. 24.
Daily Variety
21 Feb 1969
p. 10.
Daily Variety
7 Mar 1969
p. 6.
Daily Variety
24 Mar 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
2 Apr 1969
p. 4, 28.
Daily Variety
10 Apr 1969
p. 6.
Daily Variety
16 Apr 1969
p. 12.
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1969
p. 8.
Daily Variety
23 Apr 1969
p. 2, 4.
Daily Variety
17 Oct 1969
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
14 Nov 1969
Section H, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
20 Nov 1969
Section F, p. 21.
New York Times
22 Jan 1970
p. 29.
Variety
3 Apr 1968
p. 21.
Variety
26 Mar 1969
p. 78.
Variety
2 Apr 1969
p. 4.
Variety
10 Sep 1969
p. 39.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
Ward
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstyles
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Scr supv
Prod coordinator
Gaffer
Casting dir
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Rubberneckin'" by Bunny Warren and Dory Jones.
SONGS
"Change of Habit" and "Let Us Pray," music and lyrics by Ben Weisman and Buddy Kaye, sung by Elvis Presley.
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1969
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 19 November 1969
New York opening: 21 January 1970
Production Date:
began 11 March 1969
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures
Copyright Date:
10 November 1969
Copyright Number:
LP39252
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
93
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

John Carpenter, a young doctor operating a free clinic in a ghetto, looks with apprehension on the arrival of three nuns who have been granted special dispensation to wear laymen's clothing and help him with his work. Gradually gaining the respect of the community are: Sister Michelle, a speech therapist, who is able to help Julio Hernandez, the leader of a gang of juvenile delinquents, and who also works with an autistic child; Sister Irene, an African American woman who demonstrates her own sense of ghetto wisdom; and Sister Barbara, who becomes involved in protesting the unfair prices that a local food market charges the residents. Dr. Carpenter, who is unaware that the women are nuns, falls in love with Sister Michelle, but she gently rebuffs him and becomes even more involved in community affairs. Despite interference from her superior, Bishop Finley, Sister Michelle organizes a block party to bring the black and Puerto Rican elements of the community together. At the party, "The Banker," a local black gangster, slaps Sister Irene for meddling in his business affairs, but Dr. Carpenter knocks the gangster down. Later, Sister Michelle is nearly raped by Julio Hernandez, and again Dr. Carpenter comes to the rescue. Meanwhile, Sister Barbara, who has been picketing the market, is arrested, and Mother Joseph, the nun in charge of the convent, orders all three women to leave the project. Sister Michelle, who is now in love with Carpenter, must choose between him and the ... +


John Carpenter, a young doctor operating a free clinic in a ghetto, looks with apprehension on the arrival of three nuns who have been granted special dispensation to wear laymen's clothing and help him with his work. Gradually gaining the respect of the community are: Sister Michelle, a speech therapist, who is able to help Julio Hernandez, the leader of a gang of juvenile delinquents, and who also works with an autistic child; Sister Irene, an African American woman who demonstrates her own sense of ghetto wisdom; and Sister Barbara, who becomes involved in protesting the unfair prices that a local food market charges the residents. Dr. Carpenter, who is unaware that the women are nuns, falls in love with Sister Michelle, but she gently rebuffs him and becomes even more involved in community affairs. Despite interference from her superior, Bishop Finley, Sister Michelle organizes a block party to bring the black and Puerto Rican elements of the community together. At the party, "The Banker," a local black gangster, slaps Sister Irene for meddling in his business affairs, but Dr. Carpenter knocks the gangster down. Later, Sister Michelle is nearly raped by Julio Hernandez, and again Dr. Carpenter comes to the rescue. Meanwhile, Sister Barbara, who has been picketing the market, is arrested, and Mother Joseph, the nun in charge of the convent, orders all three women to leave the project. Sister Michelle, who is now in love with Carpenter, must choose between him and the Church. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.