This Property Is Condemned (1966)

110 mins | Drama | 15 June 1966

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HISTORY

A news item in the 7 May 1964 DV reported that Elizabeth Taylor was in negotiations with Seven Arts Pictures to star in This Property Is Condemned, based on a one-act play by Tennessee Williams. Vincente Minelli was the intended director. One month later, Taylor’s husband, actor Richard Burton, replaced Minelli, as stated in the 12 Jun 1964 DV. However, on 12 Aug 1964, DV announced that both Taylor and Burton had withdrawn from the project due to “prior commitments.” A brief in the 30 Sep 1964 DV revealed that Taylor had chosen Montgomery Clift as her leading man. Following Taylor’s replacement by Natalie Wood, and Burton’s replacement by John Huston, the producers were considering several veteran actresses for the role of “Hazel Starr,” including Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Vivien Leigh, and Rita Hayworth. Two weeks later, the 13 Oct 1964 DV noted that actor James Garner was under consideration to play a lead role. Within days, the 21 Oct 1964 DV mentioned French actor Alain Delon as a possible co-star. The 11 Nov 1964 DV noted that actor Grayson Hall was screen tested for the picture. Items in the 6 and 13 Jan 1965 DV reported that Judy Garland would likely be cast as Hazel Starr.
       The project remained in limbo for six months, until the 26 Jul 1965 LAT announced Sydney Pollack as the new director. Known at the time for his work in television, This Property Is Condemned was Pollack’s second theatrical feature. ... More Less

A news item in the 7 May 1964 DV reported that Elizabeth Taylor was in negotiations with Seven Arts Pictures to star in This Property Is Condemned, based on a one-act play by Tennessee Williams. Vincente Minelli was the intended director. One month later, Taylor’s husband, actor Richard Burton, replaced Minelli, as stated in the 12 Jun 1964 DV. However, on 12 Aug 1964, DV announced that both Taylor and Burton had withdrawn from the project due to “prior commitments.” A brief in the 30 Sep 1964 DV revealed that Taylor had chosen Montgomery Clift as her leading man. Following Taylor’s replacement by Natalie Wood, and Burton’s replacement by John Huston, the producers were considering several veteran actresses for the role of “Hazel Starr,” including Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Vivien Leigh, and Rita Hayworth. Two weeks later, the 13 Oct 1964 DV noted that actor James Garner was under consideration to play a lead role. Within days, the 21 Oct 1964 DV mentioned French actor Alain Delon as a possible co-star. The 11 Nov 1964 DV noted that actor Grayson Hall was screen tested for the picture. Items in the 6 and 13 Jan 1965 DV reported that Judy Garland would likely be cast as Hazel Starr.
       The project remained in limbo for six months, until the 26 Jul 1965 LAT announced Sydney Pollack as the new director. Known at the time for his work in television, This Property Is Condemned was Pollack’s second theatrical feature. The role of Hazel Starr was assigned to Canadian stage actress Kate Reid, marking her screen debut. Reid told the 12 Dec 1965 LAT that Seven Arts president Ray Stark offered her the part after seeing her in the Broadway production of Dylan. On 30 Jul 1965, DV announced actor Robert Redford for the role of “Owen Legate.” Redford also co-starred with Wood in her previous film, Inside Daisy Clover (1965, see entry). Production was expected to start 15 Sep 1965. A news brief in the 7 Sep 1965 DV stated that shooting was postponed until 27 Sep 1965. The 20 Oct 1965 LAT included child actors Mary Badham and Jon Provost among the cast. Provost had recently “retired” from a seven-year stint in the television series, Lassie (CBS, 1954 – 1971). A column in the 17 Nov 1965 LAT mentioned former “actor and band leader” Nick Stuart as a cast member, after he was recognized by a spectator during a location shoot.
       DV production charts conflict as to the start of principal photography, with the 1 Oct 1965 issue stating 4 Oct 1965, and the 8 Oct 1965 issue stating 11 Oct 1965. Both charts appeared under the “Films Now Shooting” heading. According to the 28 Nov 1965 LAT, location filming began in Bay St. Louis, MS, near the Mississippi River delta. Ten percent of the $3.5 million production budget was reportedly spent to regress the town’s 3rd Street neighborhood to the way it might have appeared in 1932. The boarding house at the center of the story was, in reality, the unoccupied former home of Mayor John Scafide, purposely dilapidated by a team of carpenters and laborers. Storefronts along 3rd Street were given false facades, displaying products at their Depression-era prices. One town resident remarked that the street looked just as it had thirty years earlier.
       The 27 Oct 1965 DV revealed that shooting that evening would coincide with a nearby Ku Klux Klan meeting. Reporter Army Archerd hopefully predicted that local residents would prefer to see movie stars at work. On 5 Nov 1965, DV announced that filming would continue in Los Angeles, CA, due to inclement weather. Sydney Pollack told the 17 Nov 1965 DV that the company encountered hostility from local residents during its five weeks in MS, noting that several blocked cameras while filming was underway. He attributed their behavior to a general dislike of Tennessee Williams, “Yankees,” and the movie industry. According to the 16 Jan 1966 NYT, the publisher of the Bay St. Louis newspaper filed a petition “to deny the company access to public roads,” while the mayor made an unsuccessful attempt to force the production to leave town. Although the work environment improved when the company moved to New Orleans, LA, one prudish resident pushed a cameraman off the sidewalk in front of her house, declaring her disapproval of Tennessee Williams’s work. Natalie Wood claimed that Redford was suffering from a fever, and Pollack was “coming down with pneumonia,” following repeated exposure to the city’s torrential rains. Regardless, Pollack was confident that location filming would become his “trademark.”
       The 13 Dec 1965 DV reported that Natalie Wood performed a nude swimming scene at the Paramount Studios lot in Los Angeles. However, the water in the “studio-made lake” was dyed black to preserve the actress’s modesty. On 24 Dec 1965, DV announced the company’s return from ten days in New Orleans. Completion of principal photography was scheduled for 10 Jan 1966.
       Articles in the 6 Mar 1966 NYT and 25 Jul 1966 LAT revealed that between fourteen and sixteen writers attempted to script the film. None were identified on screen, except for Francis Ford Coppola, Fred Coe, and Edith Sommer.
       An item in the 18 Mar 1966 DV stated that This Property Is Condemned received the Production Code seal of approval after only three edits were made. Months earlier, Pollack told the 17 Nov 1965 DV that Geoffrey Shurlock, of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), approved the screenplay, and “cleared” scenes that were likely to encounter censorship. On 30 Jan 1966, LAT reported that Tennessee Williams removed his name from the film, which focused on two characters who were merely incidental in his play. Nearly five months later, however, the 24 May 1966 DV announced that Williams reinstated himself as source author, following a private screening of the picture.
       This Property Is Condemned opened 15 Jun 1966 in Los Angeles, and 3 Aug 1966 in New York City to mixed reviews. While the 13 Jun 1966 DV and 17 Jun 1966 LAT praised the cast, the 4 Aug 1966 NYT dismissed their characters as Hollywood contrivances. An article in the 17 Jul 1966 NYT, concerning the scarcity of African Americans in mainstream entertainment, puzzled as to why a story, set in the 1932 American South, was completely devoid of black characters.
       Despite such criticisms, the film enjoyed considerable popularity, and produced the hit song, “Wish Me A Rainbow” by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. Natalie Wood was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Dramatic Actress. This Property Is Condemned is the last of three consecutive “period” films that Wood starred in between 1965 and 1966, including The Great Race (1965, see entry) and Inside Daisy Clover. It was also the last release from Seven Arts through its association with Paramount Pictures, as noted in the 6 Oct 1965 DV.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
7 May 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
12 Jun 1964
p. 1.
Daily Variety
12 Aug 1964
p. 1.
Daily Variety
30 Sep 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
13 Oct 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Oct 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Nov 1964
p. 11.
Daily Variety
23 Nov 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
6 Jan 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
13 Jan 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
30 Jul 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Oct 1965
p. 8.
Daily Variety
6 Oct 1965
p. 1.
Daily Variety
8 Oct 1965
p. 2, 8.
Daily Variety
27 Oct 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
5 Nov 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
17 Nov 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
7 Dec 1965
p. 3.
Daily Variety
13 Dec 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
24 Dec 1965
p. 9.
Daily Variety
18 Mar 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
24 May 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
13 Jun 1966
p. 3.
Daily Variety
13 Sep 1966
p. 3.
Daily Variety
22 Dec 1966
p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jul 1965
Section C, p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
20 Oct 1965
Section D, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
17 Nov 1965
Section A, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
28 Nov 1965
Section B, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
12 Dec 1965
Section B, p. 5, 11.
Los Angeles Times
30 Jan 1966
Section P, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
25 Jul 1966
Section C, p. 20.
Los Angeles Times
17 Jun 1966
Section D, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
17 Jan 1967
Section D, p. 8.
New York Times
16 Jan 1966
Section X, p. 13.
New York Times
6 Mar 1966
Section X, p. 11.
New York Times
17 Jul 1966
p. 85.
New York Times
3 Aug 1966
p. 42.
New York Times
4 Aug 1966
p. 24.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Pres
Prod exec
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Helicopter shots
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost created by
Miss Wood's cost
MUSIC
Mus score
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Miss Wood's hairstyles designed & executed by
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play This Property Is Condemned by Tennessee Williams (New York, 28 Oct 1956).
SONGS
"Wish Me a Rainbow," words and music by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
"Sing You Sinners," words and music by Sam Coslow and W. Franke Harling
"Just One More Chance," words and music by Sam Coslow and Arthur Johnston.
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 June 1966
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 15 June 1966
New York opening: 3 August 1966
Production Date:
4 or 11 October 1965--10 January 1966
Copyright Claimant:
Seven Arts Productions
Copyright Date:
17 June 1966
Copyright Number:
LP32760
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
110
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Thirteen-year-old Willie Starr, dressed in the remnants of a once-lovely dress, sits on abandoned railroad tracks and wistfully tells her friend Tom about her dead sister, Alva. Alva Starr is a beautiful woman living in a small town in Mississippi in the 1930's. Her mother, Hazel, the proprietor of a boardinghouse for railroad workers, insists upon steering her into the arms of a prosperous middle-aged man, Johnson, but Alva falls in love with Owen Legate, a handsome stranger from New Orleans who is in town to lay off a number of railroad workers as a result of the Depression. When Owen is beaten up by five of the workers, he makes plans to leave, taking Alva with him. Hazel tricks him into thinking that Alva is engaged to Johnson, however, and Owen disappears without giving Alva a chance to explain. Upon learning the truth, Alva gets drunk and spitefully marries her mother's brutish lover, J. J. Nichols. The next day she runs away and joins Owen in New Orleans. Their happiness is soon ruined by Hazel, who viciously exposes her daughter's marriage. In despair Alva runs away, becomes a cheap pickup, and eventually dies of tuberculosis. With the passing of time, Willie only recalls Alva as an enchanted creature whose life was filled with beauty and ... +


Thirteen-year-old Willie Starr, dressed in the remnants of a once-lovely dress, sits on abandoned railroad tracks and wistfully tells her friend Tom about her dead sister, Alva. Alva Starr is a beautiful woman living in a small town in Mississippi in the 1930's. Her mother, Hazel, the proprietor of a boardinghouse for railroad workers, insists upon steering her into the arms of a prosperous middle-aged man, Johnson, but Alva falls in love with Owen Legate, a handsome stranger from New Orleans who is in town to lay off a number of railroad workers as a result of the Depression. When Owen is beaten up by five of the workers, he makes plans to leave, taking Alva with him. Hazel tricks him into thinking that Alva is engaged to Johnson, however, and Owen disappears without giving Alva a chance to explain. Upon learning the truth, Alva gets drunk and spitefully marries her mother's brutish lover, J. J. Nichols. The next day she runs away and joins Owen in New Orleans. Their happiness is soon ruined by Hazel, who viciously exposes her daughter's marriage. In despair Alva runs away, becomes a cheap pickup, and eventually dies of tuberculosis. With the passing of time, Willie only recalls Alva as an enchanted creature whose life was filled with beauty and romance. +

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

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