The Carpetbaggers (1964)

150 mins | Melodrama | 9 April 1964

Full page view
HISTORY

According to a 30 Aug 1961 Var item, motion picture rights to Harold Robbins’s bestselling novel The Carpetbaggers were initially owned by entertainment executive Matthew M. Fox. The project was rumored to be the first of four films produced by singer-actor Eddie Fisher for Warner Bros. Pictures, and an earlier DV report from 7 Jul 1961 claimed that Fisher’s then-wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor, would co-star alongside Rock Hudson. When Fisher’s option expired, Fox decided to auction the novel for an asking price of $300,000. On 8 Sep 1961, DV announced that rights had been acquired by Joseph E. Levine of Embassy Pictures. Planning a lavish production, Levine told the 31 Jan 1962 Var that the budget would likely exceed $5 million. The 3 Oct 1962 Var explained that this arrangement was made possible by Paramount Pictures, which agreed to cover negative costs in exchange for worldwide distribution rights. A 25 Sep 1962 DV news story indicated that the studio had also allocated an advertising budget of $1 million.
       The 16 Jul 1962 DV indicated that Levine met with Joseph L. Mankiewicz before Edward Dmytryk was signed as the film’s director.
       Once John Michael Hayes completed work on the screenplay, casting began in the spring of 1963. Although a 22 Sep 1961 DV brief claimed Robert Stack was interested in playing “Jonas Cord, Jr.,” the leading role eventually went to George Peppard. Various DV casting announcements during the spring and early summer reported the names of several actors in consideration to star, including Eddie Albert as “Dan Pierce,” Jerry ... More Less

According to a 30 Aug 1961 Var item, motion picture rights to Harold Robbins’s bestselling novel The Carpetbaggers were initially owned by entertainment executive Matthew M. Fox. The project was rumored to be the first of four films produced by singer-actor Eddie Fisher for Warner Bros. Pictures, and an earlier DV report from 7 Jul 1961 claimed that Fisher’s then-wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor, would co-star alongside Rock Hudson. When Fisher’s option expired, Fox decided to auction the novel for an asking price of $300,000. On 8 Sep 1961, DV announced that rights had been acquired by Joseph E. Levine of Embassy Pictures. Planning a lavish production, Levine told the 31 Jan 1962 Var that the budget would likely exceed $5 million. The 3 Oct 1962 Var explained that this arrangement was made possible by Paramount Pictures, which agreed to cover negative costs in exchange for worldwide distribution rights. A 25 Sep 1962 DV news story indicated that the studio had also allocated an advertising budget of $1 million.
       The 16 Jul 1962 DV indicated that Levine met with Joseph L. Mankiewicz before Edward Dmytryk was signed as the film’s director.
       Once John Michael Hayes completed work on the screenplay, casting began in the spring of 1963. Although a 22 Sep 1961 DV brief claimed Robert Stack was interested in playing “Jonas Cord, Jr.,” the leading role eventually went to George Peppard. Various DV casting announcements during the spring and early summer reported the names of several actors in consideration to star, including Eddie Albert as “Dan Pierce,” Jerry Van Dyke as “Buzz Dalton,” Anne Francis as “Jennie Denton,” Suzanne Pleshette, Stella Stevens, Ray Milland, and Arthur O’Connell. The 10 Jun 1963 edition claimed that singer Nat King Cole was once attached for the role of “Jedediah,” but dropped out to fulfill prior nightclub commitments. Similarly, the 31 Jul 1963 Var indicated Tony Bill was replaced by Tom Lowell due to scheduling conflicts. Additional casting announcements listed performers whose involvement could not be confirmed, or may have been uncredited: David Bailey, Larry Barton, Ruth Packard, Sue Casey, Kathleen Gately, James Sikking, and Fred Zendar. According to the 24 Jul 1963 Var, dialogue coach Frank London also appeared onscreen in a non-speaking role. Items in the 21 Aug 1963 Var and 22 Aug 1963 DV stated that radio-television personality Virginia Graham, and disc jockeys Gene Week and Roger Christian of the Los Angeles, CA-area radio station KFWB, were selected to play radio reporters in the film.
       Principal photography began in mid-Jun 1963, although contemporary sources offered conflicting information regarding the exact date. The 10 Jun 1963 DV announced that the unit had arrived for two days of location shooting in the Mojave Desert town of Boron, CA, while a 14 Jun 1963 DV production chart and LAT story claimed filming did not begin until 11 Jun or 13 Jun, respectively. Interior shooting took place on the Paramount studio lot in Hollywood, CA, and additional scenes were reportedly filmed in Pasadena, CA. The 7 Aug 1963 Var announced that principal photography was scheduled to conclude on 28 Aug 1963. Despite Levine’s initial estimates, the 8 Aug 1963 DV listed a budget closer to $3.5 million. According to a 13 Jun 1963 LAT brief, Carroll Baker’s wardrobe alone cost $40,000.
       The 23 Jul 1963 DV noted that men’s fashion retailer Sy Devore contributed to the costumes.
       As The Carpetbaggers entered post-production, filmmakers encountered complications depicting the excessive sex, nudity, and sadism of Robbins’s original novel. Although the 19 Dec 1962 NYT suggested that Production Code Administrator Geoffrey M. Sherlock reviewed the finished script before the start of production, the film received extensive publicity for a nude scene featuring Carroll Baker. In a 14 Jun 1964 interview with the NYT, Baker described the sequence, in which “Rina Marlowe” sits alone at her bedroom vanity after bathing. She claimed it was her idea to shoot the scene in the nude, and defended the choice by asserting that her character would not have worn a robe. The 25 Aug 1963 LAT stated that the scene was filmed on a closed set with a limited crew.
       Public and industry disapproval sparked a broader debate about the content being presented in films, and whether Paramount would oppose the censors and withdraw from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), as United Artists (UA) had done to release The Man with the Golden Arm (1955, see entry) without a Code Seal. However, on 15 Oct 1963, NYT reported that Levine had decided to back down, and would remove all nudity from the cut submitted to the MPAA for review. A few weeks later, the 8 Nov 1963 DV confirmed that Levine had obtained the PCA’s seal of approval by substituting alternate angles that obscured any nudity.
       According to an 8 Apr 1964 Var article, a special engagement in Denver, CO, was set to launch the following day with a $50,000 premiere event at the Paramount Theatre. The studio spent the next few months rolling out an extensive publicity campaign before the West Coast premiere on 4 Jun 1964. A Var item published that day revealed that the gala took place at Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, which began regular bookings the morning of 5 Jun 1964. The release was then set to expand to 400 venues around the country over the next two months, some of which featured 70mm presentations. The film was a box-office success, as the 9 Jul 1964 NYT reported earnings of $1,612,428 from twenty-three New York City area theaters since its local debut on 1 Jul 1964.
       The Carpetbaggers marked the final feature film of actor Alan Ladd, who died on 29 Jan 1964. Before production even began, the 1 Feb 1963 LAT announced that Levine intended to reunite with John Michael Hayes to develop Nevada Smith, a prequel about Ladd’s character of the same name, which was released in 1966 with Steve McQueen in the title role (see entry). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
7 Jul 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
8 Sep 1961
p. 1.
Daily Variety
22 Sep 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Jul 1962
p. 11.
Daily Variety
16 Jul 1962
p. 11.
Daily Variety
25 Sep 1962
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
27 Mar 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
28 Mar 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
23 Apr 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
15 May 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
17 May 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
10 Jun 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Jun 1963
p. 6.
Daily Variety
1 Jul 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
12 Jul 1963
p. 1.
Daily Variety
23 Jul 1963
p. 11.
Daily Variety
2 Aug 1963
p. 10.
Daily Variety
8 Aug 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Aug 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
22 Aug 1963
p. 11.
Daily Variety
8 Nov 1963
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
1 Feb 1963
Section D, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
12 Jun 1963
Section C, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
13 Jun 1963
Section C, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
21 Jul 1963
Section D, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jul 1963
Section D, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
25 Aug 1963
Section E, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
25 Aug 1963
Section E, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
4 Jun 1964
Section A, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
5 Jun 1964
Section C, p. 13.
New York Times
19 Dec 1962
p. 4.
New York Times
27 May 1963
p. 25.
New York Times
14 Jun 1963
p. 36.
New York Times
18 Sep 1963
p. 34.
New York Times
14 Oct 1963
p. 33.
New York Times
15 Oct 1963
p. 63.
New York Times
29 Jan 1964
p. 29.
New York Times
18 May 1964
p. 35.
New York Times
14 Jun 1964
Section X, p. 9.
New York Times
2 Jul 1964
p. 24.
New York Times
9 Jul 1964
p. 26.
Variety
30 Aug 1961
p. 2.
Variety
31 Jan 1962
p. 18.
Variety
3 Oct 1962
p. 3.
Variety
24 Jul 1963
p. 4.
Variety
31 Jul 1963
p. 19.
Variety
7 Aug 1963
p. 4.
Variety
21 Aug 1963
p. 4.
Variety
28 Aug 1963
p. 4.
Variety
8 Apr 1964
p. 11.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Technicolor cons
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
Hairstyle supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Scr supv
Dial coach
Stills
Gaffer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Carpetbaggers by Harold Robbins (New York, 1961).
DETAILS
Release Date:
9 April 1964
Premiere Information:
Denver, CO premiere and opening: 9 April 1964
Los Angeles premiere: 4 June 1964
Los Angeles release: 5 June 1964
New York opening: 1 July 1964
Production Date:
mid June--late August 1963
Copyright Claimant:
Embassy Pictures
Copyright Date:
31 December 1963
Copyright Number:
LP28322
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision, see note
Duration(in mins):
150
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1925, playboy Jonas Cord, Jr., inherits the Cord Chemical factory after his father dies from a stroke in the midst of their quarrel. Jonas immediately buys out all shares of Cord Chemical; the transactions include making a financial settlement with his stepmother, Rina, who jilted him to marry the senior Cord for his money, and liquidating the stock belonging to Nevada Smith, a cowhand who acted as father to him during his childhood. Later, Rina becomes a top fashion model in Paris, and Nevada becomes a popular silent screen cowboy star, while Jonas enlists the aid of McAllister, his father's attorney, and engineer Buzz Dalton to build the business into a multimillion dollar empire pioneering in plastics and aeronautics. On a whim, Jonas marries, then neglects, Monica Winthrop, after ruining her father's business. With the coming of talking pictures, Nevada's career at Bernard B. Norman's Film Studios is threatened until Jonas offers financial backing for a film to star both the aging star and Rina, who has returned to the United States; in addition, Jonas decides to direct the film himself and hires Nevada's agent, Dan Pierce, as his public relations man. Jonas' behavior forces Monica to leave him, while the nymphomaniacal Rina, now married to Nevada, becomes an alcoholic and dies in a car accident; Norman and Pierce, however, arrange to withhold the news from Jonas long enough to sell him the studio, which is virtually worthless now that its biggest star is dead. Jonas goes on a binge but recovers when he meets call girl Jennie Denton, who resembles Rina; Jonas turns her into a star and proposes marriage, but she is horrified to learn that ... +


In 1925, playboy Jonas Cord, Jr., inherits the Cord Chemical factory after his father dies from a stroke in the midst of their quarrel. Jonas immediately buys out all shares of Cord Chemical; the transactions include making a financial settlement with his stepmother, Rina, who jilted him to marry the senior Cord for his money, and liquidating the stock belonging to Nevada Smith, a cowhand who acted as father to him during his childhood. Later, Rina becomes a top fashion model in Paris, and Nevada becomes a popular silent screen cowboy star, while Jonas enlists the aid of McAllister, his father's attorney, and engineer Buzz Dalton to build the business into a multimillion dollar empire pioneering in plastics and aeronautics. On a whim, Jonas marries, then neglects, Monica Winthrop, after ruining her father's business. With the coming of talking pictures, Nevada's career at Bernard B. Norman's Film Studios is threatened until Jonas offers financial backing for a film to star both the aging star and Rina, who has returned to the United States; in addition, Jonas decides to direct the film himself and hires Nevada's agent, Dan Pierce, as his public relations man. Jonas' behavior forces Monica to leave him, while the nymphomaniacal Rina, now married to Nevada, becomes an alcoholic and dies in a car accident; Norman and Pierce, however, arrange to withhold the news from Jonas long enough to sell him the studio, which is virtually worthless now that its biggest star is dead. Jonas goes on a binge but recovers when he meets call girl Jennie Denton, who resembles Rina; Jonas turns her into a star and proposes marriage, but she is horrified to learn that Jonas relishes her degraded past. His treatment of Jennie so disgusts his associates that Dalton quits, and even Nevada is appalled to the point of provoking a bloody fistfight, which Nevada wins. Jonas, who has lived for years in fear of hereditary insanity because of his twin brother who died, insane, in infancy, then learns from Nevada that the infant was not a full brother; he then returns to Monica, who learned the truth years before, to begin a new life with their daughter. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

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.