Staircase (1969)

R | 98 mins | Comedy-drama | 20 August 1969

Director:

Stanley Donen

Writer:

Charles Dyer

Producer:

Stanley Donen

Cinematographers:

Philippe Brun, Christopher Challis

Editor:

Richard Marden

Production Designer:

Willy Holt

Production Company:

Stanley Donen Films, Inc.
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HISTORY

Based on the play of the same name by Charles Dyer, Staircase was announced in the 2 Apr 1968 LAT as an upcoming production for Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. Paul Scofield, who had originated the part of “Charles Dyer” (a.k.a. “Charlie Dyer”) onstage, was considered to reprise the role before Rex Harrison was cast, as noted in a 6 Aug 1968 LAT brief. In preparation for the role, Harrison collected wardrobe items, including “blue jeans, chukka boots, a colored shirt and a neckerchief” borrowed from a gay pub goer in London’s East End, and a “tragic” suit Harrison found at the Bearmans department store in London, as stated in a 13 Oct 1968 LAT article. Richard Burton, cast as Harrison’s co-star, had previously appeared with Harrison in Cleopatra (1963, see entry).
       Principal photography began on 2 Sep 1968 in Paris, France, where a London, England, set was built at Billancourt Studios. Fifteen weeks of Paris shooting were set to be followed by a week in London, England, where the filming of shopping and laundromat scenes was planned. In the meantime, Richard Burton was briefly drawn away, due to the sudden death of his then father-in-law, Francis Lenn Taylor, on 20 Nov 1968. One month later, the 19 Dec 1968 DV reported that filming had ended one day earlier, well ahead of schedule.
       Staircase opened on 20 Aug 1969 in New York City. Set to coincide with theatrical release was a novelization of Charles Dyer’s play, to be published by Doubleday and simultaneously (in paperback) by Avon Books, the 13 Aug 1969 ... More Less

Based on the play of the same name by Charles Dyer, Staircase was announced in the 2 Apr 1968 LAT as an upcoming production for Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. Paul Scofield, who had originated the part of “Charles Dyer” (a.k.a. “Charlie Dyer”) onstage, was considered to reprise the role before Rex Harrison was cast, as noted in a 6 Aug 1968 LAT brief. In preparation for the role, Harrison collected wardrobe items, including “blue jeans, chukka boots, a colored shirt and a neckerchief” borrowed from a gay pub goer in London’s East End, and a “tragic” suit Harrison found at the Bearmans department store in London, as stated in a 13 Oct 1968 LAT article. Richard Burton, cast as Harrison’s co-star, had previously appeared with Harrison in Cleopatra (1963, see entry).
       Principal photography began on 2 Sep 1968 in Paris, France, where a London, England, set was built at Billancourt Studios. Fifteen weeks of Paris shooting were set to be followed by a week in London, England, where the filming of shopping and laundromat scenes was planned. In the meantime, Richard Burton was briefly drawn away, due to the sudden death of his then father-in-law, Francis Lenn Taylor, on 20 Nov 1968. One month later, the 19 Dec 1968 DV reported that filming had ended one day earlier, well ahead of schedule.
       Staircase opened on 20 Aug 1969 in New York City. Set to coincide with theatrical release was a novelization of Charles Dyer’s play, to be published by Doubleday and simultaneously (in paperback) by Avon Books, the 13 Aug 1969 Var stated. In Los Angeles, the picture was one of three Fox releases (including The Chairman and Che! [1969, see entries]) to test the studio’s new “Premiere Presentation”program, in which first-run films debuted in six-week runs at eight Los Angeles theaters instead of only one.
       Following mixed reviews, Staircase went on to earn $1.85 million in film rentals by 7 Jan 1970, according to a Var chart published that day.
       An item in the 5 Feb 1969 Var reported that a band called Twice Nicely planned to record a theme song for the picture, titled “Father Forgive Them,” for Track Records.
       Greg Morrison served as the unit publicist in Paris, according to the 6 Aug 1968 LAT. Throughout production, the set remained closed to visitors, as noted in various contemporary sources. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
5 Jul 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
4 Sep 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
6 Sep 1968
p. 14.
Daily Variety
11 Dec 1968
p. 8.
Daily Variety
19 Dec 1968
p. 8.
Daily Variety
14 Aug 1969
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
2 Apr 1968
Section D, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
16 Apr 1968
Section C, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
9 May 1968
Section F, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
6 Aug 1968
Section F, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
13 Oct 1968
Section C, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
17 Sep 1969
Section F, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
26 Sep 1969
Section G, p. 19.
New York Times
21 Aug 1969.
---
Variety
16 Nov 1966
p. 62.
Variety
3 Apr 1968
p. 7.
Variety
4 Sep 1968
p. 24.
Variety
25 Sep 1968
p. 19.
Variety
16 Oct 1968
p. 32.
Variety
1 Jan 1969
p. 26.
Variety
5 Feb 1969
p. 54.
Variety
26 Mar 1969
p. 3.
Variety
30 Apr 1969
p. 5.
Variety
13 Aug 1969
p. 56.
Variety
20 Aug 1969
p. 12.
Variety
20 Aug 1969
p. 26.
Variety
27 Aug 1969
p. 35.
Variety
7 Jan 1970
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Stanley Donen Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Ward supv
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd mix
MAKEUP
Mr. Burton's makeup
Mr. Harrison's makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod exec
Prod supv
Casting dir
Main titles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Staircase by Charles Dyer (London, 2 Nov 1966).
AUTHOR
SONGS
Sung by Ray Charles.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 August 1969
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 20 Aug 1969; Los Angeles opening: 24 Sep 1969
Production Date:
2 Sep--18 Dec 1968
Copyright Claimant:
Stanley Donen Films, Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 August 1969
Copyright Number:
LP37507
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
98
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
United Kingdom, France, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
22075
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

For thirty years homosexuals Charlie Dyer and Harry Leeds have lived together over a barber shop they run in London, England. Harry now suffers from a scalp condition so aggravated that he keeps his head wrapped in towels, and Charlie is nervously awaiting a court summons for having been caught by the police for being dressed in drag. Although the two men have stung each other with insults for years, with Charlie usually the aggressor, the tension increases when Charlie receives a letter from his ex-wife informing him that their daughter is coming for a visit. Therefore he tries to get Harry out of the house by suggesting that his roommate take his mother for a drive in the country, whereupon Harry accuses Charlie of selfishness since the old woman is an arthritic cripple unable to move from her bedroom above the barber shop. That evening, Charlie's summons arrives, and he asks Harry to lend him the money for his defense, but Harry refuses. Charlie visits his own mother in an old age home, but she curses him and calls him "a sodomite." The fights between Charlie and Harry reach a peak when Charlie returns home with Jack, a casual pick-up. When he hears Charlie order Jack to undress, Harry locks himself in the bathroom. Charlie later finds him unconscious and attempts to revive him, pleading with his roommate never to leave him alone. Harry eventually comes round and explains that he had not attempted suicide but was merely suffering from an attack of high blood pressure. On the day of his court appearance, Charlie prays for help, promising to be kinder to Harry in the future, but the ... +


For thirty years homosexuals Charlie Dyer and Harry Leeds have lived together over a barber shop they run in London, England. Harry now suffers from a scalp condition so aggravated that he keeps his head wrapped in towels, and Charlie is nervously awaiting a court summons for having been caught by the police for being dressed in drag. Although the two men have stung each other with insults for years, with Charlie usually the aggressor, the tension increases when Charlie receives a letter from his ex-wife informing him that their daughter is coming for a visit. Therefore he tries to get Harry out of the house by suggesting that his roommate take his mother for a drive in the country, whereupon Harry accuses Charlie of selfishness since the old woman is an arthritic cripple unable to move from her bedroom above the barber shop. That evening, Charlie's summons arrives, and he asks Harry to lend him the money for his defense, but Harry refuses. Charlie visits his own mother in an old age home, but she curses him and calls him "a sodomite." The fights between Charlie and Harry reach a peak when Charlie returns home with Jack, a casual pick-up. When he hears Charlie order Jack to undress, Harry locks himself in the bathroom. Charlie later finds him unconscious and attempts to revive him, pleading with his roommate never to leave him alone. Harry eventually comes round and explains that he had not attempted suicide but was merely suffering from an attack of high blood pressure. On the day of his court appearance, Charlie prays for help, promising to be kinder to Harry in the future, but the promise is forgotten as soon as Harry appears wearing a cheap black wig. Ignoring Charlie's jibes, Harry offers to accompany him to court. Charlie refuses but realizes by the time he reaches the corner that he cannot go it alone, and he calls out for Harry to accompany him. +

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.