Ulysses (1967)

140 mins | Adventure | 14 March 1967

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HISTORY

Items in the 30 Jul 1965 NYT and 2 Aug 1965 DV noted that a previous attempt to adapt a film version of James Joyce’s 1922 novel, Ulysses, was made in the early 1930s, as a collaboration between Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein and James Joyce; however, it was abandoned after two scripts were written. In 1961, American producer and writer Jerry Wald optioned the rights; when Wald died the following year, British director Jack Cardiff took them over. Meanwhile, writer-director-producer Joseph Strick initially tried to obtain the option in 1961 but was outbid by Wald. He was finally successful in 1964, and spent the following two years pursuing financing, the 2 Oct 1966 NYT reported. Strick was able to entice executive producer Walter Reade, Jr., with whom he had collaborated on the 1963 film, The Balcony (see entry). Reade, Jr., who had formerly been interested when Jerry Wald had held the rights, offered to provide Strick with $500,000. For the remainder of financing, Reade, Jr. approached British Lion, who agreed to participate “only against a personal guarantee by Strick that the film would get a British censor’s certificate,” making the project a British-American co-production. The 4 Aug 1965 Var stated that British Lion was set to provide seventy percent of the financing, and Reade-Sterling the other thirty percent. The 30 Jul 1965 NYT noted the project would mark the second adaptation of Joyce’s work to be released as a feature film, after Passages from ‘Finnegans Wake’ (1967, see entry). However, Ulysses was ultimately released first.
       Although several items published in 1965 ... More Less

Items in the 30 Jul 1965 NYT and 2 Aug 1965 DV noted that a previous attempt to adapt a film version of James Joyce’s 1922 novel, Ulysses, was made in the early 1930s, as a collaboration between Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein and James Joyce; however, it was abandoned after two scripts were written. In 1961, American producer and writer Jerry Wald optioned the rights; when Wald died the following year, British director Jack Cardiff took them over. Meanwhile, writer-director-producer Joseph Strick initially tried to obtain the option in 1961 but was outbid by Wald. He was finally successful in 1964, and spent the following two years pursuing financing, the 2 Oct 1966 NYT reported. Strick was able to entice executive producer Walter Reade, Jr., with whom he had collaborated on the 1963 film, The Balcony (see entry). Reade, Jr., who had formerly been interested when Jerry Wald had held the rights, offered to provide Strick with $500,000. For the remainder of financing, Reade, Jr. approached British Lion, who agreed to participate “only against a personal guarantee by Strick that the film would get a British censor’s certificate,” making the project a British-American co-production. The 4 Aug 1965 Var stated that British Lion was set to provide seventy percent of the financing, and Reade-Sterling the other thirty percent. The 30 Jul 1965 NYT noted the project would mark the second adaptation of Joyce’s work to be released as a feature film, after Passages from ‘Finnegans Wake’ (1967, see entry). However, Ulysses was ultimately released first.
       Although several items published in 1965 named Sidney Myers as a co-screenwriter, he did not receive credit in the final film. Strick stated that the adaptation was extremely loyal to the novel, edited down for time and with some “connectives,” as he referred to them in the 2 Oct 1966 NYT. Also, the period was updated from 1902 to the mid-1960s due to budget restraints and the changed landscape of Dublin. Strick had once thought of making a trilogy of films based on the book, as the time lapsed in the narrative amounts to 18.75 hours, but he was unable to elicit interest in such a project.
       According to his deal, Strick was given complete artistic control and discretion over the budget, capped at $1 million. He made a conscious decision not to cast stars, as stated in the 6 Jul 1966 Var, as their “personal identities” would “somehow interfere with the conception of the film.” Actors worked for low pay, with the top cast members getting £100 per week plus profit participation. The final budget was listed as $840,000 in a 15 Nov 1966 LAT brief. The 3 May 1967 Var stated that profits would be split evenly between Reade, Jr. and Strick, out of whose share would come the actors’ deferred payments.
       Principal photography began on 4 Jul 1966. Filming took place primarily in Dublin, Ireland, with some scenes set to be shot in Gibraltar. In Dublin, a residence in the coastal suburb of Sandymount served as the location for “Molly Bloom’s” bedroom and “Bella Cohen’s” bordello, as stated in the 2 Oct 1966 NYT. Production headquarters were set up in two adjacent residences in the Ballsbridge neighborhood. The 15 Sep 1965 Var noted that the Irish Film Finance Corp. had declined to invest in the film, probably because the novel Ulysses was still banned there. An item in the 26 Sep 1966 LAT added that the film likely would not be released in Ireland, despite having been shot there. Executive producer Walter Reade, Jr. claimed in a 3 Jul 1966 NYT interview that, due to the controversy surrounding the material, two versions would be made: “one of which will use the authentic Joyce dialogue” for a special limited release, and a version with milder language for general release. Although a six-month shooting schedule had previously been cited, the 6 Jul 1966 Var stated that filming would be completed in four months.
       A three-day release in 135 U.S. theaters on 14-16 Mar 1967 was scheduled, as announced in a 31 Aug 1966 NYT article, which stated that the purpose of the limited showing “was to call the public’s attention to the ‘adult nature’ of the picture.” Depending on the critical and commercial reception to the initial round of screenings, Reade-Sterling planned to launch a second release between nine and twelve months later. The 7 Dec 1966 Var named Henry Harrell as Continental Distributing Inc.’s special sales coordinator assigned to market the film, and a 17 Feb 1967 NYT article later reported that sixty-five engagements had been secured for the Mar 1967 run. In New York City, no major theater chains agreed to show the film; thus, twelve smaller movie houses were booked. The 23 Feb 1967 NYT noted that censors in Chicago, IL, and Baltimore, MD, were rumored to be opposed to the film showing in their city, and that an exhibitor in Allentown, PA, had dropped earlier plans to screen it. Some of the U.S. engagements were arranged as “four-wall” deals, in which Continental Distributing, Inc. rented out the theater and handled operations themselves.
       In England, the British Board of Film Censors called for twenty-nine segments of dialogue and two scenes to be excised, the 23 Feb 1967 NYT noted. Strick claimed that the dialogue to be removed amounted to around 400 words, which he planned to have printed on a leaflet and handed out to the audience to allow them “the full experience” of the film.
       Critical reception was largely positive. The 14 Mar 1967 NYT called the picture “as faithful and fine a screen translation of James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ as anyone with taste, imagination and a practical knowledge of this medium could ask.” Five days after the release, NYT reviewer Bosley Crowther wrote an article in defense of the film, warning that it would be “a great shame” for it to be rejected by exhibitors. Based on an “unprecedented audience response and critical acclaim,” an unlimited, exclusive, reserved-seat engagement was scheduled to follow the special run in New York, to begin on 24 Mar 1967 at the Trans-Lux 85th Street Theatre, according to the 21 Mar 1967 NYT. By that time, the film had grossed over $800,000. On 3 Jan 1968, a Var box-office chart listed cumulative domestic film rentals of $2.3 million.
       Controversy arose at a screening of the picture at the Cannes Film Festival, attended by Strick. When the director discovered that festival president Robert Favre Lebret had removed portions of the French subtitles against his wishes, he called for the film to be stopped and stormed the projection booth, temporarily interrupting the screening before being thrown out. Lebret later admitted that Strick had denied him the right to remove any subtitles, but that he had taken his own initiative since “certain words could be heard, but shouldn’t be read.” In New Zealand, the chief film censor decreed that showings of the film be segregated by sex, and restricted to audiences who were eighteen years of age or older. The 10 May 1967 Var stated that the only film to have the same-sex restriction before Ulysses was a “sex-hygiene” picture released in the late 1950s called The Facts of Life.
       In Bay City, MI, an off-duty police officer illegally seized a copy of the film after its three-day run at the Westown Theatre. The 28 Mar 1967 DV reported that the print had since been returned, following a hearing before a municipal judge. Westown Theatre’s owner, E. C. Johnson, was considering suing the patrolman and the city.
       An Academy Award nomination went to Joseph Strick and Fred Haines for Writing (Screenplay—based on material from another medium). More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Aug 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Mar 1967
p. 3, 8.
Daily Variety
20 Mar 1967
p. 3.
Daily Variety
28 Mar 1967
p. 10.
Daily Variety
1 May 1967
p. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
26 Sep 1966
Section C, p. 29.
Los Angeles Times
15 Nov 1966
Section C, p. 18.
New York Times
30 Jul 1965.
---
New York Times
3 Jul 1966
p. 7, 12.
New York Times
5 Jul 1966.
---
New York Times
31 Aug 1966.
---
New York Times
2 Oct 1966.
---
New York Times
25 Jan 1967.
---
New York Times
17 Feb 1967.
---
New York Times
23 Feb 1967.
---
New York Times
14 Mar 1967.
---
New York Times
19 Mar 1967
Section D, p. 1, 19.
New York Times
21 Mar 1967.
---
Variety
4 Aug 1965
p. 3.
Variety
4 Aug 1965
p. 35.
Variety
15 Sep 1965
p. 31.
Variety
6 Jul 1966
p. 7.
Variety
7 Dec 1966
p. 27.
Variety
29 Mar 1967
p. 3.
Variety
3 May 1967
p. 15.
Variety
3 May 1967
p. 21.
Variety
10 May 1967
p. 15.
Variety
3 Jan 1968
p. 25.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Walter Reade-Joseph Strick Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Ulysses by James Joyce (Paris, 1922).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 March 1967
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 14 March 1967
Production Date:
4 July--October 1966
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
140
Countries:
United Kingdom, Ireland, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

A warm spring day stimulates the memories of Dublin citizens, among them Stephen Dedalus, a young poet and schoolteacher, and Leopold Bloom, a Jewish advertising agent. Wracked by guilt, Dedalus recalls his intensely Catholic childhood and his mother's funeral; Bloom mourns his son Rudy. Since the child's death eleven years earlier Bloom has been impotent. His wife, Molly, has responded to this withdrawal by cuckolding him numerous times; her current lover is the virile boxing promoter, Blazes Boylan. Traveling in a funeral cortege, Bloom observes Dedalus strolling on the beach and is strongly attracted to the youth. While lunching in a pub, Bloom is taunted by a one-eyed anti-Semite. In a hospital lounge the Jew encounters the drunken poet, whom he follows to the brothel of Bella Cohen. There both men are beset by terrifying fantasies, Bloom envisioning himself an Oriental potentate, the mayor of Dublin, a culprit tried by a Jew-hating judge, and a woman. In the street Bloom invites Dedalus to his home, where the two spend the night conversing. As day breaks Bloom offers his friend lodging, but the poet refuses. As her husband sleeps beside her, Molly considers her youthful courtship by Bloom, her present relationship with Boylan, and the possibility of a future affair with ... +


A warm spring day stimulates the memories of Dublin citizens, among them Stephen Dedalus, a young poet and schoolteacher, and Leopold Bloom, a Jewish advertising agent. Wracked by guilt, Dedalus recalls his intensely Catholic childhood and his mother's funeral; Bloom mourns his son Rudy. Since the child's death eleven years earlier Bloom has been impotent. His wife, Molly, has responded to this withdrawal by cuckolding him numerous times; her current lover is the virile boxing promoter, Blazes Boylan. Traveling in a funeral cortege, Bloom observes Dedalus strolling on the beach and is strongly attracted to the youth. While lunching in a pub, Bloom is taunted by a one-eyed anti-Semite. In a hospital lounge the Jew encounters the drunken poet, whom he follows to the brothel of Bella Cohen. There both men are beset by terrifying fantasies, Bloom envisioning himself an Oriental potentate, the mayor of Dublin, a culprit tried by a Jew-hating judge, and a woman. In the street Bloom invites Dedalus to his home, where the two spend the night conversing. As day breaks Bloom offers his friend lodging, but the poet refuses. As her husband sleeps beside her, Molly considers her youthful courtship by Bloom, her present relationship with Boylan, and the possibility of a future affair with Dedalus. +

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

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