Paint Your Wagon (1969)

166 mins | Musical comedy | 15 October 1969

Director:

Joshua Logan

Producer:

Alan Jay Lerner

Cinematographer:

William Fraker

Editor:

Robert C. Jones

Production Designer:

John Truscott

Production Company:

Alan Jay Lerner Productions
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HISTORY

In early 1964, singer Eddie Fisher acquired film rights to the 1951 musical Paint Your Wagon by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner, as announced in a 3 Apr 1964 DV item. Fisher paid $200,000 for the rights, according to a 15 Aug 1968 DV item, and planned to produce the film independently, shooting in Cinerama. As of early Apr 1964, Lerner was said to be at work on the script adaptation, while Loewe was due to write four additional songs for the picture. Fisher intended to play “Julio Valveras” and reportedly wanted James Cagney for the role of “Ben Rumson.” The 13 Aug 1965 DV stated that Fisher was in talks with Paramount Pictures to sign an acting contract. It was noted that his production company at the time, New Frontier Productions, still owned rights to Paint Your Wagon. Several months later, the 25 Jan 1967 NYT listed Paint Your Wagon as one of twenty-seven upcoming projects at Paramount, and items in the 6 Apr 1967 DV and NYT announced that Joshua Logan had been set to direct. Eddie Fisher was named as executive producer.
       On 20 Jun 1967, a DV news brief stated that Paddy Chayefsky had been signed to adapt the screenplay. According to the 25 Sep 1968 DV, the musical was transformed from a “relatively pastoral” narrative into “a sexy morality tale.” In an interview published in the 23 Nov 1969 LAT, director Joshua Logan stated that Chayefsky was responsible for throwing out “the main story line, including the two ... More Less

In early 1964, singer Eddie Fisher acquired film rights to the 1951 musical Paint Your Wagon by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner, as announced in a 3 Apr 1964 DV item. Fisher paid $200,000 for the rights, according to a 15 Aug 1968 DV item, and planned to produce the film independently, shooting in Cinerama. As of early Apr 1964, Lerner was said to be at work on the script adaptation, while Loewe was due to write four additional songs for the picture. Fisher intended to play “Julio Valveras” and reportedly wanted James Cagney for the role of “Ben Rumson.” The 13 Aug 1965 DV stated that Fisher was in talks with Paramount Pictures to sign an acting contract. It was noted that his production company at the time, New Frontier Productions, still owned rights to Paint Your Wagon. Several months later, the 25 Jan 1967 NYT listed Paint Your Wagon as one of twenty-seven upcoming projects at Paramount, and items in the 6 Apr 1967 DV and NYT announced that Joshua Logan had been set to direct. Eddie Fisher was named as executive producer.
       On 20 Jun 1967, a DV news brief stated that Paddy Chayefsky had been signed to adapt the screenplay. According to the 25 Sep 1968 DV, the musical was transformed from a “relatively pastoral” narrative into “a sexy morality tale.” In an interview published in the 23 Nov 1969 LAT, director Joshua Logan stated that Chayefsky was responsible for throwing out “the main story line, including the two major characters.” His first draft was reportedly 200 pages long. After Chayefsky wrote a second draft, Lerner came in to revise it. Logan stated that in the final film the first act was as Chayefsky had written it, but the second act was Lerner’s work. Chayesky ultimately accepted an adaptation credit, while Lerner was credited as the sole screenwriter. Frederick Loewe, who had composed songs for the original musical, did not want to go back to work on the screen adaptation, according to the 17 Jun 1968 LAT; thus André Previn was brought in to pen five new songs.
       Lee Marvin’s casting was announced in an 11 Dec 1967 DV brief. Marvin had never sung before, and received “private talk-singing lessons” from Lerner, the 22 May 1968 LAT reported. Clint Eastwood was named as Marvin’s co-star in the 3 Jan 1968 LAT. According to an article in the 22 Jun 1969 LAT, Eastwood also underwent a short period of voice training for the singing role. An estimated 18,000 actresses vied for the female lead, as stated in the 11 Aug 1968 NYT. Top contenders included Vanessa Redgrave, Barbara Harris, Mary Tyler Moore, Lesley Ann Warren, Anne Bancroft, and Faye Dunaway, the 9 May 1968 LAT noted, but Jean Seberg ultimately won the part. While preparing the film, Logan advised Seberg to model her character after a real-life person, and the actress, who had been raised in Iowa but had since moved to France, decided to use her grandmother, whom she described in the 11 Aug 1968 NYT as “an orphan who scrubbed farm floors.”
       An article in the 30 Apr 1968 NYT stated that Paint Your Wagon would use “multiple-image techniques” that had been unveiled the previous year at Canada’s Expo 67. The innovations, touted as “multiple-image designs and complicated montages for pictorial excitement and dramatic punch,” were reportedly first used in The Thomas Crown Affair and The Boston Strangler (1968, see entries). Early budget estimates ranged from $14-$16 million. Of that figure, the 25 Sep 1968 DV noted that Lee Marvin would be paid $1 million plus a percentage of the profits, and a 22 Jun 1969 LAT article claimed that Eastwood would also receive $1 million and a profit percentage.
       Principal photography began 24 Jun 1968 in the remote location of Baker, OR, where a replica of an 1849 gold mining town was built over the course of seven months, at a cost of $2.4-$2.5 million. The primary set was constructed in Eagle Creek, described in the 25 Sep 1968 DV as a “national park wilderness area.” In the Wallowa Mountains surrounding the location, 300-400 hippies, who had traveled there to perform as background actors, set up communal camps. The hippie presence enraged some local lumberjacks and ranch hands, who were rumored to have fired shots at their encampments at night. The Baker residents also reportedly started fights with crewmembers at a local saloon. An article in the 18 Aug 1968 LAT noted that some of the hippie extras complained about the food on set and petitioned for higher pay than their $20 per day salaries. When they threatened to strike, producers conceded, raising their pay to $25 per day.
       Tensions between Logan and Lee Marvin, who allegedly abused alcohol and often disappeared from set, prompted rumors that Logan would be replaced. On 12 Jul 1968, DV stated that Paramount executive Robert Evans had visited Baker that week to discuss a director change, while early scenes were already being re-shot. An LAT item published on the same date identified Richard Brooks as Logan’s likely successor. However, Brooks had a previous commitment at United Artists (UA), and the 16 Jul 1968 LAT reported that UA’s Arnold Picker refused to release him to Paramount. In an interview published in the 6 Oct 1968 LAT, Logan claimed that the rumors of his leaving had been premature, and that Brooks had initially been contacted for advice, since he had directed Marvin in The Professionals (1966, see entry). Meanwhile, the 18 Jul 1968 LAT stated that Eddie Fisher planned to remove his name from onscreen credits due to the controversy. An item published in the 15 Aug 1968 DV gave a conflicting report that Fisher had mentioned his executive producer role on Paint Your Wagon in his recent performance at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Los Angeles, CA. However, two months later, the 22 Oct 1968 DV confirmed that Fisher’s name was off the film.
       Rain caused twenty-five days’ worth of production delays, as stated by Lerner in the 22 Oct 1968 DV. The inclement weather was said to have marked the first August rainfall in the Wallowa National Forest in thirty-five years. Other problems on set included minor injuries endured by Marvin, who was knocked off a stagecoach by an overhanging tree branch and run over by another stagecoach, as reported in the 13 Aug 1968 DV. Although Marvin continued working directly after the incident, he was eventually taken to the hospital to have his ankle and one of his ribs taped.
       According to a 12 Sep 1968 DV brief, Alan Jay Lerner made his “acting and singing debut” in a scene that was shot the day before.
       While filming was underway, Jean Seberg’s then husband, Romain Gary, issued a statement announcing his and Seberg’s impending divorce, as noted in the 25 Sep 1968 DV. Some years later, Seberg’s 30 Nov 1980 NYT obituary indicated that the actress had had an on-set affair with her co-star, Clint Eastwood. When Romain Gary had heard rumors of the infidelity, he had flown to Oregon to confront her. While in Baker, he had reportedly challenged Eastwood to a duel, although it never came to fruition. NYT noted that, after the shoot, Eastwood returned to his then wife, Maggie Eastwood, and the divorce between Seberg and Gary was finalized.
       In early Oct 1968, production moved to Paramount studios in Hollywood, CA, for a final five weeks of interior shooting, the 16 Oct 1968 Var noted. By that time, the 6 Oct 1968 LAT reported that the budget had risen to over $20 million. On 6 Nov 1968, cast and crew went to Big Bear Lake, CA, to “match” some of the locations shot in Baker, according to that day’s DV. Filming was scheduled to conclude on 27 Nov 1968; however, shooting continued through the first week of Dec 1968, which was costly since Marvin’s contract stipulated be paid an additional $20,000 per day anytime on or after 1 Dec 1968.
       Paint Your Wagon was included in a 26 Oct 1968 NYT article about the new wave of expensive musicals sweeping Hollywood. After a relative dearth of musicals, major Hollywood studios had reportedly invested $91 million in the making of eighteen such films, including a few that had already been released, such as Funny Girl, Star!, and Finian’s Rainbow (1968, see entries). Lerner was simultaneously involved in Paint Your Wagon and another musical, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970, see entry); and, before either was released, he was named Loew’s Theaters’ “Producer of the Year – 1968” for his participation in those films, the 12 Dec 1968 DV reported.
       The picture was rated “M” (for mature audiences) by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). It subsequently marked the first “roadshow” release to be rated anything other than “G” (for general audiences) since the MPAA’s new rating system had debuted in Nov 1968, according to various contemporary sources including the 30 Apr 1969 Var.
       A soundtrack was scheduled for release in mid-Sep 1969, one month prior to theatrical release, the 12 Jun 1969 DV reported. A $2-million promotional campaign included a series of newspaper advertisements by the artist Peter Max, and a “fashion tie-in” with the Lurex Company, Ltd., as stated in the 16 Jul 1969 and 17 Sep 1969 issues of Var, and the 7 Sep 1969 LAT. An estimated forty premieres and special screenings, benefitting various charities, were set to take place in various cities, according to the 1 Oct 1969 DV. The world premiere in New York City occurred on 15 Oct 1969 at the Loew’s State 2 Theatre. A Los Angeles premiere was scheduled to follow on 22 Oct 1969 at the Pacific Cinerama Dome. The picture was set to expand to seven more cities by late Oct 1969; and, as stated in the 7 Sep 1969 LAT, it was expected to be showing “in 70mm, six-track stereo in 46 theaters” by the end of the year.
       Following mixed critical reception, ticket sales were disappointing. In the 20 Jan 1971 Var, Paramount President Frank Yablans was quoted as saying that the film would end up grossing $14 million.
       An Academy Award nomination went to Nelson Riddle for Music (Score of a Musical Picture—original or adaptation).
       Music editor William Lloyd Young was said to be working on the film around the time of his death in mid-Feb 1969, according to his 13 Feb 1969 DV obituary. Cal Bartlett, Senator Wayne Morse, and Marina Maubert were named as a cast members in the 22 Jun 1968 LAT, 18 Nov 1968 DV, and 15 Jan 1969 Var. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
3 Apr 1964
p. 1, 3.
Daily Variety
13 Aug 1965
p. 1.
Daily Variety
6 Apr 1967
p. 1.
Daily Variety
20 Jun 1967
p. 1.
Daily Variety
11 Dec 1967
p. 1.
Daily Variety
19 Jun 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
12 Jul 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
19 Jul 1968
pp. 9-10.
Daily Variety
13 Aug 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Aug 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
12 Sep 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
25 Sep 1968
p. 12.
Daily Variety
22 Oct 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
6 Nov 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
18 Nov 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
27 Nov 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
3 Dec 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
5 Dec 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
12 Dec 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
13 Feb 1969
p. 9.
Daily Variety
12 Jun 1969
p. 14.
Daily Variety
4 Aug 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
5 Sep 1969
p. 9.
Daily Variety
1 Oct 1969
p. 14.
Daily Variety
15 Oct 1969
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
3 Jan 1968
Section D, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
9 May 1968
Section F, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
22 May 1968
Section C, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
17 Jun 1968
Section E, p. 24.
Los Angeles Times
22 Jun 1968
p. 19.
Los Angeles Times
12 Jul 1968
Section F, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
16 Jul 1968
Section F, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
18 Jul 1968
Section F, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
18 Aug 1968
Section C, p. 12, 52.
Los Angeles Times
6 Oct 1968
Section S, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
22 Jun 1969
Section G, p. 1, 24.
Los Angeles Times
7 Sep 1969
Section Q, p. 1, 24.
Los Angeles Times
21 Oct 1969
Section D, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
23 Oct 1969
Section G, p. 1, 7.
Los Angeles Times
23 Nov 1969
Section C, p. 19.
New York Times
25 Jan 1967
p. 36.
New York Times
6 Apr 1967
p. 42.
New York Times
30 Apr 1968
p. 40.
New York Times
11 Aug 1968
Section D, p. 13.
New York Times
26 Oct 1968
p. 39, 75.
New York Times
16 Oct 1969
p. 56.
New York Times
8 Nov 1969
p. 36.
New York Times
30 Nov 1980
p. 53, 162.
Variety
7 Aug 1968
p. 2.
Variety
25 Sep 1968
p. 2, 78.
Variety
16 Oct 1968
p. 30.
Variety
15 Jan 1969
p. 93.
Variety
30 Apr 1969
p. 7.
Variety
16 Jul 1969
p. 30.
Variety
17 Sep 1969
p. 17.
Variety
22 Oct 1969
p. 17.
Variety
10 Dec 1969
p. 58.
Variety
20 Jan 1971
p. 23.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2nd unit dir
2nd unit dir
Asst dir
Asst dir & 2d unit asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2nd unit photog
Aerial photog
Cam asst
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Cost coordinator
MUSIC
Choral mus cond
Orch mus scored & conducted
Choral arr & mus assistant to the producer
SOUND
Stereophonic re-rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreography for "Gold Fever" and "Best Things"
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod mgr
Asst to the prod
Prod coordinator
Scr supv
Dialogue coach
Gaffer
Key grip
Props
Title des
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the musical Paint Your Wagon music by Frederick Loewe, book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner (New York, 12 Nov 1951).
SONGS
"The First Thing You Know," "A Million Miles Away Behind the Door," "The Gospel of No Name City," "Best Things" and "Gold Fever," words and music by André Previn and Alan Jay Lerner
"I'm on My Way" "I Still See Elisa," "Hand Me Down that Can o' Beans," "They Call the Wind Maria," "I Talk to the Trees," "There's A Coach Comin' In," "Whoop-Ti-Ay," and "Wandrin' Star," words by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Lowe.
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 October 1969
Premiere Information:
World premiere and New York City opening: 15 October 1969
Los Angeles premiere: 22 October 1969
Production Date:
began 24 June 1968
Copyright Claimant:
Alan Jay Lerner Productions
Copyright Date:
9 October 1969
Copyright Number:
LP38115
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision, see note
Duration(in mins):
166
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
22089
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During the California Gold Rush, while digging a grave for the victim of a covered wagon accident, prospector Ben Rumson discovers gold. Vowing to share the sizable stake with the dead man's surviving brother, Pardner, Rumson founds No Name City. At an auction Rumson purchases a Mormon's spare wife, Elizabeth, whom he also shares with Pardner. To alleviate the jealousy her presence causes in the mining camp, Rumson diverts a coach of French prostitutes to No Name City, where they quickly establish a brothel. In order to conserve loose gold dust, Rumson and Pardner honeycomb the town's streets and buildings with shallow mines. The depletion of the area's gold resources coincides with the arrival of the Fentys, a respectable New England couple. Taking pity on the couple's inhibited son, Rumson introduces the youth to the pleasures of Mother's Darling Hotel, the French whorehouse. Horrified, Elizabeth ejects Rumson from their home. As a traveling evangelist prophesies the town's destruction, a raging bull butts the supports of Rumson's tunnels, causing the collapse of No Name City. Following the camp's demise Rumson leaves for new adventures, while Elizabeth and Pardner farm the ... +


During the California Gold Rush, while digging a grave for the victim of a covered wagon accident, prospector Ben Rumson discovers gold. Vowing to share the sizable stake with the dead man's surviving brother, Pardner, Rumson founds No Name City. At an auction Rumson purchases a Mormon's spare wife, Elizabeth, whom he also shares with Pardner. To alleviate the jealousy her presence causes in the mining camp, Rumson diverts a coach of French prostitutes to No Name City, where they quickly establish a brothel. In order to conserve loose gold dust, Rumson and Pardner honeycomb the town's streets and buildings with shallow mines. The depletion of the area's gold resources coincides with the arrival of the Fentys, a respectable New England couple. Taking pity on the couple's inhibited son, Rumson introduces the youth to the pleasures of Mother's Darling Hotel, the French whorehouse. Horrified, Elizabeth ejects Rumson from their home. As a traveling evangelist prophesies the town's destruction, a raging bull butts the supports of Rumson's tunnels, causing the collapse of No Name City. Following the camp's demise Rumson leaves for new adventures, while Elizabeth and Pardner farm the land. +

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

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