Experiment in Terror (1962)

123 mins | Melodrama | 13 April 1962

Director:

Blake Edwards

Writer:

The Gordons

Producer:

Blake Edwards

Cinematographer:

Philip Lathrop

Production Designer:

Robert Peterson

Production Company:

Geoffrey--Kate Productions
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HISTORY

The 22 Aug 1960 DV noted that the original story, Operation Terror by Gordon and Mildred Gordon, first appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal as a three-part series. The story was set near the Gordons’ home in the Sherman Oaks district of Los Angeles, CA, with characters named after their neighbors. According to the 4 Jan 1961 DV, Columbia Pictures paid $112,500 for film rights to the property, which was due for publication in book form later that month. It was reportedly among the highest payments ever made for a suspense novel at that time.
       A news item in the 9 May 1961 DV revealed that the project would be produced jointly by filmmaker Blake Edwards’s Geoffrey Productions and the recently-formed Kate Productions, owned by lead actress Lee Remick and her husband, Bill Colleran. The 1 Nov 1960 DV stated that Edwards was considering Jack Lemmon to play opposite Remick. He would later team the actors in Days Of Wine and Roses (1962, see entry). Edwards also offered parts to comedian Mort Sahl (2 Jun 1961 DV), and stage actress Elaine Dunn (19 Jun 1961 DV). Al Avalon, who’s scene was cut from the 1961 Edwards production, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (see entry), was compensated with a role in the upcoming film, according to the 2 Aug 1961 DV.
       The 14 Aug 1961 LAT announced the film’s official title as Experiment in Terror, with Taffy Paul in the role of “Toby Sherwood.” The 26 Mar ... More Less

The 22 Aug 1960 DV noted that the original story, Operation Terror by Gordon and Mildred Gordon, first appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal as a three-part series. The story was set near the Gordons’ home in the Sherman Oaks district of Los Angeles, CA, with characters named after their neighbors. According to the 4 Jan 1961 DV, Columbia Pictures paid $112,500 for film rights to the property, which was due for publication in book form later that month. It was reportedly among the highest payments ever made for a suspense novel at that time.
       A news item in the 9 May 1961 DV revealed that the project would be produced jointly by filmmaker Blake Edwards’s Geoffrey Productions and the recently-formed Kate Productions, owned by lead actress Lee Remick and her husband, Bill Colleran. The 1 Nov 1960 DV stated that Edwards was considering Jack Lemmon to play opposite Remick. He would later team the actors in Days Of Wine and Roses (1962, see entry). Edwards also offered parts to comedian Mort Sahl (2 Jun 1961 DV), and stage actress Elaine Dunn (19 Jun 1961 DV). Al Avalon, who’s scene was cut from the 1961 Edwards production, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (see entry), was compensated with a role in the upcoming film, according to the 2 Aug 1961 DV.
       The 14 Aug 1961 LAT announced the film’s official title as Experiment in Terror, with Taffy Paul in the role of “Toby Sherwood.” The 26 Mar 1962 edition later revealed that she had changed her name to Stefanie Powers. The 7 Aug 1961 start of principal photography was reported four days later in a DV production chart. The 6 Sep 1961 issue noted that Edwards was forced to move the production to San Francisco, CA, because the heavy “smog” in Los Angeles interfered with shooting.
       Additional castings included Edward Mallory (25 Aug 1961 DV) and Robert Caffey (21 Nov 1961 DV). The 31 Oct 1961 DV credited Bob Yeager as unit publicist, and the 18 Jan 1962 issue attributed title design to Armand Acosta.
       As stated in the 1 Aug 1961 DV, Edwards planned to film an 18 Aug 1961 baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Candlestick Park. The script called for a “double play” during the game, although no such thing could be predicted. On 25 Aug 1961, DV reported that two nights earlier, filming in the park was interrupted by 50,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, who had reserved the facility for a conclave. Edwards consulted with city officials, who arranged for the Witnesses to return the following Tuesday. Filming at the park concluded 24 Aug 1961. The 7 Sep 1961 LAT stated that several hundred background actors were used in the scene, along with a wind machine. An article in the 29 Aug 1961 DV revealed that, while there was no charge for filming in Candlestick Park during the Giants-Dodgers game, the production was billed $6,000 for six nights of additional shooting, as the city expected a rental fee from any group or entity using the park. Along with the additional expense, Edwards sustained a broken finger while directing the sequence, according to the 12 Sep 1961 DV. The 23 Aug 1961 issue reported plans to film at the Anglo-Crocker Bank. The 25 Mar 1962 LAT identified additional locations as Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown. According to the 14 Sep 1961 DV, Edwards moved the company back to Los Angeles, due to heavy fog in San Francisco. Production continued into early Nov 1961, during which time Edwards collapsed on the set. The 13 Nov 1961 DV claimed that he was suffering from bronchial pneumonia. One month later, Henry Mancini arrived at the Columbia Studios to begin scoring the film, as stated in the 13 Dec 1961 DV. Editing was underway by 18 Dec 1961, as reported in that day’s issue.
       The 13 Feb 1962 DV announced the scheduled 6 Apr 1962 premiere at the Paramount Theatre in San Francisco. Openings followed in New York City on 13 Apr 1962, and in Los Angeles on 29 May 1962. Reviews were mixed: While the 31 May 1962 LAT described the film as “a shocker handled with good taste,” the 14 Apr 1962 NYT asserted that it was no better than its television counterparts. Public response was positive, placing it among the National Box Office Survey’s top ten releases, as reported in the 2 May 1962 and 23 May 1962 issues of Var. Supporting Actor Ross Martin received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.
       The 3 Oct 1961 DV declared Experiment in Terror to be Glenn Ford’s twenty-second and final picture under his contract with Columbia. He went on to form Newton productions with partners Al Rothman and Alex Tucker.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 Aug 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Nov 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
4 Jan 1961
p. 1.
Daily Variety
9 May 1961
p. 10.
Daily Variety
2 Jun 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
19 Jun 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Aug 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
2 Aug 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
11 Aug 1961
p. 6.
Daily Variety
23 Aug 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
25 Aug 1961
p. 8.
Daily Variety
29 Aug 1961
p. 5.
Daily Variety
6 Sep 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
12 Sep 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Sep 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
3 Oct 1961
p. 1.
Daily Variety
31 Oct 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
13 Nov 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Nov 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
13 Dec 1961
p. 16.
Daily Variety
18 Dec 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
18 Jan 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
13 Feb 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
19 Mar 1962
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
25 Aug 1961
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
14 Aug 1961
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
7 Sep 1961
Section B, p. 5.
Los Angeles Times
25 Mar 1962
Section A, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
26 Mar 1962
Section C, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
23 May 1962
Section C, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
31 May 1962
Section C, p. 7.
New York Times
14 Apr 1962
p. 14.
Variety
11 Apr 1962
p. 11.
Variety
2 May 1962
p. 3.
Variety
23 May 1962
p. 11.
Variety
8 May 1963
p. 17.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Blake Edwards Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
Orch
Orch
SOUND
Sd supv
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Operation Terror by Mildred Gordon, Gordon Gordon (Garden City, N. Y., 1961).
DETAILS
Release Date:
13 April 1962
Premiere Information:
San Francisco premiere: 6 April 1962
New York opening: 13 April 1962
Los Angeles opening: 29 May 1962
Production Date:
7 August--10 November 1961
Copyright Claimant:
Geoffrey--Kate Productions
Copyright Date:
1 April 1962
Copyright Number:
LP22256
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
123
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Late one evening, San Francisco bank teller Kelly Sherwood is seized in the garage of her home by an asthmatic stranger who warns her that unless she steals $100,000 from the bank where she works, he will kill either her or her younger sister, Toby, or both of them. Terrified, Kelly communicates with FBI agent John Ripley, who advises her to pretend to cooperate with the stranger while he and the police investigate. Official inquiries identify the man as Red Lynch, an ex-convict wanted for murder. Ripley tries to enlist the help of Lynch's current girl friend, Lisa Soong, who refuses to cooperate, because Lynch has paid heavy medical expenses for her crippled son. By tracing the purchase of a toy Lynch bought for the child, Ripley is able to discover where Lynch is holding Toby prisoner. On the day arranged for the theft, Kelly steals the $100,000 and follows Lynch's instructions by carrying the money to Candlestick Park, where a baseball game is in progress. As the game ends and Lynch tries to grab the purse from Kelly, Ripley pounces on him. Although Lynch manages to break away and fight his way through the crowd to the deserted playing field, he is shot down by Ripley as hordes of police pour down the ... +


Late one evening, San Francisco bank teller Kelly Sherwood is seized in the garage of her home by an asthmatic stranger who warns her that unless she steals $100,000 from the bank where she works, he will kill either her or her younger sister, Toby, or both of them. Terrified, Kelly communicates with FBI agent John Ripley, who advises her to pretend to cooperate with the stranger while he and the police investigate. Official inquiries identify the man as Red Lynch, an ex-convict wanted for murder. Ripley tries to enlist the help of Lynch's current girl friend, Lisa Soong, who refuses to cooperate, because Lynch has paid heavy medical expenses for her crippled son. By tracing the purchase of a toy Lynch bought for the child, Ripley is able to discover where Lynch is holding Toby prisoner. On the day arranged for the theft, Kelly steals the $100,000 and follows Lynch's instructions by carrying the money to Candlestick Park, where a baseball game is in progress. As the game ends and Lynch tries to grab the purse from Kelly, Ripley pounces on him. Although Lynch manages to break away and fight his way through the crowd to the deserted playing field, he is shot down by Ripley as hordes of police pour down the aisles. +

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

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