Once More, With Feeling! (1960)

92 mins | Comedy | February 1960

Director:

Stanley Donen

Writer:

Harry Kurnitz

Producer:

Stanley Donen

Cinematographer:

Georges Perinal

Editor:

Jack Harris

Production Designer:

Alexandre Trauner

Production Company:

Stanley Donen Films, Inc.
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HISTORY

Onscreen credits read: "Music by Wagner, Beethoven, Strauss, Rimsky-Korsakov, Chopin, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and John Philip Sousa." Selections from works of these composers are heard throughout the film. The film opens with an animated image of a bird in a cage. Another bird flies into the cage and kisses the bird. The imagery of the birds then turns into profiles of the film's stars, Kay Kendall and Yul Brynner, who kiss. The film's title, Once More, With Feeling! , then appears and the letters dissolve into harp strings. The film ends with a silhouette of the stars kissing. The Var review misspells actor Harry Lockart's name as "Lockhart."
       In a letter from PCA official Geoffrey M. Shurlock to producer-director Stanley Donen, contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Shurlock noted that in order to balance " the unconventional relationship of the leads," the script needed a "sufficiently strong voice for morality." Donen responded to Shurlock's concern by having "Dolly" state that she regretted never marrying "Victor."
       Although a Mar 1959 HR news item noted that this was to be the first of Donen's independent productions for Columbia, Donen, who in an interview noted that he had signed a four-picture deal, made only one more picture with the studio, Surprise Package (see below). According to a Jun 1959 NYT news item, the sequence in with Victor conducts "The Stars and Stripes Forever" was filmed at the Theatre de Champs-Elysées in Paris.
       Once More, With Feeling! marked Kendall's last film before her death from leukemia on ... More Less

Onscreen credits read: "Music by Wagner, Beethoven, Strauss, Rimsky-Korsakov, Chopin, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and John Philip Sousa." Selections from works of these composers are heard throughout the film. The film opens with an animated image of a bird in a cage. Another bird flies into the cage and kisses the bird. The imagery of the birds then turns into profiles of the film's stars, Kay Kendall and Yul Brynner, who kiss. The film's title, Once More, With Feeling! , then appears and the letters dissolve into harp strings. The film ends with a silhouette of the stars kissing. The Var review misspells actor Harry Lockart's name as "Lockhart."
       In a letter from PCA official Geoffrey M. Shurlock to producer-director Stanley Donen, contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Shurlock noted that in order to balance " the unconventional relationship of the leads," the script needed a "sufficiently strong voice for morality." Donen responded to Shurlock's concern by having "Dolly" state that she regretted never marrying "Victor."
       Although a Mar 1959 HR news item noted that this was to be the first of Donen's independent productions for Columbia, Donen, who in an interview noted that he had signed a four-picture deal, made only one more picture with the studio, Surprise Package (see below). According to a Jun 1959 NYT news item, the sequence in with Victor conducts "The Stars and Stripes Forever" was filmed at the Theatre de Champs-Elysées in Paris.
       Once More, With Feeling! marked Kendall's last film before her death from leukemia on 6 Sep 1959. An Aug 1959 HR news item noted that playwrights Constance Hall and Theodore Nathan filed a plagiarism suit against Henry Kurnitz, Samuel French and Columbia, charging piracy of their 1948 play Obligato and asking that Columbia be enjoined from distributing the film based on Kurnitz' play. That suit was overruled. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
15 Feb 1960.
---
Daily Variety
5 Feb 60
p. 3.
Film Daily
5 Feb 60
p. 8.
Filmfacts
4 Mar 1960
pp. 25-27.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Feb 1959
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Feb 1959
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 1959
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jun 1959
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 1959
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Feb 60
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
6 Feb 60
p. 580.
New York Times
19 Jun 1959.
---
New York Times
12 Feb 60
p. 22.
Variety
10 Feb 60
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
COSTUMES
Miss Kendall's ward
Miss Kendall's jewelry
MUSIC
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Main title des
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Asst prod mgr
Scr supv
Casting
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Once More, With Feeling by Harry Kurnitz produced on the New York stage by Martin Gabel and Henry Margolis (New York, 21 Oct 1958).
MUSIC
"The Stars and Stripes Forever" by John Philip Sousa
"Fifth Symphony" by Ludwig van Beethoven and selections from Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt and Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky.
DETAILS
Release Date:
February 1960
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 11 February 1960
Production Date:
3 April--30 June 1959 at Studios de Bolougne, Paris
Copyright Claimant:
Stanley Donen Films, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 March 1960
Copyright Number:
LP16590
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
92
Countries:
France, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19290
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

When Dolly Fabian, the harpist wife of Victor Fabian, the egomaniacal director of the London Festival Orchestra, returns home from charming the symphony’s trustees into accommodating her husband’s demands, she finds Victor trifling with his twenty-one-year-old “child prodigy” pianist. Furious, Dolly explodes, and after Victor puts his foot through her harp, she leaves him. Eighteen months later, Victor finds that he is unable to conduct more than the opening four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and the symphony board declares that they are not interested in Victor without Dolly. Maxwell Archer, Victor’s agent, tries to convince Victor to reconcile with Dolly, who is now teaching music at a college, and consequently, when Dolly sends Victor a letter stating that she wants to see him, Victor sweeps into her office brandishing flowers and his recording of Romeo and Juliet . When Dolly announces that she wants a divorce, not a reconciliation, Victor falls through her harp. Refusing to admit defeat, Victor has Max lie to Luigi Bardini, the manager of the Festival Concert Hall, that he and Dolly are reconciling. When Bardini comes to the house and discovers that Dolly is not there, he warns Victor that Mr. Wilbur, Jr., the son of the orchestra’s benefactor, Mrs. Wilbur, is coming to meet Dolly that afternoon. Soon after, Wilbur arrives, and when he confides that he dislikes music and that his position on the symphony board was thrust upon him along with his late father’s canned goods business, a peeved Victor is about to walk out. ... +


When Dolly Fabian, the harpist wife of Victor Fabian, the egomaniacal director of the London Festival Orchestra, returns home from charming the symphony’s trustees into accommodating her husband’s demands, she finds Victor trifling with his twenty-one-year-old “child prodigy” pianist. Furious, Dolly explodes, and after Victor puts his foot through her harp, she leaves him. Eighteen months later, Victor finds that he is unable to conduct more than the opening four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and the symphony board declares that they are not interested in Victor without Dolly. Maxwell Archer, Victor’s agent, tries to convince Victor to reconcile with Dolly, who is now teaching music at a college, and consequently, when Dolly sends Victor a letter stating that she wants to see him, Victor sweeps into her office brandishing flowers and his recording of Romeo and Juliet . When Dolly announces that she wants a divorce, not a reconciliation, Victor falls through her harp. Refusing to admit defeat, Victor has Max lie to Luigi Bardini, the manager of the Festival Concert Hall, that he and Dolly are reconciling. When Bardini comes to the house and discovers that Dolly is not there, he warns Victor that Mr. Wilbur, Jr., the son of the orchestra’s benefactor, Mrs. Wilbur, is coming to meet Dolly that afternoon. Soon after, Wilbur arrives, and when he confides that he dislikes music and that his position on the symphony board was thrust upon him along with his late father’s canned goods business, a peeved Victor is about to walk out. When he opens the door, however, he finds Dolly standing outside. Passionately embracing Dolly, Victor pushes Wilbur out the door. Dolly is furious when she learns that Victor lied about their reconciliation, but when Wilbur returns with the news that his mother wants Victor to play her favorite tune, John Philip Sousa's “The Stars and Stripes Forever” at his concert, Dolly shields him from Victor’s blast of bad temper. After Wilbur leaves, Dolly insists on a divorce, and when Victor tries to charm her into changing her mind, she bristles at his manipulation and blurts out that she is getting married. To Max’s consternation, Victor casually states that one needs to be married in order to get a divorce, and they are not married. When Dolly explains that she wanted to make sure that they were compatible before committing to marriage, and that once Victor was appointed director of the orchestra, they were ashamed to admit that they never married, Max suggests having a secret wedding, followed by a divorce. Victor agrees to facilitate Dolly’s divorce if she will live with him for the next three weeks. Calling Victor a “road company Svengali,” Dolly storms out, and Victor instructs Max to summon Dolly’s fiancé, the physicist Dr. Richard Hilliard, to London. Later, as Max tells Dolly that a secret wedding ceremony has been arranged, news comes that Victor has insulted violinist Jascha Gendel, who is the union member on the board of trustees. To forestall a complaint by Gendel, Max agrees to shorten Dolly’s stay with Victor from three weeks to three days if she will mollify Gendel. After the newlyweds return home from their wedding, Gendel comes to see Victor. Dolly greets him, and once she deduces that he is a prima donna obsessed with his fingers, she gushes over his hands and wheedles him into retracting his complaint. Later, after Victor melts down Dolly’s reserve and is about to make love to her, Hilliard arrives. Dolly, now dressed in a frilly nightgown, hides as Victor tries to get rid of Hilliard. Throwing Victor’s coat over her nightgown, Dolly makes a dash for the door, but is stopped by Hilliard, who grabs her and insists that she return Victor’s coat. When he sees that she is wearing a nightgown, Hilliard loosens his grip, sending her falling to the floor where she strikes her head and is knocked unconscious. Upon reviving, Dolly accuses Victor of trying to sabotage her engagement and explains to Hilliard that Victor will only grant her a divorce if she spends the next two nights with him. On the night of the concert, as a drunken Dolly waits in Victor’s dressing room, she watches a televised interview with Victor in which he pays a saccharine tribute to her. After she throws a bust of Victor through the screen, Hilliard enters and, when he asks if she still loves Victor, she states that she wants to live alone. After Hilliard leaves, Victor and Max arrive, followed by Wilbur, who delivers Victor’s new three-year contract that Dolly worked out with Mrs. Wilbur. Handing Wilbur back the contract, Victor informs Wilbur that he and Dolly are getting divorced. Dolly demands that he sign it anyway, and as Victor pens his name, Wilbur begins whistling “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Realizing that the contract requires him to play the dreaded piece, Victor threatens to kick Mrs. Wilbur’s teeth down her throat, then ascends the podium and plays a glorious rendition of “The Stars and Stripes.” Touched, Dolly tearfully blows him a kiss. +

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

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