Bad Charleston Charlie (1973)

PG | 90-91 mins | Comedy | May 1973

Director:

Ivan Nagy

Producer:

Ross Hagen

Cinematographer:

Michael Neyman

Production Designer:

Raymond Markham

Production Companies:

Triforum, Inc., Studio 9 Productions
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HISTORY

The following written acknowledgment appeared in the closing credits: “Special thanks to the town and people of Fairmount, Illinois, and to all the beautiful people who made this film possible... you know who you are.” John Richard Swigart’s onscreen credit read “Post production coordinator, film editor and music editor.” The onscreen production credits read: “Reno Carell Presents in Association with Bad Charleston Charlie Associates; A Ross Hagen Production; Film by Ivan Nagy.” Bad Charleston Charlie marked Nagy's feature film directing debut. Some news items spelled Nagy’s name as Yvan Nagy. Although he also directed Pushing Up Daisies (see entry), which appeared to have been filmed in 1969, that film was not released until later in 1973.
       A Jan 1971 DV item noted that Kimberly Hyde was set for a supporting role, but her appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. The same item and HR production charts list Richard J. Lakoduk as co-executive producer with Martin D. Wright, but only Wright received onscreen credit. Claire Hagen, wife of star Ross Hagen, was uncredited as Claire Polan in the crew for wardrobe and makeup. A Mar 1971 Var article noted that more than 25 members of the cast and crew of Bad Charleston Charlie filed claims with the State of California Division of Labor Law Enforcement for alleged non-payment of wages against Triforum, Inc., the Hollywood producing arm of Studio Productions in Illinois. The outcome of the suit has not been determined. According to an Oct 1970 DV news item, the film was shot on location in ...

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The following written acknowledgment appeared in the closing credits: “Special thanks to the town and people of Fairmount, Illinois, and to all the beautiful people who made this film possible... you know who you are.” John Richard Swigart’s onscreen credit read “Post production coordinator, film editor and music editor.” The onscreen production credits read: “Reno Carell Presents in Association with Bad Charleston Charlie Associates; A Ross Hagen Production; Film by Ivan Nagy.” Bad Charleston Charlie marked Nagy's feature film directing debut. Some news items spelled Nagy’s name as Yvan Nagy. Although he also directed Pushing Up Daisies (see entry), which appeared to have been filmed in 1969, that film was not released until later in 1973.
       A Jan 1971 DV item noted that Kimberly Hyde was set for a supporting role, but her appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. The same item and HR production charts list Richard J. Lakoduk as co-executive producer with Martin D. Wright, but only Wright received onscreen credit. Claire Hagen, wife of star Ross Hagen, was uncredited as Claire Polan in the crew for wardrobe and makeup. A Mar 1971 Var article noted that more than 25 members of the cast and crew of Bad Charleston Charlie filed claims with the State of California Division of Labor Law Enforcement for alleged non-payment of wages against Triforum, Inc., the Hollywood producing arm of Studio Productions in Illinois. The outcome of the suit has not been determined. According to an Oct 1970 DV news item, the film was shot on location in Illinois, with interiors in Hollywood.
       According to an Oct 1970 DV news item, Bad Charleston Charlie was very loosely based on the exploits of gangster Charlie Birger (1881--1928), a Southern Illinois coal miner turned bootlegger who ran a speakeasy in south Illinois known as the "Shady Rest" and battled the local Ku Klux Klan, which supported Prohibition. Birger was hanged in 1928 for the murder of a small town mayor.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
19 Oct 1970
---
Daily Variety
2 Dec 1970
---
Daily Variety
27 Jan 1971
---
Daily Variety
13 Mar 1973
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 1971
p. 14
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1971
p. 12
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 1973
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
11 May 1973
---
Los Angeles Times
10 May 1973
---
Variety
10 Mar 1971
---
Variety
16 May 1973
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Ross Hagen Production
Bad Charleston Charlie Associates; A Ross Hagen Production; Film by Ivan Nagy
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
E. J. Lidberg
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
Anthony J. Lorea
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Scr
From an orig story by
From an orig story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam and 2d unit cam op
Asst cam and 2d unit cam op
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Best boy
Elec
Key grip
1st company grip elec
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Editorial consultant
Negative cutter
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
SOUND
Charles Brown
Boom man
Sd mixer
Sd eff consultant
Sd eff ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Title des
Opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
E. J. Lidberg
Prod coord
Post prod coord
Scr supv
Prod asst
Loc mgr
Unit pub
SOURCES
SONGS
Title song words and music by Bruce Celland, sung by Bruce Celland.
PERFORMED BY
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
May 1973
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Los Angeles: 13 April 1973; Los Angeles opening: 9 May 1973
Production Date:
late Dec 1970--mid Feb 1971 in Illinois
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
C.F.I.
Duration(in mins):
90-91
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In a small mining community in Depression-era Illinois, Charlie Jacobs convinces his best friend, Thaddeus Winowski, to quit the poverty and drudgery of the coal mines and strike out on their own by imitating infamous gangster Al Capone. In his shabby room, Charlie impresses Thad with the crisp new fedora and pin-stripped suit he has saved for months to purchase from the Sears catalog. Charlie then asks Thad to be his bodyguard and his grateful friend accepts. The next day, Charlie and Thad pay a call on the town sheriff, Harve Koontz, to confide their plan and offer him a bribe to ignore their impending law-breaking. Initially Harve refuses, citing responsibility to his legal oath, but when his wife Hilda overhears Charlie’s offer, she insists that her poorly paid husband accept. Afterward, Harve warns Charlie and Thad about the zealous law-and-order obsessed Ku Klux Klan members led by the driven Clay Farrell, but the pair ignores him and use their meager savings to start a loan shark business. When their former friends and miners cannot repay any of the loans, and Charlie and Thad deplete their savings, Thad grows despondent, but Charlie insists they only have to rob someone to replenish their funds. Pretending to have pistols, the pair confronts a man in an alley but are crestfallen when he ignores them and walks away. Undaunted, Charlie decides they should move on to the next little town where they are unknown. In the next town, however, Charlie and Thad come across Farrell giving a speech to several locals and hooded Klan members. Offended that the Klan targets Jews, Charlie and ...

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In a small mining community in Depression-era Illinois, Charlie Jacobs convinces his best friend, Thaddeus Winowski, to quit the poverty and drudgery of the coal mines and strike out on their own by imitating infamous gangster Al Capone. In his shabby room, Charlie impresses Thad with the crisp new fedora and pin-stripped suit he has saved for months to purchase from the Sears catalog. Charlie then asks Thad to be his bodyguard and his grateful friend accepts. The next day, Charlie and Thad pay a call on the town sheriff, Harve Koontz, to confide their plan and offer him a bribe to ignore their impending law-breaking. Initially Harve refuses, citing responsibility to his legal oath, but when his wife Hilda overhears Charlie’s offer, she insists that her poorly paid husband accept. Afterward, Harve warns Charlie and Thad about the zealous law-and-order obsessed Ku Klux Klan members led by the driven Clay Farrell, but the pair ignores him and use their meager savings to start a loan shark business. When their former friends and miners cannot repay any of the loans, and Charlie and Thad deplete their savings, Thad grows despondent, but Charlie insists they only have to rob someone to replenish their funds. Pretending to have pistols, the pair confronts a man in an alley but are crestfallen when he ignores them and walks away. Undaunted, Charlie decides they should move on to the next little town where they are unknown. In the next town, however, Charlie and Thad come across Farrell giving a speech to several locals and hooded Klan members. Offended that the Klan targets Jews, Charlie and Thad turn away but are stopped and beaten by Farrell’s thugs. Promptly jailed with Farrell for disorderly behavior, Charlie convinces the overweight police captain that he is the point man for Capone’s gang. Promising to give him an important position in Capone’s organization, Charlie wins his and Thad’s release while Farrell complains bitterly. On their way out, Charlie and Thad run into old friend Lottie Cragmore, who has been arrested for drunkenness. Promising to look after her, the men take Lottie to a boardinghouse run by Charlie’s acquaintance, Penny. After Lottie passes out in a drunken stupor, Charlie discovers a will in her coat leaving her a restaurant and the surrounding property. After briefly considering becoming either Lottie’s pimp or husband to gain access to the restaurant, Charlie decides that he should convince Lottie to let him turn the property into a roadhouse offering gambling and liquor. Certain that a proper roadhouse will need “dames,” Charlie visits the local whorehouse to learn how it is run and offer a job to their top prostitute, but is frightened off when the woman greets him with a song. When Charlie returns, he decides that they need a car. The men wander into town and stake out a parking lot, then select a car, unaware that it belongs to Farrell, who is conducting a Klan meeting next door. Furious, Farrell gives chase, but Charlie and Thad escape. While driving to Lottie’s property in Farrell’s car, Charlie, Thad and Lottie spot a young man sitting on a flag pole and pull over. The man’s associate, standing below, explains that they are trying to win a contest and prize money. Charlie asks the men to join his gang and when he assures them women will be involved, they give up their contest and jump into the car. Several miles on, Charlie spots an exhausted couple staggering down the road and recognizes eccentric Claude Westinghouse, a formerly wealthy inventor who has fallen on hard times. After Claude admits he and his worn-out partner Billy are attempting to establish a long-distance dance record, Charlie invites him to join the gang and, leaving the unconscious Billy by the wayside, Claude enthusiastically accepts. Upon arriving at Lottie’s property, which she calls “Sadie’s Rest” after the woman who willed it to her, Charlie and the others take stock of its dilapidated condition. Charlie agrees with Claude’s practical declaration that they need money to make repairs and declares they will rob a bank. Delighted, Claude draws up plans, and the next day the men, armed with shotguns and a tommy-gun, burst into the town bank only to discover it is closed for redecorating and all the money has been transferred to another branch. When Charlie and Claude insist they intend to rob something, the manager, Mr. Babcock, politely takes them around the bank until they find one safe-deposit box, which they happily steal. Later, Charlie visits Harve to pay him his bribe money just as the sheriff receives an outraged phone call from Farrell reporting the theft of his safe-deposit box. Back at the house, an embarrassed Claude reveals that Billy and other former girl friends have tracked him down, but Charlie encourages him to put them up in the small shack behind the main house. After Farrell leads a group of Klansmen to the house to demand that the gang leave town in twelve hours, Charlie and Claude take Claude’s small airplane aloft and, spotting Farrell leading a hillside cross burning, hurl the empty box at him. A few days later, Charlie and the others are excited when a reporter and photographer arrive at the house, explaining that word of their odd exploits has spread. After offering Charlie some advice on restoring the house, the reporter summons the gang who, dressed in their finest, pose for a picture on and around the car while Claude dubs them Charleston Charlie’s Clan. A few days after the article on the gang is printed, Harve visits the house to warn that Farrell has lodged a legal complaint against Charlie for attacking him. After a professional hoodlum, “Violin” Polanski, arrives offering to sell them weapons, the pacifist Charlie suggests that the gang should voluntarily go to jail for three days to appease Farrell. That afternoon, Farrell and the police captain burst into the sheriff’s office to inform Harve he has been relieved of duty and demand Charlie’s legitimate arrest. The captain’s men and Klan members take Harve and Charlie to the police jail, where Penny visits the next day to warn Charlie that Farrell wants to lynch them. Soon after, a group of hooded men arrive at the jail and force the captain to release Charlie and Harve. Outside, however, Charlie realizes the men are his gang members in disguise. Running away just as Farrell and his men are marching up the street, they make their getaway, planning to build up the roadhouse and be the best gang in Southern Illinois.

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

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