Bobby Deerfield (1977)

PG | 124 mins | Drama, Romance | October 1977

Director:

Sydney Pollack

Writer:

Alvin Sargent

Producer:

Sydney Pollack

Cinematographer:

Henri Decaë

Production Designer:

Stephen Grimes
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HISTORY


       Columbia Pictures first acquired Erich Maria Remarque's novel, Heaven Has No Favorites, as a vehicle for actor Laurence Harvey, according to the 10 Jan 1961 DV. The book was adapted into a screenplay titled Bobby Deerfield, and at one point Paul Newman was scheduled to star, as noted in the 11 Dec 1975 DV. . Catherine Deneuve was an early favorite for the “Lillian Morelli” role, as reported in the 15 March 1976 DV.
       According to the 31 Oct 1975 DV, although Paul Newman no longer planned to star in the film, First Artists Productions would still produce. First Artists was formed in 1969 by Newman, Sidney Portier, and Barbra Streisand. Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman joined soon afterward. It was the first major "star-founded operation" since Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and D. W. Griffith formed United Artists in 1919.
       Principal photography began 8 Jun 1976 in Leukerbad, Switzerland, the 19 Jul 1976 Box reported, with further shooting scheduled on location in Italy and France, including Billancourt Studios in Paris and Le Mans race track. According to the 18 Aug 1976 Var, Al Pacino was instructed in operating a Formula 1 Martini Brabham car by professional drivers Clay Regazzoni and Jackie Stewart on the Le Mans race circuit. During filming at Grand Prix races, Brazilian racer José Carlos Pace doubled for Pacino. Director Sydney Pollack finished shooting in Sep 1976 and returned to Burbank, CA, to put the finished film together, noted the 13 Oct 1976 LAT.
       In a 4 Sep 1977 LAT profile, Pollack said ... More Less


       Columbia Pictures first acquired Erich Maria Remarque's novel, Heaven Has No Favorites, as a vehicle for actor Laurence Harvey, according to the 10 Jan 1961 DV. The book was adapted into a screenplay titled Bobby Deerfield, and at one point Paul Newman was scheduled to star, as noted in the 11 Dec 1975 DV. . Catherine Deneuve was an early favorite for the “Lillian Morelli” role, as reported in the 15 March 1976 DV.
       According to the 31 Oct 1975 DV, although Paul Newman no longer planned to star in the film, First Artists Productions would still produce. First Artists was formed in 1969 by Newman, Sidney Portier, and Barbra Streisand. Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman joined soon afterward. It was the first major "star-founded operation" since Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and D. W. Griffith formed United Artists in 1919.
       Principal photography began 8 Jun 1976 in Leukerbad, Switzerland, the 19 Jul 1976 Box reported, with further shooting scheduled on location in Italy and France, including Billancourt Studios in Paris and Le Mans race track. According to the 18 Aug 1976 Var, Al Pacino was instructed in operating a Formula 1 Martini Brabham car by professional drivers Clay Regazzoni and Jackie Stewart on the Le Mans race circuit. During filming at Grand Prix races, Brazilian racer José Carlos Pace doubled for Pacino. Director Sydney Pollack finished shooting in Sep 1976 and returned to Burbank, CA, to put the finished film together, noted the 13 Oct 1976 LAT.
       In a 4 Sep 1977 LAT profile, Pollack said that Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros. shared the $5.6-million budget for the film, which he shot in seventy-two days "in Switzerland, Italy, France and England."
       Bobby Deerfield was scheduled to open in New York on 29 Sep 1977 and in Los Angeles on 5 Oct 1977, according to the 4 Sep 1977 LAT.
      Magician Norm Nielsen's last name is incorrectly spelled “Nielson” in the opening credits but spelled correctly in the end credits. In the opening credits, holy crosses appear beside the names of Formula 1 car drivers Tom Pryce and Carlos Pace; Pryce was killed in an automobile crash during the 5 Mar 1977 Grand Prix in Kyalami, South Africa, and Pace died in an airplane crash on 18 Mar 1977.

              End credits give "Special appreciation to the Société de Montgolfier for their assistance in filming the hot air balloons, and to the Automobile-Club de L'Ouest in Le Mans for their kind co-operation." According to the end credits, "Studio portions of this film were shot at Billacourt Studios Paris-Studios-Cinema," and "Bobby Deerfield's car is an Alfa Romeo Sprint Veloce." More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
31 May 1976.
---
Box Office
7 Jun 1976.
---
Box Office
19 Jul 1976.
---
Box Office
3 Oct 1977.
---
Daily Variety
10 Jan 1961.
---
Daily Variety
11 Dec 1975.
---
Daily Variety
15 Mar 1976.
---
Daily Variety
31 Oct 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jul 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 1977
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
13 Oct 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Mar 1977
Section D, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
30 Mar 1977
Section K, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
4 Sep 1977.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Oct 1977
p. 1.
New York Times
30 Sep 1977
p. 8.
Newsweek
23 Aug 1976.
---
Time
2 Aug 1976.
---
Variety
18 Aug 1976.
---
Variety
1 Jan 1977.
---
Variety
14 Sep 1977
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros. present
a Sydney Pollack film
Executive Production: The First Artists Production Company, Inc.
DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr-France
Prod mgr-Italy
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Key grip
Addl racing footage filmed by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed-France
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Mens ward
Al Pacino's suits by
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod exec
Casting coord
Casting
Auditor-United States
Auditor-France
Loc coord
Tech asst provided by
With spec participation by
With spec participation by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Formula 1 car driven by
[Al Pacino's primary stand-in]
Formula 1 car driven by
Formula 1 car driven by
Formula 1 car driven by
Formula 1 car driven by
COLOR PERSONNEL
Color by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Heaven Has No Favorites by Erich Maria Remarque (New York, 1961).
SONGS
"Red Sails In The Sunset," music by Hugh Williams, words by Jimmy Kennedy, sung by Al Pacino. "Boo-Hoo!," music by Carmen Lombardo and John Jacob Loeb, words by Edward Heyman, sung by Al Pacino and Marthe Keller.
DETAILS
Release Date:
October 1977
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 29 September 1977
Los Angeles opening: 5 October 1977
Production Date:
began 8 June 1976 in Leukerbad, Switzerland
location filming ended September 1976
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. & Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Copyright Date:
5 October 1977
Copyright Number:
LP49226
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
124
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24936
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Bobby Deerfield, a Formula 1 race driver, stands on a track looking at skid marks and searching for clues to a recent crash. Seeing his friend, Bertrand Modave, standing next to his Formula 1 car, Bobby repeatedly asks for a key. He wakes with a start. He turns on the bed lamp, goes to the bathroom, then returns to bed and lies awake in the dark, reliving that day at the track. Fans ask for autographs and chant the name Deerfield. His French girlfriend, Lydia, stands nearby. Bobby gets into his car and takes off with several others. One of the cars hits another and explodes. After Bobby and Lydia attend Modave's funeral, Bobby tells his pit crew that he will not get into another Formula 1 car until they figure out what happened to Modave’s, because their cars are exactly the same. Later, in Paris, France, Bobby connects wiith his brother, Leonard, but the brothers have little to talk about. Bobby does not remember anything from their early home life in Newark, New Jersey, not even the way his Mae West impersonation always made his mother laugh. Bobby’s attitude angers Leonard, who has legal papers that concern their mother’s property, along with a packet of boyhood photographs. Bobby is not interested in the property, and Leonard asks if he wants to be contacted when their mother dies, then knocks Bobby's sunglasses off his face. Later, with Lydia, Bobby speculates that rabbits on the tracks may have caused the crash. He drives to a sanatorium in the alpine village of Leukerbad, Switzerland, where the surviving driver, Karl Holtzmann, recuperates. Staying after dinner, Bobby asks Karl about the crash, but ... +


Bobby Deerfield, a Formula 1 race driver, stands on a track looking at skid marks and searching for clues to a recent crash. Seeing his friend, Bertrand Modave, standing next to his Formula 1 car, Bobby repeatedly asks for a key. He wakes with a start. He turns on the bed lamp, goes to the bathroom, then returns to bed and lies awake in the dark, reliving that day at the track. Fans ask for autographs and chant the name Deerfield. His French girlfriend, Lydia, stands nearby. Bobby gets into his car and takes off with several others. One of the cars hits another and explodes. After Bobby and Lydia attend Modave's funeral, Bobby tells his pit crew that he will not get into another Formula 1 car until they figure out what happened to Modave’s, because their cars are exactly the same. Later, in Paris, France, Bobby connects wiith his brother, Leonard, but the brothers have little to talk about. Bobby does not remember anything from their early home life in Newark, New Jersey, not even the way his Mae West impersonation always made his mother laugh. Bobby’s attitude angers Leonard, who has legal papers that concern their mother’s property, along with a packet of boyhood photographs. Bobby is not interested in the property, and Leonard asks if he wants to be contacted when their mother dies, then knocks Bobby's sunglasses off his face. Later, with Lydia, Bobby speculates that rabbits on the tracks may have caused the crash. He drives to a sanatorium in the alpine village of Leukerbad, Switzerland, where the surviving driver, Karl Holtzmann, recuperates. Staying after dinner, Bobby asks Karl about the crash, but Karl insists that Modave simply misjudged the turn. Bobby disagrees. After Karl is wheeled away, a patient named Lillian Morelli asks Bobby if she can have his butter, and asks disjointed personal questions. The conversation turns to speed, danger and death, but when Bobby says he never thinks about those things, she concludes that racing is boring. After dinner, as they watch a magic show with other patients, Lillian wants to know if Bobby believes in magic, destiny, or God. That night, a nurse comes into Lillian’s room with medications, but Lillian refuses and says that she will come to death on her own terms. Early the next morning, as Bobby prepares to leave, Lillian appears with a bag, wanting to hitch a ride to Florence, Italy. Bobby agrees to let her ride along, but Lillian continues to pick at him about his “feminine touch” on the steering wheel and speculates about his racing car being an extension of his penis. When they go through a tunnel, she tries to get Bobby to scream in the dark with her, because she wants to scream and why shouldn't he? As she screams, Lillian breaks down in tears. They stop for the night at a hotel in Bellagio, Italy. Bobby calls his mechanic in Paris, asking him to pull the steering linkages from his car and Modave’s, and also to have the film of the accident ready when he gets back. At dinner, Lillian calls Bobby a “turtle” because he takes no personal risks despite his dangerous profession. She asks Bobby to hold her, and they return to her room, disrobe and get into bed, where she promptly dozes off. When Bobby strokes Lillian’s hair, some of it comes out in his fingers. Next morning, as they prepare to leave, Lillian wants him to follow a hot air balloon floating in the distance above Lake Como, but Bobby refuses. Later that day, as Bobby drops Lillian off at her uncle’s house in Florence, she runs inside to get a book for him. She tells him she is sorry that he didn’t scream with her or chase the balloon, but she hopes he finds his rabbits. Later, Bobby finds a note in the book that Lillian has written in Italian, which translates as “Everything is sweeter when you take a chance.” Back in Paris, Lydia asks Bobby about his trip and mentions that she ran into a friend who told her he had seen Bobby in Bellagio. At the garage, Bobby reviews footage of the crash. The projectionist slows down the film, then freezes a frame, but Bobby sees nothing that might provide an answer. In preparation for the upcoming 2 May 1976 Jarama, Spain, race, Bobby films a television commercial in Paris. He feels restless, however, and returns to Florence to talk with Lillian’s Uncle Luigi, in hope of finding her. Luigi says that Bobby should forget about Lillian because she is too outspoken and difficult, like her mother, but if Bobby wants to see her, he should come play Bocce because Lillian always comes to watch. She does show up as Bobby and Luigi finish a game, and asks if Bobby is still “driving in circles.” As Bobby and Lillian walk together, she asks him to remove his sunglasses because she hates to see herself in mirrors. He claims to wear them to avoid being recognized, but she bets a wine and cheese picnic that nobody will know him. He takes them off, and as they walk along a block with nobody noticing, Lillian smiles with satisfaction, then shouts “Bobby Deerfield!” A crowd gathers around him. Later, Bobby and Lillian picnic and she criticizes him for never having fun. As she walks away from Bobby, she comes upon the owner of the property, Carlos Del Montanaro, who tells her he’ll be flying his balloon tomorrow. Rejoining Bobby, Lillian tells him a wild story about her father’s death, but then says she made it up. Bobby insists she is keeping emotional distance, but Lillian says that telling a lie is better than making small talk. After they return to her apartment, Bobby and Lillian kiss and then make love. In the morning, Lillian is gone, but she has left a marked newspaper clipping about a balloon regatta in the countryside. Bobby arrives as a half-dozen large balloons are ready to lift off. Lillian is with Carlos and a couple of others. When she asks Bobby to join them, he refuses and the balloon drifts away without him. Bobby and Lydia go to Jarama, but he is distracted and Lydia notices that something is wrong. During the race, as Bobby takes the lead, he fails to make a turn and crashes. He escapes uninjured, but flames destroy his car. Back in Paris, Lydia admits to Bobby that she knows all about Lillian Morelli, and that Lillian is dying. Realizing that Bobby was unaware of Lillian's terminal condition, Lydia regrets telling him. Bobby returns to Florence. He and Lillian argue. She wants him to surprise her and stop being boring, so Bobby imitates Mae West, even though Lillian has no idea who Mae West is. She says, “It’s a beginning.” Bobby shows her the childhood photos his brother gave him. She asks why there are no photos of his mother. During a boat outing, Bobby tells Lillian a story about his mother’s death that intrigues her, but then confesses that he made it up. Lillian laughs and appreciates the lie. As their relationship blossoms, Bobby senses doom hanging over them, especially after Lillian passes out in a shop. One day Lillian tells him she wants to go back to the sanitorium. On the way, a couple of American tourists take their picture and promise to send it to Bobby. However, he gives them his old address in Newark. He stays with Lillian in Leukerbad as she fades away. After her death, Bobby drives back to Paris.
+

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

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