Four Friends (1981)

R | 115 mins | Drama | 11 December 1981

Director:

Arthur Penn

Writer:

Steve Tesich

Producers:

Arthur Penn, Gene Lasko

Cinematographer:

Ghislain Cloquet

Production Designer:

David Chapman
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HISTORY

Production notes in AMPAS library files reported an alternate title of Georgia’s Friends.
       End credits include the following statement: “Our thanks to: East Chicago School System, Eugene Kulinski, Principal; Illinois State Film Commission; City of Chicago Mayor’s Film Office; Fort Wayne Historical Railroad Society.”
       The 2 Apr 1979 HR announced that executive producers Michael Tolan and Julia Miles formed Tolan/Miles Prods., an East Coast production company, and their first feature film, Four Friends, would be produced for Lorimar. Miles reportedly came up with the story and Steve Tesich was hired to write the script; however, she is not credited onscreen as a writer. The project was budgeted between $3 and $5 million, and expected to start filming in New York and other East Coast locations in the fall of 1979. An article in the 23 Apr 1980 Var reported that the project had been acquired by Filmways Pictures and would be produced and directed by Arthur Penn.
       The 23 Apr 1980 Var reported an anticipated principal photography start date of 14 Jul 1980; however, the 5 Sep 1980 DV noted that filming began 28 Jul 1980. The delay might have been a result of the 1980 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strike but, as reported in the 24 Jul 1980 DV, Four Friends was cleared for production during the strike when the filmmakers signed an interim agreement with the union. According to production notes, principal photography began at Roosevelt High School in East Chicago, IL, the alma mater of Steve Tesich. Other IL locations included the Herbert ... More Less

Production notes in AMPAS library files reported an alternate title of Georgia’s Friends.
       End credits include the following statement: “Our thanks to: East Chicago School System, Eugene Kulinski, Principal; Illinois State Film Commission; City of Chicago Mayor’s Film Office; Fort Wayne Historical Railroad Society.”
       The 2 Apr 1979 HR announced that executive producers Michael Tolan and Julia Miles formed Tolan/Miles Prods., an East Coast production company, and their first feature film, Four Friends, would be produced for Lorimar. Miles reportedly came up with the story and Steve Tesich was hired to write the script; however, she is not credited onscreen as a writer. The project was budgeted between $3 and $5 million, and expected to start filming in New York and other East Coast locations in the fall of 1979. An article in the 23 Apr 1980 Var reported that the project had been acquired by Filmways Pictures and would be produced and directed by Arthur Penn.
       The 23 Apr 1980 Var reported an anticipated principal photography start date of 14 Jul 1980; however, the 5 Sep 1980 DV noted that filming began 28 Jul 1980. The delay might have been a result of the 1980 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strike but, as reported in the 24 Jul 1980 DV, Four Friends was cleared for production during the strike when the filmmakers signed an interim agreement with the union. According to production notes, principal photography began at Roosevelt High School in East Chicago, IL, the alma mater of Steve Tesich. Other IL locations included the Herbert Geist estate in Lake Forest and Northwestern University in Evanston. Four Friends also filmed at IN locations and in Greenwich Village, New York City. The 25 Nov 1980 HR reported that four months of principal photography had recently finished. According to the 23 Apr 1980 Var, the film was budgeted at $10 million, but an item in the 4 Dec 1981 DV noted the film’s budget was $12 million.
       An item in the 4 Nov 1981 DV announced that a premiere screening of Four Friends at Crest Theatre in Westwood, CA, would benefit the American Theatre Arts Repertory Ensemble and Conservatory. The 3 Dec 1981 DV reported the film would open 11 Dec 1981 in Los Angeles, CA, New York City, and Toronto, Canada. A 15 Jan 1982 Filmways Pictures press release in AMPAS library files noted the mid-Dec limited release allowed the film to qualify for Academy Award consideration, and Four Friends would re-open 29 Jan 1982 in the Los Angeles area.
       According to an article in the 15 Jan 1982 Film Journal, the film performed “fairly well” during its Dec 1981 screenings. Boxoffice returns of $10,000 during the first week at Los Angeles’ Crest Theatre rose to $14,500 by the third week, and New York City’s Little Carnegie theatre grossed $23,690 in the second week and $45,000 for the third week of release. However, the film’s reviews were mixed and a 23 Feb 1982 Village Voice article listed Four Friends as a “disaster,” with reported boxoffice returns between $3 to $5 million.
       Craig Wasson was nominated for a Golden Globe award in the category “New Star of the Year” for his performance as “Danilo.”
       The 9 Dec 1981 HR noted that Jodi Thelen, David Graf, and Jim Metzler made their feature film debuts in Four Friends ; Metzler, however, filmed the low-budget movie Squeeze Play in 1979, which was released in New York on 8 May 1981.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
24 Jul 1980
p. 1, 30.
Daily Variety
5 Sep 1980.
---
Daily Variety
4 Nov 1981.
---
Daily Variety
3 Dec 1981.
---
Daily Variety
4 Dec 1981.
---
Film Journal
15 Jan 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Apr 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Nov 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Nov 1981
p. 2, 14.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
11 Dec 1981
p. 1.
New York Times
11 Dec 1981
p. 12.
Variety
23 Apr 1980
p. 3, 38.
Variety
18 Nov 1981
p. 15, 19.
Village Voice
23 Feb 1982.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
An Arthur Penn Film
A Florin Production
A Cinema 77/Geria Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
NY 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Standby cam
Standby cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Steadicam op
Best boy
Dolly grip
Gaffer
Best boy
Rig elec
Elec
Generator op
Photog equip by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
Asst ed
Ed room asst
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Props
Props
Props
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Const coord
Const grip
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Head laborer
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men`s ward
Women's ward
Ward asst
MUSIC
Orig mus comp and cond by
Addl mus arr
Mus supv
Music exec
Mus rec at
SOUND
Prod sd
Prod sd
Sd cableman
Supv sd ed
Dubbing ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Sd re-rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles and opt
DANCE
Choreog
Dance asst
MAKEUP
Makeup/Hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Chicago casting
Extras casting
Scr supv
Asst to the prods
Operations mgr
Prod office coord
Unit pub
Prod accountant
Asst to prod accountant
Secy
NY unit mgr
NY office mgr
Teamster capt
Co-capt
Caterer
Secy to Mr. Penn
Asst to exec prods
Period cars
Period cars
Period cars
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Insurance
Payroll services
Post-prod facilities
STAND INS
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor consultant
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Georgia On My Mind," music by Hoagy Carmichael, lyrics by Stuart Gorrell, © 1930 Peer International Corp., renewed 1957, performed by Ray Charles, courtesy Crossover Records Co.
"Theme from Bonanza, " music and lyrics by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, © Livingston & Eans Music Inc., arranged by Jack Waldman
"Hit The Road Jack," words and music by Percy Mayfield, © 1961 Tangerine Music Corp.
+
SONGS
"Georgia On My Mind," music by Hoagy Carmichael, lyrics by Stuart Gorrell, © 1930 Peer International Corp., renewed 1957, performed by Ray Charles, courtesy Crossover Records Co.
"Theme from Bonanza, " music and lyrics by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, © Livingston & Eans Music Inc., arranged by Jack Waldman
"Hit The Road Jack," words and music by Percy Mayfield, © 1961 Tangerine Music Corp.
"Shop Around," words and music by Berry Gordy, Jr. and William "Smokey" Robinson, © 1960 Jobete Music Co., Inc., arranged by Paul Griffin
"Blue Moon," music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart, © 1934 Robbins Music Corp., renewed 1952, peformed by The Marcels, courtesy EMUS Record Corp., "The Third Man Theme," musc by Anton Karas, © 1949 British Lion Films Ltd., © renewed, Chappell & Co., Inc., performed by Guy Lombardo, courtesy MCA Records, Inc.
"Rico Vacilon," music by Rozando Ruiz, © 1955 Ethel Smith Music Corp., performed by The Arthur Murray Orchestra under the direction of Ray Carter, courtesy RCA Records
"Mr. Blah-Blah," words and music by Ray Barretto, © 1963 Little Dipper Music Corp., performed by Ray Baretto, courtesy Music Latina International, Inc.
"La Moderna," words and music by Gilbert Lopez, © 1962 Little Dipper Music Corp., performed by Ray Barrettoi, courtesy Musica Latina Internationa, Inc.
"Please Let Me Prove (My Love For You)," words and music by Jimmy Key, © 1960 Newkeys Music, Inc., performed by Dave Dudley, courtesy Jimmy Key Productions.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Georgia's Friends
Georgia
Release Date:
11 December 1981
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 11 December 1981
Production Date:
28 July--November 1980
Copyright Claimant:
Filmways Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
19 May 1982
Copyright Number:
PA152981
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
115
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26346
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Young Danilo Prozor and his mother arrive in Chicago, Illinois, where Danilo meets his father, a steel worker who emigrated from Yugoslavia when Danilo was an infant. Years later, on his way to his high school’s senior class concert, Danilo greets his friends Tom Donaldson and David Levine, and the three teenage musicians go to Georgia Miles’s home to serenade their mutual crush. Georgia starts dancing and later, during the concert, she cannot sit still onstage. As the boys walk her home, Georgia claims to be have been born at the moment dancer Isadora Duncan died. Danilo points out that Duncan died in 1926, but Georgia insists it took fifteen years for Duncan’s soul to find Georgia. As they ponder their futures, David laments that his father wants him to take over the family’s mortician business. To save David from the “evil of middle class,” Georgia orders him to chant “Isadora Duncan,” but he does not know who Duncan was. As Georgia educates David, Danilo corrects her misinformation and she wonders how Danilo can write poems to her yet still cling to facts. She recites her favorite poem written by Danilo, then claims he will be a famous poet, as she will be a famous dancer, and the four friends will have wonderful futures. Danilo arrives home as his father leaves for work. The men argue because Danilo wants to attend college, while Mr. Prozor insists Danilo’s dreams denigrate his father’s working class struggles. Another night, as the four friends walk in the park, Georgia flirts with the boys and everyone starts wrestling. When Georgia’s shirt falls ... +


Young Danilo Prozor and his mother arrive in Chicago, Illinois, where Danilo meets his father, a steel worker who emigrated from Yugoslavia when Danilo was an infant. Years later, on his way to his high school’s senior class concert, Danilo greets his friends Tom Donaldson and David Levine, and the three teenage musicians go to Georgia Miles’s home to serenade their mutual crush. Georgia starts dancing and later, during the concert, she cannot sit still onstage. As the boys walk her home, Georgia claims to be have been born at the moment dancer Isadora Duncan died. Danilo points out that Duncan died in 1926, but Georgia insists it took fifteen years for Duncan’s soul to find Georgia. As they ponder their futures, David laments that his father wants him to take over the family’s mortician business. To save David from the “evil of middle class,” Georgia orders him to chant “Isadora Duncan,” but he does not know who Duncan was. As Georgia educates David, Danilo corrects her misinformation and she wonders how Danilo can write poems to her yet still cling to facts. She recites her favorite poem written by Danilo, then claims he will be a famous poet, as she will be a famous dancer, and the four friends will have wonderful futures. Danilo arrives home as his father leaves for work. The men argue because Danilo wants to attend college, while Mr. Prozor insists Danilo’s dreams denigrate his father’s working class struggles. Another night, as the four friends walk in the park, Georgia flirts with the boys and everyone starts wrestling. When Georgia’s shirt falls open, she is unconcerned, but Danilo is embarrassed and closes her blouse. During winter, David drives a new car and Georgia wonders if he agreed to go into his father’s funeral business in exchange for the car. Then she announces that she will not be a virgin much longer. That night, she knocks on Danilo’s bedroom window and wants to make love, but Danilo refuses. He explains that his father sleeps in the next room and losing their virginity is a big step, but she is angry and promises that he will be sorry. The next day, the senior class assembles for “Career Day 1961.” Jack Bellknap, representing the steel industry, lectures that America was built by his business, but Danilo objects, yelling that high school should encourage students to seek their destinies, not be an employment agency. As Danilo is guided away, Georgia leads the other students in singing the musical refrain, “Hit the road, Jack,” to Bellknap. That night, Mr. Prozor hits Danilo, claiming his son’s actions humiliated the family, and when Danilo refuses to fight back, Mr. Prozor hits him again. Later, at a senior class beach party, Tom and Georgia stroll into the dunes; Danilo follows and watches them make love. Danilo returns to the beach and is pushed aside as he tries to stop a thuggish senior named Gergley and his friends from chasing two black students. In the struggle, David is knocked down and insulted for being Jewish. That night, Danilo packs his belongings, including a picture of Georgia. Before leaving town, he stops at Georgia’s house, but she is not home, so he asks her neighbor, Mrs. Zoldos, to say goodbye for him. Two years later, in his Northwestern University dormitory, Danilo’s crippled roommate, Louie Carnahan, complains about Danilo’s incessant playing of the song Georgia On My Mind. Later, Danilo and Louie represent Northwestern on a televised college trivia show. Mrs. Prozor, David, and Tom watch the program at Georgia’s home. Georgia is excited when Danilo answers a question by reciting the poem he wrote for Georgia in high school, instead of the correct answer. On Halloween, Danilo worries about the future and investigates graduate schools as Louie confesses his fear of dying without making love to a woman. Louie buys a car and drives Danilo to Georgia’s wedding, and they arrive as Georgia leaves the church with Tom and David. Georgia is pregnant with Tom’s child, so Danilo assumes she married Tom, but David is the groom. Tom was not ready for marriage and is about to leave for military service in Vietnam, while David is now a mortician in his family’s business. Danilo wonders why Georgia did not ask to marry him, but she claims he had his chance. Later, Georgia gives birth to a son, Isador Duncan Levine. Elsewhere, Danilo falls in love with Louie’s sister, Adrienne Carnahan. Danilo and Mr. Carnahan, however, do not like each other, and Mr. Carnahan is unhappy about the impending marriage. During a visit to the Carnahan’s mansion, Danilo sees Mr. Carnahan enter Adrienne’s bedroom and close the door. Later, Danilo asks for his father’s blessing, but Mr. Prozor thinks his son is marrying Adrienne for her wealth. He agrees to attend the wedding but will not give his blessing. When Danilo visits David and meets baby Isador, Georgia is gone. David is accustomed to Georgia’s disappearances and knows she will return eventually. Meanwhile, Georgia arrives at Danilo’s dormitory room and is surprised to learn he is in Chicago. Telling Louie that she is leaving for New York, Georgia undresses and says she has a Christmas present for him. Later, Danilo returns to campus as Louie is wheeled into an ambulance while singing Georgia On My Mind. In the spring, when Danilo arrives at the Carnahan mansion for the wedding, he sees Adrienne run from her bedroom, where her father is half-dressed. At the wedding reception, Mr. Carnahan shoots and kills Adrienne, shoots Danilo in the head, then commits suicide. Danilo is wounded in one eye, but survives. Georgia, who had been present at the wedding, tries to visit him in the hospital, but he turns away from her. Later, Danilo visits Mrs. Carnahan and learns that Louie died in September, while Danilo was hospitalized. During the next summer, Danilo sees Georgia dancing on the street and she takes him to her apartment. He admits he loves her, but she is not ready to settle down. Danilo leaves New York, finds work in a Pennsylvania steel mill, and dates a nurse, Vera. Elsewhere, Georgia gets involved in drugs and the nightclub scene until her friend, Lola, kills herself in a drug-induced haze. Upset, Georgia finds Danilo in Pennsylvania and they make love. He takes the day off work to be with her, but they argue when she wants to return to the city, alone. After she is gone, Danilo packs his belongings and leaves Pennsylvania. In East Chicago, Danilo meets David and Tom, who is now a Chicago steel worker with a Vietnamese wife and two daughters. Georgia arrives with Isador, and Danilo informs her that he has taken a teaching position far away from her so that he can find peace. She admits that she wanted to love Tom, David, and Danilo simultaneously, but she only loves Danilo. Later, Danilo says goodbye to his parents as they board a ship to Yugoslavia. Danilo wishes his father could be happy and Mr. Prozor acknowledges that he smiled when Danilo was born, then starts to laugh. Later, the four friends and their families gather on a beach as Danilo, Georgia, and Isador prepare to head south for Danilo’s teaching position, which Georgia promises is the first of many adventures to come. +

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

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