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HISTORY

Principal photography began on 2 Jan 1991 in Los Angeles, CA, according to a 29 Jan 1991 HR production chart.
       Four months later, a 20 May 1991 DV news brief indicated that filming had concluded. A 20 Sep 1991 DV article described a dispute between filmmakers and the Los Angeles Department of Airports, and revealed that a majority of filming took place at an abandoned airplane hangar at the Van Nuys Airport in Van Nuys, CA. Filmmakers felt that the $120,000 fee for three months of filming at the facility was exorbitant. The Airport Department, pressured by the Los Angeles Film Development Committee, eventually lowered the fee to $45,000. A 30 Jun 1991 NYT article clarified that the hangar served primarily for the World War II scenes, while the Korean and Vietnam War sequences were shot in the Los Angeles canyons. Ten thousand background actors appeared in the film, with most appearing as soldiers in the various war segments. However, a number of seemingly significant roles in For the Boys go uncredited, including that of “Sergeant Michael Leonard.” HR listed actor Arliss Howard among the cast, and though he does not receive onscreen credit, his appearance in the film as “Dixie’s” husband can be visually verified.
       The NYT indicated that actress-producer Bette Midler spent five years putting the project together for her production company, All Girl Productions. When she and her partners presented a script by Neal Jimenez and Lindy Laub to director Mark Rydell, he suggested a rewrite, and screenwriter Marshall Brickman was brought in. Following the film’s lukewarm opening, journalist Bernard Weinraub wrote ... More Less

Principal photography began on 2 Jan 1991 in Los Angeles, CA, according to a 29 Jan 1991 HR production chart.
       Four months later, a 20 May 1991 DV news brief indicated that filming had concluded. A 20 Sep 1991 DV article described a dispute between filmmakers and the Los Angeles Department of Airports, and revealed that a majority of filming took place at an abandoned airplane hangar at the Van Nuys Airport in Van Nuys, CA. Filmmakers felt that the $120,000 fee for three months of filming at the facility was exorbitant. The Airport Department, pressured by the Los Angeles Film Development Committee, eventually lowered the fee to $45,000. A 30 Jun 1991 NYT article clarified that the hangar served primarily for the World War II scenes, while the Korean and Vietnam War sequences were shot in the Los Angeles canyons. Ten thousand background actors appeared in the film, with most appearing as soldiers in the various war segments. However, a number of seemingly significant roles in For the Boys go uncredited, including that of “Sergeant Michael Leonard.” HR listed actor Arliss Howard among the cast, and though he does not receive onscreen credit, his appearance in the film as “Dixie’s” husband can be visually verified.
       The NYT indicated that actress-producer Bette Midler spent five years putting the project together for her production company, All Girl Productions. When she and her partners presented a script by Neal Jimenez and Lindy Laub to director Mark Rydell, he suggested a rewrite, and screenwriter Marshall Brickman was brought in. Following the film’s lukewarm opening, journalist Bernard Weinraub wrote a 5 Dec 1991 NYT article describing the original screenplay as “harder edged,” with more of an antiwar message. He argued that rewrites “softened” that perspective, leaving it somewhat unclear what the film was really about.
       Various contemporary sources, including the 5 Sep 1991 LAT and 9 Sep 1991 DV news briefs, anticipated a Christmas release. However, by mid-Oct 1991, the nationwide release date had been moved up to late Nov of the same year, as noted by a 13 Oct 1991 LAT article, which announced the world premiere was scheduled for 14 Nov 1991 at AMPAS. The festive event would include an extended live performance by Bette Midler, her first in seven years, according to a 7 Nov 1991 DV news item. The picture would open on 22 Nov 1991 in New York City and Los Angeles, before its nationwide release on 27 Nov 1991. Reviews were generally negative, faulting the lack of chemistry between Midler and co-star James Caan, as well as the film’s 145-minute slow pace. However, Midler’s singing performances were uniformly praised, and she was later nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.
       The 5 Dec 1991 NYT reported that, after nearly two weeks in release, the $40–$45 million picture had grossed only $5.9 million.
       Nine months after the release of For the Boys, Martha Raye, an actress and former USO entertainer, sued filmmakers for $5 million, claiming that Bette Midler based the film on her life story. As recounted in a 3 Aug 1992 HR article, Raye stated that she met with Midler in the mid-1980s and showed her a script for a project titled Maggie, which chronicled her experiences as a singer and supporter of the troops. On 28 Jul 1993, HR reported that a judge had dismissed a majority of Raye’s claims. However, Midler would have to appear in court regarding the “breach of contract” allegation. Following the 16 Feb 1994 trial, a 17 Feb 1994 HR news item recapped Midler’s testimony: Although she admitted to having discussed the Maggie project, she insisted that For the Boys was not inspired by Raye’s life story. One week later, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuit entirely. The 25 Feb 1994 LAT indicated that Raye’s attorneys failed to show enough similarities between the movie and Raye’s biography.
       End credits include the following acknowledgements: “Special thanks to: Robert J. Litt; Michael Herbick; 8th Air Force Historical Society; 311th Army Reserve Corp Support Command; the family of Pat O’Brien; the family of Al Jenkins; the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Dec 1991.
---
Daily Variety
20 May 1991.
---
Daily Variety
9 Sep 1991.
---
Daily Variety
20 Sep 1991
p. 3, 26.
Daily Variety
7 Nov 1991.
---
Daily Variety
13 Nov 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jan 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Nov 1991
p. 5, 12.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 1992
p. 3, 19.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jul 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 1994.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Sep 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Oct 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Nov 1991
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
25 Feb 1994.
---
New York Times
30 Jun 1991
p. 11, 14.
New York Times
17 Nov 1991
p. 13, 22.
New York Times
22 Nov 1991
Section C, p. 12.
New York Times
5 Dec 1991
Section B, p. 1, 6.
Variety
18 Nov 1991
p. 30.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Recording studio:
Awards T. V. show:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Twentieth Century Fox Presents
An All Girl Production
A Mark Rydell Film
Produced and released by Twentieth Century Fox
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Chief lighting tech
Key grip
"A" cam op/Steadicam op
"B" cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Asst chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Rigging gaffer
Rigging key grip
Rigging grip
2d company grip
2d company grip
Dolly grip
Dolly grip
Technocrane op
Photo murals
Dir of photog, 2d unit
1st asst dir, 2d unit
Cam op, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
Key grip, 2d unit
Cranes and dollies by
Remote crane by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
Asst art dir
Prod illustrator
Art dept coord
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Const coord
Set des
Set des
Leadman
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Asst prop
Asst prop
Asst prop
Asst prop
Asst prop
Asst prop
General foreman
Prop shop foreman
Prop shop foreman
Plaster foreman
Sign writer
Paint foreman
Standby painter
Standby painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Key cost supv
Cost supv
Asst to the cost des
Men's key costumer
Women's key costumer
Costumer, Bette Midler
Set costumer
Set costumer
Set costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Tailor
MUSIC
Mus sequences devised by
Exec mus prod
Supv mus eng
Supv mus ed
Mus ed
Digital mus systems
Mus adv to Mark Rydell
Scoring mixer
Sideline musicians supv
Mus consultant and soundtrack album prod
Song and mus consultant
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd mixer
Boom op
Playback op
Utility sd
Sd reinforcement
Sd ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
1st asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
ADR mixer
Rec
Foley by
Foley by
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Foley rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec visual eff by
of Illusion Arts, Inc.
Spec visual eff by
of Illusion Arts, Inc.
Titles and opticals
DANCE
1950's T. V. show dancer
1950's T. V. show dancer
1950's T. V. show dancer
1950's T. V. show dancer
1950's T. V. show dancer
1950's T. V. show dancer
1950's T. V. show dancer
1950's T. V. show dancer
1950's T. V. show dancer
1950's T. V. show dancer
1950's T. V. show dancer
1950's T. V. show dancer
1950's T. V. show dancer
1950's T. V. show dancer
Awards dinner dancer
Awards dinner dancer
Awards dinner dancer
Awards dinner dancer
Awards dinner dancer
Awards dinner dancer
Awards dinner dancer
Awards dinner dancer
Awards dinner dancer
Awards dinner dancer
MAKEUP
Character aging makeup by
Key aging makeup artist
Key aging makeup artist
Lab crew
Lab crew
Makeup artist, Bette Midler
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Body makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist, Bette Midler
Hairstylist, Bette Midler
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Transportation coord
Loc mgr
Exec prod accountant
Prod coord
Asst to Mark Rydell
Asst prod coord
Prod asst to Mark Rydell
Asst to Bette Midler
Asst to Bonnie Bruckheimer
Asst to Margaret South
Asst to James Caan
Asst to Joel Sill
Asst to Joe Layton
Asst to Joe Layton
Asst to Joe Layton
Voice casting
24 frame video displays by
Video Image staff
Video Image staff
Video Image staff
Video Image staff
Tech adv/"Awards" video playback
Video Image coord
Tech supv
Tech supv
Video tape
Asst loc
Asst loc
Asst loc
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Const accountant
Casting assoc
Extras casting
Extras casting
Extras casting
Extras casting
Unit pub
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Aerial coord
Medical consultant
Voice coach for Mr. Caan
Craft service
Craft service
Set medic
Loc projection
Projectionist
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Dreamland," written by Dave Grusin and Alan & Marilyn Bergman
"Shake Me Good," written by Aina and Bob Marlette, produced by Bob Marlette, performed by Aina
"The Girl Friend Of The Whirling Dervish," written by Al Dubin, Johnny Mercer and Harry Warren, produced and arranged by Marc Shaiman
+
SONGS
"Dreamland," written by Dave Grusin and Alan & Marilyn Bergman
"Shake Me Good," written by Aina and Bob Marlette, produced by Bob Marlette, performed by Aina
"The Girl Friend Of The Whirling Dervish," written by Al Dubin, Johnny Mercer and Harry Warren, produced and arranged by Marc Shaiman
"Do You Believe," written by James Cammarata, Francis Preve and Michael Licata, produced and performed by Beat Goes Bang
"Wake Up Each Morning With Baileys," written by Dave Grusin and Marshall Brickman, produced and arranged by Dave Grusin
"Billy-A-Dick," written by Hoagy Carmichael and Paul Francis Webster, arranged by Marc Shaiman, produced by Arif Mardin with Marc Shaiman
"Dixie's Dream," written and arranged by Marc Shaiman, produced by Arif Mardin
"I Remember You," written by Johnny Mercer and Victor Schertzinger, versions arranged by Dave Grusin, Marty Paich, Marc Shaiman, Peter Matz, produced by Arif Mardin with Dave Grusin
"I'll Walk Alone," written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne
"The More I See You," written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren
"Vicki And Mr. Valves," written by Lenny La Croix, arranged by Marty Paich, produced by Arif Mardin with Dave Grusin
"For All We Know," written by J. Fred Coots and Sam M. Lewis
"Every Road Leads Back To You," written by Diane Warren, performed by Gary LeMel
"P. S. I Love You," written by Johnny Mercer and Gordon Jenkins, arranged by Marc Shaiman, produced by Arif Mardin with Dave Grusin
"Crossroads," written by Robert Johnson, performed by Cream, courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
"Underneath The Arches," written by Bud Flanagan
"Green Onions," written by Steve Cropper, Al Jackson, Jr., Lewie Steinberg and Booker T. Jones, performed by Booker T. & The MG's, courtesy of Atlantic Records by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square," written by Manning Sherwin and Eric Maschwitz
"I Apologize," written by Al Goodhart, Edward G. Nelson and Al Hoffman
"Land Of 1000 Dances," written by Chris Kenner and Antoine Domino
"The White Cliffs Of Dover," written by Walter Kent and Nat Burton
"In My Life," written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, produced by Arif Mardin and Marc Shaiman
"Symphonie Espagnole," written by Deouard Lalo, performed by Tamaki Kawakubo
"Stuff Like That There," written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, arranged by Billy May, produced by Arif Mardin with Dave Grusin
"Come Rain Or Come Shine," written by Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen, arranged by Dave Grusin, produced by Arif Mardin with Dave Grusin
"Baby It's Cold Outside," written by Frank Loesser, arranged by Marc Shaiman, produced by Arif Mardin.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
22 November 1991
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Los Angeles: 14 Nov 1991; Los Angeles and New York openings: 22 Nov 1991
Production Date:
2 Jan--mid May 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
19 November 1991
Copyright Number:
PA542648
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo® in selected theatres; Cinema Digital Sound™ in selected theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® cameras & lenses
Duration(in mins):
145
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31247
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At an apartment complex in Los Angeles, California, television production assistant Jeff Brooks attempts to convince the elderly Dixie Leonard to attend an awards ceremony honoring her work as a professional singer. When she remarks that she does not wish to see Eddie Sparks, her former musical partner, Jeff asks her to recall how they first met: At a studio recording session in 1942, Dixie receives a cable from the U.S. war department. Fearing bad news about her husband, a combat photographer stationed in North Africa, she embraces her four-year-old son, Danny, and asks the record producer to read the news aloud. Everyone in the studio is relieved to hear that the message is from Dixie’s uncle, Art Silver, inviting her to London, England, to sing at a United Service Organizations (USO) show with esteemed entertainer, Eddie Sparks. Dixie asks a friend to care for Danny, and leaves for England at Christmastime. On the night of the show, she worries about not having met or rehearsed with Eddie, but Art reminds her that she is a professional. Moments before going onstage, Dixie’s dress rips. As she frantically searches for a new costume, Eddie stalls by telling jokes. When she walks on in nothing but high heels and a captain’s jacket, his eyes widen. Dixie engages Eddie in an improvised comedy routine, further shocking him with her sexually explicit jokes. The soldiers, however, applaud wildly. As Dixie sings a solo, Eddie storms offstage, muttering his refusal to work with such a foul-mouthed woman. Just then, the power goes out. The soldiers urge Dixie to continue, and she walks through the audience singing a tender ballad. The power comes back ... +


At an apartment complex in Los Angeles, California, television production assistant Jeff Brooks attempts to convince the elderly Dixie Leonard to attend an awards ceremony honoring her work as a professional singer. When she remarks that she does not wish to see Eddie Sparks, her former musical partner, Jeff asks her to recall how they first met: At a studio recording session in 1942, Dixie receives a cable from the U.S. war department. Fearing bad news about her husband, a combat photographer stationed in North Africa, she embraces her four-year-old son, Danny, and asks the record producer to read the news aloud. Everyone in the studio is relieved to hear that the message is from Dixie’s uncle, Art Silver, inviting her to London, England, to sing at a United Service Organizations (USO) show with esteemed entertainer, Eddie Sparks. Dixie asks a friend to care for Danny, and leaves for England at Christmastime. On the night of the show, she worries about not having met or rehearsed with Eddie, but Art reminds her that she is a professional. Moments before going onstage, Dixie’s dress rips. As she frantically searches for a new costume, Eddie stalls by telling jokes. When she walks on in nothing but high heels and a captain’s jacket, his eyes widen. Dixie engages Eddie in an improvised comedy routine, further shocking him with her sexually explicit jokes. The soldiers, however, applaud wildly. As Dixie sings a solo, Eddie storms offstage, muttering his refusal to work with such a foul-mouthed woman. Just then, the power goes out. The soldiers urge Dixie to continue, and she walks through the audience singing a tender ballad. The power comes back on and she concludes her performance to thunderous applause. However, Eddie fires her the moment she walks offstage. Dixie is indignant, until other members of the band reassure her that Eddie only wants to assert his authority. They all go to a bar where Art convinces Eddie to redesign the act to focus on sparring with Dixie for comedic effect. Eddie likes the idea, and wins Dixie over by singing her an apology. Back in present day Los Angeles, Jeff Brooks interrupts Dixie’s reverie to ask if she and Eddie ever had a romantic relationship. Dixie reminds Jeff that she was married. Smiling, she remembers one of her and Eddie’s shows: After a year of polishing their act, Eddie and Dixie perform for troops in Algeria, Africa. In the middle of a comedy skit, Eddie calls Sergeant Michael Leonard to the stage. Surprised and overjoyed to see her husband, Dixie sings a sultry number, and the soldiers roar in approval as the couple kiss. Soon after, Michael is killed in combat. Eddie accompanies Dixie to the U.S. for the military funeral. When the war ends a few years later, they rebrand their act for television. In a New York City production studio in 1950, Dixie and Eddie prepare for the live broadcast of their hit show, The Bailey’s Comedy Hour. When Dixie exasperates producers with her provocative ad-libbing, Eddie asks what is on her mind, and she confides that she is worried about twelve-year-old Danny, who has been skipping school. Eddie, the father of three adolescent girls, offers to talk to the boy, but Dixie doubts his ability to provide prudent advice. On the air that night, Eddie announces that he and Dixie plan to resume their USO performances and visit the troops in Korea. When the curtain drops, Dixie admonishes him for surprising her with the news. She refuses to go, but Eddie changes her mind, reminding her that they will have the support of the television network’s staff and crew. They travel to Korea in December, arriving in the midst of an ambush. Distraught at the sight of the dead and wounded soldiers, Eddie asks Dixie to spend the night with him. However, in the morning, he pretends their intimate encounter was of no consequence. Dixie does not hide her disappointment. Following their performances in Korea, they meet up with their families in Japan. There, one of the network producers informs Eddie that Art Silver must be let go. Eddie sees no reason to fire their best comedy writer, until the producer suggests that Art is a communist. Though conflicted, Eddie approves the dismissal. Art causes a scene at Christmas dinner, mocking the network’s anti-communist allegiances. When Dixie angrily accuses Eddie of turning his back on a friend, Danny is horrified by his mother’s outburst, and refuses to leave the party with her. The image of her strong-willed son draws Dixie out of her reminiscence. She pours Jeff Brooks a drink and laments the events that followed that fateful Christmas dinner. Jeff looks at old entertainment magazines featuring headline stories about Dixie being dropped from the network. He asks if she regrets leaving television, but Dixie says no, and credits the incident with inspiring her to buy a jazz club in Hollywood. When Jeff asks if she was able to repair her relationship with her son, Dixie’s thoughts drift back to the mid-1960s: After surveying the full house at her elegant nightclub, Dixie greets Art Silver at the bar. He reveals that he has been talking to Eddie about writing the entertainer’s upcoming tour of Vietnam. Just then, Eddie walks into the club. Dixie frowns, realizing they want her to be part of the act. She turns to leave, but Eddie shows her a handful of letters from Danny, whom Dixie has not seen since his graduation from military college. Her eyes tear up as Eddie describes a plan to visit the young man, now a soldier fighting in Vietnam. In time, she and Eddie fly to a U.S. Army base. Dixie cries at the sight of her son, and he embraces her. She senses something is wrong, and Danny confides that the war effort is not going well, and many of his fellow officers are suffering psychological duress. At the show that night, the brutish soldiers heckle the performers, but they grow quiet when Dixie sings. Suddenly, the camp is ambushed. Dixie crawls to safety, but Danny is killed in the attack. After returning to the U.S. to bury her son, Dixie banishes Eddie from her life. Jeff Brooks is stunned by the story. He calls his colleagues at the network and insists that reuniting Dixie and Eddie on live television, even if in the context of an awards ceremony, is a bad idea. When he hangs up, however, Dixie emerges from her room dressed in an evening gown. They rush to the studio where she confronts Eddie about Danny’s death. Her honesty upsets him, and he storms out of his dressing room. When the awards show host announces their names, Eddie walks onstage alone. As he recounts all the wars he visited as an entertainer, and chokes back tears at the mention of Vietnam, Dixie lets go of her anger and joins him onstage. The producers breathe a sigh of relief as the elderly couple amuses the audience with witty jokes, a soft-shoe dance, and a song. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.