The Drowning Pool (1975)

PG | 108 mins | Mystery, Film noir | 1975

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HISTORY

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Andrew B. Swayne, a student at Emerson College, with Eric Schaefer as academic advisor.

Although based on Ross Macdonald’s novel The Drowning Pool (1950), the film was initially titled Ryan’s the Name , according to a 13 Sep 1974 HR news item. The film departs from the plot and location of the book. Paul Newman reprised the role of Lew Harper, which he had played nine years earlier in Harper (1966, see entry). As reported in NYT on 29 Apr 1973, the protagonist of the Macdonald novels, “Lew Archer,” was renamed “Lew Harper” because the author had reserved rights to the name and, as reported in Publisher's Weekly on 26 Apr 1973, the production company Filmways currently owned the character for the use in films. According to NYT and a 27 Apr 1973 DV news item, Robert Mulligan was set to direct.
       As reported on 18 Oct 1974 in HR , The Drowning Pool began a four week production schedule on location in Louisiana. According to a news item from Nov 1974 in Warner Bros. Rambling Reporter , Iris’s estate was filmed at Oaklawn Manor, a famous historical plantation built in the early 1800’s located near Franklin, LA. Warner Bros. Rambling Reporter also stated in a news item from Jan 1975 that the film was being shot at The Burbank Studios. According to Box ... More Less

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Andrew B. Swayne, a student at Emerson College, with Eric Schaefer as academic advisor.

Although based on Ross Macdonald’s novel The Drowning Pool (1950), the film was initially titled Ryan’s the Name , according to a 13 Sep 1974 HR news item. The film departs from the plot and location of the book. Paul Newman reprised the role of Lew Harper, which he had played nine years earlier in Harper (1966, see entry). As reported in NYT on 29 Apr 1973, the protagonist of the Macdonald novels, “Lew Archer,” was renamed “Lew Harper” because the author had reserved rights to the name and, as reported in Publisher's Weekly on 26 Apr 1973, the production company Filmways currently owned the character for the use in films. According to NYT and a 27 Apr 1973 DV news item, Robert Mulligan was set to direct.
       As reported on 18 Oct 1974 in HR , The Drowning Pool began a four week production schedule on location in Louisiana. According to a news item from Nov 1974 in Warner Bros. Rambling Reporter , Iris’s estate was filmed at Oaklawn Manor, a famous historical plantation built in the early 1800’s located near Franklin, LA. Warner Bros. Rambling Reporter also stated in a news item from Jan 1975 that the film was being shot at The Burbank Studios. According to Box on 5 May 1975, other locations included Lafayette, Lake Charles, Franklin, Henderson Swamp, and New Orleans. On 24 Dec 1974, HR stated that the the production wrapped and lasted nearly ten weeks, with six weeks on location in Louisiana.
       Box reported that the The Drowning Pool premiered in New Orleans on 18 Jun 1975 as a benefit for the Policemen’s Association of New Orleans and was held at the Saenger-Orleans Theater. Preview clips of the film were shown 5 May 1975 during the fourth annual gala of the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York City where Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were being honored.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
5 May 1975.
---
Box Office
30 Jun 1975
p. 4792.
Daily Variety
27 Apr 1973.
---
Daily Variety
18 Jun 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Sep 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Oct 1974
p. 22.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Dec 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jan 1975
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 1975
p. 3, 9.
Los Angeles Times
25 Jun 1975
Section IV, p. 1, 10.
New York Times
29 Apr 1973.
---
New York Times
26 Jun 1975
p. 6.
New York Times
6 Jul 1975.
---
Publisher's Weekly
26 Apr 1973.
---
Variety
18 Jun 1975
p. 18.
Warner Bros. Rambling Reporter
---
Warner Bros. Rambling Reporter
Nov 1974.
---
Warner Bros. Rambling Reporter
Jan 1975.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Coleytown/Turman-Foster production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Assoc prod/Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st cam asst
Key grip
Gaffer
Unit still photog
Filmed in
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst props
Const coord
Const coord
COSTUMES
Miss Woodward's ward des
Ward supv
Ladies cost
Ladies cost
Asst men's cost
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd mixer
boom man
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Miss Woodward's hair styles by
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Transportation capt
Scr supv
Casting
Prod auditor
Unit pub
Prod secy
Prod services and equip provided by
Burbank, California
STAND INS
Stunt coord
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Drowning Pool by Ross MacDonald (New York, 1950).
MUSIC
"Killing Me Softly with his Song," by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox, scored and conducted by Charles Fox.
DETAILS
Release Date:
1975
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 25 Jun 1975
Copyright Claimants:
Coleytown Productions, Inc. The First Artists Production Company, Ltd. Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Dates:
20 June 1975 20 June 1975 20 June 1975
Copyright Numbers:
LP44912 LP44912 LP44912
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
108
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24252
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

When Private detective Lew Harper arrives in New Orleans, Louisiana, to meet a new client, he is surprised that the telegram requesting his services, written by Mrs. James Deveraux, was sent by his former lover, Iris. Although Iris and Harper spent a week together six years earlier, Iris explains that she has been with James seventeen years, and that she sent for Harper because she is in trouble. Giving him the name of a motel where she’s made reservations for him, Iris tells Harper to meet her the following day and quickly leaves. Later, at the motel, Harper receives an unexpected visit from a voluptuous teenager and refuses her seduction, but he is detained by Lt. Franks after he sends her away. At the police station, Harper explains that he is innocent, but when police chief Broussard takes a strong interest in Iris’s case, he is unwilling to discuss his client. When Harper is released from custody, he proceeds to Iris’s colonial plantation, Beau Rivage. Iris asks Harper to investigate a letter written to her husband that she intercepted because it exposes her as an adultress. She explains that her husband is an alcoholic playwright and their wealth comes from his mother, Olivia, who has a malicious and authoritative influence in the household. Iris suspects that Pat Reavis, her recently fired chauffeur, wrote the letter and asks Harper to make him stop. On his way out, Iris introduces Harper to her daughter, Schuyler, the girl who attempted to seduce him, and Harper tells her he works for the pest control. Investigating Reavis’ former quarters, Harper finds the typewriter that ... +


When Private detective Lew Harper arrives in New Orleans, Louisiana, to meet a new client, he is surprised that the telegram requesting his services, written by Mrs. James Deveraux, was sent by his former lover, Iris. Although Iris and Harper spent a week together six years earlier, Iris explains that she has been with James seventeen years, and that she sent for Harper because she is in trouble. Giving him the name of a motel where she’s made reservations for him, Iris tells Harper to meet her the following day and quickly leaves. Later, at the motel, Harper receives an unexpected visit from a voluptuous teenager and refuses her seduction, but he is detained by Lt. Franks after he sends her away. At the police station, Harper explains that he is innocent, but when police chief Broussard takes a strong interest in Iris’s case, he is unwilling to discuss his client. When Harper is released from custody, he proceeds to Iris’s colonial plantation, Beau Rivage. Iris asks Harper to investigate a letter written to her husband that she intercepted because it exposes her as an adultress. She explains that her husband is an alcoholic playwright and their wealth comes from his mother, Olivia, who has a malicious and authoritative influence in the household. Iris suspects that Pat Reavis, her recently fired chauffeur, wrote the letter and asks Harper to make him stop. On his way out, Iris introduces Harper to her daughter, Schuyler, the girl who attempted to seduce him, and Harper tells her he works for the pest control. Investigating Reavis’ former quarters, Harper finds the typewriter that produced the letter, partially burned, in an incinerator and learns from Schuyler that Reavis showed her a good time. When Schuyler introduces Harper to Olivia in her birdhouse, Olivia resolutely tells him to inform Kilbourne her answer is “no.��� Despite Harper’s claim that he does not know Kilbourne, Olivia accuses him of being a “big oil company” man and complains that his business has ruined her town. As he leaves Beau Rivage, Harper spots Schuyler hiding behind a tree and an empty brown car. Back at the motel, two men accost Harper and escort him through a bayou to meet oil tycoon Jay Hue Kilbourne. He tells Harper that he aims to take control of the largest section of oil-rich tidelands, but they are owned by Olivia, who wants to turn them into a bird sanctuary. Kilbourne plans to blackmail the family with salacious photographs of James with male lovers and asks Harper to exploit Iris’s inclination for infidelity. Later, Harper inquires about Reavis at a bar and learns that his girlfriend’s name is Gretchen. Lt. Franks arrives at the bar and brings Harper to a crime scene where Broussard shows him the murdered corpse of Olivia and questions him about Reavis. When Harper consoles Iris, she tells him that she wants things to be the way they were six years ago and kisses him. Back at the bar, Harper picks up Gretchen, who is a prostitute, and coaxes her into telling him where Reavis stays in New Orleans. Searching Reavis’s room, Harper picks up a phone call from room service and learns that Reavis’s sister, Elaine, had called, then finds her business card next to a photograph of Schuyler. Before he leaves, Harper is accosted by two men and thrown into the backseat of a car with an alluring woman, who is informed that neither Reavis nor the account book were uncovered. The woman seductively teases Harper then throws him out of the car as they drive away. The next day, Harper follows Elaine to her apartment and notices the brown car that was parked in front of Beau Rivage. Inside, Harper finds Reavis, holds him up with Reavis’s gun, and discovers an envelope with $10,000. Harper accuses Reavis of killing Olivia for the money and calls Lt. Franks to tell him they’re coming to the station, but Reavis claims he is innocent and warns Harper that he is into something much deeper than he can handle. Driving to the station, Reavis tells Harper that he was fired because he was having sex with Schuyler and knows nothing about the letter. The car is run into a swamp by a truck and Reavis is shot dead. When Broussard claims he never got the message that Harper was bringing Reavis in, Harper suspects that Franks is involved, but Broussard insists that the case is closed. Harper informs Gretchen about Reavis and she blames him for the murder, but when he tells her that he wants to discover the truth and speculates that she has the account book, she gives it to him. Looking through the book, Harper learns that Kilbourne illegally paid off lawmakers for his oil leases. Back at Beau Rivage, James fires Harper, but Harper assures Iris that he won’t quit and tells her Schuyler wrote the letter. That night, Harper accosts Franks inside his home, threatens him with Russian roulette and learns that Kilbourne paid him $5,000 to kill Reavis. On Kilbourne’s yacht, Harper is introduced to his wife, Mavis, the woman who inquired about the account book. Harper reveals his knowledge of Kilbourne’s payments to to Reavis and Franks, but Kilbourne insists that Reavis was not paid to kill Olivia. He claims the $10,000 was blackmail for Reavis because he threatened to implicate Kilbourne in the crime. When Kilbourne warns Harper that his life is in danger, Harper informs him that he has the account book. On his way out, Mavis tells Harper that she fears that Kilbourne will discover that she gave Reavis the account book and begs him to help her. Harper calls Iris to report that Olivia was not murdered by Reavis, but Iris drunkenly demands that he prove Reavis guilty and tells him to get out of her life. Meanwhile, Schuyler is listening to the conversation on another line. After he hangs up, Harper is knocked out and awakens to the jet of a firehose in an abandoned hydrotherapy room with Mavis. Kilbourne leaves them locked inside for the night when Harper refuses to give him the account book, but as they try to escape by flooding the room, Harper is unable to release the skylight and they are trapped as the water rises. When Harper and Mavis become submerged, Kilbourne’s crony opens the door, releasing torrents of water, and they escape to find that Kilbourne has been paralyzed. Harper gives Kilbourne’s gun to Mavis, then attempts to call Broussard; but before he can contact the law, Mavis shoots Kilbourne dead, claiming that he would have gotten away with his crimes if he survived. At Beau Rivage, Harper discovers that Iris has died from an overdose. Emotionally overwrought, Broussard tells Harper about his seventeen year relationship with Iris. Outside, Harper accuses Schuyler of killing Olivia and tormenting Iris so that she could be the center of her father’s attention. Broussard overhears the conversation and slaps Schuyler, then embraces her and apologizes. As Schuyler screams that she hates him and runs away, Broussard attacks Harper and threatens to kill him, but confesses that he is Schuyler’s father. Before returning to Los Angeles, Harper gives Gretchen $9,200 dollars, telling her it was Reavis’s dying wish. When Gretchen offers him the account book, he laughs and instructs her to send it to the biggest newspaper in New Orleans. +

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

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