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HISTORY

A 25 Jan 1967 LAT news item included an adaptation of Phillip Rock’s upcoming novel, The Extraordinary Seaman, among fourteen new projects on Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s (MGM) production slate. David Niven was first attached to star, and seven days later, Var announced that John Frankenheimer had signed on to direct for producer Edward Lewis. Rock agreed to adapt his work for the screen.
       A 2 Mar 1967 DV brief suggested that Jonathan Winters was considered as one of Niven’s co-stars, while the 23 May 1967 LAT announced the casting of José Chávez, whose participation could not be confirmed in other contemporary sources. According to the 21 Mar 1967 DV, Alan Alda bowed out of his Broadway musical run in The Apple Tree from 6 Apr to 3 Jul 1967 in order to appear as “Lieut. J. G. Morton Krim.”
       Principal photography began 10 Apr 1967, as stated in a DV production chart published four days later. The 9 Mar 1967 and 31 Mar 1967 DV named locations in Yucatán and Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. The Extraordinary Seaman was one of three MGM pictures to shoot simultaneously in Mexico, contributing to the recent increase in film production in the country; a 9 Jan 1968 DV item estimated that MGM spent a total of $8 million in Mexico during 1967 alone. Almost $300,000 worth of equipment and props were shipped to the location, and the unit was expected to remain there for approximately ten weeks. Additional sources claimed filming also took place in Baja and Santa Barbara, CA, as well as the ... More Less

A 25 Jan 1967 LAT news item included an adaptation of Phillip Rock’s upcoming novel, The Extraordinary Seaman, among fourteen new projects on Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s (MGM) production slate. David Niven was first attached to star, and seven days later, Var announced that John Frankenheimer had signed on to direct for producer Edward Lewis. Rock agreed to adapt his work for the screen.
       A 2 Mar 1967 DV brief suggested that Jonathan Winters was considered as one of Niven’s co-stars, while the 23 May 1967 LAT announced the casting of José Chávez, whose participation could not be confirmed in other contemporary sources. According to the 21 Mar 1967 DV, Alan Alda bowed out of his Broadway musical run in The Apple Tree from 6 Apr to 3 Jul 1967 in order to appear as “Lieut. J. G. Morton Krim.”
       Principal photography began 10 Apr 1967, as stated in a DV production chart published four days later. The 9 Mar 1967 and 31 Mar 1967 DV named locations in Yucatán and Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. The Extraordinary Seaman was one of three MGM pictures to shoot simultaneously in Mexico, contributing to the recent increase in film production in the country; a 9 Jan 1968 DV item estimated that MGM spent a total of $8 million in Mexico during 1967 alone. Almost $300,000 worth of equipment and props were shipped to the location, and the unit was expected to remain there for approximately ten weeks. Additional sources claimed filming also took place in Baja and Santa Barbara, CA, as well as the MGM studio lot in Culver City. An 18 Apr 1969 DV advertisement revealed that Tyler Camera Systems was involved in the aerial photography.
       Toward the end of production, the 21 Jul 1967 DV announced that MGM had decided to add the subtitle, “Or How I Lost World Wars I, II and Given a Decent Chance—III,” but this was not corroborated by other contemporary news items. The 17 Jan 1969 DV review revealed that the picture contains at least ten minutes of newsreel footage, which included shots of Bess Truman, Dorothy Lamour, Errol Flynn, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Douglas MacArthur. A 28 Feb 1968 DV brief stated that the release date had been delayed while filmmakers underwent the process of matching the material to the rest of the color Panavision footage. The story is broken into segments, each titled to match five of U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s six installments of his World War II memoirs: “Grand Alliance,” “The Gathering Storm,” “Their Finest Hour,” “The Hinge of Fate,” and “Triumph and Tragedy.”
       Despite the high profile of director John Frankenheimer and the popularity of Faye Dunaway following her star turn in Bonnie and Clyde (1967, see entry), The Extraordinary Seaman was poorly received by critics and not distributed for a large scale release. Var box-office reports indicated scattered local openings in Philadelphia, PA; St. Louis, MO; San Francisco, CA; Dayton, OH; and Boston, MA, from mid-Feb to Mar 1969, while the 3 Feb 1969 DV noted that actor Jack Carter had also been assigned to promote the picture in Chicago, IL, from 13-14 Feb 1969, culminating in a benefit dinner and screening, for which he was the guest of honor. Although an exact release date could not be found in contemporary documents, theater listings for the Los Angeles area first appeared in the 2 Jul 1969 LAT. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Mar 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Mar 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Mar 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
31 Mar 1967
p. 1, 9.
Daily Variety
14 Apr 1967
p. 14.
Daily Variety
21 Jul 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Jan 1968
p. 1.
Daily Variety
28 Feb 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
17 Jan 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
3 Feb 1969
p. 6.
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1969
p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
25 Jan 1967
Section D, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
23 May 1967
Section D, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
2 Jul 1969
Section C, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
4 Jul 1969
Section C, p. 9.
Variety
1 Feb 1967
p. 30.
Variety
19 Feb 1969
p. 8.
Variety
19 Mar 1969
p. 12.
Variety
12 Mar 1969
p. 12.
Variety
26 Mar 1969
p. 8.
Variety
2 Apr 1969
p. 10.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Orig mus comp & cond
SOUND
Rec supv
Boom op
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec visual eff
Spec visual eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Gaffer
Constr mgr
Casting
Casting
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Extraordinary Seaman by Phillip Rock (New York, 1967).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Extraordinary Seaman: Or How I Lost World Wars I, II and Given a Decent Chance--III
Release Date:
February 1969
Premiere Information:
Philadelphia opening: mid-February 1969
San Francisco, St. Louis, and Boston openings: March 1969
Los Angeles opening: early July 1969
Production Date:
began 10 April 1967
Copyright Claimant:
John Frankenheimer Productions
Copyright Date:
31 October 1968
Copyright Number:
LP36191
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Metrocolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
80
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

GRAND ALLIANCE: Four American sailors in World War II become detached from their ship in the fog and are washed up on an island somewhere in the Philippines. These men are Lieutenant Krim, an accountant with little naval experience; Oglethorpe, a cook; Toole, the gunner's mate; and able seaman Lightfoot, a fullblooded Cheyenne. They discover British Commander Finchhaven standing on the deck of an old gunboat stuck in a sandbar, wearing an immaculate white uniform and sipping a glass of whiskey. THE GATHERING STORM: The men set out to restore the old gunboat; and while exploring the island, they come across an apparently abandoned garage full of supplies. They help themselves and are shot at by Jennifer Winslow, the stranded proprietress of the garage, who agrees to give them the supplies in exchange for passage off the island. The ship, H. M. S. Curmudgeon , is repaired, and they set sail. THEIR FINEST HOUR: After being bombed by the Japanese, they pick up some shipwrecked Filipinos, but through a mishap all but Finchhaven, Jennifer, and Krim drift away from the ship. All the while, Finchhaven remains on deck sipping whiskey. THE HINGE OF FATE: Finchhaven confesses that he is a ghost, restored to the ship to redeem the family honor that he lost in 1914, when he disgraced his family by getting drunk before his first battle. TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY: Finchhaven plans to ram an approaching Japanese cruiser, which turns out to be the ship on which the peace treaty is being signed. For this new blunder, Finchhaven is condemned to wait out the new peace, piloting a fake gunboat ... +


GRAND ALLIANCE: Four American sailors in World War II become detached from their ship in the fog and are washed up on an island somewhere in the Philippines. These men are Lieutenant Krim, an accountant with little naval experience; Oglethorpe, a cook; Toole, the gunner's mate; and able seaman Lightfoot, a fullblooded Cheyenne. They discover British Commander Finchhaven standing on the deck of an old gunboat stuck in a sandbar, wearing an immaculate white uniform and sipping a glass of whiskey. THE GATHERING STORM: The men set out to restore the old gunboat; and while exploring the island, they come across an apparently abandoned garage full of supplies. They help themselves and are shot at by Jennifer Winslow, the stranded proprietress of the garage, who agrees to give them the supplies in exchange for passage off the island. The ship, H. M. S. Curmudgeon , is repaired, and they set sail. THEIR FINEST HOUR: After being bombed by the Japanese, they pick up some shipwrecked Filipinos, but through a mishap all but Finchhaven, Jennifer, and Krim drift away from the ship. All the while, Finchhaven remains on deck sipping whiskey. THE HINGE OF FATE: Finchhaven confesses that he is a ghost, restored to the ship to redeem the family honor that he lost in 1914, when he disgraced his family by getting drunk before his first battle. TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY: Finchhaven plans to ram an approaching Japanese cruiser, which turns out to be the ship on which the peace treaty is being signed. For this new blunder, Finchhaven is condemned to wait out the new peace, piloting a fake gunboat at an amusement park until a new war provides another chance to restore his family honor. +

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

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