Wild in the Country (1961)

114 mins | Melodrama | 9 June 1961

Director:

Philip Dunne

Writer:

Clifford Odets

Producer:

Jerry Wald

Cinematographer:

William C. Mellor

Editor:

Dorothy Spencer

Production Designers:

Jack Martin Smith, Preston Ames

Production Company:

Company of Artists, Inc.
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HISTORY

Wild in the Country, based on J. R. Salamanca’s 1958 novel, The Lost Country, was announced as an upcoming Jerry Wald production in a 5 Aug 1959 DV item. The following year, Philip Dunne was named as director in the 12 Aug 1960 DV, which noted that Elvis Presley would likely star. Around the same time, Clifford Odets was hired to adapt the screenplay. The project marked Odets’s first script based on another author’s material, the 16 Aug 1960 DV reported.
       Carol Lynley was cast in a leading role, as noted in the 14 Jan 1960 DV, but she did not remain with the project. Wald sought Simone Signoret to co-star with Elvis Presley, according to items in the 15 Jan 1960 and 16 Aug 1960 DV, and Barbara Bel Geddes was considered for the role of “Irene Sperry,” which ultimately went to Hope Lange, as stated in the 29 Oct 1960 LAT.
       A production chart in the 18 Nov 1960 DV announced the beginning of principal photography on 9 Nov 1960. Although the bulk of filming took place on the Twentieth Century—Fox Film Corp. studio lot in the Century City, CA, some location filming took place in Napa, CA, and at College of the Pacific in Stockton, CA, according to items in the 21 Oct 1960 DV. As noted in a 25 Nov 1960 DV brief, Twentieth Century—Fox’s “Old Park Row” was converted into a motel set for the picture.
       Presley received a salary of $300,000 plus fifty percent of net profits, according to a 9 ... More Less

Wild in the Country, based on J. R. Salamanca’s 1958 novel, The Lost Country, was announced as an upcoming Jerry Wald production in a 5 Aug 1959 DV item. The following year, Philip Dunne was named as director in the 12 Aug 1960 DV, which noted that Elvis Presley would likely star. Around the same time, Clifford Odets was hired to adapt the screenplay. The project marked Odets’s first script based on another author’s material, the 16 Aug 1960 DV reported.
       Carol Lynley was cast in a leading role, as noted in the 14 Jan 1960 DV, but she did not remain with the project. Wald sought Simone Signoret to co-star with Elvis Presley, according to items in the 15 Jan 1960 and 16 Aug 1960 DV, and Barbara Bel Geddes was considered for the role of “Irene Sperry,” which ultimately went to Hope Lange, as stated in the 29 Oct 1960 LAT.
       A production chart in the 18 Nov 1960 DV announced the beginning of principal photography on 9 Nov 1960. Although the bulk of filming took place on the Twentieth Century—Fox Film Corp. studio lot in the Century City, CA, some location filming took place in Napa, CA, and at College of the Pacific in Stockton, CA, according to items in the 21 Oct 1960 DV. As noted in a 25 Nov 1960 DV brief, Twentieth Century—Fox’s “Old Park Row” was converted into a motel set for the picture.
       Presley received a salary of $300,000 plus fifty percent of net profits, according to a 9 Jan 1961 DV brief. Per his contract, filming had to be completed by 21 Jan 1961 or his rate would increase to nearly $3,500 per day. The 9 Feb 1961 DV confirmed that Presley would be paid $10,000 for one day of additional shooting with Hope Lange, whose character was initially supposed to die from a suicide attempt before rewrites called for her to be revived. Clifford Odets was reportedly in favor of the character, Irene Sperry, dying, while Philip Dunne preferred that she live and Jerry Wald wanted to defer to the opinions of test audiences.
       A premiere was scheduled to take place on 8 Jun 1961 in Presley’s hometown of Memphis, TN. However, Presley did not plan to attend, according to a 1 Jun 1961 DV article, as it was his policy not to attend film premieres. Presley’s manager, Tom Parker, explained that one of the singer-turned-actor’s reasons for not going was the expectation for him to perform. Parker stated, “Nobody performs at a premiere,” and if that were the case, Presley would have to be paid $25,000, his standard fee for small-town shows.
       Critical reception was mixed. After nearly two months of theatrical release, the 7 Aug 1961 DV stated that Dunne was disappointed by the film’s box-office returns. The director was quoted as saying, “I guess audiences just won’t buy Elvis Presley as a straight actor…It looks like Hal Wallis has the only right formula for Elvis Presley pictures!”
       Nancy Sharp, Presley’s girl friend at the time of filming, served as wardrobe mistress, as indicated in the 17 Nov 1960 LAT.
       Wild in the Country marked the last feature film appearance of character actor Jason Robards (1892--1963), father of Academy Award-winning actor Jason Robards, Jr. (1922--2000). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
5 Aug 1959
p. 5.
Daily Variety
14 Jan 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Jan 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
12 Aug 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
16 Aug 1960
p. 4.
Daily Variety
14 Oct 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Oct 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
18 Nov 1960
p. 6.
Daily Variety
25 Nov 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Jan 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Feb 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Jun 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
9 Jun 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
7 Aug 1961
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
29 Oct 1960
Section B, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
17 Nov 1960
Section B, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
3 Feb 1961
Section A, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
21 Jun 1961
Section B, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
23 Jun 1961
Section B, p. 10.
New York Times
18 Aug 1960
p. 18.
New York Times
4 Jun 1961
p. 7.
New York Times
10 Jun 1961
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Jerry Wald Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Lost Country by J. R. Salamanca (New York, 1958).
SONGS
"Wild in the Country," words and music by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George David Weiss
"I Slipped I Stumbled I Fell" and "In My Way," words and music by Fred Weiss and Ben Weidman
"Lonely Man," words and music by Bennie Benjamin and Sol Marcus
+
SONGS
"Wild in the Country," words and music by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George David Weiss
"I Slipped I Stumbled I Fell" and "In My Way," words and music by Fred Weiss and Ben Weidman
"Lonely Man," words and music by Bennie Benjamin and Sol Marcus
sung by Elvis Presley.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
9 June 1961
Premiere Information:
Memphis premiere: 8 June 1961
New York opening: 9 June 1961
Los Angeles opening: week of 23 June 1961
Production Date:
began 9 November 1960
Copyright Claimant:
Company of Artists
Copyright Date:
8 June 1961
Copyright Number:
LP19481
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
114
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Following a violent fight with his brother, Glenn Tyler, a moody, rebellious Shenandoah Valley farm boy, is paroled into the custody of his Uncle Rolfe, a conniving tonic manufacturer who hopes to find a husband for his daughter Noreen, the mother of an illegitimate child. Glenn is instructed by the court to pay weekly visits to psychiatric consultant Irene Sperry, a widow and the former fiancée of the town's wealthiest citizen, Phil Macy. Irene eventually succeeds in winning his trust and confidence by encouraging his efforts to become a writer and sends one of his stories to a college professor, hoping that Glenn will win a scholarship. Meanwhile, Glenn has rejected his former girl friend, Betty Lee, and entered into an affair with the wanton Noreen. Following a dispute with his uncle, Glenn leaves home and stops visiting Irene. She seeks him out, however, and takes him to the nearby university. Returning home, they are caught in a sudden storm and forced to spend the night at a motel. They take separate rooms, but Glenn's enemy, Cliff Macy, spreads vicious rumors among the townspeople. Furious, Glenn attacks him, unaware that Cliff has a weak heart. Cliff dies, and Glenn is arrested on a charge of manslaughter. Macy takes the stand and refutes Irene's testimony that young Cliff was chronically ill. Blaming herself for the tragic turn of events, Irene attempts suicide. Only then does Macy admit the truth about his son's poor health, thus clearing Glenn. When Irene recovers completely, Glenn says goodbye and leaves for ... +


Following a violent fight with his brother, Glenn Tyler, a moody, rebellious Shenandoah Valley farm boy, is paroled into the custody of his Uncle Rolfe, a conniving tonic manufacturer who hopes to find a husband for his daughter Noreen, the mother of an illegitimate child. Glenn is instructed by the court to pay weekly visits to psychiatric consultant Irene Sperry, a widow and the former fiancée of the town's wealthiest citizen, Phil Macy. Irene eventually succeeds in winning his trust and confidence by encouraging his efforts to become a writer and sends one of his stories to a college professor, hoping that Glenn will win a scholarship. Meanwhile, Glenn has rejected his former girl friend, Betty Lee, and entered into an affair with the wanton Noreen. Following a dispute with his uncle, Glenn leaves home and stops visiting Irene. She seeks him out, however, and takes him to the nearby university. Returning home, they are caught in a sudden storm and forced to spend the night at a motel. They take separate rooms, but Glenn's enemy, Cliff Macy, spreads vicious rumors among the townspeople. Furious, Glenn attacks him, unaware that Cliff has a weak heart. Cliff dies, and Glenn is arrested on a charge of manslaughter. Macy takes the stand and refutes Irene's testimony that young Cliff was chronically ill. Blaming herself for the tragic turn of events, Irene attempts suicide. Only then does Macy admit the truth about his son's poor health, thus clearing Glenn. When Irene recovers completely, Glenn says goodbye and leaves for college. +

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

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