Full page view
HISTORY

According to a 24 Oct 1967 LAT article, producer-director Peter Glenville read the galley proofs of Graham Greene’s novel, The Comedians, which was described as a “harsh indictment” of contemporary Haiti under dictator François “Papa Doc” Duvalier. Although the subject matter made it impossible to actually shoot in Haiti, Greene strongly urged Glenville to see the country under Duvalier’s rule before the book was published in late Jan 1966. Glenville and an art director toured the country under the pretense of conducting research for a picture about Haiti’s 19th century king, Henri Christophe—an idea that was enthusiastically embraced by government officials. The two reportedly left the country just one day before the book’s U.K. and U.S. release, and on 2 Feb 1966, Var officially announced Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s (MGM) plans to adapt a feature film. A 31 Aug 1966 DV news item indicated that the project was part of an existing four-picture deal with Glenville, who spent the summer of 1966 in the South of France to work with Greene as he developed the screenplay. A production office was set up in Paris, France, allowing Glenville to begin casting and scouting for potential locations.
       Richard Burton and Alec Guinness were the first to join the cast, and the news was followed by a 4 Oct 1966 DV item reporting that Burton’s wife, Elizabeth Taylor, had also accepted a role. Although her appearance is brief, Taylor told the 7 May 1967 LAT that the studio insisted she receive star billing.
       According to a 21 Apr 1967 DV production chart, principal photography began 11 Jan 1967, with ... More Less

According to a 24 Oct 1967 LAT article, producer-director Peter Glenville read the galley proofs of Graham Greene’s novel, The Comedians, which was described as a “harsh indictment” of contemporary Haiti under dictator François “Papa Doc” Duvalier. Although the subject matter made it impossible to actually shoot in Haiti, Greene strongly urged Glenville to see the country under Duvalier’s rule before the book was published in late Jan 1966. Glenville and an art director toured the country under the pretense of conducting research for a picture about Haiti’s 19th century king, Henri Christophe—an idea that was enthusiastically embraced by government officials. The two reportedly left the country just one day before the book’s U.K. and U.S. release, and on 2 Feb 1966, Var officially announced Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s (MGM) plans to adapt a feature film. A 31 Aug 1966 DV news item indicated that the project was part of an existing four-picture deal with Glenville, who spent the summer of 1966 in the South of France to work with Greene as he developed the screenplay. A production office was set up in Paris, France, allowing Glenville to begin casting and scouting for potential locations.
       Richard Burton and Alec Guinness were the first to join the cast, and the news was followed by a 4 Oct 1966 DV item reporting that Burton’s wife, Elizabeth Taylor, had also accepted a role. Although her appearance is brief, Taylor told the 7 May 1967 LAT that the studio insisted she receive star billing.
       According to a 21 Apr 1967 DV production chart, principal photography began 11 Jan 1967, with exteriors of “Port-au-Prince” filmed in Cotonou, the capital city of the Republic of Dahomey in West Africa. Articles in the 3 Feb 1967 LAT and 7 May 1967 NYT indicated that the production contributed roughly $300,000 to the local economy and employed several of the country’s poor for a rate of $4 each day. The 140-person crew rented out the entire Hotel de la Plage, while Glenville, Taylor and Burton, and co-star Alec Guinness paid $1,000 per month to stay in three “lavish” villas usually reserved for visiting heads of state. The 7 Mar 1967 LAT reported that the unit had since returned to a studio facility near Paris, with additional exteriors to be completed in Nice. A 5 Jun 1967 DV estimated that the production, which had recently finished shooting, came in $400,000 under budget.
       The 7 Sep 1967 NYT announced plans for a 31 Oct 1967 premiere at New York City’s Coronet Theatre. Regular screenings continued the following day at both the Coronet and DeMille theatres, while a theatrical run began simultaneously at the Beverly Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. According to the 3 Jan 1968 Var, MGM passed on its original plans to roadshow the film alongside its other scheduled “hardticket” engagements for Far From the Madding Crowd (1967, see entry) and a re-issue of Gone With the Wind (1940, see entry). However, the studio proceeded with its reserved-seat policy for the U.K. engagement at the Coliseum Cinerama in London, England, beginning 18 Jan 1968. The 24 Oct 1967 LAT revealed that the U.K. release contained an intermission.
       A full-page advertisement in the 13 Sep 1967 issue of Var declared that “special early engagements” were planned throughout November 1967 leading up to the national opening in time for Christmas holiday. Sources indicated that the film was cut heavily for second-run theaters. Many of Guinness’s scenes were excised, and the narrative ends earlier than in the original version. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
31 Aug 1966
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
4 Oct 1966
p. 1.
Daily Variety
21 Apr 1967
p. 12.
Daily Variety
5 Jun 1967
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
7 Mar 1967
Section D, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
3 Feb 1967
Section D, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
24 Oct 1967
Section C, p. 1, 13.
Los Angeles Times
24 Oct 1967
Section C, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
30 Oct 1967
Section C, p. 25.
Los Angeles Times
1 Nov 1967
Section D, p. 1, 11.
New York Times
7 May 1967
p. 274.
New York Times
7 Sep 1967
p. 48.
New York Times
1 Nov 1967
p. 37.
Variety
2 Feb 1966
p. 27.
Variety
13 Sep 1967
p. 8.
Variety
1 Nov 1967
p. 6.
Variety
3 Jan 1968
p. 5.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Peter Glenville Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Miss Taylor's gowns
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
MAKEUP
Miss Taylor's hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Asst to the prod
Unit mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Comedians by Graham Greene (New York, 1966).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Les Comédiens
Release Date:
1 November 1967
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 31 October 1967
Los Angeles and New York openings: 1 November 1967
Production Date:
began 11 January 1967
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Copyright Date:
2 November 1967
Copyright Number:
LP34814
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Metrocolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
160
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Under the dictatorship of "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his secret police (the Tontons Macoute), Haiti has become a land of violence and terror, with only a handful of rebels daring to oppose the reign of tyranny. Because of this situation, a ship arriving at Port-au-Prince brings with it only four passengers. One of them, Brown, is a politically uncommitted cynic who has returned to the island to reopen his deserted hotel and to resume his love affair with Martha Pineda, the bored wife of a Latin American ambassador. The other three new arrivals are Mr. and Mrs. Smith, an American couple who have made the trip in the hope of establishing a vegetarian center, and the somewhat mysterious Jones, a British "major" who delights in boasting of his military experiences in Burma. Upon stepping ashore, Jones is immediately arrested and thrown into jail; and, a short time later, Brown finds the murdered body of a former government minister lying at the bottom of his empty swimming pool. The Smiths attend the dead minister's funeral and witness the brutal abuse of his widow at the hands of the Tontons. Indignant, they persuade Brown to assist in arranging for Jones's release. Although their efforts are successful, they are unaware that Jones has made a bargain with the Tontons to provide them with arms and ammunition from Miami. After the Smiths have accepted the futility of their mission and returned to the United States, Jones discovers that he is unable to put through his armaments deal, and he seeks sanctuary at the Pinedas' embassy home. As a warm relationship develops between Martha and Jones, the jealous Brown tricks Jones into volunteering to ... +


Under the dictatorship of "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his secret police (the Tontons Macoute), Haiti has become a land of violence and terror, with only a handful of rebels daring to oppose the reign of tyranny. Because of this situation, a ship arriving at Port-au-Prince brings with it only four passengers. One of them, Brown, is a politically uncommitted cynic who has returned to the island to reopen his deserted hotel and to resume his love affair with Martha Pineda, the bored wife of a Latin American ambassador. The other three new arrivals are Mr. and Mrs. Smith, an American couple who have made the trip in the hope of establishing a vegetarian center, and the somewhat mysterious Jones, a British "major" who delights in boasting of his military experiences in Burma. Upon stepping ashore, Jones is immediately arrested and thrown into jail; and, a short time later, Brown finds the murdered body of a former government minister lying at the bottom of his empty swimming pool. The Smiths attend the dead minister's funeral and witness the brutal abuse of his widow at the hands of the Tontons. Indignant, they persuade Brown to assist in arranging for Jones's release. Although their efforts are successful, they are unaware that Jones has made a bargain with the Tontons to provide them with arms and ammunition from Miami. After the Smiths have accepted the futility of their mission and returned to the United States, Jones discovers that he is unable to put through his armaments deal, and he seeks sanctuary at the Pinedas' embassy home. As a warm relationship develops between Martha and Jones, the jealous Brown tricks Jones into volunteering to organize the rebels being banded together by Henri Philipot, the artist nephew of the murdered minister. At a meeting at the Pineda home, Dr. Magiot, a distinguished Haitian patriot, arranges for Jones to be smuggled into the hills and also makes an attempt to appeal to Brown for assistance. Although Dr. Magiot has his throat slashed by the Tontons, Jones, disguised as a native woman and accompanied by Brown, makes his way to the rebel rendezvous in a cemetery. During their all-night vigil, Jones confesses to Brown that his whole military background is a fraud but that he is resolved to go through with his mission in an attempt to do one worthwhile thing with his life. At dawn the two men are discovered by the Tontons, and Jones is shot and killed. But the rebels arrive in time to rescue Brown and gun down Jones's killers. Brown, no longer able to remain indifferent to the Haitian cause, allows Henri to persuade him to take Jones's place in the desperate chance it will bolster the rebels' morale in their almost hopeless fight for freedom. As the Pinedas also leave the island, Martha looks down from the plane that is taking her away from Haiti and speculates on the destiny of her lost lover fighting in the hills below. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

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.