The Rat Race (1960)

105 mins | Drama | July 1960

Director:

Robert Mulligan

Writer:

Garson Kanin

Cinematographer:

Robert Burks

Editor:

Alma Macrorie

Production Designers:

Hal Pereira, Tambi Larsen

Production Company:

Perlsea Co.
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HISTORY

The title card reads "Garson Kanin's The Rat Race ." On 14 Aug 1957, HR reported that Perlberg-Seaton, the production company owned by William Perlberg and George Seaton, had purchased the rights to Kanin’s play of the same name, with Kanin attached as the screenwriter. Sep 1959 HR news items note that the production began on location in Milwaukee, Chicago and various spots in New York City, including the Greyhound bus terminal, Dempsey’s Restaurant and the Dixie Hotel. Filming then moved to the Paramount lot in Hollywood.
       Joe Bushkin, who appeared in the original Broadway show, reprised the role of "Frankie" for the film. According to a 17 Sep 1959 HR news item, twenty-two members of the Chicago press were cast as extras. As noted in HR on 30 Oct 1959, unit production manager Robert Snody was replaced by Harry Caplan due to scheduling issues. HR news items add Paul Horn, Theona Bryant and Tim Sullivan to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       Reviews noted that The Rat Race marked the first purely dramatic performance for Debbie Reynolds, known for her musical and comedic roles. Var stated that she showed “a keen sense of restraint and thespic maturity,” while LAMirrror-News asserted that Reynolds made “the subtle but still clearly defined transition from girl to ... More Less

The title card reads "Garson Kanin's The Rat Race ." On 14 Aug 1957, HR reported that Perlberg-Seaton, the production company owned by William Perlberg and George Seaton, had purchased the rights to Kanin’s play of the same name, with Kanin attached as the screenwriter. Sep 1959 HR news items note that the production began on location in Milwaukee, Chicago and various spots in New York City, including the Greyhound bus terminal, Dempsey’s Restaurant and the Dixie Hotel. Filming then moved to the Paramount lot in Hollywood.
       Joe Bushkin, who appeared in the original Broadway show, reprised the role of "Frankie" for the film. According to a 17 Sep 1959 HR news item, twenty-two members of the Chicago press were cast as extras. As noted in HR on 30 Oct 1959, unit production manager Robert Snody was replaced by Harry Caplan due to scheduling issues. HR news items add Paul Horn, Theona Bryant and Tim Sullivan to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       Reviews noted that The Rat Race marked the first purely dramatic performance for Debbie Reynolds, known for her musical and comedic roles. Var stated that she showed “a keen sense of restraint and thespic maturity,” while LAMirrror-News asserted that Reynolds made “the subtle but still clearly defined transition from girl to woman.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
9 May 1960.
---
Daily Variety
4 May 60
p. 3.
Film Daily
4 May 60
p. 6.
Filmfacts
24 Jun 1960
pp. 121-23.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 1957.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 1958
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Sep 1959
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Sep 1959
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Oct 1959
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 1959
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 1959
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Nov 1959
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Nov 1959
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Dec 1959
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
4 May 60
p. 3.
LAMirror-News
26 May 1960.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
7 May 60
p. 684.
New York Times
27 Sep 1959.
---
New York Times
26 May 60
p. 37.
Time
30 May 1960.
---
Variety
4 May 60
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Perlberg-Seaton Production
The Perlberg-Seaton Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Grip
Best boy
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Set dec
Props
Props
Prop shop
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus score
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hair style supv
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prods
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Asst prod mgr
Scr supv
Unit pub
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Rat Race by Garson Kanin (New York, 22 Dec 1949).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Garson Kanin's The Rat Race
Release Date:
July 1960
Premiere Information:
New York and Los Angeles openings: 25 May 1960
Production Date:
23 September--early December 1959
Copyright Claimant:
Perlsea Co. & Paramount Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
25 May 1960
Copyright Number:
LP16588
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
105
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19490
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

One summer, saxophonist Pete Hammond, Jr. leaves his hometown of Milwaukee to find his fortune in New York City. Although Pete can speak the language of urban hipsters, he remains a naïve, optimistic young man, sure he can easily conquer the big city. Upon arriving, he is directed to the seedy West Side, populated by other penniless creative types. After some street youths amuse themselves by dousing him with water, Pete escapes into Mac Macreavy’s bar, where the kindly owner recommends that he seek a room with the brassy landlady sitting at the end of the bar, Soda. Meanwhile, Soda’s tenant, Peggy Brown, attempts to cool off in her apartment across the street. A talented dancer, Peggy is forced to earn her rent as a taxi dancer at a dive run by unscrupulous Nelson Miller, known as Nelly. When a telephone company employee comes to repossess her phone, Peggy wheedles a few more weeks of service in return for a future “date,” which she secretly plans to avoid assiduously. She then goes to Mac’s, where he counsels her to return home, but even though Nelly is pushing her to become a prostitute in order to repay the money she owes him, she refuses to go back to her abusive parents. While she is at the bar, Soda rents her room, for which she owes several months’ rent, to Pete, and when Peggy returns to find him there, he notes her desperation and feels guilty. When Pete then realizes that Peggy has nowhere to go, he offers to let her stay with him until she can find another room. Although she mistrusts his intentions, Peggy has no other choice, and ... +


One summer, saxophonist Pete Hammond, Jr. leaves his hometown of Milwaukee to find his fortune in New York City. Although Pete can speak the language of urban hipsters, he remains a naïve, optimistic young man, sure he can easily conquer the big city. Upon arriving, he is directed to the seedy West Side, populated by other penniless creative types. After some street youths amuse themselves by dousing him with water, Pete escapes into Mac Macreavy’s bar, where the kindly owner recommends that he seek a room with the brassy landlady sitting at the end of the bar, Soda. Meanwhile, Soda’s tenant, Peggy Brown, attempts to cool off in her apartment across the street. A talented dancer, Peggy is forced to earn her rent as a taxi dancer at a dive run by unscrupulous Nelson Miller, known as Nelly. When a telephone company employee comes to repossess her phone, Peggy wheedles a few more weeks of service in return for a future “date,” which she secretly plans to avoid assiduously. She then goes to Mac’s, where he counsels her to return home, but even though Nelly is pushing her to become a prostitute in order to repay the money she owes him, she refuses to go back to her abusive parents. While she is at the bar, Soda rents her room, for which she owes several months’ rent, to Pete, and when Peggy returns to find him there, he notes her desperation and feels guilty. When Pete then realizes that Peggy has nowhere to go, he offers to let her stay with him until she can find another room. Although she mistrusts his intentions, Peggy has no other choice, and soon comes to understand that Pete is as kind and unassuming as he appears. That night, the telephone man appears, drunk and hoping for his “date.” Pete throws him out, but when the man recites Peggy’s phone number, Pete realizes that Peggy has indeed promised something to the stranger, and assumes she has duped him into thinking she was respectable. As they argue, Peggy vows that she has never sunk so low, and predicts that one day soon, even Pete will be beaten down by the city’s rat race. For weeks, Peggy works through the night at the dance hall, but all her profits go straight to Nelly. Meanwhile, Pete cannot find work, until one afternoon musician Frankie asks him to audition for a jazz combo. Thrilled and certain he will get the gig, Pete buys a mink cape for Peggy and takes her to dinner. Although Peggy remains cynical and points out that the “mink” is really cat fur, Pete’s enthusiasm affects everyone, until even the miserly Soda buys them a bottle of wine to celebrate. At the audition, Frankie and his band mates are tough on Pete, and soon ask him to buy them some beer. By the time Pete returns, Frankie, who is actually a hustler, has run off with all of Pete’s instruments. Despondent and disillusioned, Pete nonetheless refuses to give up, and despite the disdain of Peggy and Soda, insists on reporting the theft to the police. Soon after, Pete is offered a job playing on a thirty-day cruise, but must somehow buy new instruments in order to take the job. Secretly, Peggy, who is falling in love with Pete, procures a loan from Nelly by agreeing to become a call girl, but plans to elude him until Pete returns from the cruise with money to repay Nelly. In the apartment, Pete is touched to discover a new saxophone awaiting him, and although he suspects that Peggy may have had to debase herself to help him, she assures him that she does not care enough about him to bother. On the cruise, Pete spends his free time writing letters to Peggy intimating that he has feelings for her, and at home, she desperately clings to his letters while fending off Nelly. One night, however, Nelly pulls her into his office, strips her of her clothes and jewelry, then declares that she has nothing without him and orders her to meet her “date.” Peggy, planning to run away, goes home to pack, and just then, as Pete returns from the cruise, Nelly and his thug show up to punish Peggy by slashing her face with a knife. Pete gives them all his money, his watch and finally, his instruments as repayment, and after punching him, Nelly leaves without further violence. As Peggy thanks Pete, the police call to inform him they have recovered his instruments, but when he goes to retrieve them, he is presented with a bass fiddle and a violin. Planning to pawn them, he returns to the apartment, only to find Peggy packing to leave. Pete declares his love for her, and when she states that she is bad luck and will only take advantage of him, Pete tells her he believes in her. Her cynicism melting, Peggy falls into his arms, promising “if there’s anything left of me, it’s yours.” +

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

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