By Love Possessed (1961)

115 mins | Romance | 14 June 1961

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HISTORY

Screen rights to James Gould Cozzens’s novel, By Love Possessed, were purchased by Associated Artists Productions several months prior to the book’s scheduled Aug 1957 release by Harcourt, Brace & Co., Inc., as noted in the 10 May 1957 issues of DV and NYT. Associated Artists paid $100,000 for the option, and Cozzens was set to receive ten percent of the film’s net profits. Ray Stark, vice president of Associated Artists, submitted advance copies of the book to directors William Wyler, Billy Wilder, and John Huston. Director John Sturges’s involvement was announced in the 16 Aug 1960 DV, which stated that the film would be made for $2.5 million.
       An item in the 14 Feb 1958 NYT reported that Ketti Frings had been hired to write a stage adaptation as well as a screen treatment of the novel. Shortly after, the 9 Apr 1958 Var announced that United Artists (UA), which had acquired Associated Artists, would finance and release the film. Seven Arts Productions, recently formed by Ray Stark and Eliot Hyman, was slated to produce. The following year, a 3 Apr 1959 DV article noted that Stark and Hyman were ending their partnership, and Mirisch Pictures had joined Seven Arts to co-produce By Love Possessed.
       Due to contractual disagreements with Hyman and Stark, Ketti Frings abandoned several months’ work on the stage version, according to the 7 May 1958 NYT. Frings had previously requested that the film be withheld from release beyond 1 Jan 1960, to allow more time for the play to have an exclusive run. Stark argued that ... More Less

Screen rights to James Gould Cozzens’s novel, By Love Possessed, were purchased by Associated Artists Productions several months prior to the book’s scheduled Aug 1957 release by Harcourt, Brace & Co., Inc., as noted in the 10 May 1957 issues of DV and NYT. Associated Artists paid $100,000 for the option, and Cozzens was set to receive ten percent of the film’s net profits. Ray Stark, vice president of Associated Artists, submitted advance copies of the book to directors William Wyler, Billy Wilder, and John Huston. Director John Sturges’s involvement was announced in the 16 Aug 1960 DV, which stated that the film would be made for $2.5 million.
       An item in the 14 Feb 1958 NYT reported that Ketti Frings had been hired to write a stage adaptation as well as a screen treatment of the novel. Shortly after, the 9 Apr 1958 Var announced that United Artists (UA), which had acquired Associated Artists, would finance and release the film. Seven Arts Productions, recently formed by Ray Stark and Eliot Hyman, was slated to produce. The following year, a 3 Apr 1959 DV article noted that Stark and Hyman were ending their partnership, and Mirisch Pictures had joined Seven Arts to co-produce By Love Possessed.
       Due to contractual disagreements with Hyman and Stark, Ketti Frings abandoned several months’ work on the stage version, according to the 7 May 1958 NYT. Frings had previously requested that the film be withheld from release beyond 1 Jan 1960, to allow more time for the play to have an exclusive run. Stark argued that “the contemplated stage production would have delayed the distribution of the picture until 1962” and refused to wait that long. Meanwhile, Frings continued to work on the screenplay, finishing a first draft by spring 1959, as stated in the 3 Apr 1959 LAT. Frings was reportedly paid “$100,000 plus 2½% of the gross over $5,000,000,” as cited in the 4 Sep 1959 DV. Charles Schnee was later brought on to write script revisions, the 2 Mar 1960 DV reported, and his draft was delivered by 5 May 1960, as noted in that day’s DV. Additional revisions followed with which Schnee was unhappy, prompting him to request that his name be removed from screen credits. Thus, Schnee is credited under the pseudonym “John Dennis.”
       The 11 Aug 1960 DV stated that Lana Turner and Robert Mitchum were initially sought for the roles of “Marjorie Penrose” and “Arthur Winner.” Turner’s casting was confirmed in the 15 Aug 1960 DV, and the following month, a 14 Sep 1960 DV column noted that Mirisch Pictures was negotiating with Warner Bros. Pictures to loan out the services of actor Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., with whom Turner had long wanted to co-star. Turner received a salary of $300,000, according to the 16 Dec 1960 DV, while an 11 Jan 1961 Var item indicated that Zimbalist, Jr., was paid $200,000. On 16 Aug 1960, a DV brief indicated that Carolyn Jones and John Saxon were considering playing a mother and son duo, despite their proximity in age. Other actors considered for roles included Laurence Harvey, Fredric March, Dolores Hart, Hope Lange, and Warren Beatty, as stated in the 19 Aug 1960 and 30 Sep 1960 issues of DV . A 5 Nov 1960 LAT brief claimed that Beatty had rejected the role of “Warren Winner” because he had felt Zimbalist, Jr., who was eighteen years his senior, did not look old enough to play his father.
       Prior to principal photography, exteriors were shot in the towns of Fitchburg and Groton, MA, in early Nov 1960, as stated in the 9 Nov 1960 Var and 15 Jan 1961 NYT. Sturges kept location shooting to a minimum and was quoted in NYT as saying, “We can show our New England scenes while the credits are on. Once we get going I don’t want the characters getting in and out of automobiles all through the picture as a lame excuse to work in New England scenery.” Sturges also indicated the film would only deal with the “‘now’ story” of Cozzens’s novel, which he described as “eighty percent” flashbacks and introspection.
       Principal photography began on 28 Nov 1960, as indicated in a 6 Jan 1961 DV production chart. Filming took place at the Columbia Pictures studio lot in Hollywood, CA, and was scheduled to be completed by mid-Feb 1961, according to the 3 Feb 1961 DV.
       By Love Possessed was set to premiere in Los Angeles, CA, at a 13 Jun 1961 preview screening benefitting the Vista del Mar Home for Children, as stated in the 12 Jun 1961 LAT. The following night, UA promised the first 500 women to attend the opening night screening at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre sample vials of a “new perfume” named after the picture. The scent was described as “a heavy, dark fragrance suggesting smoldering passion.” In the courtyard outside the theater, a short film highlighting Lana Turner’s costumes was set to play through the picture’s run, according to a 13 Jun 1961 DV brief. The short film was also used in television advertisements.
       Art Sarno served as unit publicist, the 8 Nov 1960 DV noted, and Broadway actress Mari Lynn was slated to make her feature film debut in the picture, according to the 3 Jan 1961 DV. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
10 May 1957
p. 3.
Daily Variety
24 Dec 1957
p. 10.
Daily Variety
3 Apr 1959
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
4 Sep 1959
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
2 Mar 1960
p. 1.
Daily Variety
5 May 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Aug 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Aug 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
16 Aug 1960
p. 1, 6.
Daily Variety
16 Aug 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
19 Aug 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Sep 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
30 Sep 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
12 Oct 1960
p. 9.
Daily Variety
8 Nov 1960
p. 4.
Daily Variety
9 Dec 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Dec 1960
p. 4.
Daily Variety
16 Dec 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
3 Jan 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
6 Jan 1961
p. 7.
Daily Variety
3 Feb 1961
p. 24.
Daily Variety
6 Feb 1961
p. 6.
Daily Variety
17 May 1961
p. 6.
Daily Variety
8 Jun 1961
p. 3, 6.
Daily Variety
13 Jun 1961
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
3 Apr 1959
Section A, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
5 Nov 1960
Section B, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
12 Jun 1961
Section A, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
14 Jun 1961
Section B, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
15 Jun 1961
Section B, p. 11.
New York Times
10 May 1957
p. 23.
New York Times
14 Feb 1958
p. 18.
New York Times
7 May 1958
p. 43.
New York Times
15 Jan 1961.
---
New York Times
20 Jul 1961
p. 32.
Variety
12 Feb 1958
p. 13, 22.
Variety
9 Apr 1958
p. 14.
Variety
9 Nov 1960
p. 15.
Variety
11 Jan 1961
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Scr revision
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward des
MUSIC
Mus score comp & cond
SOUND
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel By Love Possessed by James Gould Cozzens (New York, 1957).
SONGS
"By Love Possessed," words and music by Elmer Bernstein and Sammy Cahn.
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 June 1961
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 13 June 1961
Los Angeles opening: 14 June 1961
New York opening: 19 July 1961
Production Date:
28 November 1960--mid February 1961
Copyright Claimant:
Mirisch Pictures
Copyright Date:
14 June 1961
Copyright Number:
LP20328
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
De Luxe
Duration(in mins):
115
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Arthur Winner, Julius Penrose, and Noah Tuttle are partners in the leading law firm in a small Massachusetts town. For some time, the marriages of both Arthur and Julius have been on shaky ground--Arthur's because his wife, Clarissa, feels their union is merely a business merger, and Julius's because of an automobile accident that has left him impotent. After several chance meetings, Arthur enters into an adulterous affair with Julius's frustrated, alcoholic wife, Marjorie. Simultaneously, Arthur begins having trouble with his rebellious young son, Warren, who has no intention of either practicing law with his father or of marrying Helen Detweiler, Noah's wealthy ward. Instead, the young man takes up with Veronica Kovacs, the local prostitute. When he tires of her, she falsely accuses him of rape, and he flees town. Suddenly aware of his failure as both husband and father, Arthur resolves to start a new life with Clarissa; and he begins by breaking off his relationship with Marjorie. That night, the heartbroken Helen commits suicide by drinking cleaning fluid. As the stunned Arthur goes through the papers of her estate, he discovers that Noah has embezzled over $60,000 from her account. Since the old man used the money to repay investors in his bankrupt trolley line and is slowly repaying it, Arthur and Julius decide to remain silent about the discovery. Young Warren learns of Helen's suicide when he returns to town to borrow money from Marjorie. Though she is willing to let him have it, she tells him that running away from a problem is only a temporary solution. Sobered by the advice, Warren decides to remain and face Veronica's charges. After he has left, Marjorie ... +


Arthur Winner, Julius Penrose, and Noah Tuttle are partners in the leading law firm in a small Massachusetts town. For some time, the marriages of both Arthur and Julius have been on shaky ground--Arthur's because his wife, Clarissa, feels their union is merely a business merger, and Julius's because of an automobile accident that has left him impotent. After several chance meetings, Arthur enters into an adulterous affair with Julius's frustrated, alcoholic wife, Marjorie. Simultaneously, Arthur begins having trouble with his rebellious young son, Warren, who has no intention of either practicing law with his father or of marrying Helen Detweiler, Noah's wealthy ward. Instead, the young man takes up with Veronica Kovacs, the local prostitute. When he tires of her, she falsely accuses him of rape, and he flees town. Suddenly aware of his failure as both husband and father, Arthur resolves to start a new life with Clarissa; and he begins by breaking off his relationship with Marjorie. That night, the heartbroken Helen commits suicide by drinking cleaning fluid. As the stunned Arthur goes through the papers of her estate, he discovers that Noah has embezzled over $60,000 from her account. Since the old man used the money to repay investors in his bankrupt trolley line and is slowly repaying it, Arthur and Julius decide to remain silent about the discovery. Young Warren learns of Helen's suicide when he returns to town to borrow money from Marjorie. Though she is willing to let him have it, she tells him that running away from a problem is only a temporary solution. Sobered by the advice, Warren decides to remain and face Veronica's charges. After he has left, Marjorie realizes that her advice to Warren also applies to herself, and she returns to Julius. +

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

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