The Prize (1963)

135 mins | Comedy-drama | 25 December 1963

Director:

Mark Robson

Writer:

Ernest Lehman

Cinematographer:

William H. Daniels

Editor:

Adrienne Fazan

Production Designers:

George W. Davis, Urie McCleary

Production Company:

Roxbury Productions
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HISTORY

The 23 Jun 1961 NYT announced the purchase of Irving Wallace’s 1962 novel by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (MGM). Wallace, a former screenwriter, received an advance of $70,000 from publisher Simon & Schuster for the novel, and at least $250,000 from MGM for the motion picture rights. The book was due for publication in spring of 1962. A news item in the 24 Jun 1962 LAT revealed that Wallace interviewed twelve unmarried Swedish women, most of whom believed in premarital sex, to create “his outspoken Scandinavian heroine.” The character was a composite of the women’s most interesting personality traits. After the book was published, Wallace sent a copy to each of the women, with the inscription, “Thank you for our child—brainchild, that is! Gratefully, Irving Wallace.” It was also stated that Wallace received $350,000 in the MGM deal.
       The 17 Apr 1962 LAT reported that German actor Karl Boehm was cast as a nuclear physicist. One month later, the 19 May 1962 LAT announced Gregory Peck for the role of “Andrew Craig.” The 24 Aug 1962 LAT later stated that Burt Lancaster was under consideration. According to the 5 Jul 1962 LAT, Wallace recommended Yves Montand and Simone Signoret to play “Dr. Claude Marceau” and “Dr. Denise Marceau”; Glenn Ford for “Dr. John Garrett”; Oscar Homolka and Christine Kaufmann for “Dr. Max Stratman” and “Emily Stratman”; and Julie Harris for “an American newspaperwoman with a nose for the wrong kind of news.” None appeared in the completed film. Paul Newman was ultimately cast as “Andrew ... More Less

The 23 Jun 1961 NYT announced the purchase of Irving Wallace’s 1962 novel by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (MGM). Wallace, a former screenwriter, received an advance of $70,000 from publisher Simon & Schuster for the novel, and at least $250,000 from MGM for the motion picture rights. The book was due for publication in spring of 1962. A news item in the 24 Jun 1962 LAT revealed that Wallace interviewed twelve unmarried Swedish women, most of whom believed in premarital sex, to create “his outspoken Scandinavian heroine.” The character was a composite of the women’s most interesting personality traits. After the book was published, Wallace sent a copy to each of the women, with the inscription, “Thank you for our child—brainchild, that is! Gratefully, Irving Wallace.” It was also stated that Wallace received $350,000 in the MGM deal.
       The 17 Apr 1962 LAT reported that German actor Karl Boehm was cast as a nuclear physicist. One month later, the 19 May 1962 LAT announced Gregory Peck for the role of “Andrew Craig.” The 24 Aug 1962 LAT later stated that Burt Lancaster was under consideration. According to the 5 Jul 1962 LAT, Wallace recommended Yves Montand and Simone Signoret to play “Dr. Claude Marceau” and “Dr. Denise Marceau”; Glenn Ford for “Dr. John Garrett”; Oscar Homolka and Christine Kaufmann for “Dr. Max Stratman” and “Emily Stratman”; and Julie Harris for “an American newspaperwoman with a nose for the wrong kind of news.” None appeared in the completed film. Paul Newman was ultimately cast as “Andrew Craig.” The 26 Jul 1962 LAT noted that MGM was testing young actresses from Sweden’s Dramtiska Teatern for the role of “Inger Lisa Anderson.” However, the part went to German actress Elke Sommer.
       The 3 May 1963 LAT reported that director Mark Robson was conducting rehearsals on Stage 30 at MGM Studios in Culver City, CA, most recently used for Mutiny on the Bounty (1962, see entry). Meanwhile, a second unit was filming exteriors in Stockholm, Sweden, where Wallace’s novel was banned for its purported derision of the Nobel Prize. Robson explained that the screenplay focused instead on “the kidnaping of a German scientist,” with comedy interspersed among the dramatic aspects. He also promised that “Wallace’s preoccupation with sex” would not dominate the story. Although the screenplay included scenes of a nudist colony, Robson assured the 15 Nov 1963 DV that they were not offensive.
       Principal photography began 14 May 1963, according to 17 May 1963 DV production charts. The 6 May 1963 DV anticipated a seventy-two-day production schedule. While the 11 Jan 1963 LAT estimated the budget at $5 million, the 22 May 1963 DV reported that it was $3.5 million. Of this amount, $500,000 was allocated for the twelve-day shoot in Stockholm, which was supervised by director of photography William H. Daniels. The article also stated that the company’s technical advisor, Swedish filmmaker Peter Bourne, would appear on screen. On 14 Jun 1963, DV reported that Daniels, Robson, and assistant director Hank Moonjean were scouting locations in Sacramento, CA. The company also filmed on the waterfront in San Pedro, CA, as noted in the 12 Jul 1963 DV. Ten days later, the 22 Jul 1963 DV reported that Robson and Daniels were travelling to Sacramento, accompanied by cast members Paul Newman, Sacha Pitoeff, and Don Dubbins.
       According to the 21 Jun 1963 DV, 535 “dress extras” were needed for the Nobel Prize ceremony sequence. Costumes and accessories included furs for the women, top hats and tailcoats for the men, rented jewelry and tiaras, and approximately 1,000 “simulated” military decorations and medals from various European countries. The set was a replica of Stockholm City Hall, built on the MGM lot. Because of the controversy over the novel, Swedish authorities barred interior shots of Stockholm public buildings, including the Concert Hall, as noted in the 6 May 1963 NYT. Producer Pandro S. Berman told the 4 Aug 1963 NYT that he discussed the project with “various Swedish groups,” as well as the government, and received their approval. He blamed the controversy on Swedish journalists, who assumed the film and the novel were identical in theme and plot. Berman cancelled plans to send the entire company to Stockholm and dispatched a unit to photograph exteriors of landmark buildings and establishing shots of the city. Embarrassed by the media’s hostility, the Swedish Society of Cameraman held a dinner event, with William H. Daniels as guest of honor.
       Although photography was still underway, the 31 Jul 1963 DV stated that the picture was already scheduled to open during the 1963 Christmas season at the Beverly Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. Filming concluded on 7 Aug 1963, as noted in the 8 Aug 1963 DV. The 23 Oct 1963 DV announced that MGM planned to circulate “more than 700 prints” of the film. The 4 Nov 1963 DV reported on MGM’s private screening at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, CA. Among the attendees was Irving Wallace, who approved the reinterpretation of his novel.
       The Prize opened 25 Dec 1963 in Los Angeles, and in late Jan 1964 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Reviews were mixed: While the 8 Dec 1963 LAT gave the picture a rave review, the 24 Jan 1964 NYT described it as “too garbled, illogical and wild.” An item in the 24 Jun 1964 NYT stated that Swedish critics were pleased with the picture, but maintained their resentment toward Wallace. Elke Sommers won a Golden Globe award for “Most Promising Newcomer—Female.” Box office reports in the 25 Mar 1964 Var indicated that the picture was in its final week in Los Angeles, but continued to run in New York City.
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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
8 Apr 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
6 May 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
17 May 1963
p. 10.
Daily Variety
22 May 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Jun 1963
p. 10.
Daily Variety
21 Jun 1963.
---
Daily Variety
12 Jul 1963
p. 7.
Daily Variety
22 Jul 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
31 Jul 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
8 Aug 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
23 Oct 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
4 Nov 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Nov 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
4 Dec 1963
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
8 Apr 1963
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
24 Jun 1962
Section A, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
17 Apr 1962
Section C, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
19 May 1962
Section B, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
5 Jul 1962
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jul 1962
Section C, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
24 Aug 1962
Section D, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
11 Jan 1963
Section C, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
3 May 1963
Section C, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
26 Nov 1963
Section F, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
8 Dec 1963
Section B, p. 3.
New York Times
23 Jun 1961
p. 19.
New York Times
6 May 1963
p. 35.
New York Times
4 Aug 1963
p. 89.
New York Times
6 Nov 1963
p. 32.
New York Times
24 Jan 1964
p. 21.
New York Times
24 Jun 1964
p. 30.
Variety
25 Mar 1964
p. 9.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Pandro S. Berman Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec visual eff
Spec visual eff
Spec visual eff
MAKEUP
Makeup creation
Hairstyles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Prize by Irving Wallace (New York, 1962).
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 December 1963
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 25 December 1963
New York opening:
Production Date:
14 May--7 August 1963
Copyright Claimant:
Roxbury Productions
Copyright Date:
24 October 1963
Copyright Number:
LP26499
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Color
Metrocolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
135
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Newly arrived in Stockholm to receive their Nobel prizes are American novelist Andrew Craig (literature), refugee Max Stratman (physics), John Garrett and Carlo Farelli (medicine), and a French couple, Claude and Denise Marceau (chemistry). Communist agents kidnap Stratman, enlisting the aid of his niece, Emily, on the pretense that the man whom they will put in Stratman's place is her father, the scientist's identical twin, whom she believed dead. The Communists plan to take the real Stratman behind the Iron Curtain, leaving the impostor behind to denounce the United States in his acceptance speech. The frustrated, alcoholic Craig, whose professed interest in the prize is purely financial, proclaims at a press conference that he no longer writes serious literature but produces only detective stories; and he promptly improvises a story about the kidnaping of a Nobel Prize winner. Having known Stratman, Craig soon becomes suspicious of the impostor; starts his own investigation; and finds himself at the center of an intrigue. Though several attempts are made upon Craig's life, the police and Inger Lisa Andersen, a pretty Swedish official assigned to keep him out of trouble, refuse to believe his story; but eventually he convinces Inger that Stratman is being smuggled out of the country. Almost singlehanded he rescues Stratman from a freighter and brings him back to his hotel. Exhausted by his experience, the old man suffers a heart attack but is revived by Garrett and Farelli, who had previously been enemies. When Stratman makes his appearance at the Nobel ceremonies, his brother flees from the scene and is mistakenly killed by a Communist. It is then revealed that the impersonator was a professional actor, the twin having ... +


Newly arrived in Stockholm to receive their Nobel prizes are American novelist Andrew Craig (literature), refugee Max Stratman (physics), John Garrett and Carlo Farelli (medicine), and a French couple, Claude and Denise Marceau (chemistry). Communist agents kidnap Stratman, enlisting the aid of his niece, Emily, on the pretense that the man whom they will put in Stratman's place is her father, the scientist's identical twin, whom she believed dead. The Communists plan to take the real Stratman behind the Iron Curtain, leaving the impostor behind to denounce the United States in his acceptance speech. The frustrated, alcoholic Craig, whose professed interest in the prize is purely financial, proclaims at a press conference that he no longer writes serious literature but produces only detective stories; and he promptly improvises a story about the kidnaping of a Nobel Prize winner. Having known Stratman, Craig soon becomes suspicious of the impostor; starts his own investigation; and finds himself at the center of an intrigue. Though several attempts are made upon Craig's life, the police and Inger Lisa Andersen, a pretty Swedish official assigned to keep him out of trouble, refuse to believe his story; but eventually he convinces Inger that Stratman is being smuggled out of the country. Almost singlehanded he rescues Stratman from a freighter and brings him back to his hotel. Exhausted by his experience, the old man suffers a heart attack but is revived by Garrett and Farelli, who had previously been enemies. When Stratman makes his appearance at the Nobel ceremonies, his brother flees from the scene and is mistakenly killed by a Communist. It is then revealed that the impersonator was a professional actor, the twin having died years before in Russia. With a changed attitude, Craig then accepts the award and begins a romance with Inger. +

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

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