The Flim-Flam Man (1967)

104 mins | Comedy | 22 August 1967

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HISTORY

On 3 May 1965, DV announced that Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. president Richard D. Zanuck had hired Lawrence Turman to produce a screen adaptation of Guy Owen’s 1965 novel, The Ballad of the Flim-Flam Man, for anticipated release in 1966. A few months later, the 5 Aug 1965 DV noted that the title had been shortened to The Flim-Flam Man prior to production, which was delayed until the following year.
       With the casting of George C. Scott and Sue Lyon in the leading roles, the 26 Aug 1966 LAT announced that principal photography was set to begin three days later in Lexington, KY. Various sources indicate that the shooting schedule was split between Lexington and the nearby town of Lawrenceburg. According to the 26 Sep 1966 DV, roughly 500 Lawrenceburg residents served as background actors along with city judge William Nichols, who appeared in an uncredited role. DV reported that due to a prolonged period of inclement weather, Turman rented Lexington’s G. T. Vaughn tobacco processing plant, which would provide 200,000 square feet of makeshift studio space for nine interior sets. The following week, the 13 Oct 1966 LAT stated that George C. Scott had suffered a knee injury, forcing the production to continue shooting only scenes in which he could remain seated. After two months in Kentucky, the 23 Nov 1966 Var announced that the unit had returned to the Twentieth Century-Fox lot in Los Angeles, CA, where the remainder of interior scenes would be completed over the next month.
       According to the 2 Oct 1966 LAT, director ... More Less

On 3 May 1965, DV announced that Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. president Richard D. Zanuck had hired Lawrence Turman to produce a screen adaptation of Guy Owen’s 1965 novel, The Ballad of the Flim-Flam Man, for anticipated release in 1966. A few months later, the 5 Aug 1965 DV noted that the title had been shortened to The Flim-Flam Man prior to production, which was delayed until the following year.
       With the casting of George C. Scott and Sue Lyon in the leading roles, the 26 Aug 1966 LAT announced that principal photography was set to begin three days later in Lexington, KY. Various sources indicate that the shooting schedule was split between Lexington and the nearby town of Lawrenceburg. According to the 26 Sep 1966 DV, roughly 500 Lawrenceburg residents served as background actors along with city judge William Nichols, who appeared in an uncredited role. DV reported that due to a prolonged period of inclement weather, Turman rented Lexington’s G. T. Vaughn tobacco processing plant, which would provide 200,000 square feet of makeshift studio space for nine interior sets. The following week, the 13 Oct 1966 LAT stated that George C. Scott had suffered a knee injury, forcing the production to continue shooting only scenes in which he could remain seated. After two months in Kentucky, the 23 Nov 1966 Var announced that the unit had returned to the Twentieth Century-Fox lot in Los Angeles, CA, where the remainder of interior scenes would be completed over the next month.
       According to the 2 Oct 1966 LAT, director Irvin Kershner gave the role of “2nd fertilizer salesman” to magician Jay Ose, who was present on the set to coach Scott for his role as a con artist. A 7 Dec 1966 Var brief also reported that stuntmen Dick Hudkins and Dale Van Sickel “doubled” as actors.
       A 2 Sep 1966 DV news item indicated that Turman approached Bob Dylan to write the film’s title song, to be sung by The Mamas and the Papas; however, neither Dylan nor the band were involved in the final film.
       Items in the 1 Mar 1967 Var and 13 Jun 1967 LAT reported that the world premiere was set to take place in Louisville, KY, on 5 May 1967, followed by a screening as the closing night engagement at the Berlin Film Festival on 4 Jul 1967. A 15 Aug 1967 DV brief listed the Los Angeles benefit premiere on 31 Aug 1967 at the Carthay Circle Theater. However, the 16 Aug 1967 DV suggested that the picture was already in release on the East Coast, having begun its New York City engagement on 22 Aug 1967.
       A year after its debut, the 28 Aug 1968 Var announced that the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) had ordered a television pilot based on the film, which ultimately did not move ahead. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
3 May 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
5 Aug 1965.
---
Daily Variety
2 Sep 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
26 Sep 1966
p. 3.
Daily Variety
5 Oct 1966
p. 3.
Daily Variety
14 Oct 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Aug 1967
p. 10.
Daily Variety
16 Aug 1967
p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
7 Jun 1965
Section D, p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
4 Jul 1966
Section D, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
26 Aug 1966
Section C, p. 22.
Los Angeles Times
2 Oct 1966
Section B, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
13 Oct 1966
Section C, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
13 Jun 1967
Section C, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
23 Oct 1967
Section C, p. 29.
Variety
23 Nov 1966
p. 22.
Variety
7 Dec 1966
p. 6.
Variety
1 Mar 1967
p. 13.
Variety
16 Aug 1967
p. 13.
Variety
28 Aug 1967
p. 33.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2nd unit dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to prod
Unit prod mgr
Titles
Titles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Ballad of the Flim-Flam Man by Guy Owen (New York, 1965).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Ballad of the Flim-Flam Man
Release Date:
22 August 1967
Premiere Information:
Lexington, KY premiere: 5 May 1967
New York opening: 22 August 1967
Los Angeles premiere: 31 August 1967
Production Date:
29 August--December 1966
Copyright Claimant:
Lawrence Turman, Inc.
Copyright Date:
24 May 1967
Copyright Number:
LP34497
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
104
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Mordecai Jones is an old-fashioned confidence man equipped with a glib tongue and a heart of pure larceny. Widely known throughout the South as the Flim-Flam Man, he is always seen carrying the beat-up satchel that contains the tools of his trade: decks of playing cards, dominoes, punchboards, play money, etc. One day he meets Curley Treadaway, a Carolina farm boy who has gone AWOL from the Army after slugging his "big-mouthed Yankee sergeant." United by a common need to survive, the two renegades join forces once Mordecai has assuaged Curley's conscience by promising to cheat only other cheaters and the greedy. Following several successful swindles, they "borrow" a car from pretty Bonnie Lee Packard, a 17-year-old with whom Curley immediately falls in love. When the police spot the stolen car and the local sheriff gives chase, Mordecai races through the town, crashing into store windows, upsetting fruit trucks, and terrifying startled citizens. Having wrecked the car, they steal a truckload of moonshine whiskey which they quickly peddle for cash and supplies. Curley, meanwhile, has been having clandestine meetings with Bonnie, who lovingly urges him to become respectable. Eventually, despite his affection for Mordecai, Curley decides to give himself up to the Army; but before he can do so he and Mordecai are captured and jailed. Curley escapes, gets some dynamite boxes, and threatens to blow up the courthouse unless Mordecai is released. Trapped, the sheriff agrees. Once Mordecai has supposedly left town, Curley reveals that his threat was just another confidence trick--he never had any dynamite. As Curley is arrested, Bonnie and her influential father promise to see that he is treated fairly. Watching from the shadows is ... +


Mordecai Jones is an old-fashioned confidence man equipped with a glib tongue and a heart of pure larceny. Widely known throughout the South as the Flim-Flam Man, he is always seen carrying the beat-up satchel that contains the tools of his trade: decks of playing cards, dominoes, punchboards, play money, etc. One day he meets Curley Treadaway, a Carolina farm boy who has gone AWOL from the Army after slugging his "big-mouthed Yankee sergeant." United by a common need to survive, the two renegades join forces once Mordecai has assuaged Curley's conscience by promising to cheat only other cheaters and the greedy. Following several successful swindles, they "borrow" a car from pretty Bonnie Lee Packard, a 17-year-old with whom Curley immediately falls in love. When the police spot the stolen car and the local sheriff gives chase, Mordecai races through the town, crashing into store windows, upsetting fruit trucks, and terrifying startled citizens. Having wrecked the car, they steal a truckload of moonshine whiskey which they quickly peddle for cash and supplies. Curley, meanwhile, has been having clandestine meetings with Bonnie, who lovingly urges him to become respectable. Eventually, despite his affection for Mordecai, Curley decides to give himself up to the Army; but before he can do so he and Mordecai are captured and jailed. Curley escapes, gets some dynamite boxes, and threatens to blow up the courthouse unless Mordecai is released. Trapped, the sheriff agrees. Once Mordecai has supposedly left town, Curley reveals that his threat was just another confidence trick--he never had any dynamite. As Curley is arrested, Bonnie and her influential father promise to see that he is treated fairly. Watching from the shadows is Mordecai, who has merely walked around the corner. "Thank you son," he murmurs and then he hops a freight train slowly moving out of town. +

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

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