Cinderella Liberty (1973)

R | 117 mins | Drama | December 1973

Director:

Mark Rydell

Writer:

Darryl Ponicsan

Producer:

Mark Rydell

Cinematographer:

Vilmos Zsigmond

Editor:

Patrick Kennedy

Production Designer:

Leon Ericksen

Production Company:

Sanford Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

Tim Zinneman's onscreen credit reads: "Production manager & 1st assistant director." Cinderella Liberty marked Darryl Ponicsan's first screenplay credit, and was an adaptation of his novel. In Jul 1972 HR announced that Ponicsan's novel had been acquired by Sidney Pollock and Robert Sherman's Sanford Productions. Although neither Sherman nor Pollock were credited onscreen as producers, as noted in the Var review, producer-director Mark Rydell was a partner in Sanford Productions. Contemporary news items and press materials note that the film was shot mainly on location in Seattle, as well as in Tacoma, WA.
       According to a Jun 1973 Var news item, the Navy originally planned to assist the production, but refused, objecting to the film's portrayal of Naval officers cavorting in bars with "Fleet chicks." Press materials state that the 17 Dec 1973 Los Angeles premiere benefited the Center for Early Education. A modern source adds Glenn Buttkus to the cast.
       Cinderella Liberty received Academy Award nominations for Best Actress (Marsha Mason), Original Score (John Williams) and Original Song ("You're So Nice to Be Around" by John Williams and Paul Williams); Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture, Best Original Score, Best Screenplay and Most Promising Newcomer (Kirk Calloway); and a Writers Guild of America nomination. In addition, Mason won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress—Drama. ... More Less

Tim Zinneman's onscreen credit reads: "Production manager & 1st assistant director." Cinderella Liberty marked Darryl Ponicsan's first screenplay credit, and was an adaptation of his novel. In Jul 1972 HR announced that Ponicsan's novel had been acquired by Sidney Pollock and Robert Sherman's Sanford Productions. Although neither Sherman nor Pollock were credited onscreen as producers, as noted in the Var review, producer-director Mark Rydell was a partner in Sanford Productions. Contemporary news items and press materials note that the film was shot mainly on location in Seattle, as well as in Tacoma, WA.
       According to a Jun 1973 Var news item, the Navy originally planned to assist the production, but refused, objecting to the film's portrayal of Naval officers cavorting in bars with "Fleet chicks." Press materials state that the 17 Dec 1973 Los Angeles premiere benefited the Center for Early Education. A modern source adds Glenn Buttkus to the cast.
       Cinderella Liberty received Academy Award nominations for Best Actress (Marsha Mason), Original Score (John Williams) and Original Song ("You're So Nice to Be Around" by John Williams and Paul Williams); Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture, Best Original Score, Best Screenplay and Most Promising Newcomer (Kirk Calloway); and a Writers Guild of America nomination. In addition, Mason won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress—Drama.
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
17 Dec 1973
p. 4649.
Daily Variety
21 May 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jun 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 May 1973
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jul 1973
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jul 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 1973
p. 3, 7.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
19 Dec 1973.
---
New York Times
19 Dec 1973
p. 54.
Newsweek
31 Dec 1973.
---
Time
7 Jan 1974.
---
Variety
6 Jun 1973
p. 4, 22.
Variety
12 Dec 1973
p. 18, 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Mark Rydell Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Key grip
Best boy
Gaffer
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
Film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Prod illustrator
Prop master
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Harmonica solos
Gutteral mischief
Mus ed
SOUND
Prod mixer
Boom man
Sd ed
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod mgr
Prod consultant & auditor
Prod asst
Prod secy
Loc asst
Casting
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Cinderella Liberty by Darryl Ponicsan (New York, 1973).
SONGS
"You're So Nice to Be Around" and "Wednesday Special," music by John Williams, lyrics by Paul Williams, vocals by Paul Williams.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
December 1973
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Los Angeles: 17 December 1973
New York opening: 18 December 1973
Production Date:
14 May--late July 1973
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
18 December 1973
Copyright Number:
LP43260
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
117
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Navy boatswain John Baggs, Jr. disembarks at the New York harbor, where he visits the local Naval hospital while awaiting his next assignment. The doctor treats a skin condition on his backside, then informs him that he must stay in the city for several days until his test results come in. That night, John is frustrated to learn that the hospital will grant him only “Cinderella liberty,” or a pass that expires at midnight. Hoping to get a woman into bed by twelve o’clock, John focuses on Maggie Paul, who is dominating the pool table at a local bar. Despite her skills at the table, John hustles Maggie into betting her body against fifty dollars, then easily bests her. She then takes him to her dingy apartment, where her eleven–year-old, half-black son Doug sleeps on the sofa. They make love, after which John questions Maggie about her business, which she admits includes “getting favors” from sailors. Upon leaving, John attempts to shake hands with Doug, who draws a switchblade in response. One night soon after, John wanders through Coney Island, and on the Ferris wheel spots Doug with a friend drinking beer and swearing foully. Dragging Doug to Maggie’s bar, John insists that she feed him properly and take him home, although she demurs that the boy drinks and chews tobacco only in order to dull the pain in his rotting teeth. John is further irked at being assigned to Shore Patrol duty, alongside a young partner, Alcott, who talks incessantly about his sexual proclivities. The next night, John rescues a discarded cake from the mess hall and brings it to Doug, then invites the boy to walk patrol ... +


Navy boatswain John Baggs, Jr. disembarks at the New York harbor, where he visits the local Naval hospital while awaiting his next assignment. The doctor treats a skin condition on his backside, then informs him that he must stay in the city for several days until his test results come in. That night, John is frustrated to learn that the hospital will grant him only “Cinderella liberty,” or a pass that expires at midnight. Hoping to get a woman into bed by twelve o’clock, John focuses on Maggie Paul, who is dominating the pool table at a local bar. Despite her skills at the table, John hustles Maggie into betting her body against fifty dollars, then easily bests her. She then takes him to her dingy apartment, where her eleven–year-old, half-black son Doug sleeps on the sofa. They make love, after which John questions Maggie about her business, which she admits includes “getting favors” from sailors. Upon leaving, John attempts to shake hands with Doug, who draws a switchblade in response. One night soon after, John wanders through Coney Island, and on the Ferris wheel spots Doug with a friend drinking beer and swearing foully. Dragging Doug to Maggie’s bar, John insists that she feed him properly and take him home, although she demurs that the boy drinks and chews tobacco only in order to dull the pain in his rotting teeth. John is further irked at being assigned to Shore Patrol duty, alongside a young partner, Alcott, who talks incessantly about his sexual proclivities. The next night, John rescues a discarded cake from the mess hall and brings it to Doug, then invites the boy to walk patrol with him. When they return home later, John finds Maggie in bed with another sailor, and throws the man out of the apartment. Back at the base barracks, John recognizes Lynn Forshay, the sadistic boot camp company commander who earned John’s unceasing enmity. Although the man is now in his late fifties and is being forcibly discharged, John chases and beats Forshay, then recounts past abuses. Soon, however, the two are laughing and drinking together, and Forshay defends his past actions by stating that his job was to make men out of boys. Aware that a career in the Navy can create men like Forshay, who has nothing but his work to sustain him, John seeks out Doug the next day, inviting him to a movie. Although Doug insults and rejects John, John’s ease and patience charm the lonely boy, who follows him to the movie theater. When payday arrives, John learns that his records have been misplaced, rendering him in limbo, with no pay or orders until they are retrieved. He returns to Maggie’s bar, where she thanks him for watching Doug, and soon they are making love again. In bed afterward, Maggie reveals that her difficult life includes much abuse from men, and warns him that he should leave. Although he attempts to be cold in return, they soon agree to meet again the next day. Over the following weeks, John endears himself to Maggie and Doug, helping to take care of them. One day, as Maggie is reminiscing about better times in New Orleans, social worker Miss Watkins bursts in and demands to know how much John contributes to the household and if he is the father of Maggie’s unborn baby. Stunned to learn Maggie is pregnant, John storms out, later wandering the city drunkenly. Finally he happens upon Forshay, now a barker for a girly show, who cautions John that incurable romantics may never find a perfect enough relationship. Later at the base, Doug appears to inform John that welfare has cut off their benefits, having listed John as Maggie’s spouse, and that Maggie has descended into an alcohol-fuelled depression. John visits that night and, after concocting a hangover remedy, embraces Maggie, who welcomes him back. The three develop a happy home life, and John teaches Doug to fish, play basketball and box. With his papers still missing, however, John has no money to contribute to the household and is reduced to pawning his belongings. Months pass, and Maggie longs to work at the bar to earn money. John suggests awkwardly that instead they marry, so she and Doug can collect Navy benefits. Although he tempers the offer by reserving the right to leave “at the first sign of a hassle,” Maggie, tempted by the ability to buy goods at the military base and to fix Doug’s teeth, happily accepts. After they marry, however, John’s executive officer excoriates him for marrying “ a barroom whore” and informs him that he cannot be married in the eyes of the Navy until his records are located. Maggie sobs when she hears the news, but John soon arranges with Miss Watkins for her and Doug to receive welfare in the interim. When the social worker wonders why he takes responsibility for them, John replies that while it makes him feel terrible, it also makes him feel good. Striking a clandestine deal with a Naval dental hygienist, John arranges for Doug’s teeth to be fixed. Back home, Maggie sobs to see her son’s repaired smile. Just then, her water breaks, although she is only seven months pregnant. John, reverent and nervous, accompanies her during the birth, crying at the sight of the baby boy, whom they name John III. Because he is premature, the baby, who to Doug’s disappointment is white, must stay at the hospital. Back home, Maggie exults that babies bring good luck, and she and John exchange vows of love. John shares a cigar with Forshay, who gives him a baby Naval uniform, but upon returning home, John learns that the baby has died. In the hospital, Maggie faints and John, in an impotent rage, attacks the orderlies. At home, a depressed Maggie jabbers about giving Doug up for adoption. Days later, she prepares to return to the bar. Although John tries to dissuade her, showing her his application for a hardship discharge, she rips up the papers and urges him to stop filling her head with pipe dreams. He follows her to the bar, but upon spotting him there, she pointedly kisses another man. John returns to the base, where he is informed that his records, stuck behind a cabinet, have been discovered and he has been issued orders to sail overseas the next day. John collects his $1,400 in back pay and with great excitement brings it to Maggie’s, but there discovers that she has left for New Orleans with a sailor, knowing John would return to take care of Doug. Although John tells the boy he must go to Miss Watkins and find a real home, when Doug’s bluster soon fails and he falls into John’s arms, John is moved to promise to fix the situation. The next morning, Doug searches for John at the pier, as John has instructed. The boy at first wanders lost, then finally hears John’s name being called. Instead of John, however, Forshay, who is happily taking John’s identity, strides onto the ship. Now free from service, John walks off with Doug, headed to New Orleans to retrieve Maggie. +

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

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