Hammersmith Is Out (1972)

R | 108 or 117 mins | Black comedy | October 1972

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HISTORY

The onscreen credits state that the film’s soundtrack was available on Capitol Records. Onscreen acknowledgments include lingerie shop Frederick’s of Hollywood and the board game Monopoly by Parker Brothers, Inc. Throughout Hammersmith Is Out , Peter Ustinov, as “Doctor,” provides voice-over narration.
       A 14 Oct 1970 DV news item announced that Clint Eastwood had been cast in Hammersmith Is Out , but he does not appear in the final film. In Nov 1970, DV reported that Ustinov planned to produce “a number of feature films” with then-married actors Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, using small crews and budgets. The article stated that Hammersmith Is Out would be the first of these productions and would be made in America, Switzerland and Mexico for $720,000 using Cinemobile and a crew of eight. According to Army Archerd’s DV column in Jun 1971, the film’s final budget was $1.5 million, and Ustinov, Burton and Taylor deferred their salaries for ownership of the picture. The final film was mainly shot in Cuernevaca, Mexico as well as in the U. S., as noted in contemporary sources.
       Hammersmith Is Out was financed by John Cornelius Crean, a millionaire mobile home manufacturer who also produced the 1972 film Man and Boy (see below). Although a Mar 1971 DV new item stated that Crean would distribute the film, in Aug 1972 Cinerama Releasing was announced in DV as the worldwide distributor. Archerd reported in a Dec 1975 DV column that Crean was selling Hammersmith Is Out to Burton and Taylor for $50-60,000.
       ... More Less

The onscreen credits state that the film’s soundtrack was available on Capitol Records. Onscreen acknowledgments include lingerie shop Frederick’s of Hollywood and the board game Monopoly by Parker Brothers, Inc. Throughout Hammersmith Is Out , Peter Ustinov, as “Doctor,” provides voice-over narration.
       A 14 Oct 1970 DV news item announced that Clint Eastwood had been cast in Hammersmith Is Out , but he does not appear in the final film. In Nov 1970, DV reported that Ustinov planned to produce “a number of feature films” with then-married actors Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, using small crews and budgets. The article stated that Hammersmith Is Out would be the first of these productions and would be made in America, Switzerland and Mexico for $720,000 using Cinemobile and a crew of eight. According to Army Archerd’s DV column in Jun 1971, the film’s final budget was $1.5 million, and Ustinov, Burton and Taylor deferred their salaries for ownership of the picture. The final film was mainly shot in Cuernevaca, Mexico as well as in the U. S., as noted in contemporary sources.
       Hammersmith Is Out was financed by John Cornelius Crean, a millionaire mobile home manufacturer who also produced the 1972 film Man and Boy (see below). Although a Mar 1971 DV new item stated that Crean would distribute the film, in Aug 1972 Cinerama Releasing was announced in DV as the worldwide distributor. Archerd reported in a Dec 1975 DV column that Crean was selling Hammersmith Is Out to Burton and Taylor for $50-60,000.
       Hammersmith Is Out marked the final feature film pairing of Burton and Taylor, who previously had appeared together in eight films, starting with 1963’s Cleopatra (see above), during which the two began an affair that led to their marriage in 1964. After divorcing in 1974, they remarried from Oct 1975 to Aug 1976. Burton directed and co-starred with Taylor in Doctor Faustus (see above), based on Christopher Marlowe's 1594 novel The Tragedy of Doctor Faustus , which also inspired Hammersmith Is Out . Both Cleopatra and Ustinov’s prior roles as Romans in films such as Spartacus (1960, see below) are referenced satirically in Hammersmith Is Out . Burton and Taylor also co-starred in the 1973 television movie Divorce His--Divorce Hers . A modern source adds Stan Ross to the cast as a patient.
       Two lawsuits resulted from the film. In Jun 1972, as noted in Var , the Writers Guild of America (WGA) sued Crean’s company over the size of type for screenwriter Stanford Whitmore’s credit. The suit stated that Whitmore failed to obtain an agreed-upon credit in the same style and size type as Ustinov and asked for $50,000 in damages, but was dropped, as reported by DV on 19 Jun 1972, upon stipulation that in the future Whitmore would receive the desired type size. On 14 Jun 1972, DV noted that executive in charge of production Frank Beetson was suing J. Cornelius Crean Films, seeking a full accounting of costs, for failing to provide him a bonus if the film’s final negative cost was less than $1.9 million. The disposition of the suit has not been determined.
       Hammersmith Is Out was screened at the Berlin Film Festival, which ran from 23 Jun--4 Jul 1972. There, Taylor won the Best Actress award and Ustinov, who was nominated for a Best Director award, won a special award for the originality of his work as a whole. In addition, Whitmore was nominated for the 1973 WGA award for Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen. Despite these accolades, most American critics disliked the film, with the LAT reviewer calling it “a tasteless and tedious little atrocity.” The film marked the last that Ustinov directed. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
22 May 1972.
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Daily Variety
14 Oct 1970.
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Daily Variety
2 Nov 1970.
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Daily Variety
21 Mar 1971.
---
Daily Variety
21 Jun 1971.
---
Daily Variety
19 May 1972.
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Daily Variety
7 Jun 1972.
---
Daily Variety
14 Jun 1972.
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Daily Variety
19 Jun 1972.
---
Daily Variety
4 Aug 1972.
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Daily Variety
23 Dec 1975.
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Filmfacts
1972
pp. 329-32.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jan 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 1971.
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Hollywood Reporter
21 May 1971
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jul 1971
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
23 May 1972.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
24 May 1972.
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Los Angeles Herald Examiner
6 Jul 1972
Section B, p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
24 May 1972
Section IV, p. 12.
New York Times
25 May 1972
p. 52.
Variety
27 May 1972
p. 28.
Variety
7 Jun 1972.
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CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec in charge of prod
Prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Prop master
COSTUMES
Elizabeth Taylor's cost
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus supv
SOUND
Sd ed
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
Wigs
PRODUCTION MISC
Post-prod supv
Post-prod supv
Prod mgr
Project coord
Financial representative
Casting
Prod asst
SOURCES
SONGS
"For Openers," "Requiem" and "When Were Your Dreams Worth Remembering," music by Dominic Frontiere, lyrics by Sally Stevens.
DETAILS
Release Date:
October 1972
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 24 May 1972
Production Date:
2 May--early July 1971 in Cuernevaca, Mexico
Copyright Claimant:
J. Cornelius Crean Films, Inc.
Copyright Date:
25 May 1972
Copyright Number:
LP41084
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
DuArt
Duration(in mins):
108 or 117
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

At an asylum for the criminally insane, inmate Hammersmith resides in a locked cell, studiously avoided by the staff, who fear his oddly powerful allure. When dimwitted Billy Breedlove is hired as an orderly, however, he is seduced by Hammersmith’s promise of wealth and strength and agrees to release and accompany him. One night, Billy visits the local diner and is instantly smitten with waitress Jimmie Jean Jackson. After sparring briefly with an obese customer who considers the long-haired, motorcycle-driving Billy “trash,” Billy flirts with Jimmie, and as soon as he mentions marriage, she pulls him into a back room to make love. Afterward, they compare their hard-luck lives and Billy declares that if she meets him the following night at the bridge, they can begin their new life on the road to riches and fame. The next day, Billy frees Hammersmith, after which head orderly Oldham, a Monopoly- and needlepoint-obsessed milquetoast, drags Billy to the asylum’s head doctor, who chastises him for wreaking immeasurable damage upon the world. Billy then races to the bridge, where Hammersmith and Jimmie are waiting for him. Ignoring Jimmie’s queries, Hammersmith leads them to the nearby drive-in and instructs Billy to choose a car. After indicating the obese man’s vehicle, Billy pulls Jimmie to the ground to make love, and when they finish, Billy accepts the car keys from Hammersmith with no concern for the car’s owner. They drive to a hotel, where Hammersmith visits the gym and steals a suit in Billy’s size from a locker, killing the owner when he returns. On the road the next day, Hammersmith orders Billy to stop at a topless bar and there offers Guido Scartucci, ... +


At an asylum for the criminally insane, inmate Hammersmith resides in a locked cell, studiously avoided by the staff, who fear his oddly powerful allure. When dimwitted Billy Breedlove is hired as an orderly, however, he is seduced by Hammersmith’s promise of wealth and strength and agrees to release and accompany him. One night, Billy visits the local diner and is instantly smitten with waitress Jimmie Jean Jackson. After sparring briefly with an obese customer who considers the long-haired, motorcycle-driving Billy “trash,” Billy flirts with Jimmie, and as soon as he mentions marriage, she pulls him into a back room to make love. Afterward, they compare their hard-luck lives and Billy declares that if she meets him the following night at the bridge, they can begin their new life on the road to riches and fame. The next day, Billy frees Hammersmith, after which head orderly Oldham, a Monopoly- and needlepoint-obsessed milquetoast, drags Billy to the asylum’s head doctor, who chastises him for wreaking immeasurable damage upon the world. Billy then races to the bridge, where Hammersmith and Jimmie are waiting for him. Ignoring Jimmie’s queries, Hammersmith leads them to the nearby drive-in and instructs Billy to choose a car. After indicating the obese man’s vehicle, Billy pulls Jimmie to the ground to make love, and when they finish, Billy accepts the car keys from Hammersmith with no concern for the car’s owner. They drive to a hotel, where Hammersmith visits the gym and steals a suit in Billy’s size from a locker, killing the owner when he returns. On the road the next day, Hammersmith orders Billy to stop at a topless bar and there offers Guido Scartucci, who owns the bar along with his five silent brothers, one million dollars for the deed. As agreed, Scartucci shows up the next morning at Billy’s “office,” a public building’s bathroom, where Hammersmith murders Scartucci and steals the deed. Three weeks later, however, Hammersmith decides to move on and plots for Billy to become an executive. Back at the asylum, the doctor plans to go in search of Hammersmith, leaving Oldham in charge. Soon after, Hammersmith installs Billy as the head of a pharmaceutical company, but quickly sells the company to the Japanese. Now a millionaire in Texas, Billy lazes by his pool and disdains Jimmie, whom he considers cheap, although Hammersmith warns him that, as an up-and-coming oil tycoon, he must have a wife. One night, they throw a raucous party to celebrate a deal to buy the oil properties of Henry Joe Fitch, Jr. As Billy carouses with other women, Jimmie attracts Henry Joe’s affections, and after extracting a promise from him to take her away, she takes him to her bed. There, however, Hammersmith brings Billy to eavesdrop on their plans to run away, and although Hammersmith knocks out Billy and allows the couple to spend the night together, Jimmie realizes with dread that he will soon acquire Henry’s company and then kill him. As soon as the papers are signed the following morning, Henry Joe and all of his lawyers are dispatched to their deaths. Weeks later, the doctor arrives at the Texas mansion but finds it empty because Hammersmith has moved on to the realm of politics. When Billy’s funding catapults his candidate to the Presidency, Billy is named an ambassador-at-large. Despite committing a large diplomatic faux pas and causing an Asian civil war, Billy’s power grows and Hammersmith moves them to a castle in Spain. There, Billy spars with Jimmie, whom he demands that Hammersmith kill. Although Hammersmith agrees, he secretly arranges with Jimmie, who longs to have a child, to impregnate her and murder Billy. Instead of killing him, however, Hammersmith causes a water-skiing accident that leaves Billy handicapped. The three move into a new castle, but when Billy orders Jimmie to leave the rooms unfurnished, she reveals that she is pregnant with Hammersmith’s child and that Billy no longer has power over her. Billy struggles to his feet and aims an axe at her neck, but Hammersmith rescues her and hands Billy a gun, calling him a colossal disappointment and instructing him to kill himself. Just then, the doctor's helicopter lands on the lawn. Hammersmith and Jimmie go out to greet the doctor, who explains to Hammersmith that the police are behind him and that he must return to the asylum, where he is understood and the challenges to his intellect are more interesting. As a gunshot is heard inside the castle, Hammersmith follows the doctor without a word, leaving Jimmie behind, alone. Months later, the new orderly reads Hammersmith a telegram from Jimmie assuring him that she and their daughter are well, and Hammersmith mesmerizes the orderly, promising him riches and strength in exchange for his release. +

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

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