Chandler (1971)

GP | 86 or 88-89 mins | Mystery | December 1971

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Open Shadow . As noted by contemporary sources, the main character, “Chandler,” was named after famed mystery writer Raymond Chandler (1888--1959), the author of numerous novels and screenplays. Chandler was especially well-known for his “hard-boiled” private detective heroes, and according to a May 1971 NYT article, the filmmakers intended the film to be a tribute both to him and to actor Humphrey Bogart, who starred in the 1946 picture The Big Sleep (see above), based on a Chandler novel.
       According to a 2 Sep 1970 Var article, Cinema Arts was originally scheduled to produce the picture, with Anjanette Comer to appear in the lead female role. On 19 Feb 1971, DV announced that independent producer Michael S. Laughlin had purchased the screenplay. According to contemporary sources, Open Shadow Productions was a joint venture between Laughlin and director-writer Paul Magwood. Contemporary sources noted that the picture was shot on location in Monterey, Carmel, Pebble Beach and Los Angeles, CA.
       According to a 27 Dec 1971 Time article and other contemporary sources, Magwood and Laughlin were infuriated by alleged interference from M-G-M chief executive officer James T. Aubrey. The Time article and LAT review reported that on 30 Nov 1971, Magwood and Laughlin took out a “black-bordered ad” in HR , in which they “sadly” acknowledged that “all editing, post-production, as well as additional scenes were executed” by Aubrey. The two complained that Aubrey had locked Magwood out of the editing room, then “inserted several minutes of new footage to simplify ... More Less

The working title of this film was Open Shadow . As noted by contemporary sources, the main character, “Chandler,” was named after famed mystery writer Raymond Chandler (1888--1959), the author of numerous novels and screenplays. Chandler was especially well-known for his “hard-boiled” private detective heroes, and according to a May 1971 NYT article, the filmmakers intended the film to be a tribute both to him and to actor Humphrey Bogart, who starred in the 1946 picture The Big Sleep (see above), based on a Chandler novel.
       According to a 2 Sep 1970 Var article, Cinema Arts was originally scheduled to produce the picture, with Anjanette Comer to appear in the lead female role. On 19 Feb 1971, DV announced that independent producer Michael S. Laughlin had purchased the screenplay. According to contemporary sources, Open Shadow Productions was a joint venture between Laughlin and director-writer Paul Magwood. Contemporary sources noted that the picture was shot on location in Monterey, Carmel, Pebble Beach and Los Angeles, CA.
       According to a 27 Dec 1971 Time article and other contemporary sources, Magwood and Laughlin were infuriated by alleged interference from M-G-M chief executive officer James T. Aubrey. The Time article and LAT review reported that on 30 Nov 1971, Magwood and Laughlin took out a “black-bordered ad” in HR , in which they “sadly” acknowledged that “all editing, post-production, as well as additional scenes were executed” by Aubrey. The two complained that Aubrey had locked Magwood out of the editing room, then “inserted several minutes of new footage to simplify the plot and replaced their nostalgic score with a trendy one.”
       Open Season Productions filed suit against M-G-M on 30 Dec 1971, according to a 31 Dec 1971 DV article and other contemporary sources. Laughlin and Magwood alleged that M-G-M had breached the terms of their contract by refusing to allow them to participate in the post-production work and by changing the film’s name from Open Shadow to Chandler . In their suit, the pair declared that the film was “defective and inferior” to the work they would have produced if they had been allowed full control over the editing. In addition to requesting more than $7.5 million in damages, the pair asked for an injunction to stop M-G-M from distributing the film.
       On 31 Jan 1972, DV reported that the injunction against distribution had been denied by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge. In rebuttal to Laughlin and Magwood’s charges, M-G-M alleged that Laughlin had acted in a “totally unreliable and unprofessional” manner during production, and that he went on vacation while Magwood was supervising editing of the picture. According to the article, M-G-M was dissatisfied with Magwood’s first two attempts to edit the picture, and took over the project after it went over budget in late Aug 1971. The article noted that the 19 Nov 1971 preview of the picture “bombed,” after which the legal wrangling over the final cut intensified. The final outcome of the suit has not been confirmed.
       The Dec 1971 DV article reported that actress Leslie Caron also filed suit against M-G-M, claiming breach of contract because the studio denied her “equal billing with Warren Oates as co-star above pic’s title and in advertising.” Her suit requested that all advertisements without her picture and not according her equal billing be withdrawn. The outcome of her suit has not been confirmed.
       Chandler marked the only feature film written and directed by Magwood. At the time of production, Caron was married to Laughlin, although they divorced in 1980. According to some modern biographical sources, Caron and Magwood became romantically involved in 2003. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
20 Mar 1972.
---
Cue
11 Mar 1972.
---
Daily Variety
19 Feb 1971.
---
Daily Variety
29 Nov 1971
p. 3.
Daily Variety
31 Dec 1971
p. 13.
Daily Variety
31 Jan 1972
p. 1, 10.
Filmfacts
1972
pp. 114-15.
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 May 1971
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
28 May 1971
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jul 1971
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Nov 1971
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Nov 1971
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Dec 1971
pp. 1-2.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
15 Dec 1971.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Dec 1971
Section IV, p. 29.
Motion Picture Herald
Feb 1972.
---
New York Times
23 May 1971.
---
New York Times
2 Mar 1972
p. 34.
Time
27 Dec 1971.
---
Variety
2 Sep 1970.
---
Variety
8 Dec 1971
p. 20.
Variety
12 Jan 1972.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Michael S. Laughlin Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Photog adv
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
MUSIC
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit pub
STAND INS
Stunt coord
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Open Shadow
Release Date:
December 1971
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 15 December 1971
Production Date:
29 May--early July 1971
addl seq October 1971
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Copyright Date:
6 December 1971
Copyright Number:
LP40457
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Metrocolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
86 or 88-89
MPAA Rating:
GP
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Chandler, a bored, aging night watchman in Los Angeles, quits his job in order to revive his private detective business. He is approached by two government agents, Carmady and Bernie Oakman, to find a missing artist named Katherine, the one-time mistress of racketeer Melchior. Katherine, who wants to break free of her criminal ties, is set to testify against Melchior in a major case mounted by the government, and the gangster wants to silence her. She is being pursued by one of Melchior’s hit men, in addition to Chandler, who is instantly attracted to her, and after the hit man is found dead, she convinces Chandler that she was not complicit. As their romance intensifies, Katherine and Chandler attempt to elude Melchior’s men, with Chandler unaware that the crooked Carmady is using him as a dupe to get to Melchior. Carmady hopes to install one of his own men, a double agent known as Kincaid, in Melchior’s place after arranging for the gangster’s death. Soon, Melchior is murdered and the evidence, which has been manipulated by Carmady, points to Chandler as the killer. In a confrontation with Kincaid, Chandler is wounded but succeeds in killing the double agent. Although his plan is temporarily disrupted, Carmady is still pleased with the outcome and calmly saunters off as Katherine comforts ... +


Chandler, a bored, aging night watchman in Los Angeles, quits his job in order to revive his private detective business. He is approached by two government agents, Carmady and Bernie Oakman, to find a missing artist named Katherine, the one-time mistress of racketeer Melchior. Katherine, who wants to break free of her criminal ties, is set to testify against Melchior in a major case mounted by the government, and the gangster wants to silence her. She is being pursued by one of Melchior’s hit men, in addition to Chandler, who is instantly attracted to her, and after the hit man is found dead, she convinces Chandler that she was not complicit. As their romance intensifies, Katherine and Chandler attempt to elude Melchior’s men, with Chandler unaware that the crooked Carmady is using him as a dupe to get to Melchior. Carmady hopes to install one of his own men, a double agent known as Kincaid, in Melchior’s place after arranging for the gangster’s death. Soon, Melchior is murdered and the evidence, which has been manipulated by Carmady, points to Chandler as the killer. In a confrontation with Kincaid, Chandler is wounded but succeeds in killing the double agent. Although his plan is temporarily disrupted, Carmady is still pleased with the outcome and calmly saunters off as Katherine comforts Chandler. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.