Nickelodeon (1976)

PG | 122 mins | Comedy | 1976

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HISTORY

Working titles included Starlight Parade and Footlight Parade, as noted in 28 Jul 1975 and 20 Nov 1975 DV items.
       The film opens with the printed statement: “Way back when moving pictures began, the big producers did not want any competition from little producers. These big fellows all got together as ‘The Patents Company’ and tried to stop the little guys. And that is why the first war in movies was a real one…” End credits include a "Special Thanks" to Allan Dwan and Raoul Walsh.
       According to the 20 Nov 1975 DV, director Peter Bogdanovich announced in Dec 1974 that he would direct his original screenplay, Nickelodeon , for Columbia Pictures, following the completion of his current film, At Long Last Love (1975, see entry). At that time, writer W. D. Richter had also worked on the script. A news item in the 4 Jul 1975 DV reported that actor James Stewart was among the first actors coveted by Bogdanovich to star in the next picture, now titles “Nickelodeon.” An item in the 28 Jul 1975 DV confirmed that actress Cybill Shepherd, Bogdanovich’s then girlfriend, was his “first (and only) choice” for the female lead. In the 3 Jan 1977 Time, several scenes in the film were based on actual incidents described to Bogdanovich by veteran directors Alan Dwan and Raoul Walsh.
       As reported in the 11 Nov 1975 DV, Bogdanovich cancelled plans to direct King of the Gypsies (1978, see entry) in anticipation of the difficulties he would encounter making ... More Less

Working titles included Starlight Parade and Footlight Parade, as noted in 28 Jul 1975 and 20 Nov 1975 DV items.
       The film opens with the printed statement: “Way back when moving pictures began, the big producers did not want any competition from little producers. These big fellows all got together as ‘The Patents Company’ and tried to stop the little guys. And that is why the first war in movies was a real one…” End credits include a "Special Thanks" to Allan Dwan and Raoul Walsh.
       According to the 20 Nov 1975 DV, director Peter Bogdanovich announced in Dec 1974 that he would direct his original screenplay, Nickelodeon , for Columbia Pictures, following the completion of his current film, At Long Last Love (1975, see entry). At that time, writer W. D. Richter had also worked on the script. A news item in the 4 Jul 1975 DV reported that actor James Stewart was among the first actors coveted by Bogdanovich to star in the next picture, now titles “Nickelodeon.” An item in the 28 Jul 1975 DV confirmed that actress Cybill Shepherd, Bogdanovich’s then girlfriend, was his “first (and only) choice” for the female lead. In the 3 Jan 1977 Time, several scenes in the film were based on actual incidents described to Bogdanovich by veteran directors Alan Dwan and Raoul Walsh.
       As reported in the 11 Nov 1975 DV, Bogdanovich cancelled plans to direct King of the Gypsies (1978, see entry) in anticipation of the difficulties he would encounter making Nickelodeon. At that time, the director was negotiating with actor/filmmaker Orson Welles for the role of the studio boss, “H. H. Cobb.”
       The 20 Nov 1975 DV announced that, although principal photography was scheduled to begin 6 Feb 1976, Columbia Pictures withdrew financing from Nickelodeon, calling it, according to a one source, “a $9 million black-and-white picture.” Other sources placed the budget closer to $7 million, and claimed that Columbia disagreed with the director over the casting of Cybill Shepherd. The 24 Nov 1975 LAT reported that Columbia’s action was prompted by its “skyrocketing budget,” which included period sets and costumes, and salaries for stars Ryan O’Neal, Burt Reynolds, and Tatum O’Neal totaling approximately $1.1 million; however, co-writer W. D. Richter stated that the project was still viable, and suggested that the current setback was an attempt by the studio to lower the stars’ salaries. According to a news item in the 8 Dec 1975 Newsweek, the total budget for Bogdanovich and his three principal actors was $3 million. Newsweek also described the director’s previous two releases, both of which starred Shepherd, as “box-office disappointments,” and she was a primary reason for Columbia’s withdrawal from Nickelodeon.
       On 28 Nov 1975 DV announced that Columbia would resume production of the film, in partnership with British Lion Film Corporation, which paid several million dollars for European distribution rights. Columbia president David Begelman told the 3 Dec 1975 LAT that most of the financial issues had been solved, and he expected a complete agreement to be reached over “creative differences.” Although Shepherd was seemingly dropped from the cast, Bogdanovich denied that she had been an issue between himself and Columbia, explaining that the actress had a standing commitment to another film, and that he planned to cast an unknown in a reduced version of the role intended for Shepherd, according to an 8 Dec 1975 HR brief. The 10 Dec 1975 Var, which announced that Columbia had confirmed its commitment to the project and principal photography was scheduled to begin 29 Dec 1975, in Los Angeles, CA and Modesto, CA, stated that Nickelodeon had a budget of $7.9 million, and was scheduled for a Christmas 1976 release. The director stated that his disagreements with Columbia were heavily exaggerated, such as the decision to film in black and white, and described his intended effect to shoot in color with “a monochromatic feeling.” Alan Dwan, who was the subject of a biography written by Bogdanovich, would provide technical advice.
       Articles in the 12 Dec 1975 Entertainment Today and the 17 Dec 1975 Var announced British Lion’s partnership with EMI, Ltd., in the financing and distribution of Nickelodeon, marking both companies’ entry into the production of major American films.
       The 31 Dec 1975 DV reported that production of the film had been halted after two days of photography at The Burbank Studio in Burbank, CA, “for rehearsals.” However, the article speculated that the schedule was designed around a tax shelter deadline.
       The 19 Jul 1976 Time reported that Tatum O’Neal studied tap dancing for six weeks to prepare for her role in the film as an aspiring dancer, although there were no scenes of her dancing in the viewed print.
       According to production notes in the AMPAS library files, much of the photography for        Nickelodeon took place in The Burbank Studio and the Columbia Ranch, both in Burbank, CA. Other locations included Modesto, CA and Jamestown, CA, and the Vasquez Rocks near Acton, CA.
       Several critics found Nickelodeon disappointing, exemplified by the 22 Dec 1976 LAHExam, which called it a “$9.2 million home movie.” However, it did receive positive notice from the 23 Dec 1976 LAT, the 14 Feb 1977 Box, and critic Judith Crist in the 22 Jan 1977 SatRev. A letter from veteran actress Claire Du Brey in the 9 Jan 1977 LAT accused Bogdanovich of including “anachronisms and never-wasisms” in the film. Du Brey, whose career began in 1913, pointed out the historical inaccuracy of using a glass-walled studio and artificial lighting in 1915, as neither would have been available until the following year. In a letter that appeared in the 23 Jan 1977 LAT, film historian Marc Wanamaker sited historical evidence that disputed Du Brey’s recollections. The first glass stage in a Los Angeles studio was erected in late 1909 at the Selig Polyscope Studio in the Edendale district.
       Nickelodeon gave Griffin O’Neal, son of Ryan O’Neal, his screen debut, as reported in the 15 Mar 1976 Newsweek. According to the news item, the boy cast to play a bicycle messenger in the film contracted influenza, and Griffin was asked to substitute. Bogdanovich was reportedly pleased with the performance. The film also marked the feature film debut of television producer and voice actor Lorenzo Music, who was best known at the time for his recurring role on the television series Rhoda, as noted in the 19 Mar 1976 LAT. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
14 Feb 1977.
---
Daily Variety
4 Jul 1975.
---
Daily Variety
28 Jul 1975.
---
Daily Variety
11 Nov 1975.
---
Daily Variety
20 Nov 1975.
---
Daily Variety
21 Nov 1975.
---
Daily Variety
28 Nov 1975.
---
Daily Variety
31 Dec 1975.
---
Entertainment Today
12 Dec 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Dec 1976
p. 3, 24.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Dec 1975.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
22 Dec 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
24 Nov 1975.
---
Los Angeles Times
3 Dec 1975.
---
Los Angeles Times
19 Mar 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
23 Dec 1976
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
9 Jan 1977.
---
Los Angeles Times
23 Jan 1977.
---
New York Times
22 Dec 1976
p. 34.
Newsweek
8 Dec 1975.
---
Newsweek
15 Mar 1976.
---
Saturday Review
22 Jan 1977.
---
Seventeen
Apr 1976.
---
Time
19 Jul 1976.
---
Time
3 Jan 1977.
---
Variety
10 Dec 1975.
---
Variety
17 Dec 1975.
---
Variety
22 Dec 1976
p. 22.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Co-starring:
And in order of appearance
Movie fanatics:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Robert Chartoff-Irwin Winkler Production
A Columbia-British Lion/EMI Co-Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dir
Prop master
Const coord
Prop man
Prop man
Leadman
Painter
Piano rolls and cylinders
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Music arr and cond
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Prod sd
Boom man
Boom man
Sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Hairdresser
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Transportation coord
Asst to Mr. Bogdanovich
Head wrangler
Prod's asst
Craft service
Prod secy
Dog trainer
"The Birth of a Nation" footage
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Let Me Call You Sweetheart," music by Leo Friedman, lyrics by Beth Slater Whitman
"I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now," music by Joseph E. Howard and Harold Orlob, lyrics by Will M. Hough and Frank R. Adams.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Footlight Parade
Starlight Pararde
Release Date:
1976
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 21 December 1976
Los Angeles opening: 22 December 1976
Production Date:
began 29 December 1975
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 December 1976
Copyright Number:
LP46867
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Color by Metrocolor®
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex Camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
122
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24689
SYNOPSIS

Following a trial in 1910 Chicago, Illinois, attorney Leo Taylor Harrigan hides in an alley while being chased by an enraged client. He sees a man ejected from the office of H. H. Cobb, owner of the Kinegraph Company, a producer of motion pictures. Leo sees a potential client in Cobb, but is unable to introduce himself, as Cobb and his lieutenants continue to interrupt with comments about “patents agents” and movie plots. Cobb explains that Kinegraph is an independent or “blanket” company, threatened by the Motion Picture Patents Company, a trust comprised of major film producers, bent on eliminating competition from independent filmmakers. Leo follows Cobb and his entourage as they leave the office and board a streetcar. Suddenly, Waldo, one of Kinegraph’s writers, sputters out an idea involving a man with a crab in his pants. When Leo adds characters and a plot, Cobb hires him at $15 per scenario. Leo is so overwhelmed, he barely notices Kathleen “Kathy’ Cooke, a nearsighted actress who has tripped and fallen in the streetcar. When he does acknowledge her, it is love at first sight. However, Kathy is leaving Chicago to join Chautauqua Show in New York City. Upon her arrival, Kathy trips and falls in front of Thomas “Buck” Greenway, who is in town to deliver a saddle. Again, it is love at first sight, and later, as she is about to leave on a national tour, Kathy inadvertently exchanges suitcases with Buck. When a man from a local theater company sees the saddle, he offers Buck a job as a rider in a stage production of ... +


Following a trial in 1910 Chicago, Illinois, attorney Leo Taylor Harrigan hides in an alley while being chased by an enraged client. He sees a man ejected from the office of H. H. Cobb, owner of the Kinegraph Company, a producer of motion pictures. Leo sees a potential client in Cobb, but is unable to introduce himself, as Cobb and his lieutenants continue to interrupt with comments about “patents agents” and movie plots. Cobb explains that Kinegraph is an independent or “blanket” company, threatened by the Motion Picture Patents Company, a trust comprised of major film producers, bent on eliminating competition from independent filmmakers. Leo follows Cobb and his entourage as they leave the office and board a streetcar. Suddenly, Waldo, one of Kinegraph’s writers, sputters out an idea involving a man with a crab in his pants. When Leo adds characters and a plot, Cobb hires him at $15 per scenario. Leo is so overwhelmed, he barely notices Kathleen “Kathy’ Cooke, a nearsighted actress who has tripped and fallen in the streetcar. When he does acknowledge her, it is love at first sight. However, Kathy is leaving Chicago to join Chautauqua Show in New York City. Upon her arrival, Kathy trips and falls in front of Thomas “Buck” Greenway, who is in town to deliver a saddle. Again, it is love at first sight, and later, as she is about to leave on a national tour, Kathy inadvertently exchanges suitcases with Buck. When a man from a local theater company sees the saddle, he offers Buck a job as a rider in a stage production of The Clansman. After his performance, Buck is referred to a bakery by the director, with instructions to ask for a German bagel. The next day, Buck discovers that the bakery is a front for an independent movie studio. When Patents Company thugs break in, Buck accidentally knocks out one of the bakers. The thugs hire Buck, give him a rifle, and put him on a train to California. Meanwhile, in Chicago, several weeks have passed since Cobb has heard from his production unit in Cucamonga, California, and he sends Leo to act as the unit’s scenarist and liaise with the home office. On the train, Leo has a brief encounter with Kathy, who accidentally takes his suitcase and leaves him with Buck’s. On another westbound train, Kathy and Buck meet again, and unintentionally exchange suitcases yet again. When Leo arrives in Cucamonga, he is greeted by Alice “Princess” Forsyte, a little girl who drives a truck for an ostrich farm. Moments later, Leo finds the Kinegraph cast and crew in a saloon, including lead actors Margaret “Marty” Reeves and Reginald Kingsley, cameraman Franklin “Frank” Frank, who is also Marty’s boyfriend, and crewmembers Jimmy, John, Dobie and Jack. Upon learning that their director disappeared a month earlier with the payroll, Leo telephones Cobb, who orders him to replace the director. The next morning, as Buck arrives in Cucamonga wearing Leo’s clothes, Leo begins the day’s shooting wearing Buck’s clothes. Frank instructs Leo on basic directing procedures, but filming is interrupted when the crew hazes Leo, using a nonpoisonous rattlesnake. Carrying out his assignment from the Patents thugs, Buck fires on the movie camera from a rooftop, resulting in retaliatory gunfire from the Kinegraph crew. Leo challenges Buck to a fistfight, and after exhausting themselves, both men realize that they are wearing each other’s clothes. Leo, impressed with Buck’s looks and pugilistic skill, hires him as a leading man. Some months later, the Chautauqua troupe arrives in Cucamonga, and Alice Forsyte and Jimmy rent a hot air balloon to use in a film. When filming begins, Buck refuses to get into the balloon basket until Leo promises that it will hover no more than six feet off the ground. After a dispute with Duncan, the Chautauqa troupe boss, Kathy resigns, and seconds later, bumps into Dobie, who is holding the balloon’s mooring line. Dobie loses his grip and the balloon become airborne. Buck pulls Kathy into the basket and the camera crew follows on Alice’s truck, until the balloon lands on the caboose of a passing train. After viewing the rushes, Alice concocts a scenario, with the title Romeo’s Balloon. Fearing retribution from the Patents Company when the balloon incident appears in the local newspaper, the crew relocates to Alice’s ostrich farm. Buck and Kathy return and announce their plans to marry, provoking Leo to become jealous. At the ostrich farm, a priest officiates Kathy and Buck’s wedding as Leo directs the final scene of Romeo’s Balloon. When the couple learns that Leo has broken his promise to provide a real priest for the scene, they leave for the weekend to get married. On Christmas Day, 1913, Leo, Buck, Kathy, Frank, Alice and Marty are in Hollywood, California, for a party hosted by H. H. Cobb in his hotel suite. They go to a movie theater and are outraged by a short film called Tuttle’s Muddle, a comedy assembled from film clips of Buck and Kathy. Alice confiscates the film and, as the group leaves the theater, they are pursued by a pack of movie fans, who tear at the stars’ clothing, leaving them in their underwear. That night, Leo, Buck and the others confront Cobb with Tuttle’s Muddle, followed by a demand for higher wages. Cobb cheerfully discharges them all, then moves the party into the hallway when a misplaced cigarette sets the room on fire. After being left alone in the burning room, Marty Reeves realizes that she deserves better, and announces that she is returning to Chicago to work for Cobb. Meanwhile, Mr. Blacker of Atlantic Pictures offers employment to Buck and his associates. Six months later, the five Kinegraph alums are miserable in the factory-like environment of Atlantic. Following an altercation between Leo and Blacker, the team is fired. That evening, Alice and Kathy return to the studio to pick up her wardrobe trunk, and to distract the guards while Leo, Buck and Frank steal cameras and film to make their own feature, The Half-Breed Kid. During production, Leo makes advances toward Kathy causing Buck to abandon the project. Later, Leo seeks consolation from Kathy, unaware that Patents thugs are hiding outside her home. When Buck returns, he assumes that Kathy and Leo are having an affair and goes to a hotel. Meantime, the Patents thugs firebomb the shed containing all of Leo’s equipment. While Frank reunites Kathy with Buck, Alice convinces Leo that they could be successful movie actors. The following year, on 8 February 1915, Buck and Kathy, Leo, Alice and Frank attend the premier of director D. W. Griffith’s epic, The Clansman, soon to be renamed The Birth of a Nation. In the lobby, H. H. Cobb, accompanied by his new wife, Marty, offers Leo and his team a large salary to make epic films. Afterward, Alice drives while the adults pass around a bottle, and Leo and Buck express reservations about the movie business. They drive past a glass-walled stage and are transfixed by the sight of a film shoot. Alice pretends to disdain her companions’ sentimentality and continues driving. +

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

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