Head over Heels (1979)

PG | 98 mins | Romance, Comedy-drama | 1979

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HISTORY

End credits include the statement, "Filmed on location in Salt Lake City, Utah, and at Culver City Studios," and the acknowledgement, "With special appreciation to John Earle and the Utah Film Commission, The People of Salt Lake City and Claire Townsend."
       The last name of Mort Shuman, co-songwriter of "Get It While You Can," was spelled incorrectly as "Schuman" in the end credits.
       During production, the project bore the same title as its 1976 Ann Beattie source novel, Chilly Scenes of Winter, as noted in a 23 Feb 1979 DV article. However, the marketing department at United Artists Corp. preferred a more commercial title, and the film was renamed Head Over Heels for the 1979 release. Director-screenwriter Joan Micklin Silver stated in a 20 Nov 1982 LAT article that she was upset about the change, which mistakenly implied a “light-hearted” romantic comedy, as were the crew, who voiced their disapproval by sending a rare petition to the studio.
       United Artists Classics rereleased the film in 1982, restored the original title, and altered the ending. As explained in a 10 Oct 1982 NYT article, the final scene, which depicted “Charles” arriving home, unexpectedly finding “Laura” in the kitchen cooking, and reconciling with her, was deleted. As a result, the reissue version concludes with Charles alone in a park, but indicates that he is gradually moving forward without Laura. Silver described the difference in the 20 Nov 1982 LAT article as “boy gets over girl,” as opposed to “boy gets girl.” Although the print viewed for this record was the ... More Less

End credits include the statement, "Filmed on location in Salt Lake City, Utah, and at Culver City Studios," and the acknowledgement, "With special appreciation to John Earle and the Utah Film Commission, The People of Salt Lake City and Claire Townsend."
       The last name of Mort Shuman, co-songwriter of "Get It While You Can," was spelled incorrectly as "Schuman" in the end credits.
       During production, the project bore the same title as its 1976 Ann Beattie source novel, Chilly Scenes of Winter, as noted in a 23 Feb 1979 DV article. However, the marketing department at United Artists Corp. preferred a more commercial title, and the film was renamed Head Over Heels for the 1979 release. Director-screenwriter Joan Micklin Silver stated in a 20 Nov 1982 LAT article that she was upset about the change, which mistakenly implied a “light-hearted” romantic comedy, as were the crew, who voiced their disapproval by sending a rare petition to the studio.
       United Artists Classics rereleased the film in 1982, restored the original title, and altered the ending. As explained in a 10 Oct 1982 NYT article, the final scene, which depicted “Charles” arriving home, unexpectedly finding “Laura” in the kitchen cooking, and reconciling with her, was deleted. As a result, the reissue version concludes with Charles alone in a park, but indicates that he is gradually moving forward without Laura. Silver described the difference in the 20 Nov 1982 LAT article as “boy gets over girl,” as opposed to “boy gets girl.” Although the print viewed for this record was the 1982 rerelease version, the original ending was portrayed in the summary to reflect the film’s initial release.
       As outlined in a 29 Oct 1979 New York magazine article, aspiring actress Amy Robinson became interested in producing a screen adaptation of Chilly Scenes of Winter immediately after its 1976 publication. The book was the first novel for Ann Beattie, an acclaimed short story writer. After Robinson introduced the property to fellow young actors, Griffin Dunne and Mark Metcalf, the three novice producers optioned the screen rights for $2,000. As part of the agreement, Beattie simply wanted a cameo in the film as a “waitress,” but was not interested in writing the script. During development, a deal with playwright Michael Weller to pen the screenplay fell through, as did an arrangement at Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. Claire Townsend, whose name is acknowledged in the end credits, championed the project while a producer at Fox. When she left the studio to become a production executive at United Artists, she was eventually able to persuade her new employer to finance the project. Townsend was also responsible for introducing the producers to the idea of hiring Silver.
       As noted in the 23 Feb 1979 DV article, the film represented the first major studio project for Silver and the producing debuts for Metcalf, Robinson and Dunne, partners in Triple Play Productions.
       The New York article specified that the producers and Silver negotiated a $2.2 million production budget with the studio and deferred $300,000 of their salaries as a completion bond in the event the film went over budget. Dunne stated in a 10 Sep 1979 Village Voice article that they succeeded in finishing slightly under budget.
       According to the New York article, the producers initially differed with the studio on casting the lead role of Charles. With future television sales in mind, United Artists favored John Ritter, Robin Williams, and Treat Williams, while the producers hoped to interest Dustin Hoffman, Richard Dreyfuss, or Gary Busey. Silver preferred actor John Heard, whom she had previously worked with in Between the Lines (1977, see entry) and On the Yard (1979, see entry) and was pleased when Metcalf also suggested him. Robinson, Dunne, and Metcalf appeared for scale in small roles, though Robinson’s part was later cut from the final film.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Albany, NY, was the first choice to represent the story’s wintry state capital. However, the producers eventually selected the more economical location of Salt Lake City, UT. Principal photography began there on 22 Feb 1979, as announced in a studio press release. In mid-Mar, the production planned to relocate to soundstages at Culver City Studios in Culver City, CA, where the interior set of Charles’s home was built, and to finish shooting by the end of Apr 1979. The New York article mentioned that the production completed filming in forty-three days.
       During its original release, critical reaction was mixed. While the 17 Oct 1979 HR was enthusiastic and argued that the film deserved “solid support,” the 24 Oct 1979 Var complained, “both [lead] characters wear out their welcome.” Similarly, the 19 Oct 1979 NYT stated, “Charles and Laura become tiresome instead of more interesting.” Among the many critics who pointed out the inappropriate title, Head over Heels, the 26 Oct 1979 LAT wrote that the film “keeps its feet resolutely on the ground, with no vastly larger-than-life romantic gestures, no wheeling heels over head over heels.”
       Nathaniel Kwit of United Artists Classics, who had realized the commercial benefit of rereleasing New York, New York (1977, see entry) and Cutter’s Way (1981, see entry), was mentioned in the 20 Nov 1982 LAT article as an important advocate for the film’s resurrection. The 1982 rerelease surpassed the 1979 box-office results, as reported in a 7 Sep 1982 HR article. In New York City, the 1979 release earned close to $17,000 during its entire two-week engagement, while the 1982 release grossed more than $20,000 in a single week. Dunne credited the success to positive new reviews in the Village Voice and Rolling Stone, favorable word-of-mouth and increased recognition of lead actors, John Heard and Mary Beth Hurt. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
23 Feb 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 1979
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Sep 1982
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
26 Oct 1979
Section G, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
20 Nov 1982
Section F, p. 1, 8.
New York
29 Oct 1979
pp 50-52.
New York Times
19 Oct 1979
p. 12.
New York Times
10 Oct 1982
Section H, p. 15, 25.
Variety
24 Oct 1979
p. 17, 46.
Village Voice
10 Sep 1979
p. 46.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Triple Play Productions presents
A Film by Joan Micklin Silver
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Best boy
Elec
Key grip
Dolly grip
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost
MUSIC
Guitar, harmonica and whistle
SOUND
Sd mixer
Looping ed
Sd eff ed
Asst eff ed
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Opt eff by
Titles by
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Transportation capt
Asst to the dir
Prod office coord
Loc, Salt Lake City
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Chilly Scenes of Winter by Ann Beattie (Garden City, 1976).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Get It While You Can," written by Ragovoy/Shuman, performed by Janis Joplin, courtesy CBS Records
"Skylark," written by Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer, performed by Bette Midler, courtesy Atlantic Records.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Chilly Scenes of Winter
Release Date:
1979
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 19 October 1979
Los Angeles opening: 26 October 1979
Production Date:
began 22 February 1979 in Salt Lake City, UT
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Corporation
Copyright Date:
29 January 1980
Copyright Number:
PA57930
Physical Properties:
Color
Lenses/Prints
Panaflex® camera and lenses by Panavision®/Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
98
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In Salt Lake City, Utah, Charles Richardson works at the state’s development department in a mundane office job, writing reports and occasionally drinking from a vodka bottle hidden in his desk. In his personal life, Charles obsesses about his former lover, Laura, a married woman who left him to reconcile with her husband, Jim “Ox” Connelly. Although their affair ended a year ago, Charles still loves Laura and announces to his college-age sister, Susan, and best friend, Sam, that he will win her back. In the meantime, Charles reflects on the two-month relationship with Laura, whom he met at the office when she worked as a file clerk. They spent the first date at her sparsely furnished apartment, which she rented after separating from her husband. Charles brought Laura a rocking chair, and she demonstrated her gourmet cooking skills by making a dessert soufflé. Soon, she moved in with him. As Charles remembers their happiness, he telephones Laura one day and confesses that he misses her. She agrees to see him for five minutes, but when they meet in the parking lot of her stepdaughter’s school, Laura says she has the flu and promises to call him another time. Sometime later, Charles learns that his co-worker, Betty, has stayed in touch with Laura since she left the office and recently had dinner with her. Charles is upset, since Laura promised that she would telephone him as soon as she was feeling better. Elsewhere in his life, Charles must cope with the manic behavior of his mentally ill mother, Clara, and his stepfather, Pete, who is always trying ... +


In Salt Lake City, Utah, Charles Richardson works at the state’s development department in a mundane office job, writing reports and occasionally drinking from a vodka bottle hidden in his desk. In his personal life, Charles obsesses about his former lover, Laura, a married woman who left him to reconcile with her husband, Jim “Ox” Connelly. Although their affair ended a year ago, Charles still loves Laura and announces to his college-age sister, Susan, and best friend, Sam, that he will win her back. In the meantime, Charles reflects on the two-month relationship with Laura, whom he met at the office when she worked as a file clerk. They spent the first date at her sparsely furnished apartment, which she rented after separating from her husband. Charles brought Laura a rocking chair, and she demonstrated her gourmet cooking skills by making a dessert soufflé. Soon, she moved in with him. As Charles remembers their happiness, he telephones Laura one day and confesses that he misses her. She agrees to see him for five minutes, but when they meet in the parking lot of her stepdaughter’s school, Laura says she has the flu and promises to call him another time. Sometime later, Charles learns that his co-worker, Betty, has stayed in touch with Laura since she left the office and recently had dinner with her. Charles is upset, since Laura promised that she would telephone him as soon as she was feeling better. Elsewhere in his life, Charles must cope with the manic behavior of his mentally ill mother, Clara, and his stepfather, Pete, who is always trying to please. While thinking of his “perfect” life with Laura, Charles remembers how they kept their romance a secret from everyone, except Sam. However, Charles also remembers their arguments, caused by his jealousy and possessiveness. Often, at night, he drives to Laura and Jim’s A-frame house and waits there in his car, while at home he constructs a miniature replica of the house, equipped with toy figures and furniture. This obsessive behavior worries Sam, who is between jobs and has recently moved in with Charles. Meanwhile, Charles thinks back to a turning point in the relationship when Laura said that she hated Charles’s “exalted” view of her, insisting she was an ordinary person. Soon after that quarrel, Laura announced she was returning to her husband, despite Charles’s plea that he wanted to marry her. At work one day, Charles flirts with Betty, who is single and has always liked him, but he is unable to foster an interest in her. Later, accompanied by Sam, he pays a visit to Jim’s custom home building company on the pretense that he is interested in buying an A-frame house. After Jim gives Charles and Sam tour of a model home, he offers to show them his own A-frame residence. Laura is shocked when her husband arrives and introduces Charles and Sam. In the kitchen, Jim whispers to his wife that the two men are homosexual and potential clients. While Jim converses with Sam, Charles goes to the kitchen and hugs Laura. She says that Jim does not know about their affair. As they drink cocktails in the living room, Charles surprises everyone by announcing that he is in love with Laura. When Jim realizes that Charles is not joking, he orders him to leave. Giggling about the incident, Charles and Sam drive off. However, weeks later, Charles has not heard from Laura and regrets his outburst. Later, he invites Betty to join him for dinner at his house. During the meal, Betty comments that the A-frame dollhouse resembles the home “Laura used to live in.” Charles becomes excited as he is informed that Laura left her husband recently and moved to an apartment. Impatiently, he asks Betty to give him the new telephone number and soon arrives at Laura’s place carrying tulips. Although she is not serious about anyone else, Laura is still unsettled about whether to resume their relationship. She is worried about finding a job, her failed marriage, and abandoning her stepdaughter. Their conversation turns into an argument, and she asks Charles to leave while promising to telephone him later. However, he is tired of waiting for her to make a decision and emphatically says goodbye. At home that night, he throws the A-frame dollhouse in the garbage and tells Sam that the relationship “is over.” The weeks pass and winter finally begins to break. One day, Charles returns home to unexpectedly discover Laura cooking a dessert soufflé in the kitchen. They hug and reconcile. +

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

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