Rich and Famous (1981)

R | 117 mins | Melodrama | 9 October 1981

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HISTORY

The end credit crawl said the film was "Photographed at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Culver City, California, and on location in Los Angeles and New York City."
       On 24 Mar 1980, DV announced that actress Jacqueline Bisset and producer William Allyn had formed a new production company, Jacqueline Bisset-William A. Allyn Productions. Bisset wanted to become more involved selecting suitable material to further her career and the thought of collaboration appealed to her. Allyn optioned the idea for the film, which became part of Universal Studios development slate under Production Vice President Verna Fields in late 1976. Once the project went into turnaround, Allyn sent Bisset a revised script and “she agreed to defer her entire salary if Allyn could get financing.”
       A 18 Dec 1980 DV article stated that Allyn had teamed up with Bisset to film Rich and Famous after five years of planning. The film was inspired by an earlier film starring Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins titled Old Acquaintance (1943, see entry) Allyn bought the rights to the Davis vehicle but insisted the new film was “not a remake.” On 10 Sep 1981, a Marquee article reported that the film’s premise had been contemporized, dealing with the life choices of each character and the sexuality becoming “more explicit.”
       On 15 Aug 1980, a NYT news item announced that actress Meg Ryan had won the part of “Debby,” over 117 actresses that vied for the role. Ryan, who had recently finished her first year at the University of Connecticut, had one television commercial to her credit before being cast in the ... More Less

The end credit crawl said the film was "Photographed at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Culver City, California, and on location in Los Angeles and New York City."
       On 24 Mar 1980, DV announced that actress Jacqueline Bisset and producer William Allyn had formed a new production company, Jacqueline Bisset-William A. Allyn Productions. Bisset wanted to become more involved selecting suitable material to further her career and the thought of collaboration appealed to her. Allyn optioned the idea for the film, which became part of Universal Studios development slate under Production Vice President Verna Fields in late 1976. Once the project went into turnaround, Allyn sent Bisset a revised script and “she agreed to defer her entire salary if Allyn could get financing.”
       A 18 Dec 1980 DV article stated that Allyn had teamed up with Bisset to film Rich and Famous after five years of planning. The film was inspired by an earlier film starring Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins titled Old Acquaintance (1943, see entry) Allyn bought the rights to the Davis vehicle but insisted the new film was “not a remake.” On 10 Sep 1981, a Marquee article reported that the film’s premise had been contemporized, dealing with the life choices of each character and the sexuality becoming “more explicit.”
       On 15 Aug 1980, a NYT news item announced that actress Meg Ryan had won the part of “Debby,” over 117 actresses that vied for the role. Ryan, who had recently finished her first year at the University of Connecticut, had one television commercial to her credit before being cast in the film.
       With Robert Mulligan at the helm, a 1 Jul 1980 HR news item stated that the film would begin rehearsals on 7 Jul 1980 and principal photography would start 14 Jul 1980. Later, a 28 Nov 1980 LAT story stated the film’s budget was $10.1 million. According to a 24 Dec 1980 LAT article, director George Cukor stepped in for Mulligan, who withdrew due to scheduling conflicts after production shut down during an actors’ strike. At eighty-one years of age at the time, Cukor became the “oldest working director in Hollywood.” On 22 Oct 1980, LAT reported that Cukor would “reshoot most of Mulligan’s work” for the film beginning 10 Nov 1980. A 27 Jan 1981 HR article added that principal photography for the film resumed on 26 Jan 1981 in New York City.
       The 24 Dec 1980 LAT article stated that location shooting for the film was divided between the East and West coasts of the U.S. As stated in a 23 Jan 1981 HR article, exterior shots were filmed at Cartier Jewlers and in front of the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, which would be matched later with scenes shot on a set of the hotel’s lobby built on Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s (MGM) Stage 26 because the real lobby had too much traffic to be a viable option for filming. Meanwhile, NJ stood in for Christmas in MA and the production also traveled to Westchester County, NY. In Nov 1980, the cast and crew filmed for two weeks in Malibu, CA, then moved on to downtown Los Angeles, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Whittier, CA.
       On 9 Oct 1981, a NYT movie review by Vincent Canby pointed out that plenty of famous faces played extras at the literary parties throughout the film such as, ”Roger Vadim, Ray Bradbury, Nina Foch, Christopher Isherwood, Oliver Hailey and Frances Bergen,” mother of Candace Bergen.
       On 9-15 Dec 1981, a Village Voice news item listed “Fall 1981 Releases,” designating a series of films as “hits, flops and disasters,” in which Rich and Famous was identified as a “flop” based on an estimated domestic theatrical box-office take of “$7 million.”
       According to a 21 Jan 1982 LAT news item, Cukor traveled to France for the Paris opening of the film and to receive the Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honor the French Government bestows on artists.

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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
24 Mar 1980
p. 1, 34.
Daily Variety
17 Oct 1980
p. 3.
Daily Variety
18 Dec 1980.
---
Daily Variety
23 Feb 1981.
---
Daily Variety
5 Oct 1981
p. 3, 13.
Daily Variety
16 Feb 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jul 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 1981
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Oct 1981
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jan 1981.
---
LAHExam
15 Dec 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Oct 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
24 Dec 1980
p. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
9 Oct 1981
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
21 Jan 1982.
---
Marquee
10 Sep 1981
pp. 28-29.
New York Times
15 Aug 1980.
---
New York Times
28 Nov 1980.
---
New York Times
9 Oct 1981
Section C, p. 16.
Variety
7 Oct 1981
p. 16.
Village Voice
9-15 Dec 1981.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Jacquet-William Allyn Production
A George Cukor Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Dir of photog, New York crew
Unit prod mgr, New York crew
2d asst dir, New York crew
2d dir, New York
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Gaffer
Key grip
Dir of photog, New York crew
Cam op, New York crew
Cam op, New York crew
1st asst cam, New York crew
1st asst cam, New York crew
2d asst cam, New York crew
2d asst cam, New York crew
Still photog, New York crew
Gaffer, New York
Best boy, Los Angeles
Best boy, New York
Key grip, New York
Best boy, MGM
Best boy, New York
Dolly grip, New York
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Prod des
Art dir - New York exteriors, New York crew
Prod illustrator
Prod des
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Set dec, New York crew
Set dec, New York crew
Prop master, New York crew
Prop master, New York crew
Leadman, Los Angeles
Set dresser, New York
Const coord
Const foreman
Asst prop master, Los Angeles
Asst prop master, New York
COSTUMES
Clothes des
Asst cost des
Cost supv
Women's cost supv
Women's cost supv
Miss Bergen's furs by
Cost supv, New York
Women's cost, New York
SOUND
Sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd mixer, Los Angeles
Sd mixer, New York
Boom op, Los Angeles
Boom op, New York
Cableperson, Los Angeles
Cableperson, New York
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles and opticals
Spec eff, New York
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Miss Bergen's hairstyles des by
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Makeup artist, New York
Hairstylist, New York
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit pub
Loc mgr
Loc auditor
Prod secy
Scr supv
Loc mgr, New York crew
Prod coord, New York crew
Extras casting, New York crew
Casting - Los Angeles
Casting - Los Angeles
Casting - New York
Casting - New York
Estimator and loc auditor, Los Angeles
DGA trainee
Asst to prod
Asst to dir
Asst to dir
Transportation coord, Los Angeles
Transportation capt, New York
Transportation capt, Los Angeles
Driver, Los Angeles
Driver, Los Angeles
Driver, Los Angeles
Driver, Los Angeles
Casting, Los Angeles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Old Acquaintance by John Van Druten (New York, 23 Dec 1940).
SONGS
"Take Me For a Buggy Ride," music by Wesley Wilson, lyrics by Leola P. Wilson, performed by Bessie Smith, courtesy of CBS Records
"On the Sunny Side of the Street," music by Jimmy McHugh, lyrics by Dorothy Fields, performed by Willie Nelson, courtesy of Columbia Records.
DETAILS
Release Date:
9 October 1981
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 9 October 1981
Production Date:
began 14 July 1980
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Film Company
Copyright Date:
20 October 1981
Copyright Number:
PA117739
Physical Properties:
Color
Metrocolor®
Lenses
Panaflex® Camera and Lenses by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
117
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26126
SYNOPSIS

The friendship of Smith College roommates Liz Hamilton and Merry Noel Blake continues after Merry marries Doug and leaves school permanently, even though Doug dated Liz in the past. Ten years later, Liz is a famous writer and Merry and her daughter, Debby, listen to a talk Liz gives at a Southern California college campus. Afterward, Liz attends a party thrown in her honor at Merry and Doug’s beach house in Malibu. Soon, Doug and Liz walk on the beach and she admits to a failed love affair with a Frenchman and a bout of writer’s block. When they return, Merry is jealous of her best friend leaving the party with her husband but it doesn’t last long. Later, Merry says she admires Liz’s success, while Liz envies Merry’s marriage and family, her money and the nice things that she can afford. Soon, Merry shows Liz a novel she has written called The House by the Sea about all the people she knows in the beach colony. When Merry reads the manuscript out loud to her, Liz tells her the book is terrific. Merry is doubtful, but then asks Liz to give the manuscript to her editor Jules Levi. Merry’s request triggers Liz’s sense of competition; she tells Merry that Jules is only interested in publishing serious literature, and Merry hasn’t suffered enough for her art. Meanwhile, Liz admits to Merry that writer’s block prevents her from finishing her ... +


The friendship of Smith College roommates Liz Hamilton and Merry Noel Blake continues after Merry marries Doug and leaves school permanently, even though Doug dated Liz in the past. Ten years later, Liz is a famous writer and Merry and her daughter, Debby, listen to a talk Liz gives at a Southern California college campus. Afterward, Liz attends a party thrown in her honor at Merry and Doug’s beach house in Malibu. Soon, Doug and Liz walk on the beach and she admits to a failed love affair with a Frenchman and a bout of writer’s block. When they return, Merry is jealous of her best friend leaving the party with her husband but it doesn’t last long. Later, Merry says she admires Liz’s success, while Liz envies Merry’s marriage and family, her money and the nice things that she can afford. Soon, Merry shows Liz a novel she has written called The House by the Sea about all the people she knows in the beach colony. When Merry reads the manuscript out loud to her, Liz tells her the book is terrific. Merry is doubtful, but then asks Liz to give the manuscript to her editor Jules Levi. Merry’s request triggers Liz’s sense of competition; she tells Merry that Jules is only interested in publishing serious literature, and Merry hasn’t suffered enough for her art. Meanwhile, Liz admits to Merry that writer’s block prevents her from finishing her second book. Nevertheless, Liz convinces Jules to buy Merry’s book. Seven years later, Dick Cavett interviews Merry about her books on his talk show in New York City. While Merry’s career gains momentum, Doug’s is stalled and in the middle of their love making, she jots down notes for her next novel. When Merry returns to bed, Doug’s passion is long gone. Later, in the middle of Merry’s television interview with Merv Griffin, Doug walks over to Liz’s apartment and tells her he wants to relocate to New York and rekindle their relationship. Merry shows up at Liz’s and fights with Doug about his failing career and their marriage. He calls her books trash and storms off. At Central Park, Doug tells Liz he did not get a job offer in New York but he has a job interview in Houston, Texas, and they could have a future together. When Merry meets them at a park, Doug walks off and leaves it to Liz to tell Merry that her marriage is over. Six years later, Liz is one of the judges of the National Writer’s Award and Merry lobbies to get her new book, Home Cooking, nominated to win an award. Chris Adams, a twenty-two-year-old reporter from Rolling Stone magazine, meets Liz at the Algonquin Hotel to do a story on her. Before the interview begins, Merry’s daughter, Debby, pays a short visit with her trouble-seeking Puerto Rican poet boyfriend, Ginger Trinidad. When Merry arrives, she wants Liz to tell her if her book has been nominated. When Liz remains silent, Merry invites Liz to a literary party. Liz notices an attraction to Chris as she sits down for her Rolling Stone interview. In the morning, Liz leaves for her country cottage in Connecticut, where Chris joins her and they consummate their relationship. Liz brings Chris to Merry’s party and Merry congratulates Liz for falling in love, but Liz is jealous when she sees Chris talking to Debby. Later, Liz and Chris talk about being in love but she is too scared to accept his marriage proposal. When Liz visits Merry at her suite at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Merry tells her Doug is in town and her instincts tell her that they will get back together. Merry also envisions winning the National Writer’s Award. When she senses that Liz has doubts about Chris, Merry gives Liz her blessing. She tells her friend there are no guarantees when it comes to relationships. Back at her hotel, Liz worries when she is unable to reach Chris. On the way to lunch with Doug, Merry wants Liz to tell her if she’s won the award. Liz reveals the judges have awarded the top prize to two writers: Merry and Sharon Gay. Later, Liz meets Chris at a coffee shop and finds out that he has saved Debby’s boyfriend, Ginger, from going to jail. After the ordeal, Chris invites Debby to be his assistant on his next writing assignment and Liz realizes that her relationship with Chris is over. She asks him not to publish her interview. Meanwhile, Merry visits Liz at her hotel and accuses Liz of being in love with Doug and the one he is going to marry although Doug has told Merry he plans to marry a woman from Texas. The friends fight, ripping apart a treasured childhood teddy bear that Merry gave to Liz when she left college. Later, Merry watches the Awards party at her hotel suite apart from the revelers. She grabs a bottle of champagne and takes a taxi to Liz’s cottage. Merry apologizes for their fight, and Liz responds that no matter what has happened between them, they’ve always been great friends. Liz suggests that they take a year off and travel together. While it’s a scary thought for Merry, Liz tells her to be spontaneous and see what happens. The clock chimes midnight and Liz wants Merry to give her a kiss. Merry asks Liz if, after all these years, she is gay. No, says Liz, she just wants a New Year’s kiss. They hug and Liz gives Merry a peck on the cheek. Afterward, the two friends smile and toast each other by the light of the fire. +

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

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