Moment by Moment (1978)

R | 105 mins | Romance | 22 December 1978

Director:

Jane Wagner

Writer:

Jane Wagner

Producer:

Robert Stigwood

Cinematographer:

Phillip Lathrop

Production Designer:

Harry Horner
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HISTORY

As noted in a Feb 1979 Los Angeles article, John Travolta and Lily Tomlin were both at the height of their careers when they were cast in the film, instigating Universal Pictures to purchase the film rights from producer Robert Stigwood for $8 million despite the relative inexperience of writer-director Jane Wagner, who was widely known as Tomlin’s life partner and writer. The film was Wagner’s feature film directorial debut. While Stigwood had achieved box-office success with Saturday Night Fever (1977, see entry) and Grease (1978, see entry), both starring Travolta, his second 1978 release, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band did not fare as well, but Universal endeavored that the popularity of the stars would guarantee audiences for Moment By Moment, which marked the end of Travolta’s three-film contract with Stigwood. During production, however, Universal reportedly became concerned about Wagner’s direction and hired Saturday Night Fever director of photography Ralf D. Bode as “quasi director,” although he is credited onscreen as technical advisor. According to Los Angeles, Stigwood made several attempts to replace Wagner, but his efforts were disputed by Travolta and Tomlin.
       As stated in the 20 Dec 1978 Var review, CA locations included Los Angles, Beverly Hills and Malibu.
       The film was released to widespread critical contempt. While a positive review by Kevin Thomas was published in the 22 Dec 1978 LAT, critic Charles Champlin rebuffed his colleague in the 29 Dec 1978 LAT, reflecting that “no film in current memory has generated quite so much negative word of mouth ... More Less

As noted in a Feb 1979 Los Angeles article, John Travolta and Lily Tomlin were both at the height of their careers when they were cast in the film, instigating Universal Pictures to purchase the film rights from producer Robert Stigwood for $8 million despite the relative inexperience of writer-director Jane Wagner, who was widely known as Tomlin’s life partner and writer. The film was Wagner’s feature film directorial debut. While Stigwood had achieved box-office success with Saturday Night Fever (1977, see entry) and Grease (1978, see entry), both starring Travolta, his second 1978 release, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band did not fare as well, but Universal endeavored that the popularity of the stars would guarantee audiences for Moment By Moment, which marked the end of Travolta’s three-film contract with Stigwood. During production, however, Universal reportedly became concerned about Wagner’s direction and hired Saturday Night Fever director of photography Ralf D. Bode as “quasi director,” although he is credited onscreen as technical advisor. According to Los Angeles, Stigwood made several attempts to replace Wagner, but his efforts were disputed by Travolta and Tomlin.
       As stated in the 20 Dec 1978 Var review, CA locations included Los Angles, Beverly Hills and Malibu.
       The film was released to widespread critical contempt. While a positive review by Kevin Thomas was published in the 22 Dec 1978 LAT, critic Charles Champlin rebuffed his colleague in the 29 Dec 1978 LAT, reflecting that “no film in current memory has generated quite so much negative word of mouth even before its opening.” Los Angeles noted that despite “disastrous previews,” the film saw “respectable business” in New York City after its 22 Dec 1978 opening. However, Universal altered its promotional campaign in response to reviews, changing the trailers to portray the film as a comedy instead of an earnest love-story and provoking audiences to laugh at scenes that were intended to be profound. While the 16 Jan 1979 DV announced that the U.S. Catholic Conference rated the picture “condemned” for its “glossy depiction of adultery,” the 20 Dec 1978 HR review complained that the film’s sex scenes were so tepid that its R-rating was unwarranted.
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 Dec 1978
p. 3, 14.
Daily Variety
16 Jan 1979.
---
Filmworld
Dec 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Dec 1978
p. 3, 12.
Los Angeles
Feb 1979
pp. 112-115.
Los Angeles Times
10 Dec 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Dec 1978
Section G, p. 28.
Los Angeles Times
29 Dec 1978.
---
New York
4 Dec 1978.
---
New York Times
22 Dec 1978
p. 18.
Variety
20 Dec 1978
p. 30.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Universal Pictures Presents
A Robert Stigwood Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Key grip
Asst cam
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art consultant
Art dir
Addl art by
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus supv
Main theme saxophone
Mus ed
Mus eng
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title des
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Ms. Tomlin's hair designed by
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod exec
Prod consultant
Prod assoc
Casting
Scr supv
Prod office coord
Asst to Ms. Wagner
Loc auditor
Loc mgr
Prod accounting by
Pub relations by
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Dog trainer
Asst to Mr. Oakes
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Hollywood Boulevard," composed and produced by Ray Parker, Jr.
SONGS
"Moment By Moment," sung by Yvonne Elliman, music by Lee Holdridge, lyrics by Lee Holdridge and Molly-Ann Leikin, arranged by Jimmy Haskell, produced by Robert Appere
"The Lady Wants To Know," composed and sung by Michael Franks, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc. and Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp./Mississippi Mud
"For You And I," composed by Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman, performed by 10cc, courtesy of Polydor Incorporated and Man-Ken Music Ltd.
+
SONGS
"Moment By Moment," sung by Yvonne Elliman, music by Lee Holdridge, lyrics by Lee Holdridge and Molly-Ann Leikin, arranged by Jimmy Haskell, produced by Robert Appere
"The Lady Wants To Know," composed and sung by Michael Franks, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc. and Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp./Mississippi Mud
"For You And I," composed by Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman, performed by 10cc, courtesy of Polydor Incorporated and Man-Ken Music Ltd.
"You Know I Love You" and "Your Heart Never Lies," composed and performed by Charles Lloyd, courtesy of Pacific Arts Records and Tapes and Challove Music
"Everybody Needs Love," composed and sung by Stephen Bishop, courtesy of ABC Records and Stephen Bishop Music Publishing Company
"Sometimes When We Touch," composed by Dan Hill and Barry Mann, sung by Dan Hill, courtesy of 20th Century-Fox Record Corporation and Welbeck Corp./ATV Music Corp. & Mann Songs and Weil Songs, Inc.
"Strangered In The Night," composed and performed by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, courtesy of Shelter Records and Skyhill Publishing Company, Inc.
"Shimmie Doo Wah Sey," composed and performed by Andy Fairweather Low, courtesy of A&M Records and Almo Music Publishing Company.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
22 December 1978
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 22 December 1978
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
14 February 1979
Copyright Number:
PA25162
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo
Color
Color by Technicolor®
Prints
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
105
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Wealthy, middle-aged, Trisha Rowling attempts to procure sleeping pills at her pharmacy when “Strip,” a young man, interrupts to inquire about his friend, Greg, who works in the store. Irritated, Trisha leaves and the pharmacist informs Strip that he fired Greg for stealing. Strip catches up with Trisha and claims he worked as a valet at her recent beach house party. He thanks her for kindly overlooking the dent in her Mercedes, but she swears it was nothing personal. Strip asks for a ride but she refuses. The next day, Strip arrives at Trisha’s beach house and gives her sleeping pills, remembering she had asked for them. Trisha responds coldly to Strip’s questions then heads inside with the pills. The next morning, Trisha receives a phone call from her estranged husband, Stu, who apologizes for his affair with a woman named Stacie and asks her to come home, but she refuses and cries. Later that day, Trisha returns to the beach and Strip asks for a towel. She ignores him but he continues talking, claiming he slept on the beach. The next day, Strip again knocks on Trisha’s door, looking for a t-shirt he left behind. As he tells her that his car broke down and his backpack was stolen, he coughs. Feeling sorry for him, Trisha makes tea and gives him a blanket and sweater. As she checks his forehead for a fever, Strip asks if he can sleep at her place. Trisha balks, saying she knew she could not trust him and Strip leaves, angry. A few days later, Trisha sees Strip ... +


Wealthy, middle-aged, Trisha Rowling attempts to procure sleeping pills at her pharmacy when “Strip,” a young man, interrupts to inquire about his friend, Greg, who works in the store. Irritated, Trisha leaves and the pharmacist informs Strip that he fired Greg for stealing. Strip catches up with Trisha and claims he worked as a valet at her recent beach house party. He thanks her for kindly overlooking the dent in her Mercedes, but she swears it was nothing personal. Strip asks for a ride but she refuses. The next day, Strip arrives at Trisha’s beach house and gives her sleeping pills, remembering she had asked for them. Trisha responds coldly to Strip’s questions then heads inside with the pills. The next morning, Trisha receives a phone call from her estranged husband, Stu, who apologizes for his affair with a woman named Stacie and asks her to come home, but she refuses and cries. Later that day, Trisha returns to the beach and Strip asks for a towel. She ignores him but he continues talking, claiming he slept on the beach. The next day, Strip again knocks on Trisha’s door, looking for a t-shirt he left behind. As he tells her that his car broke down and his backpack was stolen, he coughs. Feeling sorry for him, Trisha makes tea and gives him a blanket and sweater. As she checks his forehead for a fever, Strip asks if he can sleep at her place. Trisha balks, saying she knew she could not trust him and Strip leaves, angry. A few days later, Trisha sees Strip fixing his car on the side of the road. She apologizes, offers to pay for repairs, and makes him lunch at her beach house. Strip explains that he is trying to raise bail for his friend Greg who was arrested for dealing drugs. When Trisha asks if Strip also deals drugs, he says that he does not; he offered her the pills to get close to her. As Trisha drives Strip back to his car, she inquires about his relationship with Greg and he explains they were both fourteen-year-old runaways. Later that day, Trisha’s friend Naomi calls to gossip and mentions seeing Stu’s lover, Stacie, with another man. Meanwhile, Strip runs through the streets of Hollywood, California, until he reaches his apartment building. A neighbor offers condolences over Greg’s death as Strip collapses in bed, devastated. A few days later, Strip shows up drunk at the beach house and Trisha demands he leave, but he later returns sober and asks for the address book he left behind. Trisha takes pity and Strip cries that Greg is dead. Trisha removes Strip’s wet clothes, gives him a robe and puts him to bed, but he begs her not to leave, and she stays by his side all night. As the sun rises, they make love. Days pass and Strip makes himself at home in Trisha’s beach house. She asks why he ran away from home and he tells her that his parents repeatedly forgot his birthday, among other things, and he did not feel wanted; he claims his family made no effort to find him. That evening, Strip professes his love for Trisha but she admits she can only love him in bed and he refuses to make love again until she makes a commitment. Trisha apologizes, claiming she does not know what love is anymore. As Strip kisses her, Trisha finally says she loves him. One day, as Strip shops for groceries, Naomi goes to the beach house and invites Trisha to a mutual friend’s art gallery showing. When Strip returns, Trisha pretends he is the delivery boy. Hurt, he plays along and leaves, but Naomi quickly deduces that Trisha and Strip are lovers. Trisha feels terrible and she and Naomi unsuccessfully search for Strip in Hollywood. Later that evening, Strip returns to the beach house for his belongings before leaving for good. Trisha confesses she felt like a “dirty old woman” with him but convinces him to stay, promising to go public about their relationship at the art exhibit. At the gallery, Strip becomes intoxicated and Naomi informs Trisha that Stu is there with Stacie, suggesting that Trisha flaunt her relationship with Strip for revenge. Trisha refuses, but Strip asks if she is only with him to make her husband jealous. Just then, Stu tells Trisha she has made a fool of both of them and Strip leaves. The next day, Strip eavesdrops on Trisha and Naomi at the beach house; Trisha worries what people think of her and claims she felt sorry for “street kid” Strip. Naomi says the relationship cannot last and Trisha agrees, worrying what her son will think when he comes home from school. Distressed, Strip leaves and breaks up with Trisha later that evening, claiming she is “out of his league.” Strip says he has other opportunities, including a role in a pornographic movie, but he will try his luck in Las Vegas, Nevada. Strip quietly leaves when Trisha receives an angry call from her husband. She then looks for her lover but only finds a note. Realizing Strip left his address book behind again, she takes a long drive to Greg’s hometown of Colton, where she finds Strip at the home of Greg’s parents. Trisha wishes Strip a happy birthday and they embrace. +

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

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