Desert Bloom (1986)

PG | 106 mins | Drama | 15 April 1986

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HISTORY

       A Jan 1986 AmCin article and production notes in AMPAS library files reported that screenwriter-director Eugene Corr collaborated with long-time associate, social scientist Linda Remy, whose semi-autobiographical, childhood experiences formed the basis for the screenplay. In 1971, Corr planned to write about the shipbuilding industry in World War II, but became more interested in writer-associate producer Remy’s memories of A-bomb testing in the Nevada desert by the U. S. Nuclear Development program. During his research, Corr placed classified advertisements in local Las Vegas, NV, newspapers, and interviewed longtime Las Vegas residents regarding their recollections, collecting numerous stories.
       As stated in a 18 Apr 1986 NYT article, Corr contacted Dr. Dina Titus, an historian on staff at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and author of Bombs in the Backyard, who had material covering the era of atomic bomb testing, and shared it with Corr. From archival photographs and newspapers, he learned about atomic cocktails, a mushroom cloud hairdo offered at the salon in the Flamingo Hotel, a dance known as “the atomic boogie bounce,” a Miss Atomic Bomb contest, and a musical group called the Atomic Bombers, Detonators of Devastating Rhythm. With the help of Titus, Corr was able to capture an authentic mood and period look for the film.
       A 2 Nov 1984 LAT article stated that Corr wrote his script as a Sundance Institute laboratory project. AmCin reported that Corr’s script was one of six chosen from a pile of 500 submissions. According to the 2 Nov 1984 LAT, Academy-Award winning screenwriter Waldo Salt was Corr’s mentor during the process.
       The 2 ... More Less

       A Jan 1986 AmCin article and production notes in AMPAS library files reported that screenwriter-director Eugene Corr collaborated with long-time associate, social scientist Linda Remy, whose semi-autobiographical, childhood experiences formed the basis for the screenplay. In 1971, Corr planned to write about the shipbuilding industry in World War II, but became more interested in writer-associate producer Remy’s memories of A-bomb testing in the Nevada desert by the U. S. Nuclear Development program. During his research, Corr placed classified advertisements in local Las Vegas, NV, newspapers, and interviewed longtime Las Vegas residents regarding their recollections, collecting numerous stories.
       As stated in a 18 Apr 1986 NYT article, Corr contacted Dr. Dina Titus, an historian on staff at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and author of Bombs in the Backyard, who had material covering the era of atomic bomb testing, and shared it with Corr. From archival photographs and newspapers, he learned about atomic cocktails, a mushroom cloud hairdo offered at the salon in the Flamingo Hotel, a dance known as “the atomic boogie bounce,” a Miss Atomic Bomb contest, and a musical group called the Atomic Bombers, Detonators of Devastating Rhythm. With the help of Titus, Corr was able to capture an authentic mood and period look for the film.
       A 2 Nov 1984 LAT article stated that Corr wrote his script as a Sundance Institute laboratory project. AmCin reported that Corr’s script was one of six chosen from a pile of 500 submissions. According to the 2 Nov 1984 LAT, Academy-Award winning screenwriter Waldo Salt was Corr’s mentor during the process.
       The 2 Nov 1984 LAT stated that TriStar Pictures made a deal to develop the script. When the deal fell through after a year, Carson Films became the production company of record.
       According to the 2 Nov 1984 LAT and a 18 Dec 1984 HR production chart, principal photography for the $5-million picture was set to begin 5 Nov 1984 in Tucson, AZ. A 10 Apr 1986 LADN news item stated that principal photography was completed in Jan 1985, but it was not until Robert Redford took charge of editing in mid-’85 that executives considered a firm release date.
       AmCin reported that when a sound stage could not be scheduled, filmmakers built a 1940s one-story home near the train yards of Southern Pacific on a large, vacant lot. Extra windows built into the structure allowed director of photography Reynaldo Villalobos a maximum amount of flexibility when lighting scenes. Approximately seventy-five percent of the film was shot in the house, and Villalobos chose a neutral palette for the interiors so that the architecture would not overshadow the characters. Production notes stated that behind the house, the crew built the Lucky Aces trailer park, where Rose’s boyfriend, Robin, lived. Jack’s Desert Gas Station was an additional set that was built. According to AmCin, downtown Tucson, AZ, stood in for a one-block area of downtown Las Vegas.
       The film marked Corr’s directorial film debut, and actor Annabeth Gish’s theatrical feature film debut.

      The following acknowledgments appear in end credits: “Special Thanks to: Waldo Salt,” and, “We wish to gratefully acknowledge the following people for their contributions to the film: Miranda Barry, Craig Baumgarten, Richard Bowen, Frank Daniel, John Fiedler, Robert Hillmann, Christine Lahti, Lindsay Law, Jane Sindell, Walter Teller, Vicki Valtierra, ‘The Atomic Café.’” End credits state: “Originally developed for American Playhouse with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Jan 1986
pp. 42-44.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Dec 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 1986
p. 3, 8.
Los Angeles Daily News
10 Apr 1986.
---
Los Angeles Times
2 Nov 1984
Part VI, p. 1,6.
Los Angeles Times
6 Jun 1986
p. 4.
New York Times
18 Apr 1986
p. 26.
New York Times
15 Apr 1986
p. 15.
Variety
5 Feb 1986
p. 29.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures Presents
A Carson Productions Group Ltd. Production
In association with the Sundance Institute
From Columbia-Delphi IV Productions
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
Still photog
Gaffer
Best boy
Key grip
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Draftsman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Paint supv
Sign writer
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men`s cost
Women`s cost
Asst to the cost des
MUSIC
Orig mus score by
Mus supv
Mus asst
Mus ed
Segue Music
Orig mus score
Source scoring mixer
The Burbank Studios
Source scoring mixer
The Burbank Studios
SOUND
Prod mixer
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Addl re-rec
Addl re-rec
Addl re-rec
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Main & end titles des and prod
Spec visual eff by
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Extras hairstylist
Makeup artist
Extras makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Sundance Institute prod assoc
Scr supv
Asst to Mr. Miller
Casting asst
Transportation coord
Picture car coord
Set nurse
Unit pub
Marketing consultant
Prod accountant
Asst auditor
Prod office coord
Prod secy
Asst to the prod
Asst to the prod
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Historical researcher
Historical researcher
Caterer
/Premiere Catering
Caterer's asst
COLOR PERSONNEL
[Col by]
SOURCES
SONGS
"Mockin' Bird Hill," written by Vaughn Horton, performed by Patti Page, courtesy of Polygram Special Projects, a division of Polygram Records, Inc.
Chesterfield's Cigarette Jingle courtesy of Liggett Group, Inc.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 April 1986
Premiere Information:
New Directors/New Films Festival screening: 15 April 1986
New York opening: 18 April 1986
Los Angeles opening: 6 June 1986
Production Date:
5 November 1984--January 1985 in Tucson, Arizona
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Date:
11 June 1986
Copyright Number:
PA297749
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® Camera by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by MGM®
Duration(in mins):
106
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28025
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

As a small desert town in 1950, Las Vegas, Nevada, has a few hotels, casinos, and an Air Force base. Rose Chismore, whose stepfather, Jack Chismore, owns a gas station on the edge of town, thinks her new glasses make her look like the actress, Ingrid Bergman. One day, while pumping gas, he asks some military men if their business has to do with the Korean War, but the men remain silent. Jack comments the men look like scientists, and thinks they must be Jewish. He claims he can identify any nationality. Jack wants to know if the government is building a defense plant, but the men will not confirm his suspicions. At home, Jack’s wife, Lily Chismore, hides his liquor bottles behind the groceries in the pantry. She serves dinner to her three daughters from a previous marriage, then drives to the gas station to have dinner with Jack. She says the doctor declared her healthy, but also wants to examine Jack for infertility. Although they want to have a child together, Jack is not interested in seeing the doctor. At home, he retreats to his workroom, filled with clippings about the war and listens to short wave radio. When he finds his liquor bottles missing, he throws a temper tantrum in the kitchen, blames Rose, and makes her clean up all the broken dishware on the floor. Later, Lily’s younger sister, Starr, a former model, moves in to establish residency for her divorce from her husband, Frank. At Las Vegas High School, Rose and her fellow students are taught to “duck and cover” in the event of nuclear attack. At home, Rose confesses to Starr that ... +


As a small desert town in 1950, Las Vegas, Nevada, has a few hotels, casinos, and an Air Force base. Rose Chismore, whose stepfather, Jack Chismore, owns a gas station on the edge of town, thinks her new glasses make her look like the actress, Ingrid Bergman. One day, while pumping gas, he asks some military men if their business has to do with the Korean War, but the men remain silent. Jack comments the men look like scientists, and thinks they must be Jewish. He claims he can identify any nationality. Jack wants to know if the government is building a defense plant, but the men will not confirm his suspicions. At home, Jack’s wife, Lily Chismore, hides his liquor bottles behind the groceries in the pantry. She serves dinner to her three daughters from a previous marriage, then drives to the gas station to have dinner with Jack. She says the doctor declared her healthy, but also wants to examine Jack for infertility. Although they want to have a child together, Jack is not interested in seeing the doctor. At home, he retreats to his workroom, filled with clippings about the war and listens to short wave radio. When he finds his liquor bottles missing, he throws a temper tantrum in the kitchen, blames Rose, and makes her clean up all the broken dishware on the floor. Later, Lily’s younger sister, Starr, a former model, moves in to establish residency for her divorce from her husband, Frank. At Las Vegas High School, Rose and her fellow students are taught to “duck and cover” in the event of nuclear attack. At home, Rose confesses to Starr that Jack hates her, but Starr says it is not easy being stepfather to three girls. A neighborhood boy named Robin likes to hear Jack’s stories about being a WWII soldier. In this new war, Jack claims the communists are stealing everything he fought to save. At dinner, Starr is overdressed in a satin gown with sequins on the straps. She has a date with a man she met at divorce court. Lily says she is asking for trouble, wearing such a seductive outfit. Starr mentions she overheard men at court talking about a defense plant being built, and Jack claims to know classified information he heard on his short wave radio. The family begs him to reveal the news, but he remains silent. At school, students are given dog tags. Rose arrives home, and sees Lily, Jack and Starr playing cards. They tell her the big news: the government will test A-bombs on the gunnery range north of Las Vegas. Testing will remain secret. Jack will not admit that he already knew about this classified information. The next day during an air raid drill, in the middle of a spelling test at Rose’s school, everyone drops beneath their desks, and covers their heads. One day, Rose finds Jack unconscious in his workroom after he has had too much to drink. Jack falls out of his chair, and smashes his radio. Lily confesses to Starr it is stressful being married to a man who still thinks it is World War II. Jack goes into the hospital for alcohol detoxification. Later, Lily tells her daughters that Jack is coming home and promises to quit drinking. As a holiday gift, Rose replaces the broken tubes in Jack’s radio. Lily dresses her girls in matching sailor suits, and they sing, “A Bushel And A Peck” from the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls to welcome Jack home. Rose is disappointed when, instead of thanking her for the repairs, Jack asks her to stay away from his radio. Soon, Jack apologizes to the family for his behavior, and says his high standards are the reason for his drinking. By stopping, he will be more easy-going. Mr. Mosol, a parent of one of her friends, likes to quiz Rose with difficult words for her upcoming spelling bee. When she gets them right, he tells her she is smart. In the living room, Jack listens to Duke Ellington music on the radio. He asks Rose to sit with him, and remembers how they got off to a bad start during his honeymoon with Lily. When he admits that it took guts for Rose to hit him with a frying pan that night, she gives him a kiss on the cheek. Later, Starr teaches Rose how to waltz, but she wants to learn to “jitterbug.” When Jack sees them practicing, Starr insists that he dance with his step-daughter, but after one number he stops and complains his crippled leg hurts. One night, Rose and Lily see Jack crouching in a hallway, reenacting a wartime trauma, and Lily calms him. Soon, Starr puts finishing touches on a dress Rose plans to wear to a dance. When Jack’s radio breaks, he accuses Rose of causing the problem, and forbids her to go to the dance. When she protests, he slaps her and a welt appears on her face. Her mother apologizes for Jack’s behavior, and says if Jack’s drinking gets worse, she will move the family to a motel. Starr hides Rose’s injury with makeup, and gives her a pair of sunglasses as backup. Rose sneaks to the dance, and Robin dances with her several times. Mr. Mosol notices Rose’s sunglasses and asks if there is any trouble at home. When Rose denies any problems, he offers to help if she is ever in trouble. Starr helps Rose sneak back in the house. Rose asks if she can live with Starr once she remarries, but her aunt responds that she is not in a position to help Rose. One day, Rose comes home from school, and sees Jack drunk and kissing Starr as he tries to retrieve a liquor bottle. Rose runs out of the house. At the county final spelling bee, Mr. Mosol bets $20 that Rose will win. Jack watches Rose from the back of the auditorium, and claps proudly when she wins the contest. Back at home, Rose packs a suitcase, and tells Starr she is moving in with her grandmother. Starr tearfully explains that she and Jack were just kidding around. Lily returns home and wants to know why Rose has a suitcase packed. She tells her mother that she cannot stay with the family. Starr pipes up that she and Jack were drinking, and Rose got the wrong idea. Furiously, Lily gathers all of Starr’s possessions, and orders her sister to leave. Then, she confronts Jack about his adultery. Lily, Jack, and Starr fight in the living room until Rose points Jack’s rifle at them. Mr. Mosol and other guests arrive to celebrate Rose’s victory. When he asks if everything is okay, Lily responds he is early for the party. Later, in Jack’s workroom, Mr. Mosol warns him if he sees another bruise on Rose, he will take action against him. While Lily entertains her guests at the piano, while Jack, wearing his soldier’s uniform, sits in the dark on the porch with his loaded rifle, waiting vigilantly for the bomb blast. Rose grabs her suitcase and tells Robin her plans to leave. She wants to hitchhike to Reno, but the road is closed because of the bomb testing. Later, Jack discovers Rose missing. A military helicopter finds Rose and Robin in the desert. As the helicopter lands, it kicks up the wind and Rose drops her glasses. Jack appears, and searches for Rose’s lost glasses. On the drive home, Jack admits he never got along with his father. Rose responds that Jack is not her father, but he says he would appreciate it if she found it in her heart to forgive him. Lily and Rose hug when she returns. Then, Rose hugs Starr. Jack returns Rose’s glasses. He thanks Rose for fixing the radio, and tells her he is very proud. Later, the family steps outside to watch the A-bomb’s mushroom cloud as it rises in the sky. +

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

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