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HISTORY

The 22 Oct 1979 DV announced the “preproduction film sale” of Bernard Slade’s stage play to the Mirisch Corporation, which the article mistakenly identified as Universal-Mirisch Productions. Rights were acquired for $750,000, plus twelve-and-a-half percent of weekly receipts for every profitable week the play was in performance, $250,000 of the film’s initial net profits, and ten percent of the producer’s gross receipts. The article estimated Slade’s “minimum total potential income” from the sale at $1,987,000, not including an additional ten percent of gross receipts or another five percent of “profit participation” for the writer’s screen adaptation of his play. Slade was also expected to co-produce, but he is not credited as such onscreen. It was noted that this was one of the most lucrative offers ever made for a play prior to its New York City opening. Romantic Comedy was playing in Boston at the time of the article, and was expected to open 8 Nov 1979 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City. Morton Gottlieb, who produced the play as well as the film, told the 23 Jul 1981 HR that photography would begin summer 1981, although casting was not yet confirmed.
       A 29 Sep 1981 studio press release announced the film as the first for Mirisch under its recent agreement with United Artists Corporation (UA). Principal photography was scheduled for Apr 1982. However, photography finally got underway on 12 Jul 1982, as stated in another studio press release.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Bernard Slade began work on the screenplay in the summer of ... More Less

The 22 Oct 1979 DV announced the “preproduction film sale” of Bernard Slade’s stage play to the Mirisch Corporation, which the article mistakenly identified as Universal-Mirisch Productions. Rights were acquired for $750,000, plus twelve-and-a-half percent of weekly receipts for every profitable week the play was in performance, $250,000 of the film’s initial net profits, and ten percent of the producer’s gross receipts. The article estimated Slade’s “minimum total potential income” from the sale at $1,987,000, not including an additional ten percent of gross receipts or another five percent of “profit participation” for the writer’s screen adaptation of his play. Slade was also expected to co-produce, but he is not credited as such onscreen. It was noted that this was one of the most lucrative offers ever made for a play prior to its New York City opening. Romantic Comedy was playing in Boston at the time of the article, and was expected to open 8 Nov 1979 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City. Morton Gottlieb, who produced the play as well as the film, told the 23 Jul 1981 HR that photography would begin summer 1981, although casting was not yet confirmed.
       A 29 Sep 1981 studio press release announced the film as the first for Mirisch under its recent agreement with United Artists Corporation (UA). Principal photography was scheduled for Apr 1982. However, photography finally got underway on 12 Jul 1982, as stated in another studio press release.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Bernard Slade began work on the screenplay in the summer of 1980. The story was inspired by author Ernest Hemingway, who wrote, “I have been in love with a woman for forty years, but when she was married, I was single . . . and when I was married, she was single. We were victims of unsynchronized passion.” Slade combined this concept with an exploration of the relationship between writing partners. Various New York City locations appeared in the film, including the Beacon, Barrymore, and Longacre Theatres, the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, and the Sutton Place district. Production designer Albert Sweeney and set decorator Arthur J. Parker created the sets for Jason’s townhouse and Phoebe’s apartment at the former Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Studios in Culver City, CA.
       The 29 Jul 1982 DV reported that the final night of filming in New York City was “unexpectedly costly,” because the crew requested one hour’s “rest pay” at the end of the night’s work. The 1 Sep 1982 Var stated that producer Walter Mirisch and union leader Michael Proscia of the Motion Picture Studio Mechanics, Local 52, later discussed the incident by mail. Proscia declared the term “rest pay” was not condoned by the union. Mirisch recalled that filming ended 15 Jul 1982 at 3:12 a.m., but further time was required to load equipment onto trucks. Shop steward Tom Gilligan discussed the possibility of a one-hour rest period with production managers Alex Ho and David Silver, prior to loading the trucks. The crew then put the matter to a vote and elected to take a half-hour rest as a compromise. Mirisch admitted that it was a difficult night for all involved, and complimented the crew on their hard work. Copies of the letters were sent to Ben Kahane, vice president in charge of labor relations for MGM, and George Justin, MGM vice president in charge of production, for their review.
       The 7 Mar 1983 DV reported that Taft Entertainment Company (TEC) supplied approximately $3.3 million of the film’s $10 million budget, as part of a “defunct two-picture deal” with MGM/UA, which provided the remaining funds. MGM/UA originally agreed to finance TEC’s next production, Cujo (1983, see entry), but following a change in management, the offer was withdrawn.
       Romantic Comedy had a benefit premiere at the AMPAS Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, CA, 5 Oct 1983. Proceeds benefited the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art (LAICA). Cast members Dudley Moore and Mary Steenburgen attended, and Sponsoring Committee Member Sylvester Stallone donated four prints by artist Andy Warhol, depicting boxer Muhammed Ali, for auction. The picture opened nationwide 7 Oct 1983 to negative reviews. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 Oct 1979.
---
Daily Variety
29 Jul 1982.
---
Daily Variety
7 Mar 1983
p. 1, 12.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jul 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Oct 1983
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
7 Oct 1983
p. 1.
New York Times
7 Oct 1983
p. 8.
Variety
1 Sep 1982.
---
Variety
12 Oct 1983
p. 22, 26.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A United Artists/Taft Entertainment Picture
The Mirisch Corporation Presents
A Walter Mirisch Production
of an Arthur Hiller Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Prod mgr, New York City
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Chief lighting tech
Key grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost des
Costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus comp
SOUND
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd eff ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles and opt eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hair styles des by
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod consultant
Scr supv
Prod coord
Asst to the prod
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Loc
Auditor
Secy to Mr. Hiller
Secy to Mr. M. Mirisch
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timing
[Col] In
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the stage play Romantic Comedy by Bernard Slade (New York, 8 Nov 1979)
produced on the stage by Morton Gottlieb.
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Maybe," song by Marvin Hamlisch, Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach, performed by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack, courtesy of Capitol Records.
DETAILS
Release Date:
7 October 1983
Premiere Information:
Beverly Hills, CA premiere: 5 October 1983
Los Angeles and New York openings: 7 October 1983
Production Date:
began 12 July 1982
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
102
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26942
SYNOPSIS

In New York City, aspiring author Phoebe Craddock enters the home of playwright Jason Carmichael on the day of his wedding to Allison St. James. Meanwhile, in Jason’s home office, his agent, Blanche Dailey, informs him of his upcoming meeting with prospective writing partner P. J. Craddock. While Jason is alone in the office, Phoebe enters, and he assumes she is the masseuse he has been expecting. As he removes his clothing, Phoebe expresses her admiration of his work, although she is puzzled by his actions. Jason realizes his mistake as Phoebe introduces herself, and is overcome with embarrassment. After Phoebe assures him that the incident will not affect their relationship, Jason warns her of the challenges she will face in the theater, adding that he is a notoriously unpleasant writing partner. Phoebe is undaunted and looks forward to working with him. Three weeks later, Jason returns from his honeymoon and begins his collaboration with Phoebe. Although the play succeeds out of town, it garners negative reviews in New York City and is forced to close. Afterward, Blanche Dailey and Phoebe join Jason at his home to console each other. Allison enters and finds Phoebe asleep with her head in Jason’s lap as he strokes her hair. Though Jason protests his fidelity to Allison, she requests a private talk with him. Phoebe awakens, and while she is in the bathroom, Allison tells her husband she is pregnant. Over the next few years, Jason and Phoebe collaborate on several hit plays, and Phoebe develops a close friendship with Jason’s wife and children. However, Jason becomes possessive ... +


In New York City, aspiring author Phoebe Craddock enters the home of playwright Jason Carmichael on the day of his wedding to Allison St. James. Meanwhile, in Jason’s home office, his agent, Blanche Dailey, informs him of his upcoming meeting with prospective writing partner P. J. Craddock. While Jason is alone in the office, Phoebe enters, and he assumes she is the masseuse he has been expecting. As he removes his clothing, Phoebe expresses her admiration of his work, although she is puzzled by his actions. Jason realizes his mistake as Phoebe introduces herself, and is overcome with embarrassment. After Phoebe assures him that the incident will not affect their relationship, Jason warns her of the challenges she will face in the theater, adding that he is a notoriously unpleasant writing partner. Phoebe is undaunted and looks forward to working with him. Three weeks later, Jason returns from his honeymoon and begins his collaboration with Phoebe. Although the play succeeds out of town, it garners negative reviews in New York City and is forced to close. Afterward, Blanche Dailey and Phoebe join Jason at his home to console each other. Allison enters and finds Phoebe asleep with her head in Jason’s lap as he strokes her hair. Though Jason protests his fidelity to Allison, she requests a private talk with him. Phoebe awakens, and while she is in the bathroom, Allison tells her husband she is pregnant. Over the next few years, Jason and Phoebe collaborate on several hit plays, and Phoebe develops a close friendship with Jason’s wife and children. However, Jason becomes possessive of Phoebe and discourages her romantic involvements. Meanwhile, Allison is elected to the city council, which puts a strain on her marriage. One night, in Chicago, Illinois, while the playwrights discuss the fate of a failing production, a drunken Jason attempts to make love to Phoebe, but is unable to stay awake. Following their return home, Allison admits to being jealous of her husband’s close friendship with Phoebe, and wishes she could share their passion for the theater. She adds that Phoebe should be married and advises Jason not to discourage his partner’s suitors. While working at Jason’s weekend home, the playwrights are visited by journalist Leo Janowitz, who is writing an article about them. Jason leaves Phoebe alone with Leo for a few moments, during which they kiss passionately and discuss the possibility of getting married before Leo leaves for an assignment in Russia. Jason reappears as Phoebe and Leo part company, and recommends that Phoebe abandon her romance with the journalist. She demands an explanation, but he is silent and she leaves in anger. As rehearsals begin for their next play, Jason tells Phoebe of his exasperation with temperamental leading lady Kate Mallory. After he misses a luncheon appointment, Phoebe discovers that he has had a tryst with Kate. She is appalled and threatens to dissolve the partnership. Jason begs forgiveness and reveals himself to be an uneducated British urchin named Fred Carp, who reinvented himself as Jason Carmichael. Adding to his insecurities are his failing marriage and the possibility of losing Phoebe. They return to work, but Phoebe is unable to tolerate Jason’s arrogance and leaves the country with Leo. Allison divorces Jason, and two years later he is still alone is his dilapidated townhouse following a bout with alcoholism. Phoebe has become famous as the author of the bestselling novel, Romantic Comedy, based on the “unsynchronized passion” that defined her relationship with Jason. While she is in New York City publicizing her book, Blanche Dailey invites Phoebe to Jason’s home. Although Jason is ashamed of his depleted condition, Phoebe is happy to see him and takes him to lunch, where she asks for his help in adapting her book for the stage. Angered by what he perceives to be an act of charity, Jason becomes agitated and suffers a heart attack. While Phoebe nurses Jason through his recovery, they work on the adaptation, using the characters as surrogates to express their feelings for each other. Leo Janowitz overhears one such conversation and accuses the two of “mental copulation.” He refuses to share Phoebe, and leaves her to decide the course of their marriage. That night, Phoebe and Jason make love, but are disappointed by the experience. Despite Jason’s declaration of love, Phoebe returns to Leo. Jason completes the play without assistance, and as rehearsals progress, Phoebe returns, saying she wants to reconcile the two characters. They retire to a couch on stage and clumsily attempt to make love. +

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

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