Table for Five (1983)

PG | 122 mins | Drama | 18 February 1983

Director:

Robert Lieberman

Writer:

David Seltzer

Producer:

Robert Schaffel

Cinematographer:

Vilmos Zsigmond

Editor:

Michael Kahn

Production Designer:

Robert Boyle

Production Company:

CBS Theatrical Films
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HISTORY

End credits include the following statements: "And special thanks to: Mike Gelbish, Daniel Nunez, Raymond Purtle, Geoff Vanderstock, Barbara Voight, Benjie Bancroft, Dame Amar, Gordon Smith, Jr., Hannah Rita Rose Amar, Shawn Easton, Newton Arnold, Fletcher Bryant, Ed Schaffel, Adam O'Neil, Rita Schaffel, Jon Johannessen, Milton Lieberman, Jeff Lawrence, Sally Lieberman, Jacob Saba, Bob Yanez, Joseph F. Nasser, Mike Espejo"; “Atari video games used courtesy of Atari, Inc.”; “Airline travel by Pan American World Airways”; and “The Producers of this film gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of Norwegian American Cruises and the officers and crew of the cruise ship Vistafjord.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files and the 15 Jan 1982 DV , producer Robert Schaffel learned of David Seltzer’s screenplay though a CBS Theatrical Films executive Donald March in Nov 1981. Schaffel and his business partner, actor Jon Voight, both of whom had been searching for a story about a father and his children, reached an agreement with CBS Theatrical films, and commissioned two rewrites of the screenplay. The Apr 1983 Glamour magazine reported that the story was drawn from Seltzer’s own experience as a divorced “weekend” father taking his son, daughter, and two adopted Vietnamese sons on an ocean cruise. Schaffel, Voight, and director Robert Lieberman were also divorced parents, and their experiences reportedly influenced the screenplay.
       As stated in production notes, the producers cast actor Richard Crenna as “Mitchell,” believing he could create a more sympathetic portrayal of the often-maligned stepfather character. Table for Five marked the return to motion pictures of actress Millie Perkins, who retired years earlier to raise a family, and ... More Less

End credits include the following statements: "And special thanks to: Mike Gelbish, Daniel Nunez, Raymond Purtle, Geoff Vanderstock, Barbara Voight, Benjie Bancroft, Dame Amar, Gordon Smith, Jr., Hannah Rita Rose Amar, Shawn Easton, Newton Arnold, Fletcher Bryant, Ed Schaffel, Adam O'Neil, Rita Schaffel, Jon Johannessen, Milton Lieberman, Jeff Lawrence, Sally Lieberman, Jacob Saba, Bob Yanez, Joseph F. Nasser, Mike Espejo"; “Atari video games used courtesy of Atari, Inc.”; “Airline travel by Pan American World Airways”; and “The Producers of this film gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of Norwegian American Cruises and the officers and crew of the cruise ship Vistafjord.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files and the 15 Jan 1982 DV , producer Robert Schaffel learned of David Seltzer’s screenplay though a CBS Theatrical Films executive Donald March in Nov 1981. Schaffel and his business partner, actor Jon Voight, both of whom had been searching for a story about a father and his children, reached an agreement with CBS Theatrical films, and commissioned two rewrites of the screenplay. The Apr 1983 Glamour magazine reported that the story was drawn from Seltzer’s own experience as a divorced “weekend” father taking his son, daughter, and two adopted Vietnamese sons on an ocean cruise. Schaffel, Voight, and director Robert Lieberman were also divorced parents, and their experiences reportedly influenced the screenplay.
       As stated in production notes, the producers cast actor Richard Crenna as “Mitchell,” believing he could create a more sympathetic portrayal of the often-maligned stepfather character. Table for Five marked the return to motion pictures of actress Millie Perkins, who retired years earlier to raise a family, and the feature film debuts of actress Roxana Zal, actor Robby Kiger, and actor Son Hoang Bui, a young Vietnamese refugee with no prior acting experience.
       Location scouting in Israel, Greece, Egypt, and Rome, Italy, was underway in Feb 1982, during which Voight requested that the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, and the pyramids and Sphinx near Cairo, Egypt, appear in the film as symbols of “permanence.” The production team signed an agreement with Norwegian-American Cruise Lines for the use of the 25,000-ton Vistafjord, one of only two five-star luxury cruise ships in the world at the time. The seventy-five American members of the cast and crew were joined in Genoa, Italy, by an additional twenty-five Italian crewmembers. The Vistafjord sailed to locations on the islands of Malta and Crete, followed by the cities of Haifa, Israel, Alexandria, Egypt, and Piraeus, Greece, before returning to Genoa. Afterward, the company traveled by air to Athens, Cairo, Rome, and New York City to film exterior scenes. Production continued for another three weeks on sound stages at CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles, CA, where cruise ship interiors were recreated.
       Table for Five was the first theatrical feature directed by Robert Lieberman, whose prior credits included award-winning commercials and special events for television. An article in the 18 Jul 1982 LAT stated that Schaffel and Voight interviewed thirty-five prospective directors before deciding on Lieberman, because they felt he was suitably empathetic toward the film’s subject, and had the energy to endure “a long and arduous shoot.” Principal photography was preceded by two weeks of rehearsals in Los Angeles. Screenwriter David Seltzer was present throughout the production to make necessary changes to the script, such as tailoring the character, “J. P. Tannen,” to Voight’s personality. Seven-day workweeks were often required during location filming to ensure the production would return to Los Angeles on schedule for interior photography.
       A news item in the 8 Apr 1982 HR announced principal photography would begin on 18 Apr 1982. Following two weeks of filming on the ship, the crew moved to Athens, as noted by the 6 May 1982 DV, which estimated the production budget at $10 million. Location photography in Europe was expected to last seven weeks. The 2 Jun 1982 Var reported delays during the first two weeks of photography due to “high seas and murky weather,” which ultimately cleared in late May. According to the 1 Jun 1982 LAHExam, upon the completion of filming in Greece, a Greek-style party was held, which included 2,000 plaster-of-Paris “breakaway” dinner plates, many of which were broken over the heads of celebrants. During the event, director of photography Vilmos Szigmond accidentally struck director Robert Lieberman unconscious with a ceramic plate. Lieberman reportedly recovered soon after.
       The18 Jul 1982 LAT noted that the scene in which “J. P. Tannen” tells his children of their mother’s death, was achieved with the help of crewmembers who quieted the numerous Cairo “trinket salesmen” in the vicinity, and children who carried signs in the street asking drivers to refrain from sounding their horns.
       The 14 Jul 1982 HR announced the completion of principal photography. Schaffel and Voight were so pleased with Lieberman’s direction, they reportedly began immediate discussions to make another film. It has not been determined if the project was ever initiated.
       A provisional edit of Table for Five was screened in London, England, Paris, France, and Munich, Germany, for European and Asian distributors during Oct 1982 before screening at the MIFED film market in Milan, Italy, as reported in the 20 Oct 1982 Var. The picture was made available to foreign markets in Mar 1983, following its domestic release. Warner Bros. also sponsored twenty-eight exhibitor screenings in cities throughout the continental US on 7 Jan 1983. The 30 Dec 1982 DV heralded the 18 Feb 1983 opening of Table for Five in New York City, Los Angeles, CA, San Francisco, CA, Chicago, IL, Atlanta, GA, Cincinnati, OH, and Toronto, Canada. An Australian opening was planned for 3 Mar 1983, and an opening in Japan later that month. According to the 23 Dec 1982 HR, the film was selected for “royal command performance” at the Odeon in London on 21 Mar 1983. Proceeds benefited the British Cinema and Television Benevolent fund. Over the course of the year, Table for Five also screened at the 13th International Moscow Film Festival in the U.S.S.R., and the Deauville Film Festival in France, as reported in the 29 Jun 1983 HR and 2 Sep 1983 HR, respectively.
       A Warner Bros. Pictures press release, dated 15 Feb 1983, announced a preview of the film at Mann’s National Theatre in the Westwood district of Los Angeles, CA, on 17 Feb 1983. Proceeds were donated to the Hillsides Home for Children. Attendees included cast members Jon Voight, Millie Perkins, Roxana Zal, Robby Kiger, and Son Hoang Bui. As noted in the 17 Feb 1983 DV, the event was originally planned for the 657-seat Mann Plaza Theatre, but demand for tickets necessitated the relocation at the 1213-seat Mann National. Table for Five opened 18 Feb 1983 to generally positive reviews, although several characterized the film as a “tearjerker.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
15 Jan 1982
p. 1, 7.
Daily Variety
4 Mar 1982.
---
Daily Variety
29 Mar 1982.
---
Daily Variety
29 Apr 1982.
---
Daily Variety
6 May 1982.
---
Daily Variety
30 Dec 1982.
---
Daily Variety
17 Feb 1983.
---
Glamour
Apr 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 May 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 May 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 May 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jul 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Dec 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 1983
p. 3, 50.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jul 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Sep 1983.
---
LAHExam
1 Jun 1982
Section A, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
18 Jul 1982.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Feb 1983
p. 1.
Motion Picture Product Digest
5 May 1982.
---
New York Times
18 Feb 1983
p. 12.
Variety
2 Jun 1982.
---
Variety
20 Oct 1982.
---
Variety
29 Dec 1982.
---
Variety
9 Feb 1983
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
CBS Theatrical Films
A Voight-Schaffel Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit dir of photog
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Addl photog
Aerial photog
Still photog
Key grip
Dolly grip
Company grip
Best boy
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
Apprentice film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Leadman
COSTUMES
Women's costumer
Men's costumer
Asst men's costumer
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus ed
Scoring mixer
Mus research
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
Cable man
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Post prod dialogue
ADR ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Process coord
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hair des by
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Foreign loc mgr, United Kingdom
Foreign loc mgr, Italy
Foreign loc mgr, Egypt
Foreign loc mgr, Greece
Foreign loc mgr, Israel
Scr supv
Scr supv
Unit pub
Asst to Robert Schaffel
Asst to prod
Asst to prod
Personal consultant to Mr. Voight
Loc mgr
Prod auditor
Craft service
Transportation coord
Casting asst
DETAILS
Release Date:
18 February 1983
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 18 February 1983
New York opening week of 18 February 1983
Production Date:
18 April 1982--mid July 1982
Copyright Claimant:
CBS, Inc.
Copyright Date:
11 April 1983
Copyright Number:
PA171568
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®
Prints
Deluxe Laboratories, Inc., Hollywood
Prints
Rank Film Laboratories, Ltd., London
Duration(in mins):
122
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26879
SYNOPSIS

In New York City, the Tannen children, Tilde, Truman-Paul, and adopted Vietnamese orphan Trung, are driven to the airport by their mother, Kathleen, and stepfather, Mitchell, to meet their father, J. P. Tannen, upon his arrival from Los Angeles, California. J. P. announces that he is taking the children on a voyage to the Mediterranean Sea, with stops in Italy, Greece, Israel, and Egypt. Kathleen is apprehensive over her ex-husband’s extravagance, but J. P. assures her he is now a successful real estate agent. He also claims to have matured since their divorce and wants to be involved in his children’s lives. Kathleen argues that J. P.’s parenting skills are better suited to his occasional visits and birthday telephone calls. As J. P. and the children board the ship, Mitchell recommends that Tilde and Truman-Paul share a room, as the boy is prone to nightmares, and requires a calming presence. As the ship sets sail, Mandy, the youth activity director, reveals that there are no other children on board. The three children are disappointed by their father’s thoughtlessness, and J. P. struggles to hide his embarrassment. Later, when J. P. notices an attractive young Swedish woman named Sophie, Tilde advises her father to focus on women his own age. At dinner, J. P. reserves a table for five, hoping to invite Sophie to join them. When she enters the dining room with a companion, Tilde suggests offering the empty seat to the lonely old man at an adjacent table, but J. P. declines. That evening, the children inform J. P. that Truman-Paul is unable to read due to ... +


In New York City, the Tannen children, Tilde, Truman-Paul, and adopted Vietnamese orphan Trung, are driven to the airport by their mother, Kathleen, and stepfather, Mitchell, to meet their father, J. P. Tannen, upon his arrival from Los Angeles, California. J. P. announces that he is taking the children on a voyage to the Mediterranean Sea, with stops in Italy, Greece, Israel, and Egypt. Kathleen is apprehensive over her ex-husband’s extravagance, but J. P. assures her he is now a successful real estate agent. He also claims to have matured since their divorce and wants to be involved in his children’s lives. Kathleen argues that J. P.’s parenting skills are better suited to his occasional visits and birthday telephone calls. As J. P. and the children board the ship, Mitchell recommends that Tilde and Truman-Paul share a room, as the boy is prone to nightmares, and requires a calming presence. As the ship sets sail, Mandy, the youth activity director, reveals that there are no other children on board. The three children are disappointed by their father’s thoughtlessness, and J. P. struggles to hide his embarrassment. Later, when J. P. notices an attractive young Swedish woman named Sophie, Tilde advises her father to focus on women his own age. At dinner, J. P. reserves a table for five, hoping to invite Sophie to join them. When she enters the dining room with a companion, Tilde suggests offering the empty seat to the lonely old man at an adjacent table, but J. P. declines. That evening, the children inform J. P. that Truman-Paul is unable to read due to a learning disability. J. P. offers to tutor Truman-Paul, and instructs him to spell the word, “policeman.” The boy is quickly discouraged and retires to his room. J. P. visits the lounge and attempts to converse with Sophie, only to find that she speaks little English. At breakfast the next morning, J. P. becomes impatient with the children and wanders the ship in search of female companionship. He meets Marie, a French immigrant, who recognizes J. P. from the dining room and compliments him on his devotion to his children, wishing her ex-husband showed as much interest in their daughter. J. P. remains silent, ashamed to admit that he is the same kind of parent. After another failed attempt at tutoring Truman-Paul, J. P. learns from the ship’s officer that Trung has been purchasing alcoholic beverages using a forged identification card. J. P. finds Trung in the dining room and scolds him for his behavior, but the boy is unapologetic. Tilde interrupts, asking to invite the elderly passenger to join them for lunch. J. P. becomes exasperated and lashes out. Tilde is appalled her father’s inappropriate language, and J. P. admits he never knew how to speak to children. That night, the children telephone home. Unaware that Kathleen has been killed in a traffic accident, Rodessa, the maid, informs the children their mother is on her way home. Meanwhile, Marie and J. P. spend the evening together and make love in her room. In the morning, J. P. tries to make peace with children, explaining he is more of a friend than a father to them, and asks to be treated accordingly. Following a brief visit to Rome, Italy, J. P. receives a telephone call from Mitchell informing him of Kathleen’s death. Mitchell plans to meet them in Athens, Greece, the next day to take the children home. J. P. is devastated but maintains his composure throughout the evening. Upon arriving in Athens, J. P. asks Mitchell to allow him time to break the sad news to the children, and they agree to meet in Cairo, Egypt, in three days. Afterward, J. P. wanders the city alone, and encounters Marie at a sidewalk café. She comforts him as he tells her of Kathleen’s death, and his failure as a husband and father. Following a pleasant evening with the children, J. P. realizes he is unable to relinquish his parental rights. When he meets Mitchell in Cairo the next day, J. P. asks for custody. Mitchell threatens J. P. with a fierce legal battle and produces a letter from Kathleen, indicating her desire for the children to be raised by their stepfather. J. P. joins the children at the foot of the Sphinx to inform them of their mother’s death, adding that Mitchell will be their guardian. That night on the ship, Truman-Paul is wakened by the recurring nightmare that has haunted him since his parents’ divorce. In the morning, Trung leaves the ship when it reaches Tunis, Tunisia, and J. P. follows him to the marketplace. The boy expresses his feeling of abandonment, first by his biological father, and now by his adoptive father. Later, Truman-Paul surprises J. P. by offering an approximate spelling of “poliecman,” proof that “wanting it can make it happen.” Upon meeting Mitchell in Genoa, Italy, J. P. declares that he is keeping the children at their request, and intends to overcome any legal obstacle placed in his way. Mitchell is sad to lose the children, but he respects their wishes. +

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

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