Lost in the Stars (1974)

G | 114 mins | Drama, Musical | 1974

Director:

Daniel Mann

Producer:

Ely Landau

Cinematographer:

Robert Hauser

Production Designer:

Jack Martin Smith

Production Companies:

American Express Films, Inc., The Ely Landau Organization, Inc., Cinevision Ltee (Canada)
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HISTORY

According to an 18 May 1973 HR news item, filming took place at Twentieth Century-Fox Studios and in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Brock Peters revived his role as “Stephen Kumalo,” after starring in a 1972 rendition of the stage musical which first appeared at New York’s Music Box Theatre on 30 Oct 1949. Lost in the Stars was the fifth in a series of eight motion pictures in the first season of the American Film Theatre based on stage plays from the U.S. and Great Britain, as stated in a 1 Feb 1974 LAHExam news brief; according to the 18 May 1973 HR , it was the first musical in the series.
       The 1 Feb 1974 LAHExam reported that the film opened on 4 Feb 1974 in Los Angeles, CA, in a “subscription-only” two-day engagement. According to production notes, American Film Theatre planned to release each film in the series in similar fashion, two-day engagements, once a month, “on a subscription ... More Less

According to an 18 May 1973 HR news item, filming took place at Twentieth Century-Fox Studios and in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Brock Peters revived his role as “Stephen Kumalo,” after starring in a 1972 rendition of the stage musical which first appeared at New York’s Music Box Theatre on 30 Oct 1949. Lost in the Stars was the fifth in a series of eight motion pictures in the first season of the American Film Theatre based on stage plays from the U.S. and Great Britain, as stated in a 1 Feb 1974 LAHExam news brief; according to the 18 May 1973 HR , it was the first musical in the series.
       The 1 Feb 1974 LAHExam reported that the film opened on 4 Feb 1974 in Los Angeles, CA, in a “subscription-only” two-day engagement. According to production notes, American Film Theatre planned to release each film in the series in similar fashion, two-day engagements, once a month, “on a subscription basis.”
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
20 May 1974
p. 4690.
Daily Variety
18 May 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 May 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 1973
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Sep 1973
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 1974
p. 3, 14.
LAHExam
1 Feb 1974.
---
LAHExam
4 Feb 1974
Section B, p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
4 Feb 1974
p. 1, 12.
New York Times
7 May 1974
p. 54.
Variety
6 Feb 1974
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Story, Spec consultants
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Stills
Cam op
Cam asst
Key grip
Gaffer
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost supv
MUSIC
Mus cond and supv
Book and lyrics by
Mus assoc, Spec consultants
Mus mixer
Mus rec
Mus ed
SOUND
Re-rec, Spec consultants
Sd mixer
Sd eff
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles & opticals
DANCE
Choreog, Spec consultants
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
For the American Film Theatre
For the American Film Theatre
Prod supv
Casting
Casting
Scr supv
Post prod
Unit pub
Prod asst
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the musical play Lost in the Stars , music by Kurt Weill, book and lyrics by Maxwell Anderson (New York, 30 Oct 1949), which was based on the novel Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton (New York, 1948).
DETAILS
Release Date:
1974
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 4 February 1974
New York opening: 6 May 1974
Production Date:
18 June--late August 1973
Copyright Claimant:
AFT Distributing Corporation
Copyright Date:
21 January 1974
Copyright Number:
LP43688
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
114
MPAA Rating:
G
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23852
SYNOPSIS

In Ndotsheni, South Africa, James Jarvis escorts his son, Arthur Jarvis, and grandson, Edward Jarvis, to a train depot. Arthur spots Stephen Kumalo, a minister, and excuses himself, but Jarvis forbids Arthur from speaking to the man, arguing that white people do not converse with black people in his village. Arthur argues that he is friends with Zulus and treats them as he treats anyone else. A crowd of villagers sings as a train to Johannesburg approaches. On the train, Arthur greets Stephen, who says this trip is the first long journey he has ever made. In Johannesburg, Stephen plans to look for his son, Absalom, who works in the mines but has not sent a letter in a year. Upon his arrival, Stephen goes to a shop owned by his brother, John Kumalo. Stephen asks after their sister, Gertrude, but John replies that she is gone, saying it was a mistake for her to come to Johannesburg. John warns his brother that life in the city revolves around the mines, and though black people work hard there, they do not profit. He asks his brother to take Gertrude’s young son, Alex, back to Ndotsheni. Stephen asks where he can find Absalom, but John says he threw him out of the house, along with his own son, Matthew Kumalo. He believes they now live in Sophiatown and provides contact information for the textile factory where they work. Before Stephen leaves, John forces him to take Alex. At the textile factory, a manager says Absalom no longer works there but provides a new address where he can be found. Stephen and Alex continue to search for Absalom on foot and ... +


In Ndotsheni, South Africa, James Jarvis escorts his son, Arthur Jarvis, and grandson, Edward Jarvis, to a train depot. Arthur spots Stephen Kumalo, a minister, and excuses himself, but Jarvis forbids Arthur from speaking to the man, arguing that white people do not converse with black people in his village. Arthur argues that he is friends with Zulus and treats them as he treats anyone else. A crowd of villagers sings as a train to Johannesburg approaches. On the train, Arthur greets Stephen, who says this trip is the first long journey he has ever made. In Johannesburg, Stephen plans to look for his son, Absalom, who works in the mines but has not sent a letter in a year. Upon his arrival, Stephen goes to a shop owned by his brother, John Kumalo. Stephen asks after their sister, Gertrude, but John replies that she is gone, saying it was a mistake for her to come to Johannesburg. John warns his brother that life in the city revolves around the mines, and though black people work hard there, they do not profit. He asks his brother to take Gertrude’s young son, Alex, back to Ndotsheni. Stephen asks where he can find Absalom, but John says he threw him out of the house, along with his own son, Matthew Kumalo. He believes they now live in Sophiatown and provides contact information for the textile factory where they work. Before Stephen leaves, John forces him to take Alex. At the textile factory, a manager says Absalom no longer works there but provides a new address where he can be found. Stephen and Alex continue to search for Absalom on foot and track him to a prison, where Eland, an administrator, informs Stephen that his son has been paroled, partly because he impregnated a woman and needed to find work to support her. She and Absalom now live in Pinville, a shantytown, and Eland offers to drive them there the following morning. Outside the shantytown, Absalom complains to his girlfriend, Irina, that they live in a filthy place and never have enough money. He wants to own a shop like his uncle, but Irina asks where he will get the money to open a business, warning him not to steal again or else he will go to prison for life. Staying at a boardinghouse overnight, Alex asks Stephen what life will be like in Ndotsheni. Stephen sings a song, fondly describing his little grey house in a one-street town. At a saloon, young men and women dance and sing together. Absalom arrives in search of his cousin, Matthew, and another man, Johannes. The three head to a back room to discuss a robbery they plan to commit. Matthew confirms that Absalom brought his gun. When Johannes says the white man they plan to rob never locks his doors, Absalom asks why they need a gun, especially because the man is supposed to be away on a trip. They argue, and Matthew tells his cousin he must bring a gun or he is of no use. In Pinville, Eland and Stephen knock on the door of Irina’s home and wake her up. Eland introduces Stephen as Absalom’s father, and Irina tells the men that Absalom is not there and may have left her. After she admits to Stephen that she has had three husbands, he asks if she would consider him as a potential husband. She confesses that she could be willing to marry him, and Stephen angrily concludes that she is a woman who habitually attaches herself to men. Stephen apologizes when Irina begins to cry. He writes his address on a piece of paper, pleading for a message from her if Absalom returns. Once he has left, Irina sings about the trouble Absalom has brought to her life. At night, Absalom, Matthew, and Johannes break into Arthur Jarvis’ house. A servant sees the men and calls out to Arthur, but Johannes knocks him to the ground. When Arthur arrives, Absalom shoots him in the chest, and the thieves run away. In Ndotsheni, James learns of Arthur’s death, while black people in Johannesburg rush home to avoid police. In his office, Eland tells Stephen that Absalom has been arrested and accused of shooting Arthur, and Stephen visits his son’s jail cell. As they embrace, Absalom cries, ashamed. Stephen consoles him, saying he knows he cannot be guilty of murder; however, Absalom confesses to killing Arthur. He tries to explain the conditions that led him to become a criminal, but Stephen cannot understand. When he must go, Stephen touches his son’s head and tells him to “stay well.” Outside the prison, Stephen tells John about the crime, and John responds that Johannes and Matthew will plead ‘not guilty,’ suggesting Absalom do the same. He tells Stephen the white man’s court is unjust, and his son must lie or be executed. Stephen walks into an empty church and sings about God’s early creations, describing a time when God held all the stars in his hands and one fell through. In the same way that God made sure to find the missing star, he looks over people, even if they get lost. Elsewhere, Irina washes laundry and sings about Absalom’s absence. Stephen finds her, announcing that Absalom’s trial begins the next day. She asks if he will be freed, and Stephen says his son plans to tell the truth. Irina ensures Stephen that she will marry his son, even if he is sentenced to prison for a very long time. In the prison yard, Absalom sings about disobeying his father as a child. He weighs the consequences of telling the truth or lying under oath. During the trial, Johannes and Matthew deny having any involvement in the robbery and murder; instead, they claim to have been at a friend’s house, having come from the saloon. Absalom confesses to robbing the house with Matthew and Johannes and killing Arthur and says he never plans to lie again. Outside the court, Stephen approaches James Jarvis and asks for his help. Though Stephen describes the horrible conditions that led his son to commit murder, Jarvis contends that if their positions were reversed, he would not approach Stephen for help but force his son to face the legal repercussions for his actions. When court reconvenes, the judge absolves Matthew and Johannes, and convicts Absalom, sentencing him to hanging. Inside the jail, Stephen marries Irina and Absalom, providing his son with a ring to give to his new wife. Before they leave, Stephen tells Absalom that Irina will return to Ndotsheni with him, and he will help take care of her and Absalom’s child. In Ndotsheni, Stephen’s wife, Grace Kumalo, greets Irina, Alex, and Stephen at the train depot. In town, Alex plays with two black children. When Edward approaches, Alex’s friends run away. Edward tells Alex some Zulu words his father taught him, explaining that his father died in Johannesburg. Edward suggests they meet again that night and comes by Alex’s house later to help him fix a broken toy. Jarvis finds Edward outside Stephen’s church and reprimands him for coming into town alone. Through a window, he spies Stephen announcing his retirement. Inside, the church members protest, but Stephen insists his faith has been shaken and a leader must not be lost. On the day of Absalom’s hanging, Stephen asks Irina to stay with Grace and walks past the church and up the side of a mountain. Jarvis finds him and confesses to listening to his speech last night. James urges him to return to the church, but Stephen says he cannot preach his newfound belief that everyone is lost. Leaving Jarvis, Stephen continues up the mountain. When a clock bell tolls, Stephen cries out, knowing his son has died. +

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

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