Bad Timing (1980)

22 September 1980

Director:

Nicholas Roeg

Writer:

Yale Udoff

Producer:

Jeremy Thomas

Cinematographer:

Anthony Richmond

Editor:

Tony Lawson

Production Designer:

David Brockhurst

Production Company:

Recorded Picture Company
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HISTORY

The following written text appears in the end credits: “Made on location in Austria, Morocco, New York & London, and completed at Pinewood Studios, England, by The Recorded Picture Company (Illusions) Ltd., 11 Greek Street, London, W.I. England.”
       A 10 Jun 1979 LAT article referred to the film by its working title, Illusions, and noted that the story was first conceived by Italian producer Carlo Ponti, who suggested that director Nicholas Roeg develop it into a feature film. Although Yale Udoff is the only writer credited onscreen, the first version of the script, which was set in Italy, was reportedly co-written by Roeg and Udoff. Producer-director Roger Corman, whom Roeg had worked for as director of photography on The Masque of the Red Death (1964, see entry), was attached to the project at the time but was unable to raise production funds. By mid-1977, the script was no longer considered viable, but producer Jeremy Thomas, the twenty-eight-year-old son of British director Ralph Thomas, read the script and wanted to work with Roeg to promote his career. When Roeg agreed to direct, Thomas “bought out Ponti” and negotiated a $4 million deal with Rank Film Distributors.
       A 7 Feb 1979 HR news item announced that principal photography for Illusions was scheduled to begin 19 Mar 1979 for a ten-week shoot in Vienna, Austria. On 23 May 1979, Var stated that the production had moved to London after five weeks in Vienna and principal photography was set to continue in Morocco and New York City with an expected completion date of mid-Jun 1979.
       A ... More Less

The following written text appears in the end credits: “Made on location in Austria, Morocco, New York & London, and completed at Pinewood Studios, England, by The Recorded Picture Company (Illusions) Ltd., 11 Greek Street, London, W.I. England.”
       A 10 Jun 1979 LAT article referred to the film by its working title, Illusions, and noted that the story was first conceived by Italian producer Carlo Ponti, who suggested that director Nicholas Roeg develop it into a feature film. Although Yale Udoff is the only writer credited onscreen, the first version of the script, which was set in Italy, was reportedly co-written by Roeg and Udoff. Producer-director Roger Corman, whom Roeg had worked for as director of photography on The Masque of the Red Death (1964, see entry), was attached to the project at the time but was unable to raise production funds. By mid-1977, the script was no longer considered viable, but producer Jeremy Thomas, the twenty-eight-year-old son of British director Ralph Thomas, read the script and wanted to work with Roeg to promote his career. When Roeg agreed to direct, Thomas “bought out Ponti” and negotiated a $4 million deal with Rank Film Distributors.
       A 7 Feb 1979 HR news item announced that principal photography for Illusions was scheduled to begin 19 Mar 1979 for a ten-week shoot in Vienna, Austria. On 23 May 1979, Var stated that the production had moved to London after five weeks in Vienna and principal photography was set to continue in Morocco and New York City with an expected completion date of mid-Jun 1979.
       A 12 Jun 1979 HR article, which noted that the film was still in production, announced that author Richard Bach filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles, CA, Superior Court against director Nicholas Roeg, Rank Film Distributors Ltd., the Recorded Picture Company Ltd., Jeremy Thomas, the Robert Littman Company and Roeg’s agent, Robert Littman. Bach, who wrote the NYT bestseller Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (1977), contended that the film’s title posed “unfair competition” to the future motion-picture rights of his novel. According to Bach’s attorney, an oral agreement between Littman and Bach was made before the Roeg project secured financing in Sep 1977. Littman allegedly had agreed to change the title of the picture upon it going into production. Arguing that the agreement was violated, Bach sued for damages of $5 million from each of the defendants and exemplary damages of $2 million each from Roeg, Recorded Picture and Thomas, as well as $20 million from Rank Film Distributors Ltd. On 17 Oct 1979, Var reported that Bach agreed to drop the case after the defendants agreed to a title change.
       A 24 Sep 1980 Var news item stated that film, now titled Bad Timing, a Sensual Obsession, received an X-rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the filmmakers’ appeal was denied. Thomas told Var that the film would be advertised and released without a rating. As noted in the 13 Feb 1981 HR, the filmmakers submitted an edited version to the MPAA after the second appeal was refused, and an R-rating was granted. However, a 20 Mar 1981 LAT advertisement for the picture did not include a rating. The print viewed for this record contained the PCA number 25832, which was added to the film after the MPAA R-rating was approved.
       On 30 Sep 1980, HR reported that despite the film’s rating controversy, it received the top honor at the 1980 Toronto Film Festival and ranked the “top-grossing exclusive [run] film” in New York City during its opening week, taking in $41,338 at the Sutton Theater. The film also marked the theater’s largest “first-day grosser” to date.
       Bad Timing was released to mixed reviews. While the 12 Oct 1980 LAT called the picture an “engrossing study,” the 3 Nov 1980 Time noted that the film’s “jumble of quick-cut flashbacks” was distracting and allowed for too “few enlivening leaps or juxtapositions.”
       A 27 Jan 1981 DV article reported that distributor World Northal Corp. failed to provide a timely credit list for Bad Timing to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the film was thereby excluded from contention for the 1980 Academy Awards.
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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
27 Jan 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Feb 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jun 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Sep 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
10 Jun 1979
Calendar, p. 49.
Los Angeles Times
12 Oct 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Mar 1981.
---
Time
3 Nov 1980.
---
Variety
23 May 1979.
---
Variety
17 Oct 1979.
---
Variety
24 Sep 1980.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Nicolas Roeg Film
A Recorded Picture Company Production
Released through Rank Film Distributors Ltd.
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
Prod mgr, Austria
Unit mgr, Austria
Asst dir, Austria
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Focus puller
Loader
Chief grip
Stills photog
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
1st asst art dir
2d asst art dir
3d asst art dir
Asst art dir, Austria
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop buyer
Const mgr
Stand by prop man
Prop man, Austria
COSTUMES
Cost des
Addl cost
Ward mistress
MUSIC
Orig music comp and cond by
Double bass performed by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Sd ed
Dial ed
Asst sd ed
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Chief prod accountant
Cont
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Prod secy
Prod secy
Prod secy
Casting
Prod asst, Austria
Loc mgr, Austria
Casting dir, Austria
SOURCES
MUSIC
"The Koln Concert," written and performed by Keith Jarrett, ECM Records
“Daphne of the Dunes,” performed and written by Harry Partch, CBS Records
“Delusion of the Fury,” performed and written by Harry Partch, CBS Records.
SONGS
“Berceuse,” sung by Veron Midgely, written by Benjamin Goddard
“Dreaming My Dreams,” sung by Billy Kinsley, written by Allen Reynolds
“Time Out,” sung by Zoot Money, music by Richard Hartley, lyrics by Nicolas Roeg.” Additional music courtesy of “An Invitation to the Blues,” written and sung by Tom Waits, Elektra Records
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SONGS
“Berceuse,” sung by Veron Midgely, written by Benjamin Goddard
“Dreaming My Dreams,” sung by Billy Kinsley, written by Allen Reynolds
“Time Out,” sung by Zoot Money, music by Richard Hartley, lyrics by Nicolas Roeg.” Additional music courtesy of “An Invitation to the Blues,” written and sung by Tom Waits, Elektra Records
“I’ll Be Seeing You,” sung by Billie Holiday, music by Sammy Fain, lyrics by Irving Kahal, Commodore Records
“Who Are You,” performed by The Who, written by Pete Townsend, Polydor Records
“It’s the Same Old Story,” sung by Billy Holiday, written by Michael Field and Newt Oliphant, CBS Records.
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DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Bad Timing/A Sensual Obsession
Illusions
Release Date:
22 September 1980
Premiere Information:
premiere: 21 September 1980, Paramount Theatre, NYC
New York opening: 22 September 1980, Sutton Theater, NYC
Los Angeles opening: 15 October 1980, Royal Theatre
Production Date:
began 19 March 1979 in Vienna, Austria
Physical Properties:
Lenses/Prints
Filmed in Technovision
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25832
SYNOPSIS

At a Viennese museum, American research psychoanalyst Alex Linden looks at several erotic paintings by artist Gustav Klimt. Then, Alex accompanies his girlfriend Milena Flaherty, who has overdosed, in an ambulance to the hospital. Milena remembers breaking up with her Czechoslovakian husband, Stefan Vognic, at a border checkpoint in Europe. A doctor wants to know what Milena swallowed and Alex gives him a bottle of her prescription pills. Earlier, at a formal party, Alex and Milena eye each other. When Alex leaves, Milena blocks his way with her leg, they flirt, and Milena gives Alex her telephone number on a matchbox. A hospital attendant prepares a report regarding Milena’s overdose, but Alex is reluctant to provide details. Alex remembers Milena grabbing color swatches from his book "The Color Test" and wanting to know their meaning after she arranges them. He smiles when he tallies her score and tells her she shouldn’t spend any time alone. When Alex and Milena look at the Klimt paintings, Milena wonders if the people in the paintings are happy. Alex says he hopes so. At the hospital, the doctors pump Milena’s stomach. When Inspector Netusil asks Alex what he knows about Milena’s circumstances, Alex remembers a conversation with Milena in which they talked about drifting apart. When Alex asked Milena to move in with him, she refused. He went to a nightclub and watched Milena with several of her friends. Soon, she surprised Alex from behind, hugging and kissing him. The hospital attendant asks Alex to sign Milena’s accident report. Meanwhile, doctors give Milena a tracheotomy and she remembers that her lovemaking with Stefan lacked passion. When Alex met Milena at the ... +


At a Viennese museum, American research psychoanalyst Alex Linden looks at several erotic paintings by artist Gustav Klimt. Then, Alex accompanies his girlfriend Milena Flaherty, who has overdosed, in an ambulance to the hospital. Milena remembers breaking up with her Czechoslovakian husband, Stefan Vognic, at a border checkpoint in Europe. A doctor wants to know what Milena swallowed and Alex gives him a bottle of her prescription pills. Earlier, at a formal party, Alex and Milena eye each other. When Alex leaves, Milena blocks his way with her leg, they flirt, and Milena gives Alex her telephone number on a matchbox. A hospital attendant prepares a report regarding Milena’s overdose, but Alex is reluctant to provide details. Alex remembers Milena grabbing color swatches from his book "The Color Test" and wanting to know their meaning after she arranges them. He smiles when he tallies her score and tells her she shouldn’t spend any time alone. When Alex and Milena look at the Klimt paintings, Milena wonders if the people in the paintings are happy. Alex says he hopes so. At the hospital, the doctors pump Milena’s stomach. When Inspector Netusil asks Alex what he knows about Milena’s circumstances, Alex remembers a conversation with Milena in which they talked about drifting apart. When Alex asked Milena to move in with him, she refused. He went to a nightclub and watched Milena with several of her friends. Soon, she surprised Alex from behind, hugging and kissing him. The hospital attendant asks Alex to sign Milena’s accident report. Meanwhile, doctors give Milena a tracheotomy and she remembers that her lovemaking with Stefan lacked passion. When Alex met Milena at the border checkpoint, he was jealous to see her with another young man and criticized her about being a day late. They fought and she went back over the border. Later, Alex gets an assignment from the army to develop psychological profiles of two men. As he reviews the files, he sees a photo of Milena attached to Stefan’s dossier and learns she is married. When he wants to know why she never mentioned she was married, she says it wasn’t important. When Alex asks why she married a man thirty years older, Milena says Stefan was what she needed at the time. Alex has photos in Stefan’s file of Milena with other lovers and he becomes obsessed with finding out more about them. Netusil goes to Alex’s apartment to retrace the events leading to Milena’s overdose. Alex remembers how he wanted Milena, but she rejected him. When he tried to leave her, she stood at the top of the stairs, pulled her clothes off, and they had sex on the staircase. Then, Alex left and Milena threw a tantrum. Alex remembers when the two lovers took a trip to Morocco and spent time in the hotel’s roof café overlooking snake charmers. Alex asked Milena to marry him, but she said she preferred to live in the present and not think about marriage. Later, Alex starts a dossier on Milena and she finds it in his apartment. The doctors at the hospital take cultures from Milena for a rape kit. Stefan returns Alex’s call and impatiently tells him that he has no clue about Milena’s whereabouts when Alex says she has been missing for a week. Alex is extremely worried, but Stefan makes it clear he doesn’t want to hear from Alex again. Meanwhile, Netusil’s questions become more intrusive. He thinks that Alex didn’t take Milena’s second suicide threat seriously, but went to see her anyway. Alex remembers waiting all night for Milena until she eventually returned to her apartment drunk. Although he can’t stand the thought of her with other men, she doesn’t want to be owned by him or anybody. Milena asks Alex if she killed herself would that make things better. Alex is in bed with another woman when Milena calls to talk. When she asks him if he is with someone, he lies. She doesn’t believe him and hangs up. When he goes to her apartment, she is wearing a honey-blonde wig and red kabuki makeup around her eyes. She introduces herself as the new Milena; the old Milena is gone. She implores him to stay, but he is fed up and leaves. From her balcony, she screams at him and throws plants and liquor bottles that land on the pavement near his feet. As Netusil continues his investigation, he presses Alex to remember the exact timeline of Milena’s overdose. Alex remembers getting a phone call during which Milena tells him that she wants to give him “a real good-bye.” When he enters her apartment, it has been ransacked and Milena is barely conscious. Netusil has Alex walk him through the events on the night of Milena’s overdose and points out several inconsistencies in Alex’s story. Netusil says that according to toxicology specialists, if Milena had swallowed pills three or four hours earlier, she wouldn’t have been in any condition to call when Alex said she did. Alex remembers berating Milena for her self-destructive behavior until she lost consciousness. With a pen knife, he removes her lingerie and rapes her, saying “anything to get you back, I love you.” Netusil informs Alex he knows Milena was raped, but Alex won’t confess to the act. Then Stefan arrives, announcing that Milena will live, and therefore, Alex won’t be charged with a crime. In New York City, Alex leaves the Waldorf-Astoria and sees Milena as he gets into a taxicab. She turns toward him as he calls her and he sees her tracheotomy scar. She stares at him impassively and turns away, while Alex looks longingly out the back window of the cab as it drives off.

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

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