Divorce American Style (1967)

109 mins | Comedy | 23 June 1967

Director:

Bud Yorkin

Producer:

Norman Lear

Cinematographer:

Conrad Hall

Editor:

Ferris Webster

Production Designer:

Edward Stephenson

Production Companies:

National General Productions, Inc., Tandem Enterprises
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HISTORY

On 26 Feb 1963, DV announced that Tandem Enterprise’s Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin had hired author Robert Kaufman to write a novel, Divorce American Style, the title of which played upon the name of the successful 1961 Italian film, Divorce Italian Style. Yorkin and Lear commissioned the work with the intention of adapting it for the screen, as the 1 May 1963 Var reported that Kaufman would receive all royalties from its publication. A few months later, however, the 2 Aug 1963 LAT stated that the project moved up on the duo’s production slate after Marcello Mastoianni dropped out of another one of their upcoming commitments. The novel was subsequently never published, and Lear assumed screenwriting duties.
       The budget was estimated at around $2 million, with the 12 Aug 1964 DV reporting capital provided by Carthay Center Company, the recently formed producing and packaging arm of the theater chain, National General Corporation (NGC). On 24 May 1966, LAT announced that Carthay would henceforth be known as National General Productions, Inc., which served as the copyright claimant for the film. Worldwide distribution would be handled by Columbia Pictures.
       During the early stages of development, the 16 Dec 1964 NYT announced that Yorkin and Lear planned to team with actor Dick Van Dyke for a feature film adaptation of John Henry Faulk’s 1963 novel, Fear on Trial. When the project did not move ahead, a 10 Mar 1965 LAT news story announced Van Dyke had instead been cast for the leading role in Divorce American Style, set ... More Less

On 26 Feb 1963, DV announced that Tandem Enterprise’s Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin had hired author Robert Kaufman to write a novel, Divorce American Style, the title of which played upon the name of the successful 1961 Italian film, Divorce Italian Style. Yorkin and Lear commissioned the work with the intention of adapting it for the screen, as the 1 May 1963 Var reported that Kaufman would receive all royalties from its publication. A few months later, however, the 2 Aug 1963 LAT stated that the project moved up on the duo’s production slate after Marcello Mastoianni dropped out of another one of their upcoming commitments. The novel was subsequently never published, and Lear assumed screenwriting duties.
       The budget was estimated at around $2 million, with the 12 Aug 1964 DV reporting capital provided by Carthay Center Company, the recently formed producing and packaging arm of the theater chain, National General Corporation (NGC). On 24 May 1966, LAT announced that Carthay would henceforth be known as National General Productions, Inc., which served as the copyright claimant for the film. Worldwide distribution would be handled by Columbia Pictures.
       During the early stages of development, the 16 Dec 1964 NYT announced that Yorkin and Lear planned to team with actor Dick Van Dyke for a feature film adaptation of John Henry Faulk’s 1963 novel, Fear on Trial. When the project did not move ahead, a 10 Mar 1965 LAT news story announced Van Dyke had instead been cast for the leading role in Divorce American Style, set to begin production after he shot Lt. Robin Crusoe, U. S. N. (1966, see entry) for Walt Disney Productions. In a Chicago Sun-Times article reprinted in the 16 Jun 1967 LAT, the actor told Roger Ebert that he was pleased to break away from his previous “nice guy” roles, and repeatedly stressed that the picture would be a humorous, but still serious, depiction of divorce.
       With Van Dyke secured, filmmakers began their search for his onscreen wife. Items in the 6 May 1965 and 2 Jul 1965 DV suggested they originally considered foreign stars, including the Franco-American Leslie Caron, before entertaining the option of finding an unknown American actress. The 21 Sep 1965 LAT and 26 Oct 1965, 14 Dec 1965, and 16 Mar 1966 DV named Vera Miles, Carol Burnett, Edie Adams, and Joan Hackett as possible contenders. A 12 Apr 1966 DV brief reported that Debbie Reynolds had entered discussions with the two producers, and on 27 Apr 1966, Var confirmed she had accepted the role.
       Carol Channing revealed to columnist Hedda Hopper in the 26 Oct 1965 edition of the LAT that she was considering a minor part in the film, while items in the 31 Mar 1966, 26 Apr 1966, and 8 Jun 1966 DV indicated that Peter Falk, Shelley Berman, Jonathan Winters, Rita Gam, and Kathie Brown were in talks to appear. Casting announcements in the 16 Jun 1966, 22 Jun 1966, and 11 Aug 1966 issues also included Joe Budd, Lucille Meredith, Patsy Garrett, Chris Hundley, Richi Norton, Chris Barry, Peter Sparrow, Martine Fraser, and Tony Fraser among the cast.
       A 4 Sep 1966 LAT story claimed Divorce American Style marked the theatrical feature film debut of renowned radio marriage counselor John J. Anthony, who appeared in a role the item named as “Judge Venal.” “Hip hypnotist” Pat Collins also makes a cameo appearance as herself—her first in motion pictures.
       Although the 4 Jan 1966 DV and 15 Jan 1966 LAT claimed that working titles included Good Morning, Uncle Daddy and MacDougal Street, these were not corroborated by other contemporary sources.
       Principal photography began 23 May 1966 as Divorce American Style, according to a 27 May 1966 DV production chart. Filming took place at the Columbia Pictures studio in Hollywood, CA, with the 5 Jul 1966 and 19 Jul 1966 DV listing additional area locations at the Topanga Plaza shopping center in the San Fernando Valley, and Santa Monica, CA, including the Gaslite nightclub. Production likely concluded by the end of the month or early Aug, as indicated by a 5 Aug 1966 DV brief referencing the recent wrap party. The following week, the 11 Aug 1966 DV reported the shooting of a prologue and epilogue narrated by John J. Anthony. Nearly two months later, the 4 Oct 1966 DV announced that a scene between “Richard Harmon” and prostitute “Dede Murphy” was hastily re-shot with actress Lee Grant after Dick Van Dyke viewed a cut of the picture and worried that it may upset his fans.
       In an article for the 3 Aug 1966 issue of Var, NGC estimated a final production cost of $2.6 million, while the 11 Sep 1968 Var cited a figure closer to $2.8 million.
       Divorce American Style marked the first feature film of television music director Dave Grusin, who composed, arranged, and conducted the music.
       In anticipation for the movie’s release, Lear hired Jackson Donahue to novelize the screenplay, which was published in 1967 by Popular Library. According to the 22 Feb 1967 and 12 Apr 1967 Var, preview screenings were held 23 Feb 1967 during the annual Show-A-Rama convention in Kansas City, MO, to coincide with Debbie Reynolds receiving the International Star of the Year award; and on 1 Apr 1967 at the Guild Theatre in Las Vegas, NV, for Reynolds’s birthday. According to the 24 May 1967 Var, the official world premiere was scheduled to take place 21 Jun 1967 at the State-Lake Theatre in Chicago, IL.
       Despite earlier reports that Columbia had secured bookings over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, Divorce American Style opened 23 Jun 1967 for an exclusive run at the Westwood Village Theatre in Westwood, CA. The New York City release followed on 19 Jul 1967 at the Victoria and other area venues.
       Divorce American Style marked the only project under National General Productions’ three-picture pact with Columbia, as a 7 Jun 1967 Var article announced that the company had decided to continue to develop its other properties independently.
       The pairing of Van Dyke and Reynolds helped propel the film to box-office success. The 11 Sep 1968 Var reported worldwide rentals of $10.5 million to date, suggesting a $3.5 million profit for Columbia and Tandem.
       In addition to its popularity with audiences, Robert Kaufman and Norman Lear received an Academy Award nomination for Writing (Story and Screenplay—written directly for the screen). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
26 Feb 1963
p. 5.
Daily Variety
12 Aug 1964
p. 1.
Daily Variety
6 May 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
2 Jul 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
26 Oct 1965
p. 11.
Daily Variety
14 Dec 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
4 Jan 1966
p. 1.
Daily Variety
16 Mar 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
31 Mar 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
12 Apr 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
26 Apr 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
27 May 1966
p. 10.
Daily Variety
8 Jun 1966
p. 11.
Daily Variety
16 Jun 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
22 Jun 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
5 Jul 1966
p. 10.
Daily Variety
19 Jul 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
5 Aug 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Aug 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Aug 1966
p. 8.
Daily Variety
1 Sep 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
4 Oct 1966
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
2 Aug 1963
Section D, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
18 Jan 1965
Section C, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
10 Mar 1965
Section D, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
21 Sep 1965
Section C, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
26 Oct 1965
Section C, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
15 Jan 1966
p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
23 Apr 1966
p. 23.
Los Angeles Times
24 May 1966
Section C, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
4 Sep 1966
Section I, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
16 Jun 1967
Section C, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
18 Jun 1967
Section C, p. 1.
New York Times
16 Dec 1964
p. 51.
New York Times
20 Jul 1967
p. 30.
Variety
1 May 1963
p. 5, 27.
Variety
20 Apr 1966
p. 24.
Variety
27 Apr 1966
p. 13.
Variety
3 Aug 1966
p. 18.
Variety
11 Sep 1968
p. 25.
Variety
22 Feb 1967
p. 13.
Variety
12 Apr 1967
p. 76.
Variety
24 May 1967
p. 24.
Variety
7 Jun 1967
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Good Morning, Uncle Daddy
MacDougal Street
Release Date:
23 June 1967
Premiere Information:
Chicago world premiere: 21 June 1967
Los Angeles opening: 23 June 1967
New York opening: 19 July 1967
Production Date:
23 May--late July or early August 1966
Copyright Claimant:
National General Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 July 1967
Copyright Number:
LP34891
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
109
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After 16 years of marriage, Barbara and Richard Harmon have a luxurious Los Angeles home, an expensive car, and two well-behaved but somewhat precocious sons. Despite the material success of their marriage, Barbara feels that they don't communicate and she seeks out a marriage counselor. This action, coupled with the "advice" of mutual friends, soon leads to bitter arguments that land the Harmons in a divorce court, where an embittered judge grants Barbara virtually everything, leaving Richard with $87.50 a week out of a yearly gross of $25,000. While spending a Sunday with his two boys, Richard meets Nelson Downes, a divorcé frantically trying to eliminate his own alimony payments by finding a new husband for his ex-wife, Nancy. Nelson discusses the situation with Nancy, who likes Richard, and it is agreed that if the arrangement is to be financially feasible Barbara must also have a new mate. The ideal candidate is found in bachelor Big Al Yearling, a successful used car dealer. When Barbara responds to Big Al's courtship, all the combatants (including Nelson's pregnant fiancée, Eunice) meet at a nightclub on the evening before the Harmon divorce is to be made final. During a performance by hypnotist Pat Collins, Barbara permits herself to be mesmerized. After doing an uninhibited striptease on stage, she is ordered by the hypnotist to go into the audience and kiss the man she truly loves. When she plants a resounding smack on the delighted Richard, the Harmon divorce is forgotten. As Barbara and Richard return home to resume their bickering, Nelson, never one to give up easily, desperately tries to interest Nancy in Big ... +


After 16 years of marriage, Barbara and Richard Harmon have a luxurious Los Angeles home, an expensive car, and two well-behaved but somewhat precocious sons. Despite the material success of their marriage, Barbara feels that they don't communicate and she seeks out a marriage counselor. This action, coupled with the "advice" of mutual friends, soon leads to bitter arguments that land the Harmons in a divorce court, where an embittered judge grants Barbara virtually everything, leaving Richard with $87.50 a week out of a yearly gross of $25,000. While spending a Sunday with his two boys, Richard meets Nelson Downes, a divorcé frantically trying to eliminate his own alimony payments by finding a new husband for his ex-wife, Nancy. Nelson discusses the situation with Nancy, who likes Richard, and it is agreed that if the arrangement is to be financially feasible Barbara must also have a new mate. The ideal candidate is found in bachelor Big Al Yearling, a successful used car dealer. When Barbara responds to Big Al's courtship, all the combatants (including Nelson's pregnant fiancée, Eunice) meet at a nightclub on the evening before the Harmon divorce is to be made final. During a performance by hypnotist Pat Collins, Barbara permits herself to be mesmerized. After doing an uninhibited striptease on stage, she is ordered by the hypnotist to go into the audience and kiss the man she truly loves. When she plants a resounding smack on the delighted Richard, the Harmon divorce is forgotten. As Barbara and Richard return home to resume their bickering, Nelson, never one to give up easily, desperately tries to interest Nancy in Big Al. +

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

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