The George Raft Story (1961)

105 mins | Biography | 1961

Director:

Joseph Newman

Writer:

Crane Wilbur

Producer:

Ben Schwalb

Cinematographer:

Carl Guthrie

Editor:

George White

Production Designer:

David Milton

Production Company:

Allied Artists
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HISTORY

Actor and dancer George Raft gave an interview to Dean Jennings that was published serially in SEP under the title “Out of My Past.” The first installment appeared on 21 Sep 1957. Less than two months later, the 6 Nov 1957 DV announced that filmmaker Charles Martin had optioned the story for $100,000 and planned to write, direct, and produce the picture himself. The deal was said to include “a series of personal appearances for Raft in 19 key cities in the U.S. and six major capitals in Europe” to coincide with the film’s release. A 20 Dec 1960 DV item confirmed that Martin wrote an initial screenplay for producer-distributor Allied Artists. However, Martin did not remain with the project, which was originally scheduled to shoot in Nov 1959, according to an 8 Sep 1959 DV article. A 30 Aug 1960 DV brief later reported that filming would begin on 7 Oct 1960 in New York City and Chicago, IL. Shooting ultimately took place in summer 1961 in Los Angeles, CA.
       Lead actor Ray Danton was loaned to Allied Artists by Warner Bros. Pictures, with whom he was under contract, as stated in an 8 May 1961 DV item. Likewise, co-star Jayne Mansfield was loaned by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., according to the 15 May 1961 DV. The 24 May 1961 DV reported that Danton commenced rehearsals that day at Allied Artists’ Los Angeles studios. Principal photography began shortly after on 6 Jul 1961. In addition to shooting on the studio lot, two days of location filming occurred at the home of nightclub ... More Less

Actor and dancer George Raft gave an interview to Dean Jennings that was published serially in SEP under the title “Out of My Past.” The first installment appeared on 21 Sep 1957. Less than two months later, the 6 Nov 1957 DV announced that filmmaker Charles Martin had optioned the story for $100,000 and planned to write, direct, and produce the picture himself. The deal was said to include “a series of personal appearances for Raft in 19 key cities in the U.S. and six major capitals in Europe” to coincide with the film’s release. A 20 Dec 1960 DV item confirmed that Martin wrote an initial screenplay for producer-distributor Allied Artists. However, Martin did not remain with the project, which was originally scheduled to shoot in Nov 1959, according to an 8 Sep 1959 DV article. A 30 Aug 1960 DV brief later reported that filming would begin on 7 Oct 1960 in New York City and Chicago, IL. Shooting ultimately took place in summer 1961 in Los Angeles, CA.
       Lead actor Ray Danton was loaned to Allied Artists by Warner Bros. Pictures, with whom he was under contract, as stated in an 8 May 1961 DV item. Likewise, co-star Jayne Mansfield was loaned by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., according to the 15 May 1961 DV. The 24 May 1961 DV reported that Danton commenced rehearsals that day at Allied Artists’ Los Angeles studios. Principal photography began shortly after on 6 Jul 1961. In addition to shooting on the studio lot, two days of location filming occurred at the home of nightclub owner Frank Sennes, the 4 Aug 1961 DV reported. Filming was expected to continue through the end of Aug, as noted in the 2 Aug 1961 DV. According to a 20 Oct 1961 DV item, the production cost an estimated $1 million.
       In all, the picture was said to have 104 speaking roles. Connie Hines was considered for an acting-dancing role, as noted in the 25 May 1961 LAT, and various contemporary items in LAT and DV named the following actors as cast members: Emile Meyer, Larri Thomas, Betty Bunch, Carole Bryan, Winona Smith, Carol Russell, Patricia Casey, Joyce Rees, Howard Curtis, Ronnie Rondell, Dick Crockett, Teri Janssen, Stuart Holmes, and Gertrude Astor.
       An item in the 2 Oct 1961 DV announced a lawsuit filed by SEP writer Dean Jennings, who claimed George Raft had withheld an agreed-upon payment amounting to twenty-percent of what he had received for selling his life story. The 2 Aug 1961 DV confirmed that the film was partly based on Raft and Jennings’s SEP series, in addition to other personal information supplied by Raft. On top of the option fee, Raft was due to receive a percentage of the film’s earnings. According to the 2 Oct 1961 DV, Allied Artists had paid Raft $25,000 upfront and promised him ten percent of profits. The studio’s legal representatives claimed that Jennings’s name did not appear in its contracts with Raft. In another lawsuit, Allied Artists was sued by the estate of Al Capone for depicting the late gangster, as noted in the 10 Oct 1961 DV. Capone’s representatives accused the studio of “appropriation of property rights belonging to the estate of Alphonse (Al) Capone in his name, likeness, personality and history.” Allied Artists had previously been sued by the Capone estate over its 1959 biography picture, Al Capone (see entry).
       Neville Brand, who portrayed Capone in The George Raft Story, previously appeared as Capone in the television programs The Untouchables (ABC, 15 Oct 1959--10 Sep 1963) and Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse (CBS, 13 Oct 1958--10 Jun 1960).
       Comedy duo Pepper Davis and Tony Reese made their motion picture debut in the film, according to a 16 Jun 1961 LAT brief. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
6 Nov 1957
p. 4.
Daily Variety
8 Sep 1959
pp. 1-2.
Daily Variety
30 Aug 1960
p. 11.
Daily Variety
20 Dec 1960
p. 1.
Daily Variety
8 May 1961
p. 6.
Daily Variety
15 May 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
24 May 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
6 Jul 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
7 Jul 1961
p. 8.
Daily Variety
24 Jul 1961
p. 6.
Daily Variety
31 Jul 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
2 Aug 1961
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
4 Aug 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
11 Aug 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
2 Oct 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
10 Oct 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
20 Oct 1961
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
25 May 1961
Section B, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
16 Jun 1961
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
19 Jun 1961
Section C, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
4 Aug 1961
p. 24.
Los Angeles Times
8 Sep 1961
Section A, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
24 Jan 1962
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
25 Jan 1962
Section B, p. 10.
New York Times
22 Mar 1962
p. 40.
The Saturday Evening Post
21 Sep 1957
pp. 23-25, 92, 94-96.
Variety
15 Nov 1961
p. 68.
Variety
6 Dec 1961
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
a Ben Schwalb production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
SOUND
Sd mix
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Set construction
Constr supv
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Spin of a Coin
Release Date:
1961
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Chicago: 22 November 1961 at United Artists Theatre
Los Angeles opening: 24 January 1962
New York opening: 21 March 1962
Production Date:
6 July--late August or early September 1961
Copyright Claimant:
Allied Artists
Copyright Date:
22 November 1961
Copyright Number:
LP20719
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
105
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

George Raft, a product of New York City's Hell's Kitchen, breaks into show business as an exhibition dancer at the Dreamland Casino. He soon becomes friendly with bootleggers and gangsters and makes his living performing in syndicate-controlled nightclubs. But he gets into trouble with the mob when he protects Ruth Harris, a cigarette girl, from the unwanted attentions of a racketeer. He then decides to go to Hollywood and try his luck at motion pictures. In 1932, he gets his big break by playing the role of a bodyguard in the film Scarface. As his theatrical star rises, he continues his association with well-known gangsters such as Al Capone and Benny "Bugsy" Siegel. Eventually his career fades, and he is forced to curb his big spending and give up his lavish California home. He then participates in a hotel-casino venture in Cuba. Soon after his arrival, however, the Castro revolution breaks out, and he is forced to flee. Returning to Hollywood, he makes his film comeback by once more playing a gangster--in 1959's Some Like It Hot. ... +


George Raft, a product of New York City's Hell's Kitchen, breaks into show business as an exhibition dancer at the Dreamland Casino. He soon becomes friendly with bootleggers and gangsters and makes his living performing in syndicate-controlled nightclubs. But he gets into trouble with the mob when he protects Ruth Harris, a cigarette girl, from the unwanted attentions of a racketeer. He then decides to go to Hollywood and try his luck at motion pictures. In 1932, he gets his big break by playing the role of a bodyguard in the film Scarface. As his theatrical star rises, he continues his association with well-known gangsters such as Al Capone and Benny "Bugsy" Siegel. Eventually his career fades, and he is forced to curb his big spending and give up his lavish California home. He then participates in a hotel-casino venture in Cuba. Soon after his arrival, however, the Castro revolution breaks out, and he is forced to flee. Returning to Hollywood, he makes his film comeback by once more playing a gangster--in 1959's Some Like It Hot. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.