Kiss Me, Stupid (1964)

126 mins | Comedy | 18 December 1964

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HISTORY

The 17 Mar 1963 LAT announced the provisionally-titled The Dazzling Hour as English comedian Peter Sellers’s first starring role in a U.S. production. The 27 Jun 1963 DV reported that Jack Lemmon was also being considered. Screenwriter/associate producer I. A. L. Diamond had recently signed a “three-picture contract” with the Mirisch Company, which entitled Diamond to work exclusively with his writing partner, director-producer Billy Wilder. According to the 15 Aug 1963 DV, the team initially planned to produce The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970, see entry), but postponed it because intended star Peter O’Toole was unavailable. Wilder told the 13 Oct 1963 NYT that The Dazzling Hour was “very vaguely based” on the 1945 Italian play, L'ora della fantasia by Anna Bonacci. On 31 Jan 1964, LAT reported that Wilder had changed the title to Kiss Me, Stupid, although he claimed the decision was not final.
       Three songs featured in the film were unpublished compositions by the late George Gershwin, with new lyrics by his brother, Ira Gershwin. Although Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen were originally hired as songwriters, Wilder told the 7 Nov 1963 DV that they had other obligations. As stated in the 19 Feb 1964 Var, the three songs were selected from seventeen unpublished Gershwin works due for publication later that year. At least thirty-three more completed Gershwin songs were still awaiting publication.
       The 27 Feb 1964 DV reported the death of Academy Award-winning costume designer Orry-Kelly ... More Less

The 17 Mar 1963 LAT announced the provisionally-titled The Dazzling Hour as English comedian Peter Sellers’s first starring role in a U.S. production. The 27 Jun 1963 DV reported that Jack Lemmon was also being considered. Screenwriter/associate producer I. A. L. Diamond had recently signed a “three-picture contract” with the Mirisch Company, which entitled Diamond to work exclusively with his writing partner, director-producer Billy Wilder. According to the 15 Aug 1963 DV, the team initially planned to produce The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970, see entry), but postponed it because intended star Peter O’Toole was unavailable. Wilder told the 13 Oct 1963 NYT that The Dazzling Hour was “very vaguely based” on the 1945 Italian play, L'ora della fantasia by Anna Bonacci. On 31 Jan 1964, LAT reported that Wilder had changed the title to Kiss Me, Stupid, although he claimed the decision was not final.
       Three songs featured in the film were unpublished compositions by the late George Gershwin, with new lyrics by his brother, Ira Gershwin. Although Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen were originally hired as songwriters, Wilder told the 7 Nov 1963 DV that they had other obligations. As stated in the 19 Feb 1964 Var, the three songs were selected from seventeen unpublished Gershwin works due for publication later that year. At least thirty-three more completed Gershwin songs were still awaiting publication.
       The 27 Feb 1964 DV reported the death of Academy Award-winning costume designer Orry-Kelly the previous night. Until he was hospitalized sixteen days earlier, Orry-Kelly was creating Kim Novak’s wardrobe for the film. He was replaced by Bill Thomas.
       According to the 5 Mar 1964 issue, an unidentified chorus dancer walked out of rehearsals, complaining that her costume was too revealing. Thomas concurred, saying that the outfit consisted of merely “three feathers and a bead,” assembled on fabric that gave the appearance of nudity. The designer of the costume was not identified.
       Principal photography began 6 Mar 1964, as stated in that day’s DV. The 31 Mar 1964 LAT identified the primary shooting location as Stages 3 and 4 of Goldwyn Studios in West Hollywood, CA, which included a set depicting the town of Climax, NV. Cinematographer Joseph La Shelle stated that the design of the replica town allowed him to “shoot a 360-degree circle with no difficulty.”
       Nearly three weeks into filming, Dean Martin told the 26 Mar 1964 LAT that production was briefly delayed because Sellers was nursing a sty on his right eye. However, on 7 Apr 1964, LAT revealed that Sellers suffered a heart attack the previous day and would likely need several weeks to recover. Jack Lemmon, a close friend of Sellers, claimed the actor appeared to be “approaching nervous exhaustion.” The next day’s LAT stated that Sellers might be replaced by either Danny Kaye or Tony Randall. Although Sellers was guaranteed $300,000 for his role, there was no indication as to whether his replacement would receive the same amount. Later that week, the 11 Apr 1964 LAT announced that all footage featuring Sellers would be discarded, and re-shot with character actor Ray Walston, beginning 13 Apr 1964.
       Other cast members included Helen Jay, Marge Welling, Merlena Joy, and Helen Ramos (27 Apr 1964 DV) ; Frank Bow and Charles Arrow (28 Apr 1964 DV) ; Tom Collins (1 May 1964 DV) ; Asian-American actor Fortune Cookie (13 May 1964 Var) ; Ray Gavin (15 May 1964 DV) ; and Jill Hill (6 Jul 1964 DV).
       According to the 23 Apr 1964 DV, the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company paid a $1.5 million claim against Sellers’s unexpected departure. As reported in the 9 May 1964 LAT, the production was threatened with a second delay after actress Kim Novak’s chronic “back ailment” was aggravated by a fall on set. She entered the hospital three days earlier but expected to return to the studio without interrupting her scheduled scenes. The 11 May 1964 DV claimed that Novak was in traction for a pelvic condition, and she hoped to leave the hospital that day.
       On 19 May 1964, location filming began in Twenty-nine Palms, CA, as noted in that day’s DV. The 1 Jul 1964 edition reported the production’s move to Universal Studios for a series of nighttime exterior scenes. Some location scenes were filmed in at the Moulin Rouge nightclub in Hollywood, CA. After completing principal photography on 7 Jul 1964, the 13 Jul 1964 DV stated that Wilder and his crew had begun filming in the Nevada cities of Las Vegas and Tonopah. No principal cast members were involved. Las Vegas locations included the Sands hotel and Fremont Street.
       An article in the 20 Jun 1964 LAT noted that Peter Sellers had recently returned to England, where he reportedly made disparaging comments about the Hollywood movie industry. The cast and crew responded by sending Sellers a telegram, which read, “Talk about unprofessional rat finks!” Included among the signers was Felicia Farr, wife of Jack Lemmon.
       On 21 Oct 1964, Var reported that distributor United Artists Corporation (UA) decided to re-edit the completed film following a sneak preview in New York City. Although the picture received the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) seal of approval, UA asked Wilder to remove some “rough” dialogue, which preview audiences found offensive.
       Kiss Me, Stupid opened 18 Dec 1964 at the Vogue and Fine Arts Theatres in Los Angeles, CA, accompanied by the animated short subject, Pink Phink (1964), the first of the “Pink Panther” cartoons. The New York City opening at the Astor Theatre followed on 22 Dec 1964. Reviews were generally negative, with the 16 Dec 1964 DV calling the film “a dirty sex exercise,” and the 23 Dec 1964 NYT described it as “long on vulgarity.”
       The 2 Dec 1964 DV reported that the picture had been condemned by the Legion of Decency, making it the first major-studio feature to receive that classification since 1956. As a result, UA relegated the release to its subsidiary, Lopert Pictures. Mirisch Company president Harold Mirisch admitted that the re-edit was an unsuccessful attempt to placate the Legion.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 Jun 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
27 Jun 1963
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
15 Aug 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
7 Nov 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
3 Dec 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Feb 1964
p. 2, 8.
Daily Variety
27 Feb 1964
p. 1.
Daily Variety
28 Feb 1964
p. 16.
Daily Variety
5 Mar 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
6 Mar 1964
p. 10.
Daily Variety
23 Apr 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
27 Apr 1964
p. 4.
Daily Variety
28 Apr 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 May 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 May 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 May 1964
p. 4.
Daily Variety
19 May 1964
p. 4.
Daily Variety
1 Jul 1964
p. 2, 10.
Daily Variety
6 Jul 1964
p. 4.
Daily Variety
9 Jul 1964
p. 4.
Daily Variety
10 Jul 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
13 Jul 1964
p. 10.
Daily Variety
27 Jul 1964
p. 7.
Daily Variety
3 Aug 1964
p. 10.
Daily Variety
2 Dec 1964
p. 1, 11.
Daily Variety
16 Dec 1964
p. 3, 7.
Los Angeles Times
17 Mar 1963
Section M, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
7 Oct 1963
Section D, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
31 Jan 1964
Section C, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
10 Feb 1964
Section D, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
21 Mar 1964
Section J, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
26 Mar 1964
Section C, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
31 Mar 1964
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
7 Apr 1964
p. 1, 3.
Los Angeles Times
8 Apr 1964
Section A, pp. 1-2.
Los Angeles Times
11 Apr 1964
Section B, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
9 May 1964
Section A, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
20 Jun 1964
Section B, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
27 Nov 1964
Section D, p. 20.
Los Angeles Times
16 Dec 1964
Section D, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
24 Dec 1964
Section C, p. 7.
New York Times
13 Oct 1963
p. 127.
New York Times
5 Apr 1964
Section X, p. 7.
New York Times
9 Apr 1964
p. 24.
New York Times
18 Apr 1964
p. 33.
New York Times
3 Dec 1964
p. 57.
New York Times
23 Dec 1924
p. 22.
Variety
18 Sep 1963
p. 3.
Variety
19 Feb 1964
p. 51.
Variety
13 May 1964
p. 17.
Variety
12 Aug 1964
p. 18.
Variety
21 Oct 1964
p. 5.
Variety
9 Dec 1964
p. 9.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Cam op
Cam asst
Cam asst
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus score
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstyles
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
Scr supv
Stills
Prop
Gaffer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play L'ora della fantasia by Anna Bonacci (Rome, 1945).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Sophia," "I'm A Poached Egg," and "All The Livelong Day," music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Dazzling Hour
Release Date:
18 December 1964
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 18 December 1964
New York opening: 22 December 1964
Production Date:
6 March--7 July 1964
Copyright Claimant:
Phalanx Productions
Copyright Date:
22 December 1964
Copyright Number:
LP29547
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
126
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Dino, a pop vocalist who is notorious for his heavy drinking and lecherous behavior, concludes a Las Vegas nightclub engagement and heads for Hollywood in his Italian sportscar. A detour on the highway forces him to drive through Climax, Nevada, home of amateur songwriters Barney Millsap, a gas station attendant, and music teacher Orville J. Spooner, whose wife, Zelda, is the most beautiful woman in town. Barney recognizes Dino as the famous singer, and the two composers, in hopes of interesting Dino in their songs, sabotage his car and tell him they may have to send to Milan for parts. Orville invites Dino to stay at his home, but he becomes worried about Zelda's fidelity when he hears the singer's complaint that any night without sex leaves him with a pounding headache the next morning. To satisfy Dino's libido without ruining his own marriage, Orville provokes an argument with Zelda, causing her to leave the house in tears. Orville then arranges for Polly the Pistol, a waitress and prostitute from a nearby roadhouse, to pose as his wife. The scheme works well until the insanely jealous Orville forgets the arrangement and throws Dino out for molesting his wife. Dino seeks solace at the roadhouse while Orville and Polly spend the night together. Meanwhile, Zelda, in an attempt to forget her marital problems, has gotten drunk at the same bar; and the manager, to quell the woman's raucous behavior, puts her in Polly's trailer out back. Dino finds Zelda there, mistakes her for the waitress, and easily seduces her since she has always been a fan of his. Days later, Orville and Barney hear Dino singing one of their songs ... +


Dino, a pop vocalist who is notorious for his heavy drinking and lecherous behavior, concludes a Las Vegas nightclub engagement and heads for Hollywood in his Italian sportscar. A detour on the highway forces him to drive through Climax, Nevada, home of amateur songwriters Barney Millsap, a gas station attendant, and music teacher Orville J. Spooner, whose wife, Zelda, is the most beautiful woman in town. Barney recognizes Dino as the famous singer, and the two composers, in hopes of interesting Dino in their songs, sabotage his car and tell him they may have to send to Milan for parts. Orville invites Dino to stay at his home, but he becomes worried about Zelda's fidelity when he hears the singer's complaint that any night without sex leaves him with a pounding headache the next morning. To satisfy Dino's libido without ruining his own marriage, Orville provokes an argument with Zelda, causing her to leave the house in tears. Orville then arranges for Polly the Pistol, a waitress and prostitute from a nearby roadhouse, to pose as his wife. The scheme works well until the insanely jealous Orville forgets the arrangement and throws Dino out for molesting his wife. Dino seeks solace at the roadhouse while Orville and Polly spend the night together. Meanwhile, Zelda, in an attempt to forget her marital problems, has gotten drunk at the same bar; and the manager, to quell the woman's raucous behavior, puts her in Polly's trailer out back. Dino finds Zelda there, mistakes her for the waitress, and easily seduces her since she has always been a fan of his. Days later, Orville and Barney hear Dino singing one of their songs on national television. As a perplexed Orville tries to determine the source of his good fortune, Zelda caresses him. +

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

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