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HISTORY

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (MGM) acquired screen rights to Wirt Williams’s novel, Ada Dallas, shortly before it was published in Oct 1959, as announced in the 17 Sep 1959 LAT. Elizabeth Taylor was originally sought to star. Several months later, the 12 Feb 1960 DV reported that MGM was pursuing Ava Gardner and Robert Mitchum, who had previously co-starred in My Forbidden Past (1951, see entry). Susan Hayward and Dean Martin ultimately won the roles, as stated in a 7 May 1960 LAT item.
       Harriet Frank, Jr. and Irving Ravetch wrote an early draft of the script, according to a 29 Jan 1960 DV item, and William Driskill was hired to do a “polish re-write,” as noted in the 15 Dec 1960 DV. The title was changed from Ada Dallas to Ada in deference to Samuel Goldwyn, who had produced a 1937 film titled Stella Dallas, the 22 Dec 1960 DV reported.
       A production chart in the 20 Jan 1961 DV indicated that principal photography began on 9 Jan 1961. Filming took place on the MGM studio lot in Culver City, CA, and at the California State Capitol building in Sacramento, CA. An article in the 12 Feb 1961 NYT stated that Ada was the first film to be shot inside the Capitol, after filmmakers had obtained permission from Governor Edmund Brown to shoot while the California Legislature was in recess. A delayed production schedule resulted in the film company shooting on a staggered schedule with the Legislature, which was back in ... More Less

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (MGM) acquired screen rights to Wirt Williams’s novel, Ada Dallas, shortly before it was published in Oct 1959, as announced in the 17 Sep 1959 LAT. Elizabeth Taylor was originally sought to star. Several months later, the 12 Feb 1960 DV reported that MGM was pursuing Ava Gardner and Robert Mitchum, who had previously co-starred in My Forbidden Past (1951, see entry). Susan Hayward and Dean Martin ultimately won the roles, as stated in a 7 May 1960 LAT item.
       Harriet Frank, Jr. and Irving Ravetch wrote an early draft of the script, according to a 29 Jan 1960 DV item, and William Driskill was hired to do a “polish re-write,” as noted in the 15 Dec 1960 DV. The title was changed from Ada Dallas to Ada in deference to Samuel Goldwyn, who had produced a 1937 film titled Stella Dallas, the 22 Dec 1960 DV reported.
       A production chart in the 20 Jan 1961 DV indicated that principal photography began on 9 Jan 1961. Filming took place on the MGM studio lot in Culver City, CA, and at the California State Capitol building in Sacramento, CA. An article in the 12 Feb 1961 NYT stated that Ada was the first film to be shot inside the Capitol, after filmmakers had obtained permission from Governor Edmund Brown to shoot while the California Legislature was in recess. A delayed production schedule resulted in the film company shooting on a staggered schedule with the Legislature, which was back in session by early Feb 1961. The foyer, rotunda, and some mural-lined corridors of the Capitol were used, as were exteriors of the building.
       A preview screening took place at the Pasadena Crown Theatre prior to 1 Jun 1961, when a DV item stated that, due to positive viewer response, MGM planned to release the picture in Aug 1961, earlier than anticipated. The film opened to mixed reviews on 16 Aug 1961 in Los Angeles, CA, and the following week in New York City.
       According to a 27 Jan 1961 DV brief, actress Sherry O’Neil was set to make her feature film debut in the picture. Bill Walker, Jon Lormer, and Dori Simmons were listed as cast members in the 31 Jan 1961 and 2 Feb 1961 issues of DV.^ More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
17 Sep 1959
p. 3.
Daily Variety
29 Jan 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
12 Feb 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
28 Apr 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Dec 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Dec 1960
p. 3.
Daily Variety
20 Jan 1961
p. 10.
Daily Variety
27 Jan 1961
p. 1.
Daily Variety
31 Jan 1961
p. 8.
Daily Variety
2 Feb 1961
p. 22.
Daily Variety
16 May 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
1 Jun 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
26 Jul 1961
p. 3, 11.
Los Angeles Times
17 Sep 1959
Section B, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
7 May 1960
Section B, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
17 Aug 1961
Section C, p. 9.
New York Times
12 Feb 1961
p. 8.
New York Times
26 Aug 1961
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus score
Orch cond
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec visual eff
MAKEUP
Hairstyles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Ada Dallas by Wirt Williams (New York, 1959).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"May the Lord Bless You Real Good," music and lyrics by Warren Roberts and Wally Fowler.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Ada Dallas
Release Date:
16 August 1961
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 16 August 1961
New York opening: 25 August 1961
Production Date:
began 9 January 1961
Copyright Claimant:
Avon Productions
Copyright Date:
16 June 1961
Copyright Number:
LP20277
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Color
Metrocolor
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
108
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

While campaigning for the governorship of a southern state, Bo Gillis, a politician given to folksy speeches and guitar playing, falls in love with and marries Ada, a reformed prostitute. The young woman's dubious background alarms both Bo's loyal press agent, Steve Jackson, and his political adviser, Sylvester Marin. Ada proves to be an eager and resourceful campaigner; and once Bo is in office, she tries to convince him that the mild-mannered Marin is a ruthless opportunist, supporting Bo only because it suits his own interests. Even though Marin viciously blackmails the honest lieutenant governor into resigning, Bo refuses to see Marin for what he really is. Ada, anxious to succeed on her own, plays up to Marin and is appointed the new lieutenant governor. A short time later, Bo is badly injured in an automobile explosion--the direct result of his failure to accept all of Marin's suggestions. Bo accuses Ada of siding with Marin, and she decides to prove him wrong. After being sworn in as acting governor because of Bo's incapacitation, she openly defies Marin by supporting a series of reform bills introduced by Bo. Marin, assisted by his corrupt police chief, Colonel Yancey, retaliates by threatening to make public a tape recording that could destroy Ada's reputation; but Bo is released from the hospital in time to defend his wife. Following his speech in the state capitol, the reform legislation is passed, and he and Ada are ... +


While campaigning for the governorship of a southern state, Bo Gillis, a politician given to folksy speeches and guitar playing, falls in love with and marries Ada, a reformed prostitute. The young woman's dubious background alarms both Bo's loyal press agent, Steve Jackson, and his political adviser, Sylvester Marin. Ada proves to be an eager and resourceful campaigner; and once Bo is in office, she tries to convince him that the mild-mannered Marin is a ruthless opportunist, supporting Bo only because it suits his own interests. Even though Marin viciously blackmails the honest lieutenant governor into resigning, Bo refuses to see Marin for what he really is. Ada, anxious to succeed on her own, plays up to Marin and is appointed the new lieutenant governor. A short time later, Bo is badly injured in an automobile explosion--the direct result of his failure to accept all of Marin's suggestions. Bo accuses Ada of siding with Marin, and she decides to prove him wrong. After being sworn in as acting governor because of Bo's incapacitation, she openly defies Marin by supporting a series of reform bills introduced by Bo. Marin, assisted by his corrupt police chief, Colonel Yancey, retaliates by threatening to make public a tape recording that could destroy Ada's reputation; but Bo is released from the hospital in time to defend his wife. Following his speech in the state capitol, the reform legislation is passed, and he and Ada are reunited. +

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.