Advise & Consent (1962)

140 mins | Drama | 6 June 1962

Director:

Otto Preminger

Writer:

Wendell Mayes

Producer:

Otto Preminger

Cinematographer:

Sam Leavitt

Editor:

Louis Loeffler

Production Designer:

Lyle Wheeler

Production Company:

Alpha--Alpina S. A.
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HISTORY

According to the 16 Feb 1960 NYT, the first dramatization of Allen Drury's 1959 novel was a stage adaptation by writer Loring Mandel. The play opened later that year in Washington, DC, as noted in 19 Oct 1960 NYT. The book was also serialized in Sunday issues of LAT, beginning 24 Apr 1960. Producer-director Otto Preminger had already secured motion picture rights, as stated in the 11 Nov 1959 DV, with distribution through United Artists Corporation (UA). In the 18 Feb 1960 DV, Preminger declared that his picture would include the homosexual content from the novel, despite objections from Geoffrey Shurlock of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Preminger also visited Washington, D.C., in an attempt to persuade lawmakers to allow him to film the Senate chamber. Although senators of both parties were reportedly "sympathetic," no commitment was made.
       Eighteen months later, Preminger assured the 14 Jul 1961 DV that he would remove all of the novel's "self-criticism" of the U.S. government from his film, as it could easily be misinterpreted abroad. Preminger also omitted a ruthless Supreme Court justice, and promised to make "The President" a more sympathetic character. The company was headquartered at the Sheraton-Park Hotel, where publicity agent Barbara Norton was reportedly inundated with 300 requests from assorted Washingtonians for "bit parts." Veteran actor Charles Laughton had spent the previous week researching his role with the help of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. However, the 1 Aug 1961 NYT stated that Laughton was assisted by an unidentified "Southern Senator." ... More Less

According to the 16 Feb 1960 NYT, the first dramatization of Allen Drury's 1959 novel was a stage adaptation by writer Loring Mandel. The play opened later that year in Washington, DC, as noted in 19 Oct 1960 NYT. The book was also serialized in Sunday issues of LAT, beginning 24 Apr 1960. Producer-director Otto Preminger had already secured motion picture rights, as stated in the 11 Nov 1959 DV, with distribution through United Artists Corporation (UA). In the 18 Feb 1960 DV, Preminger declared that his picture would include the homosexual content from the novel, despite objections from Geoffrey Shurlock of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Preminger also visited Washington, D.C., in an attempt to persuade lawmakers to allow him to film the Senate chamber. Although senators of both parties were reportedly "sympathetic," no commitment was made.
       Eighteen months later, Preminger assured the 14 Jul 1961 DV that he would remove all of the novel's "self-criticism" of the U.S. government from his film, as it could easily be misinterpreted abroad. Preminger also omitted a ruthless Supreme Court justice, and promised to make "The President" a more sympathetic character. The company was headquartered at the Sheraton-Park Hotel, where publicity agent Barbara Norton was reportedly inundated with 300 requests from assorted Washingtonians for "bit parts." Veteran actor Charles Laughton had spent the previous week researching his role with the help of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. However, the 1 Aug 1961 NYT stated that Laughton was assisted by an unidentified "Southern Senator." The DV article also revealed that the only character based on a real-life politician was "Senator Orrin Knox," modeled on the late Robert A. Taft of OH.
       According to the 7 Mar 1961 DV, Preminger attempted to cast James Stewart as a Democratic senator, but the actor declined, saying he had already played a senator in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939, see entry). The 8 Mar 1961 DV reported that actor-singer Bing Crosby readily accepted, but later withdrew due to a prior commitment, as stated in the 21 Jun 1961 DV. The 18 Aug 1961 NYT noted that comedian Mort Sahl would play a journalist who introduces the president at a banquet. Three months later, the 16 Nov 1961 DV announced his withdrawal from the project, siting a series of nightclub obligations. Other prospective cast members included Michael Wilding (24 Jul 1961 DV), James Cagney (15 Aug 1961 DV), and Stella Stevens (19 Sep 1961 DV). The 20 Oct 1961 NYT stated that civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had accepted the role of "Senator King of Georgia." Screenwriter Wendell Mayes explained that he created the character to "make a positive statement for this country here and abroad." The next day, however, LAT revealed that King declined to appear in the film, saying that it would do little to advance his cause. Former State Senator John Greer and Governor Ernest Vandiver, both of Georgia, expressed their disapproval of the casting choice, although King insisted that they did not influence his decision. According to the 4 Oct 1961 DV, Josephine Baskin Minow, wife of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Director Newton Minow, accepted the role of secretary to "Robert Leffingwell." The 19 Oct 1961 issue noted that Wayne Davidson had also joined the cast.
       It was stated in the 28 Aug 1961 DV that President John F. Kennedy had reservations about his brother-in-law, actor Peter Lawford, appearing in the film as "a U.S. Senator with loose morals." The 26 Jan 1962 LAT claimed that Preminger requested using two rooms in the White House as sets, but was apparently refused. Actress Gene Tierney assumed the role of Washington hostess "Dolly Harrison," inspired by, but bearing little resemblance to, the "Perle Mesta" of the novel. Advise & Consent marked her first screen appearance since The Left Hand of God (1955, see entry). The article also stated that Preminger intended to cast five actual Washington correspondents as reporters. After receiving applications from more than fifty journalists, Preminger decided to include them all in press-room scenes. Two weeks of preproduction filming began that day in New York City, according to the 29 Aug 1961 DV. Principal photography began in Washington, D.C., on 5 Sep 1961, as stated in 8 Sep 1961 DV production charts.
       The 21 Sep 1961 DV reported that filming was underway aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer, with cast members Lew Ayres, Franchot Tone, and Walter Pidgeon. A scene was reportedly ruined by the shouts of "Navy personnel," who were engaged in rescuing three passengers from a sinking sailboat. The next day's issue stated that actor-singer Frank Sinatra was expected to make a brief appearance in the film. Although he performed a song in the film, the 23 May 1962 DV noted that it was conspicuously absent from the soundtrack album. Meanwhile at Columbia Studios in Hollywood, CA, a replica of the Senate chamber was under construction on Stages 12A to 14, as reported in the 28 Sep 1961 DV. The item also mentioned that Washington Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson was given a brief speaking role.
       The 15 Nov 1961 DV noted that the wealthy socialites who appeared in a party sequence were required to accept payment of $34.90 per day, as decreed by the Screen Extras Guild. An article in the 18 Sep 1961 LAT identified the location as Tregaron, a mansion owned by Mrs. Fontaine Broun. As chairwoman of the Washington Hospital Center, Mrs. Broun recruited the 300 would-be partygoers on the condition that they donate their earnings to her organization. The 1 Oct 1961 NYT listed additional locations, such as the steps of the Treasury building, the White House Mall, the Senate cafeteria, the Washington Monument, the Capitol subway, the Senate Caucus Room, and the office of Senator Paul Douglas. According to the 27 Oct 1961 DV, principal photography was expected to end four days later, one week ahead of schedule.
       An article in the 4 Oct 1961 DV noted that the MPAA amended the Production Code to allow references to homosexuality, providing they were "treated with care, discretion and restraint, and in all other aspects conform to the Code."
       The 26 Sep 1961 DV revealed that Preminger was legally restricted from releasing the picture before Jun 1962, when the stage play was expected to complete its national tour. The filmmaker was preparing a lawsuit against the stage producers, hoping for a Dec 1961 release to make it eligible for the upcoming Academy Awards ballot. Two months later, the 29 Nov 1961 DV reported that the producers brought an injunction against the filmmaker to enforce the terms of his contract. Meanwhile, Preminger was editing the picture in anticipation of a tentatively scheduled opening at the Warner Bros. Theatre in Beverly Hills, CA. Composer Jerry Fielding was in the process of recording his score. The following day's DV noted that Preminger moved the project from UA to Columbia, because the former had no release dates available for late 1961. An 8 Dec 1961 screening was scheduled for the cast and crew. On 11 Dec 1961, DV reported that Charles Laughton cried tears of happiness upon seeing the film, and Walter Pidgeon offered to return his salary. The 6 Dec 1961 issue stated that the picture would not be released until the following summer, which also delayed release of the soundtrack album. "Final dubbing" was completed the previous day. However, Preminger achieved a victory with the MPAA, which gave the film its Production Code seal of approval. According to the 21 Mar 1962 DV, a preview was also held for members of the U.S. government at the Trans-Lux Theatre in Washington, D.C.
       The 4 May 1962 DV announced the film's 8 May 1962 debut at the Cannes Film Festival. Although it was a competitive screening, the picture was not an official U.S. entry. As stated in the 12 Apr 1962 edition, Preminger also planned premieres across the nation, with proceeds earmarked for charities endorsed by the two senators from each of forty-nine states. The only state not participating was Ohio, due to the disapproval of Senator Stephen M. Young, who described the picture as "degrading of the Senate."
       Advise & Consent made its U.S. debut at the Criterion Theatre in New York City on 5 Jun 1962 at a preview benefitting the National Association for Mental Health, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The film officially opened the next day. The 8 Jun 1962 California debut took place at the Warner Bros. Theatre in Beverly Hills, with proceeds going to the Braille Institute of America. According to the 20 Aug 1962 DV, a total of thirty states held benefit screenings during the Jun 1962, earning $200,000 in charitable contributions.
       Reviews were generally positive, although the 7 Jun 1962 NYT considered the characterization of elected officials as "rogues" and "rascals" to be highly inaccurate. In her 9 Jun 1962 LAT column, Hedda Hopper endorsed the American Legion, a military veterans organization, in its unsuccessful effort to prevent the U.S. State Department from exporting the film. The 27 Jun 1962 DV reported that the California Federation of Women's Clubs joined the protest, citing the film's portrayal of a federal government rife with "corruption, dishonesty, and lack of integrity." As stated in the 25 Jun 1962 issue, Congressman Carroll Kearns of PA suggested that future cinematic representation of the nation's capital should be reviewed by a "joint Congressional committee." Further controversy arose over a television trailer in which Gene Tierney's character asked if she was considered "a bitch." The Television Code Authority determined the trailer to be inconsistent with its standards. Preminger responded by announcing he would publish a pamphlet of "European reactions" to the picture, demonstrating that "only in the U.S. (Hollywood) could such a forthright film be made." According to the 28 May 1962 DV, the Legion of Decency declared that the picture "required caution and some analysis and explanation as a protection to the uninformed against wrong interpretations and false conclusions."
       Regardless, Advise & Consent earned $142,000 during its opening week in Los Angeles, CA, at twenty-four locations, as noted in the 21 Aug 1962 DV. The 9 Jan 1963 Var reported $2 million in rental fees earned during the previous year.
       An item in the 13 Jan 1966 DV stated that the film was made unavailable to the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), because Preminger would not condone the edits needed to fit a two-hour timeslot, including commercial breaks.
       Senator Henry F. Ashurst, who appeared as "Senator McCafferty," died 31 May 1962, days before the film's release.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 Nov 1959
p. 1.
Daily Variety
9 Dec 1959
p. 11.
Daily Variety
1 Feb 1960
p. 9.
Daily Variety
18 Feb 1960
p. 3.
Daily Variety
7 Mar 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
8 Mar 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Jul 1961
p. 6.
Daily Variety
21 Jun 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
24 Jul 1961
p. 1.
Daily Variety
4 Aug 1961
p. 1.
Daily Variety
15 Aug 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
17 Aug 1961
p. 6.
Daily Variety
28 Aug 1961
p. 1, 10.
Daily Variety
29 Aug 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
1 Sep 1961
p. 14.
Daily Variety
8 Sep 1961
p. 7.
Daily Variety
11 Sep 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
19 Sep 1961
p. 1.
Daily Variety
21 Sep 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Sep 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
26 Sep 1961
p. 1.
Daily Variety
28 Sep 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
2 Oct 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
4 Oct 1961
p. 1, 15.
Daily Variety
19 Oct 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
27 Oct 1961
p. 1.
Daily Variety
15 Nov 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
16 Nov 1961
p. 1.
Daily Variety
29 Nov 1961
p. 12.
Daily Variety
30 Nov 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Dec 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
6 Dec 1961
p. 10.
Daily Variety
8 Dec 1961
p. 1.
Daily Variety
11 Dec 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
19 Jan 1962
p. 16.
Daily Variety
21 Mar 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
11 Apr 1962
p. 1.
Daily Variety
12 Apr 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
4 May 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
16 May 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
23 May 1962
p. 10.
Daily Variety
28 May 1962
p. 1.
Daily Variety
6 Jun 1962
p. 6.
Daily Variety
7 Jun 1962
p. 1.
Daily Variety
25 Jun 1962
p. 1.
Daily Variety
27 Jun 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
20 Jul 1962
p. 1.
Daily Variety
20 Aug 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
21 Aug 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
19 Sep 1962
p. 1.
Daily Variety
7 Nov 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
13 Jan 1966
p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
3 Jan 1960
Section E, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
4 Feb 1960
p. 30.
Los Angeles Times
17 Apr 1960
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
21 Jan 1961
Section B, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
7 Sep 1961
Section B, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
18 Sep 1961
Section A, p. 1, 7.
Los Angeles Times
21 Oct 1961
p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jan 1962
Section A, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
9 Jun 1962
Section A, p. 8.
New York Times
16 Feb 1960
p. 32.
New York Times
19 Oct 1960
p. 57.
New York Times
1 Feb 1961
p. 30.
New York Times
1 Aug 1961
p. 27.
New York Times
18 Aug 1961
p. 16.
New York Times
5 Sep 1961
p. 40.
New York Times
15 Sep 1961
p. 36.
New York Times
1 Oct 1961
Section X, p. 7.
New York Times
4 Oct 1961
p. 41.
New York Times
20 Oct 1961
p. 1, 17.
New York Times
30 Nov 1961
p. 40.
New York Times
11 Apr 1962
p. 48.
New York Times
9 May 1962
p. 47.
New York Times
22 May 1962
p. 30.
New York Times
1 Jun 1962
p. 27.
New York Times
4 Jun 1962
p. 32.
New York Times
7 Jun 1962
p. 31.
Variety
9 Jan 1963
p. 13.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
George DeNormand
Bernard Sell
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
1st, 2d & 3d asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost coordinator
MUSIC
SOUND
Mus rec
Music ed
Sd eff ed
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
Asst to the prod
Scr supv
Prod secy
Tech adv
Stills
Constr mgr
Key grip
Prop master
Elec supv
Title des
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Advise and Consent by Allen Drury (Garden City, New York, 1959).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Advise and Consent," words and music by Jerry Fielding and Ned Washington.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Advise and Consent
Release Date:
6 June 1962
Premiere Information:
Cannes Film Festival premiere: 8 May 1962
New York opening: 6 June 1962
Beverly Hills, CA, opening: 8 June 1962
Production Date:
5 September--31 October 1961
Copyright Claimant:
Alpha--Alpina S. A.
Copyright Date:
1 June 1962
Copyright Number:
LP22238
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
140
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Washington is thrown into a turmoil when the seriously ill President of the United States asks the Senate to "advise and consent" to the appointment of Robert Leffingwell, a highly controversial figure, as the new Secretary of State. The President's chief support comes from Bob Munson, the Senate Majority Leader, while the principal opposition is raised by Seab Cooley, a southern senator who uses the testimony of a mentally unbalanced clerk, Herbert Gelman, to brand Leffingwell an ex-Communist. Although Leffingwell confesses the truth of the accusation to the President, his Communist affiliation is dismissed as a youthful indiscretion, and Leffingwell denies the accusation while testifying under oath before the Senate subcommittee. The committee chairman, Brigham Anderson, learns of the perjury and demands the withdrawal of Leffingwell's nomination. When the President refuses, Anderson decides that for the good of the country he must make the truth public. Before he can do so, however, he is threatened with blackmail by Fred Van Ackerman, an overambitious senator who warns Anderson that if he fails to approve the nomination, his own youthful indiscretion (a wartime homosexual experience in Hawaii) will be exposed. Unable to face the shame of his own past and unable to confess the truth to his wife, Anderson slashes his throat with a razor. Following the arrival of the tragic news, the Senate votes on Leffingwell's nomination. It ends in a deadlock, with the decisive vote going to the Vice President. As he ponders his decision, word arrives that the President has died. The once ineffectual Vice President is suddenly inspired by the monumental responsibility of his new office and announces that he will appoint his own Secretary of State. ... +


Washington is thrown into a turmoil when the seriously ill President of the United States asks the Senate to "advise and consent" to the appointment of Robert Leffingwell, a highly controversial figure, as the new Secretary of State. The President's chief support comes from Bob Munson, the Senate Majority Leader, while the principal opposition is raised by Seab Cooley, a southern senator who uses the testimony of a mentally unbalanced clerk, Herbert Gelman, to brand Leffingwell an ex-Communist. Although Leffingwell confesses the truth of the accusation to the President, his Communist affiliation is dismissed as a youthful indiscretion, and Leffingwell denies the accusation while testifying under oath before the Senate subcommittee. The committee chairman, Brigham Anderson, learns of the perjury and demands the withdrawal of Leffingwell's nomination. When the President refuses, Anderson decides that for the good of the country he must make the truth public. Before he can do so, however, he is threatened with blackmail by Fred Van Ackerman, an overambitious senator who warns Anderson that if he fails to approve the nomination, his own youthful indiscretion (a wartime homosexual experience in Hawaii) will be exposed. Unable to face the shame of his own past and unable to confess the truth to his wife, Anderson slashes his throat with a razor. Following the arrival of the tragic news, the Senate votes on Leffingwell's nomination. It ends in a deadlock, with the decisive vote going to the Vice President. As he ponders his decision, word arrives that the President has died. The once ineffectual Vice President is suddenly inspired by the monumental responsibility of his new office and announces that he will appoint his own Secretary of State. +

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

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