A Fine Madness (1966)

104 mins | Comedy-drama | 11 May 1966

Director:

Irvin Kershner

Writer:

Elliott Baker

Producer:

Jerome Hellman

Cinematographer:

Ted McCord

Editor:

William Ziegler

Production Designer:

Jack Poplin

Production Company:

Pan Arts Co.
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HISTORY

The 25 May 1964 DV announced that Pan-Arts Co. recently finalized a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) to produce a film based of Elliott Baker’s 1964 novel. Delbert Mann, whose Biography Productions was also included in the deal, was set to direct. More than a year later, the 15 Jun 1965 DV reported that the project had been taken over by Warner Bros. Pictures, with Irvin Kershner as Mann’s replacement, as stated in the 17 Jun 1965 NYT. After completing the screenplay, Baker told the 28 Nov 1965 LAT that it had been a “pleasant” experience, despite warnings to the contrary from his publisher, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, and colleague Norman Mailer.
       The 2 Dec 1964 DV stated that actor Albert Finney declined an offer to play the lead role. A news brief in the 13 Jul 1965 DV noted that Henry Fonda was also a candidate, but he was prohibited by a scheduling conflict. Janice Rule was being considered for the female lead, according to the 7 Jul 1965 DV, but the part ultimately went to Joanne Woodward. A 20 Sep 1965 report announced the start of principal photography that day in New York City. Sean Connery had since assumed the starring role.
       After nearly three weeks of location shooting, production moved to Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, CA, on 7 Oct 1965, as stated in that day’s DV. The 2 Nov 1965 DV reported that actor John Fiedler, who was on hiatus from the Broadway cast of ... More Less

The 25 May 1964 DV announced that Pan-Arts Co. recently finalized a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) to produce a film based of Elliott Baker’s 1964 novel. Delbert Mann, whose Biography Productions was also included in the deal, was set to direct. More than a year later, the 15 Jun 1965 DV reported that the project had been taken over by Warner Bros. Pictures, with Irvin Kershner as Mann’s replacement, as stated in the 17 Jun 1965 NYT. After completing the screenplay, Baker told the 28 Nov 1965 LAT that it had been a “pleasant” experience, despite warnings to the contrary from his publisher, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, and colleague Norman Mailer.
       The 2 Dec 1964 DV stated that actor Albert Finney declined an offer to play the lead role. A news brief in the 13 Jul 1965 DV noted that Henry Fonda was also a candidate, but he was prohibited by a scheduling conflict. Janice Rule was being considered for the female lead, according to the 7 Jul 1965 DV, but the part ultimately went to Joanne Woodward. A 20 Sep 1965 report announced the start of principal photography that day in New York City. Sean Connery had since assumed the starring role.
       After nearly three weeks of location shooting, production moved to Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, CA, on 7 Oct 1965, as stated in that day’s DV. The 2 Nov 1965 DV reported that actor John Fiedler, who was on hiatus from the Broadway cast of The Odd Couple, received cuts to his head after a background actor accidentally shattered a glass panel on set. Fiedler resumed work following first aid treatment. Patrick O’Neal sustained broken ribs while on location with the company of Alvarez Kelly (1966, see entry), in which he performed concurrently with A Fine Madness. The 29 Nov 1965 DV noted that the set was visited by the Dave Clark Five, a popular English band at the time.
       Early the next year, the 4 Jan 1966 DV reported that Woodward was returning to Burbank from her home in Bridgeport, CT, to re-record dialogue the following day, indicating that filming had concluded sometime earlier. On 16 Feb 1966, DV announced that post-production was nearing completion. A preview was held in early May 1966 at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, CA, according to the 3 May 1966 DV. Audiences reportedly continued to identify Connery with the character “James Bond,” whom he played in four previous pictures.
       The 28 Oct 1965 DV identified Marjorie Bundock as harp instructor to cast member Jean Seberg. Casting announcements include the following: Lew Herbert (28 Sep 1965 DV); Gail Bonney (3 Nov 1965 DV); Dee Carroll (18 Nov 1965 DV); Kevin Cooper, Dodo Denny, Peg Shirley, and Maidie Norman (22 Nov 1965 DV); Jean Moore and Ron Burke (24 Nov 1965 LAT); Brenda Niebes (29 Nov 1965 DV); Eva Soreny (30 Nov 1965 DV); George Niese (3 Dec 1965 LAT); Louise Lomier, Helene Winston, Mary Benoit, Helene Heigh, Joan Sudlow, Monty Margetts, and Natalie Core (7 Dec 1965 DV); Lester Dore and Muriel Cogan (24 Dec 1965 DV).
       The 23 May 1966 DV noted that the picture was in “pre-release booking” in Los Angeles, CA. Reviews were tepid, with the 30 Jun 1966 NYT describing the film as “rich to raucous to plain fumbling.” However, opening week receipts in New York City and Los Angeles were promising, as reported in the 17 May 1966 and 1 Jul 1966 DV. Irvin Kershner later told the 13 Nov 1966 LAT that the final edit was supervised by studio president Jack Warner, who was reportedly unfamiliar with Elliott Baker’s screenplay. Warner declared the director’s cut “anti-social,” which Kershner claimed was his intent.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
25 May 1964
p. 3.
Daily Variety
2 Dec 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Jun 1965
p. 1.
Daily Variety
7 Jul 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
13 Jul 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
19 Aug 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
24 Aug 1965
p. 3.
Daily Variety
10 Sep 1965
p. 16.
Daily Variety
20 Sep 1965
p. 4.
Daily Variety
23 Sep 1965
p. 2, 4.
Daily Variety
28 Sep 1965
p. 4.
Daily Variety
7 Oct 1965
p. 4.
Daily Variety
28 Oct 1965
p. 10.
Daily Variety
2 Nov 1965
p. 2, 15.
Daily Variety
3 Nov 1965
p. 3.
Daily Variety
18 Nov 1965
p. 4.
Daily Variety
22 Nov 1965
p. 4.
Daily Variety
29 Nov 1965
p. 2, 4.
Daily Variety
30 Nov 1965
p. 4.
Daily Variety
7 Dec 1965
p. 4.
Daily Variety
24 Dec 1965
p. 9.
Daily Variety
4 Jan 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
16 Feb 1966
p. 1.
Daily Variety
3 May 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 May 1966
p. 3.
Daily Variety
17 May 1966
p. 3.
Daily Variety
23 May 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
1 Jul 1966
p. 3.
Daily Variety
18 Jul 1966
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
18 Dec 1965
Section A, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
24 Sep 1965
Section C, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
26 Oct 1965
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
24 Nov 1965
Section C, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
27 Nov 1965
p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
28 Nov 1965
Section B, pp. 11-12.
Los Angeles Times
3 Dec 1965
Section D, p. 26.
Los Angeles Times
12 May 1966
Section C, p. 12.
New York Times
17 Jun 1965
p. 24.
New York Times
30 Jan 1966
p. 28.
New York Times
13 Nov 1966
p. 145.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
SOUND
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Supv hairstylist
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel A Fine Madness by Elliott Baker (New York, 1964).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
11 May 1966
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 11 May 1966
Production Date:
20 September--early December 1965
Copyright Claimant:
Pan Arts Co.
Copyright Date:
25 May 1966
Copyright Number:
LP32664
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
104
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Samson Shillitoe, a rebellious Greenwich Village poet, is troubled by both overdue alimony payments and Rhoda, his current wife, who does not understand poetry and seductively interferes with his work. After losing his job as a carpet cleaner by seducing an office stenographer, he grudgingly accepts a $200 offer to read poetry at a cultural luncheon. This, too, turns into a shambles when he gets drunk and insults the ladies, including Lydia West, the wife of a prominent psychiatrist. Rhoda eventually gets Samson to Dr. West's sanitarium, and he easily seduces Dr. Vera Kropotkin, before ending up in a ripple bath with Lydia. All concerned finally agree that the only solution is to perform a lobotomy on Samson, but this also fails to tame him. When Lydia tells him that she is leaving her husband and wants to go away with him, Samson invites her to share his apartment with Rhoda. Furious, Lydia leaves him. As the long-suffering Rhoda is taking Samson home, she hesitantly informs him that she is pregnant. He knocks her unconscious, then dazedly picks her up and carries her back to their ... +


Samson Shillitoe, a rebellious Greenwich Village poet, is troubled by both overdue alimony payments and Rhoda, his current wife, who does not understand poetry and seductively interferes with his work. After losing his job as a carpet cleaner by seducing an office stenographer, he grudgingly accepts a $200 offer to read poetry at a cultural luncheon. This, too, turns into a shambles when he gets drunk and insults the ladies, including Lydia West, the wife of a prominent psychiatrist. Rhoda eventually gets Samson to Dr. West's sanitarium, and he easily seduces Dr. Vera Kropotkin, before ending up in a ripple bath with Lydia. All concerned finally agree that the only solution is to perform a lobotomy on Samson, but this also fails to tame him. When Lydia tells him that she is leaving her husband and wants to go away with him, Samson invites her to share his apartment with Rhoda. Furious, Lydia leaves him. As the long-suffering Rhoda is taking Samson home, she hesitantly informs him that she is pregnant. He knocks her unconscious, then dazedly picks her up and carries her back to their apartment. +

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

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