The Chalk Garden (1964)

106 mins | Drama | 21 May 1964

Director:

Ronald Neame

Producer:

Ross Hunter

Cinematographer:

Arthur Ibbetson

Editor:

Jack Harris

Production Designer:

Carmen Dillon

Production Company:

Quota Rentals
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HISTORY

On 5 Oct 1955, DV announced that Paramount Pictures purchased film rights to Enid Bagnold’s stage play, due to open 26 Oct 1955 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City. Six weeks later, the 18 Nov 1955 LAT noted that Paramount contractee Audrey Hepburn “expressed interest” in the film. Although the 2 Dec 1955 DV reported that Pat Duggan was originally assigned to write the screenplay, he was replaced soon after by John Michael Hayes, as stated in the 17 Feb 1956 NYT. Four days later, LAT revealed that Paramount production chief Don Hartman had resigned his post to become an independent producer. Hartman planned to continue developing three of the studio’s projects, including The Chalk Garden, all of which would be released through Paramount.
       According to the 9 Mar 1956 DV, Hartman hoped to cast Ingrid Bergman in a lead role. Because the actress lived in Rome, Italy, he was considering the possibility of filming in Europe. The 15 Mar 1956 LAT noted that Hartman also expressed interest in casting veteran actress Ethel Barrymore, who had declined a role in the stage production. As reported in the 6 Apr 1956 LAT, the producer planned to attend the play’s opening in London, England, to persuade Alec Guinness reprise his stage role of “Maitland” in the film. Weeks later, the 2 May 1956 DV noted that Bergman joined Hartman for the event and was currently discussing the production schedule. Filming was expected to begin the following Dec, ... More Less

On 5 Oct 1955, DV announced that Paramount Pictures purchased film rights to Enid Bagnold’s stage play, due to open 26 Oct 1955 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City. Six weeks later, the 18 Nov 1955 LAT noted that Paramount contractee Audrey Hepburn “expressed interest” in the film. Although the 2 Dec 1955 DV reported that Pat Duggan was originally assigned to write the screenplay, he was replaced soon after by John Michael Hayes, as stated in the 17 Feb 1956 NYT. Four days later, LAT revealed that Paramount production chief Don Hartman had resigned his post to become an independent producer. Hartman planned to continue developing three of the studio’s projects, including The Chalk Garden, all of which would be released through Paramount.
       According to the 9 Mar 1956 DV, Hartman hoped to cast Ingrid Bergman in a lead role. Because the actress lived in Rome, Italy, he was considering the possibility of filming in Europe. The 15 Mar 1956 LAT noted that Hartman also expressed interest in casting veteran actress Ethel Barrymore, who had declined a role in the stage production. As reported in the 6 Apr 1956 LAT, the producer planned to attend the play’s opening in London, England, to persuade Alec Guinness reprise his stage role of “Maitland” in the film. Weeks later, the 2 May 1956 DV noted that Bergman joined Hartman for the event and was currently discussing the production schedule. Filming was expected to begin the following Dec, as stated in the 5 Oct 1956 issue. On 26 Mar 1958, Var announced Hartman’s death from a heart attack three days earlier. Paramount had already cancelled the project, even though preproduction was underway. More than two years later, the 15 Apr 1960 NYT reported that Universal-International Pictures acquired the property, along with the screenplay by John Michael Hayes. Ross Hunter assumed production duties, and assigned actress Sandra Dee to the role of “Laurel.” Filming was planned for the following autumn, with locations in the CA cities of Carmel and Monterey.
       Hunter considered several legendary actors, including theatrical couple Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt (22 Apr 1960 LAT) ; Vivien Leigh (14 Jul 1960 DV) ; and Helen Hayes (10 Aug 1960 LAT). The 24 Feb 1961 DV reported that Hayley Mills would play “Laurel” if the recently-married Sandra Dee decided to leave the project. Months later, the 2 Oct 1961 issue revealed that Dee left due to pregnancy. Joanne Woodward had since joined the production as “Madrigal.” An item in the 17 Sep 1963 LAT claimed that Mills was offered her role in 1960, and Hunter waited three years for her to reach the appropriate age to play her character. Delbert Mann was announced as director in the 5 Oct 1961 NYT, but he was later replaced by Ronald Neame. According to the 9 Jan 1962 LAT, retired actor John Boles was assigned the role of “Judge McWhirrey,” before it was assumed by Felix Aylmer. Casting was still underway on 16 May 1962, when NYT stated that Hunter intended to hire veteran actress Katharine Hepburn. By the end of the year, Deborah Kerr had replaced Joanne Woodward, as reported in the 28 Dec 1962 DV, and John Mills, Hayley’s father, was set to play “Maitland.” The 5 Jan 1963 NYT noted that theater veteran Ina Claire might also join the production. Later that month, the 23 Jan 1963 LAT claimed Bette Davis would appear in the film. On 15 Feb 1963, DV mentioned Gladys Cooper and Ralph Richardson as possible cast members. Weeks later, the 12 Mar 1963 issue announced Dame Edith Evans for the role of “Mrs. St. Maugham.” Principal photography was scheduled to begin 1 Apr 1963 in England. According to 22 Mar 1963 DV, Deborah Kerr was given the vocal solo in the opening theme as compensation for the “lack of glamorous costumes.” Filming was delayed until the second week of Apr 1963, as noted in the 1 Apr 1963 NYT.
       Ross Hunter told the 15 Apr 1963 LAT that interior scenes were shot first, due to inclement weather. The 17 Apr 1963 Var identified the location as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) British Studios in Elstree, England. Ronald Neame conducted two weeks of “theatre style rehearsals” prior to filming. Additional castings included William White, Edward Silver, Bertrand Greene, and Reginald Black (2 May 1963 DV) ; and in her first screen role, Caroline Maulding, daughter of England’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Reginald Maulding (24 Apr 1963 Var). The 6 May 1963 DV estimated the cost of the replica chalk cliffs used in the film at $100,000. The production was budgeted at $2.5 million, according to the 8 May 1963 Var. Hunter admitted that the necessity of filming in England was to ensure the cooperation of his predominantly British cast. A news brief in the 10 Jun 1963 DV stated that photography was nearing completion. Three months later, Hunter returned to the U.S. following post-production, as reported in the 18 Sep 1963 Var.
       The 5 Feb 1964 Var announced the May 1963 New York City debut at Radio City Music Hall. A general release was planned for the following month. The London premiere was scheduled for 2 Apr 1964. As stated in the 21 Feb 1964 DV, Hunter and famed costume designer Edith Head produced a 31 Mar 1964 fashion show at Universal Studios, featuring gowns inspired by the picture. A preview screening followed on 28 Apr 1964 at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. Proceeds from both benefitted the Hollywood Museum. The 3 Mar 1964 LAT listed Loretta Young, Sandra Dee, Gloria Swanson, Arlene Dahl, Marjorie Lord, Rosalind Russell, Cyd Charisse, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Merle Oberon, Irene Dunne, Rhonda Fleming, and Diana Lynn among the models for the fashion show. The 2 Apr 1964 DV anticipated proceeds from the two events at $250,000. The 23 Apr 1964 LAT reported that the preview was postponed until the following Jun, as the Hollywood Museum Women’s Council had received threatening telephone calls, presumably from “supporters of Steve Anthony,” a Los Angeles resident who was driven from his land by court order, to allow for the museum’s construction.
       The Chalk Garden opened 21 May 1964 in New York City, and 19 Jun 1964 in Los Angeles. Reviews were lukewarm, with the 20 Jun 1964 LAT complimenting the cast while calling the film “psychologically suspect,” and the 31 May 1964 NYT describing it as “slightly corny and uncouth.”
Opened in London in Apr 1964. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
5 Oct 1955
p. 3.
Daily Variety
27 Oct 1955
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
2 Dec 1955
p. 3.
Daily Variety
8 Mar 1956
p. 4.
Daily Variety
9 Mar 1956
p. 1, 8.
Daily Variety
2 May 1956
p. 2.
Daily Variety
5 Oct 1956
p. 4.
Daily Variety
15 Apr 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Jul 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
24 Feb 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
2 Oct 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
28 Dec 1962
p. 1.
Daily Variety
21 Jan 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Feb 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Feb 1963
p. 6.
Daily Variety
12 Mar 1963
p. 8.
Daily Variety
22 Mar 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
2 May 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
6 May 1963
pp. 1-2.
Daily Variety
10 Jun 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
28 Oct 1963
p. 3.
Daily Variety
3 Feb 1964
p. 8.
Daily Variety
21 Feb 1964
p. 11.
Daily Variety
30 Mar 1964
p. 14.
Daily Variety
31 Mar 1964
p. 3.
Daily Variety
2 Apr 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Apr 1964
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
18 Nov 1955
Section B, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
21 Feb 1956
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
15 Mar 1956
Section A, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
6 Apr 1956
p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
22 Apr 1960
Section A, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
10 Aug 1960
p. 22.
Los Angeles Times
9 Jan 1962
Section C, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
23 Jan 1963
Section C, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
15 Apr 1963
Section C, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
17 Sep 1963
Section D, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
3 Mar 1964
Section C, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
31 Mar 1964
Section C, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
12 Apr 1964
Section D, p. 5.
Los Angeles Times
23 Apr 1964
Section A, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
8 Jun 1964
Section C, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
20 Jun 1964
Section B, p. 7.
New York Times
5 Oct 1955
p. 39.
New York Times
17 Feb 1956
p. 12.
New York Times
15 Apr 1960
p. 15.
New York Times
5 Oct 1961
p. 43.
New York Times
16 May 1962
p. 33.
New York Times
5 Jan 1963
p. 5.
New York Times
1 Apr 1963
p. 50.
New York Times
22 May 1964
p. 42.
New York Times
31 May 1964
Section X, p. 1.
Variety
14 Mar 1956
p. 3.
Variety
26 Mar 1958
p. 5, 18.
Variety
17 Apr 1963
p. 22.
Variety
24 Apr 1963
p. 15.
Variety
8 May 1963
p. 3, 23, 25.
Variety
18 Sep 1963
p. 77.
Variety
5 Feb 1964
p. 4.
Variety
13 May 1964
p. 9.
Variety
20 May 1964
p. 9.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Ross Hunter Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
In charge of prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Chalk Garden by Enid Bagnold (New York, 26 Oct 1955).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
21 May 1964
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 21 May 1964
Los Angeles opening: 19 June 1964
Production Date:
mid April--early June 1963
Copyright Claimant:
Quota Rentals
Copyright Date:
13 June 1964
Copyright Number:
LP35380
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
106
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Madrigal, an Englishwoman recently released from prison after serving time for murder, arrives at the home of Mrs. St. Maugham to apply for the position of governess and companion to the elderly woman's 16-year-old granddaughter, Laurel. She is hired, despite her lack of references, primarily for her knowledge of gardening because Mrs. St. Maugham has difficulty raising anything in the chalky earth of her garden. Madrigal keeps her past a secret, but Laurel, who lives in a partial fantasy world (she hates her mother whom she believes abandoned her when she divorced and remarried) tries to uncover the secrets of her new governess. Maitland, the butler, becomes attracted to Madrigal and tells her that Laurel's wild tales are untrue. When the judge who convicted Madrigal comes to lunch, he does not recognize her, but they get into a heated discussion about the case. Laurel suspects that Madrigal is the murderess in question but makes a pact with Maitland never to reveal her suspicion. Madrigal realizes that Laurel is much the same as she was at 16 and fears that Laurel might make the same mistakes if she is not told the truth about her mother. She tells Mrs. St. Maugham that Laurel's mother should be allowed to have her, and Laurel, overhearing them, realizes that she was never abandoned. When her mother arrives, Laurel is ready to go with her, and Madrigal remains at the house as companion to Mrs. St. ... +


Madrigal, an Englishwoman recently released from prison after serving time for murder, arrives at the home of Mrs. St. Maugham to apply for the position of governess and companion to the elderly woman's 16-year-old granddaughter, Laurel. She is hired, despite her lack of references, primarily for her knowledge of gardening because Mrs. St. Maugham has difficulty raising anything in the chalky earth of her garden. Madrigal keeps her past a secret, but Laurel, who lives in a partial fantasy world (she hates her mother whom she believes abandoned her when she divorced and remarried) tries to uncover the secrets of her new governess. Maitland, the butler, becomes attracted to Madrigal and tells her that Laurel's wild tales are untrue. When the judge who convicted Madrigal comes to lunch, he does not recognize her, but they get into a heated discussion about the case. Laurel suspects that Madrigal is the murderess in question but makes a pact with Maitland never to reveal her suspicion. Madrigal realizes that Laurel is much the same as she was at 16 and fears that Laurel might make the same mistakes if she is not told the truth about her mother. She tells Mrs. St. Maugham that Laurel's mother should be allowed to have her, and Laurel, overhearing them, realizes that she was never abandoned. When her mother arrives, Laurel is ready to go with her, and Madrigal remains at the house as companion to Mrs. St. Maugham. +

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

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