The Night of the Iguana (1964)

125 mins | Drama | 31 July 1964

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HISTORY

On 10 May 1961, Var reported that Seven Arts Productions founders Ray Stark and Eliot Hyman paid $500,000 for motion picture rights to Tennessee Williams’s latest stage play, The Night of the Iguana, which had yet to debut on Broadway. According to the 30 Oct 1962 NYT, Seven Arts began investing in theaters to find material that would be suited for the screen, and often participated in the shows’ creative development. Confident in its potential as a film, the company funded nearly all of the capital for The Night of the Iguana, which ran 28 Dec 1961—29 Sep 1962 at the Royale Theatre after a one-night preview.
       Meanwhile, the 16 Jul 1962 NYT indicated that Seven Arts would share production duties of the film version with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Over the next few months, rumors circulated about the possible casting of Bette Davis, who originated the role of “Maxine Faulk” onstage, while a 12 Mar 1962 LAT item suggested that actress Nancy Kwan was also being considered. The 28 Sep 1962 NYT announced that Ingrid Bergman had been the first major player cast after accepting the role of “Hannah Jelkes.” At that time, Gavin Lambert was attached to write the adaptation. The following spring, however, director John Huston joined the project as part of a three-picture contract with Seven Arts, and the 3 Apr 1963 DV indicated that he and Anthony Veiller would take over as co-screenwriters. Six days later, LAT reported that Huston and Veiller were due to meet Tennessee Williams to discuss the adaptation in Key West, FL, following a ... More Less

On 10 May 1961, Var reported that Seven Arts Productions founders Ray Stark and Eliot Hyman paid $500,000 for motion picture rights to Tennessee Williams’s latest stage play, The Night of the Iguana, which had yet to debut on Broadway. According to the 30 Oct 1962 NYT, Seven Arts began investing in theaters to find material that would be suited for the screen, and often participated in the shows’ creative development. Confident in its potential as a film, the company funded nearly all of the capital for The Night of the Iguana, which ran 28 Dec 1961—29 Sep 1962 at the Royale Theatre after a one-night preview.
       Meanwhile, the 16 Jul 1962 NYT indicated that Seven Arts would share production duties of the film version with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Over the next few months, rumors circulated about the possible casting of Bette Davis, who originated the role of “Maxine Faulk” onstage, while a 12 Mar 1962 LAT item suggested that actress Nancy Kwan was also being considered. The 28 Sep 1962 NYT announced that Ingrid Bergman had been the first major player cast after accepting the role of “Hannah Jelkes.” At that time, Gavin Lambert was attached to write the adaptation. The following spring, however, director John Huston joined the project as part of a three-picture contract with Seven Arts, and the 3 Apr 1963 DV indicated that he and Anthony Veiller would take over as co-screenwriters. Six days later, LAT reported that Huston and Veiller were due to meet Tennessee Williams to discuss the adaptation in Key West, FL, following a location scout in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Stark reportedly wanted Huston, who also began acting, to portray the elderly poet “Nonno,” but the role eventually went to Cyril Delevanti.
       Subsequent casting announcements made no further mention of Bergman’s involvement, and on 3 Jul 1963, NYT confirmed that Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, and Deborah Kerr had been secured for the three leading roles. A 4 Jun 1963 LAT brief suggested that Gardner nearly dropped out of the picture due to salary disputes. Although Burton had been in talks since early summer, the 19 Jun 1963 LAT mentioned Christopher Plummer was also in consideration to star. A 26 Jul 1963 DV news item noted that Seven Arts contract player Mimsy Farmer screen tested for the role of “Charlotte Goodall,” which was played by Sue Lyon. According to the 29 Sep 1963 LAT, Lyon requested that the character be expanded for the film. A 1 Dec 1963 NYT article asserted that Gardner’s role was also rewritten, so as to appear more sympathetic than her stage counterpart. Burton supposedly received a salary of $400,000.
       Principal photography took place 25 Sep—3 Dec 1963, as reported by a 4 Dec 1963 DV brief. Although filming concluded nearly a week early, the 12 Sep 1963 DV outlined an initial shooting schedule in which the production would spend forty-four days in Mismaloya, thirteen days in Puerto Vallarta, and three days in Mexico City. A 15 Nov 1963 LAT news story claimed the Mismaloya jungle set cost $60,000. As many of the locations were accessible only by boat, the 1 Dec 1963 NYT stated that a small village of twenty-five houses was built as a residence for the cast and crew near a cove in the Bay of Banderas. This arrangement excluded Richard Burton, who was housed at “Casa Kimberley,” a four-story villa in Puerto Vallarta described in the 13 Oct 1963 LAT. The production attracted considerable publicity due to Burton’s high-profile affair with Cleopatra (1963, see entry) co-star Elizabeth Taylor, who joined him at Casa Kimberley during the shoot.
       On 25 Dec 1963, Var published an article revealing that Huston agreed to Mexican censors’ request to remove a scene that featured a “drunken Indian” sprawled out on a road, which was deemed a “stereotype of indolence.” Editing was expected to be completed in England or Ireland, where Huston lived. Several contemporary sources estimated a negative cost between $2.8 million and $3 million.
       A 22 May 1964 DV brief announced that The Night of the Iguana would play in competition at that year’s San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain, where Ava Gardner was honored as Best Actress. The New York City world premiere took place 30 Jun 1964 at Philharmonic Hall in Lincoln Center. According to the next day’s NYT, the event raised $102,519.19 for the Heart Fund. Citywide release began 5 Aug 1964, and a NYT article two days later reported an unexpectedly high first-day gross of $74,692 from twenty locations, with house records broken at both the DeMille and Tower East Theatres. Although originally scheduled to open on the West Coast at the Beverly Theatre on the same day as New York City, the 24 Jul 1964 DV reported that the Los Angeles, CA, engagement had been moved up to 31 Jul 1964 in order to book a larger theater at the Hollywood Paramount.
       The Night of the Iguana won an Academy Award for Costume Design (Black-and-White), and received additional nominations in the following categories: Actress in a Supporting Role (Grayson Hall), Art Direction (Black-and-White), and Cinematography (Black-and-White).
       Although reviewed at 125 minutes, the official U.S. Copyright record lists a running time of 118 minutes. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
3 Apr 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
26 Jul 1963
p. 7.
Daily Variety
12 Sep 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
27 Sep 1963
p. 6.
Daily Variety
4 Dec 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
11 Feb 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 May 1964
p. 1.
Daily Variety
24 Jul 1964
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
12 Mar 1962
Section C, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
14 Sep 1962
Section C, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
9 Apr 1963
p. 20.
Los Angeles Times
16 May 1963
Section C, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
4 Jun 1963
Section C, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
19 Jun 1963
Section E, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
29 Sep 1963
Section D, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
13 Oct 1963
p. A, 10.
Los Angeles Times
15 Nov 1963
Section A, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
17 Dec 1963
p. 2, 25.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jul 1964
Section B, p. 1.
New York Times
16 Jul 1962
p. 18.
New York Times
28 Sep 1962
p. 26.
New York Times
30 Oct 1962
p. 30.
New York Times
3 Jul 1963
p. 14.
New York Times
1 Dec 1963
p. 197.
New York Times
1 Jul 1964
p. 42.
New York Times
7 Aug 1964
p. 14.
Variety
10 May 1961
p. 1.
Variety
25 Jul 1962
p. 109.
Variety
17 Apr 1963
p. 3, 63.
Variety
25 Dec 1963
p. 3.
Variety
17 Jun 1964
p. 3.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A John Huston-Ray Stark Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Assoc dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Prod exec
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles created
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Assoc to Mr. Huston
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams (New York, 28 Dec 1961).
DETAILS
Release Date:
31 July 1964
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 30 June 1964
Los Angeles opening: 31 July 1964
New York opening: 5 August 1964
Production Date:
25 September--3 December 1963
Copyright Claimant:
Seven Arts Productions
Copyright Date:
15 June 1964
Copyright Number:
LP28231
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
125
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

The Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon, a defrocked clergyman working in Mexico as a guide for Blake's Tours, is leading a group of lady schoolteachers headed by Judith Fellowes through the country. The youngest of the group, 18-year-old Charlotte, becomes attracted to Shannon and goes to his hotel room. They are discovered by Miss Fellowes, who has been making Shannon's life miserable because she is jealous of Charlotte's interest in him; and she threatens to have Shannon fired. Although they are scheduled to stay at an air-conditioned hotel, Shannon leads the group past it and into the jungle to the Coste Verde, a crumbling hotel owned by his old friend, Maxine, whose husband has recently died. To make sure the teachers remain at Maxine's, which is closed for the season, Shannon disables the tour bus. The fever-racked Shannon tells Maxine of Miss Fellowes' plan to have him dismissed, and Maxine blocks her attempts to telephone Shannon's boss. Meanwhile, artist Hannah Jelkes and her poet grandfather, Nonno, arrive at the hotel after wandering across Mexico meagerly subsisting on the sale of their sketches and poems. Hank, the bus driver, takes up with Charlotte, repairs the bus, proclaims himself tour leader, and drives away with the teachers leaving Hannah, Nonno, Shannon and Maxine at the hotel. The frustrations of his life lead Shannon to the brink of madness, but he is comforted and calmed by Hannah. Noticing that his ravings held a note of sympathy and love for Hannah, Maxine offers her hotel to Hannah and Shannon, despite her own love for Shannon. Nonno dies after completing his final poem, and Hannah leaves the hotel alone. Shannon and Maxine remain together at ... +


The Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon, a defrocked clergyman working in Mexico as a guide for Blake's Tours, is leading a group of lady schoolteachers headed by Judith Fellowes through the country. The youngest of the group, 18-year-old Charlotte, becomes attracted to Shannon and goes to his hotel room. They are discovered by Miss Fellowes, who has been making Shannon's life miserable because she is jealous of Charlotte's interest in him; and she threatens to have Shannon fired. Although they are scheduled to stay at an air-conditioned hotel, Shannon leads the group past it and into the jungle to the Coste Verde, a crumbling hotel owned by his old friend, Maxine, whose husband has recently died. To make sure the teachers remain at Maxine's, which is closed for the season, Shannon disables the tour bus. The fever-racked Shannon tells Maxine of Miss Fellowes' plan to have him dismissed, and Maxine blocks her attempts to telephone Shannon's boss. Meanwhile, artist Hannah Jelkes and her poet grandfather, Nonno, arrive at the hotel after wandering across Mexico meagerly subsisting on the sale of their sketches and poems. Hank, the bus driver, takes up with Charlotte, repairs the bus, proclaims himself tour leader, and drives away with the teachers leaving Hannah, Nonno, Shannon and Maxine at the hotel. The frustrations of his life lead Shannon to the brink of madness, but he is comforted and calmed by Hannah. Noticing that his ravings held a note of sympathy and love for Hannah, Maxine offers her hotel to Hannah and Shannon, despite her own love for Shannon. Nonno dies after completing his final poem, and Hannah leaves the hotel alone. Shannon and Maxine remain together at the Coste Verde. +

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

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