Phffft (1954)

88 or 91 mins | Romantic comedy | December 1954

Director:

Mark Robson

Writer:

George Axelrod

Producer:

Fred Kohlmar

Cinematographer:

Charles Lang Jr.

Editor:

Charles Nelson

Production Designer:

William Flannery

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
Full page view
HISTORY

A Dec 1953 Var news item noted that George Axelrod's unproduced play Phffft: Chronicle of a Happy Divorce , for which Columbia paid an estimated $80,000-85,000, was "uncomfortably similar" to his earlier play The Seven Year Itch (see below). According to Var , producer Charles Feldman owned the rights to The Seven Year Itch , but was contractually restricted turning it into a film until the play's run was over, thus allowing Columbia to bring the similarly themed Phffft to the screen before Twentieth Century-Fox's The Seven Year Itch . The word "phffft" was originated from a phrase coined by well-known radio broadcaster Walter Winchell, who often refered to broken romantic relationships as "phffft." Columbia's ad slogan for Phffft was: "Don't say it -- see it." HR casting lists include Richard Webb but his appearance in the film has not been ... More Less

A Dec 1953 Var news item noted that George Axelrod's unproduced play Phffft: Chronicle of a Happy Divorce , for which Columbia paid an estimated $80,000-85,000, was "uncomfortably similar" to his earlier play The Seven Year Itch (see below). According to Var , producer Charles Feldman owned the rights to The Seven Year Itch , but was contractually restricted turning it into a film until the play's run was over, thus allowing Columbia to bring the similarly themed Phffft to the screen before Twentieth Century-Fox's The Seven Year Itch . The word "phffft" was originated from a phrase coined by well-known radio broadcaster Walter Winchell, who often refered to broken romantic relationships as "phffft." Columbia's ad slogan for Phffft was: "Don't say it -- see it." HR casting lists include Richard Webb but his appearance in the film has not been confirmed. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
23 Oct 1954.
---
Daily Variety
19 Oct 54
p. 3.
Film Daily
21 Oct 54
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 54
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
4 May 54
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jun 54
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Aug 54
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 54
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
23 Oct 54
p. 185.
New York Times
13 Nov 1953.
---
New York Times
11 Nov 54
p. 43.
Variety
2 Dec 1953.
---
Variety
20 Oct 54
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCER
WRITER
Story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
SOUND
Rec supv
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair Styles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Phfft: Chronicle of a Happy Divorce by George Axelrod (unproduced).
DETAILS
Release Date:
December 1954
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 10 November 1954
Production Date:
26 April--11 June 1954
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
30 November 1954
Copyright Number:
LP4360
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
88 or 91
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17109
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After eight years of marriage, daytime television serial writer Nina Tracy asks her lawyer husband Robert for a divorce. Robert agrees, admitting he had been considering the idea for several months. When Robert asks Nina on what grounds she will ask for the divorce, she says mental cruelty, pointing out that Robert has never taken her job seriously. Robert is initially angry, but then admits that Nina is right. When Nina receives her Reno divorce, she feels elated and imagines Robert sitting around in despair. Instead, Robert is cheerfully moving in with his best friend, confirmed bachelor, Charlie Nelson. Robert reflects about the divorce with Charlie and recalls that Charlie introduced him to Nina eight years earlier: Just after World War II, Charlie and Robert are lieutenants in the Navy. Charlie, who is in public relations, asks Robert to handle an NBC radio reporter's request to interview a hero and hastily palms Nina off on him. Robert is quick to confess to Nina that he spent the entire war behind a desk, but that as a lawyer, he saved the Navy $75,000, which impresses her. When Robert offers to help Nina with her taxes, she agrees and invites him to her studio apartment. After dinner, Robert asks Nina where she sleeps, and she presses a button to display her bed, which shoots out of the wall with a distinct "whooshing" sound that alarms, then delights Robert. Later, the two find themselves falling in love over Nina's old checks. After Robert receives his discharge and a position as an associate in a prestigious law firm and Nina receives a promotion ... +


After eight years of marriage, daytime television serial writer Nina Tracy asks her lawyer husband Robert for a divorce. Robert agrees, admitting he had been considering the idea for several months. When Robert asks Nina on what grounds she will ask for the divorce, she says mental cruelty, pointing out that Robert has never taken her job seriously. Robert is initially angry, but then admits that Nina is right. When Nina receives her Reno divorce, she feels elated and imagines Robert sitting around in despair. Instead, Robert is cheerfully moving in with his best friend, confirmed bachelor, Charlie Nelson. Robert reflects about the divorce with Charlie and recalls that Charlie introduced him to Nina eight years earlier: Just after World War II, Charlie and Robert are lieutenants in the Navy. Charlie, who is in public relations, asks Robert to handle an NBC radio reporter's request to interview a hero and hastily palms Nina off on him. Robert is quick to confess to Nina that he spent the entire war behind a desk, but that as a lawyer, he saved the Navy $75,000, which impresses her. When Robert offers to help Nina with her taxes, she agrees and invites him to her studio apartment. After dinner, Robert asks Nina where she sleeps, and she presses a button to display her bed, which shoots out of the wall with a distinct "whooshing" sound that alarms, then delights Robert. Later, the two find themselves falling in love over Nina's old checks. After Robert receives his discharge and a position as an associate in a prestigious law firm and Nina receives a promotion to radio serial writer, Robert asks Nina if she would like to file a joint tax return, and the two marry. In the present, Nina is welcomed home to New York City by her mother Edith, who takes her to a swank restaurant, where they spot Robert and Charlie at another table. Both Nina and Robert drink too many martinis and glare at each other throughout the evening. The following week, Rick Vidal, the co-star in Nina's TV serial, asks her to dinner, which she is pleased to accept. At a lively nightclub, however, Nina refuses to dance with Rick, admitting that since Robert never danced, she never learned. Later, she goes to Rick's apartment, and is startled then amused when Rick's initial romantic overtures turn into a plea to make him the star of the serial. Meanwhile, Charlie arranges a date for the reluctant Robert with Janis, a beautiful if vacuous young woman. After an uncomfortable dinner, during which Robert realizes he has nothing in common with Janis, he takes her back to Charlie's, but is put off by her clinginess and asks her to leave. Weeks later, Nina begins taking French lessons, only to have the instructor peg her immediately as a recent divorcee trying to make changes in her life to compensate for her failed marriage. Robert enrolls in an art class, but is asked to leave early in the term because of his lack of skill. Charlie then advises Robert to overhaul his lifestyle, so Robert purchases a sporty convertible and Italian clothing, grows a pencil-thin mustache and takes private dance classes. Unknown to Robert, Nina is also taking private dance lessons and has spent a large amount of money remodeling the house and buying new clothes. One evening at a nightclub, Robert and Nina, each with dates, are surprised to encounter each other on the dance floor. When a mambo is played, each tries to out dance the other and end up dancing together, to the delight of the other patrons. The following day, confident that Nina still thinks of him as much as he thinks of her, Robert telephones her and reminds her that it is tax deadline day. Nina accepts Robert's offer to come out to the country to go over her taxes, and both prepare for the evening as if it were a date. When Robert arrives and goes over Nina's old checks, however, he chastises her for her frivolous, foolish overspending and criticizes her flagrant new décor, which was selected by Edith, an interior designer. Nina responds by mocking his gigolo look, and Robert departs in a huff. Nina calls Edith to admit she may still be in love with Robert, and her mother advises her to continue dating. When Robert runs into Edith and Nina's psychiatrist, Dr. Van Kessel, he takes the doctor's advice to continue dating. Robert, meanwhile, invites Janis to his apartment and prepares enthusiastically for their date. All goes well until Janis reveals that Charlie is seeing Nina that evening. Outraged, Robert leaves Janis and drives out to the country, where Nina and Charlie sip cocktails and wonder why they never got along before. When Nina hints for Charlie to be more forward, he is shocked, then enthused, to her horror. Later, Robert arrives at the house and eavesdrops on a phone conversation between Nina and Edith, in which Nina declares the evening with Charlie a disaster and vows to try and get Robert back. After an ebullient Robert makes a batch of martinis, he and Nina are reunited. Once remarried, they return to a smaller apartment in the city, which has a bed that whooshes in and out of the wall. +

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

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