The Bachelor Party (1957)

92-93 mins | Drama | April 1957

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HISTORY

In the closing credits, the actors’ and characters’ names are superimposed over their photographs, in the reverse order of the opening credits. Writer-producer Paddy Chayefsky adapted the screenplay for The Bachelor Party from his 1953 Goodyear TV Playhouse telefilm of the same name. Director Delbert Mann also directed the television program, which starred Eddie Albert. According to a Jun 1956 DV news item, Chayefsky and Mann were trying to retain the entire crew from their previous production, Marty , which won the 1955 Academy Award for Best Film (see below). Although this did not occur, many crew members, including the producer, director, writer, cinematographer Joseph La Shelle and art director Edward S. Haworth, worked on both pictures.
       According to a 19 Sep 1956 HR news item, Diana Darrin was considered for a lead role. As noted in studio press materials, interiors were shot at Samuel Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood, while exteriors were shot on location in New York City, including in Greenwich Village, Stuyvesant Town and the BMT subway. A 14 Aug 1956 DV item reported the final budget as $750,000. Nancy Marchand, who played “Clara” in the television version of Marty , Philip Abbott and Larry Blyden made their feature film debuts in The Bachelor Party . Although a 29 Aug 1956 HR news item adds Rita Greene and Paula Houston to the cast, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       Although letters contained in the MPAA/PCA file on the film in the AMPAS Library, dated as late as 11 Sep 1956, list several objections the PCA had to ... More Less

In the closing credits, the actors’ and characters’ names are superimposed over their photographs, in the reverse order of the opening credits. Writer-producer Paddy Chayefsky adapted the screenplay for The Bachelor Party from his 1953 Goodyear TV Playhouse telefilm of the same name. Director Delbert Mann also directed the television program, which starred Eddie Albert. According to a Jun 1956 DV news item, Chayefsky and Mann were trying to retain the entire crew from their previous production, Marty , which won the 1955 Academy Award for Best Film (see below). Although this did not occur, many crew members, including the producer, director, writer, cinematographer Joseph La Shelle and art director Edward S. Haworth, worked on both pictures.
       According to a 19 Sep 1956 HR news item, Diana Darrin was considered for a lead role. As noted in studio press materials, interiors were shot at Samuel Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood, while exteriors were shot on location in New York City, including in Greenwich Village, Stuyvesant Town and the BMT subway. A 14 Aug 1956 DV item reported the final budget as $750,000. Nancy Marchand, who played “Clara” in the television version of Marty , Philip Abbott and Larry Blyden made their feature film debuts in The Bachelor Party . Although a 29 Aug 1956 HR news item adds Rita Greene and Paula Houston to the cast, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       Although letters contained in the MPAA/PCA file on the film in the AMPAS Library, dated as late as 11 Sep 1956, list several objections the PCA had to the film, including the suggestion of abortion and the intended extramarital affair, the picture was approved for a seal on 18 Sep 1956. The National Catholic Legion of Decency awarded the film a “B” rating, stating that “only a positive conclusion averts a more stringent classification.” Although press materials declare that The Bachelor Party contains the first use in film of the term “pregnant,” the term had been used in at least one earlier film, Full of Life (Columbia, 1957, see below).
       In Apr 1957, the MPAA’s Advertising Code Administration failed to approve advertisements for the film that made reference to extramarital relations. Despite the fact that this would mean a withdrawal of the PCA seal, UA decided to run the advertisements, as reported in a 10 Apr 1957 Var article. That article pointed out that UA had resigned from the MPAA in 1956 over a dispute pertaining to The Man with the Golden Arm (see below for more details), after which MPAA president Eric A. Johnston had personally requested that the studio rejoin the organization. On 17 Apr 1957, DV reported that for the first time, Johnston had overruled the Advertising Code Administration’s decision and allowed the ads. That article notes, however, that the Boston Globe refused to run the ads.
       Upon its release, The Bachelor Party was hailed by critics as even more gritty and entertaining than Marty . It was selected as one of four American films to run in the May 1957 Cannes Film Festival. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
9 Mar 1957.
---
Daily Variety
27 Jun 1956.
---
Daily Variety
14 Aug 1956
pp. 1-2.
Daily Variety
25 Feb 1957
p. 3.
Daily Variety
10 Apr 1957.
---
Daily Variety
17 Apr 1957
p. 1, 4.
Film Daily
4 Mar 1957
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 1956
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 1956
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 1956
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Aug 1956
pp. 9-10.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Aug 1956
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 1956
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 1956
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Oct 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Feb 1957
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Apr 1957
p. 3.
Life
29 Apr 1957
pp. 79-81.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Mar 1957
p. 289.
New York Times
10 Apr 1957
p. 37.
New York Times
14 Apr 1957.
---
Newsweek
22 Apr 1957.
---
Variety
6 Mar 1957
p. 6.
Variety
10 Apr 1957
p. 3, 79.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Norma Productions, Inc. Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
Story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Cam op
Asst cam
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Clothes des
MUSIC
Mus cond
Mus ed
Mus comp
Mus comp
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Scr supv
Prod asst
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the teleplay "The Bachelor Party" by Paddy Chayefsky on Goodyear Television Playhouse (NBC, 11 Oct 1953).
DETAILS
Release Date:
April 1957
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 9 April 1957
Los Angeles opening: 12 April 1957
Production Date:
20 August--late September 1956 in New York and at Samuel Goldwyn Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Norma Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
9 April 1957
Copyright Number:
LP8467
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
92-93
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18416
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

One morning in New York, Charlie Samson heads to work, still reeling from the news that his wife Helen is pregnant. Charlie works all day as a bookkeeper and at night attends school to become an accountant, a profession he loves, and worries that he has neither time nor money enough to start a family. On the subway, Charlie’s work friend Ken, unaware that Helen is pregnant, discusses the difficulties of supporting his wife and children, and later the two watch enviously as a young man befriends an attractive female. They arrive at the office to find Walter, a slightly older coworker, already there, and the three agree that none will join the bachelor party being thrown that night for work friend Arnold. Soon after, however, Eddie Watkins, who is throwing the party, arrives and places a series of calls to his girl friends, winning the other men’s admiration and prompting each in turn to decide to join the party that evening. The evening begins at a restaurant, and after several rounds of drinks and the presentation of gag gifts, the party is well on its way. Meanwhile, Charlie’s sister Julie visits Helen, and when Helen worries that Charlie is not excited about the baby, Julie reveals that her husband of eleven years is having an affair, one of many. The men then leave the bar and wander the streets of Greenwich Village, where a drunken Charlie flirts with a pretty beatnik woman who invites him to join her later at a party. The men go to Eddie’s apartment to watch stag films, and consequently ignore Arnold when he tries to talk about his bafflement at how he wound ... +


One morning in New York, Charlie Samson heads to work, still reeling from the news that his wife Helen is pregnant. Charlie works all day as a bookkeeper and at night attends school to become an accountant, a profession he loves, and worries that he has neither time nor money enough to start a family. On the subway, Charlie’s work friend Ken, unaware that Helen is pregnant, discusses the difficulties of supporting his wife and children, and later the two watch enviously as a young man befriends an attractive female. They arrive at the office to find Walter, a slightly older coworker, already there, and the three agree that none will join the bachelor party being thrown that night for work friend Arnold. Soon after, however, Eddie Watkins, who is throwing the party, arrives and places a series of calls to his girl friends, winning the other men’s admiration and prompting each in turn to decide to join the party that evening. The evening begins at a restaurant, and after several rounds of drinks and the presentation of gag gifts, the party is well on its way. Meanwhile, Charlie’s sister Julie visits Helen, and when Helen worries that Charlie is not excited about the baby, Julie reveals that her husband of eleven years is having an affair, one of many. The men then leave the bar and wander the streets of Greenwich Village, where a drunken Charlie flirts with a pretty beatnik woman who invites him to join her later at a party. The men go to Eddie’s apartment to watch stag films, and consequently ignore Arnold when he tries to talk about his bafflement at how he wound up engaged. Although they are all tired and dull when the movies end, no one wants to go home, so instead they head to a bar. At home, Julie horrifies Helen with her suggestion that she “get rid of” the baby in order to protect her marriage. When Charlie calls to say he will be late, Helen asks him to come home, but he responds with anger. In the men’s room, Charlie vents his anger to Ken, declaring that he can no longer work and study constantly and wondering what the point is of working so hard and never having fun. Ken responds that he once, while unemployed, drank and caroused too much and nearly ruined his marriage, which was never the same afterward. Seeing Charlie’s confusion and frustration, Ken encourages him to stick to his plan to better himself, and urges him to go home before the activity becomes too wild. Charlie remains unconvinced, however, and instead of leaving with Ken, accompanies the rest of the group to a striptease bar, where Arnold confides in Charlie that he is a virgin and afraid he will not be able to satisfy his fiancée. Unsure of how to respond and questioning his own marriage, Charlie remains silent, but later, when Eddie goads Arnold into visiting a prostitute, Charlie agrees to accompany him for moral support. In the prostitute's bedroom, Arnold grows frightened and runs out, supported by Charlie, who calls it a barbaric custom. They join Eddie and a drunken Walter at a nearby bar, and when Eddie tries to convince them to go back to the Greenwich Village party, Charlie quotes what Ken said earlier about the dangers of infidelity, and the two nearly come to blows. Although Eddie is angry, his reluctance to be alone overcomes him and he wheedles the others into taking the subway to Charlie’s to get more money to go to another bar. On the way, Walter reveals that he has been diagnosed with asthma that will prove fatal if he does not move out of the city, and when Charlie urges him to quit and move, Walter responds with drunken fury that he has a family to support and is too old to find a new job. After calling life a joke, “a lot of noise about nothing,” Walter exits the subway train alone, ignoring Charlie’s calls to him. Charlie decides to stay at home and goes upstairs to get some cash to lend Eddie. There, he tells Helen he is quitting school, after which she offers to get rid of the baby, but is shocked when he considers the possibility. She angrily pushes him away, so Charlie rejoins his buddies and they return to the Greenwich Village party, where the beatnik tells Charlie she will kiss him as long as he tells her he loves her, whether he means it or not. Saddened, he escorts Eddie and a highly intoxicated Arnold to a bar, where Arnold, ignored by the others, calls his fiancée and cancels the wedding, then collapses. Charlie plans to bring him home, and when Eddie cajoles him to stay out, Charlie realizes that Eddie will stop at nothing to avoid being alone. At Arnold’s, the groom hears his fiancée inside talking with his parents and confesses to Charlie that he called off the wedding because he is terrified that he will not be a good enough husband. As Charlie advises Arnold to tell his girl the truth and count on her understanding, he realizes how much he loves and misses Helen, and how empty a life without her would be. He rushes home to tell her he loves her, and as the sun rises, they embrace. +

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

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