Butterfield 8 (1960)

109 mins | Drama | November 1960

Full page view
HISTORY

The opening credits begin: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents John O'Hara's Butterfield 8 .” O’Hara’s novel Butterfield 8 was in part based on the real-life 1931 mysterious death of young socialite Starr Faithfull. O’Hara’s protagonist is a semi-professional call girl using the Manhattan Butterfield Exchange for her phone service, while the film’s “Gloria Wandrous” was changed to an amateur call girl because she does not take money from the men she is with. Portions of the film were shot on location in and around New York City, including the areas of Greenwich Village, Fifth Avenue, Stony Point, Elmsford, Larchmont and Long Island; however, a 3 Dec 1959 HR news items notes that the production was moved to Los Angeles after Elizabeth Taylor suffered pneumonia during production. Production on the film was interrupted by the Screen Actors Guild strike which lasted from 7 Mar--18 Apr 1960.
       According to a biography of Taylor, the actress protested playing the role; however, M-G-M, to which she was under contract, insisted that she star in the film before releasing her to star in the Twentieth Century-Fox production of Cleopatra . Taylor finally accepted the part, but under the condition that actor and popular singer Eddie Fisher be given a role. Recently widowed by the death of her husband, producer Michael Todd, who died in a plane crash in Mar 1958, Taylor began an affair with Fisher, who had been a family friend. They married in 1959 after Fisher divorced actress Debbie Reynolds. A 6 Nov 1959 HR news item notes that Eddie Albert was originally considered for the role that Fisher was finally assigned. According to a 2 ... More Less

The opening credits begin: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents John O'Hara's Butterfield 8 .” O’Hara’s novel Butterfield 8 was in part based on the real-life 1931 mysterious death of young socialite Starr Faithfull. O’Hara’s protagonist is a semi-professional call girl using the Manhattan Butterfield Exchange for her phone service, while the film’s “Gloria Wandrous” was changed to an amateur call girl because she does not take money from the men she is with. Portions of the film were shot on location in and around New York City, including the areas of Greenwich Village, Fifth Avenue, Stony Point, Elmsford, Larchmont and Long Island; however, a 3 Dec 1959 HR news items notes that the production was moved to Los Angeles after Elizabeth Taylor suffered pneumonia during production. Production on the film was interrupted by the Screen Actors Guild strike which lasted from 7 Mar--18 Apr 1960.
       According to a biography of Taylor, the actress protested playing the role; however, M-G-M, to which she was under contract, insisted that she star in the film before releasing her to star in the Twentieth Century-Fox production of Cleopatra . Taylor finally accepted the part, but under the condition that actor and popular singer Eddie Fisher be given a role. Recently widowed by the death of her husband, producer Michael Todd, who died in a plane crash in Mar 1958, Taylor began an affair with Fisher, who had been a family friend. They married in 1959 after Fisher divorced actress Debbie Reynolds. A 6 Nov 1959 HR news item notes that Eddie Albert was originally considered for the role that Fisher was finally assigned. According to a 2 Dec 1959 HR news item, Jeanne Cooper was tested for a role, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       Following an Academy Award nomination for her performance in 1959 film Suddenly, Last Summer in the spring of 1960, Taylor signed the contract to star in Cleopatra in Jul 1960. The scheduled Jan 1961 shooting on location in England was postponed until spring 1961 due to Taylor contracting viral pneumonia in March. Within days, Taylor was forced to have an emergency tracheotomy, which saved her life, but left her in a coma. For days the press reported that Taylor was near death, however, she slowly recuperated while Cleopatra was rescheduled for shooting in balmy Rome.
       When Taylor and Fisher returned to Hollywood and attended the April 17th Academy Awards ceremony, Taylor received the award for Best Actress for her performance in Butterfield 8 , which she accepted in her weakened state. The award was perceived by many critics to be a “sympathy” vote not only for her recovery, but also for Taylor’s many past performances. After shooting finally began on Cleopatra in Jan 1962, Taylor and co-star Richard Burton began an affair which ended her marriage with Fisher by the spring 1962. Butterfield 8 was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Color Cinematography. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Apr 1961
p. 230.
Box Office
31 Oct 1960.
---
Daily Variety
30 Oct 1959.
---
Daily Variety
26 Oct 1960
p. 3.
Film Daily
26 Oct 1960
p. 10.
Filmfacts
2 Dec 1960
p. 269.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Nov 1959
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Dec 1959
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Dec 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1960
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 1960
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 1960
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 1960
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 1960
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Nov 1960.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
29 Oct 1960
p. 900.
New York Times
17 Nov 1960
p. 46.
New Yorker
19 Nov 1960.
---
Newsweek
7 Nov 1960.
---
Time
21 Nov 1960.
---
Variety
26 Oct 1960
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Pandro S. Berman Production
An Afton-Limerook Picture
An Afton-Linebrook Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Orch cond
SOUND
Rec supv
MAKEUP
Hairstyles
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Butterfield 8 by John O'Hara (New York, 1935).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
John O'Hara's Butterfield 8
Release Date:
November 1960
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 16 November 1960
Production Date:
4 January--6 March 1960
mid Aprilil--mid June 1960
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. & Afton-Linebrook Productions
Copyright Date:
6 October 1960
Copyright Number:
LP17542
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Metrocolor
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Lenses/Prints
Photographic lenses by Panavision
Duration(in mins):
109
Length(in feet):
9, 766
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19589
SYNOPSIS

Call girl Gloria Wandrous wakes up in wealthy executive Weston Liggett's apartment and finds Wes has left her $250 dollars. Insulted by the money which she never takes from men, Gloria, whose dress is torn, takes Wes's wife Emily’s mink coat to cover herself and scrawls "No Sale" in lipstick on the mirror, but then orders her telephone exchange, Butterfield 8, to put Wes through if he should call. Later, Gloria visits her childhood friend, pianist Steve Carpenter, in his Greenwich Village apartment, where he chastises Gloria for wasting her life on one-night stands, but agrees to ask his girl friend Norma to lend her a dress. After Gloria leaves, Norma jealously gives Steve an ultimatum: He must choose between her and Gloria. Later that day, while Wes takes the train to the countryside where Emily is caring for her mother, he speaks with his friend, Bingham Smith, who tells him to end his adulterous relationships and return to Bing's law firm instead of working for Emily's family chemical business. Later that day, when Gloria lies to her doting mother Annie, claiming to have spent the night at Norma's, neighbor Fanny Thurber insinuates that Gloria spends her nights in less than virtuous circumstances. That evening, Wes returns home and, finding the lipstick and money, places a call to Gloria, explaining the money was for the torn dress. Later that night during a date with Gloria, Wes advises her to ask a high price for her lovemaking talents, prompting Gloria to jam her stiletto heel into his shoe. She explains that she does not take payment for her dates, but prefers to make her living modeling, claiming that she has ... +


Call girl Gloria Wandrous wakes up in wealthy executive Weston Liggett's apartment and finds Wes has left her $250 dollars. Insulted by the money which she never takes from men, Gloria, whose dress is torn, takes Wes's wife Emily’s mink coat to cover herself and scrawls "No Sale" in lipstick on the mirror, but then orders her telephone exchange, Butterfield 8, to put Wes through if he should call. Later, Gloria visits her childhood friend, pianist Steve Carpenter, in his Greenwich Village apartment, where he chastises Gloria for wasting her life on one-night stands, but agrees to ask his girl friend Norma to lend her a dress. After Gloria leaves, Norma jealously gives Steve an ultimatum: He must choose between her and Gloria. Later that day, while Wes takes the train to the countryside where Emily is caring for her mother, he speaks with his friend, Bingham Smith, who tells him to end his adulterous relationships and return to Bing's law firm instead of working for Emily's family chemical business. Later that day, when Gloria lies to her doting mother Annie, claiming to have spent the night at Norma's, neighbor Fanny Thurber insinuates that Gloria spends her nights in less than virtuous circumstances. That evening, Wes returns home and, finding the lipstick and money, places a call to Gloria, explaining the money was for the torn dress. Later that night during a date with Gloria, Wes advises her to ask a high price for her lovemaking talents, prompting Gloria to jam her stiletto heel into his shoe. She explains that she does not take payment for her dates, but prefers to make her living modeling, claiming that she has been hired to advertise the dress she is wearing at three bistros that evening. Drawn by her fierce personality, Wes follows Gloria to the bistros. After watching Gloria flirt with dozens of men at several clubs, he drives her to Happy's, a run-down motel owned by Wes's middle-aged ex-lover Happy. After sleeping together, Wes and Gloria decide to explore the relationship further. Days later, Norma finds the mink coat in Steve's closet and complains about Gloria. Steve tries to explain that after Gloria's father died, Steve looked after her like a brother, but Norma asserts that she does not want to continue their relationship with Gloria in their lives. While Wes and Gloria disappear together for five days, Emily's mother suggests that her daughter divorce Wes, but Emily thinks he is frustrated by the life her family has handed him and insists she will wait until he develops a life of his own. After Wes and Gloria return to the city, Wes admits that he is married. Gloria, far from being surprised, thanks Wes for the respect he showed her during their trip by calling her by her real name instead of "honey" or "dollface." Later that night, when Gloria tells her mother the truth about being a "slut," Annie slaps her. Gloria, grateful that her mother has finally heard the truth, tells her that she is in love with only one man. Gloria visits her psychiatrist Dr. Tredman and insists that her relationship with Wes has cured her of her need for promiscuity, but Tredman suggests it might not be the complete solution. She then rushes to Wes's apartment building with the mink coat to return it, but seeing the elegant Emily in the entryway, leaves in shame. Meanwhile, Wes asks Bing for a job at the law firm and returns home to find Emily has noticed that the mink is gone. Wes nervously makes excuses and rushes out to search for Gloria at her regular clubs, but finds instead that he is just one in the "fraternity" of Gloria's ex-lovers. Meanwhile, Gloria visits Happy, an ex-vaudeville star, who suggests that her own highlife has been a depressing dead end. When Gloria finds Wes at a bistro the following evening, he launches into a series of drunken insults and taunts her, saying "honey, baby, dollface, kid." Gloria then drives Wes to his apartment building where Emily, spotting them from a window above, watches as her husband throws the coat at Gloria, saying that he would never give the tainted object back to his wife. Gloria, now wearing the mink, later laments to Steve that she has earned the coat, every thread and fur pelt, for all her hours prostituting herself to strangers. She then recounts that Annie's boyfriend Hartley had repeatedly raped her when she was thirteen while her mother was away. Even though Gloria felt intense shame for having enjoyed the attention, she subsequently made a life out of repeating the incident. The next day, when a defeated Wes asks Emily for a divorce, she inquires if he is going to Gloria, reminding him that he left her the previous evening. He explains that he loves Gloria so much that the thought of her deserting him drove him into furious rage. When Norma arrives the next morning and finds Gloria asleep on Steve’s couch, he calmly asks Norma to marry him. Later at home, Gloria tells her mother she is starting a new life in Boston, gives the mink to Fanny and leaves in her sports car. Finding out that Gloria is on the road to Boston, Wes drives until he spots her car at a café along the highway. Wes tries to apologize to Gloria by asking her to marry him, but Gloria insists that she is "branded" by his insults. He convinces her to go to Happy's to talk in private, but when Happy greets her with scorn, Gloria speeds away. Wes drives after her, trying to catch up to her increasingly fast pace. While turning to see him follow her, Gloria misses the sign for road construction and hurtles over an embankment to her death. When Wes returns to the city, he tells Emily about Gloria’s death and announces that he is leaving to "find his pride" and will someday return to see if it has any value to either of them. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.