The Facts of Life (1960)

103 mins | Comedy | 25 December 1960

Director:

Melvin Frank

Producer:

Norman Panama

Cinematographer:

Charles Lang Jr.

Editor:

Frank Bracht

Production Designers:

J. McMillan Johnson, Kenneth A. Reid

Production Company:

H.L.P. Co.
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HISTORY

The film begins with the names and pictures of Bob Hope, then Lucille Ball, then the title credit, followed by a brief sequence in which Ball, as “Kitty Weaver,” wonders in voice-over about the events that led her to embark on an affair with her friend’s husband. Then the animated credit sequence, designed by Saul Bass, plays to the title song. Voice-over narration by Ball continues sporadically throughout the film. Although Wally Harton is typically credited as a costumer, in the onscreen credits he is listed with the makeup and hair credits.
       According to a Dec 1960 LAEx article, producing-directing-writing team Norman Panama and Melvin Frank conceived of the story for The Facts of Life in 1951. At that point, they wrote the story as a drama, and considered James Stewart and Olivia de Havilland to co-star. Unsatisfied with the script, however, they put it aside, and upon unearthing it in 1959, rewrote it as a comedy. After interesting Hope and Ball in the project, the LAEx article adds, they secured the financing from United Artists.
       The Facts of Life marked the twenty-third of twenty-six films written by Panama and Frank, and the third of four features to co-star Ball and Hope. According to a 23 May 1960 HR news item, Frank shot one unit at Desilu, while Panama shot the other on location in San Francisco and Monterey, CA. On 5 Jul 1960, HR noted that Ball had fallen on the set and seriously bruised her leg and face. As a result, production shut down for two weeks, resuming on 18 Jul. Several other on-set ... More Less

The film begins with the names and pictures of Bob Hope, then Lucille Ball, then the title credit, followed by a brief sequence in which Ball, as “Kitty Weaver,” wonders in voice-over about the events that led her to embark on an affair with her friend’s husband. Then the animated credit sequence, designed by Saul Bass, plays to the title song. Voice-over narration by Ball continues sporadically throughout the film. Although Wally Harton is typically credited as a costumer, in the onscreen credits he is listed with the makeup and hair credits.
       According to a Dec 1960 LAEx article, producing-directing-writing team Norman Panama and Melvin Frank conceived of the story for The Facts of Life in 1951. At that point, they wrote the story as a drama, and considered James Stewart and Olivia de Havilland to co-star. Unsatisfied with the script, however, they put it aside, and upon unearthing it in 1959, rewrote it as a comedy. After interesting Hope and Ball in the project, the LAEx article adds, they secured the financing from United Artists.
       The Facts of Life marked the twenty-third of twenty-six films written by Panama and Frank, and the third of four features to co-star Ball and Hope. According to a 23 May 1960 HR news item, Frank shot one unit at Desilu, while Panama shot the other on location in San Francisco and Monterey, CA. On 5 Jul 1960, HR noted that Ball had fallen on the set and seriously bruised her leg and face. As a result, production shut down for two weeks, resuming on 18 Jul. Several other on-set mishaps occurred, as noted in an Aug 1960 Newsweek article: Hope hurt his finger, Frank sprained his ankle, Don DeFore injured his back and was placed in traction, and a set caught on fire. A NYT article quoted Hope’s quip that “This film should have been shot at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital.”
       HR news items add the following actors to the cast: Karl Lucas, Norman Leavitt, Billy Booth, Leon Alton, Pryor Bowen, George Ford, Katie Regan, Frank Edwards, Hal Taggart, Dorothy Abbott, Ruth Tannen, King Lockwood, Earl Brindle, Eddie Baker, Steve Carruthers, Christine Christian, Ricky Kelman, Mickey Sholdar, Elizabeth Fraser, Ed Allen, Rudy Germane, Renita Reachi, Sally Yarnell, Mary Barnes, Beryl McCutcheon, Joe Roach , Bob Jellison, Carol Sandifer, Steve Slingsby, Larry Mancine, Maxime Seamon, Robert Hernandez, Luis Delgado, Hans Moebus, Bernie Sell, June Jay, Coco Morris, Vickie Vann, Snub Pollard, George Bruggeman, Dick Cherney, Hadley Gray, Maxime Taylor and Audrey Allen. However, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. In addition, modern sources add Bernard Fein, Hazel Pierce, Jeffrey Sayre and Bert Stevens. The Facts of Life marked the final feature film appearance of Ruth Hussey (1911--2005), who continued to act on television for many years.
       Reviews for the film were mixed. According to the NYT critic, The Facts of Life was “a grandly good-natured picture, full of sparkling repartee and word-gags and sight-gags that crackle with humor and sly intelligence.” The New Yorker , however, stated that the film marked “the latest and possibly the most vulgar model of the Hollywood sex comedy.” Edith Head and Edward Stevenson won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design for the picture; other nominations included Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (J. MacMillan Johnson, Kenneth A. Reid and Ross Dowd), Best Cinematography (Charles Lang), Best Original Song (Johnny Mercer) and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay (Panama and Frank). Panama and Frank were also nominated for the Writers Guild of America award for Best Written American Comedy.
       The Facts of Life was broadcast on ABC-TV on 6 Oct 1964, but the next day, DV reported that Bob Hope Enterprises and Lubar Productions had petitioned the court to keep the film from been shown again. The original contract with United Artists had stipulated that the film should not be shown on television until 1966. The disposition of the suit is not known. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Apr 61
p. 228.
Box Office
21 Nov 1960.
---
Daily Variety
3 Jun 1960.
---
Daily Variety
14 Nov 60
p. 3.
Daily Variety
7 Oct 1964.
---
Film Daily
14 Nov 60
p. 10.
Hollywood Citizen-News
19 Jul 1960.
---
Hollywood Citizen-News
10 Aug 1960.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 May 1960
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
31 May 1960
p. 6, 13.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 1960
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jun 1960
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 1960
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 1960
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 1960
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 1960
p. 6, 11.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 1960
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jun 1960
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jun 1960
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 1960
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jul 1960
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jul 1960
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jul 1960
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jul 1960
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jul 1960
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jul 1960
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 1960
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 1960
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Aug 1960
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 1960
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Nov 60
p. 3.
Life
17 Mar 1961
pp. 109-11.
Los Angeles Examiner
4 Dec 1960.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
19 Nov 60
p. 924.
New York Times
31 Jul 1960.
---
New York Times
11 Feb 61
p. 27.
New Yorker
18 Feb 1961.
---
Newsweek
22 Aug 1960.
---
Variety
16 Nov 60
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Panama and Frank Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Stills
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Miss Ball's ward
Miss Ball's ward
Mr. Hope's ward
Mr. Hope's ward tailored by
Mr. Hope's ward coord by
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Sd mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Spec eff
Titles des
MAKEUP
Makeup
Fashion makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Casting dir
Pub chief
SOURCES
SONGS
"The Facts of Life," music and lyrics by Johnny Mercer, sung by Eydie Gorme and Steve Lawrence.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 December 1960
Production Date:
2 June--5 July
18 July--10 August 1960 at Desilu-Cahuenga
Copyright Claimant:
H.L.P. Co.
Copyright Date:
15 December 1960
Copyright Number:
LP18966
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
103
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19746
SYNOPSIS

Middle-aged Pasadena housewife Kitty Weaver arrives in San Francisco for a romantic tryst with Larry Gilbert, the husband of a good friend, and recalls the events that led her to her current indiscretion: Two months earlier, Kitty attends the country club’s annual Halloween Ball. Although her husband Jack is, as usual, gambling in the club basement, her friends Connie Mason and Mary Gilbert sit with her, while Mary’s husband Larry acts as the emcee. Kitty, who considers Larry a bore, is visibly unamused by his stale jokes, to Larry’s consternation. On the drive home, after complaining about Larry, Kitty berates Jack for losing more money and he promises never again to gamble. At home he plans to make love to her, but by the time she finishes readying for bed, he has fallen asleep. Meanwhile, Larry grumbles to Mary about Kitty, and later presses Mary to make love, but she protests that she is too busy. The couples prepare for a joint trip with Connie and her husband Doc to Acapulco the next day, but when the Gilberts' son Bobby comes down with a fever, Mary refuses to leave him and sends Larry on alone. At the same time, Jack learns that he must stay home for a business emergency, and sends Kitty without him. In Acapulco, Doc and Connie immediately contract a violent stomach ailment, leaving Kitty and Larry reluctantly paired. Larry has rented a fishing boat, so the two spend the day on the ocean, and although their conversation is at first stilted, they warm up to each other upon discovering that they attended the same high school and had the same home room teacher. Soon after, ... +


Middle-aged Pasadena housewife Kitty Weaver arrives in San Francisco for a romantic tryst with Larry Gilbert, the husband of a good friend, and recalls the events that led her to her current indiscretion: Two months earlier, Kitty attends the country club’s annual Halloween Ball. Although her husband Jack is, as usual, gambling in the club basement, her friends Connie Mason and Mary Gilbert sit with her, while Mary’s husband Larry acts as the emcee. Kitty, who considers Larry a bore, is visibly unamused by his stale jokes, to Larry’s consternation. On the drive home, after complaining about Larry, Kitty berates Jack for losing more money and he promises never again to gamble. At home he plans to make love to her, but by the time she finishes readying for bed, he has fallen asleep. Meanwhile, Larry grumbles to Mary about Kitty, and later presses Mary to make love, but she protests that she is too busy. The couples prepare for a joint trip with Connie and her husband Doc to Acapulco the next day, but when the Gilberts' son Bobby comes down with a fever, Mary refuses to leave him and sends Larry on alone. At the same time, Jack learns that he must stay home for a business emergency, and sends Kitty without him. In Acapulco, Doc and Connie immediately contract a violent stomach ailment, leaving Kitty and Larry reluctantly paired. Larry has rented a fishing boat, so the two spend the day on the ocean, and although their conversation is at first stilted, they warm up to each other upon discovering that they attended the same high school and had the same home room teacher. Soon after, Kitty hooks a 150-pound marlin, and Larry puts his arms around her to help her reel it in. Their success so enthuses Kitty that she spontaneously kisses Larry. Suddenly aware of a strong mutual attraction, the two share an unavoidably isolated evening at the romantic resort, then finish with a moonlit swim. Afterward, they are about to kiss, but Kitty is cold from the swim and her sneezes interrupt their ardor. Over the next week, they fight their attraction, but finding themselves repeatedly drawn together, they inevitably fall in love. On the last night of the trip, they confess their feelings but agree that it was only “a beautiful dream” and they must strenuously avoid each other back home. At home, each is increasingly unsatisfied. Kitty learns that Jack is still gambling, while Larry’s family ignores him when he talks. Weeks go by, during which Kitty and Larry are continuously thrown together against their will at social events, stoking their attraction anew. Soon after at another club celebration, the two fall into a reminiscence about their trip. When they dance, he whispers urgently that they must meet, and she tries to resist but cannot. They agree to rendezvous the following evening, but as Larry is leaving the house, Mary informs him that he must lead Bobby’s YMCA meeting. There, Larry tries to rush the children through the meeting, but one boy, a slow reader, insists on reciting a long report on smoke signals. Finally, Larry is able to join Kitty in her car, and with nowhere else to go, they enter a drive-in theater. They are kissing when the neighborhood dry cleaner, Thompson, pulls up next to them and sees Kitty. To hide Larry’s face and avoid having Thompson identify him, they pull out and drive away, still kissing. However, the next morning, Thompson announces to Larry and Mary that he saw them at the drive-in, and Larry is saved only by Mary’s good-natured disbelief that anyone would have an affair with him. Once again, Larry and Kitty’s social schedule throws them together repeatedly, and when one night they each show up unaccompanied to a club dance, they end up drinking too much and leaving for a motel. At the desk, a flustered Larry signs the register as “Mr. and Mrs. G. Washington,” after which a drunken Kitty asks him to buy her some coffee. Larry drives to a coffee shop, but upon his return cannot remember which of the many motels was the one they chose, and mistakenly enters a stranger’s room. After he has been gone for two hours, Kitty gives up and takes a cab home. Soon after, Larry convinces Kitty to join him for a weekend in Monterey. Wracked with guilt, she sees Jack off on his skiing trip and then leaves him a note, revealing her affair and asking for a divorce. Back in the present, Kitty meets Larry at the San Francisco airport, where she confesses that she has left Jack. Although alarmed, Larry promises to leave Mary but remains more focused on the weekend ahead. They drive to the cabin in a rented convertible, and when it begins to rain, the car’s top refuses to lift. Although Kitty wants to drive to a garage, Larry insists on fixing it himself, despite his ineptitude. By the time Larry admits failure, Kitty is drenched, and upon reaching their cabin, they discover that it is full of leaks. As a result of the combined discomforts of the trip, Larry and Kitty grow testy, the other’s faults becoming more and more apparent. Kitty’s poor cooking annoys Larry, while Larry’s cheapness frustrates Kitty. Finally, a careful consideration of the financial burden of divorce convinces them that they have been too hasty, and they decide to rush back to Pasadena to dispose of the note before Jack can read it. With the storm blocking off most of the roads and sure to cut short Jack’s skiing trip, they have only a few hours to make it home. Using fake names, they buy tickets on the last flight out and drive to the San Francisco airport. Once there, however, they are joined by neighbors Hamilton and Myrtle Busbee, and therefore cannot identify themselves by their fake names. Their tickets are given to another passenger, and all looks lost until Larry, who knows Hamilton’s reputation as a philanderer, privately urges him to give his seat to Kitty in order to join Larry on a “date” with two San Francisco waitresses. In this way, Kitty is able to rush home, but once there, she sees that Jack has already arrived. She asks him if he has read her note, and he nonchalantly replies that he has not yet opened it. Kitty asks Jack to burn the letter, and when she leaves the room, he throws the opened envelope into the fire. Months later, while dancing at a club gathering, Kitty and Larry bid a fond farewell to “Mr. and Mrs. Washington” and happily return to their spouses. +

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

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