Uptown Saturday Night (1974)

PG | 104 mins | Comedy | 1974

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HISTORY

The onscreen credit for Pembroke J. Herring reads: "Associate producer and film editor." The complete copyright claimant statement for the film is Verdon Productions, Ltd., The First Artists Production Company, Ltd. & Warner Brothers, Inc. The opening cast credits, before the title, end with “And Harry Belafonte as Geechie Dan,” but the closing credits list Belafonte’s character as “Geechie Dan Beauford.” A Sep 1973 Var news item noted that Uptown Saturday Night would be distributed by National General, but ultimately it was distributed by Warner Bros. According to that news item and production charts, the picture was filmed at M-G-M Studios. A Dec 1973 DV news item states that additional filming was done at Paramount Studios and at various Los Angeles locations, with pre-production filming done in Chicago. According to an Oct 1973 HR news item, baseball star Hank Aaron had been signed by producer-director-star Sidney Poitier for a role in Uptown Saturday Night, but Aaron did not appear in the released film. The HR review noted that Belafonte’s gangster was clearly parodying “Don Corleone,” played by Marlon Brando in The Godfather (see above), replete with “stuffed cheeks and husky voice.”
       In 1978, NBC produced a television series pilot also titled Uptown Saturday Night, starring Cleavon Little as "Wardell Washington," but the series was not picked up. A Mar 2002 HR article indicated that Warner Bros. had optioned remake rights for Uptown Saturday Night to star Will Smith. However, of Jul 2009, that project had ...

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The onscreen credit for Pembroke J. Herring reads: "Associate producer and film editor." The complete copyright claimant statement for the film is Verdon Productions, Ltd., The First Artists Production Company, Ltd. & Warner Brothers, Inc. The opening cast credits, before the title, end with “And Harry Belafonte as Geechie Dan,” but the closing credits list Belafonte’s character as “Geechie Dan Beauford.” A Sep 1973 Var news item noted that Uptown Saturday Night would be distributed by National General, but ultimately it was distributed by Warner Bros. According to that news item and production charts, the picture was filmed at M-G-M Studios. A Dec 1973 DV news item states that additional filming was done at Paramount Studios and at various Los Angeles locations, with pre-production filming done in Chicago. According to an Oct 1973 HR news item, baseball star Hank Aaron had been signed by producer-director-star Sidney Poitier for a role in Uptown Saturday Night, but Aaron did not appear in the released film. The HR review noted that Belafonte’s gangster was clearly parodying “Don Corleone,” played by Marlon Brando in The Godfather (see above), replete with “stuffed cheeks and husky voice.”
       In 1978, NBC produced a television series pilot also titled Uptown Saturday Night, starring Cleavon Little as "Wardell Washington," but the series was not picked up. A Mar 2002 HR article indicated that Warner Bros. had optioned remake rights for Uptown Saturday Night to star Will Smith. However, of Jul 2009, that project had not come to fruition.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
HISTORY CREDITS
CREDIT TYPE
CREDIT
General (mod):
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
10 Jun 1974
p. 4696
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 1973
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 1973
p. 15
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1974
p. 21
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jun 1974
p. 3, 5
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 1978
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Mar 2002
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
23 Jul 1974
---
Los Angeles Times
21 Jul 1974
Calendar, p. 28
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
19 Jun 1974
p. 5
New York Times
17 Jun 1974
p. 25
New York Times
28 Jul 1974
Section 11, p. 1
Newsweek
24 Jun 1974
p. 80
Time
1 Jul 1974
p. 42
Variety
25 Sep 1973
---
Variety
12 Jun 1974
p. 18
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
BRAND NAME
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Fred J. Koenekamp
Dir of photog
Cam op
Photographic equip
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Tom Scott
Orig mus comp and cond
Mus supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Monty Westmore
Makeup
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Adell Aldrich Bravos
Scr supv
Dial coach
Casting
Prod mgr
Prod asst
SOURCES
SONGS
"Uptown Saturday Night," music by Tom Scott, lyrics by Morgan Ames, produced by Mentor Williams, sung by Dobie Gray.
PERFORMED BY
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
1974
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 17 Jun 1974; Los Angeles opening: 21 Jul 1974
Production Date:
18 Oct 1973--mid Mar 1974 at M-G-M Studios
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Verdon Productions, Ltd., The First Artists Production Company, Ltd.
16 June 1974
LP43810
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
104
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23863
SYNOPSIS

Although happily married for twenty years to his wife Sarah, factory worker Steve Jackson grudgingly agrees to accompany his best friend, Wardell Franklin, to a swank, private club called Zenobia’s. In order to get into the members-only club, Wardell forges a letter on stationary from the attorney’s office where his wife Irma works, identifying Wardell and Steve as two wealthy visiting diamond merchants. The ruse works, and the men are allowed into the club, which is packed with a dressy clientele enthusiastically drinking, dining and dancing. Welcomed by Madame Zenobia, the beautiful owner, the men take her recommendation to visit a private room where they discover a gambling parlor. Despite Steve’s plea for caution, Wardell borrows some money from him and enthusiastically joins a crap game where attractive fellow gambler, Leggy Peggy, encourages him. At the height of Wardell’s winning streak, the crowd is shocked when four men dressed in black burst in with machine guns and hold up the customers. The next day after church, Steve is stunned to read in the newspaper that a lottery ticket he holds has won $50,000, but then realizes that the ticket is in his stolen wallet. After Steve confides in Wardell, the men wonder how they can discover the identities of the club’s robbers and clumsily set about cruising the streets. When Wardell is mistaken for a wanted criminal and arrested, however, the men realize they need professional help and visit the Sharp Eye Detective Agency. The anxious Sharp Eye Washington demands five hundred dollars for the job, then nervously confesses that being a detective is fraught with peril and his ...

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Although happily married for twenty years to his wife Sarah, factory worker Steve Jackson grudgingly agrees to accompany his best friend, Wardell Franklin, to a swank, private club called Zenobia’s. In order to get into the members-only club, Wardell forges a letter on stationary from the attorney’s office where his wife Irma works, identifying Wardell and Steve as two wealthy visiting diamond merchants. The ruse works, and the men are allowed into the club, which is packed with a dressy clientele enthusiastically drinking, dining and dancing. Welcomed by Madame Zenobia, the beautiful owner, the men take her recommendation to visit a private room where they discover a gambling parlor. Despite Steve’s plea for caution, Wardell borrows some money from him and enthusiastically joins a crap game where attractive fellow gambler, Leggy Peggy, encourages him. At the height of Wardell’s winning streak, the crowd is shocked when four men dressed in black burst in with machine guns and hold up the customers. The next day after church, Steve is stunned to read in the newspaper that a lottery ticket he holds has won $50,000, but then realizes that the ticket is in his stolen wallet. After Steve confides in Wardell, the men wonder how they can discover the identities of the club’s robbers and clumsily set about cruising the streets. When Wardell is mistaken for a wanted criminal and arrested, however, the men realize they need professional help and visit the Sharp Eye Detective Agency. The anxious Sharp Eye Washington demands five hundred dollars for the job, then nervously confesses that being a detective is fraught with peril and his life is in constant danger from previous cases. After Sharp Eye accepts a fifty-dollar down payment from Steve, he bolts, only to be stopped on the street by plain clothes and uniformed police. To Steve and Wardell’s dismay, they learn that Sharp Eye, using a myriad of aliases, is a professional swindler, wanted in several states. Undaunted, the men next turn for help to Congressman Lincoln, a vain, self-promoting politician, who feigns empathy with his constituents. Puzzled when Lincoln grows cool upon the mention of Zenobia’s, Steve and Wardell are then taken aback when Leggy Peggy joins them in Lincoln’s office and introduces herself as Mrs. Lincoln. Scolding her husband for his image-conscious, guarded manner, Peggy reveals that Lincoln frequently visited Zenobia’s in the past, but after his election has been more circumspect, whereas she continues to enjoy her visits. Angered over her own money lost in the robbery, Peggy advises Steve and Wardell to seek help from gangster Geechie Dan Beauford or local thug Little Seymour, whom she suspects was involved in the heist. Deciding to try Little Seymour first, Wardell and Steve go to a bar known to be frequented by the criminal, and ask the patrons for information. When an uncooperative patron threatens Wardell, he strikes him and throws him out of the bar to impress the other customers with his boldness. Moments later, when the diminutive Little Seymour arrives with his hulking guard Big Percy, a rattled Wardell makes up a foolish story, weaving in the robbery at Zenobia’s. Seeing through the transparent tale, Little Seymour angrily reveals he was not involved in the heist, then demonstrates his karate skills on the hapless duo. Later forced to finally confess everything to their wives, who must treat their bruises, Steve and Wardell decide they have no choice but to seek out the dangerous Geechie Dan. When the pair approaches Geechie in a bar, however, his cohorts throw them out just as a rival gang makes a hit on the bar. Believing that Steve and Wardell fingered him to his archrival, Geechie orders the pair taken to his headquarters. There, in fear of being tortured, the men confess that they work for Geechie’s archrival Nichodemus “Silky Slim” Williams, but when Geechie orders their executions, they insist they are nobodies. The activity is interrupted by the sudden explosion of Geechie’s car, followed by Silky Slim calling out that he and his men have the headquarters surrounded. When Silky Slim demands that Geechie decide whether he wants to be his partner or die, he uses a particular quotation that Steve recognizes as the same one spoken by the lead robber in Zenobia’s heist. After Steve excitedly tells Geechie about the theft, he is stunned when Wardell adds that the heist was worth $300,000 in diamonds. Pressed to explain, Wardell, recalling the fictitious letter-of-introduction he and Steve used to enter Zenobia’s, concocts a tale of two diamond merchants whom he heard at the club. Knowing the letter, bearing the address of the attorney’s office, is among the stolen items, Wardell claims the merchants said they had $300,000 worth of diamonds safely stored at their lawyer’s office until their out-of-town buyer arrived. Geechie then agrees to talk with Silky Slim and offers him part of a $300,000 proposition if he can look through the personal property lifted in the holdup. The gangsters agree to meet in church the next day to look for the attorney’s letter in the suitcase of stolen items. While Geechie looks for the letter, Steve desperately attempts to grab his wallet but is unable to reach the suitcase before Geechie finds the letter. After Geechie and Silky Slim send their men to the attorney’s office to locate the diamonds, Wardell tells Irma to call her boss to warn him that the law office is about to be burgled. Meanwhile, using the seasonal church social as a cover, Geechie and Silky Slim mingle with the churchgoers and attend the picnic. As the gangsters join in a baseball game, Steve and Wardell try to break into Geechie’s car to get to the suitcase of personal items. Silky Slim then receives a telephone call warning him that his men have been arrested and the police have a warrant for Geechie and Silky Slim. Moments later the police, lead by Officer Lucas, arrive at the picnic. When Geechie and Silky Slim’s hasty disguises are discovered, there is a chase, ending with Steve, desperate for the suitcase, hanging onto Silky Slim’s car before tumbling into the river. Knowing his friend cannot swim, Wardell leaps in after him. In the hospital the next day, Sarah visits Steve to assure him that the lottery ticket has been found and the couple finally indulges in their long-time dream of buying a home in the country.

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

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