Legacy (1975)

R | 88 mins | Drama | 2 May 1975

Director:

Karen Arthur

Writer:

Joan Hotchkis

Producer:

Karen Arthur

Cinematographer:

John Bailey

Editor:

Carol Littleton

Production Designer:

Dixie Lee

Production Company:

Arthur Productions
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HISTORY

End credits contain the following information: “Original stage production directed by Eric Morris”; “Special thanks to Richard Einfeld Productions [and] Jim Dickson”; and, “The filmmaker received a production grant from The American Film Institute in association with The National Endowment for the Arts.”
       Actress Dixie Lee’s character, a nurse’s aide at a care facility, is called “Miss Lee” in the film, but is listed as “Mrs. Lee” in the credits. Another actor’s name is spelled both Sean Allan and Sean Allen.
       According to the 7 Nov 1975 LAHExam review, writer-actress Joan Hotchkis developed Legacy five years earlier as a stage project at the Actors Studio in Hollywood. The play was originally directed by Eric Morris. The 5 Nov 1975 Var noted that producer Karen Arthur’s own production company shot the 16mm film in eight days on an $18,000 budget, although both Hotchkis and Arthur said later that principal photography lasted twelve days. Print costs and French subtitles added another $50,000. Arthur said she had trouble finding U.S. distribution, but the film’s “lengthy” female masturbation scene prompted Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to offer to run Legacy on television to test Federal Communications Commission (FCC) obscenity guidelines.
       In a modern interview on the DVD release, Hotchkis said the film was shot at two homes in San Marino, CA. Her film mother’s convalescent home was Hotchkis’ parents’ home, and “Bissie’s” home belonged to friends on a nearby street.
       When the picture was screened at the AFI’s Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Filmex) on 2 Oct 1975, the official announcement billed it as “Karen Arthur’s Legacy, ” reportedly because Filmex was unaware of ... More Less

End credits contain the following information: “Original stage production directed by Eric Morris”; “Special thanks to Richard Einfeld Productions [and] Jim Dickson”; and, “The filmmaker received a production grant from The American Film Institute in association with The National Endowment for the Arts.”
       Actress Dixie Lee’s character, a nurse’s aide at a care facility, is called “Miss Lee” in the film, but is listed as “Mrs. Lee” in the credits. Another actor’s name is spelled both Sean Allan and Sean Allen.
       According to the 7 Nov 1975 LAHExam review, writer-actress Joan Hotchkis developed Legacy five years earlier as a stage project at the Actors Studio in Hollywood. The play was originally directed by Eric Morris. The 5 Nov 1975 Var noted that producer Karen Arthur’s own production company shot the 16mm film in eight days on an $18,000 budget, although both Hotchkis and Arthur said later that principal photography lasted twelve days. Print costs and French subtitles added another $50,000. Arthur said she had trouble finding U.S. distribution, but the film’s “lengthy” female masturbation scene prompted Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to offer to run Legacy on television to test Federal Communications Commission (FCC) obscenity guidelines.
       In a modern interview on the DVD release, Hotchkis said the film was shot at two homes in San Marino, CA. Her film mother’s convalescent home was Hotchkis’ parents’ home, and “Bissie’s” home belonged to friends on a nearby street.
       When the picture was screened at the AFI’s Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Filmex) on 2 Oct 1975, the official announcement billed it as “Karen Arthur’s Legacy, ” reportedly because Filmex was unaware of Hotchkis’ involvement, the 22 Oct 1975 DV noted. The 22 Oct 1975 Var reported that Legacy was a last-minute replacement at Filmex for a Belgian film seized by U.S. Customs in New York City because of a scene containing bestiality. Legacy was shown at many film festivals, but had limited theatrical distribution.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
24 May 1976.
---
Daily Variety
22 Oct 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Oct 1975.
---
LAHExam
7 Nov 1975.
---
Los Angeles Times
6 Nov 1975
Section IV, p. 16.
New York Times
3 May 1976
p. 41.
New Yorker
24 May 1976.
---
Variety
27 Aug 1975
p. 14.
Variety
22 Oct 1975.
---
Variety
5 Nov 1975.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr/Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam/Stills
Key grip
Dolly grip
Best boy
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATOR
Props
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Keyboards, Mus score performed by
Woodwinds, Mus score performed by
Cello, Mus score performed by
Bass & percussion, Mus score performed by
Percussion, Mus score performed by
Mus supv, Mus score performed by
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Tech adv
Prod asst
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Legacy by Joan Hotchkis (early 1970s production date undetermined).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
2 May 1975
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 2 May 1975
Los Angeles opening: 9 November 1975
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
gauge
16mm
Duration(in mins):
88
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Bissie Hapgood stands at the edge of an elderly care facility’s backyard swimming pool, encouraging her nude, senile mother to swim. Afterward, Miss Lee, an attendant, brings Mother out of the pool, and Bissie wheels her onto a veranda. Though Mother does not seem to understand, Bissie talks about her own husband, Ryan Hapgood, and how her youngest daughter, age eleven, had her first menstruation while playing tennis. Bissie reminds Mother how she taught her to elaborately hide and destroy used sanitary napkins as part of a “lifetime course in concealment.” When Bissie prepares to leave, Miss Lee gives her a dozen limes from the facility’s trees, because Mother wants her to have them. Driving away, Bissie prays that she never becomes like Mother. As Bissie arrives at her upper-middle-class home, Sarah, a neighborhood Girl Scout, approaches her in the driveway to take an order for cookies. Inside, the telephone rings, and when Bissie runs to answer it, Mother implores her to come get her. Bissie assures her that she will visit again tomorrow, as always. She puts the limes into a drawer already filled with limes. After searching her basement, Bissie telephones Maria, her Spanish-speaking maid, to find where she put the “shocking pink” Christmas tree balls. Maria says they are in a closet in the “children’s wing” of the house. Telling Maria to stay on the line, Bissie journeys into a remote part of the house where, along with the Christmas decorations, she finds her childhood Sunday school workbook and reads through its pages. When Bissie remembers Maria and returns to the telephone, the maid is still waiting on the line. Bissie explains how she wants to ... +


Bissie Hapgood stands at the edge of an elderly care facility’s backyard swimming pool, encouraging her nude, senile mother to swim. Afterward, Miss Lee, an attendant, brings Mother out of the pool, and Bissie wheels her onto a veranda. Though Mother does not seem to understand, Bissie talks about her own husband, Ryan Hapgood, and how her youngest daughter, age eleven, had her first menstruation while playing tennis. Bissie reminds Mother how she taught her to elaborately hide and destroy used sanitary napkins as part of a “lifetime course in concealment.” When Bissie prepares to leave, Miss Lee gives her a dozen limes from the facility’s trees, because Mother wants her to have them. Driving away, Bissie prays that she never becomes like Mother. As Bissie arrives at her upper-middle-class home, Sarah, a neighborhood Girl Scout, approaches her in the driveway to take an order for cookies. Inside, the telephone rings, and when Bissie runs to answer it, Mother implores her to come get her. Bissie assures her that she will visit again tomorrow, as always. She puts the limes into a drawer already filled with limes. After searching her basement, Bissie telephones Maria, her Spanish-speaking maid, to find where she put the “shocking pink” Christmas tree balls. Maria says they are in a closet in the “children’s wing” of the house. Telling Maria to stay on the line, Bissie journeys into a remote part of the house where, along with the Christmas decorations, she finds her childhood Sunday school workbook and reads through its pages. When Bissie remembers Maria and returns to the telephone, the maid is still waiting on the line. Bissie explains how she wants to make a centerpiece for the dining room table, and describes everything in detail, even though Maria is not fluent in English. Later, as Bissie puts the Christmas ornaments in a centerpiece bowl, she decides to take a bath in her sunken tub. Dorothy, a friend, telephones just as she gets into the water. Soaking in the tub, Bissie complains about her German au pair, who has body odor and barely speaks English, and her Japanese gardener, who charges too much. Midway through her monologue, Bissie realizes Dorothy has stepped away from the telephone, and when Dorothy returns, Bissie berates her for being inconsiderate. As Dorothy talks, Bissie masturbates in the water with a hand sponge. Afterward, she cries, then hears the telephone hum and realizes Dorothy hung up. Bissie studies her nude body in a mirror and slowly dresses, then pours liquor into a cup of tea. She decides to call Lucy, a friend, to invite her to her dinner party for Dr. McMurty, and discuss the table’s seating arrangement. Dialing Lucy’s number, Bissie forgets whom she called, but when she remembers, she decides that Lucy is too dumb to sit next to the doctor. She remembers a day when she and Ryan lounged in the living room, and she berated him for implying that she was more beautiful in her youth. Bissie laments that she could easily pleasure herself, while Ryan was inept at giving her an orgasm. Their sexual needs eventually became incompatible. Dragging her wedding gown out of the closet, Bissie rhetorically asks Mother if she can donate it to the Good Will thrift store, and answers herself in a motherly whine. She then turns on a television soap opera and talks to the screen. A young actor looks like Bradley, her first lover, but she rejected his offer of marriage because he took insulin shots. She remembers Bradley going into diabetic shock while he was on top of her, then pushing him off, feeding him kitchen scraps, manipulating his jaws to chew until he revived. Now, lying alone, Bissie still loves Bradley even though they have been apart for twenty years. When Bissie telephones Dr. Greenspan, her psychiatrist, he responds that he does not have time for her that afternoon, but she warns him that she can no longer distinguish between her “upper” and “downer” medications. After the doctor returns to the telephone after a brief time away, Bissie forgets what she was talking about, and says that now would be a good time in her life to commit suicide. When the conversation ends, Bissie cries, remembering her comfortable sessions with Dr. Greenspan and becomes angry at his noncommittal comments. She returns to the centerpiece bowl and fills it with Christmas balls. Wrapping a part of her wedding dress around herself, she remembers her marriage ceremony and her waltz with Ryan in the garden, then recalls watching Ryan humiliate their son, Timmy, at breakfast because he wet his bed sheets the night before, and regrets letting Timmy go to school without comforting him. Hearing a noise, Bissie walks through the house, calling the names of her husband, the Japanesse gardener, and Jenna, her African American cook, but nobody is home. She acts out Jenna’s helpless reaction to problems in a “Butterfly McQueen” voice. Setting silverware on the table, she is uncertain if the centerpiece bowl looks right. She realizes she has two less sterling silver butter knives than she had previously, probably because Jenna dropped them into the garbage disposal, and she is one butter knife short for the party. She talks to Jenna through the kitchen door, but then thinks she hears the garbage disposal and screams because it is destroying another butter knife. Bissie refers to her maid with a racist slur, then proceeds to insult Germans, Catholics, Irish, Jews, and poor women having illegitimate babies at the bus station and then killing them. Bissie remembers when the country was pure and she could see the mountains and stars. She lights three candles on a candelabra and carries it through the house, thanking her imaginary guests for coming. In her psychotic stupor, she announces that her family has decided that the butter knife’s coffin will not be open because they want to remember the utensil as it was. She tries to recite one of her forgotten prayers, but all she can say is, “I wanna die.” The phone rings, but Bissie lies face down on the floor and lets it ring. +

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

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