Sam's Son (1984)

PG | 104 mins | Biography, Drama | 17 August 1984

Full page view
HISTORY

The film contains clips from the motion pictures, Shane (1953, see entry) and Samson and Delilah (1949, see entry).
       Sam’s Son represents the only feature film written and directed by actor Michael Landon. As noted in several reviews, the story was partly based on his high school years as a javelin thrower, and the lead character, played by Timothy Patrick Murphy, bears Landon’s birth name, Gene Orowitz. As in the film, Landon’s father managed a movie theater.
       According to a 19 Jul 1983 DV column, Landon initially offered the project, originally titled Throw It, to the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), the network responsible for Landon’s popular television series, Bonanza (12 Sep 1959-16 Jan 1973), Little House on the Prairie (11 Sep 1974-21 Mar 1983), and Highway to Heaven (19 Sep 1984-4 Aug 1989). Worldvision Enterprises Inc., a company known for distributing television, including Little House on the Prairie, greenlit the project instead. In opening credits, the Worldvision logo includes the following disclaimer: “Not Affiliated with World Vision International, a Religious and Charitable Organization.”
       A 15 Aug 1983 HR article reported that Sam’s Son was the first feature film produced by Worldvision, which financed the entire $4 million budget. The project was produced in collaboration with Michael Landon Productions. Landon initially proposed the idea of releasing Sam’s Son as a television movie, but Worldvision chairman and executive producer Kevin O’Sullivan was convinced the script would be better suited as a theatrical project.
       According to a 20 ... More Less

The film contains clips from the motion pictures, Shane (1953, see entry) and Samson and Delilah (1949, see entry).
       Sam’s Son represents the only feature film written and directed by actor Michael Landon. As noted in several reviews, the story was partly based on his high school years as a javelin thrower, and the lead character, played by Timothy Patrick Murphy, bears Landon’s birth name, Gene Orowitz. As in the film, Landon’s father managed a movie theater.
       According to a 19 Jul 1983 DV column, Landon initially offered the project, originally titled Throw It, to the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), the network responsible for Landon’s popular television series, Bonanza (12 Sep 1959-16 Jan 1973), Little House on the Prairie (11 Sep 1974-21 Mar 1983), and Highway to Heaven (19 Sep 1984-4 Aug 1989). Worldvision Enterprises Inc., a company known for distributing television, including Little House on the Prairie, greenlit the project instead. In opening credits, the Worldvision logo includes the following disclaimer: “Not Affiliated with World Vision International, a Religious and Charitable Organization.”
       A 15 Aug 1983 HR article reported that Sam’s Son was the first feature film produced by Worldvision, which financed the entire $4 million budget. The project was produced in collaboration with Michael Landon Productions. Landon initially proposed the idea of releasing Sam’s Son as a television movie, but Worldvision chairman and executive producer Kevin O’Sullivan was convinced the script would be better suited as a theatrical project.
       According to a 20 Jul 1983 Var item, principal photography began that day. Filming took place in and around Los Angeles, CA, and was completed in mid-Aug 1983.
       As reported in DV articles from 13 Mar 1984 and 15 Mar 1984, Invictus Entertainment acquired worldwide distribution rights and planned an initial release to 200 theaters in Aug 1984, followed by at least 200 more prior to the holiday season. Sam’s Son marked the first theatrical feature for the recently established company, which was based in Salt Lake City, UT. Invictus previewed the film for exhibitors at the Show-A-Rama 27 convention, where Landon was honored as “new director of the year” and actor Timothy Patrick Murphy received the award for “newcomer of the year.” A 19 Jun 1984 HR item announced that a charity premiere in honor of Interplast Inc., a non-profit organization that provided reconstructive and plastic surgery to children in need, would be held 15 Aug 1984 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles.
       According to a 14 Feb 1985 HR article, Worldvision filed a lawsuit against Invictus in New York federal court for failure to pay the first $500,000 of a $1 million guarantee, while claiming that the distributor had earned $1.5 million from the theatrical release. The lawsuit also argued for $5 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages. The following year Invictus went out of business, as reported in the 30 Jan 1986 DV, after incurring debts distributing Sam’s Son, which included over $650,000 owed to Worldvision. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
19 Jul 1983.
---
Daily Variety
13 Mar 1984.
---
Daily Variety
15 Mar 1984.
---
Daily Variety
30 Jan 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 1983
p. 1, 17.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jun 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jul 1984
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 1985.
---
LAHExam
21 Aug 1984.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Aug 1984
Section G, p. 13.
New York Times
7 Jun 1985
p. 4.
Variety
20 Jul 1983.
---
Variety
22 Aug 1984
p. 16.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
starring:
as Sam Orowitz
as Harriet Orowitz
as Cathy Stanton
as Robert Woods
as Bonnie Barnes
[and]
as Gene Orman
Co-Starring:
+

PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
a Kevin O'Sullivan production
a Michael Landon film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst
Key grip
Dolly grip
Best boy
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Apprentice film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop
Const coord
COSTUMES
Women's costumer
Men's costumer
Asst costumer
Asst costumer
MUSIC
Mus ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Loc mgr
Scr supv
Transportation coord
Pub and promotion
Prod controller, PMS
Prod controller
COLOR PERSONNEL
[Col by]
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
“Dream,” by Johnny Mercer, WB Music Corporation & Michael H. Goldsen, Inc., performed by The Four Aces, Courtesy of MCA Records
“Till I Waltz Again With You,” by Sidney Prosen, Rightsong Music, Inc., performed by Teresa Brewer, Courtesy of MCA Records
“Cha Dooky-Doo,” by Mae Vince, Venice Music, performed by Art Neville, Courtesy of Specialty Records
+
SONGS
“Dream,” by Johnny Mercer, WB Music Corporation & Michael H. Goldsen, Inc., performed by The Four Aces, Courtesy of MCA Records
“Till I Waltz Again With You,” by Sidney Prosen, Rightsong Music, Inc., performed by Teresa Brewer, Courtesy of MCA Records
“Cha Dooky-Doo,” by Mae Vince, Venice Music, performed by Art Neville, Courtesy of Specialty Records
“How High The Moon,” by William M. Lewis, Nancy Hamilton, Chappell & Company, Inc. A/C ARMC, performed by Les Paul and Mary Ford, Courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
“Mister Sandman,” by Pat Ballard, E. H. Morris & Company, Inc., A Division of MPL Communications, Inc., performed by The Chordettes, Courtesy of Barnaby Records, Inc.
“Whamboogie,” by George Williams, performed by George Williams, Courtesy of MCA Records
“Sh-Boom,” by Claude Feaster, Carl Feaster, James Keyes, Floyd McRae, James Edwards, Rightsong Music, Inc., performed by The Crew Cuts, Courtesy of Polygram Special Projects
“Pretend,” by Lew Douglas, Cliff Parman, Frank Lavere, Dan Belloc, Brandom Music Company, performed by Nat “King” Cole, Courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
“Bony Maronie,” by Larry Williams, Venice Music/BMI, performed by Larry Williams, Courtesy of Specialty Records
“Lights Out,” by Seth David, Mac Rebennack, Venice Music/BMI, performed by Jerry Byrne, Courtesy of Specialty Records.
+
PERFORMERS
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Throw It
Release Date:
17 August 1984
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 17 August 1984
New York opening: week of 7 June 1985
Production Date:
20 July--mid August 1983
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Panaflex® Camera and Lenses by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
104
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Motion picture star, Gene Orman, returns to his hometown of Colendale, New Jersey, to premiere his latest film. En route to the theater, he stops at the house where he grew up and recalls his adolescence, when he was known by his real name, Gene Orowitz: In the 1950s, Gene’s father, Sam Orowitz, manages the Rialto movie theater, while his mother, Harriet, constantly nags Sam about being underpaid. She also harasses her son about how much time he spends watching movies rather than studying. She disparages her husband’s writing aspirations and Gene’s dream of becoming an actor. At high school, Gene is upset to see his girl friend, Bonnie Barnes, flirting with new student, Robert Woods, who is an accomplished football player. During track and field practice, Coach Sutter introduces the students to javelin throwing. Driven by his jealousy of Robert Woods, Gene makes an impressive throw on his first try. That evening, Gene goes on a date to the movies with Bonnie, but as they return to her house, Robert interrupts them. While Bonnie watches, Robert calls Gene a “Jewboy” and tries to bully him into a fistfight. Gene runs away and later arrives home at 2:00 a.m. He cries while telling his father how he “chickened out” in front of Bonnie, but his father reassures him. Sam understands because Jake Bellow, the owner of the Rialto, ridicules him in front of the other staff. Sam does not want to lose his job, so he tolerates Bellow’s behavior. At school, Gene finds that Bonnie has returned his school sweater, now that she is involved with ... +


Motion picture star, Gene Orman, returns to his hometown of Colendale, New Jersey, to premiere his latest film. En route to the theater, he stops at the house where he grew up and recalls his adolescence, when he was known by his real name, Gene Orowitz: In the 1950s, Gene’s father, Sam Orowitz, manages the Rialto movie theater, while his mother, Harriet, constantly nags Sam about being underpaid. She also harasses her son about how much time he spends watching movies rather than studying. She disparages her husband’s writing aspirations and Gene’s dream of becoming an actor. At high school, Gene is upset to see his girl friend, Bonnie Barnes, flirting with new student, Robert Woods, who is an accomplished football player. During track and field practice, Coach Sutter introduces the students to javelin throwing. Driven by his jealousy of Robert Woods, Gene makes an impressive throw on his first try. That evening, Gene goes on a date to the movies with Bonnie, but as they return to her house, Robert interrupts them. While Bonnie watches, Robert calls Gene a “Jewboy” and tries to bully him into a fistfight. Gene runs away and later arrives home at 2:00 a.m. He cries while telling his father how he “chickened out” in front of Bonnie, but his father reassures him. Sam understands because Jake Bellow, the owner of the Rialto, ridicules him in front of the other staff. Sam does not want to lose his job, so he tolerates Bellow’s behavior. At school, Gene finds that Bonnie has returned his school sweater, now that she is involved with Robert. While Gene practices the javelin, one of his classmates, Cathy Stanton, watches with admiration. He throws 174 feet and Coach Sutter encourages him to try for 200 feet, which might qualify him for a college scholarship. Gene is shocked over the possibility of going to college, since he has never been a strong student or particularly athletic. When the coach says the University of Southern California (USC) has one of the best track programs in the country, Gene is even more inspired to work harder if he can live in Los Angeles, California, where films are made. At home, Gene tells his parents the good news, but Harriet spoils the mood when she again belittles Sam’s writing dreams. After dinner, Gene joins his father at the Rialto and helps him carry the heavy film cans to the projection booth, where Art Fisher, the projectionist, sits reading magazines. When Gene asks why Art does not help, Sam explains that, as union member, Art is not allowed to haul the cans to and from the booth. In front of Gene, Bellow criticizes Sam for not fixing four burned-out marquee lights. While watching that evening’s screening of Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah, Gene is inspired by the idea that Samson’s strength was derived through his long hair. As Gene grows his own hair longer, he pulls up his shirt collar to hide the length. Cathy is thrilled when Gene accepts her offer to tutor him in geometry, so he can maintain a good grade point average for a scholarship. Meanwhile, Coach Sutter puts Gene on a muscle-building program. After Mr. Collins, the school principal, warns Gene that his long hair violates school rules and must be cut or he will not be allowed to compete, Gene is distraught, telling his parents that he believes his long hair has contributed to his javelin-throwing success. In support of his son, Sam conceives a scheme to keep the locks hidden. He asks his brother, a doctor, to make a head cast for the boy. Sam then concocts a story about Gene receiving stitches in his scalp after an automobile accident. Father and son keep the secret plan between them and convince Harriet that Gene can still compete at the track meet despite the head injury. To celebrate his next competition throw of 193 feet, Gene takes Cathy on a date. At the drive-in, Robert tries again to bully Gene into a fight, but this time, thanks to the physical training, Gene throws a punch that knocks Robert to the ground. When Bonnie appears interested in rekindling their relationship, Gene dismisses her. At home, Sam returns to his typewriter for the first time in years, despite Harriet’s skepticism. Later, Gene is ecstatic that the USC talent scout will be at Saturday’s track meet and asks his father to be there. Bellow refuses to give Sam a couple of hours off work, until Sam defies him for the first time and threatens to quit his job. Meanwhile, Cathy and Gene’s romance continues, and Gene declares he will still love her even if he moves to California. The night before the meet, Gene is nervous and his father encourages him to relax on the porch. Sam confesses that Harriet once loved his aspirations when they were first married, but he made too many promises he could not keep and now feels guilty for disappointing her. He believes he is the reason she changed into a constant complainer. At the track meet, Coach Sutter introduces Gene to Marv Gates, the scout from USC, who is surprised that a javelin thrower weighing only 130 pounds has such an impressive record. Meanwhile at the theater, Sam is anxious as he waits for the film exchange to deliver that afternoon’s matinee. After learning that the truck broke down en route, Sam picks up the cans from the driver and begins hauling them up the stairs to the projection booth. He asks Art for help, so that he will not be late for his son’s meet, but Art reminds him about union rules. As Sam climbs the stairs with the remaining cans, he collapses from a heart attack and is taken to the hospital. A police officer is sent to the track field to inform Gene. Before leaving the event, Gene is able to make one throw in honor of his father. At the hospital, Harriet and the doctor reveal that the prognosis is not good. Gene arrives at his father’s bedside and reports that he threw over 200 feet, setting a new record. Sam is proud and tells Gene about a script he wrote called Sam’s Son, hidden in a drawer at home, which he has never shown anyone. Gene tries to continue the conversation, but his father passes away. As the adult Gene arrives at the Rialto for the film premiere, he is greeted by screaming fans and his wife Cathy. When Jake Bellow stops him to say hello, Gene states that there are five burned-out lights on the marquee and expects to see them lit by the time he leaves. Gene and Cathy proceed inside for the premiere of Sam’s Son, written by Sam Orowitz. +

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.