Endless Love (1981)

R | 116 mins | Romance, Drama | 1981

Director:

Franco Zeffirelli

Writer:

Judith Rascoe

Producer:

Dyson Lovell

Cinematographer:

David Watkin

Production Designer:

Ed Wittstein

Production Companies:

PolyGram Pictures , Universal Pictures
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HISTORY

       A 30 Jan 1980 DV article announced that Casablanca Records & Filmworks was slated to finance Endless Love with a budget of $8 million in an attempt to establish itself as a major production company and shooting was scheduled to begin May 1980 in CA. According to DV, executive producer Keith Barish brought Judith Rascoe’s screen adaptation of the Scott Spencer novel to Casablanca, and director Franco Zeffirelli was searching for unknown talent to cast in the lead roles. The article noted that Casablanca was funded with $100 million by its record distribution partner, Polygram, which owned half the company. However, Casablanca is not mentioned in the film’s production credits. A 24 Mar 1980 New West article stated that in the early stages of development, Barish purchased the film from Casablanca after the company failed to recruit Paul Schrader to direct, but he later returned the project to them. Casablanca reported having problems getting the picture into production.
       On 24 Sep 1980, a DV news item stated the film’s production company was Polygram Pictures and Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt were cast in starring roles. As described in a Jul-Aug 1981 issue of Marquee, Hewitt made his debut as a professional actor in the film. Shields, who was sixteen years old at the time of production and was already famous from her starring role in The Blue Lagoon (1980, see entry), was hired for $500,000. She was also granted incrementally increasing percentages of the film’s rentals, according to a 29 Jul 1981 Var news ... More Less

       A 30 Jan 1980 DV article announced that Casablanca Records & Filmworks was slated to finance Endless Love with a budget of $8 million in an attempt to establish itself as a major production company and shooting was scheduled to begin May 1980 in CA. According to DV, executive producer Keith Barish brought Judith Rascoe’s screen adaptation of the Scott Spencer novel to Casablanca, and director Franco Zeffirelli was searching for unknown talent to cast in the lead roles. The article noted that Casablanca was funded with $100 million by its record distribution partner, Polygram, which owned half the company. However, Casablanca is not mentioned in the film’s production credits. A 24 Mar 1980 New West article stated that in the early stages of development, Barish purchased the film from Casablanca after the company failed to recruit Paul Schrader to direct, but he later returned the project to them. Casablanca reported having problems getting the picture into production.
       On 24 Sep 1980, a DV news item stated the film’s production company was Polygram Pictures and Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt were cast in starring roles. As described in a Jul-Aug 1981 issue of Marquee, Hewitt made his debut as a professional actor in the film. Shields, who was sixteen years old at the time of production and was already famous from her starring role in The Blue Lagoon (1980, see entry), was hired for $500,000. She was also granted incrementally increasing percentages of the film’s rentals, according to a 29 Jul 1981 Var news item and her contract stipulated that she would not appear naked without consent. While Shields told LAT on 4 Aug 1981 that “the love scenes were no big deal,” Zeffirelli reported that he provoked her expressions of ecstasy by squeezing her big toe off camera. An 11 Jun 1980 HR news item stated that Elizabeth Taylor was Zeffirelli’s first choice for the role of “Ann,” the mother of Shields’s character. The film marked Tom Cruise’s first feature film performance. James Spader, billed Jimmy Spader, was cast in his first major film role as Jade’s brother. Jami Gertz made her second theatrical film appearance in the picture.
       According to 26 Sep 1980 HR production charts, principal photography began 22 Sep 1980. A 24 Sep 1980 HR news item noted location shooting in New York City, as well as on set at Astoria Studios in Queens, NY. DV reported on 2 Oct 1980 that the production moved to Chicago, IL, for one week. Studio production notes from AMPAS library files listed the following Chicago locations: The Museum of Science and Industry, the Adler Planetarium, the University of Chicago Lab High School, and Lakeshore Drive. In New York, locations included the town of Sea Cliff in Long Island, where the Butterfield home was located, the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens Village, Bear Mountain and a courtroom in Yonkers. After thirteen weeks, shooting was finished on 19 Dec 1980.
       On 17 Jun 1981, Var announced that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) assigned the film an X-rating and the filmmakers were meeting with Polygram and Universal Pictures to plan edits which would secure an R-rating. Although the film does not depict frontal nudity, the MPAA objected to the sex scenes between the young characters, the “intensity” of “David’s” obsession with “Jade,” and Anne’s attempt to seduce him. Var noted that the version viewed by the MPAA was over three hours, but Zeffirelli’s edits brought the running time to under two hours. The editorial changes included switching long shots for medium shots of the lovemaking scenes and cutting images of “the backside of Shields’s body double.” Zeffirelli told Var that he was extremely concerned about child pornography and wanted the sex scenes to be “beautiful,” not “exploitative.” A 1 Jul 1981 Var news item reported that the rating had been changed to R.
       A screening of the film in Los Angeles, CA, provoked laughter during serious scenes, according to a 6 Jun 1981 LAHExam news brief. As noted in a 16 Aug 1981 LAT article, the film did not fare well after its opening weekend. However, a Polygram representative argued that the film, which was made for $9.7 million, grossed $16 million in the U.S. and was expected to make $10-$15 million overseas. Universal reported the film cost $14 million. According to LAT, trade reports showed that audience attendance dropped thirty-eight percent after the first week of the film’s release and continued losing attendance at a similar rate for the subsequent four weeks. A 7 Aug 1981 NYT article noted that despite Polygram’s efforts to market the film to dating couples in the target age range of eighteen to twenty-five years, eighty percent of the film’s audience was composed of young girls, aged ten to sixteen.
       The film’s theme song, Endless Love, a duet performed by Diana Ross and Lionel Ritchie, ranked number one on Billboard charts for weeks after the movie was released and the soundtrack album grossed over $1 million in early sales, according to an 18 Oct 1981 LAT article. Polygram shared the rights to the song with Motown, who represented the artists. Lionel Ritchie was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award in the category of Music (Original Song).
       In a 26 Jul 1981 LAT article, author Scott Spencer explained that he did not see any similarities between his novel and the film and noted that he intentionally stayed away from the production. The differences between the novel and the film included a time shift from the 1960s to the 1980s, the omission of Jade’s lesbian relationship and the conclusion. Unlike the novel, the film’s ending “offers the possibility of reunion.” Spencer noted that the film’s release promoted book sales, instigating a re-issue in paperback, and helped promote his career as a screenwriter.
       According to a 1 Feb 2012 NYT article, the production company Fake Empire, co-owned by television writer and producer Josh Schwartz, was “advancing” on a re-make of Endless Love.

      At the conclusion of the end credits, the following statement appears onscreen: “Filmed on location in Chicago and New York City, and at THE ASTORIA STUDIO PRODUCTION CENTER, Astoria, N.Y. The producers wish to thank the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, the Chicago Heart Association, and the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in New York, for their cooperation in the making of Endless Love.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
24 Sep 1980.
---
Daily Variety
2 Oct 1980.
---
Daily Variety
30 Jan 1980
p. 1, 41.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Sep 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 1981
p. 3, 46.
LAHExam
6 Jun 1981
Section A, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
17 Jul 1981
p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jul 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
4 Aug 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Aug 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
18 Oct 1981.
---
Marquee
Jul -- Aug 1981
p. 4, 6.
New West
24 Mar 1980
p. 32.
New York Times
17 Jul 1981
p. 8.
New York Times
7 Aug 1981
p. 8.
New York Times
1 Feb 2012.
---
Playgirl
Jun 1980.
---
Variety
22 May 1981.
---
Variety
17 Jun 1981
p. 5.
Variety
1 Jul 1981.
---
Variety
22 Jul 1981
p. 16.
Variety
29 Jul 1981.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
a Keith Barish/Dyson Lovell production of
a Franco Zeffirelli film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
Key 2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Key grip
Chief gaffer
Construction grip
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser
Prop master
Chief carpenter
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst to cost des
Women`s cost
Men`s cost
MUSIC
"Endless Love" theme written by
Mus score
Mus ed
Mx Inc.
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles and credits by
New York
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Make-up artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Casting in California
Prod assoc
Scr supv
Unit pub
Transportation capt
Asst to the prod
Loc auditor
Asst to the prod mgr
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Loc mgr
Prod office coord
Asst prod office coord
STAND INS
Stunt coord
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Endless Love by Scott Spencer (New York, 1979).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Endless Love," performed by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, Lionel Richie courtesy of Motown Records, written and produced by Lionel Richie, PGP Music/Brockman Music (ASCAP), administered by Intersong Music
"Dreaming of You," performed by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, written by Lionel Richie and Thomas F. McClary, produced by Lionel Richie, PGP Music/Brockman Music (ASCAP), administered by Intersong Music
"Dreamin'," performed by Cliff Richard, written by Alan Tarney/Leo Sayer, Rare Blue Music (ASCAP)/ATV Music (BMI)/Long Manor Ltd (PRS), Cliff Richard courtesy of EMI Records Ltd.
+
SONGS
"Endless Love," performed by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, Lionel Richie courtesy of Motown Records, written and produced by Lionel Richie, PGP Music/Brockman Music (ASCAP), administered by Intersong Music
"Dreaming of You," performed by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, written by Lionel Richie and Thomas F. McClary, produced by Lionel Richie, PGP Music/Brockman Music (ASCAP), administered by Intersong Music
"Dreamin'," performed by Cliff Richard, written by Alan Tarney/Leo Sayer, Rare Blue Music (ASCAP)/ATV Music (BMI)/Long Manor Ltd (PRS), Cliff Richard courtesy of EMI Records Ltd.
"I Was Made for Lovin' You," performed by Kiss, written by Paul Stanley/Vini Poncia/Desmond Child, Kiss Songs (ASCAP)/Mad Vincent Music (BMI), Kiss courtesy of Casablanca Records
"Heart of Glass," performed by Blondie, written by Deborah Harry/Chris Stein, Rare Blue Music (ASCAP), Blondie courtesy of Chrysalis Records.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
1981
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 July 1981
Production Date:
22 September -- 19 December 1980 in New York and Chicago
Copyright Claimant:
PolyGram Pictures, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
6 August 1981
Copyright Number:
PA110524
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
116
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26423
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On a high school field trip to a planetarium in Chicago, Illinois, senior David Axelrod sneaks into the show to meet his fifteen-year-old girlfriend, Jade Butterfield, and says he would die without her. Sometime later, David dresses in a tuxedo and rides his bike to the Butterfield home, where he dines with Jade’s eccentric and open-minded family. As her parents, Hugh and Ann, serve the kids wine, Jade’s brother, Keith, is visited by his girlfriend, who has a rock band and a party in tow. After the band performs, David and Jade say goodnight, but slip back into the living room to make love and Ann watches from the stairway. On a hunting excursion, Keith tells David that he is not welcome as a member of the family just because he is sleeping with Jade and later, when Hugh sees David naked in Jade’s room, he expresses concern to his wife. However, Ann chides Hugh for being a hypocrite. Although Jade and David’s sex life is taking a toll on Jade’s studies, the couple finds it impossible to spend the night apart. One morning, Hugh catches Jade stealing sleeping pills from his at-home doctor’s office and demands that she stop seeing David, but Jade screams that her father is jealous. Sometime later, David arrives at the Butterfield home and Hugh forbids him from seeing Jade until school is over for the summer. When David protests, Ann begs him to respect Hugh’s wishes. At school, David keeps his distance from Jade but is upset when he overhears Keith telling a friend that Jade is single when he invites the boy ... +


On a high school field trip to a planetarium in Chicago, Illinois, senior David Axelrod sneaks into the show to meet his fifteen-year-old girlfriend, Jade Butterfield, and says he would die without her. Sometime later, David dresses in a tuxedo and rides his bike to the Butterfield home, where he dines with Jade’s eccentric and open-minded family. As her parents, Hugh and Ann, serve the kids wine, Jade’s brother, Keith, is visited by his girlfriend, who has a rock band and a party in tow. After the band performs, David and Jade say goodnight, but slip back into the living room to make love and Ann watches from the stairway. On a hunting excursion, Keith tells David that he is not welcome as a member of the family just because he is sleeping with Jade and later, when Hugh sees David naked in Jade’s room, he expresses concern to his wife. However, Ann chides Hugh for being a hypocrite. Although Jade and David’s sex life is taking a toll on Jade’s studies, the couple finds it impossible to spend the night apart. One morning, Hugh catches Jade stealing sleeping pills from his at-home doctor’s office and demands that she stop seeing David, but Jade screams that her father is jealous. Sometime later, David arrives at the Butterfield home and Hugh forbids him from seeing Jade until school is over for the summer. When David protests, Ann begs him to respect Hugh’s wishes. At school, David keeps his distance from Jade but is upset when he overhears Keith telling a friend that Jade is single when he invites the boy to a party. David’s companions console him by suggesting kidnapping or arson, and one friend, Billy, confesses that he set fire to a stack of newspapers at his house only to be called a hero when he extinguished the flames. That evening, David argues with his parents, Arthur and Rose, then heads to Keith’s party. Hiding outside, he sees Keith’s friend flirt with Jade. When the party ends, David attempts to attract Jade’s attention and sees a stack of newspapers on the porch. Grabbing a bucket of water, David ignites the paper with his cigarette lighter and crosses the street. However, he waits too long to extinguish the fire and, as it engulfs the house in flames, David breaks into the Butterfield home to warn the family. Sometime later in court, David is convicted of arson. When the judge sentences the boy to five years in a psychiatric facility rather than twenty years in prison, Hugh storms out of the courtroom in protest because he hoped for a stronger punishment. As a condition of the lenient sentencing, David is forbidden from contacting any member of the Butterfield family. At the hospital, David is resistant to therapy and becomes increasingly haunted by hallucinations of Jade. Although he writes to Jade frequently, she does not respond because the letters are delivered to David’s doctor before they are sent. Two years after David’s sentencing, Arthur and Rose negotiate an early release for their son when he claims the hospital is making him crazy. Back at home, Arthur tells David that the Butterfields moved to New York and returns David’s letters to Jade. Arthur admits he has separated from Rose because he fell in love with another woman and encourages his son to believe that he can love someone besides Jade. Sometime later, David goes to New York City and surprises Ann, who has recently divorced Hugh, at her apartment. At dinner, Ann tells David that Hugh is engaged to an astrology enthusiast named Ingrid, and, when they return to her apartment, Ann confesses that she has had feelings for David ever since she saw him making love to Jade. Although Ann attempts to seduce David, he claims he can only be with Jade. Despite her disappointment, Ann invites David to sleep on the couch. Noticing Ann’s address book, David discovers that Jade is living in Burlington, Vermont, and plans to take the earliest bus there the next day. On the crowded streets of New York City, however, David is spotted by Hugh and Ingrid, and Hugh is killed by a taxi as he chases David through an intersection. Sobbing at the bus station, David neglects to board the bus for Burlington and returns to Ann’s apartment, where Keith and Ingrid are in mourning. Despite David’s attempts at reconciliation, Keith is not happy to see David and reports that Jade hates him. Although Ingrid saw David that afternoon, she does not associate him with Hugh’s death and cannot figure out why her lover ran into the street. After asking Ann to give Jade the letters he wrote from the hospital, David leaves, but he sees Jade fleetingly in the lobby as she arrives at her mother’s apartment. Sometime later, Jade visits David at his hotel room before she returns to Burlington. Jade claims she doesn’t hate him, but she warns that her love is not worth his parole violation. Holding David’s letters, Jade says she feels guilty for his suffering, but adds that their love was too strong to manage at such a young age. When David asks her to stay, Jade begs him to let the past go, but he wrestles her onto the bed, arguing that their love has not ended, and they make love. The next morning, Keith calls David’s room and asks the couple to meet him in the lobby. As he waits, Keith coaches Ingrid to implicate David in Hugh’s death, despite her hesitation. However, when Ingrid sees David she distinctly remembers him from the afternoon Hugh was killed and Keith blames David for murdering his father. Although David admits he was at the scene, he claims it was an accident, and Keith attacks him. As the police drag David away, he calls to Jade. Sometime later, Jade tells Ann that David’s love can never be replicated, but Ann encourages her daughter to discover her own path to happiness and bids Jade farewell. Later still, David watches from his prison window as Jade walks outside toward his cell. +

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

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