Category Archives: Actor

CARY GRANT in the 1960’s: That Touch of Mink (1962), Charade (1963), Father Goose (1964) and Walk, Don’t Run (1966) and his Courtship, Marriage, and Baby with Dyan Cannon.

FEATURE image: “Cary Grant” by classic film scans is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

By John P. Walsh

Cary Grant made 72 films in a 34-year Hollywood career. Grant made his last six films in the 1960’s. After a successful acting career spanning four decades—Grant’s film debut was in 1932 for the Paramount Pictures’ comedy This is the Night and he received an honorary Oscar in 1970– he chose to retire from the silver screen in 1966. In that time, Cary Grant had become a household name synonymous with suavity, comedy, drama, romance, and his perpetually tanned-and-pressed good looks.

“Ours is a collaborative medium—we all need each other,” Cary Grant said as he accepted his honorary Oscar from presenter and friend Frank Sinatra at the 42nd Annual Academy Awards ceremony on April 7, 1970 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, California. 

The 66-year-old leading man and comic actor, whose film career ranged from 1932 to 1966, never won an Oscar. In 1970 he thanked the Academy whose audience that night gave him a standing ovation. Grant, who made over 80 films, including a long list of classic titles, expressed gratitude for “being privileged to be part of Hollywood’s most glorious era.”

Grant’s final film came in 1966 with the summer release of the comedy, Walk, Don’t Run. It was one more film made by one of Grant’s newly-formed production companies and distributed by Columbia Pictures. Not coincidentally, in February of that same year, the 62-year-old Grant, who had married his fourth wife, 29-year-old Dyan Cannon in June 1965, became a father for the first time. Grant called his baby daughter his “best production” and looked to give her the best of his attention and time. Grant opined: “My life changed the day Jennifer was born. I’ve come to think that the reason we’re put on this earth is to procreate. To leave something behind. Not films, because you know that I don’t think my films will last very long once I’m gone. But another human being. That’s what’s important.”

Cary Grant and wife Dyan Cannon with their baby daughter who was born on February 26, 1966.

Grant starting wooing Dyan Cannon in 1962. Within a three-year whirlwind courtship, as well as becoming eventually pregnant with Grant’s baby, a 28-year-old Dyan Cannon in 1965 sought once more a marriage proposal from one of cinema’s best, perhaps the best, and most important actors. But, once married, Dyan Cannon soon discovered that their marital relationship was more polite and frosty than she had expected to face with Hollywood’s quintessential leading man. On March 20, 1968, less than three years after tying the knot in a secret wedding ceremony in Las Vegas, Nevada, followed by flying to England in a private jet supplied by Grant’s longtime friend, magnate Howard Hughes, Cannon sought and was granted a divorce. As Cary Grant’s former wife and mother of his only child, Cannon did receive alimony from Grant to raise their daughter but the up-and-coming actress had to sort things out more completely after their break-up. Theirs had been a love affair with many memorable romantic moments. But Grant’s earlier confidence to Cannon when they were dating could have been seen as a warning of sorts if things happened to get more serious. “I don’t know what it is, but something happens to love when you formalize it,” Grant told her. “It cuts off the oxygen.”

Grant appears in character as an angel named Dudley in this promotional photograph for the 1947 fantasy romance film, The Bishop’s Wife. By seductively playing a certain song on the harp, Dudley convinces a rich woman to support the bishop’s cathedral building project. In real life, Grant was an ardent piano player.

When Grant asked to meet Dyan, she assumed it was for an acting part. Grant began his romance with then 25-year-old Dyan Cannon in 1962. By fall of 1962 the couple flew from California to New York where Cannon began rehearsing for The Fun Couple, a Broadway comedy play starring Jane Fonda and directed by Andreas Voutsinas. Grant meanwhile worked with film director Stanley Donen on Charade, an upcoming romantic comedy, pseudo-Hitchcock mystery thriller that Grant would co-star in with Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn had been filming another romantic comedy, Paris When it Sizzles, with William Holden.

Promotional poster for Stanley Donen’s Hitchcockian suspense thriller, Charade. The hit 1963 film was made in Paris in 1962 and 1963 and released at Christmas 1963. It starred Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.

The Main Title for Charade with its punchy animated titles by Maurice Binder (1918-1991) was composed by Henry Mancini (1924-1994). At 39 years old Mancini was an Academy Award-winning composer — Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961 and Days of Wine and Roses in 1962. Charade would begin a number of successful collaborations for Mancini with Stanley Donen in the 1960’s, including Arabesque in 1966 starring Sophia Loren and Gregory Peck and Two For the Road in 1967 with Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney.

Henry Mancini, c. 1970. The Main Theme from Charade was the first of a number of successful film score collaborations Mancini had with director Stanley Donen in the 1960’s.

On the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart a slightly longer vocal version of Charade reached no. 36 and was one of two top-40 pop hits for Mancini in 1963. It peaked at no. 15 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Charade produced one of Mancini’s eighteen Academy Awards nominations (he won four) for Best Original Song. The Oscar that year went to Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn for “Call Me Irresponsible” from Papa’s Delicate Condition, a comedy starring Jackie Gleason and Glynis Johns.

Maurice Binder did film title designs for dozens of films but is particularly known for ones he did for Stanley Donen such as Charade, as well as Indiscreet in 1958, The Grass Is Greener in 1960, and Bedazzled in 1967. Maurice Binder is also famous for 16 James Bond film titles he designed starting with the first Bond film, Dr. No, in 1962. In 1991 Binder explained the genesis of his main titles for Bond: “That was something I did in a hurry, because I had to get to a meeting with the producers in twenty minutes. I just happened to have little white, price tag stickers and I thought I’d use them as gun shots across the screen. We’d have James Bond walk through fire, at which point blood comes down onscreen. That was about a twenty-minute storyboard I did, and they said, this looks great!”

Bond Films Openings. Maurice Binder created the series’ first “Gun Barrel Sequence” for Dr. No in 1962.

Charade’s animated Main Title and music follows a wide screen shot of a quiet pre-dawn countryside in Europe as a speeding train eventually approaches and screeches past. A body is dumped out of the moving train, plunges down the ravine and stops in a ditch, the camera providing a close-up of the dead victim’s face. Colorful animation follows of pinwheels as the relentless wood-block-driven music heighten tension for what will be two charming lovers caught in a mysterious web of criminals after money.

Stills montage of Maurice Binder’s Main Title for Charade that accompanies Henry Mancini’s music.

Grant reluctantly left Cannon and the comforts of his suite at the Plaza in New York to make his way to Paris to shoot Charade (Hepburn’s home was near Paris). Walking along the left bank of the River Seine near Notre Dame is the Pont au Double bridge, just below the Quai de Montebello. During the filming of Charade, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn walk along the riverbank below this bridge as they discuss who the killer is. Just outside of Parc Monceau is the Musée Cernuschi on the Avenue Velasquez. The museum is featured in Charade, where it is used as Reggie’s apartment which she finds ransacked after returning from a holiday ski trip. Located near the Louvre is the Palais Royal which was originally the residence of Cardinal Richelieu, and later the property of the King of France housing apartments, offices, shops and restaurants. The Palais Royal appears in Charade in its final scenes when the real Carson Dyle is revealed and shooting begins.

Shooting scenes for Charade involved many locations in Paris.

When Dyan Cannon had her first holiday break from Broadway rehearsals at Christmas, she hopped on a flight to Paris. Arriving on Boxer Day in 1962, Grant and Cannon spent the next several days together in his hotel. On New Year’s Eve, Grant and Cannon were the special guests of Audrey Hepburn and her husband Mel Ferrer at their castle. There was a sumptuous dinner and many flights of crisp and creamy French champagne. Cannon flew back to the States on January 2, 1963, after a most pleasant holiday. She resumed her theater work in New York City while Grant and friends stayed on in Paris to continue filming Charade.

Cary Grant, making his 70th film, was reluctant to leave the U.S. for Paris for the several months in late 1962 and early 1963 it took to film Charade. It premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Christmas Day 1963.

Radio City Music Hall in 2008.

The film Charade is well-known for its Hitchcock-style inspiration and screenplay by the original story’s author Peter Stone (1930-2003). From Stone’s 1961 short story, The Unsuspecting Wife, the film Charade offers witty lines and a head-knocking, heart-pounding whodunit. In Charade, Regina “Reggie” Lampert (Hepburn) is on winter holiday in the French Alps. Returning to her home in Paris, she is shocked to find that it has been ransacked of everything of value. The mysterious victim in the Main Title and the mysterious man Reggie just met on holiday in Grenoble– Peter Joshua, alias Alexander Dyle, alias Adam Canfield, alias Brian Cruikshank (Cary Grant) –merge into her life to help her solve the mystery of why these crimes have occurred and what they mean. Charade is about hidden money, spies and larcenists, double-crossing and being on the run. Besides that, it’s a love story. Charade was one of the last of a long line of suspense-screwball comedy films –a staple Hollywood film genre since the 1930’s–that faded out during the tumultuous 1960’s and not to reappear until the 1980’s.

Charade opened on December 25, 1963 at Radio City Music Hall. The film made six million dollars while the reviews, though mixed, were mostly positive. Critics did remark on the age difference between the romantic leads –a 59-year-old Cary Grant and 34-year-old Audrey Hepburn. By early 1964 the perfectly suave and likeable leading man for over 30 years was beginning to think about retirement. But there were still some things he hoped to accomplish first.

Charade in the rear view mirror, Grant came home just as Cannon became mostly absent. Throughout 1964 and much of 1965 Cannon had done no film work yet but continued her theater career as she was touring the country in the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Looking for something to do with his time, Grant formed a production company and made Father Goose.

Photographs above: Cary Grant in Operation Petticoat.

Grant’s character, Walter Eckland, played against Grant’s film type. Ecklund was a bedraggled loner in the South Pacific during World War II who reluctantly takes under his protection an unmarried French school teacher (Leslie Caron) and her seven grade school students. They were suddenly made refugees from the war during a Japanese bombing raid. The heart-warming Father Goose was a mega-hit at its release during Christmas 1964 and made millions of dollars. Receipts, however, were significantly less than in each of Grant’s three previous films — Operation Petticoat in 1959 with Tony Curtis, That Touch of Mink in 1962 with Doris Day, and Charade. Despite a lot of pre-Oscar buzz, Grant wasn’t even nominated for his performance. It was one more disappointment for Grant as he worked to possibly be given an Academy Award before he might retire.

Cary Grant and Doris Day in the hit romantic comedy, That Touch of Mink. Grant was dismayed that his 1964 romantic comedy adventure film Father Goose made less money than Charade and almost $6 million less than That Touch of Mink in 1962 and Operation Petticoat in 1959 combined.

That Touch of Mink co-starred Doris Day and Cary Grant. It was the hit movie of summer of 1962 though outshined in the movie world later that year by Lawrence of Arabia and The Longest Day. The romantic-comedy is great fun—it won, in this different age, a Golden Globe award for Best Comedy Picture-—and became a popular rerun on TV for the next decade.

Cary Grant was cast as wealthy businessman Philip Shane, a role originally meant for Rock Hudson. That Touch of Mink was, above all, intended to be a Doris Day vehicle. From 1962 to 1964 Doris Day was THE top box office star in Hollywood. Her presence definitely contributed to Universal Pictures’ bottom line since That Touch of Mink was the fourth biggest money maker of that year.

Playing working girl Cathy Timberlake, the movie is basically a stylish “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back”—and given a chance to learn his lesson, they get married. American audiences loved the concept as well as Day and Grant together on the big screen. The film was the fastest million-dollar earner of the year- and set a record at the time for the highest gross earnings in an initial theatrical release.

For Grant it was his second highest grossing film of his 30-year career, which was especially prosperous for the 58-year-old actor since he was a co-producer. Grant personally made $4 million for That Touch of Mink (around $35 million in today’s money). Three weeks after its opening, Betsy Drake, Grant’s third wife, found it an opportune time to file for divorce.

The court proceedings of the high-profile couple after more than a decade of marriage were followed intimately by the press. The settlement for Drake, who told the papers, “I was always in love with him and I still am….but…he left me long ago,” included over one million dollars in cash and a profit share in every Cary Grant film ever made up to 1962.

Meanwhile, That Touch of Mink, a film thick with early 1960’s conventional sensibilities, was nominated for 3 Academy Awards. Both Grant and Doris Day never won an Academy Award. In 1970, after Grant retired from film, he won an Honorary Academy Award. The story goes that after her exit from films, Doris Day (born Doris Kappelhoff in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1922) was offered the Honorary Oscar multiple times but always turned it down. In 1962 That Touch of Mink was nominated for Best Sound, Best Art Direction and Best Screenplay. For the first two categories Oscar went to Lawrence of Arabia and, for the third category, to Divorce Italian Style.

Newly married in June 1965 to Dyan Cannon who was expecting their baby, Grant announced he was flying to Japan to make another movie. Grant returned to California permanently just in time to drive his wife to the hospital to deliver their first child, a baby daughter, born on February 26, 1966.

In June 1965, with Father Goose and the Oscars behind him and Dyan Cannon’s national tour ended—Grant and Cannon, who was now pregnant, got married. After a secret marriage ceremony in Las Vegas and a honeymoon, their news was eventually publicized. As the excitement began to settle down, Grant informed Cannon he would be making another film—and was traveling to Japan by himself for the next many months.

Grant had formed another production company and with producer Sol C. Siegel, signed with Columbia Pictures to distribute his new film. Buying the rights to The More the Merrier, a World War II-era comedy, Grant took the role that had been nominated in the early 1940’s for an Academy Award. Grant’s 1966 remake was called Walk, Don’t Run in which he played a British industrialist, Sir William Rutland,

The music is by Quincy Jones including its main title, “Happy Feet.”

The story concerns three strangers—Sir William (Grant), American Olympic competitor Steve Davis (Jim Hutton), and a young single British expat Christine Easton (Samantha Eggar). Leading different lives they suddenly come together to share a cramped apartment in Tokyo during the busy 1964 Olympics. Grant personally selected Hutton and Eggar for their roles.

In the film, Christine, whose tiny apartment it is, would prefer a female roommate. She sublets to Sir William because he is pushy, charming and a fellow Brit in need. But he immediately sublets half of his portion to Hutton, making for three.

Comedy results from three outsized adults sharing an acutely small living space as they pursue as normally as possible their lives’ conflicting schedules. In Grant’s last film he intentionally worked it so he did not get the girl. Rather Sir William tries to get Christine, who is engaged to a boring British diplomat, to hook up with Hutton.

Walk, Don’t Run was one of Quincy Jones’s first big breaks. The 33-year-old Chicago-born Jones came to score the film after its star and Executive Producer, Cary Grant, recommended him for the job. Grant met him briefly through their mutual friend, singer Peggy Lee. From that meeting Grant felt Jones’ style would be perfect for the film and he made sure he was hired. Jones went on to enormous success as the composer of numerous film scores such as In the Heat of the Night in 1967 and The Color Purple in 1985 as well as the producer of successful pop rock recordings such as Michael Jackson’s bestselling albums, Off the Wall in 1979, Thriller in 1982, and Bad in 1987. Jones was executive producer of the 1985 global recording phenomenon, We Are The World. That collaborative recording project raised funds for victims in Ethiopia when one million people died in that country’s 1983–1985 famine. In 2013, Quincy Jones was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

After Grant returned from Asia and the baby was born, in private and public he was adament that Walk, Don’t Run—released in June 1966—was his last film. It proved to be true. Grant stated he would not make a film with his wife, Dyan Cannon, a talented actress whose career had just begun. Instead, Grant insisted Cannon should retire from acting and be a stay-at-home mother. Grant’s ideas were not welcome news to Dyan Cannon, 33 years her husband’s junior. Already in 1966 Cannon began to wonder if—following an exciting courtship and an age difference they barely mentioned—her marriage to Cary Grant was in trouble.

NOTES:

Best production— “Hollywood loses a legend”. Montreal Gazette. December 1, 1986. p. 1. 

That’s what’s important— McCann, Graham (1997). Cary Grant: A Class Apart. Columbia University Press, 1998.

Cuts off the oxygen— http://worldnewsblogx.blogspot.com/2011/10/my-husband-cary-grant-force-fed-me-lsd.html

Charade film locations—https://www.wessexscene.co.uk/travel/2017/02/21/audrey-hepburn-in-paris/

Fastest million-dollar earner of the year and record for highest gross earnings in an initial theatrical release – “Million-$ Gross In 5 Weeks; ‘Mink’ A Radio City Wow”. Variety, July 18, 1962. p.1. and “B’way as Spotty as Weather; ‘Town’ Big $41,000, ‘Guns’ Only Okay $20,000, ‘Grimm’ Giant 59G, ‘Mink’ 151G, 10th” Variety, August 22, 1962. p.9.

Betsy Drake settlement – Eliot, Marc, Cary Grant A Biography, Harmony Books, NY 2004, p 337.

Last film and would not make a film with his wife— Ibid., p. 352.

Might be in trouble—Cannon, Dyan, Dear Cary: My Life with Cary Grant, 2011, p. 217 ff.

PHOTO CREDITS:

FEATURE image-Cary Grant by classic film scans is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

2-Cary Grant by classic film scans is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

3-Fair use.

4-Cary Grant by twm1340 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

5-CHARADE by Laurel L. Russwurm is marked with CC0 1.0.

6-Public domain published in a collective work i.e. periodical in the US between 1925 and 1977 and no Copyright.

7-Bond Films Openings Montage (Amalgamation) by avhell is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

8-Charade titles by Maurice Bender by Stewf is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

9-Charade_1963_Audrey_Hepburn_and_Cary_Grant public domain because it was published in the United States between 1925 and 1963 and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed.

10- Cary Grant, in Charade 1963 by Movie-Fan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

11- Let’s continue this little Charade by Thiophene_Guy is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

12-Radio City Music Hall (2008) by jpellgen (@1179_jp) is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

13-Cary Grant by classic film scans is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

14-MM008600-39 by Florida Keys–Public Libraries is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

15- Cary Grant and Doris Day by classic film scans is licensed under CC BY 2.0,

16-1947 Bristol-born Hollywood film star Cary Grant alighting from Bristol Freighter G-AGVC at Los Angeles, 13 Jan 1947. by Gary Danvers is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

17- Walk, Don’t Run poster. Fair use.

18-Fair use.

CARY GRANT HOLLYWOOD FILMOGRAPHY (1962-1966):

1962:

That Touch of Mink
Cary Grant as Philip Shayne
Directed by Delbert Mann
Released June 14, 1962
Universal Pictures

1963:

Charade
Peter Joshua / Alexander Dyle / Adam Canfield / Brian Cruikshank
Directed by Stanley Donen
Released December 5,1963
Universal Pictures

1964:

Father Goose
Walter Christopher Eckland
Directed by Ralph Nelson
Released December 10, 1964
Universal Pictures

1966:

Walk, Don’t Run
Sir William Rutland
Charles Walters
Released June 29, 1966
Columbia Pictures

Marilyn Monroe, Robert Mitchum, and Otto Preminger: River of No Return (1954).

COMING SOON…!

FEATURE image: “Marilyn Monroe con Robert Mitchum en el rodaje de River of No Return, 1953.” by Antonio Marín Segovia is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Otto Preminger, 1976. Photograph by Allan Warren.

File:Otto Preminger Allan Warren.jpg” by Allan warren is marked with CC BY-SA 3.0.

History of the BEE GEES’ How Deep is Your Love. A First Hit for the 1977 film, “Saturday Night Fever,” still defines the Disco Age.

FEATURE image: “Bee Gees Monument unveiled tomorrow-1=” by Sheba_Also 43,000 photos is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 

By John P. Walsh

How Deep Is Your Love (1977) by the Bee Gees ranks number 375 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.1 It sits between White Room (1968) by Cream and Unchained Melody (1965) by The Righteous Brothers. Barry Gibb, the lone surviving Bee Gee today, reportedly said that How Deep Is Your Love is his favorite Bee Gees song. 2 In 2011 it was voted in a TV poll as the UK’s favorite.3 Recorded in the spring of 1977 in anticipation of the album and film Saturday Night Fever to be released later that year— How Deep Is Your Love was released in the U.S. as a single in September 1977. Three months later, after the smash-hit film Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta was released, How Deep Is Your Love became the number one song in the U.S. on Christmas Eve 1977 and stayed in the top spot for three weeks. Although the song had started on the charts in October 1977, when it reached number one it stayed in the top 10 for four months until April 1978 which, at that time, set a longevity record. There are two official music videos for How Deep Is Your Love featuring the Bee Gees.4

Fig. 1. There are two official music videos performed by the Bee Gees of How Deep is Your Love. The music of the Bee Gees (left to right: Robin, Barry, and Maurice Gibb) and the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta breathed fire into the disco music craze and helped define the disco era in the late 1970’s.
Fig 2. A huge international pop music hit starting in late 1977, How Deep is Your Love written and performed by the Bee Gees made its way into the Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track album that went Platinum on January 3, 1978 and was certified 16x Multi-Platinum on November 16, 2017.  It remains one of the top ten-selling albums of all time.

When the Bee Gees were asked by film producer Robert Stigwood to provide five songs for a film tentatively titled Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night based on the 1975 New York magazine fiction article about the urban disco scene, they didn’t want to compose music specifically for a film (although Barry did write the title song for Stigwood’s follow-up picture, Grease). It didn’t help that the Bee Gees were given neither a script nor hardly told what the movie plot was about. They offered Stigwood, their longtime manager, songs that they were already working on, namely, Stayin’ Alive, Night Fever, If I Can’t Have You (later sung by Yvonne Elliman), More Than A Woman, and How Deep is Your Love.5 At one early screening with John Travolta and director John Badham, among others, the Bee Gees were pleased though a little surprised when they saw for the first time scenes of the re-titled Saturday Night Fever with their music and lyrics to back it up. Although the music soundtrack at this juncture was demo cuts, the songs they wrote and performed meshed perfectly with the film’s scenes about which they had never been told very much. To be added to their astonishment—as much as anyone else’s there attending that rough cut – is that the Bee Gees had no idea they had embarked on a motion picture that would soon prove to be a milestone in film history.  Saturday Night Fever would perfectly capture a moment in time and forever define the disco age.

Fig. 3. John Travolta attended the London premiere of Saturday Night Fever on March 22, 1978 with Kay Edwards.

Following its world premiere in Hollywood on December 7, 1977, Saturday Night Fever became an enormous success. It became Chicago film critic Gene Siskel’s favorite film—soon after, Siskel famously bought Tony Manero’s white suit at a charity auction in 1978 for $2,000. Colleague and friend Roger Ebert writing shortly after Siskel’s death in 1999, believed that Saturday Night Fever had struck Siskel mainly on an emotional level but also for its themes that had impressed him. Other influential film critics were similarly praiseworthy of the film’s subject matter. At the 50th Academy Awards on April 3, 1978 Saturday Night Fever had received only one nomination (John Travolta for Best Actor) in a year where Annie Hall and Star Wars dominated the competition. Robin Gibb later observed that Saturday Night Fever was made on a very low budget, released very late in the year and had no expensive promotion. The film’s word of mouth was good, however, which even included its star, John Travolta, who at its world premiere at then-Mann’s Chinese Theatre admitted watching the musical film on the big screen as if seeing a fantasy or dream for the first time.6

Fig. 4. Tony Manero’s shiny white polyester suit — bought off the rack in Brooklyn for the making of the film Saturday Night Fever— has been compared to a symbol of aspiration and hope in what is otherwise a dark movie.

Conceptually the song How Deep Is Your Love materialized when, working with collaborator Blue Weaver, Barry Gibb’s instigating question to him in beginning to compose it was: “What is the most beautiful chord that you know?”7 It was the first song the Bee Gees composed that ended up in the film Saturday Night Fever. After a creative hit-and-miss process at the piano – and further collaboration with Robin and Maurice – the song was put together in the middle of night in about four hours at the Château d’Hérouville studios in France.8 This was part of the Bee Gees’ usual working process – arriving into the studio around three o’clock in the afternoon and ending their workday near or after midnight – resulting in all of the film’s songs written quickly, with the lyrics finished later and the disco music taking longer.9 The Bee Gees’ falsetto singing had always been emotional, and it was often by way of collaborating with industry talent— other musicians, producers, and the like—that their music developed in new directions. By the time How Deep is Your Love came about, the Bee Gees had a reputation for being open to suggestions, including the personally emotional piano chords Blue Weaver offered the Brothers Gibb that night.10 The creation of How Deep Is Your Love followed a course already prevalent in the Bee Gees musical career – an attitude of collaboration and creativity in the studio that allowed ideas to be suggested, and beautiful melodies to quickly emerge as the result. Though How Deep is Your Love was composed in one sitting, its arrangement and production took longer which changed some of the song’s original structure. The title was based on what the Bee Gees simply maintained was the variety of connections listeners could make with the phrase How Deep is Your Love – and so providing the song with further universal appeal.11 Following the film’s U.S. release by Paramount Pictures on December 14, 1977 Maurice Gibb believed its ultimate success was the combination of its phenomenal 23-year-old star John Travolta and the music soundtrack whose album had already been certified Gold on November 22, 1977 and certified Platinum on January 3, 1978. The combination of  star power and music –  along with stunning word of mouth and critical acclaim – created a record-shattering synergy for both film and soundtrack album featuring Bee Gees songs making the cultural impact of Saturday Night Fever swift and enduring. How Deep is Your Love remains one of the most anthologized love songs of the modern era. As recently as November 16, 2017, the soundtrack album was certified 16x Multi-Platinum.12

Fig. 5. John Travolta in the 1970’s. Playing 19-year-old Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever about a teen with a good job at the local hardware store in Brooklyn who is trying to dance his way to a better life. His performance earned the 23-year-old Travolta an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role that year.

Fig. 6. Brooklyn-born Donna Pescow was a newcomer and played Annette in Saturday Night Fever. Annette is Tony’s former dance partner and would-be girlfriend.

Karen Lynn Gorney and John Travolta.

Fig 7. Like Donna Pescow and others in the cast of Saturday Night Fever, co-star Karen Lynn Gorney, John Travolta’s love interest in the film,  was a newcomer. Even Travolta who had a swelling fan base because of his ongoing role as Vinnie Barbarino in the popular late 1970’s TV sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, was not seen as a dance man. Hungry to take his acting career to the next level, Travolta’s energetic dance scenes had critics praising his performance as among the best ever filmed.

Fig. 8. A two-minute scene of disco dancing by John Travolta thrust his energetic performance and the new star into the annals of film history. (This is a portrayal of Travolta as Danny Zuko in Grease.)

Fig. 9. “Robert Stigwood explained to the Bee Gees about this young guy, who every weekend blows his wages at a disco in Brooklyn. He’s got a really truly Catholic family, and he’s got a good job, but he blows his wages every Saturday night. He has his mates with him. Then he comes back and starts the week again, and this goes on every Saturday night. But it’s just this one Saturday night that’s filmed. So that’s what we knew (about a film we were writing music for) except it was John Travolta playing the part…” Maurice Gibb in Bee Gees: The Authorized Biography.

How Deep Is Your Love quickly reached number one internationally in countries such as Canada, Brazil, Finland, Chile, and France. In the Bee Gees’ native England it reached number three which delighted the newly–resurgent pop music group in that they had a top five hit in a country that by the mid-to-late 1970’s saw Punk and New wave rock in the ascendant.13 The Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen, also released in 1977, was banned on the airwaves by the BBC for its “gross bad taste” though today it ranks number 175 on the Rolling Stone’s Greatest Hits list – 200 slots higher than the Bee Gees’ disco ballad, How Deep Is Your Love. How Deep Is Your Love and the Saturday Night Fever album provided superstar momentum for the Bee Gees’ next projects, but like their careers up to that point, the English-Australian pop-rock band simply continued their readiness to create music. In The Ultimate Biography of the Bee Gees, Blue Weaver understood the Bee Gees’ success during this period was not due to their “virtuosity,” although their falsetto vocals were “brilliant,” but their collaborative working method which they pursued until reaching the final product that satisfied them – and clearly satisfied some part of the rest of the world.14

Fig. 10. In 1978 Barry Gibb observed about Robin and Maurice and himself: “When we were kids, we’d sit on each other’s beds all night and plan our careers. We decided that when we got to the top, we’d have our own office. We wanted to get to a point where we wouldn’t have to ever work again so we could sit back and enjoy everything we had accomplished. A few years ago that seemed forever out of reach. Sometimes I think I’m living that dream now. We’ve never really made it before. If this is indeed the top, then it’s better than what we imagined. It’s a lot of fun.” Bee Gees: The Authorized Biography. As the Bee Gees, Barry and twins Maurice and Robin became one of the world’s biggest bands ever selling more than 220 million records. In 1997 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Maurice died in 2003 and Robin in 2012. In 2017 Barry told CBS News: “So when I lost them all, I didn’t know whether I wanted to go on. ”

Fig. 11. 70-year-old Barry Gibb was honored during Stayin’ Alive: A Grammy Salute to the Music of the Bee Gees in April 2017 where he got up on stage to close out the show to perform a few hit songs.

During one visit to the hospital while Robin was in a coma, Barry sang a song that he had written for him called The End Of The Rainbow.

Fig. 12.

NOTES:

  1. Rolling Stones List – https://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/the-500-greatest-songs-of-all-time-20110407 – Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  2. Barry Gibb’s favorite song – The Bee Gees: 35 Years of Music, Billboard: 27. March 24, 2001.  – Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  3. TV poll – https://web.archive.org/web/20121019120053/http://www.itv.com/beegees/ – Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  4. Song’s recording and release dates – Bee Gees Anthology (songbook) by the Bee Gees, Hal Leonard (1991) and Bee Gees The Authorized Biography, Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb (as told to David Leaf), Delilah Communications/A Delta special, 1979, p.116.
  5. Didn’t want to compose music for a film – The Ultimate Biography Of The Bee Gees: Tales Of The Brothers Gibb, By Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Môn Hughes, 2001, Omnibus Press, London, pp. 411; Hardly told the film plot – Bee Gees The Authorized Biography, Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb (as told to David Leaf), Delilah Communications/A Delta special, 1979, p.110.
  6. Surprised music with unseen film meshed – Bee Gees The Authorized Biography, Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb (as told to David Leaf), Delilah Communications/A Delta special, 1979, p.111; Ebert on Siskel’s favorite film – https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-saturday-night-fever-1977 – Retrieved January 24, 2018; other critics’ praise of film- see Pauline Kael, “Nirvana,” The New Yorker, December 26, 1977, pp. 59-60; film low budget, released late- The Ultimate Biography Of The Bee Gees: Tales Of The Brothers Gibb, By Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Môn Hughes, 2001, Omnibus Press, London, pp. 411. Regarding the white suit that had been bought off the rack in Brooklyn for the film, its symbolism in Saturday Night Fever has been postulated. Professor Deborah Nadoolman Landis, a designer and historian of film costume stated that the white suit was a symbol of aspiration and hope in an otherwise “dark little movie” – see https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/aug/06/john-travolta-white-suit-v-and-a – retrieved January 25, 2018.
  7. Song’s musical concept – The Ultimate Biography Of The Bee Gees: Tales Of The Brothers Gibb, By Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Môn Hughes, 2001, Omnibus Press, London, pp. 411-412.
  8. First song composed for Saturday Night Fever, Château d’Hérouville – Bee Gees The Authorized Biography, Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb (as told to David Leaf), Delilah Communications/A Delta special, 1979, p.109.
  9. Songs written quickly – Ibid., p.109; lyrics later – The Ultimate Biography Of The Bee Gees: Tales Of The Brothers Gibb, By Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Môn Hughes, 2001, Omnibus Press, London, p. 415.
  10. Open to suggestions – Bee Gees The Authorized Biography, Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb (as told to David Leaf), Delilah Communications/A Delta special, 1979, p.107. emotional piano chords – The Ultimate Biography Of The Bee Gees: Tales Of The Brothers Gibb, By Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Môn Hughes, 2001, Omnibus Press, London, p. 411-12.
  11. song composing, arrangement, and production – The Ultimate Biography Of The Bee Gees: Tales Of The Brothers Gibb, By Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Môn Hughes, 2001, Omnibus Press, London, pp. 409 and 412. Title chose Ibid. p. 412.
  12. Movie’s ultimate success – Bee Gees The Authorized Biography, Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb (as told to David Leaf), Delilah Communications/A Delta special, 1979, p.112. Costing $3.5 million to make, Saturday Night Fever earned an impressive $237.1 million –see “Saturday Night Fever, Box Office Information”Box Office Mojo – retrieved May 26, 2014. Soundtrack album certified God and Platinum -http://www.beegees-world.com/bio_gplat.html -Retrieved February 1 , 2018. certified 16x Multi-Platinum on November 16, 2017 – see https://www.riaa.com/gold-platinum/- retrieved January 24, 2018.
  13. Number one hit internationally – “Songs Written by the Gibb Family on the International Charts – Part 3”(PDF). http://www.brothersgibb.org/download/page-3.pdf – Retrieved January 24, 2018; number 3 in Britain – The Ultimate Biography of the Bee Gees: Tales of the Brothers Gibb, By Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Môn Hughes, 2001, Omnibus Press, London, p. 421.
  14. Continued with their readiness to work – The Ultimate Biography of the Bee Gees: Tales of the Brothers Gibb, By Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Môn Hughes, 2001, Omnibus Press, London, pp. 467.©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

Fig. 1- “Bee Gees Monument unveiled tomorrow-1=” by Sheba_Also 43,000 photos is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 

Fig. 2- “Saturday Night Fever Record Sleeve Coptic Journal” by Pressbound is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

Fig. 3- “Los Angeles 2010” by Martin Wippel is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

Fig. 4 – “#mcm 70’s John Travolta! “tell me about it, stud.”” by Stephen O is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 

Fig. 5 – “fonts from the flea market” by Buro Destruct is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

Fig. 6 – “TV Guide #1367” by trainman74 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Fig. 7 – personal collection.

Fig. 8 – “John Travolta (as Danny Zuko of “Grease”) figure at Madame Tussauds Hollywood” by Luke Rauscher is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

Fig. 9 – “Redcliffe Bee Gees Way after opening-39=” by Sheba_Also 43,000 photos is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 

Fig. 10 – “Redcliffe Bee Gees Way after opening-09=” by Sheba_Also 44,000+ photos is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Fig. 11 – “Barry Gibb (1)” by tomasbinanti is licensed under CC0 1.0 

Fig. 12 – “Los Angeles 2010” by Martin Wippel is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

Text©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

Kevin Costner’s FIELD OF DREAMS; Hinduism and the Christian Ashram Movement; Public Clothes & Private Self; Crisis of Child Hunger in U.S. Today.

FEATURE image: “Kevin Costner; (pants half off)” by Movie-Fan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

I. Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams: “If you build it, he will come”

Kevin Costner signing baseballs for fans. “Kevin Costner signing autographs” by netflixprnetflixpr is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Field of Dreams is a 1989 sports fantasy from Universal Pictures and starring Kevin Costner. It is a creative film about, one could say, the intersection of reality and fantasy on the American landscape—or simply the intersection of what are different realities.

Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, is a young husband and father, who hears voices to build a baseball field on his low-income Iowa farm. Ray is promised that “If you build it, he will come.”

The “he” is Kinsella’s own deceased father John who had played baseball as a young man, got old too quick, and died after he and teenage Ray had a falling out over the 1919 Chicago “Black” Sox team.

The late-1980’s Ray, married with a family, still thinks about his relationship with his father that was cut short. The film asks whether it is possible for adult Ray to meet his father and baseball player John Kinsella on his “field of dreams.”

Ray never doubts his voices but is never sure what they mean except when he tries to connect the dots by traveling across long distances of place and season to meet strangers for whom the answers most matter.

Ray’s efforts lead to surprising, mysterious and ultimately fulfilling encounters for those who come to play on his field of dreams—or are there simply to watch.

II. Hinduism and the Christian Ashram Movement

mystical-conversation
Odilon Redon (1840-1916), Mystical Conversation, c. 1896. Oil on canvas, 65 x 46 cm, The Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu, Japan. Public Domain

Bede Griffiths (1906-1993) was a Catholic English monk. He is known as Swami Dayananda (bliss of compassion) as he dedicated his life’s work to the Christian Ashram Movement and its role in the development of dialogue between Christianity and Hinduism.

Swami Dayananda said in an interview: “I feel that in the Christian view, which I share, the body is of very great importance. There is a tendency in certain forms of Hinduism, certainly, to think that the purpose of spiritual exercises is to get beyond the body.

But in my understanding, the human being is body, soul, spirit, and it is an integrated whole. Body and soul – the body is dependent upon and integrated with soul, and body and soul are dependent upon and integrated in spirit. The body is part of the wholeness of the human being.

And that’s why incarnation is very important. God enters the psycho-physical realm and assumes it and doesn’t discard it. And at the resurrection the body is not discarded, it is assumed into the life with the soul and the spirit. I think the place of the body is a significant part of the Christian contribution. It is the total human being which is to enter into the life of the spirit.

SOURCE: Marvin Barrett, “The Silent Guide,” Parabola, v.xi, no. 1.

III. Public Clothes & Private Self

Fashion show Nieuwe Markt” by camshots is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

There is a drive in today’s society to be singular, intimate, and well known in a society that, paradoxically, is vast and impersonal, and common and conventional.

Seeking to be “authentic” in the public domain, we are also insecure or unsure about the people we meet there. Many don’t know their next door neighbors but look or presume to be intimate with the wider world. To be intimate and authentic in a vast and alien society― which is evident as one surfs the internet― is today’s growth industry.

Yet even in the public space there are less flashy moments of behavior about the private self. Such is the thriving language of love—a raised eyebrow; dropped glove; the rush to light the actual and proverbial cigarette. Each small, well-timed gesture and inflection of voice helps raise the romantic pitch and without loss of boundaries between the private self and public space.

These silent cues can be applied in many venues, although often replaced by the importance of interchangeble self-image striving for immediate intimacy—that is, a glimpse of the inner self, the cult of personality—in the public space.

Fashion changes clothes every season in the age-old attempt to convey private personality (“taste”) in the public forum. The popular, and therefore, important, social model is to take the world by storm—and each and every time. That allows for the chic costumed and yet exposed private self to stand up to public scrutiny or be destroyed by it. This increasingly happens online in the social media “mob.”

Clothing provides a rich metaphor for the dilemma of the private self in the public space. It serves those seeking to make hyperbole of their private personality and its fluctuating nature as well as those seeking to downplay and hide the same.

In a world of omnipresent cellphone and security cameras airport pat downs, the notion of clothing to exclude public encroachment on the private self appears to bemore and more gone with the wind.

Even at Christmas the use of clothes in a sacred context is important. In the Gospel of Luke the angel told the shepherds: “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people….there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Luke 2: 10-12).

redon nigt fixed 2
Odilon Redon, Night, 1910-11, Distemper on canvas, 200 x 650 cm. Abbaye de Fontfroide.

In the Bible a major teaching tradition is that when a person discovers the Divine—as God makes every attempt to self-disclose—that moment of recognition is like putting on a new garment tailored to that individual’s exact measurements.

This Divine garment endows a person with a sense of dignity and private self-awareness―a highly personal investiture that turns the modern notion of the private-as-public self upside down.

This rule of clothes extends to John the Baptist—a figure who is important in both Christianity (as saint and prophet) and Islam (as a prophet).

John is described as coming out of the wilderness wearing “a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3). When God “dresses” humanity in the divine image something is expected of them in ways other than the modern idea of a new image or appeal.

It is an inner and private change which takes on a significantly different meaning than just one more public role.

SOURCES: Richard Sennett, The Fall of Public Man, W.W. Norton, 1976; Joseph Wolf, “Divine Clothing,” Parabola, v.xix, no. 3.

IV. Crisis of Child Hunger in U.S. Today

Fight Child Hunger, TNT” by FineShots is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Hunger is defined as “the uneasy or painful sensation caused by want of food as well as an exhausted condition caused by want of food.”

While being homeless as an adult is a harsh test, to be homeless as a child is worse. Society’s striving to make homelessness nonexistent or scarce is painfully incomplete. Proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of children who are the country’s future.

In presidential and other political campaigns there is rhetoric by candidates of the major parties about the importance of safety and security from terrorists who do bodily harm. Yet each night, such as tonight, more than 15 million American children go to bed hungry, according to Feeding America.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the United States today has an all-time high population of 74 million children. More than 20% of these children are food-insecure.

In a land of plenty, where more than 2 in 3 adult Americans are considered to be overweight or obese, food injustice is a daily problem.

SOURCES: http://www.feedingamerica.org/…/child-hunger-fact-sheet.htm…;
http://www.aecf.org/…/the-changing-child-population-of-the…/;
http://www.niddk.nih.gov/…/overweight-obesity-statistics.as…
http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/defining.html;
Definition of hunger – Oxford English Dictionary, 1971.