Straight out of development hell - An alternate history of cinema

One has witnessed the evident rise of cultural timelines on the AlternateHistory forums. I was delighted to see this : as a Frenchman, I must admit that in order to make my stand in these boards, I had to comply with the then-ongoing trend, centered on American politics. As I’m passionate of this topic, it was not a matter to me : it earned me a Turtledove Award from my still ongoing Perot TL, but now I’m eager to contribute on my part.

This TL will run from 1967 to 2012 : 1967, with the movies Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate, was a milestone in American cinema, starting effectively, according to Peter Bisking, the « New Hollywood » era. This timeline will tell the alternate story of worldwide cinema.

I say worldwide because I’ll try to go further than the only American theatre. I say cinema, because I wondered for some time what arts I could take into my hands : theater is far from me, and I don’t have any clue in comic book history. I’m not that knowledgeable in music. Literature is extremely difficult to change, as most of the « what-ifs » remain in the secret of the writers’ mind. As of television, I would not dare to challenge Brainbin’s excellent That Wacky Redhead, which starts roughly in the same era.

I will send further this timeline by proposing some sort of collaborative system. I will take the privilege of summarizing the 1967 movies, in order to set it all. Then, to each one who will volunteer in the replies to this thread, I will propose to help me to write updates for some of the next movies, according to my schedule. When I say my schedule, I say it’s quite frozen (as I have planned all important movies from 1967 to 2012), but every one is free to give any suggestion, in cinema, with script proposals, or movie adaptations, or even in other arts or in world events : this will add further to this huge project.

So, ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seatbelt, and let’s get it on !
François Truffaut was sitting in his office by this afternoon of 1965, looking at this movie script that had been left for days on his desk. It was coming straight from California, from this young and good-looking actor, of whom he could not remember the name.

The guy had been promising him the director’s seat for months, almost years now. The script had good points, he had been working on it. It had something of a Zeitgeist feeling in it, centering on two revolted youths. These boys in the US and in Europe, with all the free love, anti-Vietnam War and counter-culture, they would surely love it. But the naboobs in Hollywood, less. « Jean-Luc told me, the New Wave will never reach them ». The bastards were despising Alfred Hitchcock, they had been constantly restraining Orson Welles, John Ford, Howard Hawks. Fuck, they even exiled Charlie Chaplin, just because he had been a little pink. What a pity : so much potential, all wasted because of marketing’s law. These producers could never understand the charm of the thriller, of the B movie, while he, Truffaut, had honored with Shoot the Piano Player.

He could say the same thing, too. Universal Studios had been taking him as a pawn on the European market, accepting to produce Fahrenheit 451. He had been looking for years for the actors that would help him, for funding, for all. He had wished for years to adapt Bradbury’s novel, but the constraints of producing had deprived Truffaut from all its energy. « Goddamn », he thought, « this young Yankee actor is ready to produce all by himself this movie, relying on the gross. He had balls, that was great. The only thing he needed was a director and a studio to produce him. » Hell, even Jean-Luc had managed to make the first French science fiction movie before him, with Alphaville.

Well, maybe he could tell Universal Studios to postpone a little bit the filming of Fahrenheit 451. He had been doing this for years, so, for a few months more… It was time to shake a little bit the things in Hollywood : he, Trauffaut, had been by far the most successful New Wave director, and his name would bring some comfort to this actor’s project. These Hollywood guys were about to see comin’ the Little Froggie !


That’s how, in 1965, François Truffaut finally accepted Warren Beatty’s offer to become the director for Bonnie and Clyde, accepting to postpone Fahrenheit 451. Universal Studios accepted to endorse the project, relying on Truffaut’s name.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967), by François Truffaut

« This here’s Bonnie Parker, and I’m Clyde Barrow. We rob banks. »
Clyde Barrow

Warren Beatty couldn’t believe it when he received news that Truffaut had accepted to direct Bonnie and Clyde. After an ultimate snub from Jean-Luc Godard [1], Beatty had desperately been trying to convince producers, who were definitely worried by the story’s graphic and abundant violence, which was far from being marketable and would bring the discontent of the Motion Picture Association of America [2]. But with such a big name as Truffaut’s, everything changed. Beatty immediately offered to Truffaut a month-long trip to California in order to discuss the movie.

Upon his arrival in Hollywood, what astounded Beatty was the extremely poor English of François Truffaut, which made him think of how terrible their mutual understanding would be during the filming [3]. Nevertheless, Beatty took Truffaut to the Universal City Studios offices : these ones had been waiting the filming of Fahrenheit 451 for years, that was postponed indefinitely [4]. Learning that they could still have the privilege of producing the first American movie from the famed French New Wave director, they accepted to fund Bonnie and Clyde as well, on the condition that they could have a right of inspection on Fahrenheit. Lewis M. Allen, the latter’s film producer, took back his role on Bonnie and Clyde ; however, the chiefs at Universal were aware of the controversial script, and accepted that Warren Beatty take helm as producer with 20% of the gross instead of the habitual fee ; such an agreement had already been discussed by Beatty with Warner Bros [5].

Truffaut took advantage of his Californian trip to meet the Hollywood society and to pay a visit to his friend Alfred Hitchcock ; he was far from being impressed by the Hollywood star system. Nevertheless, he would meet during these receptions Paul Newman, who accepted to take on the role of Montag in Fahrenheit 451 (and who would have a cameo in Mel Gibson’s 1999 remake) [6]. He reached an agreement with Beatty, who had by then decided that he would have the title role : Truffaut would respect the script but would have complete artistic licence, a right to bring his own team members and an inspection to the casting ; Beatty instead would have to recruit the cast and to spot the locations. Truffaut went back to France, corresponding with Beatty, in order to start the filming in August 1966 [7].

Gene Hackman and Estelle Parsons had been on the cast since the beginning. Warren Beatty, for the role of Bonnie Parker, that had just been vacated by her sister Shirley MacLaine, had wanted Jane Fonda, Sue Lyon or Natalie Wood [8]. Wood had Truffaut’s nod but was suffering of mental exhaustion at the time. It was Truffaut who suggested him the one who got the part : Jean Seberg. Beatty had already worked with her in 1964 on Lilith, that was a critical success and that he enjoyed ; having the female actress of Godard’s Breathless starring on this new movie would further reinforce the status of Bonnie and Clyde as the « movie that imported French New Wave into America ». By the way, being both fluent in French and English, Seberg would be a very valuable interpreter between the main actor and the film director. Seberg immediately agreed and joined the cast.

Truffaut, after he had managed to bring on Godard’s director of photography Raoul Coutard, also persuaded Beatty to let him cast his Jules and Jim’s German actor and friend, Oskar Werner, in the mute yet pivotal role of Frank Hamer, the Texas Ranger who finally caught and took down Bonnie and Clyde [9].

Then something funny happened. Truffaut insisted on the shockwave the film would have in the ever-protesting youth, by showing these two young gangsters defying all authority : it needed a strong youthful actor to help identification. That would be C. W. Moss, the fictional driver and crime partner to Bonnie and Clyde. Warren Beatty had been considering his friend Jack Nicholson for the part when Allen came with an unexpected name : Bob Dylan. The famous folk singer had narrowly escaped a motorcycle accident on July, 29 [10] and, after the very bad reception of his rock about-turn, had expressed his desire to explore new horizons. Hollywood offered it to him, and Bob Dylan accepted, as he was very interested in the story of Bonnie and Clyde, and also wrote the opening song to this movie, The Ballad of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, that would become a major hit. The future Nobel Laureate of Literature [11] was the last one to enter the cast (along with a young Gene Wilder [12]) and the filming began in Dallas, Texas, on August 1966.

The filming didn’t went well : scheduled to last for two months, it would finally end on December, due to Truffaut’s very precise methods. Due to the strong media promotion by Universal, passerbys would frequently come on location, some of them finally being recruited as extras. François Truffaut disliked the Texan weather and had stormy relations with Warren Beatty, that could only be eased by Jean Seberg’s bilingual mediation : he would at some times enter his tent and continue working on his script for Stolen Kisses [13], leaving Coutard to work. Truffaut first disliked the use of graphic violence in the film but finally left them, feeling it would help the impact of the movie, coupling them with a pulsating editing and shifts of tone that would give to the movie its particular New Wave taste. Truffaut also insisted on the costumes, giving them more of a 30s style than Beatty initially wanted.

While on his iconoclastic deconstruction work, François Truffaut stressed the sexual themescontained in the original script : he finally focused on the idea that the Parker-Barrow-Moss band had to be a ménage-à-trois, showing Clyde Barrow as a bisexual but also an impotent. It was also a small nod to Jules and Jim. He worked heavily with Robert Towne to insert sexual innuendos in the dialog, and added ambiguous shots. For example, in the iconic bed scene where Clyde shows his gun to comfort his manhood and Bonnie suggestively strokes the weapon, he can later see Moss take the revolver and wash it off with his bare hands. Seberg and Dylan were very amused by these implied tensions, but Beatty was extremely uncomfortable about them, saying that the MPAA would react. [14] Finally the filming was complete : Beatty swore that he would never work again with a foreign director, while Truffaut was eager to direct Fahrenheit 451 so he could stop making English-speaking movies abroad.

Nevertheless, Bonnie and Clyde was scheduled to become a true cinematographic hit. The publicity made by Universal Studios caused the last two survivors of the Barrow Gang, Blanche Barrow and W. D. Jones, to attempt to sue Warren Beatty along with Universal Studios, but they were finally pleased by the final product [15]. However, the MPAA soon learnt about the inflammatory movies : in order to be released into theaters, the « bisexual innuendos » scenes had to be cut off, and the final, bloody scene of Bonnie and Clyde’s death had to be remade into black and white. The scenes as they were imagined were later available in subsequent releases after the end of the Hays Code.

Screened out of competition at the 1967 Cannes Festival, Bonnie and Clyde won considerable critical acclaim, praising Truffaut’s unexpected « Hollywood turn » and the unique style of cinematography provided by Truffaut and Coutard, while expressing concern about the supposed glorification of violence provided by the movie. Yet the crowds loved it : Bonnie and Clyde would gross 83 millions of dollars worldwide, 55 in the United States only, from its premiere on June, 25 1967 [16]. It also gained a cult following, with thousands of youths sporting the 30s style of the movie, taking its message of sexual freedom and defiance of authority, one year roughly before the 1968 protests.

The film would gain ten nominations at the 40th Academy Awards : Best Picture, Best Director for François Truffaut, Best Original Screenplay for David Newman and Robert Benton, Best Actor for Warren Beatty, Best Actress for Jean Seberg, Best Supporting Actor for Gene Hackman, Best Supporting Actress for Estelle Parsons, Best Costume Design for Theodora Van Runkle, Best CInematography for Raoul Coutard and Best Original Song for The Ballad… by Bob Dylan. It went back with three : Best SUpporting Actress, Best Cinematography and Best Original Song. [17]

If this movie was for sure a major hit on the wide screen, few people back then knew that they had witnessed a revolution.

Directed by François Truffaut
Produced by Warren Beatty and Lewis M. Allen
Written by David Newman and Robert Benton (Special Consultant :Robert Towne)
Music by Charles Strouse
Cinematography by Raoul Coutard
Editing by Dede Allen
Distributed by Universal City Studios
Release date(s) June, 25, 1967

-Warren Beatty as Clyde Barrow
-Jean Seberg as Bonnie Parker
-Bob Dylan as C.W. Moss
-Gene Hackman as Buck Barrow
-Estelle Parsons as Blanche Barrow
-Oskar Werner as Frank Hamer

Academy Awards performance :

[FONT=&quot]-[/FONT]Best Picture
-Best Director – François Truffaut
-Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen - David Newman and Robert Benton
-Best Actor in a Leading Role - Warren Beatty
-Best Actress in a Leading Role – Jean Seberg
-Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Gene Hackman
-Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Estelle Parsons
-Best Costume Design - Theadora Van Runkle
-Best Cinematography - Raoul Coutard
-Best Original Song Score - Bob Dylan (The Ballad of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow)

Author’s footnotes :
1 – Godard was very uncomfortable with working for Hollywood, although very thrilled by the script. According to some, he wanted to film in New Jersey, that was impossible for a story occurring in Texas ; for others, Godard demanded to transpose it in Japan with teenagers as the title roles…
2 – According to Peter Biskind, Warren Beatty had to grovel to Jack Warner’s feet in order to reconcile with him, so Warner would accept to distribute the movie ; this led to the undermentioned and then-unusual deal of leaving Beatty with a share of the gross.
3 – This amazed Steven Spielberg as well when he recruited Truffaut on Close Encounters of the Third Kind. While doing his interviews of Hitchcock, Truffaut relied on the latter’s few knowledge of French and the help of others.
4 – Fahrenheit 451 lasted for years due to François Truffaut’s always busy schedule : eager to see the results of a French director working abroad, Universal Studios accepted these conditions.
5 – See number 2. Warren Beatty had a 40% share IOTL.
6 – Paul Newman was considered IOTL.
7 – The filming began IOTL in October, but an earlier greenlight helps it to happen earlier.
8 – Considered IOTL ; Faye Dunaway was far from being the first choice.
9 – Oskar Werner played Montag in Fahrenheit 451, and it meant the end of his friendship with Truffaut.
10 – Butterfly occurrence : as a result, Bob Dylan has a certain experience and doesn’t quit the scene for three years. Michael J. Pollard impersonated Dylan’s voice for C. W. Moss IOTL ; and the singer’s performance in Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and the Kid shows he can act for sure.
11 – Yes, this is written from a 2012 perspective.
12 – Historical.
13 – Inspired by the uneasy filming of Fahrenheit 451 and Truffaut’s experience on Close Encounters’ set.
14 – The reasons shown by Beatty prevailed IOTL, but the will for a nod to Jules and Jim was far too strong.
15 – Jack Warner, who was in the middle of the selling of his company, believed the movie would bomb and only released in select theaters in order to confirm his prediction ; due to better media promotion, the last two gang members learn of it earlier ; IOTL, they criticized the take on the events but overall appreciated the movie.
16 – Better media campaign and the prestige of Truffaut’s name make Bonnie and Clyde score 13 millions more.
17 – Bonnie and Clyde sure had a rocky concurrence back then in 1967, but in the Original Score Song, against Dr. Doolittle, Dylan would triumph for sure.
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So Jean Seberg replaces Faye Dunaway. That has significant repercussions, since this was the latter's big break and she would then go on to become one of the leading actresses of the 1970s, before she so legendarily crashed and burned in Mommie Dearest. I've also heard Seberg denigrated as a classic "empty vessel" muse, of the kind popular with auteur directors; might she prove more robust than her detractors would claim after all?

I imagine that much of the extra grosses would have come from overseas. One-third of the box-office take being foreign was nothing to sneer at back then, especially for a piece of pure Americana like Bonnie & Clyde. And let's be honest, nobody in Peoria has any idea who Francois Truffaut is, but I'm sure the cineastes in Paris are willing to line up to see his latest movie, as are those in Brussels, Geneva, and maybe even Montreal (after all, it just might appeal to the FLQ as well).

One question, though: in the song that Bob Dylan wrote about Bonnie and Clyde, which one is the clown and which one is the joker? :D

Overall, a really nice update :)
Thanks to all who have suscribed!

Brainbin - Well, in my sense, Seberg remains one of the most iconic actresses of the French New Wave due to Breathless, and her Hollywood career (which included the typical blockbuster, with Airport) busted not only because of her hatred to the Hollywood system, but also for her political statements. Not having her meet Romain Gary would help retain her in the US.
As of France, I think that the reaction would be mixed, between the thrill to see at long least a Frenchman acknowledged in Hollywood, a first since Jean Renoir (just see how mad we were during the promotion of The Artist) and the loath, from the Godard kind, of a director selling his soul to the big Hollywood machine. But over all, it would renew Truffaut with his success of the 400 Blows and Jules and Jim.
I appreciate the Dylan reference; I wanted first to have Serge Gainsbourg singing the theme song, but no producer in Hollywood would let such a French takeover happen.
Isn't Jean Seburg a little old to play Bonnie?
Still it would have been a interesting proformance.

Seberg was 29 when Bonnie and Clyde was made, and Faye Dunaway was 26: the real Bonnie Parker died at 24, so... Don't forget that for some times, Shirley MacLaine was considered for the role, and she was 33 at the time.

Speaking of age differences in a movie...
The Graduate (1967), by Mike Nichols

« You’re trying to seduce me, Mrs. Robinson, aren’t you ? »
Benjamin Braddock

Mike Nichols was a happy man, yet he was growing worried. This film adaptation was doing well : his first choice to play the old seductive woman, 1958 Academy Award winner Susan Hayward, had happily accepted the part, adding further renewal to her controversial roles [1]. But the choice of the young and naive man was more difficult, as auditions went by [2]. He already had refused Robert Redford for the part, and Nichols was now pressuring the TV studios in letting them release Burt Ward, who was committed to the campy Batman TV series.

When Nichols looked back on his papers. There was a little something. This 25-years-old youth from Illinois, quite handsome. He was a complete unknown : he had just begun to do small talking parts in some low-budget westerns. Yet, his inexperience, and his stress when he auditioned along with Hayward was quite well : if Nichols could work with that, he could easily pass for Benjamin Braddock’s bumbling forays into the world of sexuality, instead of an average stage fright. Plus, this little guy had nailed the part, and the screenplay put it, he was actually half the age of Susan Hayward, like between Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson. That was well : convincing the studio that it would be worth the bet would be difficult, but he decided that Nichols decided he couldn’t do the film without this man.

A few days later, Harrison Ford learnt that he was to play Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate [3].

The casting didn’t went as softly : the producers were worried about such a controversial subject, that could eventually fail to attract the audiences, as they were relying on Nichols’ reputation as the new Orson Welles, after Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ? They agreed to let the unknown Harrison J. Ford [4] if Nichols agreed to cast more prestigious actors for the lesser parts. Nichols agreed, on the condition that in order to bring balance to the other couple, he could cast someone unknown as Elaine Robinson, and that he could still hire Simon and Garfunkel to record the music. That was granted.

With that, Robert Mitchum and Anne Bancroft signed to play Benjamin’s parents, while Marlon Brando enjoyed a very little cameo as Mr. Robinson. The part of Mr. McGuire, the guest at the Braddocks’ party who tries to convince Benjamin to launch into plastics, was played by future President Ronald Reagan, who had just been inaugurated as Governor of California, in his last filmed role ; Reagan had been first considered for Mr. Braddock’s role, and would point humourously to this last screen appearence, most notably during a visit of a plastic engineering plant in Maine. For Elaine Robinson, Nichols settled on actress Carol Lynley, also 25, then a rising star. [5]

This was the role of his life for Harrison Ford, who couldn’t believe his luck. In later interviews, he would say he felt like he was transported into a roller coaster running on lightspeed. He who was a self-taught actor, recruited by sheer luck at Columbia Pictures after he went to California in 1964 for a radio job, he said working with legends such as Nichols, Hayward, Mitchum and Bancroft was a real luck and a real acting school. His intimidation by the presence of Susan Hayward could well be confused with sexual inexperience on film. As he grew more confident during filming, it also went well with the Benjamin growing into adulthood, after the relation with Mrs. Robinson : Ford’s self-confidence, along with his handsomeness, went well with Benjamin’s recently acquired manhood. Robert Mitchum would improvise most of his lines, playing Mr. Braddock as a true humourous character, while he developed a close friendship with Harrison Ford. He also began a romance with recently divorced Carol Lynley on the set, thus cementing further the concept of « life imititating art ». Nichols was quite pleased by these developments, feeling that it would serve the movie : by the way, almost all actors had the age the characters had in the script. [6]

Against all odds, The Graduate was a major success, in spite of its particularly scandalous plot : the Americans welcomed again these kind of movies, five years after Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita. Grossing more than 100 millions of dollars on the box-office, won the critics’ acclaim, it immediately went to the status of cult film, and propelled Harrison Ford as a household name. As it won the BAFTA Award For Best Film, The Graduate won eight Academy Awards nomination, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Actress ; Ford was of course astounded by his nomination, even if some claimed it was helped by his highly publicized romance with Carol Lynley than by his actual performance. [7] In the end, The Graduate won Best Picture, with Best Supporting Actor going to Robert Mitchum for his role as Mr. Braddock, while Susan Hayward won her second Academy Award for Best Actress, entering into the legend of Hollywood. [8]. She would act a bit more in very few movies, before being diagnosed with brain cancer, a disease that would lead to her demise in 1972.

While an ancient star burnt her last lights before going off, a new had just arose : Harrison Ford was now among the most asked for actors in Hollywood. And his career would lead him into both the greatest and lowest ends…

Directed by Mike Nichols
Produced by Joseph E. Levine and Lawrence Turman
Written by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry, after the novel The Graduate, by Charles Webb
Music by Dave Grusin, songs by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel
Cinematography by Robert Surtees
Editing by Sam O’Steen
Distributed by Embassy Pictures/United Artists
Release date(s) December, 21 1967

-Susan Hayward as Mrs. Robinson
-Harrison J. Ford as Benjamin Braddock
-Carol Lynley as Elaine Robinson
-Robert Mitchum as Mr. Braddock
-Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Braddock
-Marlon Brando as Mr. Robinson

Academy Awards performance :
[FONT=&quot]-[/FONT]Best Picture
-Best Director – Mike Nichols
-Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Adapted for the Screen - Calder Willingham and Buck Henry
-Best Actor in a Leading Role – Harrison J. Ford
-Best Actress in a Leading Role – Susan Hayward
-Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Robert Mitchum
-Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Carol Lynley
-Best Cinematography – Robert Surtees
-BAFTA Award for Best Film

Author’s footnotes :
[1] To know who was Mike Nichols’ first choice for Mrs. Robinson is difficult : some say it was Doris Day, who refused the part on moral grounds ; others that it was Susan Hayward, who claimed she didn’t want to turn away from her previous screen image. This is quite strange : Hayward had won her Academy Award by playing a convicted murderer, and she played abusive actress Helen Lawson the same year in Valley of the Dolls. Plus, at 50, she was just the age to play Mrs. Robinson.
[2] Without Anne Bancroft, no one can convince her husband Mel Brooks to let Dustin Hoffman pass the auditions for The Graduate. Hoffman was then committed to Brooks’ The Producers.
[3] Harrison Ford actually passed the auditions, but whether or not he almost nailed the part is rather difficult to verify. If one want to know how Ford looked back then, here he is in Roger Corman’s A Time For Killing.
[4] Harrison Ford was credited as such back then, in order to avoid to confuse him with the silent film actor of the same name. The « J » actually stands for nothing, since he has no middle name.
[5] Except for Anne Bancroft in a little nod to OTL’s movie, all were considered for the parts. Ronald Reagan is also a sweet easter egg of mine.
[6] Harrison Ford’s performance is not as astounding as Dustin Hoffman’s in this version of The Graduate, yet the circumstances work quite well : the age factor and this « learning on the job » thing work well. As of the relation with Carol Lynley, well, the lady just had a little baby, but she was, well, pretty.
[7] No offense against Harrison Ford : one can see in Star Wars and Indiana Jones how much he can overact, so Hollywood gossip doesn’t give him any justice. Yet the results are quite convincing in this movie.
[8] Small change incoming for Cool Hand Luke, that will be revealed in a further update, as Robert Mitchum really turned his role as Mr. Braddock into a memorable part. As of Katharine Hepburn, no offense against her, she still has three Academy Awards to win in order to match her actual record !
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Very fun! Harrison Ford becomes a star ahead of schedule.

You're on a role, man! :)
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I have to log my objection to Robert Mitchum being cast in the role that, IOTL, went to William Daniels (Mr. Feeny!), and then winning an Oscar for it.

Other than that, some really terrific casting decisions. Harrison Ford is an inspired choice for Benjamin, and assuming that he comes to take roles resembling those of OTL in the future, it will retroactively demonstrate his range. I like Susan Hayward, as well - and the age gap between them is actually realistic, which is also nice. I will take pause at the choice of Brando, though - in this era, his career was in the doldrums until it was revitalized by the twin triumphs of The Godfather and Last Tango in Paris in the early 1970s IOTL. I suppose the fact that it's a relatively small role might convince executives to let him have it. Maybe they'll make him an offer he couldn't refuse :p

Looking forward to finding out which film is chosen as the Best Picture of 1967, which is usually remembered as one of the more contentious contests for that prize. Not The Graduate, obviously, nor Bonnie and Clyde - will it be the OTL victor (In the Heat of the Night), or something completely different?
Thanks for your lovely advices!

Stolengood - Aaaah, couldn't identify the movie of which the extract was taken from.

Brainbin - Well, when I saw again The Graduate while making this update, what stroke me was that Benjamin's father had clearly the potential to be a very funny role, of comic relief, and that Robert Mitchum had enough talent to make it stronger. As of Brando, well, this cameo is more of a gallant last stand on his part, even if I plan to have him make some comebacks soon.

I will spoil a little bit by saying that there will be no update on In The Heat of the Night. First, the number of talented African American actors is quite scarce back then, but Rod Steiger's interpretation and the work of Norman Jewison was enough to handle this excellent movie.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1967), by Lewis Gilbert

« There’s no hurry, you see. We have all the time in the world. »
James Bond

The producers of the Bond series were first worried that the adaptation of Thunderball’ sequel, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, would include snowy locations, as the novel would take place in Switzerland. Fortunately, Albert Broccoli, after a winter trip to Switzerland, found out that the landscape would be very suitable anyway for filming, and greenlit the project : the Swiss scenes would be shot in the end, in the 1966-1967 winter, with beginning scheduled in July and focused on the scenes before and after Switzerland. [1] Their second concern was Sean Connery’s reluctance to adorn again the Bond role, as he feared to be typecasted for once and for all : a pay raise finally settled Connery’s concerns, as the producers pointed out that the death of Bond’s wife could work out as the « retirement » for Sean Connery’s James Bond, being replaced by another agent, endorsing the cover identity, James Bond becoming not a person, but a codename. [2]

After Harold Jack Bloom [3] ended his screenplay, director Lewis Gilbert, who had finally accepted the job, found out that it would become the longest Bond ever, lasting 140 minutes [4]. Gilbert accepted the deal anyway, as he felt that the script was great and that the Switzerland scenery would provide room for epicness ; he also centered on the romance between James Bond and Tracy di Vicenzo, in order to rise tension for the bittersweet finale.

Then came the problem of the casting : Sean Connery had decided to enter for his last role, but other parts had to be provided. First, the question of Blofeld was the most important : he had been a mere shadow in the previous movies, but now, he was scheduled to appear, his presence being one of the keys to the plot. Several TV series actors were approached : a first try with Czech well-known playwright Jan Werich would turn badly, as the bearded comedic actor turned out to look like a Santa Claus ; quite unsuitable for a genius of crime [5]. Donald Pleasence was eventually approached after, but he had already committed himself to Roman Polanski’s Fearless Vampire Killers as Professor Abronsius. [6]

But Pleasence proposed another actor to play Ernst Stavro Blofeld : Peter Cushing. The horror actor was then committed to Hammer’s Frankenstein series, an occupation that left him plenty of free time, and his attempt in good-natured characters had proved ill-fated, playing in Doctor Who movies adaptations. Cushing, with his cold eyes and his thin face, proved quite suited to portray Bond’s nemesis. Cushing refused to change his physical appearence (that was already enough), instead faking a limp in order to look less dangerous to the unaware spectator, clipping his earlobes and adorning a grey Nehru jacket along with military boots, giving him something of a military style. [7] A body double was used for Blofeld’s more physical scenes in the film.

After the Bond villain, came the Bond girl. To play the Corsican suicidal countess, the producers first approached French stars such as Catherine Deneuve or Brigitte Bardot ; after Diana Rigg refused in order to focus on The Avengers, they would finally settle on a young American actress, that had made her widescreen debut in Eye of The Devil, alongside David Niven and Donald Pleasence, where she had acquired considerable acting experience and was noticed by some movie-goers. She was by then a figure of the Londonian nightlife, partying while waiting for the next opportunity. For the red-haired woman, playing the James Bond girl, for one of the biggest audiences of the world, was an offer she couldn’t miss. That’s how Sharon Tate was signed to play Tracy di Vicenzo. [8]

Spanish actor Francisco Rabal, who was also filming Bunuel’s Belle de Jour at the time, was signed to play Unione Corse leader Marc-Ange Draco, as Tate’s young age would allow it. German actress Ilse Steppat was scheduled to play Blofeld’s henchwoman Irma Bunt. [9] On his part, John Barry found it difficult to have a title song that would include the full title of OHMSS : so he decided to stick with James Bond’s words when Tracy is murdered, « We Have All The Time In The World », that was sung by renowned jazzman Louis Armstrong. [10]

Filming took place from July 1966 to March 1967, in London’s Pinewood Studios, Switzerland and French Riviera. All things went smoothly, in spite of the rising disappointment of one Sean Connery, who was weary to retire at long least from the role that had made him famous. The particular focus on the romance with Tracy would work out, with Sean Connery’s acting skills and Sharon Tate’s « cuteness » working in for both. The end scene, when Blofeld himself, dressed as an average passerby, appears and shoots himself with a sniper rifle on Bond’s car, would remain as one of the most iconic scenes of popular cinema, well served by Cushing’s intimadating appearence.

As expected, OHMSS grossed 111 millions worldwide and gathered positive reviews, praising Cushing’s portrayal, and effectively making Sharon Tate a rising star in entertainment. Nowadays, critics still rank OHMSS as one of the best Bond films. [11] But the heads at Eon productions were now all on their next battle : finding the next Bond in time for the next installment, You Only Live Twice


Directed by Lewis Gilbert
Produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman
Written by Harold Jack Bloom, after the novel On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, by Ian Fleming
Music by John Barry - Title song « We Have All The Time In The World » sung by Louis Armstrong
Cinematography by Freddie Young
Editing by Peter R. Hunt
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s) December, 21 1967

-Sean Connery as James Bond
-Sharon Tate as Countess Tracy di Vicenzo
-Peter Cushing as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
-Francisco Rabal as Marc-Ange Draco
-Ilse Steppat as Irma Bunt
-Bernard Lee as M
-Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny
-Desmond Llelywyn as Q

Author’s footnotes :
[1] The snowy locations were the producers’ first concern about filming OHMSS, and that’s why You Only Live Twice, that is the third and final part of the Blofeld trilogy in Ian Fleming’s work, was made instead. The POD here is quite handy, yet the reasons are too.
[2] Here is one of the most ancient fan theories coming into fruition… Will it be confirmed after ? You will see.
[3] Bloom’s script for You Only Live Twice was rejected IOTL, and Roald Dahl was hired after to pen it, which was rather difficult, as he pointed out how terrible was the novel his friend Ian Fleming had penned. Here, OHMSS’ novel plot is followed, as it was the tradition for the Bond series, a tradition that Dahl’s work on You Only Live Twice first broke. I have read the novel, and the film follows it heavily.
[4] As IOTL. OTL’s 2005 Casino Royale would finally break the record.
[5] As IOTL.
[6] I know, another convenient POD. However, it works : Pleasence had already worked with Polanski in 1965, in Cul-de-Sac with Catherine Deneuve.
[7] Does this remind you of anything ?
[8] The changes in Fearless Vampire Killers and Valley of the Dolls will be adressed in other updates.
[9] Rabal was approached IOTL for the role. And none other than Ilse Steppat could have played Irma Bunt.
[10] And so it goes for Louis Armstrong.
[11] The somewhat-good plot is helped by Lewis Gilbert’ sense for epicness (that is not foiled by the over-the-top aspects of You Only Live Twice), Cushing’s portrayal of the now-revealed Blofeld, the bride’s murder and Sean Connery’s acting skills, instead of the act…Interpr… Instead of what George Lazenby did to OTL’s film.


Consider me suscribed to that TL - I'm fond of The Graduate.
(Elaaaaiiiine ! Elaaaiiinne !!)

he could still hire Simon and Garfunkel to record the music.

Good, otherwise it wouldn't be The graduate anymore.

Anne Bancroft signed to play Benjamin’s parents

After Mrs Robinson jettisoned him, and before falling in love with her daughter Elaine, a devastated Benjamin received a hug from his loving, comprehensive mother.

After early screenings of the movie the scene was cut by Nichols as "troubling" - "the way it was shot, the way Harrison Ford hugged Ann Bancroft, for unknown reasons it felt as if Benjamin was attracted by his own mother... and that was disturbing !" :D
What an excellent start!

Robert Mitchum getting an oscar (he certainly deserved it for Night of the Hunter but I digress) while butterflying away George Lazenby is a huge plus!

I dearly would love to see what Truffaut would have made of Bonie and Clyde and I can't wait to see what's next

keep it coming:)
You're really firing on all cylinders, MaskedPickle! :eek:

Great to see Connery appear in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, generally regarded (as you imply in your own update) as a film that could have been truly great were it not for Lazenby. That said, it's a real shame that Diana Rigg (Mrs. Peel!) was not cast as Tracy - I imagine that she would be just wonderful opposite Connery. I honestly don't know if Rigg would have declined in order to stay with The Avengers, as she hated that role and was miserable working there (her only friends were Patrick Macnee and her driver), and was grossly underpaid. That said, Cushing is another fantastic casting decision; I can definitely imagine him as Blofeld, and hope to see him return.

You've also eliminated what is generally regarded as the weakest film of Connery's original five, so (assuming that he isn't lured back) he'll be going out on a high note. The "Sean Connery is James Bond" effect will be even stronger ITTL as a result. Still, I'm looking forward to seeing who will be the second actor to play 007 in the official series...