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Cold Turkey

Cold Turkey(1971)


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Opening credits appear after two sequences in which the character "Merwin Wren" explains his idea to "Hiram C. Grayson," then convinces the Valiant's board to implement the scheme. During the opening credits, under which Randy Newman's song "He Gives Us All His Love" is heard, a dog wanders to Eagle Rock on a road lined with billboards advertising the town's establishments that have since moved or gone out of business. As indicated by the signs, only the churches are still active. The dog reappears near the end of the film, when it runs past the dying men, while the Newman's song is reprised on the soundtrack. Dick Van Dyke's opening onscreen credit reads: "Rev. Clayton Brooks as played by Dick Van Dyke." A cast list appears only in the opening credits, and most of the crew members are listed in the ending credits.
       According to the Variety and Daily Variety reviews, the film was based on an unpublished novel by the husband and wife team, Margaret and Neil Rau. Information found in the file for the film at the AMPAS Library indicated that the title of the unpublished work was I'm Giving Them Up for Good. Although a December 1967 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Vernon Zimmerman was signed to collaborate on the script, he was not listed in the onscreen credits and his contribution to the final film has not been determined. The title Cold Turkey was taken from a slang term that refers to an abrupt and complete withdrawal from an addictive substance.
       A studio cast list contained in the file for the film in the AMPAS library erroneously credits actor Stanley Gottlieb with the role of "Hiram C. Grayson" and lists Charles Pinney, who portrayed "Col. Glen Galloway," as Jack Pinney. Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding's opening onscreen credit reads "Bob and Ray," which was the name of their comedy act. The team marked their feature film debut in Cold Turkey impersonating several contemporary television news reporters, using slightly altered names. In his portrayal of "Walter Chronic," Goulding parodied Walter Cronkite, the highly respected newsman who anchored The CBS Evening News from 1961 until his retirement in 1981. The character "David Chetley," portrayed by Elliott, was a parody of the news team David Brinkley and Chet Huntley of the The Huntley-Brinkley Report, which aired on NBC from 1956 until 1970. During the film, both Bob and Ray are sometimes depicted with "haloes" created by positioning the actors under a round florescent light or surrounded by rays from the sunlight.
       The John Birch Society, depicted in the film as the "Christopher Mott Society" and the Sons of Confederate Veterans were other real-life institutions that were parodied. Several contemporary personalities, among them, President Richard M. Nixon, appear in stock news footage. Nixon is also portrayed by an actor whose face is never shown, but who is seen from the back extending his arms in the characteristic gesture that was associated with Nixon.
       According to June 1969 Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety news items, the film was shot on location in Winterset, Greenfield and Des Moines, IA, and many Iowan citizens were cast as extras. The film ends with the acknowledgment: "With love and thanks to the Good People of Iowa," a reference to which the LAHExam and San Francisco Chronicle reviewers took exception. The San Francisco Chronicle reviewer felt that the film "cruelly" satirized the Iowan citizens.
       Tandem Productions was owned by Lear and his partner, Bud Yorkin. Although Van Dyke is not personally credited onscreen as producer, his company, DFI Productions (Dramatic Features, Inc.), was a co-producer, as noted by the ending credits, December 1967 Daily Variety and March 1967 LAHExam news items, and the Daily Variety review. Modern sources add to the cast Maureen McCormick (Voice of doll) and Lynn Guthrie, who is also credited by modern sources as a 2d asst dir. Cold Turkey marked the feature film directorial debut for writer-producer Lear and marked the final film of Edward Everett Horton (1886-1970), who portrayed "Hiram C. Grayson," a character without dialogue.