The World of Henry Orient


1h 46m 1964
The World of Henry Orient

Brief Synopsis

Two poor little rich girls dog the steps of a womanizing pianist.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1964
Premiere Information
New York opening: 19 Mar 1964
Production Company
Pan Arts Co.
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, USA; Meyerberg Studios, Long Island, New York, USA
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The World of Henry Orient by Nora Johnson (Boston, 1958).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 46m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

The life of Henry Orient, a New York concert pianist with more ego than talent, becomes completely disrupted when Valerie Boyd and Marian Gilbert, two 14-year-old schoolgirls who delight in romantic flights of fancy, decide that they are in love with him. Henry's affair with Stella, a married woman, is ruined by the constant appearance of the two girls, who Stella is convinced are teenaged detectives hired by her suspicious husband. Marian's divorced mother is devoted to her child, but Valerie comes from an unhappy home dominated by her self-centered and adulterous mother, Isabel. The situation worsens when Isabel discovers a scrapbook compiled by the two youngsters in their passion for Henry. Misconstruing the situation, Isabel barges into Henry's apartment and accuses him of seducing Valerie. She is easily convinced of his innocence, however, and readily succumbs to his charm. Valerie learns of the illicit affair and, shattered, returns home only to be told by her mother that she must never see Marian again. Mr. Boyd, however, decides to leave Isabel and start a new life with Valerie. After a trip to Europe, Valerie visits the Gilbert apartment and resumes her friendship with Marian. Now the girls have a new interest in boys to replace their former taste for fantasy.

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Movie Clip

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Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1964
Premiere Information
New York opening: 19 Mar 1964
Production Company
Pan Arts Co.
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, USA; Meyerberg Studios, Long Island, New York, USA
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The World of Henry Orient by Nora Johnson (Boston, 1958).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 46m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

The World of Henry Orient


After establishing himself as one of the screen's top composers of dramatic music with such hits as The Magnificent Seven (1960) and To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), the latter often ranked among the best scores in film history, Elmer Bernstein took a chance on comedy with The World of Henry Orient (1964). The film boded well for his future, marking his first collaboration with director George Roy Hill and his move into comedy, a genre he would rule in later years.

The World of Henry Orient had originated as an autobiographical novel by Nora Johnson, daughter of acclaimed screenwriter Nunnally Johnson. The younger Johnson had grown up in New York after her parents' divorce, dreaming of her absent father and hoping that her parents would get back together. In the novel, Nora's stand-in is Val, a sophisticated-beyond-her-years girl who forges a fast friendship with Gil, another girl from a broken home. Together, they develop a mutual crush on superstar pianist Henry Orient, a character based on pianist/actor Oscar Levant.

Nunnally Johnson admired his daughter's work, but didn't see its screen potential when the novel first appeared in 1958. He couldn't envision finding two young actresses who could carry a story like that. Then Hayley Mills and Patty Duke shot to child stardom in the early sixties, and Johnson knew he'd found the film's stars. He bought the screen rights from his daughter, hired her to write the screenplay and even kept her name on the script after re-writing it completely. Then he found that he couldn't work out deals for either young star. Instead, he cast two unknowns, Tippy Walker for the emotionally demanding role of Val and Merrie Spaeth as Gil.

The screenplay already featured an expanded role for Henry Orient, so with no stars available to play the young girls, the Johnsons went looking for a male name to anchor the film. Among those considered were Robert Preston, Rex Harrison, Tony Randall and Dick Van Dyke. Then they offered Peter Sellers the chance to shoot his first film in America, and he jumped at it. He turned the character into a vainglorious delight whose inability to scale the heights of the music world gently mirrored his teenaged fans' dreams of building a new family with him.

The Johnsons were particularly lucky to land George Roy Hill as director. A stage and television veteran, Hill had only directed two films at that point. Both were adaptations of stage work: Tennessee Williams' Period of Adjustment and Lillian Hellman's Toys in the Attic. With The World of Henry Orient, he broke free from the constraints of those stage-bound features to stage a series of elegiac chases through New York. The opening sequences of the two girls cavorting through Central Park represent one of the greatest on-screen tributes to the Big Apple. It was also the first use of slow motion in an American commercial feature. His work wasn't all razzle-dazzle either. Hill forged a close relationship with both young actresses, drawing surprisingly sensitive performances from them. The result was a critical success that became the U.S.' official entry in the 1964 Cannes Film Festival. It also brought the Johnsons a Writers Guild Award for the year's best comedy script.

The success of The World of Henry Orient propelled George Roy Hill to ever-better assignments, including the twenties musical romp Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), the western blockbuster Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and his Oscar-winner for Best Picture and Best Director, The Sting (1973).

Bernstein's score for The World of Henry Orient also drew strong reviews, with critics particularly praising his use of the wedding march from Lohengrin for the scene in which the girls discuss their crush on Sellers. Bernstein would later collaborate with Hill on both the epic Hawaii (1966), which brought him Oscar nominations for Best Score and Best Song, and Thoroughly Modern Millie, which brought him his only Oscar to date. He would return to comedy years later when he was discovered by a new generation of directors, including Ivan Reitman (Stripes (1981) and Ghostbusters, 1984) and John Landis (Animal House (1978) and Trading Places, 1983).

Director: George Roy Hill
Producer: Jerome Hellman
Screenplay: Nora Johnson, Nunnally Johnson
Based on the novel by Nora Johnson
Cinematography: Boris Kaufman, Arthur J. Ornitz
Art Direction: James Sullivan
Music: Elmer Bernstein, Ken Lauber
Principal Cast: Peter Sellers (Henry Orient), Paula Prentiss (Stella), Tippy Walker (Valerie Boyd), Merrie Spaeth (Marian "Gil" Gilbert), Angela Lansbury (Isabel Boyd), Phyllis Thaxter (Mrs. Gilbert).
C-107m. Letterboxed.

by Frank Miller

The World Of Henry Orient

The World of Henry Orient

After establishing himself as one of the screen's top composers of dramatic music with such hits as The Magnificent Seven (1960) and To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), the latter often ranked among the best scores in film history, Elmer Bernstein took a chance on comedy with The World of Henry Orient (1964). The film boded well for his future, marking his first collaboration with director George Roy Hill and his move into comedy, a genre he would rule in later years. The World of Henry Orient had originated as an autobiographical novel by Nora Johnson, daughter of acclaimed screenwriter Nunnally Johnson. The younger Johnson had grown up in New York after her parents' divorce, dreaming of her absent father and hoping that her parents would get back together. In the novel, Nora's stand-in is Val, a sophisticated-beyond-her-years girl who forges a fast friendship with Gil, another girl from a broken home. Together, they develop a mutual crush on superstar pianist Henry Orient, a character based on pianist/actor Oscar Levant. Nunnally Johnson admired his daughter's work, but didn't see its screen potential when the novel first appeared in 1958. He couldn't envision finding two young actresses who could carry a story like that. Then Hayley Mills and Patty Duke shot to child stardom in the early sixties, and Johnson knew he'd found the film's stars. He bought the screen rights from his daughter, hired her to write the screenplay and even kept her name on the script after re-writing it completely. Then he found that he couldn't work out deals for either young star. Instead, he cast two unknowns, Tippy Walker for the emotionally demanding role of Val and Merrie Spaeth as Gil. The screenplay already featured an expanded role for Henry Orient, so with no stars available to play the young girls, the Johnsons went looking for a male name to anchor the film. Among those considered were Robert Preston, Rex Harrison, Tony Randall and Dick Van Dyke. Then they offered Peter Sellers the chance to shoot his first film in America, and he jumped at it. He turned the character into a vainglorious delight whose inability to scale the heights of the music world gently mirrored his teenaged fans' dreams of building a new family with him. The Johnsons were particularly lucky to land George Roy Hill as director. A stage and television veteran, Hill had only directed two films at that point. Both were adaptations of stage work: Tennessee Williams' Period of Adjustment and Lillian Hellman's Toys in the Attic. With The World of Henry Orient, he broke free from the constraints of those stage-bound features to stage a series of elegiac chases through New York. The opening sequences of the two girls cavorting through Central Park represent one of the greatest on-screen tributes to the Big Apple. It was also the first use of slow motion in an American commercial feature. His work wasn't all razzle-dazzle either. Hill forged a close relationship with both young actresses, drawing surprisingly sensitive performances from them. The result was a critical success that became the U.S.' official entry in the 1964 Cannes Film Festival. It also brought the Johnsons a Writers Guild Award for the year's best comedy script. The success of The World of Henry Orient propelled George Roy Hill to ever-better assignments, including the twenties musical romp Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), the western blockbuster Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and his Oscar-winner for Best Picture and Best Director, The Sting (1973). Bernstein's score for The World of Henry Orient also drew strong reviews, with critics particularly praising his use of the wedding march from Lohengrin for the scene in which the girls discuss their crush on Sellers. Bernstein would later collaborate with Hill on both the epic Hawaii (1966), which brought him Oscar nominations for Best Score and Best Song, and Thoroughly Modern Millie, which brought him his only Oscar to date. He would return to comedy years later when he was discovered by a new generation of directors, including Ivan Reitman (Stripes (1981) and Ghostbusters, 1984) and John Landis (Animal House (1978) and Trading Places, 1983). Director: George Roy Hill Producer: Jerome Hellman Screenplay: Nora Johnson, Nunnally Johnson Based on the novel by Nora Johnson Cinematography: Boris Kaufman, Arthur J. Ornitz Art Direction: James Sullivan Music: Elmer Bernstein, Ken Lauber Principal Cast: Peter Sellers (Henry Orient), Paula Prentiss (Stella), Tippy Walker (Valerie Boyd), Merrie Spaeth (Marian "Gil" Gilbert), Angela Lansbury (Isabel Boyd), Phyllis Thaxter (Mrs. Gilbert). C-107m. Letterboxed. by Frank Miller

TCM Remembers George Roy Hill, 1922-2002


George Roy Hill, the Academy Award winning director who is fondly remembered for guiding Paul Newman and Robert Redford in two of their most memorable hits, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973), died Friday, December 20, 2002, in his New York City apartment. He was 81, and had been struggling with Parkinson's disease.

Born on December 20, 1922, to a well-to-do Minneapolis newspaper family, Hill would hang out at the local airfield as a child and watch the barnstorming pilots, fascinated by their theatrics. His intense interest would eventually drive him to earn his pilot's license by age 16. But his love for the performing arts was inspired by a different calling - the stage, where he appeared in student productions at his prep school in Hopkins, Minnesota. After graduating, he majored in music at Yale. A baritone, he became a member of the university Glee Club but he soon discovered that singing wasn't his forte. He found acting more suitable and joined the Dramatic Society, becoming its president and appearing in campus musicals. Ten days after graduating with a bachelor's degree in music in 1943, Hill joined the Navy. After flight school, he transferred to the Marines and piloted transport planes in the South Pacific during World War II.

Following the war, he worked briefly as a cub reporter on a family newspaper in Texas, then used the GI Bill to attend Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, where he earned a bachelor's degree in literature in 1949 and did a stint with the Abbey theatre. Back in the United States, he received good reviews in an off-Broadway play, Strindberg's The Creditors with Beatrice Arthur, and toured with Margaret Webster's Shakespearean company - a celebrated theatrical company for its time. The Korean War interrupted his career, when Hill was recalled to Marine duty, serving 18 months at a training center in North Carolina, and later emerging as a major. The time spent away from the theater was beneficial to Hill, and he decided to move away from acting toward writing. His scripts soon found their way to television and Hill quickly rose from assistant director to director on several of the most acclaimed live dramas of the '50s including The Helen Morgan Story, the original TV production of Judgment at Nuremberg. He also earned two Emmy Awards for writing and directing a Titanic story, A Night to Remember.

In 1957, Hill moved to Broadway, where he directed the Pulitzer Prize-winning Look Homeward, Angel. After directing Tennessee Williams' Period of Adjustment, Hill kicked off his film career by directing the 1962 film version, which gave Jane Fonda her first major role. He followed that up with the film adaptation of Lillian Hellman's classic play, Toys in the Attic (1963), but it would be his third film that would earn Hill critical acclaim, the marvelous Peter Sellers' comedy The World of Henry Orient (1964). The story concerning two teenage girls who stalk a concert pianist (Sellers) around New York City, established Hill's brisk style and his flair for bittersweet comedy. His next two films, both starring Julie Andrews, were James Michener's epic Hawaii (1966), and the big-budget musical Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967). Although his craftsmanship was always impeccable, both films failed to elevate him to the front ranks of Hollywood directors.

That all changed with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Few associated with the film could have predicted that this light-hearted western would be the box-office smash it became when it was released, but audiences fell in love with this charming and innovative film. Instead of playing Butch (Newman) and Sundance (Redford) as vicious outlaws, Hill and screenwriter William Goldman made them easy-going, sympathetic drifters for whom robbing banks was just a game. As the director, Hill kept the balance between the film's comedy and drama pitch perfect, emphasizing the straightforward storytelling which was free from any heavy-handed editorializing. Also, by giving the characters a modern feel with contemporary dialogue and using an upbeat, pop-oriented Burt Bacharach score, Hill breathed fresh life into the Western genre. The film deservedly received Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Director; and earned Oscars for Conrad Hall's cinematography, Burt Bacharach's original score, the Bacharach/Hal David composition "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head", as well as Goldman's original screenplay.

Newman and Redford would be reunited again with Hill for his next big hit The Sting, as con men who ensnare a brutal gangster (Robert Shaw) in an intricate scheme. A highly stylized piece of work, Hill crafted the film in the style of the old Saturday Evening Post graphics, complete with chapter headings; imitated the flat camera style that was employed for those classic Warner Bros. gangster movies and resurrected the ragtime piano of Scott Joplin for the score (as interpreted by Marvin Hamlisch). For his exceptional work, Hill won the Academy Award for Best Director and the film also bagged Oscars for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay (David S. Ward), Best Score (Hamlisch), Best Editing (William Reynolds), Best Costume Design (Edith Head) and Best Art Direction (Henry Bumstead and James Payne).

Hill would work with Redford and Newman again, albeit individually, later in the decade. The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), the story of a barnstorming pilot, was culled from some evocative childhood memories, yet despite the star power of Redford, it was not a success. Nor was the Paul Newman vehicle Slap Shot (1977), a raucous look at the lives of minor league ice hockey players. The off-color language and bawdy locker-room antics perplexed audiences and critics at the time, although it's now considered to be one of the best (and funniest) of all sports films.

Although he would never again scale the critical and commercial success of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or The Sting, Hill would enjoy later acclaim with the sweet natured A Little Romance (1979), starring Laurence Olivier and a 13-year-old Diane Lane; his ambitious adaptation of John Irving's episodic The World According to Garp (1982); and his final film, the slight, but pleasant Chevy Chase comedy Funny Farm (1988). Soon after that, Hill retired from Hollywood to teach at his old Alma Mater Yale. Hill is survived by his former wife, Louisa Horton, as well as two sons, George Roy Hill III of Roslyn, N.Y., and John Andrew Steele Hill of Ardsley, N.Y; two daughters, Frances Breckinridge Phipps of Dumont, N.J., and Owens Hill of Los Angeles; and 12 grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole

TCM Remembers George Roy Hill, 1922-2002

George Roy Hill, the Academy Award winning director who is fondly remembered for guiding Paul Newman and Robert Redford in two of their most memorable hits, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973), died Friday, December 20, 2002, in his New York City apartment. He was 81, and had been struggling with Parkinson's disease. Born on December 20, 1922, to a well-to-do Minneapolis newspaper family, Hill would hang out at the local airfield as a child and watch the barnstorming pilots, fascinated by their theatrics. His intense interest would eventually drive him to earn his pilot's license by age 16. But his love for the performing arts was inspired by a different calling - the stage, where he appeared in student productions at his prep school in Hopkins, Minnesota. After graduating, he majored in music at Yale. A baritone, he became a member of the university Glee Club but he soon discovered that singing wasn't his forte. He found acting more suitable and joined the Dramatic Society, becoming its president and appearing in campus musicals. Ten days after graduating with a bachelor's degree in music in 1943, Hill joined the Navy. After flight school, he transferred to the Marines and piloted transport planes in the South Pacific during World War II. Following the war, he worked briefly as a cub reporter on a family newspaper in Texas, then used the GI Bill to attend Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, where he earned a bachelor's degree in literature in 1949 and did a stint with the Abbey theatre. Back in the United States, he received good reviews in an off-Broadway play, Strindberg's The Creditors with Beatrice Arthur, and toured with Margaret Webster's Shakespearean company - a celebrated theatrical company for its time. The Korean War interrupted his career, when Hill was recalled to Marine duty, serving 18 months at a training center in North Carolina, and later emerging as a major. The time spent away from the theater was beneficial to Hill, and he decided to move away from acting toward writing. His scripts soon found their way to television and Hill quickly rose from assistant director to director on several of the most acclaimed live dramas of the '50s including The Helen Morgan Story, the original TV production of Judgment at Nuremberg. He also earned two Emmy Awards for writing and directing a Titanic story, A Night to Remember. In 1957, Hill moved to Broadway, where he directed the Pulitzer Prize-winning Look Homeward, Angel. After directing Tennessee Williams' Period of Adjustment, Hill kicked off his film career by directing the 1962 film version, which gave Jane Fonda her first major role. He followed that up with the film adaptation of Lillian Hellman's classic play, Toys in the Attic (1963), but it would be his third film that would earn Hill critical acclaim, the marvelous Peter Sellers' comedy The World of Henry Orient (1964). The story concerning two teenage girls who stalk a concert pianist (Sellers) around New York City, established Hill's brisk style and his flair for bittersweet comedy. His next two films, both starring Julie Andrews, were James Michener's epic Hawaii (1966), and the big-budget musical Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967). Although his craftsmanship was always impeccable, both films failed to elevate him to the front ranks of Hollywood directors. That all changed with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Few associated with the film could have predicted that this light-hearted western would be the box-office smash it became when it was released, but audiences fell in love with this charming and innovative film. Instead of playing Butch (Newman) and Sundance (Redford) as vicious outlaws, Hill and screenwriter William Goldman made them easy-going, sympathetic drifters for whom robbing banks was just a game. As the director, Hill kept the balance between the film's comedy and drama pitch perfect, emphasizing the straightforward storytelling which was free from any heavy-handed editorializing. Also, by giving the characters a modern feel with contemporary dialogue and using an upbeat, pop-oriented Burt Bacharach score, Hill breathed fresh life into the Western genre. The film deservedly received Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Director; and earned Oscars for Conrad Hall's cinematography, Burt Bacharach's original score, the Bacharach/Hal David composition "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head", as well as Goldman's original screenplay. Newman and Redford would be reunited again with Hill for his next big hit The Sting, as con men who ensnare a brutal gangster (Robert Shaw) in an intricate scheme. A highly stylized piece of work, Hill crafted the film in the style of the old Saturday Evening Post graphics, complete with chapter headings; imitated the flat camera style that was employed for those classic Warner Bros. gangster movies and resurrected the ragtime piano of Scott Joplin for the score (as interpreted by Marvin Hamlisch). For his exceptional work, Hill won the Academy Award for Best Director and the film also bagged Oscars for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay (David S. Ward), Best Score (Hamlisch), Best Editing (William Reynolds), Best Costume Design (Edith Head) and Best Art Direction (Henry Bumstead and James Payne). Hill would work with Redford and Newman again, albeit individually, later in the decade. The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), the story of a barnstorming pilot, was culled from some evocative childhood memories, yet despite the star power of Redford, it was not a success. Nor was the Paul Newman vehicle Slap Shot (1977), a raucous look at the lives of minor league ice hockey players. The off-color language and bawdy locker-room antics perplexed audiences and critics at the time, although it's now considered to be one of the best (and funniest) of all sports films. Although he would never again scale the critical and commercial success of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or The Sting, Hill would enjoy later acclaim with the sweet natured A Little Romance (1979), starring Laurence Olivier and a 13-year-old Diane Lane; his ambitious adaptation of John Irving's episodic The World According to Garp (1982); and his final film, the slight, but pleasant Chevy Chase comedy Funny Farm (1988). Soon after that, Hill retired from Hollywood to teach at his old Alma Mater Yale. Hill is survived by his former wife, Louisa Horton, as well as two sons, George Roy Hill III of Roslyn, N.Y., and John Andrew Steele Hill of Ardsley, N.Y; two daughters, Frances Breckinridge Phipps of Dumont, N.J., and Owens Hill of Los Angeles; and 12 grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

I mean, like, jumping right out of your skin, and being absolutely somebody else. Not just pretending, but actually *being* somebody else.
- Valerie Boyd
Golly Moses!
- Marian Gilbert
... And then two small bladders came out of their mouths. And just when she was beginning to hum, too.
- Henry Orient

Trivia

David Wayne , Robert Preston, Gig Young, Rex Harrison , Tony Randall , and Dick Van Dyke, were all sought for the role of Henry Orient.

Among the actresses sought for the roles of "Val" and/or "Gil" were Hayley Mills (whose refusal took over a year), Patty Duke, Sue Lyon, Laura Goodwin, Portland Mason, and dozens of unknowns.

During the making of the film, Peter Sellers had a stalking fan of his own.

Notes

Location scenes filmed in New York City.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1964

Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1964 National Board of Review.

Released in United States 1964