Cast & Crew
Sara Davis, who prefers to be called "Salome," is a beautiful seventeen-year-old who helps her poor father to care for his many children in the rural community of Pine Alley, Texas. Salome is deeply in love with musician Chad Bixby, whose father, the local minister, has just died. In defiance of her father, Salome runs out of the house and attends a dance with Chad, who bitterly confesses that his father had beat him for hanging around with "niggers" in nearby Deep Elm. Later, Chad takes Salome and a black friend to a Deep Elm honky-tonk, where Rose Jones, the owner of the club, asks the young man to "play what he feels" on the trumpet. Chad picks up his instrument and plays a mournful tune, saying, "This is the love I had for my father and couldn't tell him about." While he performs, wealthy young Tony McDowall descends the stairs and approaches Salome, assuming that she is one of the club's "hostesses." Salome avoids him and spends the rest of the night with Chad, who declares that he is frightened of the dark. Some time later, Salome tells Chad that she is pregnant. Although he offers to marry her, she refuses, saying that despite their mutual love, she knows they would be miserable together. Uncertain of where to go, Salome boards a train, where she again meets Tony. Strongly attracted to her, Tony offers to take her to Connecticut, where he attends Yale University. There the two are secretly married. Meanwhile, Chad returns to Deep Elm and becomes acquainted with Rose's sister, Ruby Jones, a celebrated jazz singer who, since being abandoned by her trumpet-playing sweetheart, has settled into a drunken depression and swears she will never sing again. Ruby is impressed with Chad's playing, but when he asks her to take him to New York, she exclaims, "I don't carry on with no white boys!" Nevertheless, she and Chad eventually move into a New York apartment, and Ruby persuades her agent to get the young musician a job. At Yale, Tony and Salome receive a visit from Tony's attractive but spoiled sister Catherine, who frequently complains that she is bored. In the spring, Salome has her baby, but when she one night hears Chad's trumpet playing on a record, she becomes agitated and suggests that they all visit New York City. At the nightclub at which Chad performs, Ruby agrees to sing a selection of blues laments to please the trumpet player, but afterward, she mutters, "I've sung for you, Chad, but that's it." Chad is overjoyed to see Salome in the audience, but Catherine also finds herself attracted to him and soon persuades him to leave with her. The next morning, Catherine triumphantly announces that she and Chad are mad about each other, whereupon Salome, consumed with jealousy, secretly visits her old flame. Chad asks Salome to leave Tony, and when she explains that her husband believes the child is his and that she is unable to leave him, Chad becomes enraged. Soon after this exchange, Catherine marries Chad and moves into the apartment he shares with Ruby, who is now dying. Catherine declares that she loves Chad, but sensing that his feelings for her are lukewarm, becomes restless and exclaims, "There's nothing but niggers around here!" Although Chad slaps her, the couple moves into a separate apartment, leaving Ruby alone. Catherine next angers her husband by beating her horse with a riding whip. Furious, Chad reveals that he, not Tony, is the father of Salome's baby and only married her to hurt Salome. Dismayed, Catherine slashes her wrists. Realizing that he does care for his wife, Chad rushes her to the hospital and prays fervently for her recovery. When Tony asks Salome if she loves Chad, she finally confesses that she did, and that the child is the musician's son. Shaken by this news, Tony leaves her, whereupon she gets drunk and admits to Chad that she now loves Tony. In reply, Chad writes a message on the wall for Catherine: "Chad loves Catherine. I'm sorry." Having learned that Ruby is dead, Chad then takes her body back to Deep Elm for burial. After returning to New York, Chad declares his love for Catherine and the two embrace. Salome, having returned to her father's small Texas house, is surprised when Tony enters and announces that he wants her back.
Mary Alan Hokanson
Pandro S. Berman
Pandro S. Berman
William H. Daniels
George W. Davis
Charles K. Hagedon
E. Y. Harburg
Arthur Herzog Jr.
John Mcsweeney Jr.
All the Fine Young Cannibals
Loosely based on Rosamond Marshall's novel, The Bixby Girls, All the Fine Young Cannibals also incorporates some biographical details from the life of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker mixed in with a dash of Tennessee Williams Southern Gothic. Wagner and Wood play a white trash couple from Texas. He wants to be a musician; she wants to be rich. She gets pregnant, and marries a rich preppie (George Hamilton). On the rebound, Wagner's character marries the preppie's sister (Susan Kohner). As Wood later recalled, "we all dripped Southern accents, paraded around in wigs, and tried to look terribly, terribly decadent." The public didn't buy it, and neither did the critics, who savaged the film. Wood and Wagner never appeared in another feature film together, although they would later make a well-received TV movie, The Affair (1973), and a television version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1976).
Forty-something years later, all that posturing and faux Southern decadence have made All the Fine Young Cannibals something of a cult classic. And the film does have a knockout performance by Pearl Bailey, as a Bessie Smith-like blues singer who self-destructs when her lover leaves her. It was a dramatic change of pace for Bailey, who usually played sassy, wisecracking dames in her rare film appearances. Character actresses Anne Seymour and Louise Beavers also turned in strong supporting performances.
Susan Kohner, the daughter of producer Paul Kohner and Mexican actress Lupita Tovar, was coming off a very busy year, which included an Oscar-nominated supporting performance as a black woman passing for white in Imitation of Life (1959). Kohner would appear in only two more films after All the Fine Young Cannibals, retiring following her marriage to fashion designer John Weitz. Her two sons, Chris and Paul Weitz, are following in the family business, as a producer-director team of the American Pie films, and About a Boy (2002).
After All the Fine Young Cannibals, Robert Wagner's career went through some ups and downs before he became a hugely successful television star in several long-running series. Natalie Wood's career not only survived the failure of All the Fine Young Cannibals, it prospered. Her next three films were Splendor in the Grass (1961), which earned her an Academy Award® Best Actress nomination; West Side Story (1961), and Gypsy (1962). Her marriage to Wagner did not survive, but even that eventually had a happy ending. After they both wed and divorced other people, they remarried in 1972, and remained married until Wood's untimely death by drowning in 1981.
As for All the Fine Young Cannibals, it has been immortalized in a most unlikely way. The 1980's British pop group, Fine Young Cannibals, named itself after the film.
Director: Michael Anderson
Producer: Pandro S. Berman
Screenplay: Robert Thom, based on the novel, The Bixby Girls, by Rosamond Marshall
Cinematography: William H. Daniels
Editor: John McSweeney, Jr.
Costume Design: Helen Rose
Art Direction: George W. Davis, Edward Carfagno
Music: Jeff Alexander
Principal Cast: Robert Wagner (Chad Bixby), Natalie Wood (Salome Davis), Susan Kohner (Catherine McDowall), George Hamilton (Tony McDowall), Pearl Bailey (Ruby Jones), Jack Mullaney (Putney Tinker), Anne Seymour (Mrs. Bixby), Louise Beavers (Rose).
C-113m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Margarita Landazuri
All the Fine Young Cannibals
The film's working titles were Ever for Each Other and The Young Years. A studio pressbook lists the film's title as The Rebel Generation (formerly All the Fine Young Cannibals). According to information in the MPAA/PCA files at the AMPAS Library, the PCA objected to the title All the Fine Young Cannibals and pressured producer Pandro S. Berman and director Michael Anderson to change it. Alhough Berman and Anderson refused, it is possible that the studio considered changing the title to appease the PCA. The MPAA/PCA file also indicates that a June 1959 draft of the film's script was rejected by the PCA because it contained too many illicit affairs, brothel scenes and blasphemous dialogue. The PCA also objected to the inclusion of the word "nigger" in the dialogue, noting that "even when legitimately used, it has caused fierce resentment among many members of the audience."
Although the script was revised according to some of the PCA's suggestions, it was again rejected in October 1959, primarily because the affairs had not been eliminated. In the final film, Robert Wagner's and Pearl Bailey's characters are seen living together, but the relationship is portrayed as platonic. The Hollywood Reporter reviewer commented that Wagner's character "has a vague relationship with Pearl Bailey that introduces some superfluous notes of Negro-white tolerance."
According to an April 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item, James Stewart and Lauren Bacall were first considered for the leads in the film. All the Fine Young Cannibals marked the first and only time in which Wagner and then-wife Natalie Wood appeared together in a theatrically released feature film. The couple married in 1957 and divorced in 1963, then remarried seven years later. Hollywood Reporter news items add the following actors to the cast; however, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed: Cheerio Meredith and Marla Ming. A Hollywood Reporter news item added Bety Field to the cast but she was not in the released film. Although modern sources claim that the film was inspired by the life of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, little of the film's story corresponds with Baker's life. The British rock group Fine Young Cannibals took its name from the picture.
Released in United States Summer August 1960
Rleased in the USA August, 1960
Released in United States Summer August 1960