This Property Is Condemned


1h 50m 1966
This Property Is Condemned

Brief Synopsis

A small-town girl fights her mother's opposition when she falls for a big-city businessman.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 15 Jun 1966
Production Company
Seven Arts Productions
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play This Property Is Condemned by Tennessee Williams (New York, 28 Oct 1956).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

Thirteen-year-old Willie Starr, dressed in the remnants of a once-lovely dress, sits on abandoned railroad tracks and wistfully tells her friend Tom about her dead sister, Alva. Alva Starr is a beautiful woman living in a small town in Mississippi in the 1930's. Her mother, Hazel, the proprietor of a boardinghouse for railroad workers, insists upon steering her into the arms of a prosperous middle-aged man, Johnson, but Alva falls in love with Owen Legate, a handsome stranger from New Orleans who is in town to lay off a number of railroad workers as a result of the Depression. When Owen is beaten up by five of the workers, he makes plans to leave, taking Alva with him. Hazel tricks him into thinking that Alva is engaged to Johnson, however, and Owen disappears without giving Alva a chance to explain. Upon learning the truth, Alva gets drunk and spitefully marries her mother's brutish lover, J. J. Nichols. The next day she runs away and joins Owen in New Orleans. Their happiness is soon ruined by Hazel, who viciously exposes her daughter's marriage. In despair Alva runs away, becomes a cheap pickup, and eventually dies of tuberculosis. With the passing of time, Willie only recalls Alva as an enchanted creature whose life was filled with beauty and romance.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 15 Jun 1966
Production Company
Seven Arts Productions
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play This Property Is Condemned by Tennessee Williams (New York, 28 Oct 1956).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

This Property is Condemned -


Robert Redford had appeared in several television and film roles in the early 1960s, but it was not until he had a huge success in the Broadway show Barefoot in the Park (1963) that Hollywood really took notice of him. Redford's performance as a bisexual movie star opposite Natalie Wood in Inside Daisy Clover (1965) earned him a Golden Globe as best new star, as well as Wood's admiration and friendship. The following year, the two co-starred again in This Property Is Condemned, based on a Tennessee Williams one-act play.

Executive Producer Ray Stark wanted Elizabeth Taylor to star, with John Huston directing. She agreed, but wanted her husband Richard Burton to direct. Both Huston and Taylor (who was too old to play the teenaged Alva Starr) bowed out, and the part went to Wood. A fan of Williams's work, Wood was happy to step in, saying in an interview, "It's probably the closest I'll ever get to playing Blanche DuBois, so I'd better make the most of it."

The original play was a twenty-minute conversation between two characters, Willie, Alva's 13-year old kid sister, and Tom, a boy she meets on the train tracks next to her mother's abandoned boarding house for railroad workers in a small Mississippi town. The film uses Williams's play (and dialogue) only as a framing device for a flashback to the poignant love story between Alva and Owen Legate, sent by the railroad to handle mass layoffs during the Depression.

Wood, who had co-star and director approval, chose Redford to play Owen, and Redford suggested his friend Sydney Pollack to direct. The two men met in 1960, when both had acting roles in the independent black and white feature, War Hunt, Redford's film debut. Pollack had just directed his first feature, The Slender Thread (1965), starring Anne Bancroft, which had received good reviews. Redford later told his biographer Michael Feeney Callan that This Property Is Condemned was in "development hell." He recalled that "Ray Stark threw every writer he had at it, from John Huston to Francis Coppola, but none of them managed to get over the fact that it was a one-act play." Coppola was one of three credited writers, along with Fred Coe and Edith Sommer, but the actual number was about a dozen, including James Bridges, Charles Eastman, and John Houseman, who also produced. Finally, Pollack locked himself in a motel room with the multiple drafts of the script, literally cut and pasted a new version, then turned it over to another writer, David Rayfiel, to smooth, polish, and cobble together yet another draft. Tennessee Williams was so unhappy with the final film that he wanted his credit removed. He only succeeded in having it read "suggested by a play by Tennessee Williams," instead of "based on a play by."

Mary Badham, who played Willie, later recalled that shooting on location in Mississippi was stressful. "It was a very tough shoot...Nat was going through a really difficult period in her life. We had script changes daily. It was unbelievable. It was a madhouse....There was so much tension on that set you could cut it with a knife." Redford wrote in his diary that he hoped Wood would get fed up enough to walk off the film. Such a prima donna move, of course, was unthinkable for the always-professional Wood. Soon after production ended, despondent about her career and personal life, the high-strung Wood reportedly took an overdose of sleeping pills.

In spite of the problems during production, Wood is lovely and touching in This Property Is Condemned, and the chemistry between her and Redford is potent. Pollack told Wood biographer Suzanne Finstad that she had qualities that enhanced her portrayal. "There was a fragility in her, and the emotions were very close to the surface....you can feel a kind of quivering just below the surface, a very appealing and vulnerable part of her." Canadian actress Kate Reid gives powerful performance as Alva's manipulative mother. Robert Blake and Charles Bronson are excellent in complex supporting roles. And James Wong Howe's burnished, masterful cinematography emphasizes the elegiac mood of the film.

The reviews were mixed, at best. Variety found the film "a handsomely-mounted, well acted Depression era drama....The production is adult without being sensational, touching without being maudlin." But Bosley Crowther of the New York Times called it "As soggy, sentimental a story of a po' little white-trash gal as ever oozed from the pen of Tennessee Williams." Newsweek offered faint praise. "Natalie Wood has a few admirable moments, but most often seems a well-scrubbed debutante who has strayed into the wrong side of town."

The Harvard Lampoon delivered the ultimate blow. Taking note of Wood's recent string of badly-reviewed films, the satirical college magazine voted her "worst actress of this year, last year, and next." Wood may have been mortified, but she played the good sport and showed up in person to accept the "award," the first star to actually do so, even giving a gushing acceptance speech. She turned embarrassment into triumph, and won over her detractors.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Producer: John Houseman
Screenplay: Francis Ford Coppola, Fred Coe, Edith Somer, suggested by a one-act play of Tennessee Williams
Cinematography: James Wong Howe
Editor: Adrienne Fazan
Costume Design: Edith Head
Art Direction: Hal Pereira, Stephen Grimes, Phil Jeffries
Music: Kenyon Hopkins; "Wish Me a Rainbow" words and music by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
Principal Cast: Natalie Wood (Alva Starr), Robert Redford (Owen Legate), Charles Bronson (J.J. Nichols), Kate Reid (Hazel Starr), Mary Badham (Willie Starr), Alan Baxter (Knopke), Robert Blake (Sidney), John Harding (Johnson), Dabney Coleman (Salesman), Jon Provost (Tom)
110 Minutes

by Margarita Landazuri
This Property Is Condemned -

This Property is Condemned -

Robert Redford had appeared in several television and film roles in the early 1960s, but it was not until he had a huge success in the Broadway show Barefoot in the Park (1963) that Hollywood really took notice of him. Redford's performance as a bisexual movie star opposite Natalie Wood in Inside Daisy Clover (1965) earned him a Golden Globe as best new star, as well as Wood's admiration and friendship. The following year, the two co-starred again in This Property Is Condemned, based on a Tennessee Williams one-act play. Executive Producer Ray Stark wanted Elizabeth Taylor to star, with John Huston directing. She agreed, but wanted her husband Richard Burton to direct. Both Huston and Taylor (who was too old to play the teenaged Alva Starr) bowed out, and the part went to Wood. A fan of Williams's work, Wood was happy to step in, saying in an interview, "It's probably the closest I'll ever get to playing Blanche DuBois, so I'd better make the most of it." The original play was a twenty-minute conversation between two characters, Willie, Alva's 13-year old kid sister, and Tom, a boy she meets on the train tracks next to her mother's abandoned boarding house for railroad workers in a small Mississippi town. The film uses Williams's play (and dialogue) only as a framing device for a flashback to the poignant love story between Alva and Owen Legate, sent by the railroad to handle mass layoffs during the Depression. Wood, who had co-star and director approval, chose Redford to play Owen, and Redford suggested his friend Sydney Pollack to direct. The two men met in 1960, when both had acting roles in the independent black and white feature, War Hunt, Redford's film debut. Pollack had just directed his first feature, The Slender Thread (1965), starring Anne Bancroft, which had received good reviews. Redford later told his biographer Michael Feeney Callan that This Property Is Condemned was in "development hell." He recalled that "Ray Stark threw every writer he had at it, from John Huston to Francis Coppola, but none of them managed to get over the fact that it was a one-act play." Coppola was one of three credited writers, along with Fred Coe and Edith Sommer, but the actual number was about a dozen, including James Bridges, Charles Eastman, and John Houseman, who also produced. Finally, Pollack locked himself in a motel room with the multiple drafts of the script, literally cut and pasted a new version, then turned it over to another writer, David Rayfiel, to smooth, polish, and cobble together yet another draft. Tennessee Williams was so unhappy with the final film that he wanted his credit removed. He only succeeded in having it read "suggested by a play by Tennessee Williams," instead of "based on a play by." Mary Badham, who played Willie, later recalled that shooting on location in Mississippi was stressful. "It was a very tough shoot...Nat was going through a really difficult period in her life. We had script changes daily. It was unbelievable. It was a madhouse....There was so much tension on that set you could cut it with a knife." Redford wrote in his diary that he hoped Wood would get fed up enough to walk off the film. Such a prima donna move, of course, was unthinkable for the always-professional Wood. Soon after production ended, despondent about her career and personal life, the high-strung Wood reportedly took an overdose of sleeping pills. In spite of the problems during production, Wood is lovely and touching in This Property Is Condemned, and the chemistry between her and Redford is potent. Pollack told Wood biographer Suzanne Finstad that she had qualities that enhanced her portrayal. "There was a fragility in her, and the emotions were very close to the surface....you can feel a kind of quivering just below the surface, a very appealing and vulnerable part of her." Canadian actress Kate Reid gives powerful performance as Alva's manipulative mother. Robert Blake and Charles Bronson are excellent in complex supporting roles. And James Wong Howe's burnished, masterful cinematography emphasizes the elegiac mood of the film. The reviews were mixed, at best. Variety found the film "a handsomely-mounted, well acted Depression era drama....The production is adult without being sensational, touching without being maudlin." But Bosley Crowther of the New York Times called it "As soggy, sentimental a story of a po' little white-trash gal as ever oozed from the pen of Tennessee Williams." Newsweek offered faint praise. "Natalie Wood has a few admirable moments, but most often seems a well-scrubbed debutante who has strayed into the wrong side of town." The Harvard Lampoon delivered the ultimate blow. Taking note of Wood's recent string of badly-reviewed films, the satirical college magazine voted her "worst actress of this year, last year, and next." Wood may have been mortified, but she played the good sport and showed up in person to accept the "award," the first star to actually do so, even giving a gushing acceptance speech. She turned embarrassment into triumph, and won over her detractors. Director: Sydney Pollack Producer: John Houseman Screenplay: Francis Ford Coppola, Fred Coe, Edith Somer, suggested by a one-act play of Tennessee Williams Cinematography: James Wong Howe Editor: Adrienne Fazan Costume Design: Edith Head Art Direction: Hal Pereira, Stephen Grimes, Phil Jeffries Music: Kenyon Hopkins; "Wish Me a Rainbow" words and music by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans Principal Cast: Natalie Wood (Alva Starr), Robert Redford (Owen Legate), Charles Bronson (J.J. Nichols), Kate Reid (Hazel Starr), Mary Badham (Willie Starr), Alan Baxter (Knopke), Robert Blake (Sidney), John Harding (Johnson), Dabney Coleman (Salesman), Jon Provost (Tom) 110 Minutes by Margarita Landazuri

TCM Remembers Charles Bronson - Sept. 13th - TCM Remembers Charles Bronson this Saturday, Sept. 13th 2003.


Turner Classic Movies will honor the passing of Hollywood action star Charles Bronson on Saturday, Sept. 13, with a four-film tribute.

After years of playing supporting roles in numerous Western, action and war films, including THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960, 8 p.m.) and THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967, 1:15 a.m.), Bronson finally achieved worldwide stardom as a leading man during the late 1960s and early 1970s. TCM's tribute will also include THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963, 10:15 p.m.), Bronson's second teaming with Steve McQueen and James Coburn, and will conclude with FROM NOON TILL THREE (1976, 4 a.m.), co-starring Jill Ireland.

TCM will alter it's prime-time schedule this Saturday, Sept. 13th. The following changes will take place:

8:00 PM - The Magnificent Seven (1960)
10:15 PM - The Great Escape (1963)
1:15 AM - The Dirty Dozen (1967)
4:00 AM - From Noon Till Three (1976)

Charles Bronson, 1921-2003

Charles Bronson, the tough, stony-faced actor who was one of the most recognizable action heroes in cinema, died on August 30 in Los Angeles from complications from pneumonia. He was 81.

He was born Charles Buchinsky on November 3, 1921 in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, one of fifteen children born to Lithuanian immigrant parents. Although he was the only child to have graduated high school, he worked in the coalmines to support his family until he joined the army to serve as a tail gunner during World War II. He used his money from the G.I. Bill to study art in Philadelphia, but while working as a set designer for a Philadelphia theater troupe, he landed a few small roles in some productions and immediately found acting to be the craft for him.

Bronson took his new career turn seriously, moved to California, and enrolled for acting classes at The Pasadena Playhouse. An instructor there recommended him to director Henry Hathaway for a movie role and the result was his debut in Hathaway's You're in the Navy Now (1951). He secured more bit parts in films like John Sturges' drama The People Against O'Hara (1951), and Joseph Newman's Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952). More substantial roles came in George Cukor's Pat and Mike (1952, where he is beaten up by Katharine Hepburn!); Andre de Toth's classic 3-D thriller House of Wax (1953, as Vincent Price's mute assistant, Igor); and De Toth's fine low-budget noir Crime Wave (1954).

Despite his formidable presence, his leads were confined to a string of B pictures like Gene Fowler's Gang War; and Roger Corman's tight Machine Gun Kelly (both 1958). Following his own television series, Man With a Camera (1958-60), Bronson had his first taste of film stardom when director Sturges casted him as Bernardo, one of the The Magnificent Seven (1960). Bronson displayed a powerful charisma, comfortably holding his own in a high-powered cast that included Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. A few more solid roles followed in Sturges' The Great Escape (1963), and Robert Aldrich's classic war picture The Dirty Dozen (1967), before Bronson made the decision to follow the European trail of other American actors like Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. It was there that his hard, taciturn screen personae exploded in full force. In 1968 alone, he had four hit films: Henri Verneuil's Guns for San Sebastian, Buzz Kulik's Villa Rides, Jean Herman's Adieu l'ami which was a smash in France; and the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti Western Once Upon a Time in the West.

These films established Bronson as a huge box-office draw in Europe, and with some more stylish hits like Rene Clement's Rider on the Rain (1969), and Terence Young's Cold Sweat (1971) he soon became one of the most popular film stars in the world. It wasn't easy for Bronson to translate that success back in his homeland. In fact, his first few films on his return stateside: Michael Winners' Chato's Land, and The Mechanic (both 1972), and Richard Fleischer's Mr. Majestyk (1973), were surprisingly routine pictures. It wasn't until he collaborated with Winner again for the controversial Death Wish (1974), an urban revenge thriller about an architect who turns vigilante when his wife and daughter are raped, did he notch his first stateside hit. The next few years would be a fruitful period for Bronson as he rode on a wave of fine films and commercial success: a depression era streetfighter in Walter Hill's terrific, if underrated Hard Times (1975); Frank Gilroy's charming offbeat black comedy From Noon Till Three (1976, the best of many teamings with his second wife, Jill Ireland); Tom Gries tense Breakheart Pass; and Don Siegel's cold-war thriller Telefon (1977).

Sadly, Bronson could not keep up the momentum of good movies, and by the '80s he was starring in a string of forgettable films like Ten to Midnight (1983), The Evil That Men Do (1984), and Murphy's Law (1986, all directed by J. Lee Thompson). A notable exception to all that tripe was John Mackenzie's fine telefilm Act of Vengeance (1986), where he earned critical acclaim in the role of United Mine Workers official Jack Yablonski. Although he more or less fell into semi-retirement in the '90s, his performances in Sean Penn's The Indian Runner (1991); and the title role of Michael Anderson's The Sea Wolf (1993) proved to many that Bronson had the makings of a fine character actor. He was married to actress Jill Ireland from 1968 until her death from breast cancer in 1990. He is survived by his third wife Kim Weeks, six children, and two grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole

TCM Remembers Charles Bronson - Sept. 13th - TCM Remembers Charles Bronson this Saturday, Sept. 13th 2003.

Turner Classic Movies will honor the passing of Hollywood action star Charles Bronson on Saturday, Sept. 13, with a four-film tribute. After years of playing supporting roles in numerous Western, action and war films, including THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960, 8 p.m.) and THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967, 1:15 a.m.), Bronson finally achieved worldwide stardom as a leading man during the late 1960s and early 1970s. TCM's tribute will also include THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963, 10:15 p.m.), Bronson's second teaming with Steve McQueen and James Coburn, and will conclude with FROM NOON TILL THREE (1976, 4 a.m.), co-starring Jill Ireland. TCM will alter it's prime-time schedule this Saturday, Sept. 13th. The following changes will take place: 8:00 PM - The Magnificent Seven (1960) 10:15 PM - The Great Escape (1963) 1:15 AM - The Dirty Dozen (1967) 4:00 AM - From Noon Till Three (1976) Charles Bronson, 1921-2003 Charles Bronson, the tough, stony-faced actor who was one of the most recognizable action heroes in cinema, died on August 30 in Los Angeles from complications from pneumonia. He was 81. He was born Charles Buchinsky on November 3, 1921 in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, one of fifteen children born to Lithuanian immigrant parents. Although he was the only child to have graduated high school, he worked in the coalmines to support his family until he joined the army to serve as a tail gunner during World War II. He used his money from the G.I. Bill to study art in Philadelphia, but while working as a set designer for a Philadelphia theater troupe, he landed a few small roles in some productions and immediately found acting to be the craft for him. Bronson took his new career turn seriously, moved to California, and enrolled for acting classes at The Pasadena Playhouse. An instructor there recommended him to director Henry Hathaway for a movie role and the result was his debut in Hathaway's You're in the Navy Now (1951). He secured more bit parts in films like John Sturges' drama The People Against O'Hara (1951), and Joseph Newman's Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952). More substantial roles came in George Cukor's Pat and Mike (1952, where he is beaten up by Katharine Hepburn!); Andre de Toth's classic 3-D thriller House of Wax (1953, as Vincent Price's mute assistant, Igor); and De Toth's fine low-budget noir Crime Wave (1954). Despite his formidable presence, his leads were confined to a string of B pictures like Gene Fowler's Gang War; and Roger Corman's tight Machine Gun Kelly (both 1958). Following his own television series, Man With a Camera (1958-60), Bronson had his first taste of film stardom when director Sturges casted him as Bernardo, one of the The Magnificent Seven (1960). Bronson displayed a powerful charisma, comfortably holding his own in a high-powered cast that included Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. A few more solid roles followed in Sturges' The Great Escape (1963), and Robert Aldrich's classic war picture The Dirty Dozen (1967), before Bronson made the decision to follow the European trail of other American actors like Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. It was there that his hard, taciturn screen personae exploded in full force. In 1968 alone, he had four hit films: Henri Verneuil's Guns for San Sebastian, Buzz Kulik's Villa Rides, Jean Herman's Adieu l'ami which was a smash in France; and the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti Western Once Upon a Time in the West. These films established Bronson as a huge box-office draw in Europe, and with some more stylish hits like Rene Clement's Rider on the Rain (1969), and Terence Young's Cold Sweat (1971) he soon became one of the most popular film stars in the world. It wasn't easy for Bronson to translate that success back in his homeland. In fact, his first few films on his return stateside: Michael Winners' Chato's Land, and The Mechanic (both 1972), and Richard Fleischer's Mr. Majestyk (1973), were surprisingly routine pictures. It wasn't until he collaborated with Winner again for the controversial Death Wish (1974), an urban revenge thriller about an architect who turns vigilante when his wife and daughter are raped, did he notch his first stateside hit. The next few years would be a fruitful period for Bronson as he rode on a wave of fine films and commercial success: a depression era streetfighter in Walter Hill's terrific, if underrated Hard Times (1975); Frank Gilroy's charming offbeat black comedy From Noon Till Three (1976, the best of many teamings with his second wife, Jill Ireland); Tom Gries tense Breakheart Pass; and Don Siegel's cold-war thriller Telefon (1977). Sadly, Bronson could not keep up the momentum of good movies, and by the '80s he was starring in a string of forgettable films like Ten to Midnight (1983), The Evil That Men Do (1984), and Murphy's Law (1986, all directed by J. Lee Thompson). A notable exception to all that tripe was John Mackenzie's fine telefilm Act of Vengeance (1986), where he earned critical acclaim in the role of United Mine Workers official Jack Yablonski. Although he more or less fell into semi-retirement in the '90s, his performances in Sean Penn's The Indian Runner (1991); and the title role of Michael Anderson's The Sea Wolf (1993) proved to many that Bronson had the makings of a fine character actor. He was married to actress Jill Ireland from 1968 until her death from breast cancer in 1990. He is survived by his third wife Kim Weeks, six children, and two grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

'Wood, Natalie' had trouble performing the drunken bar scene, so she got drunk for real.

Notes

Location scenes filmed in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and New Orleans.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1982

Released in United States October 26, 1989

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1966

Shown at Greater Fort Lauderdale Film Festival (Tribute to Natalie Wood) October 26, 1989.

Re-released in Paris July 10, 1991.

Released in United States 1982 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Natalie Wood: A Retrospective) March 16 - April 1, 1982.)

Released in United States October 26, 1989 (Shown at Greater Fort Lauderdale Film Festival (Tribute to Natalie Wood) October 26, 1989.)

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1966