Cast & Crew
One morning in New York, Charlie Samson heads to work, still reeling from the news that his wife Helen is pregnant. Charlie works all day as a bookkeeper and at night attends school to become an accountant, a profession he loves, and worries that he has neither time nor money enough to start a family. On the subway, Charlie's work friend Ken, unaware that Helen is pregnant, discusses the difficulties of supporting his wife and children, and later the two watch enviously as a young man befriends an attractive female. They arrive at the office to find Walter, a slightly older coworker, already there, and the three agree that none will join the bachelor party being thrown that night for work friend Arnold. Soon after, however, Eddie Watkins, who is throwing the party, arrives and places a series of calls to his girl friends, winning the other men's admiration and prompting each in turn to decide to join the party that evening. The evening begins at a restaurant, and after several rounds of drinks and the presentation of gag gifts, the party is well on its way. Meanwhile, Charlie's sister Julie visits Helen, and when Helen worries that Charlie is not excited about the baby, Julie reveals that her husband of eleven years is having an affair, one of many. The men then leave the bar and wander the streets of Greenwich Village, where a drunken Charlie flirts with a pretty beatnik woman who invites him to join her later at a party. The men go to Eddie's apartment to watch stag films, and consequently ignore Arnold when he tries to talk about his bafflement at how he wound up engaged. Although they are all tired and dull when the movies end, no one wants to go home, so instead they head to a bar. At home, Julie horrifies Helen with her suggestion that she "get rid of" the baby in order to protect her marriage. When Charlie calls to say he will be late, Helen asks him to come home, but he responds with anger. In the men's room, Charlie vents his anger to Ken, declaring that he can no longer work and study constantly and wondering what the point is of working so hard and never having fun. Ken responds that he once, while unemployed, drank and caroused too much and nearly ruined his marriage, which was never the same afterward. Seeing Charlie's confusion and frustration, Ken encourages him to stick to his plan to better himself, and urges him to go home before the activity becomes too wild. Charlie remains unconvinced, however, and instead of leaving with Ken, accompanies the rest of the group to a striptease bar, where Arnold confides in Charlie that he is a virgin and afraid he will not be able to satisfy his fiancée. Unsure of how to respond and questioning his own marriage, Charlie remains silent, but later, when Eddie goads Arnold into visiting a prostitute, Charlie agrees to accompany him for moral support. In the prostitute's bedroom, Arnold grows frightened and runs out, supported by Charlie, who calls it a barbaric custom. They join Eddie and a drunken Walter at a nearby bar, and when Eddie tries to convince them to go back to the Greenwich Village party, Charlie quotes what Ken said earlier about the dangers of infidelity, and the two nearly come to blows. Although Eddie is angry, his reluctance to be alone overcomes him and he wheedles the others into taking the subway to Charlie's to get more money to go to another bar. On the way, Walter reveals that he has been diagnosed with asthma that will prove fatal if he does not move out of the city, and when Charlie urges him to quit and move, Walter responds with drunken fury that he has a family to support and is too old to find a new job. After calling life a joke, "a lot of noise about nothing," Walter exits the subway train alone, ignoring Charlie's calls to him. Charlie decides to stay at home and goes upstairs to get some cash to lend Eddie. There, he tells Helen he is quitting school, after which she offers to get rid of the baby, but is shocked when he considers the possibility. She angrily pushes him away, so Charlie rejoins his buddies and they return to the Greenwich Village party, where the beatnik tells Charlie she will kiss him as long as he tells her he loves her, whether he means it or not. Saddened, he escorts Eddie and a highly intoxicated Arnold to a bar, where Arnold, ignored by the others, calls his fiancée and cancels the wedding, then collapses. Charlie plans to bring him home, and when Eddie cajoles him to stay out, Charlie realizes that Eddie will stop at nothing to avoid being alone. At Arnold's, the groom hears his fiancée inside talking with his parents and confesses to Charlie that he called off the wedding because he is terrified that he will not be a good enough husband. As Charlie advises Arnold to tell his girl the truth and count on her understanding, he realizes how much he loves and misses Helen, and how empty a life without her would be. He rushes home to tell her he loves her, and as the sun rises, they embrace.
E. G. Marshall
Norma Arden Campbell
Lee M. Fredric
Edward S. Haworth
Joseph La Shelle
William B. Murphy
Best Supporting Actress
The Bachelor Party (1957)
Not a fun bunch of guys but then, this is The Bachelor Party (1957), written by Paddy Chayefsky (Marty , Network ), NOT Bachelor Party, the unapologetically crude and raucous 1984 sex comedy starring Tom Hanks and Tawny Kitaen, which would make a good companion piece to Porky's (1982). Chayefsky had already presented The Bachelor Party to great critical acclaim on television on the Goodyear TV Playhouse in 1953 with Eddie Albert in the lead. After being approached by Harold Hecht who had also produced his Oscar®-winning drama Marty along with partner Burt Lancaster, Chayefsky agreed to adapt the teleplay for the big screen. He hoped to duplicate the success of Marty which had also been based on a critically acclaimed television production. Instead of just making two characters the focus of the film as in Marty, however, Chayefsky weaves a dramatic narrative involving eight characters, though Don Murray as Charlie is clearly the film's main protagonist.
For The Bachelor Party, Hecht and Chayefsky reassembled many of the same crew who had worked on Marty - director Delbert Mann, cinematographer Joseph LaShelle, art director Ted Haworth, makeup artist Robert J. Schiffer and others. In his autobiography, Looking Back...at Live Television and Other Matters, Delbert Mann recalled that The Bachelor Party "was to be done in the same manner we had done Marty: exteriors shot in New York, the balance of the film in Hollywood, again on Stage 5 at the Goldwyn Studios. This film, which deals with a young marriage at a crisis point, provided me with one of the best ensemble casts I have ever had. Since all but two were from our live television days, it was a group of long-time friends who assembled in the small gym on the Goldwyn lot to begin rehearsals. Don Murray, one of the two actors I had not worked with previously, played Charlie...The newcomer to this New York-based group was Carolyn Jones, in the as-yet-undefined role of the girl Charlie meets at a party in Greenwich Village. The character had no name. She was called only 'The Existentialist.'"
The rehearsals took place over a three week period with the actors and director perfecting the performances and staging of scenes but Chayefsky and Mann were never quite satisfied with the resolution of a crucial encounter in the film - where Charlie is tempted to betray his wife in a sexual tryst with "The Existentialist." The problem was not the scene as written but the emotional motivation for what happens. Eddie "suddenly realizes that betrayal of his marriage vows will not answer his problems. He leaves her and the party. What this moment of revelation or recognition was, Paddy and I never fully found to our satisfaction."
Toward the end of filming, they returned to the bedroom scene between Murray and Jones after identifying the problem. "The key to Charlie's suddenly seeing her for what she was, was not clear or precise," Mann recalled. "We rehearsed it, we discussed the scene again and again, we improvised the moment. Exhausted, I had thrown myself down on the bed...Paddy was pacing and muttering. Suddenly he said, "I've got it! Lemme think about it. I'll have it for you in the morning!" He had seen the need for the transposition of some of the girl's lines, putting the focus on what the scene is basically all about: her sudden and unexpected release of desperation the moment he puts his arms around her. "Just say you love me...Just say you love me...You don't have to mean it," resisting his touch until he finally shouts violently and in anger, "I love you! I love you!' The moment is suddenly a physical one. It was exactly the kind of almost sexual climax that had been needed. The next day, we shot the scene. It worked. Don was urgent and driven and exactly right. Carolyn was wonderful."
In an ironic twist of fate, Carolyn Jones, whose character didn't exist in the teleplay and was added for the film, became the only actor in The Bachelor Party to be singled out for an Oscar® nomination. In fact, her nomination was the only Academy Award recognition the film would receive.
Prior to release, The Bachelor Party also attracted the attention of the National Catholic Legion of Decency which gave the film a "B" rating, adding that "only a positive conclusion averts a more stringent classification." The filmmakers also had to appease the PCA (Production Code Administration, Hollywood's self-censorship committee) which objected to the film's "suggestion of abortion and the intended extramarital affair." They defied the PCA, however, over promotional materials for the film which alluded to extramarital sex and refused to make changes, resulting in the withdrawal of the PCA seal of approval. This could have hurt the film's box office profitability in more conservative regions but most newspapers ran the ads with the exception of a few such as The Boston Globe.
Even if it didn't garner as many awards as Marty, The Bachelor Party was regarded by most critics as more incisive and entertaining than the former film. Of course, there were a few dissenters such as Time magazine which wrote "...the message runs something like this: 'Don't cheat on your wife. Because if you do, you'll never finish night school.' At the risk of offending the entire prostitute population Playwright Chayefsky has come out firmly on the side of marital fidelity...(yet) genuine...insights have been skillfully translated to the screen...this is what Paddy Chayefsky truly understands...that life is really not worth living without love." Even Chayefsky and Mann felt the film had some basic flaws which Mann later stated: "The ending is too easy, too glib. It comes off as moralizing, a pro-forma statement of the traditional values of love and marriage." The positive reviews, however, prevailed with this posting from Archer Winston in The New York Post a typical reaction: "...The performances are highly individualized, and close to perfect...direction is the sort of artistry that can be too easily overlooked...It's life, not art. So why give the director credit for holding up a mirror? Or, even Chayefsky? Just recollect that this sort of accident doesn't happen except when Mann is directing [what] Chayefsky has written."
The Bachelor Party would go on to win other awards during its theatrical run - a Best Picture nomination from the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), a Golden Palm nomination for Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival - and it provided a great showcase for up and coming actors such as Don Murray, Carolyn Jones, Jack Warden and E.G. Marshall.
Producer: Harold Hecht, Paddy Chayefsky
Director: Delbert Mann
Screenplay: Paddy Chayefsky
Cinematography: Joseph LaShelle
Art Direction: Ted Haworth
Music: Paul Mertz
Cast: Don Murray (Charlie Samson), E.G. Marshall (Walter), Jack Warden (Eddie), Philip Abbott (Arnold), Larry Blyden (Kenneth), Patricia Smith (Helen Samson), Carolyn Jones (The Existentialist), Nancy Marchand (Julie), Norma Arden Campbell (stripper).
by Jeff Stafford
Delbert Mann: Looking Back...at Live Television and Other Matters by Delbert Mann (A Directors Guild of America publication)
The Bachelor Party (1957)
In the closing credits, the actors' and characters' names are superimposed over their photographs, in the reverse order of the opening credits. Writer-producer Paddy Chayefsky adapted the screenplay for The Bachelor Party from his 1953 Goodyear TV Playhouse telefilm of the same name. Director Delbert Mann also directed the television program, which starred Eddie Albert. According to a June 1956 Daily Variety news item, Chayefsky and Mann were trying to retain the entire crew from their previous production, Marty, which won the 1955 Academy Award for Best Film (see below). Although this did not occur, many crew members, including the producer, director, writer, cinematographer Joseph La Shelle and art director Edward S. Haworth, worked on both pictures.
According to a September 19, 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item, Diana Darrin was considered for a lead role. As noted in studio press materials, interiors were shot at Samuel Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood, while exteriors were shot on location in New York City, including in Greenwich Village, Stuyvesant Town and the BMT subway. A August 14, 1956 Daily Variety item reported the final budget as $750,000. Nancy Marchand, who played "Clara" in the television version of Marty, Philip Abbott and Larry Blyden made their feature film debuts in The Bachelor Party. Although a August 29, 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Rita Greene and Paula Houston to the cast, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
Although letters contained in the MPAA/PCA file on the film in the AMPAS Library, dated as late as September 11, 1956, list several objections the PCA had to the film, including the suggestion of abortion and the intended extramarital affair, the picture was approved for a seal on September 18, 1956. The National Catholic Legion of Decency awarded the film a "B" rating, stating that "only a positive conclusion averts a more stringent classification." Although press materials declare that The Bachelor Party contains the first use in film of the term "pregnant," the term had been used in at least one earlier film, Full of Life (Columbia, 1957, see below).
In April 1957, the MPAA's Advertising Code Administration failed to approve advertisements for the film that made reference to extramarital relations. Despite the fact that this would mean a withdrawal of the PCA seal, UA decided to run the advertisements, as reported in a April 10, 1957 Variety article. That article pointed out that UA had resigned from the MPAA in 1956 over a dispute pertaining to The Man with the Golden Arm (see below for more details), after which MPAA president Eric A. Johnston had personally requested that the studio rejoin the organization. On April 17, 1957, Daily Variety reported that for the first time, Johnston had overruled the Advertising Code Administration's decision and allowed the ads. That article notes, however, that the Boston Globe refused to run the ads.
Upon its release, The Bachelor Party was hailed by critics as even more gritty and entertaining than Marty. It was selected as one of four American films to run in the May 1957 Cannes Film Festival.
Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1957 National Board of Review.
Released in United States Spring April 1957
Released in United States Spring April 1957