Cast & Crew
Wealthy socialite Liz Addams is drinking at a Beverly Hills cocktail lounge when she spots an attractive man, Dr. James L. Hatch, eyeing her. Jim learns from Liz's caustic friends that she is the daughter of late tycoon Sam Burns, and when Liz joins the group, he flirts with her. Upon hearing that Liz feels neglected by her businessman husband Si, who travels frequently, Jim takes her for a walk along the beach and urges her to "loosen up" more. Liz, who had a disastrous first marriage, feels as stifled by her second husband Si's business friends as she does by her high society acquaintances, and drinks to excess to alleviate her depression. Alan Trowbridge, Liz's son from her first marriage, is bitter about Liz's drinking and meaningless existence, but Peter, her younger son with Si, is more accepting. One evening after yet another cocktail party, Liz asks Si if they can get away together and is disappointed that her overworked husband has fallen asleep in his chair. Desperate for passion, Liz begins an affair with Jim, who served as a surgeon in Vietnam and now seeks to establish a lucrative plastic surgery practice. Jim does not hide his desire for wealth and acceptance by Liz's society friends, who consider him "a hick from Kansas," and Liz eagerly buys him clothes and introduces him to her social circle. Although Jim tells Liz that she drinks too much, she dismisses his concern and continues to order her beloved martinis two at a time. One night, when Si asks Liz if she wants to revitalize their relationship, she bluntly tells him that although she was seeking a "quiet harbor" after her traumatic first marriage, she did not realize how boring it would be. Liz informs Si that she wants a divorce, and Si, as genial as ever, acquiesces, although he warns her that she must inform the boys. When Liz tells her sons, Pete is philosophical, but Alan reacts furiously, declaring that Liz is a tramp and that she should forget his name, as he intends to forget that he ever had a mother. Later, on the day of her wedding to Jim, Liz confesses to her best friend, Sue Webb, that she has not heard from Alan since he joined the Air Force. Jim and Liz's marriage quickly deteriorates, with Jim becoming more interested in impressing her friends and hustling them at golf than in being the partner for whom Liz longs. One night, Liz, troubled that Pete is joining the Marines and will be sent to Vietnam, expresses her fears and asks Jim to hold her. Jim thinks that Liz wants sex though, and orders her to take a sleeping pill. Regretting his harshness the next day, Jim invites Liz on a Hawaiian vacation. Once there, however, the couple continues to quarrel, with Liz jealously watching a pair of young lovers. Implying that Jim is a latent homosexual, Liz orders him to admit that he is not interested in sex with her, and Jim retorts that she is a nymphomaniac intent on controlling the men in her life. Later, back in Beverly Hills, Liz visits Jim at his hospital in hopes of reconciliation and tells him that Alan is missing in action in Vietnam. Although Jim expresses his sympathy for Alan, he rebuffs Liz. Liz descends further into alcoholism, and one morning, wakes up in a motel room with a strange man. Later, Sue tells Liz that she and her husband Tony are moving to New York and want her to come with them for a fresh start. Although Liz admits that her days are a blur of hangovers, drunkenness and sleeping pills, she asserts that she cannot run away from her current situation. Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Pete, who has returned home. Liz is overjoyed that Pete has survived his tour of duty and he admits how harrowing the experience was. Much to Liz's surprise, Pete confides that while in Vietnam, he began contemplating his life and found God. Liz is baffled but pleased by Pete's serenity, especially when he asserts that God is with Alan, too. Soon after, Jim dines with Liz and Pete, but when Liz asks him if he will move back in, merely as a friend, Jim asserts that it is too late and asks for a divorce. Heartbroken and grieving for Alan, Liz attempts to commit suicide that night by swallowing a fistful of sleeping pills. Pete finds her the next morning and rushes her to the hospital, where she is tended to by the sympathetic Dr. Murray. When Liz awakens, the nun watching over her informs her that it is a miracle she survived, and the astonished Liz tells Pete that she felt God's presence. Pete is thrilled by his mother's recovery, and after he drives her home, gives her the name and phone number of plain-talking reverend Gordon Rogers. Unsure how to reconstruct her life, Liz calls Gordon, who tells her that God is always with her and that even though beginning again is painful, at least she is no longer alone. As she pours herself a drink, Liz realizes that she no longer craves the alcohol and cries with relief that she will be able to live without booze and pills. Soon after, Jim accompanies Liz to Sue and Tony's Thanksgiving party, at which Liz's friends are pleased by her sobriety but puzzled and embarrassed by her religious conversion. Liz is reminded of how far she has come, however, when she sees her friend Sally Pearson, drunk and stumbling after her abandonment by her unfaithful husband. Although Liz again tries to reconcile with Jim, he insists on divorce, which Liz reports to Gordon. The minister urges her not to lose her resolve and to remember that it is now her job to love, even when she is not loved. He cautions her that God did not make Himself known to her so that she could hit the "prayer jackpot," but so that she could serve His will. Liz then decides to move to New York with Tony and Sue and sells her possessions, with the proceeds to go to Gordon's church. As she takes one last look around her empty house, Liz is joined by Pete, who tells her that Alan has been rescued and is in San Francisco. Although Liz wants to join her older son immediately, Pete advises her to wait, as Alan still feels animosity toward her. Agreeing that Alan needs time to find God for himself, Liz says goodbye to Gordon. After the minister gives her communion, Liz prays for a chance to be useful, as she feels that she has spent her life taking from others. As Liz and Gordon talk, Sally staggers in and hysterically begs Liz to take her to New York and help salvage her life. Although Liz had hoped to use the long, solo drive to think, Gordon observes that she has her opportunity to be useful. Realizing that he is right, Liz asks for his blessing and helps Sally to her car.
Albert L. Ness
James W. Payne
Harry Stradling Jr.
Mary Van Houten
Although the book The Late Liz, Gert Behanna's best-selling autobiography, was published in 1957 under her pseudonym, Elizabeth Burns, the film's onscreen credits list Behanna's real name. The title and composer of the song sung over the opening and ending credits have not been determined. In the opening credits, Jack Albertson is listed as "The Reverend Gordon Rogers," but in the ending cast credits, he is listed as "Gordon Rogers." The closing credits include a 1971 copyright statement for Dick Ross & Associates, Inc., but the film was not registered for copyright at the time of its release.
As depicted in the film, Behanna was the only daughter of a Scottish immigrant who became a wealthy tycoon in the U.S. After an unhappy marriage to a college sweetheart with whom she had a son, Behanna married and divorced two more times and became an alcoholic. At the age of fifty-three, Behanna became a devout Christian and gave up alcohol and drugs. Bard, Behanna's son with her second husband, became an Episcopal rector, according to one of her many popular motivational speeches. Although Behanna was born in the 1910s and Bard served in World War II, the time frame of the movie was changed to be more contemporary to its filming, so that "Peter Addams," the Bard character, fights in the Vietnam War.
In a June 13, 1971 LAHExam article, star Anne Baxter commented that Behanna had seen her performance as an alcoholic in the 1946 Twentieth Century-Fox film The Razor's Edge (see below) and "identified" with her. Although Dick Bennett is listed on the film's first entry in Hollywood Reporter's production charts as the assistant director, along with Arthur Levinson, only Levinson was listed in subsequent charts and the onscreen credits. According to an August 1971 Hollywood Reporter article, the film, which marked the second for Dick Ross's production company, was budgeted at under $600,000. The article noted that Ross's company was largely funded by the American Baptist Church, among other church organizations. The picture marked the screen-acting debut of Bill Katt, the son of actors Bill Williams and Barbara Hale.
According to Filmfacts, The Late Liz was pulled from distribution after its initial 1971 release and was re-edited by Gateway Films, which assumed ownership of the picture after its producer and original distributor, Dick Ross & Associates, declared bankruptcy. 1971 reviews listed the picture's running time as either 119 or 120 minutes, while Filmfacts noted that the re-released film ran 96 minutes. The viewed print was 94 minutes long. According to Filmfacts, the majority of the deleted footage consisted of scenes featuring James Gregory as "Sam Burns," the father of "Liz Addams Hatch" and Jackson Bostwick as "Randall Trowbridge," Liz's first husband. Neither character appeared in the viewed print, nor were there any scenes featuring Lorraine Davis as "Liz's mother," even though all three are credited onscreen.
Released in United States Fall September 1971
Released in United States Fall September 1971