Variety (March 1956)

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PICTURES PSniETT ‘Goodman’ Big (But Not Up to Miller ) in Holiday-Hypoed Feb.;‘Picnic,’ ‘Arm,’ Troy’ Follow Closely February pic business was en--4‘ riched by two lucrative holidays iwi/vi) TATIDT CDT1BNC PI 17 A and lived up to its rep as a very JUf tUUlVi OlUIUlO big boxoffice month. Concluding week of the month, which often zees a letdown following Washing¬ ton’s Birthday’s soaring trade, was just the reverse this year when a batch of new, strong fare took hold at the wickets with a vengeance. Some idea of this boiling b.o. is gleaned from the fact that the five biggest grossing pix totalled near¬ ly $1,600,000 in the single week. Last month’s boxoffice champ was “Benny Goodman Story” (U), according to reports from Variety correspondents in some 25 repre¬ sentative key cities. It did not, how¬ ever, roll up grosses of previous “Glenn Miller Story.” Although closely pressed by .'‘Picnic” (Col), the band leader’s biopic sustained the strength which gave it hold¬ overs and extended-runs in every key. This helped put it on top. “Picnic,” which obviously is go¬ ing to be heard from more this month, really got rolling in the filial • stanza of February. It was out in release only two weeks to any extent during the month yet managed to cop first place twice. "Golden Arm” (UA) finished third but was %some $200,000 be¬ hind the two leaders. “Cinerama Holiday” (Indie) was a very strong fourth, notice that this production would be winding its runs in sev¬ eral cities soon stimulating biz. “Helen of Troy" <WB) captured fifth position. It was*second best one week but was unable to sus¬ tain the fast gait set on first ses¬ sions in a number of keys. “Guys and JDolls” (M-G), which had been Ho. 1 for three months in a row, still showed enough to wind up in sixth place. „ - “Court Jester” (Par), a bit slow In getting around, finished seventh. It may be heard from further. (Continued on page 20) OF REICH VS. HUGHES Washington, March 6. The U.S. Supreme Court yester¬ day (5) denied an appeal in the Castleman damage suit against Howard Hughes ior alleged “waste and mismanagement” of RKO Pic¬ tures. .Sparkplug of plea was Bev- hills attorney Bernard Reich. By refusing the appeal, the tri¬ bunal let stand the ruling of the 9th Circuit Court in favor of Hughes. Case was brought origi¬ nally by Eli and Marion Castleman, Louis Fuerman, Julius and Eleanor November and Reich, as stock¬ holders of RKO. They sought $38,- 000,000 from Hughes for the stock¬ holders. Subsequently Hughes made a settlement in the Nevada state courts with Fuerman and the Cas- tlemans. The appeal now repulsed alleged that the settlement was a fraud, the result of a conspiracy, and asked the Supreme Court .to overturn Jt. With Metro Coin, TV Firm Repeats For Theatres Universal Purchase Of Own Shares Over Yrs. 1 Tallies $4,162,044 Over a period of years and as of Jan. 1, 1956, Universal pur¬ chased in the open market 174,- 725 of its shares of common stock at an aggregate cost of $4,162,044, the film company reveals in a sup¬ plementary report filed with the Securities & Exchange Commis¬ sion. During the period of Jan. 1. 1953 to Jan. 1, 1955 a total of 181.946 warrants were exercised. The report, prepared for use in connection with two groups of out¬ standing warrants, indicates that warrants to purchase 21,780 shares of common stock are exercisable before April 1. 1956 at $10, per share. All 234.50D warrants, ofiJ which these shares are a part, have been issued and 212,720 of these 1 have been exercised up to the date of the filing' of the report on ‘ Feb. 24. There is also another group of •warrants totalling 222.566 shares of common, of which 208,683 were exercised prior to January. 1956. In the report to the SEC, the- company notes that in the event all 35.663 warnNhts outstanding Dec. 31, 1955' are exercised, pro¬ ceeds — amounting to $356,630— from the sale of common stock purchasable under the warrant agreements will be added to the working capital of the company and will be used fori-general cor¬ porate purposes. ^ The report indicates \that the amount of cumulative preferred stock has been reduced to 84,800 shares through retirements and re¬ ductions of capital. Of the 70,000 issued shares designated 4 * 4 % cumulative preferred stock, 15.200 shares have been retired since Dec. 31, 1955. Decca Records, the report says, owns 718,585 shares, constituting 74.16% of the company’s stock and 70.2% of the voting stock outstand¬ ing and in the hands of the public "and is the parent company within the meaning of that term as de¬ fined by the SEC.” “Man Is Ten Feet Tall,” the first independent production of Jonathon Productions, is budgeted at $475,- 000, with Metro providing the com¬ plete financing in return for the distribution rights. The production is the first example of an outfit which originated the tv show on which the screenplay is based be¬ ing contracted to transplant a teleplay to the screen. In previous tv-to-films deals, a separate pro¬ duction company has handled the transformation. Jonathon, the motion picture offshoot of Talent Associates, will make the film entirely in New York. A 32-day shooting schedule has been set, with 18 days for Ex¬ teriors and 14 days for interiors. The outdoor shooting will take place at freight yards at Sunny- side, L.I., in Harlem, along River¬ side Drive and the West Side Highway, and on an abandoned pier in the Hudson River. The interiors will be filmed at 20th- Fox’s Gotham studio. Jonathon Productions, consisting of Talent Associates toppers David Susskind and Al’ Levy and author Robert Alan Aurthur (who con¬ verted his' own teleplay to the (Continued on page 16) February’s Finest • 1. “Goodman Story" (U).- 2. Picnic” (Col). . 3. “Golden Arm" (UA). 4. “Cinerama Holiday” (Ind) 5. “Helen of Troy” (WB). 6. “Guys and Dolls” (M-G). 7. “Court Jester” (Par). 8. “Forever Darling” (M-G). 9. “All Heaven Allows” (U). 10. “Littlest Outlaw” (BV). 11. “Lone Ranger” (WB). 12. “Diabolique” (UMPO). Protestant Influence In Pix Hampered by Lack Of Organ: Geoffrey Shurlock Lack of an organ to stress the Protestant po-int-of-view .over the years was blamed yesterday (Tues.) for the fact that Protestant influ¬ ence on films doesn’t equal that of other groups. Speaking before the Broadcast¬ ing and Film Commission of the National Council of Churches in N. Y., Geoffrey Shurlock, the Pro¬ duction Code Administrator (and himself a Protestant) said: “If at some point along the way, some Protestant publisher had shown enough affection and interest in the movies, to make a career of publishing an organ that might have stressed our viewpoint, we might not today feel quite so much like Johnnie-come-latelies.” Shurlock reminded the Commis- (Continued on page 61) Todd Revives Ticket 'Buy’ Idea for ‘80 Days’; B’way Brokers Get 400 Nightly Reviving a practice of the early twenties, Mike Todd has negotiated a “buy” with the New York The¬ atre Ticket Brokers Assn, for his “Around the World in 80 Days,” due to open in N. Y.—probably at the Broadway Theatre—around Labor Day. Deal was consummated by Todd with Louis Schonceit, brokers’ rep with The League of N. Y. Theatres and board member of the Brokers Assn. It calls for a nightly “buy” of 400 tickets on the part of the brokers for a period of time that remains to be set. This is the first film “buy” in 30 years and gives “80 Days” a vastly expanded b.o. Pic, shot in the Todd-AO proc¬ ess is said to carry a $6,000,000 budget. Todd plans to roadshow it in two dozen cities before handing the printdown version over to United Artists. On the Coast, “80 Days” is skedded to go into the Pantages Theare. Schonceit is go¬ ing to the Coast to arrange a “buy” there similar to the one in New York. New York showing will be han¬ dled by Todd much in the manner of a legit performance, probably with a $3.60 top. Film is long and will be shown with an intermis¬ sion. It stars a host of film play¬ ers and names of meaning in the legit world. Last major ticket buy in N. Y. was in 1951 when Todd opened his “As the Girls Go” at the Winter Garden. There have been some smaller ones since. MERCURY RECORDS DESISTS Promises to End Use of Academy’s Oscar Statuettes on Album Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ $500,000 suit against Mercury Records was settled by consent of the two parties in New York Federal Court this week. Plaintiff had contended the plat¬ ter outfit infringed its rights by reproducing the Oscar statuette on its album of so.ngs cited in the an¬ nual Acad Awards derby. Under the ^decree signed by Judge Sylvester Ryan, Mercury agreed to cease use of the Oscaift| likeness but is free to wax Acad¬ emy tunes. ► 4 4 4 M 4 4 4 4 + 4 - H XJr- ■ W & Wednesday, March 7, 1956 New York Sound Track ► 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 M ++44 Jack Cohn, Columbia’s exec v.p., off to Chicago Saturday (10) to ad¬ dress the picture company’s sales meeting. Europe to N. Y. Ernie Anderson Arlene Dahl Bob Hope John Huston Fernando Lamas Sheldon Reynolds David E. Rose Louis Shurr • L. A. tojfo. Y. Pier Angeli ( Walter Branson Wally Brown/ Sammy Cahn Cyd Charisse Vic Damone Dorothy Dandridge Henry Daniell Jack Diamond Jack Dunning Judith Evelyn Abner J. Greshler Margaret Herrick John Hudson Rock Hudson Peggy King Lisa Kirk David A.'Lipton Mort Millman Sal Mineo Harold J. Mirisch Paul Newman Buddy Pepper Milton R. Rackmil Gene Raymond Ronald Reagan Stanley Rubin Robert W. Sarnoff Dinah Shore Jan Sterling Mark Stevens Ellis St. Jospeh John Sutherland Spencer Tracy Richard Widmark Robert S. Wolff H + 4 4 Look for Eugene W. Castle to return to the attack against Ted Strei- bert, of the U. S. Information Agency, at next week’s Baltimore Ad Club session. Castle, a Republican, and Senator Clinton Anderson, a Democrat, seem on same side in opposing “atomic ships’.’ . . . latest idea for selling atomic message is use of a converted aircraft carrier to hit 100 Asiatic ports, showing a Cinerama film on the decks . Sam Gottesman, a Canadian financier heavily invested in International Paper,, is believed to be one of new big holdings in.Loewis, Inc. . Anita Colby was in Manhattan when the wire syndicate story broke* about a like-named gal being robbed in an Arizona motel and thereby hangs a considerable embarrassment for the news agency involved . . . oldtimers recall that a local stringer once took a local gal’s self¬ claim to be Annie Oakley at face value and created a legal precedent, on account of she wasn't . . . Archer Winsten’s review of the Palace last week “brushed off” the vaudeville acts, if you credit our old vaude-lovers . . ? Femme lead, Betsy Palmer, in “Affair of Honor” due to open at a legit house during April, is a Columbia contract player... her understudy is Toni Darnay, who with the playwright-husband Bill Hoffman is co-owner of the copyright on the play. Is Arthur Loew Jr.’s exit from Metro the beginning of reverse nepo¬ tism at the company? . . . Producer Alfred Palca (“Go Man Go”) is eyeing the off-Broadway Chekov production, “Uncle Vanya,” as a pos¬ sible film vehicle , . . Metro production crew for week’s shooting in ISfew York for “Somebody Up There Likes Me.” Paul. Newman, Pier Angeli, Sal Mineo and Everett Sloane will be among the principals taking part in the Gotham filming . . . Morton A. Spring, first v.p. of Loew’s International, left for Europe for a month’s tour of Metro of¬ fices and theatres on the Continent . . . Virgil Thompson, Fred Zinne- mann, and Richard Griffith scheduled to participate in the second an¬ nual Robert Flaherty Seminar this summer at the Flaherty home in Dummerston, near Brattlesboro, Vermont . . . Richard Widmark will visit seven cities between March 5 and March 17 to promote “Back¬ lash” for Universal . . ; Boulting Twins’, policy of alternating produc¬ tion and direction chairs with each film (Roy directed forthcoming Glynis Johns-Jack Buchanan comedy, “Josephine and Men”) carried through in “Privates Progress” with John directing and Roy produc¬ ing for British-Lion. “Progress” opened in London last week to ex¬ cellent reviews . . . Universal rushing special work print of “Avtey All Boats” to Manhattan forgeries of advance screenings for mags and Sunday supps. U studio publicity director'Jack Diamond in for a week of huddles with Charles Simonelli . . . “Simon and Laura,” new comedy from the J. Arthur Rank Organization, will be released in the U. S. by Universal. ... Latest film designed to smear magazines will be “Scandal, Incor¬ porated,” to be made independently with Milton Mann producing and Edward L. Mann directing . * . Third indie production by Robert E. Morrison and Andrew McLaglen will be “Gun the Man Down,” for United Artists, release . . . Dick Powell’s first assignment under his 20th-Fox contract will be as director of Cole Porter’s “Can-Cari” . . . Joyce Winfield (Miss Exquisite Form of 1955) makes her screen bow in Sabre’s “Flight to Hong Kong” . . . Lauren Bacall passed up second femme lead in 20th-Fox’s “Bus Stop” because of a prior commitment to co-star with Humphrey Bogart in “Melvin Goodwin, U. S. A.” at Warners. ; . . Harvard Lampoon’s latest issue waxed witty on screen personages, calling Kirk Douglas and Debbie Reynolds worst actor & actress of the year and terming the priest in “There’s No Business Like Show Business” as played by Johnnie Ray “the greatest threat to the church since Martin Luther.” Vic' Damone was downbeat-hailed as worst supporting actor in “Kismet” and Gloria Grahame got the same goose- quill award for supporting Mitchum in “Not As a Stranger” which the Harvard paper considered “perhaps the worst picture of. 1955.” "Walter Harrison Smith Productions ine. has been chartered, to con¬ duct a cartoon films business in New York, with capitaL stock of 200 shares, no par value. Directors are: Walter H. Smith, Elena Turner Smith and Tom Farrell, and attorneys Brekley, Platt, Gilchrist & Walker . . . Panchromatic Film Co. Inc. formed in New York, via attor¬ ney Moe Sobel. A film pressagent told us his philosophy of life: “Strength through planting.” Vincent Redding, who joined the N. Y. Times ad acceptance depart¬ ment about a year ago, has been named ad censor, succeeding. Joseph W. Gannon, who retired after 23 years on -the job. Redding was for¬ merly assistant city editor of the Philadelphia- Inquirer. Walter Wanger’s second production for RKO will be “The Day They Gave Babies Away,” based on a mag yarn by Dale Eunson produced years ago (1946 )by Columbia Workshop . . . Don Harvey shifts from stage to screen as male lead opposite Marilyn Monroe in “Bus Stop”- at 20th-Fox . . . Columbia gave Irving Ravetch screenplaying of . novel, “Andersonville” . . . Virgil- Vogel upped by Universal to director from editorial dept., drawing “The Mole People” for first chore. Rock Hudson makes his debut on tv on the Perry Como show" March 10 to plug his latest Universal picture, “Written on the Wind” . . . Universal’s sjtudio publicity director Jack Diamond returned to the Coast over the weekend after 10 days of homeoffice conferences . . . John Huston arrived in Boston direct from Paris Friday (2) carrying with him the first final color print of “Moby Dick.” He arrived in Gotham Monday (5) to show the film to Warner Bros., the releasing company. Huston stopped off in New Bedford to arrange details of the world premiere which will be held there . . . Walter Pidgeon’s. assignment in Metro’s “SomeWhere I’ll Find Him” marks his 65th film role . . . Sidney Poitier set for the lead in “A M.fih Is Ten Feet Tall,” which Jonathan Productions .swill film in New York this spring for release by Metro. ... Gustav Machaty, who originally produced “Ecstasy,” planning a color remake of the old sexsational film in Europe. Pic would be in Cine¬ mascope and United Artists has indicated interest provided there’s an English version. The original “Ecstasy” put Hedy Lamarr on the map and has grossed $3,000,000 worldwide . . . With Sol Hurok in Mos¬ cow, some more of the “artistic” Russian films may be brought into the U. S. The film ballet of “Romeo and Juliet,” lensed in the Soviet Union, has been booked into the Paris Theatre, N. Y. . . . Richard Gordon planning a London trip . . . Spme observers reading last week’s Variety story about the Columbia booking tieup with the Paris, N. Y., wondering out aloud on whether Col has enough top foreign product to live up to such an arrangement . . . Geoffrey Shurlock, Production Code Administrator, in Gotham to aid in the Code study. The MPAA’s Kenneth Clark has been doing a lot of the legwork for the committee which is to recommend changes in the Code structure. N. Y. to Europe Sir Michael Balcon Tom Curtiss Joseph S. Hummel Katri Karellia Aaron Katz Reub Kaufman Stan Kenton David Niven David 6. Selznick Roman Totenberg Robert Whitehead N. Y. to L. Polly Bergen Daniel Blum Macdonald Carey Frances Faye Mel Ferrer Richard Greene Alfred Katz Eartha Kitt Jospeh Rosenstock Gordon Whitt