THE APRIL FOOLS (1969)/Jack Lemmon

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Professor Echo, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. Professor Echo

    Professor Echo Screenwriter

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    With another April upon us, I am once again wondering what ever happened to this fairy tale romantic comedy from 1969 starring Jack Lemmon as the frog and Catherine Deneuve as the Princess who kisses him. It's one of those Cinema Center films, along with Lemmon's production company, JALEM. It was released twice on VHS, both pan and scan, but has yet to see a DVD release.
    Although it has some questionable scenes of drunk driving played for laughs, on the whole it is a very beautiful love story and for once is a fairy tale for men as opposed to little girls. Deneuve is breathtaking in it, for me the best she has ever looked. It has some great contemporary 60's production design by Richard Sylbert , a nice little score by Marvin Hamlisch, the lovely title tune by Bachrach and David, hilarious comedic bits with Jack Weston and Harvey Korman and a a very poignant sequence with Charles Boyer and Myrna Loy.
    Does anyone know who owns this title now or can speculate why it has never been released on DVD whereas most every other Jack Lemmon film has?
     
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  2. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    It was produced by Center Cinema Films which was and is owned by CBS. It now resides in the Paramount library. The chances of this being released is actually better, but not much better, than a wholly owned Paramount film, since CBS seems to have some sort of release power over their films. So far this year they have been able to get Monte Walsh released along with Blu-ray editions of Big Jake and Rio Lobo.

    I agree it is a very nice little film and deserves a release.
     
  3. Professor Echo

    Professor Echo Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the information, Allen.
    What exactly was Cinema Center Films back then, just an independent or were they affiliated with other established entities and personnel?
     
  4. William Miller

    William Miller Stunt Coordinator

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    The problem is with music rights. Many artists were involved on the soundtrack.

    And we all know what happens at CBS-Paramount when complicated music clearance is involved...music cuts or music replacements or no DVD.
     
  5. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    CBS owned the production company and had a distribution arrangement with National General Pictures, which was a mini-major for production of films and distribution. NGP was in business from 1967 through 1973 and produced 8 films and distributed over 80 films which include the 30 films Cinema Center Films produced between 1967 and 1972. CCF first film was Doris Days final film, With Six You Get Eggroll and their final film was Snoopy Come Home. In between were Little Big Man, The Reivers, Scrooge, A Man Called Horse, Prime Cut, Big Jake, Rio Lobo, The Boys In The Band, Le Mans and many other films. In 1969 National General Pictures tried to take over Warner Brothers, but failed in that attempt and ended up closing in 1973 and their films were acquired by Warner Brothers of which The Cheyenne Social Club, Charro!, Executive Action, Latitude Zero, and The Grasshopper are included. The Cinema Center films rights stayed with CBS and over the years Fox released many on VHS and laserdisc. When in 1994 Viacom bought CBS the rights still reside with CBS but all home entertainment is released through Paramount. Which is where The April Fools would come from and they have already announced Blu-ray releases of Big Jake, Rio Lobo, and Le Mans.



    CBS again tried producing their own films in 1981 when they helped form Tri-Star Pictures, which was later sold to Sony and again in 2009 with CBS films. Funny in that Sony Pictures distributes CBS Films and not Paramount due to sibling rivalry between Showtime and Paramount. Some of those recent films are Beastly, Faster, and The Back-Up Plan.



    During the time that CBS was producing films through Cinema Center Films, ABC was producing films through their company ABC Pictures and released the titles through Cinerama Releasing Company. The ABC experiment was from 1967 through 1972 with films that included Charly, Too Late The Hero, The Last Valley, The Grissom Gang, Straw Dogs, Song Of Norway, and Cabaret, All those films except Cabaret belong to Disney through their acquisition of ABC and then Disney leased the home entertainment rights to MGM.



    CBS and ABC produced films in the late 60's and early 70's to help lower the price they were paying studios to broadcast films, for back in those days, all three networks had two nights of movies programed and were paying outrageous amounts for those rights. CBS started CBS Films a couple of years ago to obtain product for the Showtime networks which they own when Paramount did not re-sign their exclusive agreement with Showtime and formed a new pay movie network with MGM and Lionsgate called EPix.
     
  6. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Very informative, Allen! Thank you!
     
  7. Dave B Ferris

    Dave B Ferris Supporting Actor

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    Great thread! I like to learn about films I had previously missed. Given a chance, I'd buy a DVD, too.

    In the meantime, I've added the film to my Tivo's "wish list", so maybe I'll have a chance to create a homemade DVD.
     
  8. Professor Echo

    Professor Echo Screenwriter

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    Yes, thank you again, Allen. Your customary expertise and cogent posts are always appreciated. Your knowledge of the industry who's who and all the studio corporate mazes over the years is unsurpassed.
    Do you or does anyone else have any further knowledge of William Miller's post regarding the music rights being in limbo for this film? I have the original LP in my collection, but it's at my home in Chicago, not here in L.A. I do remember that there were several different artists on it, including Dionne Warwick, I think. But I don't remember who else was on there or who else is represented in the final film. :huh:
     
  9. William Miller

    William Miller Stunt Coordinator

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    The artists are:

    Chambers Brothers
    California
    Mongo Santamaria
    Robert John
    Taj Mahal
    Dionne Warwick

    The composers & lyricists are:

    Burt Bacharach
    Hal David
    Marvin Hamlisch
    Joel Hirschhorn
    Al Kasha

    But Dionne Warwick is not on the LP. She sang the title song in the film but Percy Faith and His Chorus did a new version for the LP. The Soundtrack LP was on Columbia Records and except for Dionne Warwick, the artists in the film were under contract to Columbia Records in 1969. But Dionne Warwick was on Scepter and I guess there was a problem in securing rights for her performance. Maybe that is the selection that is still causing a problem.
     
  10. Thomas T

    Thomas T Cinematographer

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    The same thing happened a couple of years earlier when the VALLEY OF THE DOLLS soundtrack did not include Warwick's vocal on the main title but another uncredited singer who did not sound like Warwick at all. Warwick wanted her version of the theme song exclusively available on Scepter records so that if people wanted her version, they would have to buy her album rather than the soundtrack. Considering all the classic hits she had with Bacharach & David, ironically, VALLEY OF THE DOLLS is her only hit to reach no. 1.
     
  11. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    Thank you for your kind words. Music rights are not my thing, however Mr. Miller seems to have a good handle on it. I think that if it was just about any other studio they would find a way to get the music rights cleared up, but Paramount and at times Universal seem to think that it is not worth the time to try. If all the studios were as industrious as Warner's, then there would be a lot of happy people.

    On a side note, I hear it's the music rights also is holding up Looking For Mr. Goodbar. Which is one film I do wish to own.

    The reviews for The April Fools were quite good with the New York Times calling it "a sweet, sentimental comedy edged in farce." It also went on and complimented the supporting cast as you pointed out as being very funny. This should have been released when Jack Lemmon passed away.
     
  12. Mark Edward Heuck

    Mark Edward Heuck Screenwriter

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    Allen did a great job laying out the short history of ABC and CBS' film production in the '70's. Couldn't have done it better myself!

    A few fun tidbits to add:

    National General had started out as a theatre chain, operating many locations that were originally built by Fox before they divested them in accordance with the Anti-Trust rulings of the late 40's regarding studios owning theatres. The United Artists Theatres chain (also wholly separated from United Artists Pictures after sharing origins) released movies, including KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE and DAWN OF THE DEAD, through United Film Distribution, which later became called Taurus Releasing. Arthouse label Cinema 5 was absorbed by Almi, which operated the RKO/Stanley Warner circuit in New York. So in the '70's, theatre chains dipped their toes into distribution to keep feeding their screens in the same manner that ABC and CBS wanted to feed their TV movie time slots.

    ABC was a production partner on CABARET with Allied Artists, who released the film in the U.S. instead of ABC's normal outlet Cinerama Releasing; hence the reason this title now resides with WB.

    Edgar Scherick's Palomar Pictures had started out as a production arm of ABC Pictures, but when ABC decided to stop fully funding movie production, Scherick got financing from pharamaceutical giant Bristol-Myers-Squibb, with ABC retaining TV broadcast rights, and Palomar went independent. Bristol-Myers ultimately sold the package to Paramount in the noughts. Palomar also co-produced THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE with United Artists, again with ABC getting TV rights, and when MGM first remade the movie for TV in the '90's, ABC aired that as well.

    CBS was the first partner to withdraw from the Tri-Star venture, and ultimately did not retain rights to any movies made during their membership, as opposed to HBO which fully retained films like HEAVEN HELP US and FLASHPOINT. They would go to make movies on their own around 1984 (TABLE FOR FIVE, BETTER OFF DEAD, ELENI) which were released by WB and have stayed with the network since.
     
  13. kagemusha98

    kagemusha98 Second Unit

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    LOOKING FOR MR GOODBAR in HD was available on Netflix streaming for about 6 months and last month it was no longer in my queue.
     
  14. Brian McP

    Brian McP Second Unit

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    The vocalist on the theme from "Valley of the Dolls" from the soundtrack album was Dory Previn who cowrote the song with her then husband Andre Previn. The soundtrack is also notable for the adaptation of the Previn's songs and themes by John Williams, for which he received his first Academy Award nomination.
    A great shame about the music rights stopping "The April Fools" being on dvd -- does this include tv broadcasts? Would it stop the movie being reissued in theatres?
    Here in Australia on Valentines Day, most of the repretory theatres resurrect "Roman Holiday" or "Breakfast at Tiffany's" -- I once contacted one of the managers of the biggest of those theatres here locally and suggested "The April Fools" since it hadn't been seen in theatres or television for many years -- naturally, no reply.
    I know it is a slight 1969 comedy, but it certainly would play better now than it did back then (considering the romcoms around these days) -- the opening title sequence featuring the production design by Richard Sylbert is truly eyepopping and would amaze today's audiences in a theatre.
    Also the soundtrack album, with its use of discotheque music by bands and individual artists, tried to do what "Saturday Night Fever" succeeded in doing 8 years later (wonder how Jack Lemmon felt about that?) One instrumental on that album, "I Remember The Rain" by Marvin Hamlisch is the perfect example of very late '60s instrumentals for movies, a classic piece of music.
     
  15. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    That "soundtrack" album from Valley of the Dolls had another substitution. Eileen Wilson sang "I'll Plant My Own Tree" on the album, but Margaret Whiting dubbed Susan Hayward on the actual soundtrack of the film. I guess Whiting's and Dionne Warwick's record labels wouldn't clear them to appear on the soundtrack LP.



     
  16. kagemusha98

    kagemusha98 Second Unit

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    Another missing Cinema Center film film ME NATALIE....Al Pacino's debut film
     
  17. Brian McP

    Brian McP Second Unit

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    Great news -- just learned that "The April Fools" is being officially released by CBS/Paramount on January 28 2014 -- sadly, only on dvd, not bluray.

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. Robin9

    Robin9 Cinematographer

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    I'd completely forgotten that film. I saw it when it was first released and I've never seen it since. I quite enjoyed it and I'd like to see it again.
     
  19. Vic Pardo

    Vic Pardo Screenwriter

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    I had an album of Dionne Warwick singing songs by Burt Bachrach and Hal David and "April Fools" was on that album. In fact, that's exactly why I bought that album.

    I saw APRIL FOOLS when it came out but haven't seen it since. I remember thinking it was an awkward mix of romantic drama and silly comedy, with drunken antics by Harvey Korman and Jack Weston. It was the first film I saw Sally Kellerman in. She was kind of a caricature of an uncaring, status-conscious suburban wife, as I remember it. I wonder how this film would look now.
     
  20. Justin Ray

    Justin Ray Stunt Coordinator

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