At Long Last Love

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For the song by Cole Porter that this film is named after, see At Long Last Love (song).
At Long Last Love
At long last love movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Bogdanovich
Produced by Peter Bogdanovich
Frank Marshall
Written by Peter Bogdanovich
Starring Burt Reynolds
Cybill Shepherd
Music by Cole Porter
Cinematography Laszlo Kovacs
Edited by Douglas Robertson
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • March 1, 1975 (1975-03-01)
Running time 123 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5.14 million[2]
Box office $2.5 million[3][4]

At Long Last Love is a 1975 American musical romantic comedy film written, produced, and directed by Peter Bogdanovich and stars Burt Reynolds and Cybill Shepherd.

The film pays homage to the great Hollywood musicals of the 1930s such as Swing Time and Top Hat. It features 18 songs with music and lyrics by Cole Porter.

Plot[edit]

Four socialites unexpectedly clash: heiress Brooke Carter runs into gambler Johnny Spanish at the race track while playboy Michael O. Pritchard nearly runs into stage star Kitty O'Kelly with his car. Backstage at Kitty's show, it turns out she and Brooke are old friends who attended public school together. The foursome do the town, accompanied by Brooke's companion Elizabeth, who throws herself at Michael's butler and chauffeur Rodney James.

The four friends change partners at a party, where Brooke and Michael step outside behind the backs of Kitty and Johnny. In an effort to make the others jealous, Kitty and Johnny begin a romance and genuinely fall in love, as do Brooke and Michael, and (eventually) Elizabeth and Rodney.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Bogdanovich originally announced the cast would be Cybill Shepherd, Madeline Kahn, Ryan O'Neal and the director himself. He was inspired by the films of Ernst Lubitsch.[5] Shepherd had recorded an album of Cole Porter songs paid for by Paramount.[6]

Resisting the urge to shoot another film in black and white, Bogdanovich had it art directed as "Black and White in Color." The film is unique in being the first since the early 1930s in which all of the musical numbers were recorded live, without the actors lip-synching to a previously recorded soundtrack. (This method was also used by Rex Harrison for his songs in My Fair Lady and by Barbra Streisand for the climactic "My Man" in Funny Girl). At Long Last Love is also unusual in that most musical numbers were performed in one continuous take.

Bogdanovich says the film was originally called Quadrille and was equally weighted between the four lead characters.[7]

Reception[edit]

The film opened in March 1975 to scathing reviews and poor box office returns, prompting Bogdanovich to have an open letter of apology printed in newspapers throughout the U.S.

Bogdanovich later said the film was rushed into release:

That was a disaster and unfortunately people say to me now "Gee, I really like that picture, why was it so attacked?" But the people who are reacting to that now have only seen the recut version which was the one I recut after it opened, you see. It was an original musical comedy and we only had two previews. Two. The first one was a total disaster in San Jose and the second one in Denver was OK. It played. But then I made some more changes to it because of pressure from the studio and didn't preview that version. So that version which had never previewed opened and it was the worst version there was. It was fucked. Then I saw that playing and I realized what I needed to do, but by then it was too late. It was overconfidence on the part of the studio, because the studio really liked the movie, that was the funny thing. They liked it, they thought it was terrific but in a musical, well in anything, it all has to do with construction. And in a musical particularly, the balance between the musical numbers and the dialogue has to be delicate and I just was still too inexperienced to realize how critical that was and so after the picture had opened it was declared a bomb. The only place it made money was at the Music Hall. Then I realized how I should have cut it after that and I immediately did cut it, they let me recut and I think I paid for that, and that version was then shown on television and that's the version that all release prints have been ever since. That was quite different from the opening version. Very different, but unfortunately it was too late.[8]

Despite the negative reviews, Roger Ebert gave the film a mildly positive review, writing "It's impossible not to feel affection for "At Long Last Love," Peter Bogdanovich's much-maligned evocation of the classical 1930s musical. It's a light, silly, impeccably stylish entertainment...The movie's no masterpiece, but I can't account for the viciousness of some of the critical attacks against it. It's almost as if Bogdanovich is being accused of the sin of pride for daring to make a musical in the classical Hollywood style... Bogdanovich has too much taste, too sure a feel for the right tone, to go seriously wrong. And if he doesn't go spectacularly right, at least he provides small pleasures and great music."

In a documentary of his career, Bogdanovich has said he regretted that the film was hastily cut prior to theatrical release based on reactions to only two studio previews. He subsequently recut the film himself, before it reached cable and regular TV, and has stated many people who first saw it in this version did not react so badly to the film.[9] Years later, At Long Last Love was included as one of the choices in the book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time.

Home media[edit]

At Long Last Love was only released once on videocassette, by Magnetic Video in 1981.[10] In addition, there were different versions (each with different scenes and numbers added and missing) floating around among fans and collectors, from 16mm prints and various TV broadcasts.

The director dismissed the film as a painful memory until around 2011 when he was told it was streaming on Netflix and people were liking it. For the first time in many years he watched it himself, and for the first time in years, he liked what he saw. But it was not his cut.

It was discovered that a longtime studio editor named Jim Blakely had secretly assembled another version of the film (running approximately 121 minutes) which more closely resembled Bogdanovich's shooting script and first preview cut. He quietly substituted it as the default version as early as 1979, and that was the version made available to Netflix.[11] As a result of Netflix streaming and showings on Fox Movie Channel this version helped turn the tide and change the picture's fate. The director has gratefully acknowledged Jim Blakely, who died before anyone learned what he had done.

After finding out how it happened, Bogdanovich called Fox to say he liked that version. He made some refinements, including 90 seconds of restored footage, bringing the final running time to 123 minutes. The studio released it as the "Definitive Director's Version" on Blu-ray disc in June 2013, resulting in more positive reviews than the theatrical version received.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "AT LONG LAST LOVE (U)". British Board of Film Classification. 1975-03-04. Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  2. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p257
  3. ^ At Long Last Love at Box Office Mojo Retrieved December 24, 2012
  4. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p233. Please note figures are rentals not total gross.
  5. ^ Bogdanovich Touch Turns Coincidence into Success: Turning Coincidence Into Success Haber, Joyce. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 16 Sep 1973: o21.
  6. ^ Cybill Shepherd: 'Henry James Had Me in Mind' By Rex Reed. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) [Washington, D.C] 14 Oct 1973: L5.
  7. ^ Bogdanovich--Will 'Nickelodeon' Be His Last Picture Show?: Bogdanovich--What Went Wrong? Peter Bogdanovich-- What Went Wrong? By DAVID DENBY. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 30 Jan 1977: D1
  8. ^ Gallagher, John. August 2004: Peter Bogdanovich National Board of Review, accessed 4 June 2013
  9. ^ Hulin, Adam (director). By Bogdanovich. Motion Picture. ElDorado Road Productions.
  10. ^ Panorama TV, May 1981
  11. ^ http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/motion-captured/posts/peter-bogdanovich-screens-new-cut-of-at-long-last-love-and-tells-story-behind-it

External links[edit]