If Ever I See You Again (film)

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If Ever I See You Again
If Ever I See You Again film poster, 1978.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoe Brooks
Produced byJoe Brooks
Written byJoe Brooks
Martin Davidson
StarringJoe Brooks
Shelley Hack
Jimmy Breslin
Jerry Keller
George Plimpton
Music byJoe Brooks
CinematographyAdam Holender
Edited byRick Shaine
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • May 24, 1978 (1978-05-24) (U.S.)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

If Ever I See You Again is a 1978 American romantic drama film about a composer who rekindles his relationship with a former girlfriend. It stars Joe Brooks, who also co-wrote, produced, directed, and scored the film, and Shelley Hack. The film's theme song, "If Ever I See You Again", was a moderate hit for Roberta Flack, reaching #24 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Plot[edit]

Bob Morrison (Brooks) is a successful composer of TV commercial jingles who has become rich from his work, allowing him to make a good life in New York City for himself and his two young children. However, Bob is frustrated with having to conform his music to the ideas of executives such as Lawrence (George Plimpton) who are often eccentric or rude. Bob secretly envies his old friend David (Kenny Karen), who has lived in relative poverty for years while pursuing a career as a classical pianist. David's sacrifices are now starting to pay off with a concert at Carnegie Hall, and he is also happily married, while Bob has been a widower for some years (the death of his wife is strongly implied, although not shown or stated directly). Bob never got over his college girlfriend, Jennifer Corly, who slept with him briefly in college and then, saying she wasn't ready for a serious commitment, broke up with him and dated another man.

Bob and his assistant Mario (Jimmy Breslin) travel to Los Angeles for one day to meet two movie producers for whom Bob hopes to score a film. While there, Bob learns that Jennifer is living in Malibu, calls her and visits her at home shortly before he has to leave. Jennifer (Shelley Hack) has become a painter, is still beautiful and unmarried, and seems attracted to Bob, even kissing him goodbye at the airport. Bob falls in love with her all over again.

Back in New York just before Christmas, Bob's frustrations lead him to decide with his partner Steve Warner (Jerry Keller) to close down their jingle-writing business, thus putting Mario out of a job. However, before Bob can inform Mario, Mario makes a grateful speech thanking Bob for all Bob has done for him, leaving Bob feeling too guilty to speak further. Bob then learns the producers are seriously considering hiring him, but that they insist he come to Los Angeles to record music for the final audition. Bob reluctantly agrees to go, although he prefers to work from New York.

Upon arriving, Bob calls Jennifer and invites her to his recording session and to dinner, but she abruptly turns him down. A dejected Bob goes to the studio, but cheers up after David arrives unexpectedly to play piano at his session, and then Jennifer arrives, having changed her mind. Afterwards, Bob confesses to Jennifer that he composed the love song recorded at the session many years ago with her in mind. Bob and Jennifer make love and spend time together, but Jennifer breaks up with him again, telling him that although she loves him, she's "not a forever person" and can't change. As she drives away, Bob learns that he got the film score job and that he will even be able to work from New York City as he prefers, meaning that he will not be returning to California.

Heartbroken, Bob returns to New York and prepares to celebrate the holidays with his family and friends. While he is hosting a children's Christmas party, Jennifer suddenly appears, having reconsidered the breakup, and Bob and Jennifer happily reunite.

Cast[edit]

Peter Billingsley, then a child actor who became well known a few years later as "Ralphie" in A Christmas Story, made one of his first film appearances in the Christmas party scene.

Production[edit]

Brooks made If Ever I See You Again as the follow-up to his successful 1977 film, You Light Up My Life, which Brooks had produced, written, directed and scored. You Light Up My Life was a box office hit and the title song "You Light Up My Life" was an even bigger success, setting a new record for most weeks at #1 on the Hot 100 Chart and winning Brooks an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Grammy Award for Song of the Year, and other honors.[1][2]

Brooks' partner, Robert K. Lifton, later wrote that he and Brooks set out to make a similar follow-up, as financing was likely to be available for a concept that had already been proven successful. In his self-published memoir, Lifton wrote that they "focus[ed] on making low cost movies with music that could carry the movie and let the record help the movie and the movie help the record." For If Ever I See You Again, Brooks and Lifton obtained financing from a friend whose son was seeking a movie business experience, and were therefore able to make the movie with little financial risk to themselves.[3] Daily Variety at the time of production reported a budget of first $1.45 million and later $1.8 million.[4] Film historian Paul Talbot later reported the production budget as $3 million.[5]

In addition to producing, co-writing, directing and scoring the film, Brooks also decided to play the leading role of "Bob Morrison" himself.[3] Although the character mirrored Brooks' own life as a rich, successful composer of advertising jingles who moved into film work, Brooks had no significant acting experience.[1][6] Brooks claimed to have spent $20,000 on giving himself two screen tests to make sure he could play the role (this is, of course, untrue), and received Columbia Pictures' approval based on the tests.[5] In a New York Times interview while the film was in production, Brooks said, "I really thought I was the best guy to play the lead."[6] According to one columnist, Brooks cast himself in the part after Al Pacino and George Segal both turned it down.[7] In real life, Brooks had a pronounced stutter - this was his therapy, because apparently when on camera he could control the stutter. This is not conjecture - anyone who knew him knew he was afflicted with stuttering and not mild stuttering.

Like Brooks, most of the other main actors were also inexperienced. Jerry Keller and Kenny Karen were former pop musicians turned jingle creators who had worked with Brooks in the past. Keller's film experience consisted of a bit part in You Light Up My Life as an orchestra music director. Shelley Hack was then a model best known for appearing in a television commercial for Revlon's "Charlie" fragrance, who had a two-line part in Woody Allen's acclaimed film Annie Hall.[8] Jimmy Breslin and George Plimpton were primarily known as journalists and authors, although Plimpton had small parts in several previous films.[3][9]

Working titles for the film included The Mozart of Madison Avenue and California.[4] It was shot in New York City and Los Angeles during the holiday season of 1977. The cast provided their own wardrobes.[5] Hack, who in real life was nearsighted,[8] wore her own glasses.[5]

According to Daily Variety, Columbia spent an additional $2.5 million on promoting the film.[4] In addition to the soundtrack album, a paperback novelization of the screenplay was released by Bantam Books in May 1978 as a promotional tie-in.[10] As a further promotional gimmick, Columbia teamed with Pertec Computer to "reunite lost lovers whenever a toll-free number is called" by having a computer match up the details of callers.[4][11][12] An editor of Minicomputer News and his secretary posed as former lovers attempting to locate each other to test the service, with somewhat unsuccessful results.[12]

Soundtrack[edit]

If Ever I See You Again:
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Joseph Brooks and various artists
ReleasedMay 1978
Recorded1978
StudioA&R Recording Studios
New York City
GenrePop, Film score
LabelWarner Bros.
ProducerJoseph Brooks
Singles from If Ever I See You Again
  1. "California"
    Released: February 1978
  2. "If Ever I See You Again"
    Released: April 1978

In keeping with the idea of "music that could carry the movie," Brooks wrote a number of songs for the film: he also revived for the soundtrack the 1966 Julie Monday regional hit "Come Share the Good Times With Me" with the title adjusted to "Come Share My Love" (Brooks had produced the Julie Monday recording but its songwriting credit had been to Gilbert Kennington a pseudonym for Brooks' brother Gilbert Kaplan: however authorship of "Come Share My Love" was credited to Brooks himself). Prior to the film's release, Brooks arranged for Debby Boone, who in the preceding months had achieved blockbuster success with her debut solo single: her rendition of the theme song from Brooks' first film production You Light Up My Life, to record versions of the title theme "If Ever I See You Again", "California", "Come Share My Love", "It Was Such a Good Day", and "When It's Over". Boone released "California" in February 1978 as the follow-up to "You Light Up My Life", but "California" only reached #50 on the Hot 100 chart, failing to duplicate Boone's previous success.[13] The versions recorded by Boone were eventually released on her album Midstream (1978).

After the relative failure of Boone's "California", Brooks reached out to Atlantic Records to get Roberta Flack, an established artist with a track record of number one hits, to record "If Ever I See You Again".[3] According to Flack, she "couldn't stand" the song and agreed to record it only after being pressured by the president of Atlantic and negotiating a "huge money deal".[14] Flack subsequently recorded versions of the title song as well as "Come Share My Love" and "When It's Over", all produced by Brooks.

Flack's version of "If Ever I See You Again" was released in April 1978 in preparation for the May 1978 opening of the film. Although the song was a moderate hit, reaching #24 on the Hot 100, #1 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart,[15] and #37 on the R&B chart,[16] it failed to match the success of several previous hit singles by Flack, much less the popularity of "You Light Up My Life". The film songs recorded by Flack, including "If Ever I See You Again", were included on her self-titled 1978 album Roberta Flack.

Brooks also recorded the film's songs for an album on Atlantic titled The Joe Brooks Group.[17]

An original soundtrack double album for the film was also released on Warner Bros., which contained instrumental music from the film, Boone's versions of "California" and "Come Share My Love", and other songs performed by studio musicians including male vocalist Jamie Carr (who sang the theme song in the film). The album did not contain Flack's version of the theme song or any other contributions by Flack.[18]

Track listing[edit]

Side 1:

  1. "If Ever I See You Again" (Vocal) – Jamie Carr (4:16)
  2. "California" (Group) – Joe Brooks (3:33)
  3. "Something To Sell" – Joe Brooks (2:12)
  4. "When It's Over" (Instrumental) – Joe Brooks (3:18)
  5. "Christmas Song" (Version 2) – Joe Brooks (2:28)

Side 2:

  1. "When It's Over" (Vocal) – Joe Brooks (3:18)
  2. "If Ever I See You Again" (Jennifer's House) – Joe Brooks (4:42)
  3. "Wake Up" – Joe Brooks (0:52)
  4. "Walk To Jennifer's House/California" – Joe Brooks (7:10)

Side 3:

  1. "Come Share My Love" – Joe Brooks (3:40)
  2. "EKG Machine" – Joe Brooks (0:41)
  3. "California" (Slow Instrumental) – Joe Brooks (3:12)
  4. "If Ever I See You Again" (Instrumental) – Joe Brooks (4:16)
  5. "Christmas Song" (Montage) – Joe Brooks (3:55)

Side 4:

  1. "California" (Slow Vocal) – Joe Brooks (3:12)
  2. "When It's Over" (Montage) – Joe Brooks (3:18)
  3. "David's Concert" – Kenny Karen (1:57)
  4. "Boulevard & Backroads" – Joe Brooks (3:05)
  5. "Come Share My Love" – Debby Boone (3:44)

Reception[edit]

Notwithstanding the moderate success of Flack's single, and the considerable effort and cost put into promoting the film, If Ever I See You Again received generally negative reviews (although the Los Angeles Times praised the "nice, natural quality" of the performances "despite Brooks' stilted direction")[4][19][20][21][22] and bombed at the box office.[5] Hack later admitted in an interview that it was "a bomb".[23] Reportedly, it failed to recoup its production budget or even its promotional costs.[5]

Some of the criticism centered on poor acting by Brooks or other members of the inexperienced cast.[19][20][22] Breslin and the film were nominated in Harry and Michael Medved's 1980 book The Golden Turkey Awards in the category "Worst Acting Performance by a Novelist".[24] Leonard Maltin, who gave it a grade of 1 1/2 stars,[25] stated, "Breslin should stick to his typewriter."

At the 1978 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, the movie won Worst Picture.[26] When the Stinkers Ballot Expansion Project launched in 2003, the movie received the following notes:

  • Worst Film (now a nomination, with Renaldo and Clara being the new winner)
  • Worst Sense of Direction for Brooks (nominated)
  • Worst Song Or Song Performance in a Film or Its End Credits for "If Ever I See You Again" by Joe Brooks (nominated)
  • Worst Screen Couple for Brooks and Hack (nominated)
  • Worst Actress for Hack (dishonourable mention)
  • Worst Song Or Song Performance in a Film or Its End Credits for "California" by Brooks (dishonourable mention)[27]

The film's reputation did not improve with time. In 2011, an article in New York magazine termed it an "obscure flop".[28]

If Ever I See You Again was released on VHS in 1986.[5] As of 2015, it had not been released on DVD.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Farber, Stephen (May 1978). "King of Corn". New West: 24.
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 136. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ a b c d Lifton, Robert K. (2012-11-16). An Entrepreneur's Journey: Stories from a Life in Business and Personal Diplomacy. Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse. pp. 197–199. ISBN 978-1-4772-7931-1.
  4. ^ a b c d e "AFI Catalog of Feature Films: If Ever I See You Again". afi.com. American Film Institute. Archived from the original on 2015-09-16. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Talbot, Paul (December 2011). "If Ever I See You Again (1978)". Shock Cinema (41).
  6. ^ a b Lichtenstein, Grace (1977-12-25). "These Days, Movies Light Up His Life". The New York Times. p. 63. Retrieved 2015-11-17 – via NYTimes.com.
  7. ^ Sloan, Robin Adams (1978-05-01). "The Gossip Column: Woody Forbids Mention of Oscars in Movie Ads". Garden City Telegram. Garden City, Kansas. p. 12. Retrieved 2015-11-15 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ a b Scott, Vernon (1978-05-28). "Model Hopes to Hack It as an Actress". The Salina Journal. Salina, Kansas. p. 23. Retrieved 2015-11-18 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ Buckley, Tom (1978-06-08). "Paramount Picks Up Tab For Rights to New Musical". The Sun-Telegram. San Bernardino County, California. p. B15. Retrieved 2015-11-15 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ Stewart, Kerry (May 1978). If Ever I See You Again (paperback ed.). New York City: Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0553121872.
  11. ^ "If Ever I See You Again". BoxOffice. New York City. May 29, 1978.
  12. ^ a b Knoblauch, Mary (1978-06-12). "News for You: Sometimes, It Just Doesn't Compute". Chicago Tribune. p. B2.
  13. ^ Fred Bronson (2003). Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits. Billboard Books. p. 217. ISBN 978-0-8230-7738-0.
  14. ^ Thompson, Carmen Renee (January 2003). "Everything Is Everything". Vibe. New York City: 40. Retrieved 2015-11-15.
  15. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 93.
  16. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 207.
  17. ^ "The Joe Brooks Group". discogs.com. Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  18. ^ "If Ever I See You Again (1978)". Soundtrackcollector.com. Archived from the original on 2015-11-18. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
  19. ^ a b R.R. Bowker (May 1989). Variety's Film Reviews: 1978-1980. 15. New Providence, New Jersey: Bowker. ISBN 978-0835227957.
  20. ^ a b Maslin, Janet (1978-05-24). "Movie Review: If Ever I See You Again (1978): Film: Adman's Romance". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
  21. ^ Gross, Linda (1978-05-19). "Movie Review: Giving Romance Another Chance". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. p. H19.
  22. ^ a b Martin, Judith (1978-05-26). "The Fathers of Necessity". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. p. 19 (Weekend section).
  23. ^ Smilgis, Martha (1979-09-24). "Charlie's Latest Angel". People. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
  24. ^ Medved, Harry; Medved, Michael (1980-04-14). The Golden Turkey Awards: The Worst Achievements in Hollywood History. New York City: Perigee Trade. ISBN 978-0399504631.
  25. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2009). Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide (2009 ed.). New York City: Plume. p. 655. ISBN 978-0-452-289789.
  26. ^ "The Stinkers 1978 Ballot". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. Archived from the original on 2 December 1998.
  27. ^ "STINKERS BALLOT EXPANSION PROJECT: 1978". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. Archived from the original on 10 August 2003.
  28. ^ Verini, James (2011-02-05). "The Curious Case of Joseph and Nicholas Brooks". New York. New York City. Retrieved 2015-11-15.

External links[edit]