Monday, November 29, 2010
Exhibition's Shakespearean Tragedy
Here's what we knew and had known a long time in 1956: British films are dicey and a risk in US markets. Even the best of them were hard sells with no guarantee you'd be rewarded for quality product. Shakespeare adapting just set bars higher. The one actor/director who'd made success of that was Laurence Olivier with Henry V and Hamlet, yet those were ten years ago by 1956 and a rock-and-rolling generation since was not on record wanting more. Producer Alexander Korda had been decades trying to crash US markets and was nearest among Brit impresarios to have done so. His latest was Richard III as envisioned by Olivier and this time he'd recover at least part of his gamble on a comfortable front end. Being two million was spent on this Bard-tacular, shot in Vistavision and Technicolor, any monies got back quick were welcome. Korda made a devil's bargain with US exhibition's most implacable enemy when he sold premiere dibs on Richard III to NBC ... television, that is ... a major motion picture debuting free on the dreaded tube. The Faustian deal was sealed with the broadcaster's tender of $500,000 to Korda, an amount exceeding domestic gross on many a Brit-pic playing stateside ... and here was AK collecting it all in one lump, months prior to Richard III's American bow.
Hands were thus shook in June 1955, NBC pledging to unspool its expensive pageant just once, hopefully in January of 1956, and in color, more a symbolic (and publicity generating) gesture as there were only 25,000 sets in the country to see RIII that way. Korda meanwhile shopped for a US distributor to coordinate two-a-day roadshowing, these engagements to immediately follow NBC's broadcast. British executives, taking a tip from Walt Disney's successful "Disneyland," believe that a TV showing of a film stimulates movie attendance, reported TIME magazine in July, though The New York Times acknowledged there was many a Hollywood executive who'd give them an argument over that forecast. Korda's deal with NBC was not without precedent. He'd recently peddled The Constant Husband to them for a $200,000 first-run in America, though worrisome must have been fact that the comedy garnered poor reviews from tele-critics and saw no interest from theatres afterward. NBC's mission now was to get some of the RIII half-million back in sponsor buys. As of December, however, they were getting a cool reception, according to Billboard, so much so that Richard's proposed evening berth was rethought to maybe a daytime spot. Said the trade: The move would cut the price of the show to advertisers from its current selling price of $900,000 for primetime showing to about $450,000 for the Saturday afternoon airing. Despite said adjustment, a new year saw NBC still beating the bushes hard for advertisers to take it off the hook. One-shot spectaculars, surely what Richard III shaped up to be, were in doldrums generally, sponsors by now more vested in popular week-to-week programs with their loyal followings. NBC had to get Richard III on the air by a March 10 weekend, per promise to Korda. Would they have to do so without ad support?
General Motors came to the rescue in late January. They'd buy most of Richard III's real estate and interrupt the feature but three times to hawk automotive wares (per promise to Olivier when the deal was struck). GM's outlay was between $350-400,000 --- with the rest "sustaining" time picked up by NBC. Richard III was set to run on Sunday afternoon, March 11, 1956, opening later that night at New York's Bijou Theatre, a charity benefit attended by Laurence Olivier and other cast members (Toronto had a "North American Roadshow Premiere" on March 1). Ticket prices were apropos to hard tickets ... $1.50 to $2.80, with a $3.00 top on weekends. Richard III was figured to settle in for a long run, but exhibition watched warily. Would customers pay for a show they'd just had for TV Sunday dinner? Never mind sock business it had done in England since premiering there on December 13. They hadn't got Richard III in advance on tele's. Still, business was record-shattering over there, and despite highbrow content, hopes were high that RIII might score in the states. General Motors was sufficiently impressed to line up a mid-broadcast "talk" by Dr. Frank Baxter, Professor of English Literature at USC, who'd regale viewers as to matters Shakespearean during the four-five minute intermission. Does Baxter's name ring bells? He lent gravitas to, among other things, a series of Bell science films shown ad nauseum in schools, and even more notably, introduced later in 1956 The Mole People, warning patrons as to possibility of lost civilizations beneath the earth. Could GM have picked a better man to enlighten us?
NBC estimated that twenty-five million would be watching come March 11 (over 146 stations in forty-five states). So as not to offend, they'd remove three minutes from Richard III's two-hour and forty minute length, these including a decapitation, two children being suffocated, and Richard's extended death throes on Bosworth Field. The network would not, however, cut the word bastard from Shakespeare's prose. TV competition for that weekend was less than fierce, although CBS countered in part with a Ford Star Jubilee starring Bing Crosby, High Thor, "a Musical Production of the Maxwell Anderson Fantasy." That ran Saturday night of the 10th, and garnered ratings, if not positive reviews. Response to Richard III was more upbeat. Here was Olivier's best turn at Shakespeare yet, said many. Scribes wondered if a new era was being ushered in even as some expressed reservation over fitness of big-screen spectacles on TV, especially ones in Vistavision. The New York Times saw Richard III as compromised visually by twenty-one inch screens: The normal household distractions, such as a ringing telephone or a wriggling child, are also less conducive to complete absorption than the disciplined silence that prevails in a movie house. The black-and-white image viewed by an overwhelming majority at home was adjudged fuzzy and flat, though it was worth noting (courtesy Dr. Baxter) that more people saw Richard III (on television) than had witnessed all the stage productions since Shakespeare's time.
Many schools assigned Richard III as homework, pretty much blowing a weekend for kids nationwide (wonder how many still remember?). NBC would sound trumpets over record viewership approaching fifty million, which as of 1956, represented nearly a third of the country's population (The Motion Picture Herald called this figure unrealistic). A doubting press figured it for braggadocio, and wondered what fraction of viewers submitted to the entire three hours. Calmer reason suggested no more than twenty-five million hung in for the dollop. Still it was a fantastic number, as The New York Times acknowledged: Television has every reason to be heartened by the film's very substantial acceptance (and surely it was, judging by the NYT's own front page coverage). Buckets of Richard III publicity sallied forth. LIFE and Newsweek gave it covers and much coverage within. Theatres reported business slightly off during the Sunday broadcast, not an outcome appreciated by exhibitors. Lopert Films (a United Artists sub) was handling US distribution for Richard III. They claimed the TV run would only enhance business for theatres. Sourer notes were struck by Laurence Olivier, who called NBC's presentation deplorable. I'd been afraid of this, but the facts turned out worse than my fears, he said to The Washington Post. Advertising intervals, the network's mandated cuts, and a lack of size and color were chief among the actor's complaints (yet hadn't he signed off on the deal fully aware of these contingencies?).
Harrison's Reports monitored theatrical runs of Richard III and laid down home truths after dust settled. Poor Richard, wrote Pete Harrison in July, if any producer is still toying around with the idea of making one of his new productions available to television to be shown nationally over a major network before releasing it for theatre showings, the experience had with Richard III should make him give up the idea. Harrison noted the film's recent departure from the Bijou in New York after a run of eleven weeks and one day, during which business was generally below expectations, with plenty of seats available for most of the two performances given daily (previous Shakespeares Hamlet, Henry V, and Julius Caesar had lots longer runs). He branded Richard III a flop and warned that the effect of a telecast prior to theatre bookings is deadly rather than helpful. Showmen across the country shunned Richard III and punished a worthy product for having fraternized with free-vee. Overall figures were dismal. RIII brought back a frightful $43,000 in domestic rentals, later augmented with mid-60's bookings that realized an additional $9,000. Unfortunate outcome of all this was fact that so few audiences got to enjoy 35mm prints of Richard III, which having derived from Vistavision negative, looked spectacular. There were years spent in more-or-less lockdown, broken when Janus Films syndicated Richard III to television in the seventies, albeit trimmed to 138 minutes. Criterion would eventually offer a widescreen DVD, which was, among other things, complete and of stellar quality. Kudos to them for making this most visually spectacular of Shakespeare dramatizations available again.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
When Jesse James Rode Again
Sad fact is, most old movies went to television because few had commercial life beyond initial release. There were exceptions, remarkable ones, like Gone With The Wind/Snow White/King Kong, etc., but most studio output, being bound to years they were made, became less useful in seasons to come. Each company had evergreens, however limited. For Fox, Number One of these was definitely Jesse James, the best overall performer of any library title they sent back into theatres. Many exhibitors kept standing order for Jesse and follow-up, Return Of Frank James, telling 20th exchangers, Whenever there are prints, send them. The company mounted two official revivals --- called Encore Triumphs --- of which first was Jesse's 1946 pairing with Frank, a natural combo, since the latter was a direct sequel and continuation from the first. These yielded a wondrous $1.34 million in domestic rentals, better even than some new releases Fox had that year (and several times what TCF generally realized with oldies). A 1951 Jesse/Frank tandem put another $600,000 in domestic coffers, with more than one exhibitor declaring both were good for at least an every other year's booking. What renewed these money markets was timeless nature of the subject matter ... westerns old were nearly as reliable as same new ... plus fact Jesse and Frank boasted Technicolor, a surest hedge against obsolescence. Helping too was Randolph Scott prominent among Jesse's supporting cast, as he'd become a most trusted western brand after the war. By 1965, both Jesse James and Return Of Frank James were on syndicated television, and paying admission days seemed over, but there would be a final roar for the 1939 favorite, a resounding one even if limited to theatres in our South-land.
Fox had got back in the outlaw business in 1969 via smash receipts from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, a sort of flower child western with gentle badmen and bumptious comedy replacing action highlights of JJ and kin. The thing just kept playing ... coming back ... playing again. I considered it then not a patch on rugged The Wild Bunch, True Grit, and others of more traditional bent, and maybe nearby showmen thought so too, for lo and behold there came bookings of long-ago Jesse James, a had-to-see-it-to-believe-it event that sent me packing to Winston-Salem's Carolina Theatre for proof this was real. Indeed it was --- a brand new print in three-strip Technicolor --- and such richness as I'd seldom encounter in theatres. I sat through Jesse James twice to properly burn images onto youthful consciousness and wondered how Butch Cassidy followers might respond to this blast from their parent's past. There was a limited number of prints, as would be revealed later, but I'd follow them through sub-runs, drive-ins, and Saturday plays for what remained of the 70's and life left in these dye-transferred treasures. By 1981 and my last sitting, Jesse James, at least what tatters I saw, was past need of discarding, yet small showmen wouldn't let it go. As late as 1989, a booker friend was still dispatching JJ to cow pasture screens in eastern NC where demand was undiminished, even as last one or two prints became increasingly so. Details of Jesse James' rebirth was for me a curiosity finally satisfied by good friend and former exhibitor Robert Cline (16mm collectors will remember him as proprietor of Thornhill Entertainment), who was very much in the thick of Jesse's comeback and here provides an insider's account of how it all came down ...
For most of the 1970s, I exhibited movies (theatre manager) for ABC SOUTHEASTERN THEATRES, a division of the AMERICAN BROADCASTING COMPANY. Two or three times per year, the brass would book for us what the company referred to as "project pictures." These movies were those which the company could book cheaply (usually a flat rate), develop its own advertising campaign, block-book into geographical areas, and hopefully, drum up enough business to pay bills for that particular week. In the spring of 1972, the "suits" reached way back and decided to make a go with Jesse James, a then thirty-three year old western produced by 20th Century Fox. Anti-hero westerns were a hot commodity at the time due to successes of films such as Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, The Wild Bunch, and The Professionals, so appeared to be a good choice. It turned out being a very wise choice.
I never knew all the specifics going into the deal between ABC and 20th Century Fox. I can imagine conversation between the two giants when ABC broached the topic of booking Jesse James. Fox: "Do we own that?" ABC: "Yes." Fox: "So you want a print of Jesse James?" ABC: "No, we want multiple prints. We want to play Jesse simultaneously throughout our theatres. Fox: "We probably don't have any prints available."ABC: "Make some." So a deal was struck, as were new prints, probably the first 35mm of Jesse James to be struck since the 1950s (and I'd suspect final ones generated since for theatrical use). ABC Southeastern's ad campaign was designed by Jack Jordan, the advertising director for our division, based in Charlotte, N.C. Jack had a pretty good knowledge of movies and did a nice job cutting and pasting artwork from a number of westerns to create a new look for Jesse (note borrowing of key art with Robert Wagner from The True Story Of Jesse James). Jack knew moviegoers of 1972 had less idea who Tyrone Power, the film's star, was, so he concentrated more on Henry Fonda, the one actor from the 1939 film still active. Then he compared Frank and Jesse to Butch and Sundance, only proclaiming the James boys as being the rowdier outlaw duo (at least until we played the Newman/Redford show again---which we did).
20th Century Fox delivered to ABC four sparkling imbibition Technicolor prints for our engagements. Then the Charlotte bookers set playdates for our respective houses. My theatre (Salisbury, N.C.) was grouped with Winston-Salem, Lexington and High Point. Extensive radio spots were bought through the region. These were pre-iPod days when citizens actually listened to radio. These four towns played Jesse James for one week, after which prints went to other groupings within Southeastern such as Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Greensboro and Burlington. This went on until Jesse James played through the entire circuit (Virginia and both Carolinas). My theatre was charged $100.00 film rental (larger cities were charged $250.00) for the week's booking, this a bargain compared with prevailing rates. My share of the radio campaign was more than I paid for the feature itself. Business-wise, my theatre did pretty well with Jesse, and with that flat rental, certainly performed beyond what we'd have realized with percentage pics far less likely to do comparable business.
By the time warm weather rolled round, Jesse James had played ABC's hardtop circuit, so the company spun it off to our drive-ins. In most cases, they booked Jesse with True Grit. A great combination this was (see ad above), certainly in the South. Film rental for an entire week totaled $50.00 for my Thunderbird Drive-In ($25.00 per picture). This combo kicked off our Spring / Summer outdoor season, and we filled spaces every night on the weekend and did better-than-average business throughout weekdays. Being able to keep all box office receipts (sans the $50.00), we got off to a great start that year. Following ABC's engagements, the prints were available for other theatres around Charlotte to book. At least one of the four prints remained in service until it was literally worn out.
Thanks a million to Robert Cline for these insights and memories of Jesse James' theatrical curtain call.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Greenbriar's Outlaw Week --- Part One
My truest definition of a hit movie is one that draws people who don't ordinarily look at movies. Jesse James in 1939 flushed patrons out of the hills that had never been in a theatre before. It was a hit the whole country wanted to see, and by far biggest of a western revival that included Dodge City, Stagecoach, and Union Pacific. JJ was an old west Grapes Of Wrath with Okies that fought back, its late 30's timing ideal. Jesse and Frank taking on railroads (code for banks, which they also robbed) made both contemporary heroes frankly recognized as such from opening credits (... for good or ill said an intro, though it was clear where sympathies lay). The biggest period-set hits are ones that trip modern concerns. Jesse James did in ways peculiar to 1939, and maybe to here-and-now's economy as well. It probably won't get Criterion hugs like Stagecoach, but for evoking an austere west, this is far more the genuine article. I'd call Jesse James nearest to purity of a silent outdoor show than any a major studio tendered through the whole Classic Era, a western remarkably stripped of artifice that characterized most genre offerings. Henry King directed, having done so since 1916. He routinely cut dialogue as first order of business, hewing to conviction that pictures were better seen than heard. King's were rural sensibilities for having grown up in Virginia. Backwoods was preferred location and one he made most of, never so capably as here. Jesse James is countrified in the best and most evocative sense of that background all too often simulated in films. King went far off beaten location paths and found nature's last preserve of a nineteenth century he'd only barely have to redress.
They filmed Jesse James in and around Pineville, Missouri, a town beyond small that makes mine look like Metropolis, USA. Director King found it after scouting landscapes in his private plane. 1939 wasn't too late to uncover Civil War-era trains discarded rail side, as these were backwoods where, among myriad artifacts, horse buggies the James brothers might have ridden still saw practical use. Fox artisans modified Pineville's main street to a past century glow that came of having the real thing as foundation, which in this time capsule of a town, they did. Local folks played extras and a few of them spoke (you'll not mistake these for central casting). King had made Tol'able David and others deep in the sticks and had an unerring bead on natural settings. He'd be rewarded for such instinct with hectoring wires from Fox chief Darryl Zanuck, who maintained Jesse James' crew should come home and fake remaining exteriors on backlots with process screen assist. King must have called in plentiful markers to complete the shoot his way, and thanks be to posterity, he did, for Jesse James would not be half the show it is had DFZ's edict been observed (none of JJ's outdooring looks short-cutted, and I detect little rear projection). With regard creative and natural use of sound, Jesse James subs bird song and rivers running for music scored, a major lick for putting across a primitive backdrop that once-upon-a-time shielded outlaws. There are chases over field and wood that look like home movies the James boys might have shot given cameras, and a train robbery by night, a major advance, said King, in the progress of technicolor lensing, is marred only by Eastman processing done since and loss of three-strip elements that render impossible a true restoration for Jesse James.
Pineville still celebrates Jesse James Days during each year's August. The filming there remains uppermost of town events even after seventy years and counting. Attendance tends to around 2,500 for the four days they revel, and proceeds go to local volunteer firemen. Outdoor showing of the movie is a highlight. Fewer remain who stood before cameras, but sighting of grandparents and mostly gone neighbors persist. Think how many familiar faces (to Pineville residents) there are among the above mob surrounding Ty Power and Henry Fonda during a filming break. This photo, cribbed from my copy of Griffith and Mayer's The Movies, made a big impression upon mid-sixties acquiring of the book, being plain-faced (or rather thousands of faces) evidence of effect stars had on a movie-mad public. Pineville residents since may have forgotten Power and Fonda, but what fun to have had a major feature shot in your back yard, even if it's one folks way-back thrilled to. The closest we came was Thunder Road (several counties away, but it seemed like home) and a silent called Stark Love, directed by Griffith disciple Karl Brown and shot in these thar hills back in 1927. I attended a screening at Appalachian State University twenty or so years ago, where many in the audience yelled out names of locals they recognized upon that flickering, voiceless screen. Good thing Stark Love was run mute, for any mood accompaniment would surely have been drowned by who's who'ing from the audience (There's Great-Grandma!). I posted before about sentiment still accruing in Pinchot, Arkansas for A Face In The Crowd being partly made there, and ongoing reminiscing over same. As to Jesse James Days, I'm sad for that time certain when no one will be left to spot kin among long-ago Pineville extras. A nice book written by Larry C. Bradley and published in 1980, Jesse James: The Making of a Legend, detailed impact the filming had on locals and preserved many anecdotes they passed down.
Not that Jesse James was any textbook of the badman's actual life. Liberties they took were many and varied, despite director King's consultation with James family members (including Frank's still living son). There was no denying Hollywood convention even among remote environs, and who cared then about strict adherence to fact? Zanuck even considered alternate ends where Jesse survives (two such finishes were made, tested, then discarded). Tyrone Power was soon to be 1939's King Of Hollywood (succeeding Clark Gable) and few relished TP back shot by craven John Carradine (drat history for its bummer ending imposed on a great yarn). Jesse James came out in a rich filmgoing year and its $3.1 million worldwide rentals (on $1.1 spent) made Fox that much richer. I'd post more images off the film's spectacular pressbook, but the thing's as big as a horse blanket and my scanner balks at it. Jesse James had appeal across boundaries of class and mass. Social/political barbs went down smoother for a half-century's distance from events depicted, though few missed JJ's ongoing relevance. The film's thumping success probably gave Zanuck surer footing for the coming body slam of The Grapes Of Wrath, which neatly substituted autos and banks for horses and trains. Patrons viewing one within months of the other would recognize mid-westerner lives changed, but remaining pretty much a depreciated same (and in case parallels were missed, Henry Fonda's there to update Frank James as wronged man turned outlaw Tom Joad, with Jane Darwell again as enduring Ma).
Coming in Part Two: When Jesse James Rode Again --- A North Carolina Exhibition Story.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
MGM's Remake Rally of 1956
1956 was the year MGM fired Dore Schary and let their pre-48 backlog go to television. It was also a parched season when most of what they released lost money. I don't know of anything short of geese laying golden eggs that could have survived such a drought as theatres suffered then. A lot of what Metro did was remake or reissue old properties. Sometimes that worked, more often it didn't. The Philadelphia Story came back musicalized as High Society and was a hit, while The Swan with Grace Kelly reprising Lillian Gish's 1930 performance lost $764,000. A Cinemascope'd updating of The Women called The Opposite Sex ran aground with $1.5 million gone. These last two intrigued me for stills found on both during Liberty storage searches back in the seventies. I wondered then how such things performed new in 1956, but wasn't inspired to watch either on televised pan-and-scan. What's worse than wide movies on a square tube? Warner Archive has lately released The Swan and The Opposite Sex on anamorphic DVD with bounce-around-the-room sound (that last a good thing). Both are gorgeous transfers that transported me back among sweet seats at 1956 flagships where they played as intended and hadn't again till now.
Very poor business. Metro has gotten so "arty" in the past few years that Leo's trademark on a newspaper ad is almost enough to kill a picture, said manager Jim Fraser of Red Wing, Minnesota's Auditorium Theatre. He was talking about The Swan, and for 104 minutes viewed last night, I sort of felt his pain. How old-hat was this in a year when Elvis hit and restless youth were shucking off movie choices parents made? Put yourself in Jim's place ... here's a show dusting off a play first performed in 1923, with Grace Kelly clothed to the neck and coldly patrician besides. She'd married Prince Rainier in April '56 and that was primary hook for merchandising The Swan. For comparison's sake, I looked at One Romantic Night, the 1930 Lillian Gish version also just released by Warner Archive (guess MGM acquired it with remake rights). Turns out this one, at 72 minutes, has more energy than 1956's successor. The Swan is a comedy of manners revolved around royal amours and class conflict, riveting stuff, I'd imagine, if you're descended from crowned heads, but deadly for patrons in blue jeans or pedal pushers. Most of the $1.7 million it earned (in domestic rentals) likely derived from urban carriage trade, or maybe those curious to see Grace Kelly courted by pretend-prince Alec Guinness (who did favor Rainier a little). A location boost for me was The Swan's outdoor filming at Asheville NC's famed Biltmore House, a palace completed by George Vanderbilt in 1895 and truly fit for kings. I've walked enough through the joint with Ann (she'd live there if they'd rent) so that it seemed like home week watching Metro principals frolic about manicured grounds (but not amongst interiors --- those were built back in Culver).
A filler spot on TCM told how June Allyson swung on Joan Collins while they were making The Opposite Sex and knocked some teeth out. It was accidental, but happily stayed in the print. Watch it now and you'll see (and hear) Joan's earring flying across the room as well. Allyson/Collins battle memories of Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford in 1939's The Women in addition to each other. The original was largely unseen since MGM tried a 1947 reissue ($162,000 in worldwide rentals), and now came time to jazz up same with color, expanded frame, and a cast including men, their sex verboten in the oldie that resolutely maintained conceit of femmes only for its 133 minutes. Turns out that template was friskier in situations and dialogue (1956 dropped, for instance, a noted exit line about names for ladies not used outside a kennel --- had Code restrictions tightened since 1939?). Cinemascope still in comparative infancy played havoc with actress faces and fashions. Figures go squat and dresses already expansive billow like circus tents. I might have done something better with June Allyson's hair using toenail scissors (and she utterly blows Norma's blockbuster "jungle red" line). Dress and deportment had evidently gone a long way (down) since 1939. There's just no consistency in the designs, as if every shop window had been raided willy-nilly. We can guess this was MGM's 1956 idea of what smart women wore, but how did real-life smart women respond? Metro sent starlets cross country to model outfits from the film and stir up interest in same when what they really needed for The Opposite Sex was a producer with Ross Hunter's fashion sensibility. He knew how to render rags glad and make women want to wear them (and consume films in which they were worn).
Too many shows out of a studio system in decline tried too hard to please everybody. Instead of going forward in confidence, even with a set-up that worked before, they'd plump up as if staging a Ziegfeld Follies. Such excess breeds fun in The Opposite Sex, where more always ends up amounting to less. June Allyson has a back story where she entertains at World War II camp shows with cameo guest Harry James, and later Jeff Richards rocks out with a cowboy number that for all I know charted beside Little Richard and Bill Haley. A truly weird and would-be comic interlude featuring Dick Shawn and Jim Backus only adds to a whimsical anything-might-happen flavor. Veterans (Ann Sheridan/Joan Blondell) who'd have been ideal as 1939 Women now play in support of Allyson, Joan Collins, and Dolores Gray, the latter succeeding (respectively) Shearer, Crawford, and Rosalind Russell. When in doubt (often) as to these ladies' properly filling heels of forebears, The Opposite Sex brakes for outsized production numbers joyously out of keeping with a story they're trying to re-tell. There's pleasure here (never "guilty" --- as I don't acknowledge such things) of watching a train jump tracks and careen down a mountain side, so polluted is The Opposite Sex by committee-driven mentality. Credited director is David Miller, who I'd envision being overruled as to everything he tried to do right (exemplary work on Sudden Fear four years earlier was his). The Opposite Sex is another for those who've seen the classics and are ready to revel in the dregs. It is beautifully served up by Warner's Archive (as is The Swan) and well worthy of view time just for fact we can finally experience something very near what 1956 audiences did.