AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Sweet Bird of Youth
Director: Richard Brooks (Dir)
Release Date:   1962
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: 21 Mar 1962
Duration (in mins):   120
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Cast:   Paul Newman (Chance Wayne)  
    Geraldine Page (Alexandra Del Lago)  
    Shirley Knight (Heavenly Finley)  
    Ed Begley ("Boss" Finley)  
    Rip Torn (Thomas J. Finley, Jr.)  
    Mildred Dunnock (Aunt Nonnie)  
    Madeleine Sherwood (Miss Lucy)  
    Philip Abbott (Dr. George Scudder)  
    Corey Allen (Scotty)  
    Barry Cahill (Bud)  
    Dub Taylor (Dan Hatcher)  
    James Douglas (Leroy)  
    Barry Atwater (Ben Jackson)  
    Charles Arnt (Mayor Henricks)  
    Dorothy Konrad (Mrs. Maribelle Norris)  
    James Chandler (Prof. Burtus H. Smith)  
    Mike Steen (Deputy)  
    Kelly Thordsen (Sheriff Clark)  
    William Forrest (Benny Taubman)  
    Roy Glenn (Charles)  
    Davis Roberts (Fly)  
    Robert Burton (Director)  

Summary: Chance Wayne has youth, good looks, virility, and complete self-confidence--four qualities he feels certain will make him a Hollywood star. After drifting for several years, he goes to Florida and picks up Alexandra Del Lago, an aging film star. Convinced that her comeback picture is a failure, Alexandra has taken to drinking vodka, smoking hashish, inhaling oxygen, and keeping young lovers. She promises to help Chance in Hollywood, and he drives her to the small southern town of his birth. Here he plans a reunion with his girl friend, Heavenly, the only daughter of a corrupt and powerful politician, "Boss" Finley. Chance quickly learns, however, that he is unwelcome. (He does not know that following his last visit Heavenly became pregnant and had an abortion.) While Finley and his hoodlum son, Tom Junior, consider their revenge, Heavenly's Aunt Nonnie arranges several meetings between the young lovers. In the meantime, Chance continues to nurture his relationship with Alexandra, and he records her drugged confessions with a view to future blackmail. Suddenly Alexandra learns from Walter Winchell that her comeback film is an unqualified triumph and that she is once more in demand. Her old self again, she rejects Chance, ignores her promises, and prepares to leave. As she does so a giant political rally is turned into a brawl when Finley's discarded mistress, Miss Lucy, exposes his ruthless tactics and reveals Heavenly's abortion. Sensing the impending violence, Alexandra offers to take Chance away, but he refuses to leave Heavenly. A group of thugs headed by Tom Junior beat Chance into senselessness and badly disfigure his face. Chance is finally able to face the truth about himself, and he leaves with Heavenly. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.  
  Roxbury Productions  
Distribution Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.  
Director: Richard Brooks (Dir)
  Hank Moonjean (Asst dir)
Producer: Pandro S. Berman (Prod)
  Kathryn Hereford (Assoc prod)
Writer: Richard Brooks (Scr)
Photography: Milton Krasner (Dir of photog)
  Charles K. Hagedon (Col consultant)
Art Direction: George W. Davis (Art dir)
  Urie McCleary (Art dir)
Film Editor: Henry Berman (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Henry Grace (Set dec)
  Hugh Hunt (Set dec)
Costumes: Orry-Kelly (Cost)
Music: Harold Gelman (Mus supv)
  Robert Armbruster (Orch cond)
Sound: Franklin Milton (Rec supv)
Special Effects: Lee Le Blanc (Spec visual eff)
Make Up: William Tuttle (Makeup)
  Sydney Guilaroff (Hairstyles)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the play Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams (New York, 10 Mar 1959).
Authors: Tennessee Williams

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Roxbury Productions 31/12/1961 dd/mm/yyyy LP21774

Physical Properties: col: Metrocolor
  Sd: Westrex
  Widescreen/ratio: CinemaScope

Genre: Melodrama
Subjects (Major): Abortions
  Actors and actresses
  Brothers and sisters
  Family relationships
  Motion pictures
  Political bosses
  Recorders of deeds
  United States--South
  Walter Winchell

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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