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A Name for Evil
Alternate Title: The Grove
Director: Bernard Girard (Dir)
Release Date:   1973
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: 4 Apr 1973
Production Date:   began 6 Jul 1970 in Vancouver, Canada
Duration (in mins):   85
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Cast:   Robert Culp (John Blake)  
    Samantha Eggar (Joanna Blake)  
    Sheila Sullivan (Luanna Baxter)  
    Mike Lane (Fats)  
    Sue Hathaway (Mary)  
    Ted Greenhalgh (Hugh)  
    Clarence "Big" Miller (Jimmy)  
    Barbara Tremain (Mrs. Olson)  
    Reg McReynolds (Mr. Olson)  
    Walter Marsh (Minister)  
    D. Goldrick (Secretary)  
    Billy Joe Royal (Singer in tavern)  

Summary: Expressing his rage and frustration over the sterile, commercialized atmosphere in Hartford, CT, John Blake quits his executive job at his brother Ed's company to move to a deserted backwoods estate owned by his long-dead, "crazy" grandfather, Major Blake. John, who talks to people in his daydreams, throws his television set out the window of his high rise apartment, then looks in on his wife Joanna, who is napping on their bed, quietly insisting that he knows reality from fantasy. Arriving at Fats Landing, a ramshackle motel and gas station near the estate, John asks the owner, Fats, to help him hire people to renovate the property, but finds him strangely uncommunicative. When John goes to see the estate, which is beside a picturesque lake, he discovers that the interior is in ruins and coldly confronts the elderly caretakers, Mr. and Mrs. Olson, telling them that they have been dismissed because they betrayed his trust. A few moments later, while Joanna is looking through the house's many rooms, a large, taciturn black man named Jimmy comes to the door, and when John asks him what has happened to the Olsons, Jimmy says that they died. Back at the motel, Joanna insists that she has no intention of spending the night, let alone staying on permanently, and wants to sell the place, but John assures her that they can build something beautiful that will bring them closer together. The more practical Joanna, who worries over the changes in John, charges that he will soon grow tired of the project and blame his failures on everyone else, just as he has done in the past. Some time later, while John is at the house, he sees a dead dog inside, then watches as a man mounts a horse and gallops into the woods. When John returns to the motel, Joanna, who has been crying, tells him that Ed telephoned to say that he had received confirmation that their beloved younger brother, Moss, a military pilot, was shot down. A few days later, at the funeral in Hartford, John grows disgusted when the minister extols Moss's sacrifice and patriotism and imagines himself shouting at the mourners that Moss died for nothing. He then starts to clap, shocking Joanna and the others. Some weeks later, a crew of local men are working on the renovation, and John and Joanna have moved into a trailer next to the lake. One night, Joanna sets up a romantic dinner inside the still incomplete kitchen and asks if they should invite their friends Hugh and Mary to visit them, suggesting that they could accelerate the renovations if they do not knock down the wall between the two rooms that are intended for their bedroom. As Joanna leaves the table, John is certain that he sees the shadow of a man kissing Joanna's hand. The next day, John tells Jimmy that he wants to knock down the bedroom wall, to which Jimmy replies "Major won't like it." Irritated, John replies that the house is his now. Later, in the cellar, John sees a man's shadow and hears Joanna giggling, but when she comes out of a secret passageway she has found, she ignores his questions. John then wanders through the woods, talking to himself about the shadows. Returning to the house, he learns that Hugh and Mary have come for a visit. Hugh and Mary admire the estate, which Hugh calls "groovy," then confides to John that he could sell it for a fortune. During their romantic dinner, John tells Joanna that Hugh is an ass, then later, as they prepare for bed in the trailer, imagines making love to her, after which she suggests that they go for a picnic at the mountain waterfalls the next day. While she sleeps, he sneaks out of the trailer and drives to a nearby tavern where locals are drinking, dancing and consuming large trays of spaghetti without sauce. John joins in the country dancing, then leaves with Luanna Baxter, an attractive local girl. After they make love in the woods, he drives Luana home at dawn then returns to the trailer, where he sees a half-smoked cigar in an ashtray next to Joanna's slippers. Going inside the house, John confronts Joanna, demanding to know who was in the trailer the previous night. Replying that she thought it was someone she knew and loved, she relates that it was he, but he acted like someone else and "kept at" her, treating her like an animal. When he insists that he spent the night elsewhere, she accuses him of being sick or insane. Furious that she does not believe him, John says that he can prove where he was and storms out of the house. He then drives to Luanna's and takes her to the waterfalls, where they spend an idyllic day swimming in the nude and making love. After dropping Luanna off later, John drives home and thinks about Joanna's past accusations that he is indecisive, sick and insane. When he returns to the house and walks up the stairs to their bedroom, he sees Joanna asleep on the bed, strips off his clothes and whispers that he knows reality from fantasy. John then rips off a scarf around Joanna's neck and drags her up from bed, twirling her around until she is thrown against the window, which shatters as falls to the ground below. Sometime later, as Joanna is buried, Jimmy, Fats and other locals attend the gravesite next to the lake as John sadly looks on from the house. He then walks past their trailer as his car drives away and Jimmy's voice repeats "Always the Major's, always will be." 

Production Company: Penthouse Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Cinerama Releasing Corp.  
Director: Bernard Girard (Dir)
  Bill Lukather (Asst dir)
  Fred Hatt (2d asst dir)
Producer: Reed Sherman (Prod)
  Bernard Girard (Prod)
Writer: Bernard Girard (Scr)
Photography: Reginald Morris (Cine)
  Rod Parkhurst (Asst cam)
  Robert Willoughby (Still photog)
  Bobby Milligan (Lighting)
  Bruce Campbell (Lighting)
  Fred Ransom (Grip)
  Fred Humphries (Grip)
  Don Kosloski (Grip)
Art Direction: Cameron Porteous (Art dir)
Film Editor: Maurice Wright (Cinema editor)
  Michael Palakow (Asst ed)
Set Decoration: John Stooshnov (Props)
  Peter Young (Props)
Costumes: Ilse Richter (Ward)
  Bobby Watts (Ward)
Music: Dominic Frontiere (Mus)
  Erma E. Levin (Mus ed)
  Robert H. Raff (Mus ed)
Sound: John Guselle (Sd)
  Art Steadman (Sd)
  Rupert Bennett (Sd)
  Edit-Rite, Inc. (Sd eff)
  Samuel Goldwyn Studio (Re-rec)
  Richard Portman (Re-rec)
Special Effects: Hannah Hamilburg (Title des)
  Consolidated Film Industries (Titles, opt and processing by)
Dance: Grover Dale (Choreog)
Make Up: Al Fleming (Makeup)
  Phyllis Newman (Makeup)
  Salli Barey (Hairdresser)
Production Misc: David Robertson (Prod mgr)
  Harvey McCracken (Unit mgr)
  Gail Turner (Prod secy)
  Synchrofilm, Inc. (Post prod supv)
MPAA Rating: R
Country: Canada and United States
Language: English

Songs: "Mountain Woman," music by Emory Gordy, Jr., lyrics by Ed Cobb, sung by Billy Joe Royal; "Tra-la, Tra-la-la," music and lyrics by Dominic Frontiere; "Valley of Destiny," music by Dominic Frontiere, lyrics by Bobby Hart.
Composer: Ed Cobb
  Dominic Frontiere
  Emory Gordy Jr.
  Bobby Hart
Source Text: Based on the novel A Name for Evil by Andrew Lytle (Indianapolis, IN, 1947).
Authors: Andrew Lytle

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Penthouse Pictures, Inc. 26/2/1973 dd/mm/yyyy MP23833

Physical Properties: Sd:

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Psychological
  with songs
Subjects (Major): Haunted houses
  Lure of the country
Subjects (Minor): Apartment buildings
  Falls from heights
  Hartford (CT)
  Secret passageways
  Square dances
  United States--History--Vietnam War, 1964--1973

Note: Working titles for the film included The Grove and There Is a Name for Evil . Although the film's credits include a 1973 copyright statement for Penthouse Pictures, Inc., the film was not registered for copyright. The opening credits are presented against surreal artwork, most likely created by Hannah Hamilburg, who is credited onscreen with "Title design."
       The film opens and closes with shots of the estate as "Major Blake" stands outside on the grounds. The Major, who is dressed in a nineteenth-century military frock coat, appears throughout the picture as if spying on the house. Within the film, there are a number of short flashbacks and scenes that are presented as dreams or fantasies of "John Blake." Some scenes seem to be shown out of sequence, possibly as fantasies that predict what is going to appear or as alternate interpretations of events. There are various scenes that are accompanied by voice-over narration, some of which may be John's imagination. Within the story it is implied that "Moss Blake" died in the Vietnam War, but Vietnam is never mentioned. For some scenes in which actor Robert Culp, who played John, is in the dark, heard in voice-over or has his back to the camera, his dialogue may have been dubbed by another actor.
       According to AMPAS records, the film opened in Los Angeles at the Baldwin Theatre on 4 Apr 1973. No contemporary reviews or additional contemporary screenings have been verified. News items reveal the following information about the production: Producer-director Carl Hittleman purchased the rights to Andrew Lytle's novel in, or just prior to, Oct 1965, intending to co-write the screenplay with Reed Sherman, who was announced as the picture's star and co-producer in several news items. Although Sherman was credited onscreen as the film's producer, his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. In 1965 and 1966 news items, the production company was first reported as Hittleman's Syzygy Productions. A 13 Apr 1966 LAT news item reported that Art Weingarten had just been signed to write the screenplay, but his contribution, if any, to the released film has not been confirmed. NYT reported that actor Patrick O'Neal was initially cast in the role played by Culp.
       The picture was shot in and around Vancouver, BC, from 6 Jul 1970, on a $1,000,000 budget, according to several news items and HR production charts. Although HR production charts listed the film through 20 Nov 1970, reporting that it was in the ninety-eighth day of production, it is more likely that shooting ended in late Aug or early Sep. Some news items reported that the film initially was to be released by M-G-M. It is possible that the film's delayed exhibition was due to a lawsuit filed in Aug 1971 by Stone Productions, Inc. and Samantha, Inc. seeking an injunction against Centennial Productions, Inc., which was formed by Sherman and Reed to produce A Name for Evil and future productions. Other companies named in the suit were Consolidated Film Industry, Mercantile Financial Corp. and Filmhouse Ltd. The disposition of the suit has not been determined.
       The Mar 1973 issue of Playboy featured a photo spread on the film featuring photographs of Culp and Samantha Eggar and several photographs of Sheila Sullivan, then married to Culp, and the film's third lead. Modern sources add Rene Bond and Cameron MacDonald to the cast. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   1 Apr 1966.   
Daily Variety   11 Jun 1970.   
Hollywood Reporter   29 Oct 1965.   
Hollywood Reporter   22 Aug 1969.   
Hollywood Reporter   12 Jun 1970.   
Hollywood Reporter   7 Aug 1970   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Aug 1970.   
Hollywood Reporter   20 Nov 1970   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Aug 1971.   
Los Angeles Times   13 Apr 1966.   
New York Times   17 May 1970.   
Playboy   Mar 1973   p. 147.
Variety   5 Aug 1970.   

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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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