Welcome to Hollywood, 1977.
A week in 39-year-old movie news.
Let’s fire up the time machine once again and travel back to a random week in movie history to relive the news of the day.
Since we took you back to 1966 last time, this time around we’re jumping 11 years into the future with a look at what happened in Hollywood during the week of December 16, 1977.
The “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” Movie Throws The Biggest Party Ever
To celebrate the end of filming Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Universal merged production of the massive final party scene with an epic wrap party.
This way, all of the musicians and celebrities appearing in the musical that starred Peter Framption and the Bee Gees could participate in the finale and enjoy the party.
“A discoquake exploded at Culver City Studios,” The Hollywood Reporter wrote of the bash.
The stars who joined in on the celebration included Barry Gibb, Alice Cooper, Peter Frampton, Helen Reddy, Tina Turner, Curtis Mayfield, George Benson, Jose Feliciano, Bobby Womack, Keith Carradine, Carol Channing, Chita Rivera, Seals & Crofts, and Sha Na Na among many others.
“Take a roll call and anyone who isn’t here is either not in the business or will bawl tomorrow,” writer David Martin told The Reporter that night.
Mel Brooks Spoofs Alfred Hitchcock, Gets A Thank-You Gift From The Master of Suspense
Right before High Anxiety was about to come out, Mel Brooks invited fellow director Alfred Hitchcock to a sneak preview screening of the film which was a tribute to — and spoof of — Hitchock’s work.
Brooks shared the story of what happened with Bon Appetit magazine:
“I said, ‘Look, I make fun of movie genres. I did Silent Movie. I did the western [Blazing Saddles]. You are the suspense movie. You’re a genre. And I’d like to dedicate the movie to you.’
“He eventually saw a rough cut of High Anxiety. He enjoyed it. But he said nothing after it. He just left.
I [thought he] wasn’t happy. The next day, about 11 o’clock in the morning, I get this enormous, beautiful case of Chateau Haut-Brion 1961.
That was almost 20 years old [at the time]. I mean, it was priceless. And there were magnums six of them, in a wooden case. Haut-Brion. I mean, oh my God.”
Along with the wine was a note that read, “A small token of my pleasure, have no anxiety about this.”
The film had a wide release on Christmas of 1977 and was a financial success.
“Saturday Night Fever” Debuts and Changes Dance Floors Forever
On December 16, 1977, Saturday Night Fever arrived in theaters and set off a chain reaction of events that landed 23-year-old John Travolta an Oscar nomination and spawned a variety of trends while riding the disco wave through the end of the ’70s.
Movie critic Gene Siskel called the movie his favorite film of all time and later, at an auction, bought Travolta’s iconic white three-piece suit.
While Travolta’s opening strut down New York streets became a memorable movie moment, it was actually the second time director Jon Badham had incorporated such a move into one of his films.
The year before Badham helmed Saturday Night Fever, he directed Bingo Long and the Traveling All-Stars — a film about a Negro League baseball team starring Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor that featured them dancing their way into dusty towns to advertise that they’d arrived — and to stir up ticket sales.
Saturday Night Fever debuted with nearly $4 million at the box office in a limited opening and went on to earn more than $85 million in its initial run, giving Paramount plenty of cause to dance.
Bob Dylan Turns Down a $2 Million Soundtrack Offer
As 1977 wound down, Bob Dylan was preparing to release Renaldo & Clara, a four-hour film he had co-written with Sam Shepard and directed himself.
A few days before Christmas, however, it was reported that Dylan, who also stars in the film (along with his then-wife Sara Dylan, Joan Baez, Harry Dean Stanton, Allen Ginsberg, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, and others), turned down a $2 million offer for album rights to the film’s 47-song soundtrack.
Why? Because Dylan didn’t want people to think the movie was a musical.
Songs in the film included “When I Paint My Masterpiece”, “Isis”, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, “Hurricane”, “I Want You”, “It Ain’t Me, Babe”, “People Get Ready”, “If You See Her, Say Hello”, “Blowin’ in the Wind”, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”, “Tangled Up In Blue”, “House of the Rising Sun”, “One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below)”, “I Shall Be Released”, and “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” among others.
The soundtrack never saw the light of day, the film only saw limited release (in part, due to its 292-minute running time), and received mostly negative reviews from the critics.
Dylan went on to act in a handful of other films over the years, but never directed another movie.
Farrah Fawcett Makes Movies AND Faucet-Shaped Jewelry
By the end of 1977, Farrah Fawcett-Majors was a huge television star who had already appeared in several movies, most notably Logan’s Run (1976).
She also was in the process of becoming a true celebrity “brand” with the best-selling posted of all time, appearances on lunch boxes, and women all over the world trying to mimic her hairstyle.
One of the Farrah-endorsed products you may not have heard of was “The Fawcett” — a pendant ranging in price from $15 to $2,500 — that was featured in this Variety newspaper ad and described as being “as beautiful — and unique — as the lady herself.”
A Charles Bronson Thriller Features A Robert Frost Poem…and Inspires Quentin Tarantino In The Process?
The idea of a Robert Frost poem being central to a Charles Bronson espionage action thriller may seem unlikely, but Telefon did just that.
The film, directed by Don Siegel (Dirty Harry, Invasion of the Body Snatchers) and released on December 16th, revolves around Soviet KGB sleeper agents who spring to life when they hear lines from Frost’s short poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
The contrast between the seemingly innocent scene Frost paints and the mayhem the agents are programmed to perform may have been too much for a young future director to overlook.
Thirty years after Telefon’s release, Quentin Tarantino used the same poem in his film Death Proof.
In the 2007 grindhouse throwback, Jungle Julia Lucai informs radio listeners that if they recite the Rubaiat to a particular stripper they’ll get a free dance.
A Radio Station-Created Darth Vader Fan Club Is “Force-d” to Shut Down
A Canton, Ohio radio station, in the throes of the Star Wars mania, decided to create a fan club to honor the Supreme Commander of the Imperial Fleet.
AM station WINW 1520 collected $5 each from about 1,000 listeners who agreed to join the dark side club, which caught the attention of Star Wars Corp. who, in no uncertain terms, told the station this was not the promotion it was looking for.
20th Century Fox threatened to sue “WIN-Wonderful” if it didn’t cease, desist, and return the cash to padawans in three parsecs.
Station manager Jack Steenbarger said it was only a “few hundred” people they had collected money from and explained he thought when Fox sent him a letter saying he had permission to promote the film, it meant he could do whatever he wanted as long as he honored the copyright requirements.
Jack, like Captain Antilles below, was wrong.