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 Posted:   Jul 1, 2010 - 3:45 PM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

From its award-winning Broadway beginnings in 1969,

legendary producer Jack L. Warner undertook to transplant the show and most of its original
creative personnel (save, alas, Betty Buckley as Martha Jefferson)

to the screen in 1972 (tho he did his own damage cutting one of the show’s seminal numbers, which has
since been royally restored)

Still, it did capture for all time one of the goldarned GREATEST performances ever, William Daniels'
definitive delineation of the feisty spirit and committed character that was John Adams.

In addition to its being profoundly moving, often funny, quite charming (and surprisingly suspenseful,
given we all know how everything turned out), it also boasts one of the most articulate books in
musical history by Peter Stone

[ Aside to Eric: Funny you mention you might watch the 1986 Liberty Weekend gala held in New York ‘cause it was during that celebration we caught the show on teevee for the first time – and was so floored and gobsmacked we watched the two other airings that weekend! ]

Happy 4th!!!!

 Posted:   Jul 1, 2010 - 4:52 PM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

I remember first watching it on TV at my grandmother's in Ohio when we were there for the 4th, circa 1979 or so. Amazingly, the station actually showed the film over two days in two parts, and keep in mind this was just the regular 140 minute cut!

I managed to find a copy of the LP cast album at the time and its amazing how the fact that most of the film's cast members were on the Broadway LP made it easy for me to latch into it and in the process shaped my erroneous perception that film and stage versions of a musical were *supposed* to have their casts largely intact, when of course that isn't how it usually works at all, and "1776" just happened to be that one wonderful exception to the rule.

The release of the Laser Disc in 1991 and seeing the full length version of "Piddle, Twiddle And Resolve" for the frist time on film as well as "Cool Considerate Men" for the first time remains the single greatest thrill I have ever experienced with a movie release in any video format.

I too wish Betty Buckley had reprised her Martha Jefferson role for the film, but I believe that was entirely Peter H. Hunt's doing. He feigned ignorance about why she wasn't used in the LD commentary track, but apparently he was dead set on using Blythe Danner from the get-go for the film since he also used her not long afterwards in a TV series with Ken Howard ("Adam's Rib" based on the Tracy-Hepburn film).

Much has been said in other threads in the past about the controversy regarding the LD cut versus the current DVD cut and I won't revisit that issue. This thread is the occasion to just celebrate the greatness of the show itself!

 Posted:   Jul 1, 2010 - 7:35 PM   
 By:   CH-CD   (Member)

I managed to find a copy of the LP cast album at the time and its amazing how the fact that most of the film's cast members were on the Broadway LP made it easy for me to latch into it and in the process shaped my erroneous perception that film and stage versions of a musical were *supposed* to have their casts largely intact, when of course that isn't how it usually works at all, and "1776" just happened to be that one wonderful exception to the rule.

A wonderful exception indeed Eric......but, surely, not the only one ?

Didn't both "The Pajama Game" and "Damn Yankees" feature most of their original Broadway cast members when they reached the big screen, with the exception of headliners Doris Day and Tab Hunter ?

 Posted:   Jul 1, 2010 - 7:50 PM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

Yes, although when it comes to having all the *leads* intact along with many supporting players in smaller roles, "1776" still outdoes even those two (though Howard da Silva wasn't able to do the Broadway cast LP due to illness).

There were even some members of the Broadway cast who did the film in what was the *only* film they ever did in their careers (Ron Holgate, Ralston Hill)

 Posted:   Jul 1, 2010 - 8:03 PM   
 By:   Gary S.   (Member)

The film soundtrack on LP.

The Broadway revival with Brent Spiner as Adams

 Posted:   Jul 1, 2010 - 10:36 PM   
 By:   cinemel1   (Member)

Howard Dasilva's musical performances are nicely preserved in the film version.
It would be nice to have a complete CD of the original soundtrack which was
released on LP at the time of the film's theatrical release.

 Posted:   Jul 3, 2010 - 3:09 PM   
 By:   Sarge   (Member)

For those living in Los Angeles, The Aero Theatre is screening 1776 tonight at 7:30 -

1776, 1972, Sony Repertory, 169 min. Director Peter H. Hunt’s inspired adaptation of the 1969 Broadway musical smash. John Adams (William Daniels), Benjamin Franklin (Howard Da Silva) and Thomas Jefferson (Ken Howard) try to woo the rest of the colonies toward independence from England. We’re thrilled to be screening a beautifully restored print of the complete, uncut version of the film!

 Posted:   Jul 3, 2010 - 3:14 PM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

Howard Dasilva's musical performances are nicely preserved in the film version.
It would be nice to have a complete CD of the original soundtrack which was
released on LP at the time of the film's theatrical release.

A CD release of the film soundtrack should at least be expanded to include all of the cut music since the vocals/underscore obviously do exist.

Giving the LD cut its annual viewing right now!

 Posted:   Jul 3, 2010 - 6:24 PM   
 By:   mrscott   (Member)

I don't remember Peter Stone in Far From the Maddening Crowd but just saw him again in the elevator scene in Charade with Grant and Hepburn. I believe he also is the voice of the Marine in the scene with Audrey H. 1776. PS screenplay. They go together like Boston and Tea Party. Tomorrow AM the annual viewing. Looking forward to it as always.

 Posted:   Feb 3, 2013 - 12:23 PM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

This Matrix Mo'om Pitcher Musical Resurrection's fer Vu, Chris Department:

We figgered since there's re-energized syllable sharings twixt and 'tween theatre and film musicals there'd be no better tyme to bring this one back (by no demand, popular or otherwise except our own orneriness).

And since there's a sister thread on The Other Syde that's admiringly evolved into one of FSM longest and most thrillingly-informative/educational and upright entertaining threads focused primarily on the musical aspects, mebbe now the time's right for a properly profound equal reflection on the other aspects that make the film so fascinating.

PhillyJay & John Bee, amongst others, have generally shared their insights having seen the original Broadway version and twould be ideal if these (and anyone else) worthies expanded upon the stage and celluoid versions as well.

We also wanna pay particular attention to a sorely neglected individual, the marvelous Virginia Vestoff, whose enchanting equally-spirited incarnation of Abigail matches Mr. Daniels every step of the tenacious (or stubborn) way but never loses the luminous love, loyalty and sublime support that Historical Couple for the Admiring Ages had (and which their equally fascinating invaluable letters gloriously attest to).

To boldly brashly and unapologetically borrow from the venerated poem, how dost we love this flick ... bring thee forth thy ways of fulsome fragrances wink


 Posted:   Feb 3, 2013 - 2:03 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Peter Stone, the play’s author, as well as the film’s screenwriter, was the son of former history teacher-turned-writer and producer John Stone of Fox Studios. Songwriter Sherman Edwards, a former high school history teacher, was credited with conceiving the play as well as writing the music and lyrics. Edwards and Stone researched events prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence and endeavored to maintain historical accuracy. However, some liberties were taken, such as the timing of the signing of the document, which actually occurred over several months rather than on one day. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston, Roger Sherman, and Thomas Jefferson formed the Committee of Five to draft the document Jefferson wrote, which was also depicted in the film.

Personal details in the film and play, such as Benjamin Franklin’s napping and gout, were true. According to modern historical sources, Jefferson did wish to return home to see his wife, but she may have been ill at the time. Although the real Caesar Rodney suffered a form of skin cancer and made a last-minute ride from Delaware to Philadelphia, an event depicted on the 1999 Delaware commemorative quarter, he became mortally ill several years later than the period depicted in the film. Judge James Wilson changed his vote, as shown in the film, although his reason for doing so is not known. As shown in the film, the real John Dickinson did not sign the declaration and he did fight in the Continental Army, as he promises in his last speech in the film, and later helped to write the Constitution of the United States.

Much of the film's dialogue was taken from the writings of the historical figures. For example, the running joke describing John Adams as “obnoxious and disliked” were words the real Adams reported to his wife Abigail in his letters. Jefferson’s defense for a written document declaring independence, several of Franklins’ aphorisms, and Adams’ comment to Franklin that it would be wrong to remove the anti-slavery passage from the Declaration were lifted from actual writings. The quibble between Adams and Jefferson about the words “inalienable” vs. “unalienable” was also based on fact.

Stone's musical play opened in New York on 16 March 1969, and ran for 1,217 performances. The play won several awards, among them, the Tony Award and New York Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical and a Grammy nomination for Best Cast Album. Peter Hunt, who made his directorial debut with the Broadway production, won a Tony Award for Best Director. To some contemporary observers, the success of the play, which had a patriotic theme, came as a surprise, as it opened when the country was divided over the Vietnam War. The London production, which Hunt also staged, was named “Best Play of the Year” by British critics.

Several major film companies showed interest in obtaining the film rights for 1776, and bidding was already underway by May 1969. In November 1970, it was reported that Jack L. Warner had purchased the rights for the play, which was still running on Broadway and had two touring companies, for $1.25 million plus percentages. Warner, the long time president of Warner Bros., who had retired from the studio, bought the film rights with his own money.

Warner and Columbia Pictures teamed up to produce the picture and planned to cast mostly actors from the Broadway production and the national company. Actors who reprised their roles for the film included William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, Ken Howard, Roy Poole, David Ford, Ron Holgate, Emory Bass, Ralston Hill, Charles Rule, William Duell, Jonathan Moore and Virginia Vestoff. Noted stage actor John Collum, who portrays “Edward Rutledge,” had been a cast replacement on Broadway in late 1969 and remained in the same stage role for two years. Rex Robbins, Patrick Hines, James Noble, Daniel Keyes, and Leo Leyden had also worked at various times either on Broadway or in touring productions of the show before reprising their roles in the film. New to the film were Blythe Danner as “Martha Jefferson,” Donald Madden as “John Dickinson” and Stephen Nathan, who made his film debut as the “courier” and later became a writer and producer. Hunt, Stone, choreographer Onna White and costume designer Patricia Zipprodt, who had served on the stage production, also worked on the film.

Director Peter Hunt stated that originally he had not planned to cast Howard Da Silva as Benjamin Franklin in the film version, because of how difficult the actor had been during the Broadway run of the musical. However, he relented and let Da Silva reprise his stage role in the film when the actor promised to cooperate and begged to play Ben Franklin in the movie as a legacy to his grandchildren.

While the film was a faithful adaptation of the play, the filmmakers were able to open up outdoor scenes depicting the gardens and city streets of Philadelphia and Adams’ Massachusetts farm. A more detailed representation of Independence Hall’s anteroom, staircase and bell tower are presented in the film than in the play. Instead of opening with Adams’ speech before the curtain, as in the play, the film opens with Adams in the bell tower and climbing down several staircases to confront his colleagues in the assembly room. Sequences depicting the correspondence between Adams and Abigail that are presented in the songs, “Yours, Yours, Yours” and “Is Anybody There?,” which were based on actual correspondence between the real-life couple and Adams’ other writings, were set, according to the play's libretto, in “certain reaches of John Adams' mind.” Within the film, a transition was devised to emulate the technique used onstage, wherein the couple is initially shown talking directly to each other, but in their respective locations, Adams in Philadelphia and Abigail in Massachusetts. However, as the songs progress, the couple is shown together in the same setting, but never touching each other.

Other filmic devices were also used. Within the story, the passage of time is conveyed by the “custodian” tearing each day’s page from a large calendar hanging on the wall in the assembly room. A tally board on the wall listing the names of the colonies is used to clarify each colony’s vote on the various issues depicted in the story, by sliding the name of the colony either to the left or right to indicate an affirmative or negative vote. In the assembly hall, whenever Gen. George Washington’s reports are read aloud to the Congressmen, the reading ends with a drum roll in the soundtrack. Although the large calendar was a facsimile of the calendar hanging in the assembly hall in the year 1776, the tally board, a device used to heighten suspense that was displayed prominently in the play and the film, was not in the original hall.

A major difference between the libretto and script was the removal of the song, “Cool, Considerate Men,” which was filmed but was removed by Warner, who was a friend and campaign supporter of then president Richard M. Nixon. According to a September 2001 Los Angeles Times (LAT) article, Nixon had seen the stage show at a special White House performance in 1970 and, concerned about its negative portrayal of political conservatives who served as antagonists in the story, urged Warner to remove it from the released film. According to the article, Warner wanted the removed footage shredded, because he “did not want history second-guessing” his action; however, editor Florence Williamson surreptitiously kept it intact and placed it in storage. A July 2002 LAT article stated that, according to Hunt, Warner told one of his closest friends before he died that he regretted cutting the song.

Filming began on 4 October 1971 and was completed in early December. Independence Hall was built on a Columbia sound stage. The art director, Philadelphia native George Jenkins, used William Birch engravings and other research from the Independence Hall archives to reproduce the building faithfully as it stood in the year 1776. The Independence Hall staircase was built at Columbia’s Gower Studios and these scenes were some of the last to be shot there before Columbia moved from Hollywood to Burbank. Columbia’s Burbank ranch was the location where the cobble-stoned sets representing Chestnut, and intersecting Fifth and Sixth Streets, Independence Square, High Street market and Jefferson’s apartment, all set in Philadelphia, were shot. The Adams farm was shot at the Disney ranch, and many items, such as Jefferson’s actual writing desk, were replicated for the film.

1776 was shot in forty-four days on a $4,000,000 budget. The film opened in New York on 9 November 1972. Although the film was originally recorded on multi-track, Warner released the film in monaural. Previewed at a longer length, among the 40 minutes cut before the theatrical release of the film was the overture (which included removing all the opening credits except for the title, according to the DVD commentary) and three verses of the song, “Piddle, Twiddle and Resolve.” According to Hunt and Stone in their DVD commentary, the title sequence that was restored for the DVD release was shown theatrically only at a Phoenix preview and cut prior to release. They added that, at its release, the only opening credit was the title “1776”, which was possibly placed just as Adams runs down the steps from the bell tower. In the background of the restored title sequence is a panoramic sketch by artist Mentor Huebner that depicts a bustling Colonial street scene, incorporating caricatures of himself and Hunt among the crowd of people.

Despite a generally lukewarm critical response to the film, the New York Times reviewer credited 1776 as the first film that he could recall that “treated seriously a magnificent chapter in American history.” According to the LAT review, the film was shown at a benefit performance for the University of Southern California on the night before the film opened in Los Angeles. Harry Stradling, Jr. was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography. The film was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Motion Picture-Musical Comedy and the Daughters of the American Revolution named 1776 the most outstanding picture of the year.

1776 marked the final film of Warner, although his film DIRTY LITTLE BILLY, which was produced early in 1971, was released around the same time. Warner died in 1978. In 1973, Hunt and Stone produced, and Hunt directed, the television series “Adam’s Rib,” which reunited Howard and Danner in the starring roles and was based on the 1949 M-G-M film of the same name. A seven-part television mini-series originally titled “1776,” but renamed “John Adams,” was produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman for HBO and began airing in March 2008. The production was directed by Tom Hooper, written by Kirk Ellis, and starred Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney as Adams and Abigail Adams.

 Posted:   Feb 3, 2013 - 2:18 PM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

Much of the film's dialogue was taken from the writings of the historical figures.

from an old 1776 thread re McCullough Adams bio:

"He was an awkward dancer..." (p. 19)

"Winter makes its approaches fast...I hope I shall not be obliged to spend it without my dearest friend...I have been like a nun in a cloister ever since you went away." (Abigail to John, p. 21)

"They talk very loud, very fast, and altogether...If they ask you a question, before you can utter three words of your answer, they will break out upon you again--and talk away." (John re New Yorkers, p. 25)

"After an evening stroll with Hannah through Braintree--through 'Cupid's Grove'--Adams spent a long night..." (p. 51)

"She nearly always began her letters then, as later, 'My Dearest Friend.'" (p. 55)

"Richard Henry Lee of Virginia was a 'tall, spare...masterly man'; Roger Sherman spoke 'often and long, but very heavily.'" (p.85)

"An alliance to be formed with France and Spain"; Government to be assumed by every colony"; "Powder mills to be built in every colony and fresh efforts to make saltpetre [for the making of gunpowder]." (Adams' diary Feb. 1776, p.89)

"His custom was to drink nothing all day, nor 'til eight o'clock in the evening, and then his beverage was Jamaica spirits and water...He read Greek, Roman and British history, and was familiar with English poetry...And the flow of his soul made his reading our own, and seemed to bring to recollection in all of us all we had ever read." (Adams on Stephen Hopkins, p. 100)

"...the cool considerate men think it amounts to a declaration of independence." (Caesar Rodney on Adams' preamble to Virginia's resolution on independence, p. 109)

"Years later, still puzzling over Jefferson's passivity at Philadelphia, Adams would claim that 'during the whole time I sat with him in Congress, I never heard him utter three sentences together.'" (p. 113)

"The letters of John and Abigail Adams number in the thousands, and because they both wrote with such consistent candor and in such vivid detail, it is possible to know them--to go beneath the surface of their lives--to an extent not possible with other protagonists of the time. Not Washington, not Jefferson, or Madison or Hamilton, not even Franklin for all he wrote, was so forthcoming on paper as was John Adams over a lifetime of writing about himself and his world." (Acknowledgements, p. 653)

Author McCullough is quite right, I really feel like I got to know them. Again. And the ever-constant images of Mr. Daniels & Miss Vestoff, not to mention Messrs. Howard and DaSilva, et al., etc. etc., ditto, ditto, once again helped to make the whole gang come alive, even more! I heartily endorse this work...if anybody's there...if anybody cares...if anybody wants to see what I see.wink

 Posted:   Feb 3, 2013 - 6:08 PM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

Actually we've been ruminating for some years now about attempting a theatrical evening composed of the letters between Abigail
and her painfully bashful shy utterly unopinionated spouse

with the creatively incubating title of "To Braintree and Back".

If'n we do, opening night tickets for you and yours are on us ... wink

 Posted:   Feb 3, 2013 - 7:28 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

Reading this thread makes me feel good. I bought the record back in the 70's, never got the chance to see the play, and feel in love with the whole soundtrack. Loved every number and played it often. Seeing the film version on TV i totally enjoyed the film. I remembered when it was shown on ELECTION NIGHT ONCE ON WOR-TV CH-9 in New York.However everyone around me didn't care too much for it, As you can understand i wouldn't dare compare it with these people to the greats like THE SOUND OF MUSIC, KING AND I, WEST SIDE STORY ETC ETC, So i had to listen to it quietly, how nice to see this thread, Yes a fine tuneful musical.

 Posted:   Feb 3, 2013 - 7:42 PM   
 By:   PhiladelphiaSon   (Member)

I had seen the original production, which ranks 3rd as my favorite musical theater-going experience (right behind MY FAIR LADY and HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING). When I saw the film, during its original release, what I disliked about it, clouded my judgement for the rest of the film. I never saw it again, until it was released on laserdisc, where I fell in love with it. As it stands, on laserdisc, I still have no appreciation for Blythe Danner's presence in it, but otherwise, it's sheer perfection. Even better than the film, was Philadelphia's Bicentennial production, which was, in many ways, the equal of Broadway, and with the real Independence Hall as its backdrop, far more thrilling!

 Posted:   Feb 4, 2013 - 8:38 AM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

To paraphrase the current First Lady now in The Colorful House wink

seeing this fascinating musical miracle made us right PROUD to be

an Amurrican. cool


 Posted:   Feb 4, 2013 - 3:35 PM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

As a way of launching one into learning more about the events, "1776" serves the role that great historical movies/plays/musicals used to serve. It communicates the essential truths and gives us the mortar so that when we read more of the real history, we are better prepared for it and better prepared to understand the richer details that the entertaining adaptations even at their best can't communicate.

Having seen four different stage productions over the decades (1988-Paper Mill Playhouse; 1996-Morristown, NJ; 1997-Broadway; 2009-Paper Mill Playhouse) and the LD cut of the film dozens of times over the years, the experience never gets tiresome for me.

 Posted:   Feb 4, 2013 - 3:49 PM   
 By:   Christopher Kinsinger   (Member)

Ohmygoodness, neo!
You honor me, my friend.

I was doing a lot of amateur community theatre back in the late 60's - early 70's, and I'll never forget being backstage, changing costumes whilst doing my three separate small roles in Cabaret, when a quartet of my friends broke into a spontaneous performance of "The Egg." I asked them about that wonderful song, and my relationship with 1776 was born!
I was able to see the show on several occasions onstage, and was eager to see the film. Naturally, I was devastated at all of Warner's butchering. I could hardly believe my eyes, not to mention ears. Was it 1990, when Pioneer Home Video released their amazing restoration of the film? I'm not positive of the year, only that I secured a copy as soon as I was able, and the love affair has been going strong ever since.
I still love to introduce this film to those who have not yet seen it. Last summer, I met a couple who have since become close friends, and when I realized they hadn't ever seen the film, I bought them a copy. They reciprocated by inviting my lady & I to dinner & a movie (guess which movie).

 Posted:   Feb 4, 2013 - 4:03 PM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

Fall of 1991. I remember it well! I think my biggest excitement was when I opened up the jacket and realized that not only was Cool Considerate Men back in but "Piddle, Twiddle And Resolve" was restored to full-length too!

 Posted:   Feb 4, 2013 - 7:47 PM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

[ As a way of launching one into learning more about the events, "1776" serves the role that great historical movies/plays/musicals used to serve. It communicates the essential truths and gives us the mortar so that when we read more of the real history, we are better prepared for it and better prepared to understand the richer details that the entertaining adaptations even at their best can't communicate. ]

Dang, HooRaq, that's so poetic a perception it could be a memorable Introduction all its admirable own! smile


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