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Sweet Bird of Youth (1962)

Approved | | Drama | 3 May 1962 (UK)
Trailer
2:53 | Trailer
Drifter Chance Wayne returns to his hometown after many years of trying to make it in the movies. Arriving with him is a faded film star he picked up along the way, Alexandra Del Lago. ... See full summary »

Director:

Richard Brooks

Writers:

Tennessee Williams (play), Richard Brooks (written for the screen by)
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 Barry Cahill ... Bud
Dub Taylor ... Dan Hatcher
James Douglas James Douglas ... Leroy
Barry Atwater ... Ben Jackson
Charles Arnt ... Mayor Henricks
Dorothy Konrad Dorothy Konrad ... Mrs. Maribelle Norris
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Storyline

Drifter Chance Wayne returns to his hometown after many years of trying to make it in the movies. Arriving with him is a faded film star he picked up along the way, Alexandra Del Lago. While trying to get her help to make a screen test, he also finds the time to meet his former girlfriend Heavenly, the daughter of the local politician Tom 'Boss' Finley, who more or less forced him to leave the town many years ago. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Provocative Adult Entertainment See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 May 1962 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Sweet Bird of Youth See more »

Filming Locations:

Malibu, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Stars Geraldine Page and Rip Torn married in 1963 , one year after this film was released. They had performed together in the Broadway version of "Sweet Bird of Youth". See more »

Goofs

The film is set in the Gulf coast town of "St. Cloud," which is the name of an actual inland town in central Florida. However, Chance and the Princess are shown driving out of Florida at the beginning of the film, so the movie is not set in that state. It seems most likely that "St. Cloud" is a fictional town, intended to stand in for a coastal location in Mississippi or Louisiana. See more »

Quotes

Chance Wayne: I had my picture on the cover of Life magazine! Woo-ha!
Chance Wayne: And at the same time I was... employing my other talent, lovemaking.
Alexandra Del Lago: That may be the only talent you were ever truly meant for.
See more »

Connections

Version of Sweet Bird of Youth (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)
(1893) (uncredited)
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Second movement played for Alexandra's comeback test
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Deliciously Overwrought
17 July 2006 | by LechuguillaSee all my reviews

Highflying melodrama permeates this Tennessee Williams play converted to film by Director Richard Brooks. What makes this Southern soap opera fascinating is the cast of tawdry characters, beginning with Chance Wayne (Paul Newman), a charming, ambitious gigolo who, despite his best efforts, can't quite make his worldly dreams come true.

But this time he's got a real plan for success. Chance returns to his hometown on the Gulf Coast, bringing with him a boozed-out, high-strung movie star named Alexandra Del Lago (Geraldine Page). Chance hopes to grab his hometown girlfriend, Heavenly (Shirley Knight), and the three of them skedaddle off to Hollywood, so that Chance can make it big in the movies, with the help of Alexandra, of course. Thing is ... Alexandra is so spaced out, she can't remember who Chance is, or where she met him.

Chance's homecoming is anything but cordial, mostly because of the influence of Heavenly's dad, 'Boss' Finley (Ed Begley) who, along with Finley, Jr. (Rip Torn), has it in for Chance. Complicating matters even more is Miss Lucy (Madeleine Sherwood), 'Boss' Finley's mistress whom Heavenly can't stand.

Having originated as a stage play, the film takes place mostly indoors, and is very talky. But the Tennessee Williams dialogue is predictably incisive, with commentary both on the whims of success and on the fleeting nature of youth.

By far, my favorite element of the film is the deliciously overwrought performance of Geraldine Page. With her distinctive voice, her mannerisms, and her stunning acting ability, she chews up the scenery and then some, overpowering everyone and everything else. No actress could have been more credible in the role of Alexandra, an almost comical character, whose firmness, vanity, self-centeredness, and dramatic flair make her both weak and strong at the same time.

Although flashbacks tend to disrupt the flow, the film's screen story is otherwise very good. With great performances from multiple actors, excellent color cinematography, and an appropriately jazzy/blues score, "Sweet Bird Of Youth" is a film treat, in the grand tradition of cinematic melodrama.


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