Tag Archives: Judgment at Nuremburg

Memories On The Small Screen

Dear Friends,

Last Saturday a film we produced played on NBC.  It was Judgement at Nuremberg, starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Maximilian Schell, Montgomery Clift, and Werner Klemperer.

Judgement at Nuremberg

We enjoyed it so much—it was so filled with the author, Abby Mann’s screenplay.  And, despite being thought of as too “intellectual and thoughtful,” it was one of our greatest successes! We just love the story about how the film came together and decided to re-share our story with you today (we originally posted the story below November 2014).

KATHARINE HEPBURN’S UNKNOWN TRIUMPH! 

In 1960, a teleplay was performed on Playhouse 90. The program was called Judgment at Nuremburg, which was a somber and serious piece.
Philip Langner of The Theatre Guild, Inc. received a script “over the transom”—as they say about unknown scripts. The Guild directors liked the script and “knowing” its virtual impossibility as a film, decided—with the author’s agreement—to have a play written and to produce it on Broadway.

At the time, Katharine Hepburn was playing Antony & Cleopatra at the Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, CT (created by Lawrence Langner). On a very remote possibility, Philip and the author, Abby Mann, drove to Stratford on a matinee day to see Kate.  After the matinee, they went to her cottage.  She opened the door and Philip said politely “Kate, you have a lovely suntan!”  Kate said with her typical Locust Valley lockjaw accent—“That’s not a suntan, those are spots!” Looking back, Philip always wondered if he should have replied, “well, they do look wonderful on you!”

Kate agreed to look at the t.v. production, which she did at The Theatre Guild building on 53rd Street. She liked the teleplay enormously and decided to work diligently to make it into a film.

She sent the play to Spencer Tracy and she succeeded! Tracy sent it to Hollywood producer, Stanley Kramer, who produced it in 1961 with the most incredible cast for such a serious—and therefore risky—film.  Kramer persuaded all 9 film stars to take modest salaries.  The film was released in 1961.

Kramer was the Producer, Philip Langner the Associate Producer, and Abby Mann was the Screenwriter. The incredible cast included:

  • Spencer Tracy
  • Richard Widmark
  • Burt Lancaster
  • Marlene Dietrich
  • Max Schell
  • Montgomery Clift
  • Judy Garland
  • William Shatner
  • Warner Klemperer

Thus, one of the Great War films of all time was created.

And who got it done? Katharine Hepburn.

AND WHO WAS NEVER TOLD ABOUT HER TRIUMPH? The World. 

Judgment at Nuremburg was nominated for 11 Academy awards, winning 2 for Best Actor (Schell) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Mann). The film was recently entered into the Library of Congress National Film Registry.

Best regards,
Philip and Marilyn

PS—The discussion in this film on the subject of war is so important, and of course, it is wildly pertinent in today’s world with North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Yemen all hoping(?) for some war excitement.

And also: we bought a DVD of Judgement at Nuremberg at Amazon, which is currently for on sale for $12.00.  To order your copy, click here.

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The Independence of Slaves

Dear Friends,

As we were discussing the impact that John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands had on the independent film industry in our last post, we would like to share our own experiences in the film industry.   The Theatre Guild has produced 5 films over the years:

  • The Pawnbroker
  • Judgment at Nuremberg
  • Born To Win
  • Slaves
  • A Child Is Waiting

Additionally, our dear partner Marilyn Clark Langner had roles in several of Cassavetes’ films—Shadows and Husbands—and even one of our own independent productions, Slaves, which we produced in 1969, starring Dionne Warwick (in her debut role), Ossie Davis, and Stephen Boyd.  It told the story of two slaves in South Carolina.

marilyn slaves

Marilyn Clark Langner riding in Shreveport, Louisiana on the set of Slaves. You may note that she is riding side-saddle, as ladies did back then.  Marilyn spent months going to Westchester, where she took side-saddle riding lessons.

It was definitely a family affair, as our two small daughters were also in the film.

HOW WE MADE OUR INDEPENDENT FILM SLAVES:

It was 1969, and we were encouraged and emboldened by John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands independent movie adventures.  We read this wonderful movie script by Herbert Biberman, John O. Killens, and Alida Sherman; it was about life for slaves before the Civil War.  We knew that no studio would want to make such an informative and serious film about this subject matter.  But we felt compelled to make it, so we went around asking for support ($750,000) from our kind supporters and received a $500,000 investment a film distribution company in New York.

On a winter day in 1969 we bought a limousine from upstate New York and brought it down to New York City.  Several weeks later, we hired our production workers (3 or 4) and they drove the limo to Shreveport, LA.  There we had contracted a lovely gentleman who owned a 1860s style plantation and farm, who permitted us to shoot the film on his land.

We had hired Dionne Warwick, who played Cassy (the leading actress), in her debut role and Ossie Davis played Luke, the male lead.  We engaged Stephen Boyd to play the slave owner and our dear Marilyn played his wife.  Herbert Biberman was the director.

We all met in Shreveport, LA and there we had a rehearsal hall to prepare the actors for their roles in the film.  All of this was very exciting.  We had a number of casting calls for local women to play in the film.  We were very worried that the residents of Shreveport would be, perhaps, angry and unwilling to participate in a movie showing the life of slaves.  Happily, everyone wanted to be in the movie–we think that was more important than its political view–so we had a full cast of our film and stage actors supplemented by Shreveport residents.

We shot the film in 8 weeks and sent the films we shot to Hollywood to be developed, printed, and edited.  Our director, of course, supervised the editing.  We found an independent distributor, which was not easy because the major film companies were not available for this project.  The film was released in 1972.  It won awards in Europe.  Marilyn and I traveled to the Paris and Berlin film festivals.

We are very proud of this movie and are working hard to have it re-released soon—and we owe our thanks and gratitude to Gena and John for helping pave the way!

We think this is exciting: our film Slaves is available to be watched on either Amazon Prime or Netflix (just click on the orange link)!

 

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Katharine Hepburn’s Unknown Triumph!

In 1960, a teleplay was performed on Playhouse 90. The program was called Judgment at Nuremburg, which was a somber and serious piece.

Philip Langner of The Theatre Guild, Inc. received a script “over the transom”—as they say about unknown scripts. The Guild directors liked the script and “knowing” its virtual impossibility as a film, decided—with the author’s agreement—to have a play written and to produce it on Broadway.

At the time, Katharine Hepburn was playing Antony & Cleopatra at the Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, CT. On a very remote possibility, Philip and the author, Abby Mann, drove to Stratford on a matinee day to see Kate.  After the matinee, they went to her cottage.  She opened the door and Philip said politely “Kate, you have a lovely suntan!”  Kate said with her typical Locus Valley lockjaw accent—“That’s not a suntan, those are spots!” Looking back, Philip always wondered if he should have replied, “well, they do look wonderful on you!”

Kate agreed to look at the t.v. production, which she did at the Theatre Guild building on 53rd Street. She liked the teleplay enormously and decided to work diligently to make it into a film.

She sent the play to Spencer Tracy and she succeeded! Tracy sent it to Hollywood producer, Stanley Kramer, who produced it in 1961 with the most incredible cast for such a serious—and therefore risky—film.  Kramer persuaded all 9 film stars to take modest salaries.  The film was released in 1961.

Kramer was the Producer, Philip Langner the Associate Producer, and Abby Mann was the Screenwriter. The incredible cast included:

  • Spencer Tracy
  • Richard Widmark
  • Burt Lancaster
  • Marlene Dietrich
  • Max Schell
  • Montgomery Clift
  • Judy Garland
  • William Shatner
  • Warner Klemperer

Thus, one of the Great War films of all time was created.

And who got it done? Katharine Hepburn.

AND WHO WAS NEVER TOLD ABOUT HER TRIUMPH? The World.

Judgment at Nuremburg was nominated for 11 Academy awards, winning 2 for Best Actor (Schell) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Mann). The film was recently entered into the Library of Congress National Film Registry.

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