Repeat Performance, the Perfect New Year’s Eve Beverage; Repeat Performance Redux

Repeat Performance PosterRepeat Performance Lobby Card

 

I guess it is never too early to prepare for the end of the year, and the beginning of a New Year, yet, oddly enough, Repeat Performance which finds its plot entangled with and dare I say integral with New Year’s Eve was released some five months later or seven months earlier (dependent upon your point of view) of New Year’s Eve.

Release, Ohio Style:

The world premier was seen in Zanesville, Ohio at the Liberty Theater, Thursday night, May 22, 1947; demand for tickets was so great that a second showing was scheduled for the same evening starting just thirty minutes later, this at the Weller Theater.[1]

The_Times_Recorder_ Zanesville, Ohio Thu__May_22__1947_

Times Recorder, Zanesville, Ohio, May 22, 1947

The_Times_Recorder_ Zanesville, Ohio Fri__May_23__1947_

Times Recorder, Zanesville, Ohio, May 23, 1947

 

Repeat Performance was seen by most of the rest of the country starting in early June and on into the summer of 1947, with more openings in the autumn and Repeat Performance debuted as late as the winter and spring of 1948 in some smaller markets.

The_Daily_Times_ Philadelphia, Ohio Wed__Jun_4__1947_

Daily Times, Philadelphia, Ohio, June 4, 1947

The_Brooklyn_Daily_Eagle_Tue__Jul_1__1947_

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, July 1, 1947

The_Ogden_Standard_Examiner_ Ogden, Utah Sun__Apr_11__1948_

Ogden Standard Examiner, Ogden, Utah, April 11, 1948

 

 

Why Zanesville?

Zanesville campaigned for the movie premiere because this was the hometown of Ohio native, Richard Basehart, a former Zanesville Sunday Times-Signal writer and telephone answerer. Basehart began working for the Zanesville Times-Signal by penning obituaries; of course he came by the position because his father, Harry T. Basehart (who passed on his love of the stage to Richard) was the newspaper’s editor; Richard Basehart was a Zanesville dignitary. His father had been a long time editor at the Zanesville Times Signal newspaper, his uncle, William P. Wetherald, was a former mayor of the town. For a time young Mr. Basehart worked in the surveyor’s office, while his uncle was mayor, which situation he lost when Wetherald’s term (1934-1938) was over. Richard Basehart found acting fame by escaping Zanesville via the Wright Players and the Hedgerow Repertory Theater,[2] which in turn led Basehart to Broadway.

The_Times_Recorder_ Zanesville, Ohio, Thu__Mar_13__1947_

Times Recorder, Zanesville, Ohio, March 13, 1947

The_Times_Recorder_ Zanesville, Ohio, Sun__Mar_16__1947_

Times Recorder, Zanesville, Ohio, March 16, 1947

 

The Celebrations and Proceedings:

There was a celebratory dinner served at the Headley Inn, with famous Ohio author and conservationist Louis Bromfield acting as co-chef (and server), along with E. B. “Butter’ Howard preparing a very special dish for supper; Ohio Governor Thomas J. Herbert attended the dinner as well.[3]

The impending event garnered much attention in East-Central-Ohio, requiring numerous columns in the local newspapers of Marion and the host city, Zanesville, Ohio. As the great day drew nearer, the exposure grew greater with the premiere taking the head-line of the Zanesville Signal newspaper.[4] A special Repeat Performance tabloid-edition was prepared by the Zanesville Times Recorder, filled with stories about the film, and photos of the ceremonies featuring favorite son, Dick Basehart.[5]

To commemorate the gala premiere, a beauty contest was held, with twenty-five of Zanesville’s most attractive females vying for the title of Miss Repeat Performance; the winning lady was to receive a Hollywood screen-test.[6] A Junior Chamber of Commerce Charity Ball was thrown, on Wednesday, May 21, with the proceeds benefitting the Jaycees’ juvenile delinquency program.[7] Another world premiere was staged in Zanesville, that of the song, Repeat Performance, written by Patrece Snyder and Ann Weingarten. The two young ladies worked for Eagle-Lion Films (Repeat Performance, producing company) and their ditty debuted at the Jaycee Ball.[8]

Repeat Performance sheet music

 

Local radio station, WHIZ, held tryouts for voice talents and broadcast the radio-drama, Repeat Performance on Tuesday evening, May 20, 1947;[9] Basehart was a part of the final rehearsal, voicing his role of William Williams from the picture for the radio performance.[10] Although the program featured only local talent (excepting Basehart), the Noir-radio episode proved so successful that the film’s producers decided to utilize it for publicity nationwide.[11]

On the afternoon of May 22, a parade with Richard Basehart and other distinguished quests were part of the Repeat Performance Parade. At the close of the parade, Miss Repeat Performance (19 year old, Alice Burgess) was announced;[12] high school bands were invited from municipalities across Muskingum County to perform for the parade.[13] Stores along the parade route closed their doors between the hours of 3:00 and 4:00 P.M. to facilitate the special goings-on.[14]

Performance Formation and Reformation:

Veteran director Alfred Werker was given the chair for Repeat Performance[15] and Constance Dowling who had just been signed to a long term contract by Eagle-Lion was immediately put first in line for the project by the production concern. Franchot Tone was originally set as the male lead in Repeat Performance and Eagle-Lion was attempting to acquire Sylvia Sidney to play opposite him.[16]

Tom Conway and Shirley Patterson were early signers for Repeat Performance;[17] Marion Parsonette (Parsonnet) was assigned to produce. Parsonette walked away from his contract and attempted to take the rights to the story with him. Eagle-Lion went to court to prove their rights to the story and the court decided in their favor.[18] Joan Leslie was added to co-star with Tone, instead of Sylvia Sidney. The picture was slated to begin shooting dependent upon the current Conference of Studio Unions labor situation.[19]

Walter Bullock was allotted the duty of adapting the novel by William O’Farrell, published by Pennant Books in 1942.[20] Nigh unto Christmas saw the production come together with Louis Hayward added to the cast, playing off of Joan Leslie’s lead; the project was budgeted for $1,500,000 and the cameras were set to roll on December 26, 1946.[21] Richard Basehart was announced in the middle of December, having signed a seven year contract with Eagle-Lion for two pictures per year with a third film each year option. Basehart had caught the eye of Hollywood with his role in The Hasty Heart on Broadway in 1945 (for which he shared the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Most Promising Young Actor with John Lund), for his portrayal of the Scottish soldier, Lachlen.[22]

Final cast and crew

Repeat Performance was produced by Aubrey Schenck, with direction by Alfred Werker, and the second-chair was filled by Robert Stillman, cinematography by Lew William O’Connell, the score composed by George Antheil, the crisp editing by Louis Sackin, the art director was Edward C. Jewell and the set decorations were by Armor Marlowe. Repeat Performance, starred, Joan Leslie, Louis Hayward, Richard Basehart, Virginia Field and Tom Conway; solid support was added by Natalie Schafer, Benay Venuta, Ilka Grϋning and the voice of our Narrator by John Ireland.

Final Thoughts:

This picture is a Fantasy-Film-Noir and maybe the strangest ever presented in the Noir-genre, with the exception of “Christmas Eve” (a must see) from 1947. Repeat Performance has solid characterizations by Conway, Leslie, Basehart and Hayward and director Werker shows a steady hand in his pacing and story development. If you like your mysteries with an abnormal bent, then as you organize your December 31st evening festivities, include Repeat Performance in your inventory of must-dos; no Bucket-List would be complete without this little sparkling concoction.

Spoiler Alert!

I repeat, if you have not see Repeat Performance, read no further! Or if you are able to know the ending and still enjoy, read on…

Shelia Page (effectively portrayed by Joan Leslie) is the stand-in for the “dream” to change past decisions. This tableau is played out before our eyes, not just over the course of one day but an entire year is the retake for our substitutive character Page, and in the end, she like us, rues the words of Repeat Performance poet, William Williams (blankly played by Basehart) in the highest form of Film-Noir fatalism: “Destiny’s a stubborn old girl Shelia, she doesn’t like people interfering with her plans, but we tricked her didn’t we; anyway I don’t think she cares about the pattern as long as the result is the same.”

Viewing Repeat Performance:

Repeat Performance may be seen in its entirety on Youtube, it is also available on Amazon Prime; your last choice is to own it on DVD-R purchased at Press Play House DVDs or Jubilee DVDs (I have had no personal experience with these vendors, as always; buyer beware)

Enjoy, be safe, have a Happy New Year, and repeat!

 

Our Cast of  Actors and their Character Portrayals:

Louis Hayward

Louis Hayward (Barney Page)

Joan Leslie 2

Joan Leslie (Shelia Page)

Virginia Field

Virginia Field (Paula Costello)

Tom Conway

Tom Conway (John Friday)

Richard Basehart

Richard Basehart (William Williams)

Natalie Schafer

Natalie Schafer (Eloise Shaw)

Benay Venuta

Benay Venuta (Bess Michaels)

Ilka Gruning

(Mattie)

John Ireland

John Ireland (The Narrator)

 

 

By C. S. Williams

 

[1] Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) March 13, 1947

Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 10, 1947

Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 13, 1947

[2] Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) December 15, 1946

Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) March 13, 1947

Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 11, 1947

Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 18, 1947

Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) December 26, 1948

[3] Marion Star (Marion, Ohio) March 13, 1947

Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 3, 1947

Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 20, 1947

Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 22, 1947

[4] Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 22, 1947

[5] Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 21, 1947

[6] Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 12, 1947

[7] Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 13, 1947

[8] Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 16, 1947

[9] Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 15, 1947

[10] Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 15, 1947

[11] Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 21, 1947

[12] Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 13, 1947

[13] Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 13, 1947

[14] Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) May 21, 1947

[15] Motion Picture Daily, September 10, 1946

[16] Independent Exhibitors Film Bulletin, June 24, 1946

Film Daily, July 2, 1946

Film Daily, July 23, 1946

[17] Showmen’s Trade Review, August 3, 1946

[18] Independent Exhibitors Film Bulletin, December 9, 1946

[19] Independent Exhibitors Film Bulletin, October 14, 1946

[20] Independent Exhibitors Film Bulletin, November 11, 1946

[21] Motion Picture Daily, December 23, 1946

[22] Evening Citizen (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) May 31, 1945

Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) December 15, 1946

 

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