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The (im)morality of THE CHAPMAN REPORT


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I watched THE CHAPMAN REPORT earlier. It was the first time I had seen it. It is rarely screened and in dire need of a restoration. While looking up reviews on the IMDB, I found one comment that called the film 'an entertaining old chestnut.' I love that phrase!

 

Apparently, director George Cukor was unhappy with the finished product. The studio (Warner Brothers) caved to pressure from the Legion of Decency and altered the ending in order to provide a morally-correct resolution for the main characters (and audience).

 

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When it came out THE CHAPMAN REPORT was certainly considered a "hot" film. The newspaper in my hometown at first refused to accept any advertising for it, but finally relented and accepted the title and the stars, but absolutely no artwork or any reference to the storyline.

 

Of course, this was the same paper that cut Annette out of a BEACH PARTY ad because her swimsuit was "too racy". I still recall that ad with Frankie Avalon next to a big blank space.

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>When it came out THE CHAPMAN REPORT was certainly considered a "hot" film.

 

I believe it. It would certainly be interesting to see a director's cut of this film, or at least a shooting script to get a better idea of what Cukor and Zanuck intended.

 

Zanuck's goal was to create a film where people more openly and frankly discussed sex. I don't think America was quite ready to do that yet in 1962, and with the Legion of Decency hovering over the scene, things were rather impossible for Zanuck and Cukor.

 

I do think there are some excellent performances in this film, namely Glynis Johns and Claire Bloom who prove that British actresses often surpass their North American counterparts.

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You're right about Americans not being quite ready in 1962. An open and frank discussion about sex was still equated with immorality. A decade later they'd be talking their fool heads off about it. I think the squirm factor with this movie (other than some of the overdone melodrama) was the fact the advertising emphasized that these characters were going to talk. It wasn't just the kind of veiled innuendo and fleeting erotic imagery which audiences were increasingly becoming used to. It was going to engage them in some kind of dialogue, and that's what unnerved people who were used to talking about this stuff in hushed tones, if at all. This movie was sort of saying "OK, let's talk about what Doris and Rock were doing." and many Americans' opinions were still too unformed to be able to do that comfortably.

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>It wasn't just the kind of veiled innuendo and fleeting erotic imagery which audiences were increasingly becoming used to. It was going to engage them in some kind of dialogue, and that's what unnerved people who were used to talking about this stuff in hushed tones, if at all.

 

And this film, THE CHAPMAN REPORT, has a lot of erotic imagery.

 

I am surprised that Warners has not remade it. There are always complaints in Hollywood that there are no parts for older women. This story has plenty of them. Of course, in today's politically correct environment, one of the female leads would have to be changed to an ethnic type, either an Asian, Latina or African American.

 

If TCM reschedules this film, I think it would work perfectly in a primetime block featuring NO DOWN PAYMENT, BACHELOR IN PARADISE and THE STEPFORD WIVES.

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{quote:title=

DougieB wrote:}{quote}You're right about Americans not being quite ready in 1962.

 

 

I'm not so sure it was all Americans who weren't ready. Remember, that back in the early 1960's there were still major cities and states, including New York, with active censor boards which had the power to order films cut or banned. The members of these boards were usually political appointees and their rullings were often based on politics and pressure from powerful religious groups like The Legion of Decency.

 

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