Cast & Crew
Catherine receives an invitation to her father's fifth wedding and is persuaded to attend because of his descriptions of Gregory, an intriguing man who is also expected to be a houseguest. When Catherine arrives in Geneva, her father, his fiancée, Nicole, and Catherine's brother Daniel, tell her more about Gregory, but he never appears. Catherine imagines that he looks like the handsome autoball player whose picture she saw in the airport, and she begins to fantasize about him. When her obsessive search for Gregory proves fruitless, Catherine decides to return to Rome after the wedding, but Daniel, with whom she had an incestuous affair years before, tries unsuccessfully to persuade her not to go. At the airport, she meets the handsome autoball player, picks him up, and they go to a hotel to make love; the man later reveals that he is actually a German medical student named Gunther. Returning to the airport, Catherine calls Daniel to bid him farewell, and he tells her that Gregory just called him after returning from Rome and is looking for her. Catherine says goodbye and boards her flight without ever meeting the real Gregory, who was in the telephone booth next to her.
Luisa De Santis
In Search of Gregory
Written for the screen by Lucile Laks (Black Belly of the Tarantula, 1971) and Tonino Guerra, who worked with Antonioni on such masterpieces as L'avventura (1960), La Notte (1961) and Eclipse (1962), In Search of Gregory is pure gossamer, an abstract meditation on identity and human yearning. It needed a master filmmaker like Antonioni to visualize such an ethereal existential conceit but Janni, who was also managing Christie at the time along with actresses Carol White and Prunella Ransome, hired Peter Wood to direct. Wood was a promising director in the London theatre world at the time and had never made a feature film, though he had directed some plays for television in the early sixties. The result was almost universally savaged by critics everywhere and the film was held up for release for more than a year. Yet, the film was obviously a labor of love for Janni who showcases Christie in almost every scene. At the time, Janni explained in an interview, "I would spend hours just thinking what sort of film would be right for her. Think, think, think. When I felt I had the right story which is our raw material I would spend thousands of pounds developing it. If it did not seem one hundred per cent right it would be scrapped."
Janni probably should have scrapped In Search of Gregory but here is the ethereal premise he built his movie upon: Catherine Morelli (Christie), a wealthy heiress living in Rome with her on-again, off-again boyfriend, agrees to attend her father's wedding - his fifth marriage - in Geneva after being intrigued by his description of a mysterious houseguest from America named Gregory. Upon arrival, Daniel (John Hurt), Catherine's agoraphobic brother, further enhances Gregory's mystique by confessing some of their wild exploits together, one involving Daniel's first attempt at driving a stick-shift convertible while Gregory straddled the hood at top speed. Yet, Gregory remains elusive during Catherine's stay, despite constant sightings of him by other family members and friends. This only increases Catherine's curiosity about him until it becomes a romantic obsession...but it remains one that will be forever unconsummated.
With colorful scenes filmed in Geneva and Rome and Christie's constantly changing wardrobe of short skirts and floppy hats, In Search of Gregory is often pleasing to the eye but vacuous. The presentation of Gregory, played by an uncharismatic Michael Sarrazin, is the film's biggest flaw since he is unable to live up to the dynamic and exciting legend he seems to be in the lives of others. Attempts to dramatize his creative genius, such as a scene where he conducts an avant-garde symphony of his own design involving a bicycle, bottles, a trash can, a balloon and two guitarists, are laughable and only make Catherine's longing for him more absurd. In addition, the syrupy music score by Ron Grainer only accents the misbegotten nature of the film and includes two excruciatingly bad ballads, "Dreams" and "Close," both sung by Georgie Fame, who enjoyed some top forty success in the early '60s with the hits "Yeh Yeh" (1965) and "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde" (1967).
During the making of In Search of Gregory, Christie was in the process of breaking up with her current fiancé Don Bessett and dating Warren Beatty, who would visit her in Geneva in between breaks on the filming of his movie, The Only Game in Town (1970, it was shot in Paris but set in Las Vegas). Beatty and Christie had first met at the royal premiere of Born Free (1966) in London when he was filming Kaleidoscope there in 1966 but they wouldn't be linked romantically until 1967. Even then, due to their discretion, their affair remained under the radar of most tabloid reporters until they appeared together in Robert Altman's McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971).
Whatever high hopes Joseph Janni, Peter Wood and Julie Christie may have had for In Search of Gregory were soon dashed by the critics. Patrick Gibbs of the Daily Telegraph wrote, "If In Search of Gregory comes out as a silly film it is no doubt because the central character (Christie), who is seldom off the screen, is a stupendously silly girl. This need not have counted against the film...[but] those concerned don't seem to realize what a silly girl they have on their hands: they take her quite seriously." Roger Greenspan of The New York Times said, "In Search of Gregory fails not so much from the stupidity of its plot as from the dim timidity of its inventions. From the fantasy Gregory's demonstrations of personal uniqueness to...[a] climactic game of "Autoball" (a form of soccer-field pollution that looks like lacrosse played out of the back seats of little cars) every crucial incident dulls and strains, and does not excite, the imagination. It turns out, for example, that the real Gregory has a business, a garage-factory where he cans a little nothing that he labels "Air des Alpes." One might grant the symbolism if the cans weren't vacuum sealed - so that the only reasonable interpretation is consumer fraud."
Not everyone panned the film and, surprisingly enough, Variety actually praised it, calling it, "A superbly-wrought gem about the romantic illusions people, especially would-be lovers, search for in one another, with Julie Christie ideally cast as the seeker and Michael Sarrazin as her fantasy." Nevertheless, In Search of Gregory marked the end of Christie's association with producer/agent Joseph Janni. Peter Wood would return to stage and theatre productions and never direct another theatrical feature and Christie would move on to better things, following this with the critically acclaimed The Go-Between (1970), directed by Joseph Losey.
Producers: Joseph Janni, Daniele Senatore
Director: Peter Wood
Screenplay: Tonino Guerra, Lucile Laks
Cinematography: Otto Heller, Giorgio Tonti
Art Direction: Piero Poletto
Music: Ron Grainer
Film Editing: John Bloom
Cast: Julie Christie (Catherine Morelli), Michael Sarrazin (Gregory Mulvey), John Hurt (Daniel), Adolfo Celi (Max), Paola Pitagora (Nicole), Roland Culver (Wardle), Tony Selby (Taxi Driver), Ernesto Pagano (Priest), Violetta Chiarini (Paquita), Luisa De Santis (Giselle), Gabriella Giorgelli (Encarna), Gordon Gostelow (Old Man)
by Jeff Stafford
Julie Christie by Michael Feeney Callan (St. Martin's Press)
Warren Beatty: A Private Man by Suzanne Finstad (Harmony Books)
In Search of Gregory
Location scenes filmed in Switzerland, France, and Italy. Opened in London in April 1970; released in Italy in 1970 as Alla ricerca di Gregory.
Released in United States 1970
Released in United States 1970