Cast & Crew
During the Spanish Inquisition, Miguel Cervantes, a poet, playwright and actor, is arrested, along with his manservant and taken down a great iron stairway into a prison dungeon. Once they are inside, a mechanical device raises the stairs, thus leaving them no way out and vulnerable to the dungeon's inhabitants, who are mostly hardened criminals. The prisoner's leader, called "the governor," announces that Cervantes and his manservant must undergo a ritual mock trial. "The duke," an inmate imprisoned for treason, asks to prosecute the case, because he resents poets for the unrealistic visions they portray. Cervantes enthusiastically approves of the duke's assessment, saying that reality is a stone prison crushing the spirit, but that imagination and poetry offer the chance to dream. The duke charges Cervantes with being "an idealist, a bad poet and an honest man," to which Cervantes pleads guilty. Meanwhile, the contents of Cervantes' trunk, which is filled mostly with props and costumes, is distributed among the inmates. However, when the governor prepares to set fire to his manuscript, Cervantes begs him to wait until after hearing his defense, which he proposes to present as a "charade" he has written. After convincing the others to portray various roles, Cervantes assigns his manservant the part of Sancho Panza, a poor but loyal, proverb-spouting farmer. As for himself, Cervantes quickly dons makeup and a costume, and announces that he will play Alonso Quijana, a wealthy, studious older man who has read about the evils of the world and, through brooding about it, lost his sanity. Cervantes explains: Wanting the world to be a better place, Quijana imagines that he is Don Quixote De La Mancha, a knight-errant on a mission to right wrongs and aid the oppressed. Accompanied by his neighbor Sancho who serves as his squire, Quixote mounts his old cart horse, calling it a fine thoroughbred and, carrying a crooked lance, sets off. Two minutes into their journey, Quixote spots a windmill and believes it to be his nemesis, the Great Enchanter. Despite Sancho's protests, Quixote fights the evil giant valiantly, if not victoriously. Later on their journey, Quixote hears a cow horn, which he assumes is a trumpet heralding his approach. Following the sound, they discover a remote inn, which Quixote calls a castle. When they arrive at the gate, Quixote asks the innkeeper, whom he refers to as Castellaño, or Lord of the Castle, to grant him the boon of hospitality. Judging Quixote insane, but wealthy enough to pay, the innkeeper invites him in, playing along with the illusion. To the other inn patrons, a group of rough muleteers led by Pedro, a whip-wielding man with a hook for an arm, Quixote offers his assistance in any noble undertaking. He then notices an embittered serving wench, Aldonza, who has previously told the randy muleteers that they must pay for her sexual favors. However, in Aldonza, Quixote sees a fair virginal noblewoman and, confusing her by his gentle reverence, calls her Dulcinea. In the prison, the duke protests, saying Cervantes' story is mere diversion, but the governor overrules him. Cervantes then tells the inmates: When Quixote's niece and heir, Antonia, hears of her uncle's deeds, she fears that her fiancé, Doctor Sanson Carrasco, a well-bred university graduate, will disapprove. Although Antonia and Quijana's housekeeper tell their priest they are worried about Quijana, the good-hearted padre knows their concerns are self-serving. Aware of Antonia's future inheritance, Carrasco remains, but decides he will cure the old man of his madness and demands the padre's assistance. Meanwhile, Quixote sends Sancho to request on his behalf a token of Aldonza's affection, such as a silk scarf that he may wear as a standard in battle. Aldonza, presuming Quixote is toying with her, tosses a dirty rag at Sancho and asks why he follows the madman. Sancho replies the reason is that he likes him. When Sancho presents Quixote with Aldonza's rag, the Don sees it as a gossamer scarf and caresses it. After a barber arrives at the inn, wearing his shaving bowl on his head to ward off the sun, Quixote claims that the shaving bowl is the Golden Helmet of Mombrino. Later that night, Quixote confesses to the innkeeper that he has all the qualities of a knight, but has never been dubbed. The innkeeper agrees to knight him at dawn and Quixote pledges to hold vigil until then. While he is praying in the courtyard, a Black Knight and his party enters and a lady in mourning asks Quixote to fight the Great Enchanter, who she says turned her brother to stone. Determined to help, Quixote calls out to his Dulcinea to pray for him and retires to the stable, which he calls a chapel, to prepare for battle. As Aldonza watches from the periphery of the courtyard, Carrasco, Antonia and the padre, who are masquerading as the knight, the lady and her brother, remove their disguises and she accuses them of playing tricks on a madman. Sympathetic toward Quixote, the padre says that Jesus and St. Francis could also be called mad, but Carrasco argues that anyone who can choose to be mad, can also choose to be sane. Aldonza proceeds with her chores, but is hounded by the muleteers and, at Pedro's insistence, agrees to meet him later. In her room, Aldonza looks into her mirror, trying to fantasize that she is Dulcinea, but failing, confronts Quixote, suspicious of what he expects from her. She warns that he may be killed, but he says it is important only to follow his quest, no matter how impossible it is. Pedro, finding them together, jealously attacks them. Sancho and the muleteers join the fray and a brawl ensues, in which Quixote, Dulcinea and Sancho are the victors. Awakened by the disturbance, the innkeeper respectfully asks Quixote to leave. Quixote agrees, but asks first that the innkeeper keep his promise to knight him, as he has held his vigil and proven himself in battle. After the innkeeper dubs him "Knight of the Woeful Countenance," Quixote states that nobility demands that he tend to the wounds of his enemy. Aldonza, moved by all that has transpired, offers to take care of them instead, but when she tries to help the muleteers, who are about to leave, they kidnap her. Cervantes' story is interrupted when the staircase lowers and guards descend. To everyone's surprise, the guards ignore Cervantes and remove a different prisoner. Afterward, the duke says that there is a difference between reality and illusion, and urges Cervantes to see life as it really is. Cervantes claims that he already has, as a soldier and a slave, and has concluded that it is better to see life as it should be. Continuing his story, he explains that Quixote and Sancho leave the inn: On the road, they find Aldonza cowering on the road where the muleteers left her after having their way with her. Unable to bear Quixote's tenderness, she accuses him of robbing her of anger and causing her despair. When armored men march up and surround them, Quixote recognizes their leader as the Great Enchanter, who reveals that he is the Knight of the Mirrors. His soldiers, with shields displayed, encircle Quixote and, with a droning voice, the Enchanter insists that Quixote look at the reflected image of the madman dressed for masquerade and acknowledge that his mind is disordered. When Quixote faints from shock, the Knight removes his helmet to reveal that he is really Carrasco. Back in prison, guards alert Cervantes that he will soon be summoned by the Inquisitioners, but the governor says there is still time to finish the story. Cervantes tells how Quijana is taken home: As Quijana lies in a coma, Sancho tells him local gossip and slips in words like dragon and quest, which mysteriously revive the old man. Now awake, he vaguely remembers an unusual dream but does not recognize Aldonza. However, upon recognizing his Dulcinea, Quijana arises, eager to resume his quest, but, just as abruptly, collapses. Although Quijana dies, Aldonza and Sancho agree that Quixote still lives. In the prison, Cervantes and his manservant are taken away, but the prisoners are better off for having met them.
Rolando De Santis
Robert C. Jones
Best Song Score
Man of La Mancha
What Man of La Mancha had going for it was its provenance. The novel, of course, is one of the great classics in the Western canon and the shining light of Spanish literature. It was adapted to film several times through the years; a U.S. silent had been filmed in 1915, and G.W. Pabst made a version in 1933 with legendary opera star Chaliapin in the lead. Writer Dale Wasserman wrote an adaptation for television in 1959 that framed the story of the novel with an incident depicting Cervantes imprisoned by the Inquisition. Lee J. Cobb took the lead as both author and his creation, Eli Wallach was his servant, and Colleen Dewhurst played the dual role of the lowly Aldonza and Cervantes's idealized Dulcinea. Wasserman, along with composer Mitch Leigh and lyricist Joe Darion, turned the story into a musical that opened at a small Off-Broadway theater in Greenwich Village in late 1965. It became a huge hit and eventually moved to Broadway, running more than five years for a total of 2329 performances, winning five Tony Awards and nominated for two others.
It's no surprise then that United Artists were sure they had a winner on their hands when they secured the movies rights for Man of La Mancha and hired Peter Glenville to direct. (The studio had opted not to use Wasserman and the rest of the original Broadway team). Glenville, a good friend of O'Toole's, had won considerable praise for directing O'Toole and Richard Burton in Becket (1964) and had a sterling reputation as a stage director as well. O'Toole was pleased to be working with his friend and appreciated the way Glenville and writer John Hopkins were going to rework the material based on the novel, quite possibly even jettisoning the songs and turning it into a big-budget historical epic. That didn't sit well with UA; they had paid a lot of money for the musical version and hoped to draw audiences who either missed the stage original or seen it and loved it. As a result, Glenville and Hopkins were fired. The producers decided to stick with Wasserman's original adaptation of his play and brought in Arthur Hiller as director, even though he had never made a musical. Hiller, however, came with tremendous box office credentials after the overwhelming success of his screen version of Erich Segal's best-selling romance Love Story (1970). O'Toole wasn't happy with the change, never got along with Hiller, and persisted on referring to him as "Little Arthur."
One colleague O'Toole did get along with was Sophia Loren, making her musical debut as Aldonza/Dulcinea in her first film in years not produced by husband Carlo Ponti; in fact, it was to be filmed in Rome by rival producer Alberto Grimaldi. Loren respected and enjoyed O'Toole and co-star James Coco, often inviting them to her home near Rome for home-cooked meals and engaging them in spirited card games. She jumped at the chance to do a musical, and when veteran composer-arranger-author Saul Chaplin was brought in as associate producer to attend to the musical aspects of Man of La Mancha, he determined Loren's singing voice to be adequate for her part. So although O'Toole's song performances are dubbed (by British stage performer Simon Gilbert), it is Loren we hear singing on the soundtrack.
Critical reception for Man of La Mancha was poor to mixed, and the box office take was disappointing in light of its $11 million production cost. But the film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Music, Golden Globe nominations for O'Toole and Coco, and a National Board of Review Award for O'Toole as Best Actor for this role and for The Ruling Class (1972). The visual look of Man of La Mancha is also noteworthy, thanks to cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno, a longtime collaborator with Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti who had just recently shot Mike Nichols's Carnal Knowledge (1971).
Director: Arthur Hiller
Producer: Alberto Grimaldi, Saul Chaplin
Screenplay: Dale Wasserman, based on his stage musical and teleplay from the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra (uncredited)
Cinematography: Giuseppe Rotunno
Editing: Robert C. Jones
Production Design: Luciano Damiani
Cast: Peter O'Toole (Quixote/Cervantes), Sophia Loren (Aldonza/Dulcinea), James Coco (Sancho Panza/Manservant), Harry Andrews (Governor/Innkeeper), Brian Blessed (Pedro).
by Rob Nixon
Man of La Mancha
I'm a poet.- Miguel de Cervantes
They're putting people in prison fot that?- The Duke
No, no, no, not for that.- Miguel de Cervantes
Too bad.- The Duke
I invent false information about a country and sell it to others stupid enough to believe it.- The Duke
Seems a sound proposition. What brought you here?- Miguel de Cervantes
A lapse of judgement. I told the truth.- The Duke
We generally fine a prisoner all his possessions.- The Governor
All of them.- Miguel de Cervantes
It's not practical to take more.- The Governor
All right, you're a squire. How does a squire squire?- Aldonza
Well, first, I ride behind him. Then he fights. And then I pick him up off the ground.- Sancho Panza
...that I may dedicate each victory to her and call upon her in defeat, and if at last I give my life, I give it in the sacred name of Dulcinea.- Don Quixote
The original stage production opened at the ANTA Washington Square theater in New York City on 22 November 1965, moving to Broadway after a short run, and eventually having a total of 2329 performances. The cast featured Richard Kiley in the role of Don Quixote.
Gino Conforti repeated his stage role as the barber for the movie (a part also played briefly by James Coco on Broadway).
The original creators of the show, Dale Wasserman (the author), Albert Marre (the original director), and Mitch Leigh (the composer) were all originally hired by United Artists to work on the film, but UA were unhappy with the screen tests they made, so they were all dismissed and director Peter Glenville was called in. But when UA discovered that he planned to eliminate most of the songs, he was also dismissed. UA then rehired Wasserman, and added Saul Chaplin and producer-director Arthur Hiller, who retained most of the musical's score for the film. However, the "look" of the film, according to Chaplin, had already been largely determined by the previous creative teams hired to make the movie. It has always remained unclear who cast the usually non-singing actors (such as Sophia Loren, who sang in the film, and Peter O'Toole, whose singing was dubbed), and which creative team cast the singing actors (Julie Gregg, Gino Conforti, James Coco, and several of the "muleteers").
Aldonza's songs were altered or cut in order for Sophia Loren to sing them. One song that was cut was "What does he want of me?", a song Aldonza sings (in the stage version) after receiving Quixote's "Missive".
The viewed print contained a three-minute overture. The onscreen credit of Luciano Damiani reads: ""Sets and Costumes by." Sibylle Ulsamer's onscreen credit reads: "Assistant to Sets and Costume Designer." The film contains several flashback sequences, during which the story told by the prisoner "Miguel Cervantes" is recreated. Most of the cast members perform in dual roles as prisoners and as a character in Cervantes' story. The film was shot in 35mm and then blown up to 70mm for theatrical release.
The historical Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616) was a Spanish novelist, poet and playwright. His combined writings, El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha and Segunda parte del ingenioso caballero Don Quijote de la Mancha, were written and published separately in 1605 and 1615, respectively. The work is now considered by many to be the first novel in the Western literary canon, one of the greatest in both Western literature and in the Spanish language, and a major influence on generations of important literary works. The novel gave the world the adjective "quixotic," which has come to describe a romantically inclined person striving for visionary and often impractical ideals, as well as the phrase "tilting at windmills," a figurative expression meaning to fight imaginary enemies.
The 1965 musical Man of La Mancha, by Dale Wasserman, Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion was based on Cervantes' life and works. Although the musical opened modestly in Greenwich Village, it was soon moved to Broadway, where the show ran for six years and became the fourth longest-running Broadway musical at that time. Several of the songs from the show became famous in their own right, especially "The Impossible Dream," which has been recorded and performed by many artists throughout the decades, and whose title has become a widely used phrase.
In December 1965, Variety and Daily Variety news items reported that actor Anthony Quinn negotiated with Wasserman for the film rights. The same Daily Variety news item stated that Quinn and the Mexican comedian Cantinflas, whom Quinn wanted for the role of "Sancho Panza," had earlier been considered for a different project, based on the novel. In July 1967, a LAHExam news item reported that director Ronnie Lubin claimed to have been planning a "Don Quixote" project for the past ten years, for which he had been negotiating with Cantinflas and hoped to star Burt Lancaster, but Lubin's project did not reach fruition, and the role of Sancho Panza went to James Coco.
According to a July 1967 Daily Variety news item, United Artists outbid Universal, CBS and Twentieth Century-Fox for the rights, although the offers of Universal and CBS exceeded UA in terms of cash. A July 1967 Hollywood Reporter Rambling Reporter column reported that one of the reasons UA's offer was attractive to the sellers was that the studio planned to cast Richard Burton in the lead and hire Terence Young, the director of the recently completed 1967 film Wait Until Dark . Although a July 1967 Hollywood Reporter news items suggested Elizabeth Taylor for the role of "Dulcinea," this was probably speculation due to Taylor's then marriage to Burton.
According to a September 1968 Daily Variety article, filming of Man of La Mancha would be delayed until at least 1971, after the stage version, which was in the third year of its run, was no longer showing in "first-class" venues. An October 1969 Daily Variety news item reported that Wasserman, who held the largest single interest in the stage play, got $1.5 million for his portion of the film rights and for writing a screenplay. According to a December 1969 Daily Variety news item, Picker announced that Wasserman would write the screenplay, that Albert Marre would recreate his stage direction and that Mitch Leigh, who composed the original music, would produce and supervise the scoring. However, an undated 1970 LAHExam article, contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS library, reported that Marre would probably be replaced by a more experienced film director. Filmfacts added that, around the time Marre was replaced, John Hopkins had been hired to write the screenplay, but acording to an April 1972 LAHExam article, only the opening of Wasserman's final script was adapted from Hopkins' version. Both Filmfacts and an April 1971 Daily Variety news item reported that Peter Glenville was then hired to direct, but by August 1971, a Daily Variety news item repeated rumors that he would be replaced by Arthur Hiller, who had replaced Glenville by the time principal photography began in January 1972.
The film was shot in Italy. Interiors, which included the prison and inn sequences, were shot at Dino De Laurentiis Studios in Rome, where, according to production notes, there was enough vertical clearance to accommodate the tall staircase. Unlike the stage version of Man of La Mancha, which had only one set, the film shows outdoor sequences, which, according to a June 1972 Evening Outlook (Santa Monica, CA) article, were shot near Etruscan ruins near the village of Tarquinia, located about seventy-five miles north of Rome. Of the original Broadway cast, only Gino Conforti, who played "The barber," reprised his role in the film. Although Peter O'Toole portrayed "Cervantes/Quixote" in the film, according to an undated 1970 LAHExam article, Richard Kiley, who originated the role on Broadway, and Gregory Peck were considered for the lead. Man of La Mancha marked the first musical roles of Sophia Loren and O'Toole; however, O'Toole's singing was dubbed by Simon Gilbert. Several songs from the stage version, mostly songs sung by Loren, were either omitted or shortened for the film.
The Samuel Goldwyn Studios was used for post-production work, according to an October 1972 Daily Variety news item. Although, according to a May 1972 Daily Variety news item, David V. Picker, then president of UA, expected the film to cost about $9.1 million and other sources mentioned a cost of $11 million, the final cost of the film was reported at $12 million. A September 1972 Daily Variety news item reported that Prince Philip planned to attend the London premiere, which was planned for December 20, 1972. The film was not well-received by critics. The Los Angeles Times review reported that there were post-synching problems and several reviewers criticized the trend of casting non-singers and non-dancers in musical roles. However, Laurence Rosenthal was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Musical Scoring of an Adaptation and Original Song Score.
An October 1981 Daily Variety article reported that a disagreement developed between Albert W. Selden, who co-produced the stage musical and Wasserman, Leigh and Darion, when the latter three refused to accept an offer made by banker Norman Main. Main wanted to film the musical for television using the original Broadway stars Kiley and Joan Diener and director Marre. Among the reasons given for the authors' refusal of Main's offer were concerns that Main lacked show business experience, concern about the film's potential effect on future legit productions and that the offer provided the authors only gross percentages and no advance payment. The article reported that Selden was seeking arbitration. The production never reached fruition and no further information about the dispute was found. For information on other film versions about Cervantes and his works, see entry above for the 1916 Don Quixote.
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972