Paramount Pictures, like every major studio in the 1960s, found itself in flux in dealing with the changing tastes and times of filmmaking. Everything was being tried as the feudalism of studio domination and the old production code was crumbling.
By chance, I came across a great little time capsule of this at a used bookstore and snapped it up. It was the business bible of the day and was referred to as The Film Daily Yearbook of Motion Pictures 1969 – The Fifty First Edition.
The hefty tome encapsulated everything imaginable involving the film industry. The foreword of the more than 1,000 pages echoes the case for the changing film industry, stating, “Statistics are the accepted footprints of an industry’s progress and growth. Nineteen sixty-eight and the beginning of sixty-nine in the motion picture industry, both American and world-wide, were essentially a period of change. The record of those changes, major as well as minor, and their effect upon the industry will be chronicled on the pages of this, the 51st edition the Film Daily Year Book of Motion Pictures.”
The forward is accurate as the pages are overflowing with stats and facts and more than a few colorful splash ads of various major and minor productions. Paramount Pictures was celebrating an anniversary that year and ran the following to tout the fact….
In the interest of being a trendsetter in the industry and not afraid to spend big bucks on a given project, Paramount spared no expense to show off its big upcoming production for 1969. It was a roadshow extravaganza, to be sure, and it was advertised as such. Check out the ad they went with…..
It seem practically laughable now that this is where the time and effort of Paramount Pictures went for the transition year 1969, especially in view of the final product’s initial reception. However, hindsight as they say is 20/20 and in truth Paint Your Wagon is not nearly as bad as its reputation. Jut ask the film’s legion of fans. More astounding is the fact that the film even got made at all. That story is told in detail in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank and must be read to be believed. In the mean time, so long cinematic year 1969, we hardly knew ye.
– Dwayne Epsten