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The Carpetbaggers (film)

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Title: The Carpetbaggers (film)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: George Peppard, Harold Robbins, Steve McQueen, Leif Erickson, Lew Ayres, 1994 in film, 1964 in film, Carroll Baker, Alan Ladd, Charles Lane (actor)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Carpetbaggers (film)

The Carpetbaggers
Directed by Edward Dmytryk
Produced by Joseph E. Levine
Written by John Michael Hayes
Harold Robbins (novel)
Starring George Peppard
Alan Ladd
Carroll Baker
Bob Cummings
Martha Hyer
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography Joseph MacDonald
Editing by Frank Bracht
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s)
Running time 150 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3 million[1]
Box office $40,000,000[1]

The Carpetbaggers is a 1964 American film based upon the best selling novel The Carpetbaggers by Harold Robbins. The film stars George Peppard as Jonas Cord, a character based loosely on Howard Hughes, and Alan Ladd as former western gunslinger turned actor Nevada Smith, featured the following year in a prequel starring Steve McQueen in the part. Carroll Baker portrays an actress inspired by Jean Harlow, who appeared in Hughes' film epic Hell's Angels.

The film was directed by Edward Dmytryk. Filmed in 35mm Panavision, this was one of the first movies to be blown up to 70mm ("Panavision 70") for premiere screening. The picture was Alan Ladd's final film; Ladd died some months before its release.

In her 1978 autobiography Past Imperfect, Joan Collins claims she had a firm offer to play Rina Marlowe but had to decline because of pregnancy. Dmytryk followed this film with another Harold Robbins story, Where Love Has Gone.

The supporting cast features Robert Cummings, Martha Hyer, Elizabeth Ashley, Lew Ayres, Martin Balsam, Ralph Taeger, Archie Moore, and Leif Erickson.


Jonas Cord becomes one of America's richest men, inheriting an explosives company after his father's death. Cord resents his father bitterly and is psychologically scarred by the death of a twin brother. He believes there is insanity in the family's genes and does not want children of his own.

Cord buys up the company stock held by Nevada Smith, who had practically raised Jonas in his real father's absence. He also pays off the gold-digging, nymphomaniacal Rina Marlowe, who had married his father strictly for money.

Cord becomes an aviation pioneer and his wealth grows. He ruins a business rival named Winthrop, then seduces and marries the man's daughter, Monica, only to immediately abandon her and demand a divorce.

Nevada finds work in western films. Rina also resurfaces to become a movie star for a studio owned by Bernard Norman, who refuses to sell out to Cord until he learns that the alcoholic Rina has died in a car crash. A public relations man, Dan Pierce, betrays his employer, Cord, resulting in Norman receiving more money than the studio is worth now that its main box-office draw is gone.

Cord goes on an alcoholic binge and disappears. Upon his return, he decides to actively run the studio, even directing films himself, and casts a call girl, Jennie Denton, to be the studio's new star. Cord coldly cuts ties with aviation partner Buzz and longtime lawyer Mac, then mistreats Jennie so terribly, he is challenged to a fistfight by old friend Nevada Smith and is badly beaten.

A contrite Cord returns to Monica, with whom he has a child. He has learned from Nevada that there was no insanity in his family after all, and that his daughter is a healthy, normal girl.


Box office performance

The Carpetbaggers was a massive commercial success. It grossed $28,409,547 at the domestic box office,[2] making it the 4th highest grossing film of 1964. Variety reported that the film earned $13 million in domestic rentals. At the worldwide box office, the film grossed $40,000,000 against a $3 million budget.[1]

The movie was one of the 13 most popular films in the UK in 1965.[3]


In the Steve McQueen western film Nevada Smith released two years later, a prequel to the The Carpetbaggers, McQueen stars as a young cowboy named Max Sand who makes up the name Nevada Smith when he infiltrates the gang of a man he intends to kill.

The theme tune by Elmer Bernstein was used as the title credits for the UK BBC2 TV finance and current affairs magazine programme, The Money Programme, in a version by Jimmy Smith arranged by Lalo Schiffrin.


External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • AllRovi
  • TCM Movie Database

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