In “Sweet Liberty,” Alan Aida plays a historian who has written an earthy book about the American Revolution that becomes a best seller and is sold to Hollywood. When the movie company comes to town to film his book, he is plunged into a summer of madness.
Starring with Aida in “Sweet Liberty” are Michael Caine, Michelle Pfeiffer, Bob Hoskins, Lise Hilboldt, Saul Rubinek, Lois Chiles and Lillian Gish. The producer is Martin Bregman. AAa has directed the film from his original screenplay.
Michael Burgess (played by Alan Aida) has written a lusty, intelligent book about American History. But when they make a movie of his book, they leave out the intelligence and keep in the lust.
The director of the film within a film (played by Saul Rubinek) has a theory that in order to appeal to the young movie audience, it’s essential to do three things:
1. Defy Authority
2. Destroy Property
3. Take People’s Clothes Off
Michael’s book gets knocked around a bit in the process and so does Michael.
He teaches in a small college town in Sayeville, N.C. and when the film company comes to town, Michael is unprepared for the people he meets.
The leading actress, Faith Healy (Michelle Pfeiffer), has so thoroughly studied the historical character Michael wrote about that she seems to him to be that woman. And since he’s infatuated with the woman he wrote about, he becomes infatuated with Faith.
He is even more out of his element when he meets the leading man in the film, Elliot James (Michael Caine).
Elliot is in love with danger. He drives recklessly, does his own stunts and thinks nothing of taking the college president’s wife for a joyride in a stolen helicopter.
He doesn’t feel alive unless his life is in jeopardy. Elliot is charming and fun, but not someone you would want to get into a car with.
None of these people sees the world exactly as Michael does. His historical fact is the director’s comic romp. His vision of an 18th century woman is the actress’s theatrical illusion.
In fact, no one in Michael’s life sees things the way he does.
After one unhappy marriage, he thinks living with his girlfriend with no permanent ties would be the perfect life. Gretchen (Lise Hilboldt) is perfectly happy having an affair with him, but living together without marriage is out.
His mother (Lillian Gish) won’t let him bring anyone into her house to take care of her because she sees most people in the world as a threat. She warts to find her old boyfriend to care for her. She is sure the man still loves her even though he has refused to return her calls for 25 years.
Michael loves Gretchen and he loves his mother, but he finds it hard to love them the way they want to be loved.
it’s a summer in which Michael has no choice but to begin to appreciate the virtues of flexibility.
With “Sweet Liberty,” Aida and Bregman continue their longtime association, which includes “The Seduction of Joe Tynan” — the film that marked Alda’s debut as a screenwriter — and “The Four Seasons,” which established Alda as a major director and international film star.
Alda and producer Bregman chose to film in Sag Harbor, Long Island, and neighboring villages because the picturesque setting was ideal for both the contemporary small southern town in which the story takes place and the 18th- century locations of the movie within a movie. Much of the shooting took place in Sag Harbor’s Main Street, while an open field outside the town was used to stage a re-enactment of a Revolutionary War battle.
The heart of Sag Harbor was transformed into the fictional college town of Sayeville, North Carolina. Another important location site was the village of Southampton. A wing of Southampton Hospital was converted to a fencing hall for the professor and his girlfriend, and the Southampton Theatre became the Sayeville Cinema.
In his research, Alda was intrigued by a group of amateur historians who devote every other weekend to re-enacting famous battles of the 18th century. He hired 300 members of the group, known as the Brigade of the American Revolution, to portray a similar group that re-enacts the climactic battle of the movie within a movie.
“The Brigade is an interesting bunch of people,” says Aida, noting that members of the group often choose actual historical characters to represent in their mock Revolutionary War battles. “They try to pattern their lives after those people whom they learned about in diaries and letters from that period. Just imagine spending part of your life wearing the same clothes, using the same tools and thinking the same thoughts as somebody who lived 200 years ago.” George Woodbridge, the Brigade’s historical consultant, provided detailed information on period uniforms, down to the buttons and the precise cut of the lapels on the actors’ coats.
In addition to starring as Michael Burgess, a small town college professor whose best selling book is about to become a Hollywood movie, ALAN ALDA wrote and directed “Sweet Liberty.” It’s a triple assignment he handled previously
with considerable success on “The Four Seasons,” one of the Top 5 grossing films of 1981.
Alda has received numerous awards as a motion picture and television actor, writer and director. These include two Writer’s Guild Awards, three Director’s Guild Awards, six Golden Globes and seven People’s Choice Awards. In his eleven years on the hit television series “M*A*S*H,” he won the Emmy Award four times and is the only person to be honored by the TV Academy as top performer, writer and director.
His earlier career on the Broadway stage resulted in a Theatre World Award for “Fair Game for Lovers” and a Tony Award nomination for the musical “The Apple Tree.”
Alda, who was born in New York City, began his acting career at age sixteen doing summer stock. After graduation from Fordham University, he appeared in several Off-Broadway productions as well as several popular television series.
His Broadway stage credits also include “Purlie Victorious” and “The Owl and the Pussycat.”
In the late 1960s, Alda appeared in a succession of motion pictures beginning with “The Paper Lion.” That was followed by “The Extraordinary Seaman,” “The Moonshine War,” “Jenny” and “The Mephisto Waltz.” He went on to make “Same Time Next Year,” “California Suite” and “The Seduction of Joe Tynan,” which marked his debut as a screenwriter. In 1981 he wrote, directed and starred in “The Four Seasons” for Universal.
It was his role as Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce in the long- running TV series “M*A*S*H” that first elevated him to stardom. In addition to “M*A*S*H,” which concluded an 11-year run on February 28, 1983, Alda has appeared on TV in CBS’ 90-minute special adaptation of the Broadway play “6 Rms Riv Vu”and as Caryl Chessman in NBC’s “Kill Me if You Can.”
MICHAEL CAINE portrays Elliot James, the danger-loving movie star of the film within a film.
After; more than 100 small roles in film and television and several seasons in classic British repertory, Caine got that first starring role in the 1964 .film “Zulu,” followed by “The Iperess File” and “Funeral in Berlin.” It was his skirt-chasing role in “Alfie” that catapulted Caine into international stardom, earning him his first of three Oscar nominations that also included performances in “Sleuth” and “Educating Rita.”
With “Sweet Liberty,” Caine has starred in 52 major films, including “Gambit,” “Billion Dollar Brain,” “The Wrong Box,” “Hurry Sundown,” “Too Late the Hero,”
“The Man Who Would Be King,” “California Suite,” “Dressed to Kill” and “Death- trap,” Most recently, he has starred in “Educating Rita,” “Beyond the Limit,” “Blame It on Rio,” “Water,” and “Hannah and Her Sisters” for Woody Allen.
Faith Healy, the actress who plays patriot Mary Slocumb in the film within ,a film, is another important role in the career of MICHELLE PFEIFFER.
Pfeiffer’s most recent films were “Into the Night.” “Ladyhawke” and “Scarface,” in which “Sweet Liberty” producer Martin Bregman cast her as Al Pacino’s wife.
Coming to Los Angeles from her native Orange County, Pfeiffer made her film acting debut as the carhop in “Hollywood Knights.” She next played the debutante in “Charlie Chan and the Dragon Queen.”
Between films, she acted in the Los Angeles stage production “Playground In the Fall” and in the television movies “Callie and Son,” “The Children Nobody Wanted” and “Splendor in the Grass.”
BOB HOSKINS plays Stanley Gould, the success-starved screenwriter who will lie to anyone in order to be accepted as a person of integrity. Hoskins is considered one of the finest character actors in the world today. He is bast known for his memorable gangster roles in such films as “The Cotton Club” and “The Long Good Friday.” His screen credits include such diverse performancesas a corrupt Mexican colonel in “Beyond the Limit,” a manipulative rock ‘n’ roll manager in “The Wall” and a brutish heating repairman in “Brazil.”
On the London stage, he has appeared in “Guys and Dolls,” “True West,” “Geography of a Horse Dreamer” and “Othello.” His television credits include the PBS series about the early days of silent films, “Flickers,” and the memorable British miniseries “Pennies from Heaven.”
LISE HILBOLDT appears in her first starring role in “Sweet Liberty” as Michael’s girlfriend, Gretchen Carlsen. Previously she had supporting roles in “The Hunger,” “Superman” and “S.O.S. Titanic.”
Born in Wisconsin, Hilboldt trained in London where she appeared on stage in “Godspell,” “Barefoot in the Park” and “Relatively Speaking.” She also starred opposite Anthony Hopkins in the four-hour miniseries, “A Married Man” and in “Nancy Astor,” another television series.
After deciding to launch her American career, Hilboldt starred in “Noon Wine” and “Pudd’nhead Wilson” for American Playhouse on PBS and on stage in “Top Girls” at the New York Shakespeare Festival, winning an Obie Award in 1983. This was followed by a role in “To Grandmother’s House We Go” with Eva LeGallienne.
SAUL RUBINEK plays Bo Hodges, the director of the film within a film, who is convinced there are three essential elements in a youth oriented film: defy authority, destroy property and take people’s clothes off.
Rubinek starred in the feature films “Against All Odds,” “The Terry Fox Story,” “Young Doctors in Love” and “Soup for One.” For his work in the films “Ticket to Heaven” and “By Design,” he was given the Genie Award, Canada’s equivalent of the Oscar.
His numerous television appearances include the Emmy-winning “Concealed Enemies,” “Interrogation in Budapest” and the title role in “Dusty” in his native Canada. In Toronto, Rubinek was a mainstay of the burgeoning theatre scene, appearing
with the Toronto Free Theatre in such varied productions as “The Pits,” Brecht’s “Baal” and “Hedda Gabler.” He has worked extensively for the Canadian Broadcasting Company, starring in dozens of programs, including “The Rimshots,” “Friday Night
Adventure” and “Saturday, Sunday, Monday.”
LOIS CHILES demonstrates a flair for comedy as Leslie Sterling, the neglected wife of Sayeville’s university president in “Sweet Liberty.” Chiles’ first two motion picture roles were in a pair of Robert Redford films, “The Way We Were” and “The Great Gatsby.” She went on to star in “Death on the Nile” and “Moonraker,” the most successful of the James Bond adventures.
On television, Chiles has guest-starred on “Hart to Hart” and is familiar to audiences as Holly Harwood on “Dallas.” Recently she received acclaim for her portrayal of Maggie in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, directed by Jose Ferrer and starring with Kim Hunter. She made her New York stage debut this past spring in “The Incredibly Famous Willy Rivers” at the Off-Broadway WPA Theatre.
“Sweet Liberty” is the 104th film of actress LILLIAN GISH, who plays Cecelia Burgess, Michael’s mother.
Gish, who was born October 14, 1899, has been working since the age of five when she and her sister Dorothy were lured away from the Broadway stage to the new motion picture business by the legendary D.W. Griffith. After acting in such classics as “Intolerance” and “Birth of a Nation,” Gish herself took up film directing and has acted and directed throughout her life.
In the past few years, she has appeared in “Huckleberry Finn” for PBS, starred in the television movie “Hambone and Hillie” and has toured the globe twice with her concert appearances, narrating silent screen clips. She has been a guest artist at the first Israeli Film Festival, named to the Kennedy Center Honors, appeared in London’s Dominion Theatre for a gala, fully orchestrated showing of Griffith’s “The Wind” (1929) and “Broken Blossoms” (1919), was feted by France’s Minister of Culture, Jacques Lang, and in 1984 was.cited by the American Film Institute with its Life Achievement Award.
Commenting on the “Sweet Liberty” production, Gish said, “You know, they (the filmmakers) remind me of D.W. Griffith back in 1913. It was one for all and all for one. There was no place we could go that was as happy as the shooting, and this film is very similar.”
MARTIN BREGMAN has been one of the motion picture industry’s top producers for more than a decade. He is a hands-on producer who oversees every aspect of his films –from the development of the original concept, through the various phases of casting, filming, editing and post-production marketing strategy.
His creative and business acumen is evident in such films as “Serpico,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” “The Seduction of Joe Tynan,” “The Four Seasons” and “Scarface.”
Bregman, who was born and raised in New York City, attended Indiana and New York Universities before beginning his entertainment career as a business and personal manager. Through the years, he has represented many of today’s super- stars, including Al Pacino, Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand, Faye Dunaway, Raquel Welch, Alan Alda, Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler and Diahann Carroll.
In 1973, Bregman made his debut as a producer on “Serpico,” starring Pacino and directed by Sidney Lumet. Next he teamed Pacino and Lumet for “Dog Day Afternoon.” The two films together received seven major Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. “Dog Day Afternoon” won the Oscar for Best Screenplay.
In 1976, Bregman produced “The Next Man,” a spy thriller starring Sean Connery and Cornelia Sharpe (Mrs. Bregman). Joining forces with Alan Aldan with whom he has been partnered for many years– Bregman produced “The Seduction of Joe Tynan, which was written by and starred Alda. Before teaming with Aldo on “The Four Seasons,” Bregman produced “Simon,” starring Alan Arkin, written and directed by Academy Award winner, Marshall Brickman.
Bregman is headquartered in New York, where he serves as Chairman of the Mayor’s Advisory Council for Motion Pictures and Television.
Executive producer LOUIS A. STROLLER entered the film business in 1963 and has worked in every phase of motion picture production. After many years working on television commercials, he moved over to feature films, starting on Sidney Lumet’s “The Group” and later serving as unit manager on Mel Brooks’ “The Producers.”
As an assistant director, he worked on such films as “Charly,” “Take the Money and Run,” “Don’t Drink the Water” and “They Might Be Giants.” As production manager, his films include “Sisters,” “Bananas” and “Mortadella” starring Sophia Loren. He wasassociate producer on “Badlands” and Brian de Palma’s “Carrie.”
In 1977, Stroller joined Martin Bregman Productions, where he has been executive producer on six films: “Scarface,” “The Seduction of Joe Tynan,” “Simon,” “Venom,” “Eddie Macon’s Run” and now “Sweet Liberty.”
Born in Brooklyn, Stroller grew up in Far Rockaway and studied Business Administration at Nichols College. He is currently vice chairman of Martin Bregman Productions, based in Los Angeles.
Director of photography FRANK TIDY was a renowned still photographer before making his motion picture debut in 1977 on Ridley Scott’s “The Duellists.” His other films include “Space Hunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone,” “The Lucky Star,” “The Grey Fox” and “The Mean Season.”
Born in Liverpool, England, Tidy began his career as a photographer while stationed with the British Army in Germany. He subsequently worked in cartoon animation, before launching a successful career in commercials. Most recently, he was the cinematographer on “Code of Silence” and “Father Christmas.”
Production designer BEN EDWARDS first met the young actor Alan Alda twenty years ago when Edwards designed “Purlie Victorious” on Broadway. Alda remembered that Southern town’s set and invited the Union Springs, Alabama-native to design
“Sweet Liberty,” set in mythical Sayeville, North Carolina.
Edwards’ other feature films include “Lovers and Other Strangers,” “Last of the Red Hot Lovers,” “Class of ’44,” “Fort Apache, The Bronx” and “Hanky Panky.”
Among his television credits.are “Harvey,” “All the Way Home,” “The House Without a Christmas,” the mini-series “Blind Ambition” and “Kennedy” and “Heartbreak House.” Edwards has designed sets, lighting and costumes for scores of Broadway productions, several of which he co-produced. Among them are Dustin Hoffman’s “Death of a Salesman,” Judith Anderson’s “Medea,” “Agnes of Man” for John Gielgud and two Katharine Hepburn plays, “West Side Waltz” and “A Matter of Gravity.”
Costume designer JANE GREENWOOD created the costumes for the films “Can’t Stop the Music,” “The Four Seasons,” “Arthur” and “Wetherby.” Nominated for four Tony Awards for her work on Broadway, Greenwood was given the prestigious Maharam Award for her designs for “Tartuffe.” Her other Broadway productions include “Ballad of the Sad Cafe,” “Hamlet,” “More Stately Mansions,” “California Suite” and “Plenty.”
Greenwood has worked extensively in regional theatres– American Shakespeare Festival, Tyrone Guthrie, Hartman– and for the opera companies in San Francisco, Houston and the Metropolitan Opera in New York where her “Dialogue of the Carmelites” is in repertory. Her television work includes “The House Without a Christmas Tree” and the “Kennedy” mini-series. Greenwood is on the faculty of the Yale Graduate School.
BRUCE BROUGHTON is an Emmy Award-winning composer who recently received an Academy Award nomination for his motion picture debut, “Silverado.” In addition to “Sweet Liberty,” his film credits include “Young Sherlock Holmes” and the upcoming “The Boy Who Could Fly.”
A Martin Bregman production, “Sweetliberty” stars Alan Aida, Michael Caine, Michelle Pfeiffer, Bob Hoskins, Lise Hilboldt, Saul Rubinek, Lois Chiles and Lillian Gish as Mrs. Burgess. The film is written and directed by Alan Alda. The producer is Martin Bregman, with Louis A. Stroller as executive producer. The director of photography is Frank Tidy, B.S.C. Music is by Bruce Broughton.