Sweet Bird of Youth (1962) Poster


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  • Aspiring actor Chance Wayne (Paul Newman) returns to his hometown with fading film star Alexandra Del Lago (Geraldine Page), incognito as Princess Kosmonopolis. Chance's plans are to blackmail Princess into getting him a screen test and to link up with his former girlfriend, Heavenly Finley (Shirley Knight), whose father Thomas 'Boss' Finley (Ed Begley) is a ruthless politician who controls both the town government and the local police. Boss is the one who ran Chance out of town in the first place and is not about to let him back into his daughter's life. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Sweet Bird of Youth is based on a 1959 play by American author Tennessee Williams [1911-1983]. The play was adapted for the movie by American screenwriter Richard Brooks, who also directed the movie. A television remake, also titled Sweet Bird of Youth (1989), was released in 1989. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Chance was working as a masseur in Palm Beach, Florida where Princess was hiding out, trying to forget her 'comeback' movie. He was hired to give her a massage in her private cabana on the beach. The next thing she knew, she was drunk in the back seat of her Cadillac being driven by Chance through Tallahassee. Chance takes her to a hotel in St Cloud, somewhere on the Gulf Coast not far from New Orleans, where she finally awakens from her drunken stupor. This is where the Chance and Princess finally get acquainted with each other. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • After he and Princess have parted ways, Chance walks over to the Finley mansion and stands outside calling Heavenly's name. The butler tries to warn Chance to get away, but Tom Finley Jr (Rip Torn) and some of the members of his Finley Youth Club drive up. Chance continues to call for Heavenly, but Tom tells Chance to never speak the name of his sister again and waves his cane in a threatening manner. Chance grabs the cane and breaks it in two. Then, Tom and his boys start beating up on Chance. When they have him flat on the ground, they haul him over to the car and hoist him against the hood. Tom picks up his broken cane and approaches Chance, saying, 'I'm gonna take away lover boy's meal ticket.' He smashes the handle of the cane into Chance's face, breaking his nose and smashing the side of his face. 'No woman will ever again pay to love that,' he adds. Just then, Heavenly and her dad drive up. When they see Chance lying on the ground, Boss orders Heavenly into the house, but she goes over to Chance. Cradling his head in her arms, she tells him, 'We're leaving now,' and helps him up. Boss again yells at her to get in the house, but she replies, 'Papa, I'm never coming into that house again.' She and Chance get in a car and drive off. Aunt Nonnie (Mildred Dunnock) starts walking away, too, and tells Boss that he can go straight to hell. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Viewers who have seen both the movie and the play say that there are two important differences: (1) In the play, Chance infects Heavenly with an STD and she has to be 'spayed like a dog', i.e., have a hysterectomy, making it so that she can never have a baby, and (2) the play ends with Chance about to be castrated. The movie changes it so Boss made Heavenly have an abortion when carrying Chance's baby, and Chance merely has his face disfigured at the end. These changes serve to change the entire complexion of the story, affecting the audience's sympathies and resulting in Chance being portrayed sympathetically in the movie whereas, in the play, he is portrayed as selfish, careless, and causing the destruction of Heavenly, in whose body he places 'rot'. The changes made in the movie are said to be based on the fact that censorship in the 1960s would not allow for the STD/castration ideas and that viewers wouldn't want Paul Newman to be too badly hurt, so they chose for the 'Hollywood ending'. Edit (Coming Soon)


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