Monday, December 14, 2009

The Endangered List (Case File #55 )




THE PLAYER (1971)


CAST

Jerry Como (Lou Marchesi)
Rae Phillips (Sylvia)
Carey Wilmot (Linda)
Jack Colavita (as Himself)
Victor Anthony (Bill)
Tom DeMartini (One-Pocket Joey)
Richard Nelson (Phil, the Peanut Butter Man)
and
featuring
Minnesota Fats
as Himself


CREW


Written & Directed
by
Thomas DeMartini

Executive Producer
Gordon C. Ogden

Edited by
George Gilbert Dougherty

Costume Design by
Harry Rubenstein

Set Design by
"Bubba" Helmke

Music by
Shorty Rogers

Songs by
David Craig

Songs

"June Winds"
Music by Shorty Rogers
Lyrics by David Craig
Sung by John Bahler and Jackie War

"The Player"
Music by Shorty Rogers
Lyrics by David Craig
Sung by John Bahler

An International Cinema release
Techniscope, Technicolor
Running time: 104 minutes
MPAA rating: GP


PLOT

Professional pool player Lou Marchesi is highly respected for his integrity as well as his skill at the game. One day, his girl friend, Linda, introduces Lou to her old friend Sylvia. Taken with Sylvia's beauty and sophistication, Lou falls in love with her, even though his friend Bill warns him that she is an opportunist. Sylvia is only interested in Lou's money and makes no effort to understand him or his love of the game, and as a result, they begin to quarrel frequently. Frustrated by their relationship, Lou decides to take to the road to give Sylvia some time to think about their future. During Lou's absence, Sylvia moves in with Bill. Lou, meanwhile, is touring the country, hustling people at pool games, something to which he vowed he would never sink. One day, Lou meets his old friend, famous player Minnesota Fats, and challenges him to a game. Knowing that his chances of winning are slim, Lou cheats in an effort to win, but Fats catches him, prompting the local player who is also in the game to demand his money back. Convinced that he was robbed, Lou ambushes the local man in a dark alley as he leaves the pool room, and after breaking a bottle of whiskey over his head, steals his money and returns home. When Lou finds that Sylvia has moved in with Bill, he returns to his old pool hall, angry and disappointed. There he finds Jack Colavita, another famous player, and in an effort to save his pride, challenges Colavita to a game. While Linda watches, Lou loses all his money as Colavita handily wins the game. After Lou walks out of the pool hall, broke and dejected, Linda follows and they reconcile.



Engagement of ‘The Player’ Benefits From Appearance of Minnesota Fats

The people of Jackson, Mississippi, were treated to a first recently when the Jackson Mall Cinema held an area premiere of “The Player.” On hand to promote the film were all the leading stars of the picture, but the main excitement was the appearance of Minnesota Fats, the world’s greatest pool player and hustler. Other stars wee Jerry Como and Rae Phillips.

Enthusiasm was running high as pre-advertisement went up announcing the coming of Minnesota Fats to the cross-roads of the South, Jackson, Miss. The first thing Charles Comeaux, manager of the Jackson Mall Cinema, did was to visit all of the local pool taverns and billiard parlors to pass the word of the coming of Minnesota Fats and put up advertising as to the playdate and appearance of the Fat Man. Comeaux found, to his surprise, a larger number of pool enthusiasts then he had expected.

Local TV and radio sportscasters heard of the coming of Minnesota Fats and started giving advance publicity of the movie and his coming to the Jackson area. From then on, every facet of the news media was wanting a piece of the action. Upon the arrival of Minnesota Fats and other stars in Jackson one TV talk show devoted half of its air time to the promotion of “The Player.” Other TV stations, not to be outdone, did likewise, with one of them devoting the entire air time of the talk show to the area premiere of “The Player.” Enthusiasm was also high in the air among the people of Mississippi as was indicated at the demonstrations put on in the Jackson Mall. After a luncheon press conference and an appearance at the Cinema where Minnesota Fats was honored by Mayor Davis as an honorary citizen of the City of Jackson, the fat man’s pool demonstrations drew the largest crowds the Jackson Mall has ever seen. People seemed to be hanging from the ceiling as they came from far and near to see the fat man demonstrate what has made him the world’s greatest pool player. Later on in the afternoon at his second theatre appearance, Minnesota Fats was again honored. This time he was proclaimed an Honorary Colonel of the State of Mississippi by Gov. John B. Williams.

It was anybody’s guess as to who gave the best news coverage of Minnesota Fats and the area premiere, as all of the media came out in full force to cover this event. Everyone in Minnesota knew of his coming even though the state was in the middle of a hot Governor’s election at the time.

Excitement of the crowds ran high as Minnesota Fats met with some of his old friends of years past. One in particular was a gentleman known to the people of Jackson as Abe Lincoln.

Extra advertisement was received as Penney’s furnished the table for the demonstrations and gave newspaper publicity of the event.

All festivities were well planned and organized and had complete coverage. All of the news media carried the complete coverage on news programs, sports broadcasts, live TV talk shows, with write-ups in the local papers. This helped to give all the advertisement needed to make the Area Premiere a huge success in Jackson. In all, the Jackson Mall Cinema of the Ogden-Perry theatre circuit enjoyed a well-rounded and successful run of “The Player.”

[Boxoffice, Showmandiser, September 27, 1971, p.138]

2 comments:

jbideas said...

If anyone at all has information about the possibility of getting this movie please contact me at jb@jbideas.com

Thanks,

John Barton

Jack Colavita said...

I am Jack Colavita's son, from what I understand Tom DeMartini passed away some years ago. Not sure what avenue to take to find where the archive reel is of the film. I would love a copy, I remember seeing this at the Ritz Theatre in Elizabeth NJ with my family at the world premier. I was 11 then.