Below is a very rare recently discovered behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie Norwood (1970).
In 1969, producer Hal Wallis was coming to the end of his tenure at Paramount Pictures. During the sixties he was mostly known for producing Elvis Presley movies from G.I. Blues to Girls! Girls! Girls! to Roustabout to Paradise, Hawaiian Style to Easy Come, Easy Go. Elvis had tired of his movie career by 1968 and began mounting his live concert comeback.
Then along comes a script of an easy going country boy just released from the army whose goal is to sing on the Louisiana Hayride and his adventures as he travels to get on the show. It was based on the novel Norwood by Charles Portis that was set in the mid-fifties and geared for adults. Wallis thought this would be the perfect vehicle for new singing sensation Glen Campbell who just co-starred with John Wayne and Kim Darby in the Wallis-produced western True Grit. The plot was reminiscent of the typical Elvis movie with a handsome singing star, pretty scenery and lots of prettier girls. However, Wallis, then sidelined producing the prestigious Anne of the Thousand Days in England, must not have read the script too closely and left the film in the hands of director Jack Haley, Jr. The lead was handsome and a singer alright, but now a Vietnam vet who wanted to lay every gal he met. The girls all beautiful were not your typical Elvis girls: Carol Lynley was a foul-mouthed hooker; Tisha Sterling a free lovin’ hippie: Meredith MacRae a fast-driving sexpot; and Kim Darby a knocked up, unwed chatterbox. Throw in a midget, a dancing chicken, Joe Namath as Campbell’s army buddy who scores a touchdown with MacRae and an Elvis movie it ain’t.
Once the movie was completed and shown to the producer he was aghast! Carol Lynley swears like a sailor! Campbell beds both Lynley and Sterling! Darby rejects her baby daddy! Campbell panicked too thinking his cornpone fans would never accept him in such an adult picture and Wallis agreed demanding Haley cut the film to get a G-rating! This was a few months after the release of the X-rated sensation Midnight Cowboy. Haley objected, as did Lynley who took the role because it was such a change of pace for her and voiced her contempt for Wallis’ decision in the press. Wallis made the cuts anyway. Gone were the lovemaking scenes with Lynley and Sterling. It was too late to cut Lynley’s cussing so the sound was muffled. It would be so cool to see if the excised scenes still exist as there are movie stills of those scenes. This proves they were cut at the last minute and were in Haley’s final cut.
Despite all this, I find Norwood an easy laid-back pleasant diversion with hummable songs nicely sung by the star. Carol Lynley has one of her best roles and looks terrific in her minidress and short hair. Though on the screen for only 10 minutes, she steals the movie with her comedic turn as the hooker who has to drive cross country with “this country son-of-a-bitch.” She and Campbell play quite well opposite each other as do Campbell and affable Joe Namath. Merdith MacRae has never looked lovelier on screen; Dom DeLuise is funny as Norwood’s shiftless brother-in-law; and Kim Darby is quite cute as the girl who may land our Norwood.