Ethereal blonde beauty Carol Lynley was an extremely popular actress in the fifties and sixties. Once described as having “the face of a fallen angel,” she bucked typecasting and played varied roles though most remember her today as the eternal lady in peril due to The Poseidon Adventure and her many TV-movies. However, her career trajectory took many twists and turns. Lynley went from teen queen ala Sandra Dee in the late fifties/early sixties (Blue Denim; Return to Peyton Place); to sex kitten with a Brigitte Bardot hairstyle (Under the Yum Yum Tree; The Pleasure Seekers; then culminating playing Jean Harlow in Harlow); to damsel in distress (Bunny Lake Is Missing; The Shuttered Room).
Carol Lynley had been living in London from 1965 and returned to Hollywood in late 1967. Perhaps a new town required a new look, since Carol had her long mane of blonde hair sheered off following in the footsteps of Mia Farrow. With her new pixie haircut that looked fabulous on her, she craved varied roles other than the damsel in distress. She succeeded getting cast against type as a psychotic heiress with murder on her mind in Once You Kiss a Stranger (1969) and a foul-mouthed hooker named Yvonne in the road comedy Norwood (1970) directed by Jack Haley, Jr. In both, Carol really sunk her teeth into the roles, but the latter would turn to bitter disappointment as her role was diminished due to pious leading man Glen Campbell and producer Hal Wallis hell bent on getting a “G” rating despite the adult material. This would turn out to be one contentious production and it is a perfect example how a producer can ruin a movie when trying to change an adult motion picture into a family feature during the editing process. Even chopping her scenes to shreds, what remained of Lynley’s performance after the final cut still was arguably the movie’s highlight.
In 1969, independent 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. In 1969, Wallis scored a big hit with the western True Grit that won John Wayne an Oscar for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn an ornery Marshall recruited by a teenage girl to avenge her father’s murder. They are joined by a young Texas ranger looking for the same man. The young people were played by newcomers Kim Darby and country vocalist Glen Campbell.
True Grit was based on a novel by Charles Portis and Wallis also bought the rights to his first novel Norwood. This was an amiable tale of an easy going country boy named Norwood Pratt just released from the marines whose goal is to sing on the Louisiana Hayride and his adventures as he travels to get on the show. Though set in the mid-fifties and geared for a mature audience, Wallis thought this would be the perfect follow-up for Glen Campbell who was now on television starring in his own variety series The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour on CBS. The plot was reminiscent of the typical Elvis Presley movie with a handsome singing star, pretty scenery, and even prettier girls.
Wallis hired Jack Haley, Jr. (son of actor Jack Haley of The Wizard of Oz fame) who just won an Emmy for the TV musical special Movin’ with Nancy to direct. This would be his first movie after working as producer and director on a number of highly acclaimed documentaries for David L. Wolper Productions since 1959. True Grit screenwriter Marguerite Roberts was chosen to script Norwood and kept her screenplay quite adult following the tone of the novel. Norwood was still a handsome Southern country boy, but now a Vietnam vet who was not shy in trying to lay every gal he liked. The girls, all beautiful, were not your typical Elvis girl movie characters: Yvonne Philips was a foul-mouthed hooker; Marie an uptight New York City hippie coed; Kay a fast-driving sexpot; and Rita Lee a knocked up, unwed chatterbox. Add a midget, a dancing chicken, Joe William Reese as Norwood’s horny army buddy who wants to score a touchdown with Kay, and an Elvis movie this ain’t.
During the course of pre=production and filming, Executive Producer Hal Wallis’ long time associate producer Paul Nathan exchanged numerous memos with his boss who was only in Hollywood through the casting process and script revision stages that lasted from January through June 1969.
One of the revised scripts beefed up the role of Rita Lee, so the producers decided (after an uninterested Ali MacGraw passed on it) to cast Kim Darby reuniting her with Campbell. Football great Joe Namath who was battling the NFL due to a nightclub he owned that was suspected of illegal gambling on the premises, was offered $60,000 for one week’s work to play Joe Reese. When hearing the star quarterback was cast, Campbell quipped to journalist Cecil Smith, “With a singer and a football player…who the hell’s going to do the acting?” Others cast were Pat Hingle as crooked Grady Fring; Tisha Sterling as Marie; Meredith MacRae as Kay; and Leigh French and Dom DeLuise as Norwood’s sister and shiftless brother-in-law.
One of the last roles cast was that of Yvonne Phillips who was described in the press releases as “a hillbilly hooker with a bit of Bonnie, as in Clyde.” Paul Nathan wrote to Wallis on March 6, 1969 that he thought Nita Talbot was right for Yvonne and commented, “She is not young, but she has a very hard, marvelous quality.” Carol Lynley got the role instead (most likely through Jack Haley, Jr. who was engaged to Nancy Sinatra while Carol was dating her father ole Blue Eyes) with Wallis giving his seal of approval in a memo dated June 14, 1969. He wrote, “I did see Carol Lynley in a picture and she was excellent. I have no reservations about her at all and I am sure she could do it.” Carol was very excited to play Yvonne because it was going to be an acting challenge and it was a type of character she rarely played. A short time before filming began, Paul Nathan exclaimed in a note to Wallis on June 25, 1969, “We had lunch with Carol Lynley Monday, and I was completely smitten. She is a lovely looking girl.”
Before filming began on Norwood in July, Wallis had jetted off to England to oversee his prestigious movie Anne of the Thousand Days starring Richard Burton and Genevieve Bujold. He left Norwood in the capable hands of Nathan who continually updated Wallis outlining progress and problems. During filming, Wallis was on the phone every day to Hollywood and was sent dailies every week to review.
With casting complete, attention then turned to the film’s star Glen Campbell. He was not happy with some of the song selections (neither was Paul Nathan and Jack Haley, Jr.) and had reservations regarding his acting ability not sure he could carry an entire movie. Campbell was worried that if he flopped, he would sabotage both his singing and TV careers. He approached his director with his concerns and Haley quoted Campbell as saying, “I tried to be an actor and I’m not one, just don’t make me try to act. Let me be myself and I’ll be Norwood.” When filming began, Haley did as Glen asked and, performance-wise, the singer did a satisfying job.
However, there was another problem with Campbell. Paul Nathan was also distressed because his manager had the vocalist scheduled for some weekend singing gigs and they wanted Campbell to focus entirely on the movie. Campbell agreed with Nathan and promised to put a moratorium on outside bookings until the movie was completed. He then became worried about the adult nature of the story. Nathan was able to make Campbell realize that it was not late sixties cool to gear his image to be the next Pat Boone and that it was quite acceptable for actors to have sex scenes on film. Nathan was so confident that he got through to his star that he wrote Hal Wallis on July 23, 1969 and stated, “Glen is now perfectly willing to do scenes in the picture with his shirt off, and we will do this in Marie’s apartment or wherever we can. He has trimmed down and really looks great. He has also agreed to go into the love scenes with a great deal of vigor with Marie and with Yvonne. He has also agreed that he will use occasional dirty language…but Glen now agrees the only word he will not use is ‘son-of-a-bitch.’” Nathan’s optimism in his leading man was soon to be proved misplaced.
Just before filming began, Carol Lynley told columnist Dick Kleiner she would stop smoking for Norwood because “When I don’t smoke, I’m always very nervous, and that helps when I’m playing somebody nasty.” She would soon need those cigarettes again to help calm her nerves when dealing with the pious Glen Campbell. The trouble on the set began when the actor actually started to film his scenes with Lynley or shall we say refused to film his scenes when he had already given assurances to Paul Nathan that he was OK with the curse words as long as he didn’t have to say them.
Columnist Dorothy Manners reported from the set that a ruffled Glen Campbell stated, “‘I’m allergic to being called any of those names, It goes against my grain and I think the feeling of the scene can be obtained without those words.’ Carol was almost in tears over being denied the opportunity to be a non-lady. ‘I begged Glen to leave my dialog alone.’”
It was director Jack Haley, Jr. who stepped in with a compromise to end the feuding between his actors. Carol would say the words in the script as is but would mumble them a bit making them less audible. Campbell agreed and that is why for instance in their first scene you barely can make out the word “bitch” when she says it a second time.
A number of other problems vexed the production per Paul Nathan’s memos to Hal Wallis. At one point to save money, they were thinking of shooting all the interior car scenes with Carol and Glen in the studio. Wallis agreed to the extra funds for exterior filming if they could get the dialog live and not have to loop. All were unhappy with Dom DeLuise who would ad lib and not stick to lines written in the script. A cameraman was fired due to excessive drinking and Wallis was disappointed with Haley’s slow shooting pace. One memo stated the cast and crew arrived on location at 6:00 pm but the first shot was not until 9:55 pm. After the movie was completed, Paul Nathan admitted to Hal Wallis in a memo dated Sept. 24, 1969 that though he liked Haley, he would never work with him again because he felt him to be “undependable” and like a child who does “irresponsible” things without realizing it.
In the final cut of Norwood, Carol Lynley is on screen for only about ten minutes but she makes the most of it and is the film’s comedic high point as she berates, insults, then tries to sweet talk Norwood all with a convincing Southern accent during their trek to New York City. It is truly one of her liveliest performances and she looks gorgeous throughout. In the book and novel, aspiring country music singer Norwood, desperate to leave his home now occupied by his sister and her opinionated freeloading husband, agrees to drive a car owned by shady Grady Fring from his hometown to New York City. When Norwood arrives the following morning, he is surprised to find another car hooked to the back of it via a tow bar and that he would have a pretty traveling companion. Carol Lynley amusingly brings to life the feisty, foul-mouthed, peach-eating Yvonne Phillips (“she is a dandy,” exclaims Grady), who was spotted by one of Grady’s talent scouts and is being sent to New York. In both the novel and film it is never made clear though just what “talent” Yvonne possesses. Roberts continued from the book the character’s salty language and her continuous mentioning of Sammy Ortega a bartender who “can get me lined up real easy” and “we had a very good business association going.” What type of business is unclear though savvy viewers conclude the tough-talking Yvonne probably is no saint.
Yvonne is first seen exiting the car clad in a very low-cut backless orange mini-dress and heads over to where Norwood is standing with Grady. She doesn’t even say hello and yells at Grady, “I hope you don’t think that I am going to go to New York with this country son-of-a-bitch?” Trying to alleviate Norwood’s trepidation, Grady says she is miffed because she “thought she was going up in a Delta jet.” Furious, she tells Grady, “I wish Sammy Ortega was here. He’d break your arm.” When Norwood interjects, she says, “I wasn’t talking to you peckerwood. But Sammy would get to you too if he felt like it you big mouthed country son of a bitch!” This second “bitch” was muffled by the sound dept. no doubt to get that “G” rating.
As they drive along, amiable Norwood tries to befriend Yvonne but blows it by calling her Laverne to her utter annoyance, “My name is not Laverne, it’s Yvonne! But I don’t want you calling me nuthin’!” Making matters worse, later on he slams on his breaks when he spots a possum out in the fields. Yvonne spills her canned peaches all over her dress and yells, “Oh, son of a bitch! What the hell is wrong with you!?! You think I want to see some possum crawling through some fence!” After trying to clean off her dress, Yvonne slams the car door shut and calls Norwood, “the biggest peckerwood bastard in the whole world!” Crying, she wishes she was in Calumet City, Illinois with Sammy Ortega.
At one point as they are driving along, Yvonne hints that the cars are stolen when they enter Tennessee. Yvonne says smugly, “Well, you just crossed another state line. You know under these conditions they could put you in the federal penitentiary.” Norwood replies, “I ain’t afraid of the Mann Act.” To which Yvonne retorts, “You are the peckerwood of all peckerwoods.” After insulting each other back and forth, Norwood says, “I don’t see how in the hell anyone from Belzoni, Mississippi can call anybody else a peckerwood anyway.” To which Yvonne replies with a bit of haughtiness, “Look for your information I happened to have spent a lot of time in New Orleans and I count that as my home.” Norwood quips, “You could live in Hong Kong, Kalamazoo, or Podunk, Iowa for seventy-five years—Belzoni, Mississippi is still your home.” Demanding that Norwood stop the car, Yvonne storms out and sits in the passenger seat of the car being towed while the name calling continues. “Butt-headed peckerwood!” “Damn squirrel-headed dingbat!” As they drive along separately, Norwood is singing “Rock of Ages” while Yvonne is grooving to some funky jazz music. This is followed by a wonderfully shot and scored scene as the camera pans from right all the way to the left following horses run across a field and then the camera stops on Norwood’s oncoming car and follows it panning back right.
Yvonne is back in the car with Norwood. In the book there is a long conversation the pair have about religion, which Roberts rightfully excised from her script. When Yvonne finally reveals that the cars that he has been hired to deliver are stolen (“They are about to burst into flames!”) to try to get Norwood to give her one, he plows through a stop sign with the town’s sheriff and deputy in hot pursuit. He decides to out run them with Yvonne yelling in his ear, “Well Mr. Highpockets you just about got us nearly killed that time. What do you plan to do next!?!” A car chase ensues, and Norwood gets away when the car being towed breaks off and the cop car crashes into it.
At this point, day fades into night as Norwood drives to a secluded section of a park in Illinois. Yvonne being a hooker is hinted at again as she is about to drive off with the stolen car and Norwood begins wiping off his fingerprints. Taking a line from the book’s narration, he says, “It’s a proud day when the Marine Corps took them Now they are up there in a drawer somewhere in Washington waiting to do me in.” When he suggests that Yvonne do the same once she gets to Calumet City, she replies, “Why? I was never in the Marines—a couple of camps, maybe…You know I never did get to hear you on that guitar. Adios.”
In the novel and the final cut of the movie, this is the last Norwood sees of Yvonne. However, Marguerite Roberts added two more scenes that were shot but excised from the film. After escaping from the sheriff, Yvonne seduces Norwood in the back seat of the car to try to get him to give one of the cars to her. A shot of her lounging seductively back there turns up as her single card billing during the end credit roll. With these scenes excised, the audience is robbed of seeing either good ole boy Norwood taming wildcat Yvonne or Yvonne using her power of seduction to get Norwood into the sack and getting a car in the process.
After Kay and Joe Reese drive Rita Lee and Norwood (singing ”Settlin’ Down”) to meet his sister, there was a scene where Norwood and Rita Lee meet up with Yvonne and Grady. Yvonne runs up to Norwood planting a big kiss on him to the consternation of Rita Lee. This seems to suggest that Yvonne fell for the Southern boy’s charms rather than just giving him a quick screw for an automobile. Official Paramount Studio production stills from both these scenes exist suggesting perhaps that since Carol Lynley had such prominent billing they would not cut two of her major scenes completely from the film.
Hal Wallis and Jack Haley, Jr. contradicted each other and themselves with the reasons why these scenes, particularly the lovemaking one, were cut. Paul Nathan submitted the final revised script to the MPAA who wrote back on July 24, 1969 that if filmed, as is, the movie would receive a “M” rating for mature audiences. The ratings board had problems with Yvonne’s double use of “son of a bitch;” unnecessary cursing: and using the phrases “peeing” and “your ass.” If any nudity (if there was any, most likely not, it would have been from the Yvonne/Norwood love scene) made it into the final cut the “M” rating was also in jeopardy. By this time, all these scenes were filmed and looked as if the movie was not going to get a “G” rating, which at this time seemed not to bother Paul Nathan or Jack Haley, Jr. Not so Hal Wallis who started writing on July 29, 1969 that he wanted that “G” rating to increase the film’s box office chances. Agreeing with some of what the MPAA suggested, he instructed Nathan to eliminate the curse words “by dubbing another word, or making a wild track to go over someone else…”
Jack Haley, Jr. had right of first cut and Hal Wallis ordered Paul Nathan not to interfere. Once he submitted, Wallis would then screen the movie and make any cuts he deemed fit. He also refused to watch the movie with Haley frustrating the first time movie director who had to send his editing notes via memo to the producer. In a letter dated Oct. 9, 1969, it was Jack Haley, Jr. who suggested cutting Lynley’s final scene because “the deletion would certainly save a great deal of time without hurting the story in any way.” Wallis seemed to agree since there was no protest from him and the scene never made it into the final print.
Haley won some battles on minor points regarding Lynley’s scenes. Wallis wanted to cut the Mann Act lines but agreed with Haley who wrote on Nov. 3 , 1969, “It’s a strong joke and without it Yvonne suddenly turns on Norwood for no reason.” He also was able to make Wallis realize that Norwood should be seen first singing “Rock of Ages” before Yvonne dancing to rock music because the opposite way would wipe out the joke.
Though Wallis appeased his director with these and some other minor points, the lovemaking scene was another issue. Both Haley and Nathan fought to keep in the picture. Wallis was adamant that it had to go to assure his “G” rating. Nathan was the first to capitulate and wrote to Wallis on Oct. 24, 1969, “I was wrong about trying to keep the cut of Yvonne and Glen in the morning in the back seat of the car. I now feel it should come out as you suggested.”
A determined Haley sent one last memo on January 20, 1970 after the movie was previewed. He began his letter with “I am terribly pleased with Norwood. The final editing and Al DeLory’s scoring job are really superb efforts.” He then listed thirty-one changes he wanted made including many from the Oct. 24th memo. Interestingly, the lovemaking scene was not mentioned. Either it was a done deal to cut it or the producers did it after this screening.
Campbell was schizophrenic in the interviews he gave regarding Norwood. On one hand in feigned disappointment to hear about all the cuts being made in the editing room. He remarked to columnist Joyce Haber that Norwood “turned out good, but it irks me because they wanted to get a ‘G’ rating, so they kept cutting a lot of the dialog from the picture after it was finished. You can’t have more than one s.o.b. to get a ‘G’ rating.” He felt proud that he didn’t curse in the movie, but added “Carol Lynley kept calling me ‘you country s.o.b.’ though.” Soon after, he boasted to write Richard G. Shull, “There was a scene where Carol Lynley was supposed to call me an SOB. I said I don’t want that garbage in the show. I told them I wanted a movie my preacher could see.” The upshot from all this was that Glen Campbell vowed to study more closely future scripts offered him. Moot point because he never starred in a feature film again. His opinion of the movie changed too over time and he wrote in his 1994 memoir that Norwood was “a corny movie. It was a ridiculous story that set back the cause of country music and perpetuated every stereotype of country musicians as hicks.”
He wasn’t the only one bitching about the movie. Joe Namath was pissed that he was being used prominently in the ad copy leading fans to think he was the co-lead when in fact he had a supporting role. And Kim Darby confessed to journalist Wayne Warga that she never wanted to do Norwood and only agreed as a thank you to Hal Wallis who hired her prior for True Grit. She felt she owed him despite her agent’s advice to turn the part down.
Just before the film was released, an over confident Hal Wallis boasted to Philip K. Sheuer of the Los Angeles Times, “Norwood should go over $20 million at the box office.” Despite his forcing cuts to get a G-rating, he then suggested Norwood was almost to being “far out” like the comedy Goodbye, Columbus with Richard Benjamin and Ali MacGraw. “Norwood comes as close as anything. However, it isn’t objectionable, isn’t offensive…” And the film cut to the “G” rating wasn’t cool or interesting enough to the young moviegoers who flocked to Goodbye, Columbus. The only thing they had in common was that their leading players were relative newcomers.
Norwood opened throughout the South and in most major cities in late May and June 1970. In some cities, such as New York, it didn’t open until November after the release of Joe Namath’s second movie C.C. and Company co-starring Ann-Margret. Reviews were mixed. Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times called it “an amiable, easygoing often quite funny piece of entertainment.” His major complaint about the movie was that “the pace is very slow without being leisurely. The jokes, always mild, tend to be hammered home and then lingered over.” As for Carol Lynley, he felt she, Tisha Sterling, and Meredith MacRae “give excellent accounts of themselves.” Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune found “the film’s Southern humor hokey, but harmless.” Robert Taylor of the Oakland Tribune amusingly called Carol’s character “a prostitute with a heart of tin” but found the movie to be “all corn.” Nadine Subetaik of The Cedar Rapids Gazette found the movie to be “a relaxed little piece that seems made to order for the easy-going style of Glen Campbell.”
By watering down the script and cutting scenes and dialog at the last minute to get his “G” rating, Hal Wallis lost the young adult crowd. Some of the critics picked that up in their reviews such as Edgar Driscoll, Jr. in the Boston Globe who noted that “the kids will probably enjoy it. (We don’t mean the college set.)” Howard Thompson of the New York Times wrote “the picture looks edited though a meat grinder.” Commenting on Carol Lynley, he said that she “looks and sounds as hard as nails. And such language—in a G-rated picture!” One critic delivered a nasty backhanded compliment to the actress by remarking, “you know a comedy is in trouble when the comedic high point is provided by Carol Lynley.” At least he admitted how funny she was in it.
Norwood is an easy laid-back pleasant diversion with hummable songs nicely sung by the star. It was a nice change of pace to see two Vietnam vets treated respectfully, which was not the case in many movies from this time period. Carol Lynley looks terrific in her mini-dress and short hair. By far, and even with the cuts, she gives the liveliest performance and steals the movie with her comedic turn as the self-absorbed hooker who has to reluctantly drive cross country with “this country son-of-a-bitch.” She and Campbell play quite well opposite each other. Her feisty nastiness meshes well with his affable country boy who tries to stay the Southern gentleman but is pushed too far by Yvonne before he explodes. Though it would have been wonderful if the boneheaded decision to cut the lovemaking segment was not made extending Lynley’s screen time.
At the box office, Norwood grossed just under $2 million far short of Hal Wallis’ projection of $20 million. The movie did well in the South and at drive-ins, but more sophisticated moviegoers in the big cities ignored it. With its “G” rating and Glen Campbell in the lead singing a number of songs, they probably presumed it was going to be yet another Elvis Presley-type movie, and ignored it. In the days of Midnight Cowboy and Easy Rider, the Elvis film was dead and younger people wanted something more substantial. They may have gotten that in Norwood if Wallis would have delivered the mature film Marguerite Roberts delivered with her script.
In October 1970 (after the movie was released in most parts of the country) Jack Haley, Jr. began a war of words with Hal Wallis over his disappointment with Norwood when he contributed a piece to Action the magazine of the Directors Guild of America. Though he lavished praise on producer Hal Wallis (“the most decisive, best organized producer I ever worked with” and “an inherent genius for casting”) and conceded that he learned a lot about producing from him, Haley then went on to label him in a negative way an “auteur producer.” His complaint was that Wallis had to have control over the movie from beginning to end, which frustrated the new director. Haley remarked, “I had hopes of elevating Glen Campbell and Norwood above the usual Presley-type format. Hal was inclined to agree there was a chance to do just this.” However, once Wallis was determined to get that “G” rating, Haley’s input was no longer needed.
Haley goes on to report that after principal photography was completed, he began two weeks directing the second unit shooting something the director usually does not do (“I had willingly volunteered to do this because I felt this special photography was important to the picture”) and that left him only thirteen days to deliver his cut to Wallis. He thought he would have a say with the editing working in conjunction with Wallis, but the producer wouldn’t even screen the movie with his director telling him “It makes me nervous.” This is when those series of memos began circulating back and forth between them. Haley exclaimed, “How the hell you can discuss pace and performance or analyze the balance of individual scenes by way of memo-to-memo completely eludes me.” Describing how he felt, he stated, “I’ve experienced the buzzing of gnats in one’s ear, but I’ve never really felt like a gnat before.”
Haley also complimented and apologized to Carol Lynley in the article and wrote, “In Norwood, she faced a challenge in playing a bitchy, foul-mouthed hooker…but she pulled it off with great style. I’m sorry so many of her best scenes hit the cutting room floor. She was truly the worst victim in the last minute reach for a “G” rating.” To be fair, it was Haley, not Wallis, who suggested Lynley’s later scenes be cut due to running time not for content so the producer was not fully responsible for her lack of screen time.
Of course, Hal Wallis did not take this sitting down and rebutted him later to the press. Commenting to Joyce Haber, the producer said, “It would seem to me that Haley’s own statements point out where the fault lay. He was unable to get the performances he needed out of Glen Campbell, Joe Namath, or Carol Lynley. If he wasn’t capable of doing a better job, why is he blaming everybody else…” This is quite frankly hogwash. Campbell and Namath both were quite charming in their roles and Lynley was able to rise above the ingenues and damsels in distress she was known for playing and truly deliver a lively amusing performance. Haley must get the credit in getting these commendable performances from them.
Wallis continued, “Considering the fact that this was his first film and I had made 250 before, I think I know a little more about editing and direction than he does. I’ve been in this business many years, you run into this, but not from neophytes. He has a lot to learn…” Wallis totally ignores the fact that he was still in the Elvis-movie mind set of delivering a family picture despite the mature script in 1970. While shooting the movie, this was not relayed to Haley (or associate producer Paul Nathan) and he shot the screenplay as is thinking all were in agreement to rise above the typical teenage musical films of the sixties. Haley even battled Glen Campbell to keep the salty language in while shooting. It wasn’t until after the fact that the producer had dollars in his eyes and felt the “G” rating would attract a larger audience. As part of the old guard in Hollywood, Wallis was slow to grasp that younger audiences were craving more mature material not family-style hokum, which he delivered by cutting the movie to shreds. He doesn’t own up to any of this and instead blamed his director.
Alas, Norwood goes down in Hollywood history as another one of those late sixties features that were too square to be hip. Movies like For Singles Only; C’mon. Let’s Live a Little; Skidoo; and How to Commit Marriage where studio heads thought they were capturing the hip attitudes of the time but failed miserably. In the case of Norwood, it is a real shame since their was promise there in the novel and Marguerite Roberts’ script, which was nicely directed by Jack Haley, Jr. and beautifully photographed by Robert B. Hauser. All the performers do well (even Kim Darby).
Though Carol Lynley would go on to play murderesses and nutcases on TV and in film, she would never got the opportunity to play such an over-the-top character like Norwood’s Yvonne Phillips in a comedy ever again. If you only are aware of Carol Lynley as passive Nonnie in The Poseidon Adventure, Norwood is well worth seeking out just to see her chew the scenery playing a naughty lady ala her Poseidon co-star Stella Stevens’ foul-mouthed Linda Rogo.