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Tony Curtis A Feature Film By Ian Ayres French Connection Films Presents




FRENCH CONNECTION FILMS presents TONY CURTIS DRIVEN TO STARDOM A FEATURE FILM BY IAN AYRES in association with ORANGE CINEMA SERIES - HBO CENTRAL EUROPE BIO & BIO HD - FRENCH FILM BOARD (CNC) French Connection Films 12 rue Lamartine 75009 Paris, France Tel: +33 (0)1 40 16 11 47 Email: [email protected] TONY CURTIS DRIVEN TO STARDOM SYNOPSIS TONY CURTIS: DRIVEN TO STARDOM is a personal and intimate journey into the life and career of one of Hollywood’s last silver screen icons. Influencing the likes of Elvis Presley and James Dean with his rebellious demeanor, iconic hairstyle and charming good looks, Tony Curtis was regarded as one of the very first teen idols and sex symbols of his time. His passionate drive and charm also made him a unique figure that appealed to all ages and transcended all genres with his versatile and memorable roles in such classics as Trapeze, Spartacus, Sweet Smell of Success, The Boston Strangler and Some Like It Hot. As we explore the stages of his six-decade film career, we’ll also shed light on his courageous political stance to break the color barrier with The Defiant Ones (which earned him an Oscar nomination), his brief love affair with blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe, as well as his failed marriages to actresses Janet Leigh and Christine Kaufmann. Tony Curtis gives his most honest and intimate interview to date, delivering a fascinating and unprecedented insight into the incredible highs and dramatic lows of being a movie star. From his difficult upbringing in the Bronx, having a schizophrenic mother, and the suffering he endured from the tragic loss of his younger brother, Curtis escaped the burden of being born Bernie Schwartz and reinvented himself in Hollywood as Tony Curtis, an actor who never received the recognition he deserved. Exclusive footage, film extracts and personal interviews with family, friends and co-stars including Hugh Hefner, Harry Belafonte, Debbie Reynolds, Mamie Van Doren, Piper Laurie, Theresa Russell, and Jill Curtis help paint a portrait of a charismatic man whose incredible rise to celebrity brought him the fame and power he craved, but one which became an overwhelming addiction that nearly destroyed him. Not only just a biographical account, this feature documentary is also an exploration into the universal concept of fame and its impact on Hollywood actors. TONY CURTIS DRIVEN TO STARDOM STATEMENT OF PURPOSE I met Tony Curtis for the first time in November 2006 at his Las Vegas home before filming a 2007 documentary about the latter part of his life: meeting his wife Jill Curtis, re-inventing himself as a painter, and fighting for the safety of horses. The feature documentary, The Jill & Tony Curtis Story, was an Official Selection at the 2008 Montreal World Film Festival and won Best Documentary at The Bel Air Film Festival. It was then that Tony’s manager and wife gave me the idea to film a full-length documentary on Tony’s life - a time when life was hard and dreams were big. In the 1940s, following the end of World War II, Hollywood studios were sending their talent agents everywhere in search for the next big stars who could draw crowds into theaters. It was a time for hopeful unknowns to make their mark, and Bernie Schwartz was one of those people who attempted to tackle the Studio System in 1948. Exclusive archive photos and video footage bring us back to Tony’s youth living on the streets of 1930s New York to his hey-days in 1950s/60s Hollywood, where he reinvited himself and became Tony Curtis, Hollywood’s Golden Boy. Idolized by the likes of Elvis Presley and James Dean, Tony was also considered as one of the first male sex symbols of his time. Not only will the documentary spotlight Tony’s days as a pin-up poster boy and his influence on pop culture, but it will also examine the process of becoming famous and how succeeding and failing in this particular industry affects the lives of those who try to make it big. We will also recognize a time of segregation when no Caucasian star risked being seen with an AfricanAmerican and how Tony Curtis broke the color barrier after appearing on the front cover of Ebony magazine with African-American singer Harry Belafonte and especially after starring opposite African-American actor Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones. With a 1959 Oscar nomintion under his belt for his role in the film, Tony soon became one of the most famous actors in Hollywood and went on to appear in over 140 films. Although Tony’s roles have been familiar to most, many do not know much about his personal life and turmoils – his childhood in poverty, his guilt over his brother’s death, his failed marriages, his estrangement from his children, his bout with drug abuse. What role did his family, his education and his childhood play into his future relationships? How did he find redemption? What legacy did he leave behind after his death? The film highlights such key moments of his life as well as the turning points of his career. Certain film extracts will also be used to demonstrate Tony’s talent and mirror his real life as well. From our nearly 3-hour interview with Tony Curtis at his Las Vegas home, viewers will get to know him through his own living words spoken with frankness, humor and emotion. Testimonies from those who knew him include friends, co-stars, as well as people outside of his life including biographer Allan Hunter, UCLA film critic Howard Suber, and social psychologist Dr. Glenn Wilson. These interviews not only help put Tony’s own words into perspective, but they also shed light on the various historical time periods and bring an intimate insight to Tony’s complex personality, drives and fears. This is not just any classic biography. We’ve weaved together historical, personal, and psychological dimensions. Tony’s tormented life and incredible rise to stardom allows for a study of why people want to become famous, what triggers that desire, how celebrity status is created and whether the rise to stardom quenches the real need for love and acceptance. Despite enduring a childhood full of tragedy, Tony came to Hollywood to accomplish his dreams and refuse to do what was expected of him. To people all over the world, he may have been an icon on the silver screen; but in his heart, he has always remained Bernie Schwartz, a rebel from the Bronx. Ian Ayres director TONY CURTIS DRIVEN TO STARDOM CAST INTERVIEWS Tony Curtis Jill Vandenberg Curtis Sally Vandenberg Harry Belafonte Hugh Hefner Mamie Van Doren Debbie Reynolds Christine Kaufmann Gamil Ratib Nehemiah Persoff Marian Collier Sally Kellerman Nicolas Roeg Jeremy Thomas Theresa Russell Allan Hunter John Gilmore wife of Tony Curtis mother of Jill Vandenberg Curtis friend and former classmate at The New School friend and founder of Playboy co-star, The All-American (1953), Forbidden (1953) co-star, The Rat Race (1960), Goodbye Charlie (1964) ex-wife/co-star, Taras Bulba (1962), Wild & Wonderful (1964) co-star, Trapeze (1956) co-star, Some Like It Hot (1959), former classmate at The New School co-star, Some Like It Hot (1959) co-star, The Boston Strangler (1968) director, Insignificance (1985) producer, Insignificance (1985) co-star, The Last Tycoon (1976), Insignificance (1985) author, Tony Curtis: The Man and His Movies (1985) co-star, The Prince Who Was a Thief (1951), The Son of Ali Baba (1952) author, Inside Marilyn Monroe (2007) TONY CURTIS DRIVEN TO STARDOM technical stats Country of Origin: Year of Production: Original Language: Category: Running Time: Format: Originally Shot On: Screen Ratio: Resolution: Color: Sound: Screening Format: France 2011 English Docu-Feature 96 minutes HDCAM Video/HD 1:1,78 (16:9) 1920x1080p Color & Black/White Stereo 2 4:1 HDCAM, Digital Betacam PAL CREW . Writer/Director: Cinematographers: Sound: Editors: Music: Narrator: Graphics: Sound Design & Mixing: Production Coordinators: Ian Ayres Eric Ellena & Jean-Thomas Renaud Guillaume de Ginestel & Christopher Williams Ian Ayres & Eric Ellena Mathieu Uettwiller, Jérôme Rossi & Eric Simon Maximillian Roeg Sylvain Mesme & Gwendal Pointeau Gerald Ladoul & Eric Simon Eric Ellena, Jim Le & Guillaume de Ginestel TONY CURTIS DRIVEN TO STARDOM director bio IAN AYRES is an American filmmaker from Los Angeles, California who has been living and working in France for the past 20 years. Cofounder of French Connection Films in Paris, Ayres has been associated with the productions of several films such as The Universe of Keith Haring, I Remember Better When I Paint, Five Roads to Freedoms and also directed a documentary about the American Church in Paris in 2006 called A Glimpse of Heaven. His second film, The Jill & Tony Curtis Story, was a 2008 documentary about the efforts of the celebrity couple to rescue horses from slaughterhouses and finding something much more rewarding than fame or fortune. After filming, the Curtis family suggested Ayres to take on another feature - this time focusing on Tony’s life and career. CREW WRITER 2010 Fidget searching for co-producers WRITER, DIRECTOR 2008 The Jill & Tony Curtis Story 73’ (France) French Connection Films/Equidia broadcasted on Equidia (France) released on DVD (France, USA, Canada) Documentary Prize, Bel Air Film Festival 2008 Screening, Montreal World Film Festival 2008 Official Selection, Mammoth Film Festival 2008 2006 A Glimpse of Heaven 57’ (France) French Connection Films/KTO broadcasted on KTO (France), TSR (Switzerland), Salt & Light TV (Canada), Africa TV (USA), STV (Cameroon) released on DVD (France, USA) CONTACT ERIC ELLENA, producer French Connection Films 12 rue Lamartine 75009 PARIS France +33 (0)1 40 16 11 47 [email protected]