The Subterraneans (film)
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The Subterraneans Film
The Subterraneans
Film poster by Joseph Smith
Directed byRanald MacDougall
Produced byArthur Freed
Written byRobert Thom
Based onnovel by Jack Kerouac
StarringGeorge Peppard
Leslie Caron
Roddy McDowall
Janice Rule
Music byAndre Previn
CinematographyJoseph Ruttenberg
Edited byBen Lewis
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$765,000[1]

The Subterraneans is a 1960 film directed by Ranald MacDougall based on the 1958 novel of the same name by Jack Kerouac.


Leo is a 28-year-old novelist who still lives at home with his mother. One night he stumbles upon some beatniks at a coffee house. He falls in love with the beautiful but unstable Mardou Fox.

Roxanne warns Mardou away from Leo, who says his love for her is causing him writer's block. Mardou falls pregnant. She and Leo wind up together.



The novel was optioned by Arthur Freed of MGM as a possible follow up to Some Came Running. Like that film, it was originally intended to star Dean Martin.[2]Nicole Maurey was announced to play the female lead.[3]

Eventually George Peppard and Leslie Caron were signed. Roddy McDowall also joined the cast, his first film in nine years.[4] Janice Rule was married to Robert Thom, who wrote the script.[5][6]

A 1960 film adaptation changed the African American character Mardou Fox, Kerouac's love interest, to a young French girl (played by Leslie Caron) to better fit both contemporary social and Hollywood palates. While it was derided and vehemently criticized by Allen Ginsberg, among others, for its two-dimensional characters, it illustrates the way the film industry attempted to exploit the emerging popularity of this culture as it grew in San Francisco and Greenwich Village, New York.

A Greenwich Village beatnik bar setting had been used in Richard Quine's film Bell, Book and Candle (1958), but Ranald MacDougall's adaptation of Kerouac's novel, scripted by Robert Thom, was less successful.

The Subterraneans was one of the final MGM films produced by Arthur Freed, and features a score by André Previn and brief appearances by jazz singer Carmen McRae singing "Coffee Time," and saxophonists Gerry Mulligan, as a street priest, and Art Pepper. Comedian Arte Johnson plays the Gore Vidal character, here named Arial Lavalerra.

Box office

According to MGM records the film earned only $340,000 in the US and Canada and $425,000 elsewhere resulting in a loss of $1,311,000.[1]

Musical score and soundtrack

The Subterraneans
The Subterranians (Soundtrack).jpg
Soundtrack album by
RecordedSeptember 2, 1959 and January 11 & 12 and February 3, 1960
MGM Studios, Culver City, CA
GenreFilm score
SE 3812 ST
André Previn chronology
West Side Story
The Subterraneans
Like Previn!
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3.5/5 stars[7]

The film score was composed, arranged and conducted by André Previn, with the motion picture also featuring Previn's jazz trio, and the soundtrack album was released on the MGM label in 1960.[8]

Allmusic's Jason Ankeny noted, "André Previn had the good sense to recruit cool jazz giants including Gerry Mulligan, Russ Freeman, and Dave Bailey to perform his Subterraneans score: jazz not only fueled Kerouac's work, but his prose sought to evoke the rhythms and energy of bebop. Indeed, this music comes far closer to accurately capturing Kerouac's writing than any of the film's dialogue. Previn also deserves credit for articulating the sadness of the original novel, deftly combining horns and strings to create a score that is dark and emotive".[7]

Track listing

All compositions by André Previn except as indicated

  1. "Why Are We Afraid" (Previn, Dory Langdon) – 1:57
  2. "Guido's Blackhawk" – 3:05
  3. "Two by Two" – 4:00
  4. "Bread and Wine" – 4:12
  5. "Coffee Time" (Harry Warren, Arthur Freed) – 2:43
  6. "A Rose and the End" – 3:24
  7. "Should I" (Nacio Herb Brown, Freed) – 2:28
  8. "Look Ma, No Clothes" – 1:32
  9. "Things are Looking Down" – 5:39
  10. "Analyst" – 4:19
  11. "Like Blue" – 1:58
  12. "Raising Caen" – 3:02


See also


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. ^ Martin Will Star in 'Subterraneans': Freed Plans Modern Jazz Tale; Martha Hyer Sought for 'Dolls' Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 08 Dec 1958: C15.
  3. ^ FILMLAND EVENTS: Nicole Maurey Will Confer With MGM Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 06 June 1959: C3.
  4. ^ McDowall Paged for 'Inherit' Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 11 Sep 1959: B8.
  5. ^ anice Rule Stars in Husband's Play: 'Earthly Paradise' Is Title; Jourdan One of Viertel Three Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 25 Sep 1959: A11.
  6. ^ McDowall Returns to Play Beatnik Alpert, Don. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 11 Oct 1959: E2.
  7. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. The Subterraneans - Review at AllMusic. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  8. ^ Callahan, M., Edwards, D., Eyries, P. & Preuss, P. MGM Album Discography, Part 6: E-3801 to E-4000 (1960-1962) accessed February 26, 2016

Further reading

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes