Film poster by Joseph Smith
|Directed by||Ranald MacDougall|
|Produced by||Arthur Freed|
|Written by||Robert Thom|
|Based on||novel by Jack Kerouac|
|Music by||Andre Previn|
|Edited by||Ben Lewis|
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.Nicole Maurey was announced to play the female lead.
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.
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.
|Soundtrack album by|
|Recorded||September 2, 1959 and January 11 & 12 and February 3, 1960|
MGM Studios, Culver City, CA
SE 3812 ST
|André Previn chronology|
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".
All compositions by André Previn except as indicated