A creative combination of 1930s songs and 1970s film produced one of the biggest bombs of 1975: At Long Last Love.
Produced, directed and written by Peter Bogdonavitch, the film’s title comes from a Cole Porter song and was an attempt to celebrate the grand musicals of the 1930s.
Starring Burt Reynolds and Cybill Shepherd, the original casting had been with Ryan O’Neal, who backed out and was replaced with Reynolds.
Shepherd was chosen as she had recorded an album of Cole Porter songs. Supporting actors included Madeleine Kahn, Eileen Brennan, John Hillerman and Duilio Del Prete.
Bogdonavitch had wished to film in black and white, but was convinced by 20th Century Fox to stay with colour and instead had all the performers sing live to film, and not have recorded music.
The storyline was the tale of four socialites who run into each other unexpectedly and over the course of the night with friends and employees pair up, get jealous, switch partners, have a romance and in the end, fall in love.
But the story wasn’t convincing and the critics disliked the film. It was called a “great catastrophe” by TIME Magazine and The New York Times called the film “…the most perverse movie musical ever made…an colossal overextravagant in-joke…”.
Made for just over US$5 million, the film barely made $2.5 million in its box office release in March 1975.
Although considered one of the worst films of 1975, the film was re-edited without the director’s knowledge and released on Netflix. The new version was considered much better and liked by audiences and the director, who added a bit more footage to the newly-released Director’s Cut of the film.