John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!

Last updated
John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!
John Goldfarb-1965-poster.jpg
1965 theatrical poster
Directed by J. Lee Thompson
Written by William Peter Blatty
Produced byJ. Lee Thompson
Steve Parker
Starring Shirley MacLaine
Peter Ustinov
Richard Crenna
Cinematography Leon Shamroy
Edited by William B. Murphy
Music by John Williams
Parker–Orchard Productions
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • March 24, 1965 (1965-03-24)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3,705,000 [1]
Box office$3,000,000 (US/ Canada rentals) [2]

John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! [3] is a 1965 American comedy film based on the novel by William Peter Blatty published in 1963. The film was directed by J. Lee Thompson. The film was shot in the Mojave Desert.


In the film, an American military aviator crashlands in a fictional Arab country. He is held captive, but the country's leader is informed of his past career as a star of college football. He arranges an exhibition football match between his country's university team and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, using the captive aviator for leverage.


The comic spoof of the Cold War was inspired by a May 1960 incident involving American Francis Gary Powers, a CIA operative whose U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union, sparking an international diplomatic incident. Writer William Peter Blatty's tale concerns John "Wrong-Way" Goldfarb, a former college football star who once ran 95 yards for a touchdown in the wrong direction. Now a U-2 pilot, his plane malfunctions and crashes in the mythical Arab kingdom of Fawzia.

The country's leader threatens to turn him over to the Soviets unless he agrees to coach a football team. Jenny Ericson, the magazine journalist who made Goldfarb famous, is on an undercover assignment as a member of the King's harem, and when she discovers she was wrong in thinking the King is no longer romantically interested in his wives, she seeks help from Goldfarb. The King blackmails the U.S. Department of State into arranging an exhibition football game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and his own team from Fawz University. Jenny becomes a cheerleader and then the quarterback who scores the winning touchdown for Fawz University.


Original novel

Blatty was inspired to write the story by Gary Francis Powers. It was originally written as a screenplay. Blatty pitched the project to Steve Parker and Parker's wife Shirley MacLaine who agreed to be attached. However no studios would finance. "Everyone was afraid we'd hurt people's feelings", said Blatty. [4] Blatty briefly had "an arrangement" with Columbia Pictures but they decided not to finance as well, after the University of Notre Dame refused permission to use the university's name. [5]

At Parker's suggestion, Blatty reworked it as a novel, which was published by Doubleday in 1963 ( ISBN   0-553-14251-8). The Los Angeles Times called it "a thigh slapper". [6] The New York Times called it "a wildly comic exercise by a talented humourist." [7] It sold 8,500 copies in hard back and 200,000 copies in paperback. [8]

Blatty said "It took Tom Jones and Dr Strangelove to break the fear of satire, which had been around for about 400 years. Now everyone's on the bandwagon. But for us it was a tough two year battle to get this film made." [4]


In September 1963, Hedda Hopper reported Arthur Jacbos and J. Lee Thompson were reading the book. [9] Jacobs and Thompson had made What a Way to Go with Shirley MacLaine at 20th Century Fox, which had been a hit. Fox agreed to finance Goldfarb. [10]

The film was budgeted at $4.5 million and, like What a Way to Go, was mostly shot on the Fox backlot. [11] There was location filming in the Mojave Desert in May. [12]

Montgomery Clift was reportedly offered a lead role and turned it down, even though he was not being offered much work at the time, because he disliked the script. [13]

Thompson had been unable to find a male star, and eventually went with Richard Crenna, then best known for his work on The Real McCoys. Fox took an option on his services for three more movies. [14]

Hedda Hopper saw a preview in November 1964 and called it a "waste of money and actors." [15] She later wrote Thompson "went hog wild" on the film. [16] Representatives from Notre Dame also saw a preview on 17 November. This was to have major ramifications for the movie. [5]


Fox expected the film to open on Christmas Day 1964, however in early December the University of Notre Dame filed a suit against Fox and the publishers of the book to stop the movie and recall the novel saying both did "immeasurable damage" to the school's reputation, particularly the final football sequence. The university sought no monetary damages, just that the film not be released. Fox said the film "is obviously a good natured lampoon of contemporary American life... It is unfortunate that Notre Dame is trying to transform a zany fantasy into a realistic drama." [17] Blatty said "I feel curiouser and curiouser that a great university like Notre Dame should stoop to – if you pardon the expression – to doing battle with a farcical piece of fiction." [18]

The University said it had denied Fox permission to use their name but Fox denied it had ever asked for permission. [19] On December 17 a judge ruled the film could not be shown in New York state claiming the novel and film "knowingly and illegally" exploited the name, symbols and institution of the football team and university. The judge also ordered that the book be recalled. [20] Fox tried to get a stay of the injunction but was unsuccessful – they offered the 200 theatres that was going to show John Goldfarb another film The Pleasure Seekers. [21]

The ruling was highly controversial and the ACLU became involved. [22] [23] Fox appealed the decision and the case was heard again in January. [24] The following month the five-judge appellate court unanimously reversed the original judge's decision – Fox had won. [25] [26] The case went to the Court of Appeals who upheld Fox's victory 4–2, enabling the studio to release the film. [27] The studio rushed the movie into release in March and Notre Dame decided not to try suing in another jurisdiction. [28]


Box office

According to Fox records, the film needed to earn $6.2 million ($45.8 million in modern dollars [29] ) in rentals to break even, but only made $3.9 million. [30]

Later, Henny and Jim Backus wrote a travel book called What Are You Doing After the Orgy?, the title taken from one of his lines in the film.


Blatty would later model two characters in his 1970 bestselling novel The Exorcist on people involved in making John Goldfarb. MacLaine, who was also a friend and neighbor of his for several years, inspired that novel's main character, Chris MacNeil. MacLaine noted later that, like her fictional analogue, she had had at the time a European couple (French, in her case, as opposed to the novel's Germans) working as household staff, and some of Chris's dialogue is things MacNeil had said in the past. Thompson in turn inspired Burke Dennings, the director of the film MacNeil is making in the novel, and had even been cast in the role early in the 1973 film adaptation of the novel; the role was ultimately played by Jack McGowran. [31]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Peter Blatty</span> American writer and filmmaker (1928–2017)

William Peter Blatty was an American writer, director and producer. He is best known for his 1971 novel The Exorcist and for his 1973 screenplay for the film adaptation of the same name. Blatty won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Exorcist, and was nominated for Best Picture as its producer. The film also earned Blatty a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama as producer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">J. Lee Thompson</span> British film director and screenwriter (1914–2002)

John Lee Thompson was an English film director, screenwriter and producer. Initially an exponent of kitchen sink realism, he became known as a versatile and prolific director of thrillers, action, and adventure films.

<i>What a Way to Go!</i> 1964 film by J. Lee Thompson

What a Way to Go! is a 1964 American black comedy film directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Shirley MacLaine, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Dean Martin, Gene Kelly, Bob Cummings and Dick Van Dyke.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jim Hutton</span> American actor (1934–1979)

Dana James Hutton, known as Jim Hutton, was an American actor in film and television best remembered for his role as Ellery Queen in the 1970s TV series of the same name, and his screen partnership with Paula Prentiss in four films, starting with Where the Boys Are. He is the father of actor Timothy Hutton.

<i>The Pleasure Seekers</i> (1964 film) 1964 film by Jean Negulesco

The Pleasure Seekers is a 1964 American musical romantic comedy film directed by Jean Negulesco from a screenplay by Edith Sommer, based on the 1952 novel Coins in the Fountain by John H. Secondari. The film stars Ann-Margret, Tony Franciosa, Carol Lynley, Gardner McKay, and Pamela Tiffin, with Gene Tierney and Brian Keith. Ann-Margret sings four songs composed by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen.

<i>7 Faces of Dr. Lao</i> 1964 film

7 Faces of Dr. Lao is a 1964 American Metrocolor Western fantasy-comedy film directed by George Pal and starring Tony Randall. The film, an adaptation of the 1935 novel The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney adapted for the screen by Charles Beaumont, details the visit of a magical circus to a small town in the southwestern United States and its effects on the townspeople.

Edward Small was an American film producer from the late 1920s through 1970, who was enormously prolific over a 50-year career. He is best known for the movies The Count of Monte Cristo (1934), The Man in the Iron Mask (1939), The Corsican Brothers (1941), Brewster's Millions (1945), Raw Deal (1948), Black Magic (1949), Witness for the Prosecution (1957) and Solomon and Sheba (1959).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pamela Tiffin</span> American actress and model (1942–2020)

Pamela Tiffin Wonso was an American film and television actress.

<i>Kings of the Sun</i> 1963 British film by J. Lee Thompson

Kings of the Sun is a 1963 DeLuxe Color film directed by J. Lee Thompson for Mirisch Productions set in Mesoamerica at the time of the conquest of Chichen Itza by Hunac Ceel. Location scenes were filmed in Mazatlán and Chichen Itza. The film marks the second project Thompson completed with Yul Brynner within a year — the other being Taras Bulba.

<i>The Truth About Spring</i> 1965 film by Richard Thorpe

The Truth about Spring is a 1965 American-British Technicolor adventure film directed by Richard Thorpe and starring Hayley Mills, John Mills and James MacArthur. It is a romantic comedy adventure. It was released by Universal. According to Filmink "it tried to be a Disney-style adventure-romance, complete with another Disney alumni as lead and location filming (Spain), but did not work."

<i>Made in Paris</i> 1966 film by Boris Sagal

Made in Paris is a 1966 American romantic-comedy film starring Ann-Margret, Louis Jourdan, Richard Crenna, Edie Adams, and Chad Everett. The film was written by Stanley Roberts and directed by Boris Sagal.

<i>Return to Peyton Place</i> (film) 1961 film by José Ferrer

Return to Peyton Place is a 1961 American drama film in color by De Luxe and CinemaScope, produced by Jerry Wald, directed by José Ferrer, and starring Carol Lynley, Tuesday Weld, Jeff Chandler, Eleanor Parker, Mary Astor, and Robert Sterling. The screenplay by Ronald Alexander is based on the 1959 novel Return to Peyton Place by Grace Metalious. The film was distributed by 20th Century Fox and is a sequel to their earlier film Peyton Place (1957).

<i>Ill Take Sweden</i> 1965 US comedy film by Frederick de Cordova

I'll Take Sweden is a 1965 American comedy film. It was directed by Frederick de Cordova, and stars Bob Hope, Frankie Avalon, and Tuesday Weld.

<i>Return from the Ashes</i> 1965 British film

Return from the Ashes is a 1965 British thriller film directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Ingrid Thulin, Maximilian Schell, Samantha Eggar and Herbert Lom. It is based on a novel by French crime writer Hubert Monteilhet, adapted for film by prolific screenwriter Julius J. Epstein. The novel would also serve as the source material for the 2014 German film Phoenix, directed by Christian Petzold, though the latter film makes multiple changes to the book's elements and concerns itself solely with the plot to reclaim an inheritance.

<i>Joy House</i> (film) 1964 French film

Joy House is a 1964 French mystery–thriller film starring Jane Fonda, Alain Delon and Lola Albright. It is based on the 1954 novel of the same name by Day Keene.

<i>Mardi Gras</i> (1958 film) 1958 film by Edmund Goulding

Mardi Gras is a 1958 American musical comedy film directed by Edmund Goulding and starring Pat Boone and Christine Carère.

<i>Tammy and the Doctor</i> 1963 film by Harry Keller

Tammy and the Doctor is a 1963 Eastmancolor romantic comedy film directed by Harry Keller and starring Sandra Dee as Tambrey "Tammy" Tyree and Peter Fonda as Dr. Mark Cheswick. It is the third of the four Tammy films.

<i>The Wizard of Baghdad</i> 1961 film by George Sherman

The Wizard of Baghdad is a 1960 American comedy/fantasy film directed by George Sherman and starring Dick Shawn, Diane Baker, and Barry Coe. It was released by 20th Century Fox.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yvonne De Carlo performances</span> List of media and stage plays featuring Yvonne De Carlo

This is the complete filmography of actress Yvonne De Carlo.

Peter Levathes was an American film and advertising executive, best known for briefly running 20th Century Fox.


  1. Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN   978-0-8108-4244-1. p254
  2. This figure consists of anticipated rentals accruing distributors in North America. See "Big Rental Pictures of 1965", Variety, 5 January 1966 p 6 and Solomon p 230. Please note figures are rentals not total gross.
  3. Exclamation point is in onscreen title. Also listed as such at "John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!". Turner Classic Movies . Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  4. 1 2 Scheuer, Philip K. (May 11, 1964). "Hawks Will Direct Racing-Car Thriller: McDowall's 'Disinherited'; It's Goldfinger and Goldfarb". Los Angeles Times. p. C19.
  5. 1 2 ROBERT E. TOMASSON (Dec 8, 1964). "Notre Dame Seeks To Block New Film: FILM BAN SOUGHT BY NOTRE DAME MUSIC NOTES". New York Times. p. 1.
  6. Kirsch, Robert R. (11 July 1963). "THE BOOK REPORT: A Thigh Slapper From W. J. Blatty". Los Angeles Times. p. C4.
  7. MARTIN LEVIN (28 July 1963). "A Reader's Report". New York Times. p. 218.
  8. PAUL CROWELL (Dec 18, 1964). "Notre Dame Wins Suit to Block 'Goldfarb' Film: Court Rules Fox Used Name of the University Illegally Showings and Novel Barred -- Appeals Are Planned showing and distribution of the film "John Goldfarb, Please Come Home." NOTRE DAME WINS BAN ON 'GOLDFARB'". New York Times. p. 1.
  9. Hopper, Hedda (Sep 16, 1963). "Entertainment: Susan Oliver Wins Contract at Metro Delighted With 5-Year Deal; MacMurray's Slate Filled". Los Angeles Times. p. D12.
  10. Scheuer, Philip K (Apr 6, 1964). "Siege of Khartoum Recruits Lancaster: Bond Snaps 'Goldfinger'; Arties at 99 Cents Next?". Los Angeles Times. p. D23.
  11. "New Film Comedy Star in Making". Chicago Tribune. Apr 12, 1964. p. e11.
  12. Smith, Jack (May 25, 1964). "Oasis Palms Off Its Phony Arabs". Los Angeles Times. p. D1.
  13. Bosworth, Patricia (1979). Montgomery Clift. Bantam Books. p. 399.
  14. Hopper, Hedda (Nov 15, 1964). "Dick Crenna: Fantasyland's Real McCoy". Los Angeles Times. p. D6.
  15. Hopper, Hedda (Nov 17, 1964). "'P. T. Barnum' Next on Jurow Schedule: Producer Seeks Jack Lemmon for Role of Noted Showman". Los Angeles Times. p. C10.
  16. Hopper, Hedda (Dec 10, 1964). "Hollywood Jolted by 'Goldfarb' Suit: Follows Legion of Decency's 'Moral Bankruptcy' Charge". Los Angeles Times. p. D24.
  17. "'GOLDFARB' BOOK TOO: Notre Dame Moves to Block New Movie". Los Angeles Times. Dec 8, 1964. p. 4.
  18. Trimborn, Harry (Dec 9, 1964). "'Goldfarb' Author Hits Notre Dame for Suit: Wonders Why University Should 'Stoop' to Battle Over Farcical Piece of Fiction". Los Angeles Times. p. B16.
  19. "FOX DENIES IT ASKED PERMISSION ON FILM". New York Times. Dec 9, 1964. p. 61.
  20. Bilitz, Walter (Dec 18, 1964). "Notre Dame Gets Ban on Showing of Movie". Chicago Tribune. p. 17.
  21. ROBERT E. TOMASSON. (Dec 19, 1964). "FOX LOSES MOVE ON FILM OPENING: ' Goldfarb' Appeal Scheduled for Hearing Jan. 5". New York Times. p. 25.
  22. SEIDENBAUM, ART (Jan 3, 1965). "The Law Against Goldfarb". Los Angeles Times. p. b1.
  23. M.S. HANDLER (Jan 3, 1965). "A.C.L.U. QUESTIONS 'GOLDFARB' RULING: Friend of Court Brief to Ask Review of Property Right". New York Times. p. 84.
  24. ROBERT E. TOMASSON (Jan 16, 1965). "GOLDFARB'BAN ARGUED IN COURT: Appellate Division Reserves Decision on Football Film". New York Times. p. 14.
  25. "BAN REVERSED IN 'GOLDFARB COME HOME': Fox Wins Appeal from Notre Dame Writ". Chicago Tribune. Feb 10, 1965. p. 3.
  26. ROBERT E. TOMASSON (Feb 10, 1965). "COURT REVERSES 'GOLDFARB' BANS: Notre Dame Loses Move to Enjoin Film and Book COURT REVERSES 'GOLDFARB' BANS". New York Times. p. 1.
  27. IRVING SPIEGEL Special to The New York Times (Mar 19, 1965). "GOLDFARB' SCORES ANOTHER VICTORY: Appeals Court, 4-2, Upholds Lifting of Ban on Film". p. 27.
  28. "GOLDFARB' FILM FINALLY TO OPEN: Fox Sets Wednesday Date on Basis of Court Ruling". New York Times. Mar 20, 1965. p. 16.
  29. Johnston, Louis; Williamson, Samuel H. (2023). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth . Retrieved November 30, 2023. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the MeasuringWorth series.
  30. Silverman, Stephen M (1988). The Fox that got away: the last days of the Zanuck dynasty at Twentieth Century-Fox . L. Stuart. p.  324. ISBN   978-0-8184-0485-6.
  31. McCabe, Bob (1999). The Exorcist. London: Omnibus. p. 23. ISBN   0-7119-7509-4. Archived from the original on April 28, 2021. Retrieved October 5, 2020.