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What Makes Sammy Run?
What Makes Sammy Run
Actors: Larry Blyden, John Forsythe, Dina Merrill, Norman Fell, Barbara Rush
Director: Delbert Mann
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television
NR     2009     1hr 45min

Causing a sensation when it was first published in 1941, What Makes Sammy Run? was such a controversial novel that no Hollywood studio dared bring it to the screen. In 1959, NBC presented the definitive adaptation of Budd ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Larry Blyden, John Forsythe, Dina Merrill, Norman Fell, Barbara Rush
Director: Delbert Mann
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Love & Romance, Comedy, Drama, Classic TV
Format: DVD - Black and White,Color,Full Screen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/10/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/1959
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1959
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 45min
Screens: Black and White,Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A "long-lost" classic from the Golden Age of Television.
Robert Armin | New York, NY USA | 01/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am thrilled that this wonderful television adaptation of Budd Schulberg's classic novel "What Makes Sammy Run?" is being released on DVD. The television play was originally shown in two one-hour installments on September 27 and October 4, 1959. Although the color videotapes used for the broadcast no longer exist, for many years a black-and-white kinescope of the first hour was available for viewing at the Museum of Television & Radio (now the Paley Center for Media) in New York City and Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the second hour was on the Museum's list of "lost treasures."

In 2004, I was in the process of revising the book of the 1964 musical version of the same story (which ultimately led to a successful NYC revival in 2006) and arranged an interview with actress Dina Merrill to discuss her performance as the man-eating socialite, Laurette Harrington. Since most of Ms Merrill's performance occurred in the "lost" second hour, I wanted to learn more about the unavailable portion of the television play. Ms Merrill was surprised to learn that the second hour was not available for screening at the Museum. I didn't realize it at the time, but Ms Merrill was on the board of the Museum, and shortly after our conversation, she contacted the curators and asked them to make a concerted effort to locate the lost reel. Astonishingly enough, a complete kinescope of the broadcast was located at the Library of Congress and, following a restoration of the film, the complete television play was screened on April 6, 2005 at the Museum's New York branch with Ms Merrill and Budd Schulberg in attendance. I was on crutches at the time because of an injured foot, but I wasn't about to miss that historic event. The following month, on May 9th, the Los Angeles branch of the Museum screened the kinescope with Barbara Rush and director Delbert Mann joining Ms Merrill and Mr. Schulberg.

At the time, I wasn't optimistic about anyone actually releasing the kinescope on DVD, but I'm happy to report that the Archive of American Television, a branch of The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation, has teamed with Koch Vision to release the restored television play, complete with an on-screen interview with Budd Schulberg and a commentary track by Barbara Rush and Dina Merrill. For those not familiar with kinescopes, I should point out that this film was created by aiming a black and white movie camera at a television monitor during the actual broadcast. The image is occasionally marred by imperfections, but it does manage to convey the excitement of a live performance from the "Golden Age" of television. Ironically, the performance was not live, but videotaped in advance, although you would never guess it from the DVD. The shadow of boom mikes and other technical glitches inherent in a live broadcast are also present here, but the performances are more polished than usual.

Now that this "long-lost" television production is readily available, "What Makes Sammy Run?" will undoubtedly join the ranks of "Requiem for a Heavyweight," "Twelve Angry Men" and other classic television plays from the period. And, hopefully, it might finally convince Dreamworks (which holds the rights) or some other studio to greenlight a full feature film version of this timeless story."
Superb Classic TV Drama
The Movie Man | Maywood, New Jersey USA | 02/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

""What Makes Sammy Run?" is based on a novel by 27-year-old Budd Schulberg ("On the Waterfront," "A Face In the Crowd") written in 1941. The novel focused on the meteoric rise of Sammy Glick, a poor Jewish kid from the Lower East Side, from newspaper copy boy to Hollywood studio head, steamrolling anyone in his path. Sammy Glick was the forerunner of characters played by Michael Douglas in "Wall Street," Kevin Spacey in "Swimming With Sharks," and Tim Robbins in "The Player."
Hollywood never filmed Schulberg's novel, perhaps because it hit too close to home. Instead, it was adapted by Schulberg and directed by Delbert Mann in a two-part television drama in 1959 for "Sunday Showcase." "What Makes Sammy Run?" stars Larry Blyden in the title role, John Forsythe, Barbara Rush, and Dina Merrill. Supporting cast members include Sidney Blackmer, Norman Fell, David Opatashu, and Horace MacMahon.
Blyden was chosen for the role over many contenders, including Anthony Perkins, Ben Gazzara, Charles Grodin, Harry Guardino, Burt Reynolds, and Tony Curtis. Known today primarily as a 1960's game show host, Blyden turns in a razzle-dazzle performance as Glick, an average guy from nowhere with enormous drive who claws his way to the top. Detestable in many ways, he is nonetheless fascinating.
The original taped, two-part broadcast was in color, but the DVD version is in black and white. Mann's direction is crisp, and the performances are lively, spontaneous, and natural. Bonus extras include audio commentary with Dina Merrill and Barbara Rush, an interview with Budd Schulberg, and a 16-page booklet containing a Schulberg biography, a chronicle of attempts made by Hollywood to film the novel, excerpts from reviews of the show, and details about the restoration of this TV classic, thought lost for decades."
Gary D Joseph | Woodmere, NY United States | 02/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Congratulations to Koch Vision, The Academy of TV Arts and Sciences, The Paley Center and all who are finally bringing these gems of TV's "Golden Age" to quality home video--first with the "Studio One" box, now with "What Makes Sammy Run?" and, hopefully, many, many more. The rich heritage of live (and later taped) TV drama (and comedy) has been sorely neglected in the home video market. FINALLY, something is being done.

I first saw the restored "Sammy" at the Paley Center in NYC. Now I can enjoy it at home with all the "extras" that one comes to expect in a fabulous DVD production.

Please, please, "Archive of American Televison Presents," keep this stuff coming. We all remember how great it was, AND IS.

Great Story, Okay Presentation
vitajex | Mpls., MN | 12/10/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Based on the famous novel by the late Budd Shulberg, "What Makes Sammy Run" continues his obsession with success and it's cost. Budd Shulberg was, without a doubt, one of the best writers working in Hollywood throughout the 50's. His two most famous works, "A Face in the Crowd" and "On the Waterfront" also deal with duplicity used in the pursuit of fame and/or fortune. This is a 1959 television production, and is EASILY identifiable as such. The acting is not bad, per se, but is decidedly TV-caliber. The production values are cheap, but rarely distracting. The DVD contains the original introduction, including a commercial for toothpaste (Crest or Colgate- what's the difference?) and ramps for commercials, which do serve to remove the viewer somewhat from the film. But the story is there, though watered-down for the Sunday TV crowd (the film appeared on a program entitled 'Sunday Showcase'). If anything, this film piqued my interest in the novel, as I could see the potential for deep insight in several scenes but wish I heard the characters' internal monologues. The final lines are most definitely classic:

Sammy: "What makes me run? That's not the real question. The real question is: 'What makes the rest of you run after me?'"

Kitt: "That's a question for us to answer, for us to live with. But you know what, Sammy? At least we'll live...""