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John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!
John Goldfarb,
Please Come Home!

The Film | The Music
Audio | Video | Sheet Music
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Compositions: Films

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The Film

Release date: March 24, 1965
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Running time: 96 minutes
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Cast: Shirley MacLaine, Peter Ustinov, Richard Crenna, Jim Backus, Scott Brady, Fred Clark, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Harry Morgan, Patrick Adiarte, Richard Deacon, Jerome Cowan, Leon Askin, David Lewis, Milton Frome, Charles Lane, Jerry Orbach, Jackie Coogan, Nai Bonet, Sultanna
Technical information: CinemaScope, DeLuxe color

On May 1, 1960, an American U-2 spy plane piloted by CIA operative Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union, sparking an international diplomatic incident. Powers was tried and sentenced to ten years in prison, but in February of 1962 was released in exchange for a Soviet spy. The U-2 affair inspired a number of books and even a 1976 television docudrama starring Lee Majors. Among the more improbable projects to draw inspiration from the episode was a film script by the name of John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!

The author was William Peter Blatty, who a decade later would later become famous as the novelist and screenwriter of The Exorcist. In the early 1960s he was a neighbor of actress Shirley MacLaine and her then-husband, businessman and film producer Steve Parker. One evening they found themselves discussing the Francis Gary Powers incident. "Wouldn't it be a funny movie if you like did something crazy with it," Blatty recalled saying. "Steven said write it, he'd produce it and Shirley would play it. First, I thought make the guy Jewish and the Arabs get him. Then I'm watching one of those old football movies on TV one night and I thought make him a football coach."

Blatty's tale concerned John "Wrong-Way" Goldfarb (Richard Crenna), a former college football star (who once ran 95 yards for a touchdown — in the wrong direction) who is now a U-2 pilot. When his plane malfunctions and he crash lands, he finds himself in the mythical Arab kingdom of Fawzia, rather than the Soviet Union. The country's leader, King Fawz (Peter Ustinov), threatens to turn him over to the Soviets unless he agrees to coach a football squad — an idea sparked by Fawz's son being cut from the Notre Dame football squad.

Meanwhile, Jenny Ericson (Shirley MacLaine), a reporter for Strife magazine (and the writer who made "Wrong-Way" Goldfarb famous), is on an undercover assignment as a member of the King's harem. She has been led to believe that the King is no longer romantically interested in his harem girls; when Jenny discovers otherwise, she turns to Goldfarb to rescue her from the predicament.

Fawz eventually blackmails the United States Department of State into arranging an exhibition football game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and his own Arabian squad. The film's final act features a slapstick gridiron encounter between the two teams in which Jenny — having moved from head cheerleader to quarterback — manages to score the winning touchdown for Fawz U.

After shopping the screenplay to various Hollywood studios without success, Parker suggested to Blatty that he recast it as a novel, which he did — it was published by Doubleday on July 5, 1963. Eventually, Twentieth Century-Fox purchased the screen rights as a follow-up their most recent Shirley MacLaine comedy, What a Way to Go!

British director J. Lee Thompson had helmed that project and was signed to direct Goldfarb as well. More famous for war pictures (Ice-Cold in Alex, The Guns of Navarone) and epic adventures (Taras Bulba, Kings of the Sun), Thompson had begun his directorial career with low-budget film noir dramas in his native England, a genre he revisited in 1962 with Cape Fear. What a Way to Go! (in which Shirley MacLaine marries a succession of wealthy men, only to see each of them promptly perish) had been his first big-budget comedy.

Assisting Thompson behind the camera on Goldfarb was veteran Fox Director of Photography Leon Shamroy; the famed Edith Head provided Shirley MacLaine's lavish harem garb. Peter Ustinov was cast as the imbecilic King Fawz and Richard Crenna (best known at the time for his roles in the sitcoms Our Miss Brooks and The Real McCoys) was chosen for the title role of John Goldfarb. A slate of well-known character actors (including Harry Morgan, Jim Backus and Richard Deacon) portrayed various United States officials, while the venerable Wilfrid Hyde-White was Fawz's chief of staff, Guz.

Interior filming took place on the Fox backlot (with the sets for the King's palace occupying most of the studio's largest soundstage) but for the climactic football game an outdoor field in the middle of a large desert was required. Thus, a regulation football field was built — at a cost of $12,000 — in the Mojave Desert at Rosamond Dry Lake (near Edwards Air Force Base).

Filming wrapped on May 23, 1964. On June 5, the studio was notified that the University of Notre Dame objected to the portrayal of their school and their football team in the script. By early December — after the film had already been screened for the press and just weeks before its scheduled Christmas Day release date — the university had filed a lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court. Justice Henry Clay Greenberg granted an injunction prohibiting the studio from releasing the film and barring Doubleday and Fawcett from further distribution of Blatty's novel.

While Notre Dame contended that the film disgraced the university and would cause irreparable harm to its reputation, the studio countered that since Notre Dame was a recognized public institution, it could not prevent use of its name in print or film. Calling the film's screenplay "ugly, vulgar and tawdry," Justice Greenberg sided with the university. The studio appealed, but was forced to replace Goldfarb on its holiday release schedule with The Pleasure Seekers, an Ann-Margaret musical comedy.

In early February of 1965, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court overturned Greenberg's original ruling, making a distinction between the artistic merits of the film (on which they offered no comment) and the issue of freedom of expression. Notre Dame immediately appealed to the Court of Appeals in Albany, who screened the film on March 8; a short time later, they upheld the decision of the Appellate Division, clearing the way for the film's release; prints were rushed into theaters across the country. The film opened in New York on March 24 and in Los Angeles on March 31.

Critics were less kind than the judiciary in their assessment of the picture. The mixture of political satire, ethnic caricatures, racy (for the time) dialogue and slapstick was better suited to the printed page than the silver screen; over-the-top performances from MacLaine and Ustinov did not help. In the end, though, the picture simply failed to generate many laughs.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, reviewer Philip K. Scheuer must have thought he had concocted the perfect putdown when he wrote that the film "must certainly be the most flagrant display of bad taste since Dr. Strangelove. It employs the same pounding pace, in both sight and sound, as its predecessor…it goes to the limits of sniggering suggestiveness." While Stanley Kubrick had the last laugh on Mr. Scheuer — Strangelove went on to become a widely acknowledged masterpiece — the intervening years have not been as kind to Goldfarb.

John Goldfarb,
Please Come Home!

The Film | The Music
Audio | Video | Sheet Music
References | Links
The Music

Music: Johnny Williams
Lyrics: Don Wolf
Orchestration: Arthur Morton
Music recorded: September, 1964

In 1964, 32-year old Johnny Williams was completing a five-year contract with Revue Studios, the television arm of Universal, and moving toward a freelance career in film and television. While he had already scored a handful of features (mostly low- to medium-budget dramas) as his busy television schedule permitted, he would from this point forward concentrate on feature films, occasionally scoring a television pilot along the way.

This process began in 1964 with John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! on the feature side and the Gilligan's Island pilot for the small screen. (Williams' other 1964 theatrical release, The Killers, was originally intended as a TV movie for Revue.) The majority of the composer's feature assignments for the remainder of the decade would, like Goldfarb, be comedies.

Although his television work prior to Gilligan included only one sitcom (Bachelor Father), Williams' best preparation for a movie like Goldfarb likely came from the three anthology programs on which he worked from 1961 through 1964: Alcoa Premiere, Kraft Suspense Theatre and Chrysler Theatre. With the subject matter changing drastically from one episode to the next — he might score a baseball story one week, a Solzhenitsyn drama the next — the composer was forced to become adept at shifting gears quickly. This talent would prove especially useful on a film such as John Goldfarb, where in addition to the usual slapstick comedy bits, music was required for top-secret military operations, Arabian harem dances, and a football game — among many other things.

Williams' score features an eponymous pop song over the main and end titles, here with kooky lyrics by Don Wolf providing a general outline of the story. The song's melody reappears throughout the film, eventually becoming a fight song for the Fawz U football squad. The composer also created a surprisingly tender love theme for John Goldfarb and Jenny Ericson, a recurring military motive associated with the U-2 flight that would foreshadow his musical treatment of the military in films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and a large helping of Middle Eastern dance music that would later prove useful experience when composing source cues for the Indiana Jones films. For these "ethnic" numbers, Williams combined traditional orchestral instruments (such as low-register flutes and double reeds) with their Middle Eastern counterparts, as well as duck calls, kazoos and slide whistles for the proper comic effect.

John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! can hardly be considered an undiscovered masterpiece by the man who is now the dean of American film composers, yet taken on its own terms it is a surprisingly listenable score that combines inspired musical silliness with catchy dance tunes groovy 1960s source music.

The Goldfarb cue sheet lists 100 separate cues, many as brief as two seconds in duration. The following analysis includes all of the cues of any substantial length.

Twentieth Century-Fox Fanfare [Newman, arr. Williams]
When asked in a 1980 newspaper interview about his Goldfarb score, Williams could only recall what the studio would not let him do for the film. "I arranged the Twentieth Century-Fox fanfare for a whiny Arab band," he told the Boston Globe's Richard Dyer, "and they said absolutely not." A traditional performance of Alfred Newman's famous studio fanfare opened the film instead.

Main Title
A muezzin's call opens the film, quickly segueing to the title song, performed by Shirley MacLaine. On the prints screened for critics in November 1964 singer (and future Gong Show judge) Jaye P. Morgan sang the title song; by the time of the film's release in March of 1965, she had been replaced by Shirley MacLaine. Two alternate versions of the song were recorded by MacLaine but not used: one featured lyrics evoking the stereotypical Jewish mother, while another had more romantic lyrics.

Ambassador Brinkley
A bridge for military-style percussion leads to an expository sequence (underscored with bits of the Goldfarb theme) in which Ambassador Brinkley (Jerome Cowan) confers with his driver (a young Jerry Orbach).

The King's Trains
Music for one of King Fawz's toy trains features an electronically accelerated overlay when the locomotive careens out of control.

Milk Train
More groovy train music (as the King's gold-plated golf cart races around the palace).

The King's Radio
Source music for Fawz's transistor radio.

The State Department
A comic march motive (associated throughout the film with officials of the United States government) is heard on a cut to Washington, D. C.

Jenny Signs On
After a scene in the Strife magazine offices (where we first meet Jenny Ericson), Arab-flavored music underscores a conversation between Jenny and Mahmoud (an uncredited Telly Savalas) in front of the Lincoln Memorial; he agrees to smuggle her into Fawz's harem.

Accompanied by military-style percussion, Goldfarb runs down a pre-flight checklist.

The Broads Arrive
At the Fawzian palace, Mahmoud acquaints the new harem girls with their surroundings as we hear a stately Arabian tune on solo English horn.

Goldfarb's Flight
The military motive is joined by Goldfarb's theme on electric guitar as he sets course for the Soviet Union and switches on the U-2 plane's autopilot.

Fawz TV
King Fawz uses his closed-circuit television network to spy on his harem girls bathing; the English horn tune from the previous track is reprised. A tap dance-style xylophone overlay heralds the arrival of one of Fawz's trains equipped with remote control cameras.

Our Hero's Flight
The military motive reappears as Goldfarb continues his flight, now with swirling whole tone arpeggios and double-speed percussion clicks emphasizing the malfunctioning dials on his control panel.

Ammud's Fanfare
A brief fanfare for the return of Fawz's son from college.

The Red Sea
Belly dancers perform to celebrate Prince Ammud's arrival. In the film, the cue ends abruptly with an outburst from Fawz, but a lengthier version was recorded.

Seeking Irish
An Irish sting accompanies Fawz's outraged reaction to his son being cut from the Notre Dame football team.

Frobish Enters
The State Department motive reappears.

Nothing Ever Works
More military music (with the malfunctioning control panel overlay from "Our Hero's Flight") is heard as Goldfarb bails out of his U-2 plane.

Harem Music
Some breezy jazz source music is heard as Jenny snaps pictures of the harem for her magazine story.

Goldfarb Focuses
Descending woodwinds follow Goldfarb as he parachutes to the desert surface. Dreamy vibraphone and celesta, with a muezzin overlay, create the impression of a mirage, as Goldfarb's vision clears to reveal Prince Ammud.

Moveable Map
An electronically produced downward glissando follows Ammud's finger as it moves across Goldfarb's map, showing the pilot that he is now in Fawzia, not the Soviet Union.

Belly Lesson
Back at the palace, Jenny and the other harem girls are in the middle of a belly-dancing lesson, but end up doing the Twist instead.

Rabbit Train
Silent movie-style music accompanies a pink rabbit riding one of Fawz's trains.

Frobish Intro
The State Department motive returns.

Wrong Way Lawrence
A lengthy mandolin solo is heard as Fawz blackmails Goldfarb into coaching his football team. The King insists, however, that the Jewish pilot change his surname to "Lawrence."

John Goldfarb, Please Come Home
Newspaper personal ads (imploring John Goldfarb to "please come home") are splashed across the screen, accompanyied by a musical sting.

Harem Source
Jazzy source music plays in the harem as Chief Eunuch Samir (Leon Askin) informs Jenny that the King wishes to "interview" her in one hour.

Mandy Tells
Jenny's friend Mandy informs her that the King is — despite Mahmoud's previous assurances to the contrary — still very much interested in amorous encounters with the members of his harem. Jenny races to confront Samir and demands that she be sent home immediately; this he cannot do.

Garlic Dressing
The source music from "Pick Me" is reprised as Jenny returns to the harem chamber and prepares to make herself as unattractive as possible by using garlic dressing as perfume.

The King Primps
The King prepares for his romantic encounter with Jenny; a Stravinsky-inspired violin solo and goofy soprano sax tune accompany Jenny's crazy antics as she makes herself as unattractive as possible. An electric guitar riff follows the King's golf cart into the harem chamber, where he chooses another date for the evening.

The Ladies Enter
The King summons his harem with an alarm signal; as they dance into his chamber (to an Arabian melody in 5/4 time), he offers Goldfarb the services of one of the women to lift his spirits.

Pick Me
Accompanied by a sultry clarinet solo, Jenny — recognizing Goldfarb — implores him to choose her; a bouncier jazz number concludes the dance sequence.

The Music Train
An energetic violin solo (joined later by soprano sax imitating an indigenous Middle Eastern instrument) over a percussive 3+3+2 rhythm, plays as source music on a phonograph aboard one of Fawz's model trains sent to intrude upon Jenny and Goldfarb.

Iceberg Melts
Williams introduces his love theme, scored for flute over strings and harp, as Jenny and Goldfarb retire to his quarters for the evening.

Planned Collision
Muted brass and percussive electric guitars intrude as Fawz motors about the palace in his golf cart.

The Fire Hose
After engineering a toy train collision in Goldfarb's quarters, the King — assisted by a monkey and an elephant — bursts in to extinguish the flames, accompanied with Keystone Kops-style slapstick music.

Bugler/Arabian Linemen
A bugle call signals the beginning of football practice.

Chewing Paper
Another interlude at the State Department.

Mongoose Blues
Jazz source music plays in the harem while Jenny reads a newspaper. Learning that "Wrong-Way" Goldfarb has once again lived up to his nickname, she confronts him in his chamber.

Jenny Takes a Dive
When Fawz appears, Jenny and Goldfarb feign a romantic encounter.

Samir's Fate
More jazz source music plays in the harem chamber as Jenny learns that Samir — her only link to the outside world — has met an untimely end for his deception of the King.

Notre Dame Victory March
As the film cuts to South Bend, Indiana, the Notre Dame Victory March is played on chimes (suggesting the campus carillon).

Sleeping with Asps
Jenny is hurt when Goldfarb insults her; the tender love theme reappears as they make up.

Il Bacio (The Kiss)
A calliope (playing an aria by 19th century Italian composer Luigi Arditi) briefly intrudes as a train bearing a chimpanzee passes through their chamber.

Notre Doom
Ominous organ music mirrors Goldfarb's reaction when Jenny informs him that Fawz has arranged for his team to take on Notre Dame.

Jenny and Goldfarb
The love theme make its final appearance — now with the melody in strings and the flutes providing downward flourishes — as Jenny and Goldfarb share their first true kiss.

Radar Speed Check
The golf cart music from "The King Primps" reappears when Fawz speeds across the desert and notices a warning sign.

Gridiron Warriors
Comical gridiron music is heard as Goldfarb replaces the inept dervishes on his football squad with fierce Bedouin warriors.

King Fawz Feast
On the night before the big game Fawz treats the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and various officials of the United States government to a feast; Williams provides a cue that might best be described as Riverdance goes Arabian.

Tempting the Irish
A slower, sultrier dance is heard as belly dancers put on a show for the wide-eyed collegians.

Notre Dame Victory March
The feast sequence concludes with the Notre Dame Victory March in a Middle Eastern arrangement.

Goldfarb March
The music segues to a marching band version of the Goldfarb theme as the film cuts to the football game the next morning; an unused original version of the marching band cue used a completely different melody, more reminiscent of Williams' main title for the 1966 western The Rare Breed, with a big band variation for the final strain.

The Football Game
The climactic football match is scored with numerous brief stings for kickoffs, penalties, a recurring stomachache gag, a rushing play, a muezzin's call that stops the game in midstream, and various illegal maneuvers involving camels, goats and midgets. (On the soundtrack album, a sample of each was edited together to form a miniature suite, concluding with the marching band version of the Goldfarb theme for a Fawz U. touchdown run.)

Jenny's Big Play
Jenny dons a uniform, grabs the ball and runs for the winning touchdown — the Notre Dame players are too gallant to tackle a woman.

Snake Dance
After she scores, the crowd celebrates by dancing across the field — Williams had composed two version of a "Fawz Cha-Cha" for playback during this sequence but in the final score used only the introduction, replacing the cha-cha music with a variation of his Goldfarb theme. (In an earlier version of the finale, this sequence was slightly longer, concluding as a Soviet spy plane crashes in the desert; thus, the music heard on this track is longer than in the final cut of the film).

End Title
Shirley MacLaine reprises the title song over the end credits, with modified lyrics. (Jaye. P Morgan also recorded the same version of the end title.)

FSMCD Vol. 4 No. 17

At the time of the film's release in 1965, a 45 single was released featuring the title song performed by Jaye P. Morgan (20th Century-Fox 558). However, this differed from any of the versions recorded for the film in that the vocalist merely repeated the words "John Goldfarb, Please Come Home" and omitted the remainder of Don Wolf's lyrics. For over three decades this was the only available recorded music associated with the film.

In December of 2001 Film Score Monthly released a CD (FSMCD Vol. 4 No. 17) featuring virtually all of the score, along with several alternate and unused cues. Limited to a pressing of 3000 copies, the CD is available exclusively through FSM's Web site as well as various specialty soundtrack dealers.

John Goldfarb,
Please Come Home!

The Film | The Music
Audio | Video | Sheet Music
References | Links


John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! has never been released on video. It is broadcast from time to time in letterboxed format on the Fox Movie Channel.

Hastings H34-3
Sheet Music

A piano/vocal version of the title song was issued in 1965 by Hastings Music Corporation. The two verses included feature the lyrics heard in the main title sequence, as well as a second verse with the more romantic lyrics recorded by MacLaine but not used in the film. This sheet music is long out of print.


John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!, William Peter Blatty
New York: Doubleday, 1963

"In an Epic New Movie, One Dame Beats Another," Dan Jenkins
Sports Illustrated, July 20 1964, 21:3, 50-60

"Film Reviews: John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!" Whit.
Variety, November 18 1964, 6:1

"Notre Dame & Prez Sue Re Goldfarb Jab at Prestige"
Variety, December 9 1964, 18:3

"Calls Penalty for Spoofing: Notre Dame U. Sez Fox Offside"
Variety, December 16 1964, 5:3

"Notre D. & Script Approval: Its Prior Pacts Cited to Judge"
Variety, December 23 1964, 3:3

"Rosenman Plea for Goldfarb"
Variety, January 20 1965, 3:1

"Less-Critic-Like Appellate Court Reverses Restraint on Goldfarb"
Variety, February 10 1965, 3:4

"Notre Dame Must Pay All Costs of Its Suit Vs. John Goldfarb"
Variety, March 24 1965, 5:1

"Review: John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!" Bosley Crowther
New York Times, March 25 1965, 42:4

"Goldfarb Should Go Home," Philip K. Scheuer
Los Angeles Times, April 1 1965, IV:12

"Where is John Williams coming from?" Richard Dyer
Boston Globe, June 29 1980, MAG

John Goldfarb,
Please Come Home!

The Film | The Music
Audio | Video | Sheet Music
References | Links

Internet Movie Database entry for John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!

Cinebooks Database entry for John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!

All Movie Guide entry for John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!

Page last modified
June 05, 2006
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