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|Subject: Joseph E. Levine. Zulu executive producer Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:16 pm|| |
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Baker with Zulu executive producer Joseph E. Levine during filming
Joseph E. Levine
Date of Birth
9 September 1905, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Date of Death
31 July 1987, Greenwich, Connecticut, USA
Joseph Edward Levine
The Boston Barnum
Boston-born Joseph E. Levine parlayed an early career as a film exhibitor and distributor of Italian-made muscle-man pictures into a highly successful stint as America's most successful independent producer at the time of his death."Born on September 9, 1905, Levine first worked in the clothing industry before buying a movie house in New Haven, Connecticut. Levine first tasted the fruits of big-time success by acquiring and then reworking and distributing the original "Godzilla" movie. His modus operandi was to buy the distribution rights to foreign movies on the cheap, then release them with sufficient advertising support to make a profit. His star rose in the industry due to the success of his massive advertising campaigns, including television spots, for such drive-in fare as "Hercules". By 1964, he and his Embassy Pictures minted another fortune by moving into production with the sexploitation potboiler The Carpetbaggers (1964), based on a Harold Robbins roman a clef about Howard Hughes. That year, Levine received the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Cecil B. DeMille Award in recognition of his lifetime achievement in motion pictures. He had also produced Zulu (1964) that year.
In 1966, Levine produced what many at the time considered one of the worst motion pictures ever made, The Oscar (1966), which featured the film debut of singer Tony Bennett as the queerly named "Hymie Kelly". Playboy Magazine's review famously denounced the film as being populated by has-beens and never-will-be's. At the time, the Big Brass Ring of the Oscar seemed very far away from Levine.
Levine reached the summit of Hollywood when Avco-Embassy produced The Graduate (1967), a cultural watershed in that it was an "art" picture that became one of the top ten grossing films of all time when it was released, garnering an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. (Director Mike Nichols won the Oscar, and it received five other nominations). Levine was listed as an executive producer while Lawrence Turman was cited by the Academy as the producer. However, Levine garnered the lion's share of the profits, which were considerable as the film cost an estimated $3 million and grossed approximately $50 million in its first release (approximately $275 million in 2005 dollars).
Levine merged Embassy Pictures with Avco in 1967, creating Avco-Embassy, with Levine as president. The company had another prestigious success with The Lion in Winter (1968) and produced the controversial Carnal Knowledge (1971) directed by Mike Nichols in 1971. Levine quit Avco-Embassy in 1974 to create the Joseph E. Levine Presents company, which produced A Bridge Too Far (1977), which at the time, was the most expensive independently produced film ever made.
Joseph E. Levine died on July 31, 1987 in Greenwich, Connecticut. He was 81 years old."