All Night Long
Opened March 1981
All Night Long was not generally considered one of Barbra Streisand’s best films. The Universal Pictures film flopped at the box office.
All Night Long was one of two Streisand films (Meet the Fockers is the other) in which Streisand was not the main, featured performer.
All Night Long was written for Gene Hackman. “He’d been doing these harsh roles,” said Jean-Claude Tramont, the film’s director, “but he was so funny in that five-minute sequence in Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein, where he played a blind, somewhat fey, monk, I always wondered why nobody used him in comedy.”
The press played a large part in the negativity that surrounded All Night Long. It was one week into production when Lisa Eichhorn—cast as Cheryl Gibbons—was fired and Streisand was hired to replace her — for $4 million dollars.
Perhaps it was the incestuousness of it all. The director, Jean-Claude Tramont, was married to Sue Mengers — Streisand’s agent. The columns all wrote that Mengers manipulated Streisand to do the film as a personal favor. “My wife and I have been together 11 years,’’ said Tramont. “If she had the ability to force Barbra to do a picture with me, I wish she had used it sooner.”
Tramont explained that, if anything, Streisand took the role because she wanted to play a different type of character than she usually played. “In most of her pictures, she’s criticized for overpowering the screen,’’ he said. “In All Night Long, she’s criticized for not overpowering the screen.”
Lisa Eichhorn was let go because “the part was too much of a stretch for Lisa,” explained Mr. Tramont. “It’s no reflection on her acting ability.”
Lisa Eichhorn worked one full week as Cheryl before she received a call from director Jean-Claude Tramont. “It’s just not working,” he told her. Eichhorn was shocked. “I could understand being replaced by Amy Irving or Sissy Spacek,” she confessed, “Or someone else of my own age and nature. But Barbra Streisand? I thought All Night Long was some of my best work.” To add insult to injury, Eichhorn had bleached her brown hair blond for the role because a wig was deemed too unnatural on screen. (Streisand ended up wearing a wig as Cheryl).
Gene Hackman spoke to columnist Marilyn Beck about the casting switch. Of Eichhorn, he said, “She’s got enough problems, and I’ve been fired myself. I know how it hurts.” Hackman revealed the All Night Long script was being rewritten for Streisand. “The way the part was written, it wasn’t that big and would be a waste of her time and talents.”
Kevin Dobson was cast as Cheryl’s husband. He was thrilled to play opposite Streisand in a few scenes. “I’d once worked 13 days as an extra in Funny Girl. I knew I’d work with her eventually. She’s wonderful to work with. We rehearsed our parts. I’ve had such rapport with her. She has a reputation, but I never saw anything but the utmost professionalism.”
All Night Long allowed Streisand to play a real character with specific character traits: a way of talking, dressing, and walking. Streisand was consistent in her characterization of Cheryl. The movie had some rough comedic spots (not involving Streisand), but for the most part it was a charming little film. Streisand even stripped off her shirt at the end of the film and walked off screen, with her naked back to the camera.
You can watch some of the deleted scenes from All Night Long below:
Photographer Greg Gorman spoke to writer Roald Rynning about working with Streisand. “Before photographing Barbra the first time, I was a little nervous,” Gorman explained. “I'd heard she was demanding. I was hired only to take stills from [All Night Long], but I asked to do a special shoot with her. I remember her office called me, asking what other big female stars I had shot. I had to answer I had done none. Nevertheless, one day on the set, Barbra came over. ‘I hear you want to take some pictures of me’, she said. ‘What did you have in mind? What colors do you want to use?’ I answered her straight back. Asked her what colors she liked and the interrogation was over.”
Gorman continued: “From then on she was terrific. For a photographer it's easy to work with her. She knows her face very well, the angles, the lot. She loves to see my Polaroids and analyse the results. I think a great deal of her success has come from asking questions and being a terrific observer.”
Much was written about the breakup of the agent/client team Sue Mengers and Barbra Streisand as a result of All Night Long. Mengers revealed that the film “caused a lot of strain between Barbra and Jon [Peters]. Because it was the first thing Barbra had done where Jon wasn’t involved. He liked to get producer credit—and this one announced to the industry: She’s a free agent. Producers didn’t feel, ‘Omigod, if I bring that script to Streisand, I’ll have to bring in Jon Peters.’”
Mengers said she was very angry when Streisand told her she was leaving, “because I felt I had been an impeccable agent for her. And [Barbra] then said, ‘But we can still be friends!’ My reaction was anger: ‘Of course we can’t be friends. You’ve rejected what I do, you’ve announced to the world I’m not good enough.’ And her reaction was: ‘Oh my god, she only cares about me if I’m her client.’ She couldn’t understand, and it hurt her for a long time. I don’t think we talked for over three years. For me it was not just, ‘Oh, well, I’ve lost a client,’ which would upset me under any circumstances. But Barbra was and is very special to me. She was the jewel in the crown. Not only did I love her, I was proud to be representing her. While I was working with her it was the joy of my life, even though she never expresses gratitude or even acknowledgment of anything you may achieve. It’s such a thin line an agent walks between friendship and a work relationship. You can never forget, no matter how close you are to a client, you’re the employee.”
Photo, above right: Streisand auctioned the halter dress she wore in the final scenes of the film. The auction listing described it as “mint green rayon Halter dress, having hook and eye and zipper closure at back.”
Photo, below: Artist Richard Amsel—who also created the original art for “Hello Dolly” as well as “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and other big films—drew this picture of Hackman and Streisand to possibly be used as “All Night Long's” poster art. It was not utilized.
Screenwriter William Goldman summarized All Night Long in his book about Hollywood, Adventures in the Screen Trade: “So what the studio had done was to take a frail, three-million-dollar film and turn it into a fifteen-million-dollar film that was a total disaster and that, when you add in prints and advertising, probably lost them twenty million dollars.
“Because what they were doing, in essence, was to pay Barbra Streisand four and a half million dollars not to play Barbra Streisand.”
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