All Night Long
Opened March 6, 1981
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—painted Hackman and Streisand as a possible poster for All Night Long. It was not utilized. Artist Drew Struzan did the final key art (see poster above), selling the movie as a raucous comedy. “It was me with my skirts hiked up going down a fire pole, which sold the movie completely wrong,” Barbra Streisand said. “It was really a little, European kind of film. So I just felt totally betrayed.”
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 has surrounded All Night Long. Actress Lisa Eichhorn—cast as Cheryl Gibbons, Hackman's love interest—was fired from the movie, and Streisand was hired to replace her — for a reported $4 million dollars.
There was an incestuousness to 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.”
Streisand herself explained her motivation: “I worked in All Night Long for a few weeks because I was so tired of writing Yentl that I had to get off my rear and get away from the table and act.”
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.”
“I love Gene Hackman,” Streisand told writer Brian Kellow. “That’s one of the reasons I said yes. But Gene was very hard on Jean-Claude. And I was trying to protect Jean-Claude in a way, because I felt so bad for him. Jean-Claude couldn’t handle somebody like that, you know?”
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. “The clothes are not expensive,” costume designer Albert Wolsky explained, “but Barbra doesn't care about that. If she loves it, she doesn't care if it costs $2 or $2,000. [Cheryl's] a woman with strawberry-blonde hair that's always too done, fingernails that are always a little too polished, clothes that are always a little too tight, a little too young.”
Streisand even did some research for her character. She told Gene Shalit on The Today Show: “When I was doing one part, I put on a blond wig—it was for a movie called All Night Long—and I went to a country-and-western bar to study the people in the Valley, in California. Put on a blonde wig and ridiculous clothes and many jewels and all this, you know? And, as soon as I walked in the door, I heard someone say, ‘Oh, hi, Barbra!’ I thought, ‘I don't believe this! Now they think I have this lousy taste!’”
Streisand and All Night Long were forced to stop shooting in Van Nuys, California on July 21, 1980 due to the actors' strike.
“We had one week left to shoot,” actor Kevin Dobson told writer Dick Kleiner, “when the strike shut us down. Just one week. I don't think there is any way they can make a finished picture out of what we've already shot—they need that last week's worth of shooting.”
The film finished shooting after the strike was over in October 1980.
Below: Streisand and Hackman chat with director Tramont at the New York screening of All Night Long in 1981. Mengers, right, talks to her clients Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal at the screening.
After receiving mixed reviews, All Night Long ultimately has some rough comedic spots (not involving Streisand)—but for the most part it was a charming, small, character-driven film.
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.”
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.”
Universal released a DVD of All Night Long December 14, 2004. The DVD was an Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono release running 1 hour and 28 minutes with no bonus materials.
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