Opened June 17, 1970
Barbra Streisand’s third film, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, was described in Paramount's production notes as a “delightful combination of comedy, drama, fantasy and music. The film deals with a psychiatrist who becomes professionally and emotionally involved with a remarkable girl patient, who possesses extrasensory powers and relives, under hypnosis, an earlier incarnation.”
On A Clear Day was based on the Broadway show that ran October 1965—June 1966 starring Barbara Harris and John Cullum, which was originally titled I Picked A Daisy.
Alan Jay Lerner (who wrote the book and the lyrics for the play; Burton Lane wrote the music) continuously tinkered with the show, even after it closed, eliminating characters and adding or subtracting songs. (Incidentally, Alan Jay Lerner received amphetamine shots from Dr. Max Jacobson—“Dr. Feelgood”—while he wrote Clear Day, which may explain its weirdness — how many other musicals that you know of concern themselves with reincarnation and ESP? )
Director Vincente Minnelli recalled, “It was mystical and Lerner has been interested in that since he was a child. He was trying to say something, I dug into the story and that was what came out. Lerner had read all these books and followed the fantasy as he saw it completely. I didn’t subscribe to it, not at all.”
Developing “Clear Day”
Paramount Pictures reportedly paid $750,000 for the film rights to the Alan Jay Lerner-Burton Lane musical in 1966.
Producer Howard W. Koch made some changes transferring On A Clear Day from the Broadway play to a film.
Alan Jay Lerner revised his original story.
Director Vincente Minnelli requested that the regression sequences be changed from a Restoration to a Regency setting. He told writer Henry Sheehan, “I felt that was what was wrong with the play. It was white wigs and writing with feathers which gets to be very boring. I wanted to make it Regency, because the world was more inviting. That’s particularly why we changed it. Then I wanted to come in on a climax where she didn’t know what was happening and it was explained later on. Whereas it couldn’t matter less in the play.”
Several songs from the Broadway show were not used in the film version. Several new ones were added (and then cut! ... keep reading to find out all about them).
Arnold Scaasi was brought on board to create modern costumes for the film; Cecil Beaton would fashion Streisand's regression wardrobe.
Neal Hefti (Batman title theme, The Odd Couple movie, Barefoot in the Park) was hired as music director for the film. The Nov. 4, 1968 edition of The Hollywood Reporter announced: “Neal Hefti has been signed by Howard W. Koch to to arrange and conduct Paramount's On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.”
By December 1969 (when this item appeared in newspapers), Hefti had been replaced by Nelson Riddle.
Producer Howard Koch remembered that “[Barbra] and Nelson were like a team from the time we switched.”
Several male stars were considered for the role of Dr. Chabot, Melinda/Daisy’s love interest in On A Clear Day. The late Richard Harris (Arthur in the film version of Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot) was one of them. “Lerner and Streisand stitched me up,” he explained. “They wanted it their way. Lerner never liked my singing, and he took out the best songs from the original Broadway show. Streisand wanted to be Queen Bee. I told her to bark up someone else’s tree.”
Harris, then, was passed over and in August 1968 it was announced Yves Montand, 47 years old, who starred with Marilyn Monroe in Let’s Make Love, would appear opposite Streisand in the film.
Producer Howard Koch talked to the L.A. Times in early December 1968. “The picture is in rehearsal just now and slightly ahead of schedule. My friend Miss Streisand must leave for a week soon after we start shooting Jan. 6. She's committed to go to London and Paris for the openings of Funny Girl. It was difficult to plan, especially at the beginning of the picture. In that week, we plan to shoot all the scenes she's not in.”
Streisand seemed in good spirits during rehearsals. “He can do anything in his quiet way,” she said about Koch. “The tape recorder I use to learn lines broke and within an hour he delivered a new one. I called him up to ask how he did it. It was after 5. Who's still open? I couldn't figure out how he did it.”
It was reported in early January 1969 that Streisand and Montand recorded their numbers for the movie at Paramount Studios in Hollywood in one day, in afternoon and evening sessions.
In this audio interview, below, Streisand is questioned at the recording session for “Wait Till We're 65”—the orchestra keeps interupting the interviewer. Streisand mentions a line from a scene in the movie, which was eventually cut. She's referring to this one.
In January 1969, right before filming began, Paramount threw a “Reincarnation Ball” party at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Celebrity guests were encouraged to dress as the person they would have liked to have been—in a past life! Streisand came as Colette, the French writer, dressed in a white lace dress and curly wig.