More “Nuts”

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If you look closely (and use the Pause button) at the Nuts DVD, it is possible to see some not-so-obvious surprises that illuminate the story of Claudia Draper.

Lawrence Durrell books

Durrell books

The props on set gave the audience a clue into Claudia’s psyché when the camera, panning across her fireplace mantle, revealed a stack of books written by Lawrence Durrell: Justine, Clea, Nunquam, and Tunc. What’s the significance of these novels? Justine and Clea are from Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet. Set in Alexandria, Egypt before World War II, Durrell told the same story about modern love from different perspectives. Tunc and Nunquam were from Durrell’s series The Revolt of Aphrodite about an inventor living in Athens with a prostitute. Again, Durrell played with timelines in these two novels, switching between past and future.

Superhedging

Superhedging

Another book, this time on Claudia’s desk, revealed to the audience that she not only has a bod for sin, but a mind for money. Superhedging by Thomas C. Noddings was subtitled “Investor’s guide to stock market hedging strategies for higher risk-adjusted returns”. The book was all about analyzing financial investments, with chapters on “Identifying Undervalued Convertibles” and “Hedging Convertible Bonds with Puts and Calls”. Claudia was one smart girl!

Writing on the Walls

Graffiti in NUTS

Martin Ritt employed an ingenious story-telling device in Nuts: graffiti on the walls. Not only did the jail inmates leave their marks on the prison walls, but so did white middle class men in the boy’s bathroom. The graffiti raged against the establishment … much like Claudia. In the prison: “Screw this joint” and “Mails: A woman’s disease”. In the mens bathroom: “Hypocrates should die” and “You are as bad as the society you condemn”.

Did I Ever Show You My Sketchings?

Doodles in NUTS

The screenwriters of Nuts had Claudia doodling during the film. Claudia’s doodles (executed for the film by artist Carol Winstead Wood) revealed how she felt about other characters. For instance, the first caricature the audience saw was on Claudia’s desk. Leslie Nielson’s character (whom Claudia kills) was drawn on a tablet —with fangs.

It’s the drawing of Claudia’s family that provided Aaron Levinksy with the vital clue he needed in order to reveal the truth that Claudia’s stepfather was not revealing on the witness stand. After seeing a drawing in which Claudia’s mother had no mouth, Levinsky put two and two together and realized the family was hiding a secret.

“Nuts” Production Notes

From the Warner Brothers press notes ...

[ ... ] For a woman who likes to wear many hats, this time Barbra Streisand developed, produced and wrote the music for "Nuts," in which she also plays the curious central character.

After Streisand worked on Tom Topor's screenplay, she put writers Alvin Sargent and Darryl Ponicsan together for the first time and worked with them to realize the screenplay she had envisioned. She called on veteran filmmaker Martin Ritt to direct the unusually illustrious cast.

Having first worked with Andrzej Bartkowiak on a documentary for her "Broadway Album," Streisand asked him to be the director of photography.

She selected Teri Schwartz and Cis Corman to serve as executive producers.

The creative production team on "Nuts" also included production designer Joel Schiller, film editor Sidney Levin, A.C.E., casting director Marion Dougherty, and costumer Joe Tompkins.

"Nuts" marks the 25th motion picture of director Martin Ritt's distinguished career, following such films as "Norma Rae," "Sounder," "The Great White Hope," "Hud" and "The Long, Hot Summer." This latest movie is a new expression of a favorite Ritt theme, which he describes as follows: "No matter where you come from, no matter who you are, if you want it bad enough you always have a shot at some kind of affirmation in your life."

(Photo of Streisand and Ritts on set. From the collection of Nacho Repiso)

Streisand and Ritts on the set

Barbra Streisand talking about her role says, "I responded very strongly to Claudia. I have always believed in the power of the truth, and how it is used and abused, how people react to it, and how it can get you into trouble. As George Bernard Shaw says in ‘St. Joan,' ‘he who tells the truth shall surely be caught.’

"Claudia is honest, sometimes shockingly honest; but the truth is all she has and she refuses to give it up.

"This movie is not only about a courtroom case, it deals with the mystery of appearances," adds the artist who dealt with the feminine/masculine aspect of that theme in "Yentl." "In ‘Nuts’ we focus on the difference between conventional appearances and inner truth. People are not always simply what they seem to be."

Preparing for "Nuts" as both producer and actress, Barbra Streisand visited a number of mental institutions and courtrooms in New York and Los Angeles. In relating her experiences, she remembers, "While there are certainly competent people in charge you also see a number of lawyers, judges, and psychiatrists who seem more irrational than the patients. The patients sometimes speak the truth without hesitation and the truth is not always pretty. The truth is not always polite. I found the lack of social etiquette, the directness, the honesty, absolutely engaging and refreshing. That's what I love about Claudia. Without fear of the consequences, she tells it like it is!"

To ensure authenticity, producer Barbra Streisand and director Martin Ritt secured the services of two full-time technical advisers. New York public defender Ruth Pickholz, a real-life equivalent of Richard Dreyfuss’ Aaron Levinsky character, was on the Warner Bros. set during every moment of the gripping courtroom scenes. Captain Sue Bishop, New York Department of Corrections, assigned to the prison ward of Elmhurst City Hospital, was technical adviser for scenes which depict Claudia's institutionalization after her arrest for murder.

SPECIAL NOTE TO THE PRESS

The filmakers would appreciate that the past relationship between Claudia and her stepfather not be revealed so movie-goers can experience the drama's strongest possible impact.

“Nuts” on CBS Television

When Nuts premiered on CBS on Sunday July 2, 1995, it was a sanitized version of the “R-rated” film. Usually, films with bad language were badly overdubbed for their network airings. For Nuts, the filmmakers exercised some foresight and filmed alternate versions of the scenes they knew would not be allowed on television. Here's what was different:

Scene R-Rated Version CBS Version
In court, Claudia violently attacks her attorney “You Goddamn son of a bitch!” “You lying creep!”
In the prison hospital, Claudia asks her new lawyer, Levinsky, about his wife. “Does she give good head?” “Is she good in bed?”
Same scene: Claudia asks Levinsky why he has taken on her case. He asks if she wants the truth? “No, the bullshit. I love the bullshit, Levinsky, especially when I'm drowning in it.” “No, the lies. I love listening to the lies, especially when I'm drowning in them.”
Claudia explains to Levinsky why she hit another patient. “She grabbed my tit, so I socked her in the eye.” “I'm not dangerous. I just socked her in the eye.”
On the stand, Claudia tells the prosecutor how she makes her living. “Why don't we stop all the bullshit ... I get $500 an hour, how much do you get? I get $400 for a straight lay, $300 for a hand job and $500 for head. If you want to wear my panties, that's another hundred. You take 'em home, that's another hundred. No whips, no ropes, no spikes ... I'm talking about my mouth on your mouth and my tongue anywhere you want it.” “Why don't we stop the crap ... I get $500 an hour, how much do you get? ... If you want to wear my panties, that's another hundred. You take 'em home, that's another hundred. No whips, no ropes, no spikes ... I'm talking about my mouth on your mouth.”
On the stand, Claudia denounces Dr. Morrison “What if his wife is out balling the insurance agent? What if he doesn't know his ass from his elbow? What if he is just an asshole with the power to lock me up? What if that's all he is — an asshole with power?” “What if his wife is out with the insurance agent? What if he is just a jackass with the power to lock me up? What if that's all he is — a jackass with power?”
Pleading to the judge, Claudia explains why she is not incompetent to stand trial. “You think giving blowjobs for $500 is nuts. Well, I know women who marry men they despise so they can drive a Mercedes and summer in the Hamptons. I know women who crawl through shit for a fur coat. I know women who peddle their daughters to hang onto their husbands. So don't judge my blowjobs. They're sane. I knew what I was doing every minute.” “You think having sex for $500 is nuts. Well, I know women who marry men they despise so they can drive a Mercedes and summer in the Hamptons. I know women who crawl through dirt for a fur coat. I know women who peddle their daughters to hang onto their husbands. So don't judge my behavior, it's sane. I knew what I was doing every damn minute.”

 

End.

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