The Legend of Lylah Clare

The Legend of Lylah Clare

The Legend of Lylah Clare
theatrical poster
Directed by Robert Aldrich
Produced by Robert Aldrich
Written by Hugo Butler (teleplay)
Edward DeBlasio (teleplay)
Screenplay by Hugo Butler
Jean Rouverol
Starring Peter Finch
Kim Novak
Ernest Borgnine
Michael Murphy
Valentina Cortese
Music by Frank De Vol
Cinematography Joseph F. Biroc
Edited by Michael Luciano
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • November 16, 1968 (1968-11-16)
Running time 130 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3,490,000[1]

The Legend of Lylah Clare is a 1968 American Michael Murphy, and Valentina Cortese. The film was based on a 1962 DuPont Show of the Week TV drama co-written by Wild in the Streets creator Robert Thom.

Plot summary

Elsa Brinkmann (Novak), is hired by producer Barney Sheean (Borgnine), who wishes to make a film about the life of 1930s movie star Lylah Clare (also Novak). Sheenan hires Lewis Zarkan (Finch) (Lyla's former husband) to direct the film, and Zarkan has to work with the talentless Elsa so she can convincingly play the role of Lyla. Elsa gradually falls in love with Zarkan and begins to think she really is Lylah. It appears to be the case that Zarkan killed Lylah, and will now kill Elsa too.


Production notes

The Legend of Lylah Clare originally aired as a teleplay on the anthology series The DuPont Show of the Week, with Tuesday Weld in the title role and Alfred Drake as Lylah's director widower.[2]

Director Robert Aldrich chose the script to film to fulfill his contract with M-G-M. He initially wanted Jeanne Moreau or María Félix[3] to star in the film but when it became clear that Moreau and Félix were unavailable, Kim Novak was cast. Novak hadn't made a film in three years, partly because she had been involved in a riding accident and because she had lost interest in working. Aldrich was initially thrilled with the idea of Novak in the role stating that she was a rare mixture of "ice and fire" but reportedly was disappointed with her performance.[2] At various times, Aldrich blamed Novak's performance and bad editing for the film's failure. In later years, Aldrich said that he was to blame for the film's failure and that blaming Novak was "...pretty unfair... To make this picture work, to make Lylah work, you had to be carried along into that myth. And we didn't accomplish that. [...]You can blame it on a lot of things, but I'm the producer and I'm the director. I'm responsible for not communicating that to the audience. I just didn't do it."[4]


The film received generally poor reviews and performed poorly at the box office.[2] The film critic for Newsweek magazine stated that The Legend of Lylah Clare "fights clichés with clichés."[2] Roger Ebert said the film was "awful...but fairly enjoyable",[5] while Life's magazine's Richard Schickel felt that the film would catch on as a cult classic because it was "Not merely awful; it is grandly, toweringly, amazingly so...I laughed myself silly at Lylah Clare, and if you're in just the right mood, you may too."[2]


  1. ^ Silver 1995 p. 272
  2. ^ a b c d e Miller, Frank. "The Legend of Lylah Clare". Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  3. ^ Félix (1993), vol. 3, p. 48
  4. ^ Silver, Alain (1985). What Ever Happened to Robert Aldrich?: His Life and His Films. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 30.  
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (November 13, 1968). "The Legend of Lylah Clare Movie Review". Retrieved March 3, 2014. 

External links