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Movies: “The Carpetbaggers”

Apr. 9, 1964 - Opening today is “The Carpetbaggers,” a drama film directed by Edward Dmytryk based on the best-selling 1961 novel of the same name by Harold Robbins. The film stars George Peppard as Jonas Cord, a character based loosely on Howard Hughes, and Alan Ladd in his final role as Nevada Smith, former Western gunslinger turned actor. The supporting cast is headed by Carroll Baker, who plays a character loosely based on actress Jean Harlow.

Producer Joseph E. Levine initially claimed he would disregard the Production Code in making the film. However, when he struck a production deal with Paramount Pictures last year, there was no question that the movie would abide by the Code, though Levine engaged in extensive negotiations to get as much salacious content as he could into the film.

After haggling with chief censor Geoffrey Shurlock over a nude scene in the script, Levine gave the greenlight to filming it with Miss Baker in the nude. The nude scene was used for publicity purposes, but only appears in the European release. An alternate version where Baker is wearing a robe is used in the North American version.

Speaking of her character, Baker said recently: “She is alone in front of her dressing table. She has just stepped out of the bath, and she is the kind of character to whom it would not occur to put on a robe. Doing the scene in the nude was my idea, and I think it was a mistake not to show it.”

Miss Baker denied that the nude scene was a publicity gimmick.

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