George Peppard plays hard-driven playboy industrialist Jonas Cord in Paramount’s highest-grossing film of 1964.
When Jonas inherits his father’s industrial empire, he expands it by acquiring an aircraft factory and a film studio. His rise to power is ruthless.
While Cord builds aeroplanes, directs movies and breaks hearts, his friends and lovers try to reach his human side and find that it’s an uphill battle. He marries and then quickly abandons sweet, bubbly Monica (Elizabeth Ashley), turns his young, attractive stepmother into a self-destructive actress and manages to disappoint even his closest friend.
A narrator is employed to keep all the plots and subplots from collapsing.
The film (and the Harold Robbins novel on which it was based) featured a number of thinly disguised real-life characters: Rina Marlowe (Carroll Baker giving a performance of stupendous stupidity) was obviously based on Jean Harlow, Nevada Smith (Alan Ladd) was thought to be Tom Mix, Jonas Cord himself was generally believed to be Howard Hughes, and Jennie Denton (Martha Hyer) was based on Joan Crawford.
Katharine Ross was originally tested for the female lead, but although studio heads felt she wasn’t right for the role, she was given a studio contract. Stella Stevens was also considered for the role of Jennie Denton. Joan Collins was offered the role of Rina Marlowe but had to turn it down because she was pregnant.
Although he had previously made over 25 films for Paramount Studios, this was Alan Ladd’s first film for them after a 10-year hiatus. It was also the final film made by Ladd, before his death on 29 January 1964 at the age of 50. The film was released posthumously.
Rina Marlowe Cord
Bernard B. Norman
Jonas Cord Sr.