FRIENDLY PERSUASION premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York on November 1, 1956.
Wyler wanted to shoot FRIENDLY PERSUASION on a farm in southern Indiana, but instead the locations were filmed on the Roland V. Lee ranch in the San Fernando Valley, near Hollywood.
Michael Wilson initially wrote the script of FRIENDLY PERSUASION in 1946. It was based on a collection of short stories by Jessamyn West about Quaker life in Indiana around the time of the Civil War. Wilson wrote the script for Frank Capra. But Capra never made the movie. Subsequently, Wilson was blacklisted after invoking the Fifth Amendment when questioned by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Then, in the mid-1950s, William Wyler acquired the script. He wanted to make changes but was unable to hire Wilson because of the blacklist. With the help of his assistant Stuart Millar--who later was the producer of BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ and LITTLE BIG MAN--Wyler persuaded Jessamyn West to rework the script with his brother Robert Wyler. According to Wyler and Millar, West invented the character of Sam Jordan for the movie and, with Robert Wyler, wrote the entire second half of the movie and completely rewrote the scenes that were derived from Wilson's script. In spite of this, West and Robert Wyler were denied script credit by the Writers Guild. And, because of the blacklist, Wilson was denied credit by the film's distributors. As a result, FRIENDLY PERSUASION was released without a screenplay credit--which made it very strange when the movie was nominated for six Academy Awards, including best screenplay.
In 1992, as glasnost began, President Ronald Reagan presented a videocasette of FRIENDLY PERSUASION to Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev at a state dinner in Moscow. Reagan said FRIENDLY PERSUASION "has sweep and majesty and pathos. It shows not just the tragedy of war but the problem of pacifism, the nobility of patriotism, as well as the love of peace." It was a strange gift from the right-wing president whose conservative politics were, to say the least, somewhat at odds with William Wyler's--not to mention the blacklisted Michael Wilson's.
Mark Richman, who plays Gard Jordan, later became known as Peter Mark Richman. FRIENDLY PERSUASION was his first movie.
Veteran art director-production designer Ted Hayworth was credited on FRIENDLY PERSUASION as Edward S. Hayworth.
Veteran set designer/set director Joseph Kish was credited on FRIENDLY PERSUASION as Joe Kish.
FRIENDLY PERSUASION marked the ilm debut for actor Anthony Perkins.
Cannes Palme d'Or 1957