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The Happening
Theatrical release poster
Directed byElliot Silverstein
Screenplay byFrank R. Pierson
James D. Buchanan
Ronald Austin
Story byJames D. Buchanan
Ronald Austin
Produced byJud Kinberg
Sam Spiegel (uncredited)
StarringAnthony Quinn
Michael Parks
George Maharis
Robert Walker Jr.
Martha Hyer
Faye Dunaway
CinematographyPhilip H. Lathrop
Howard Winner
Edited byPhilip W. Anderson
Music byFrank De Vol
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
March 1967 (1967-03)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Happening is a 1967 American crime comedy film directed by Elliot Silverstein, and starring Anthony Quinn, Michael Parks, George Maharis, Robert Walker Jr., Martha Hyer, and Faye Dunaway in her film debut. It tells the story of four hippies, who kidnap a retired Mafia mob boss, holding him for ransom.

The film is an anti-establishment story that questions the values of Middle America and the older generation.[citation needed]


Four bored beach bums from Miami come across kids playing with toy guns. They chase one of them into a house, which, by chance, belongs to one Roc Delmonico, a former gangster who is now retired from organized crime and has become a respectable businessman.

Delmonico assumes it to be a kidnapping and volunteers to go quietly. The hippies like the idea, particularly their leader, Taurus, a gigolo who lives off rich ladies. He and his accomplices, Sureshot, Herby and Sandy, drive off with Delmonico in the trunk of their car. They hide out and demand a ransom of $200,000.

No one, unfortunately, will pay the ransom—not Delmonico's unhappy wife, Monica, or his business partner, Fred, or even Sam, his old mob boss. The frustrated crooks decide that it is hopeless, but Delmonico is so offended that he personally takes charge of his own kidnapping. He raises the demand to $3 million, vowing to reveal secrets that will ruin Monica, Fred and Sam.

The money is paid, whereupon the greedy Taurus suggests to Delmonico that they kill the others, leaving a two-way split. However, Delmonico knows not only that the boy cannot be trusted, but also that the bank has marked the bills from the ransom and that the police will trace them. Delmonico sets fire to the money and walks away. When asked what he will do now, Delmonico responds, without looking back, "Who knows?"


Main article: The Happening (1967 soundtrack)

Only a minor success as a film, The Happening is most notable today both as one of Faye Dunaway's earliest films and for its self-titled theme song. Recorded by The Supremes, "The Happening" became a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 when released as a single on the Motown label.

Another music piece, "The Fuzz", was used by several local area TV news programs in the United States and Canada in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and a rearrangement of the same composition is still used by Brazil's Rede Globo national newscast Jornal Nacional, and Televisa in Mexico for national newcast 24 Horas.[citation needed]


See also