How to Beat the High Cost of Living (1980)

PG | 105 mins | Comedy | 11 July 1980

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HISTORY

A 13 Nov 1975 DV news item stated that the title had been changed from Moneyball to How to Beat the High Cost of Living, and a 4 May 1980        Box brief referred to the film as The Spirit of ’80.
       On 24 Jan 1975, a DV brief reported that actresses Carol Burnett and Glenda Jackson were attached to star. According to a 13 Feb 1979 HR brief, Burnett dropped out of the production, but Jackson remained to co-star with Jane Fonda and Shirley MacLaine. According to a 5 Nov 1979 LAT article, when the film was in development at Twentieth Century-Fox, the studio wanted Ali McGraw, Goldie Hawn and Barbra Streisand for the leading roles. Later, another actress under consideration was Ann-Margret. Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that the filmmakers hired members of the Oregon Repertory Company to fill “forty-five speaking roles,” and another two thousand locals were hired as extras during filming. The 5 Nov 1979 LAT article stated that cheerleaders from the University of Oregon were hired for the production.
       Although the 24 Jan 1975 DV brief reported that actor Alan Arkin would direct, over the years, many directors were attached to the project, including Ulu Grosbard, Frank Perry, Herbert Ross and Bud Yorkin.
       According to the 15 Aug 1979 Var article, the film had made the rounds at three studios – Warner Bros., Twentieth Century-Fox, and Universal Pictures – before a deal was struck at American International Pictures. At that point, writer-co-producer Robert Kaufman revealed that the ... More Less

A 13 Nov 1975 DV news item stated that the title had been changed from Moneyball to How to Beat the High Cost of Living, and a 4 May 1980        Box brief referred to the film as The Spirit of ’80.
       On 24 Jan 1975, a DV brief reported that actresses Carol Burnett and Glenda Jackson were attached to star. According to a 13 Feb 1979 HR brief, Burnett dropped out of the production, but Jackson remained to co-star with Jane Fonda and Shirley MacLaine. According to a 5 Nov 1979 LAT article, when the film was in development at Twentieth Century-Fox, the studio wanted Ali McGraw, Goldie Hawn and Barbra Streisand for the leading roles. Later, another actress under consideration was Ann-Margret. Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that the filmmakers hired members of the Oregon Repertory Company to fill “forty-five speaking roles,” and another two thousand locals were hired as extras during filming. The 5 Nov 1979 LAT article stated that cheerleaders from the University of Oregon were hired for the production.
       Although the 24 Jan 1975 DV brief reported that actor Alan Arkin would direct, over the years, many directors were attached to the project, including Ulu Grosbard, Frank Perry, Herbert Ross and Bud Yorkin.
       According to the 15 Aug 1979 Var article, the film had made the rounds at three studios – Warner Bros., Twentieth Century-Fox, and Universal Pictures – before a deal was struck at American International Pictures. At that point, writer-co-producer Robert Kaufman revealed that the script was in its “eleventh rewrite,” and a brief from the 24 Sep 1973 HR stated that Kaufman was first hired six years earlier in 1973 to work on a “final draft” of the screenplay.
       A 22 Aug 1979 DV brief stated that the film would begin principal photography 5 Sep 1979 in Eugene, OR, while a 26 Oct 1979 HR brief reported that the production would film eight weeks on location. A news item in the 2 Nov 1979 HR stated that Eugene was the same city where Animal House (1978, see entry) was filmed. The film’s budget was $4 million, as reported in 15 Aug 1979 Var.
       Much of the action was filmed in the Valley River Center, an eighty-five store modern shopping mall near the Willamette River. Other Eugene locations included an antique store, a restaurant converted from a former train station, an elementary school baseball field, the bank of the Willamette River, a pet hospital, an upscale home with a view of all Eugene, and Skinner’s Butte, the local “lovers’ lane.”
       Art director Lawrence G. Paull designed an eight-foot wide Plexiglas globe, weighing two hundred pounds filled with $240,000 of real currency on loan from a local bank to be used as the “money-ball” that became the object of the heist. Real money was used during filming because director Robert Scheerer and cinematographer James Crabe were certain that audiences would detect the use of fake money.
       On a list of movie hits and flops from a 17-23 Sep 1980 Village Voice article, the film earned the distinction of being “Down the Tubes.” Reviews for the film were mixed. Ron Pennington wrote in the 25 Jun 1980 HR that the movie was “a lightweight summer diversion” and praised most of the performances. A 14 Jul 1980 Box review by Jimmy Summers agreed that the performances were strong but they could not make up for “the low budget or the script’s gaping holes.” Although Richard Schickel in a 4 Aug 1980 Time review enjoyed most of the work by the actors, he observed that the film’s tone had “the bland air of a sitcom.”
       The 15 Aug 1979 Var article stated that the movie marked actress Jane Curtin’s theatrical feature film debut.
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
4 May 1980.
---
Box Office
14 Jul 1980
---
Daily Variety
24 Jan 1975.
---
Daily Variety
13 Nov 1975.
---
Daily Variety
22 Aug 1979.
---
Film Journal
Aug. 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Oct 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Nov 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jun 1980
p. 2.
Los Angeles
Aug 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Nov 1979.
Section IV, p. 1, 12-13.
Los Angeles Times
11 Jul 1980
p. 1, 7.
New York Times
11 Jul 1980
p. 10.
Time
4 Aug 1980
p. 42.
Variety
15 Aug 1979.
---
Variety
25 Jun 1980
p. 20.
Village Voice
17-23 Sep 1980.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
And Starring
as Albert in
Co-Starring
Featuring:
Cameo Appearances By
Special Appearance By
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PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Filmways Pictures, Inc.
Samuel Z. Arkoff Presents
A Jerome M. Zeitman/Robert Kaufman/Bernard Wilens Production
A Cinema 77 Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
Gaffer
Best boy
Key grip
Grip best boy
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Set dec
Leadman
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Ward asst
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus performed by
Mus performed by
Mus dir
Mus dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec in charge of prod
Prod exec
In charge of post prod
Casting
Casting
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Prod coord
Loc auditor
Prod controller
Unit pub
Unit pub
Local casting
Prod asst
Asst to Mr. Kaufman
STAND INS
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
COLOR PERSONNEL
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Moneyball
The Spirit of '80
Release Date:
11 July 1980
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 11 Jul 1980
Production Date:
5 Sep--late Oct 1979 in Eugene, Oregon
Copyright Claimant:
American International Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 July 1980
Copyright Number:
PA76378
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Photographic Equipment by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
105
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
75943
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1980 Eugene, Oregon, three friends cannot keep up with their expenses. Jane, a single mother, has dated Robert for two years and is ready for marriage, but he is waiting for his boss to retire and a promotion to store manager before they get engaged. In another part of town, Jane’s friend, Louise Travis, requests $1,000 from Albert, her veterinarian husband, to cover merchandise she has purchased for her antique store. However, Albert’s business is being audited and his accountant orders him to avoid additional expenses. He informs his wife he cannot give her more money. Soon, Elaine Houghton, a friend of Jane and Louise, learns that her marriage is over from a voice mail left by Millard, her architect husband. Patty, a bank officer, informs Elaine that Millard took all their money. Later, Albert is sure that the audit has gone smoothly until auditor Bill Pike informs him that he owes tax and interest on the money he loaned his wife’s business. When Jane’s ex-husband, Tom, collects his children for visitation, Jane asks him for more alimony. Tom insists Jane work with the budget she has been given. When an inebriated Elaine runs a stop sign after leaving a bar, she is stopped by police officer Jack Heintzel. She invites Jack for a cup of coffee, but instead of accepting her offer, he admits he is married, and lets her go with a warning. At Elaine’s fundraiser garage sale, Natalie, a friend, asks her to do lighting for an anniversary show at Valley River Center, the town shopping mall. At lunch, Elaine, Jane, and Louise ponder how to raise money, while nearby workers ... +


In 1980 Eugene, Oregon, three friends cannot keep up with their expenses. Jane, a single mother, has dated Robert for two years and is ready for marriage, but he is waiting for his boss to retire and a promotion to store manager before they get engaged. In another part of town, Jane’s friend, Louise Travis, requests $1,000 from Albert, her veterinarian husband, to cover merchandise she has purchased for her antique store. However, Albert’s business is being audited and his accountant orders him to avoid additional expenses. He informs his wife he cannot give her more money. Soon, Elaine Houghton, a friend of Jane and Louise, learns that her marriage is over from a voice mail left by Millard, her architect husband. Patty, a bank officer, informs Elaine that Millard took all their money. Later, Albert is sure that the audit has gone smoothly until auditor Bill Pike informs him that he owes tax and interest on the money he loaned his wife’s business. When Jane’s ex-husband, Tom, collects his children for visitation, Jane asks him for more alimony. Tom insists Jane work with the budget she has been given. When an inebriated Elaine runs a stop sign after leaving a bar, she is stopped by police officer Jack Heintzel. She invites Jack for a cup of coffee, but instead of accepting her offer, he admits he is married, and lets her go with a warning. At Elaine’s fundraiser garage sale, Natalie, a friend, asks her to do lighting for an anniversary show at Valley River Center, the town shopping mall. At lunch, Elaine, Jane, and Louise ponder how to raise money, while nearby workers construct a money ball display for an upcoming contest at the mall. Later, the doorbell rings at the Travis home and Louise is served a summons. Soon, Robert reveals to Jane that he needs $25,000 to buy the store from his boss. Louise is furious that Albert is suing her to avoid paying taxes to the government. Then, Elaine’s credit card is canceled and she has to write a check for seventy-three cents to cover the cost of her gasoline. Before long, Fred, the sheriff, confiscates the keys to Louise’s store, and the dentist will not make any more appointments with Jane’s children until she has paid for previous services. When Elaine’s car runs out of gas, she calls the Automobile Club from a shopping mall pay phone and sees the money ball, which inspires a great idea. She summons Jane and Louise to the mall, where they scheme to steal cash from the money ball. In her husband’s office, Elaine discovers floor plans that show the mall has an underground tunnel. Meanwhile, Elaine agrees to help Natalie with the mall’s anniversary show. Elaine and Jane steal a canoe to use for their money ball robbery. Later, the women rob the hardware store Robert manages, and Jane sets off the alarm. Officer Jack sees them carrying assorted merchandise and demands an explanation. They convince him that they are on a charity scavenger hunt and he lets them go. When Elaine returns home, Jack Heintzel is waiting for her. He confesses that his wife has left him, and Elaine invites him in for coffee. She reveals how lonely she is and Jack admits that he finds Elaine attractive. They drive to the local lover’s lane and as they cuddle Elaine gets her foot stuck in the glove compartment. Jack searches for help and discovers that Albert, his veterinary nurse, as well as Jane and Robert are parked on the lane. Jane frees Elaine’s foot. Sometime later, the girlfriends set their plans in motion. On robbery day, Louise is detained when Albert demands to know why their marriage has failed and he threatens to leave her. Elaine crashes through her garage door when her electricity is shut off and her garage door opener no longer works, while Jane is stranded with a flat tire. Meanwhile, the shoe store in the mall is closed and Louise must search for an alternate escape route. She discovers an open window in a men’s washroom, enters the store, and makes her way to the tunnel. By foot, Jane reaches the river and paddles the canoe to the rear of the mall. Louise drills holes in the base of the money ball and Jane helps her insert a vacuum nozzle to suck up the currency. On the anniversary show stage, Elaine performs a strip tease to divert attention from the robbery in progress. Louise and Jane remove the vacuum bag filled with money and replace it with another empty bag. However, when Elaine invites a guard to the stage, his motorized cart spins out of control, and rams into a bank of lights, sending Natalie crashing into the money ball. Money flies everywhere and the crowd rushes to catch it. With all the pandemonium, Louise and Jane pack their equipment and leave. Louise capsizes the canoe and the bags of money float down the river while Jane rescues her friend who cannot swim. Later, the would-be thieves reunite and Elaine learns the bags of money have been lost. A fight erupts and Louise jumps into the river to retrieve a money bag when it reappears. Jane recovers the money and Elaine rescues Louise. Elaine counts money on her bed when Jack comes calling. However, Elaine is not in the mood for romance and sends him away. When she returns to counting, Jack calls and they arrange a date. Albert has good news for Louise, who packs all her money in a bedroom trunk. He has convinced the Internal Revenue Service that her shop is a business. She can reopen her store provided her books show a profit every month. They celebrate with passionate sex. Jane gives Robert money to buy out his boss and they get married. When Robert wants to know where the money came from, Jane reveals that it was stolen. He does not believe a word she says even as she launches into details about the robbery.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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