Chu Chu and the Philly Flash (1981)

PG | 92 mins | Comedy, Romance | 1981

Director:

David Lowell Rich

Producer:

Jay Weston

Cinematographer:

Victor J. Kemper

Editor:

Argyle Nelson

Production Designer:

Daniel Lomino

Production Company:

Simon Film Productions
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HISTORY

A 5 Dec 1974 LAHExam, news item announced that Raquel Welch was planning to star in Chu Chu and the Philly Flash for producer Sam Arkoff at American International Pictures; a 19 May 1975 Box brief and the 7 Sep 1981 Film Journal review both reported that the film was announced as a joint venture between Raquel Welch Productions, Columbia Pictures and Monroe Sachson Productions in Jan 1975. Costume designer Ron Talsky was set to produce with Welch starring in writer Robert Merrill’s original screenplay. However, the 1 Sep 1975 People noted that Columbia was nervous that Talsky, who was also dating Welch, would make his debut as a producer on the film, and the studio was “re-thinking” the project. Film Journal noted that Talsky was the only participant from the Welch venture to actually be a part of the final film; neither Arkoff, Welch, Sachson, Merrill nor Columbia remained with the project. Although Talsky did not remain a producer on the movie, the 1 Aug 1980 DV reported that producer Jay Weston hired him as the film’s costume designer.
       An item in the 14 Dec 1974 Var noted that Alan Arkin was to co-star with Welch and would also direct the film. According to articles in the 8 Jul 1981 Marquee and the 7 Aug 1981 LAT, Arkin became involved with the project after a “chance meeting” with Weston in New York City. At that time, the character “Chu Chu” (“Emily”) was a Puerto Rican prostitute, not a street performer. ... More Less

A 5 Dec 1974 LAHExam, news item announced that Raquel Welch was planning to star in Chu Chu and the Philly Flash for producer Sam Arkoff at American International Pictures; a 19 May 1975 Box brief and the 7 Sep 1981 Film Journal review both reported that the film was announced as a joint venture between Raquel Welch Productions, Columbia Pictures and Monroe Sachson Productions in Jan 1975. Costume designer Ron Talsky was set to produce with Welch starring in writer Robert Merrill’s original screenplay. However, the 1 Sep 1975 People noted that Columbia was nervous that Talsky, who was also dating Welch, would make his debut as a producer on the film, and the studio was “re-thinking” the project. Film Journal noted that Talsky was the only participant from the Welch venture to actually be a part of the final film; neither Arkoff, Welch, Sachson, Merrill nor Columbia remained with the project. Although Talsky did not remain a producer on the movie, the 1 Aug 1980 DV reported that producer Jay Weston hired him as the film’s costume designer.
       An item in the 14 Dec 1974 Var noted that Alan Arkin was to co-star with Welch and would also direct the film. According to articles in the 8 Jul 1981 Marquee and the 7 Aug 1981 LAT, Arkin became involved with the project after a “chance meeting” with Weston in New York City. At that time, the character “Chu Chu” (“Emily”) was a Puerto Rican prostitute, not a street performer. Arkin agreed to star under the condition that his wife, actress-writer Barbara Dana, rewrite the script, and he spent seven years developing the film with Weston. The LAT noted that Dana had written children’s books, folk songs and one unproduced screenplay with her husband, but the film marked her first screenwriting credit. On 30 Apr 1979, DV reported that Dana and Sheldon Patinkin were rewriting Merrill’s script. While the 30 Jun 1980 HR and the 4 May 1980 Box noted that Dana and Merrill co-wrote the screenplay, production notes from AMPAS library files stated that Dana wrote the screenplay based on a story by Henry Barrow, as is reflected in onscreen credits. Dana had a small role in the film as a dance student, “Betty,” and Arkin’s three children, Adam Arkin, Matthew Arkin and Tony Arkin also had roles in the film.
       The 17 Dec 1980 Var reported that Maurice Jarre would score the film, and an item in the 25 Feb 1981 Var noted that lyricist Norman Gimbel would work with Jarre on the title song. Jarre and Gimbel are not credited in the film which credits the title song to Pete Rugolo with lyrics by Alan Arkin.
       According to the 6 Aug 1980 DV, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. announced it would not participate in the financing of Chu Chu and the Philly Flash, thereby qualifying Melvin Simon Productions for an interim agreement with the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) which allowed them to film during the SAG strike; films must be financed “entirely or substantially by the independent producer” in order to qualify for the exemption.
       The 4 May 1980 Box reported that principal photography began 20 Aug 1980 with filming to take place in San Francisco, CA, and Los Angeles, CA. According to production notes, San Francisco locations included Alta Plaza Park, the China Basin and Portero Hill. Interior sets were built at the U.S. Navy hangar on San Francisco’s Treasure Island.
       The 31 Oct 1980 HR announced that principal photography was complete, and the 11 Aug 1981 HR reported a release date of 14 Aug 1981.
       In the Dec 1981 Rolling Stone, Chu Chu and the Philly Flash was cited in the article “Big Bucks, Big Losers – Twenty-four Films that Bombed in 1981.” The article listed the film’s production budget at $7 million and its domestic rentals at less than $100,000.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 May 1975.
---
Box Office
4 May 1980.
---
Daily Variety
30 Apr 1979.
---
Daily Variety
1 Aug 1980.
---
Daily Variety
6 Aug 1980
p. 1, 18.
Film Journal
7 Sep 1981
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jun 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Oct 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 1981.
---
LAHExam
5 Dec 1974.
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Aug 1981
Section VI, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
19 Aug 1981
p. 2.
Marquee
8 Jul 1981
pp. 12-13.
New York Times
29 Aug 1981
p. 18.
People
1 Sep 1975.
---
Rolling Stone
Dec 1981
p. 44.
The Film Journal
7 Sep 1981.
---
Variety
14 Dec 1974.
---
Variety
17 Dec 1980.
---
Variety
25 Feb 1981.
---
Variety
12 Aug 1981
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Melvin Simon Productions Presents
A Jay Weston Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Key grip
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Rigging gaffer
Best boy
2d grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
Film processing by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Prop master
Const coord
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Miss Burnett's cos by
Women`s cost
Men`s cost
MUSIC
Mus ed
for La Da Productions
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Boom man
Cable
Post prod sd
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Opticals by
Titles execution
DANCE
Miss Burnett's choreog
MAKEUP
Key makeup man
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Loc mgr
Prod coord
Asst to the prod
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Casting asst
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Unit pub
Loc auditor
Catering by
Simon prod representative
Prod facility
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
COLOR PERSONNEL
Color by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Whole Lot Of Money," lyrics by Alan Arkin, music by Pete Rugolo, performed by Alan Arkin.
DETAILS
Release Date:
1981
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 14 August 1981
New York opening: 28 August 1981
Production Date:
began 20 August 1980
Copyright Claimant:
Simon Film Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
9 September 1981
Copyright Number:
PA113889
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex Camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
92
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

“The Philly” Flash, a homeless, recovering alcoholic who once played baseball with the Philadelphia Phillies, now sleeps in a San Francisco, California, bus terminal and performs odd jobs to earn a bus fare to Flint, Michigan, where an old friend has promised him a job as an umpire in a softball league. As Flash washes windshields, he is joined by his friend, Charlie, a young man just released from an evaluation at a mental institution. “The Commander,” who lives on a boat and is a leader in the homeless community, arrives and is annoyed when Flash refuses to buy his homemade window cleaner. The Commander also has watches he wants the homeless to sell for a split of the profits, but he refuses to include Flash in his money-making scheme. Flash convinces Charlie to give him a few of the watches, promising to split the profits with his friend that evening. Elsewhere, Emily Laedecker runs a dance studio out of her apartment, but she has only one student and is behind on her rent. Emily, better known as “Chu Chu,” a one-woman Latin band, dons her Carmen Miranda-inspired outfit, grabs her musical equipment and heads to the waterfront to make money, but she is angered when Flash arrives to sell watches in her public performance space. Meanwhile, in the building behind them, a frantic man named Harry holds tightly to a briefcase as he is chased by two thugs. When Harry hides the briefcase on a window ledge, it falls to the ground. Flash watches Chu Chu pick up the briefcase, stash it inside her drum and resume performing. ... +


“The Philly” Flash, a homeless, recovering alcoholic who once played baseball with the Philadelphia Phillies, now sleeps in a San Francisco, California, bus terminal and performs odd jobs to earn a bus fare to Flint, Michigan, where an old friend has promised him a job as an umpire in a softball league. As Flash washes windshields, he is joined by his friend, Charlie, a young man just released from an evaluation at a mental institution. “The Commander,” who lives on a boat and is a leader in the homeless community, arrives and is annoyed when Flash refuses to buy his homemade window cleaner. The Commander also has watches he wants the homeless to sell for a split of the profits, but he refuses to include Flash in his money-making scheme. Flash convinces Charlie to give him a few of the watches, promising to split the profits with his friend that evening. Elsewhere, Emily Laedecker runs a dance studio out of her apartment, but she has only one student and is behind on her rent. Emily, better known as “Chu Chu,” a one-woman Latin band, dons her Carmen Miranda-inspired outfit, grabs her musical equipment and heads to the waterfront to make money, but she is angered when Flash arrives to sell watches in her public performance space. Meanwhile, in the building behind them, a frantic man named Harry holds tightly to a briefcase as he is chased by two thugs. When Harry hides the briefcase on a window ledge, it falls to the ground. Flash watches Chu Chu pick up the briefcase, stash it inside her drum and resume performing. Harry races outside, but does not see his briefcase; he offers Flash $20 to find the valise and call him at the Fairmont Hotel. As Harry runs off, Flash demands that Chu Chu give him the briefcase, but she refuses. Flash follows Chu Chu to her apartment, arguing that she has the briefcase and he has access to the reward money, so they should split the profit. They agree to partner and call Harry to set up a meeting. However, when they arrive at the hotel, they see the two thugs who were chasing Harry burst into his room. Chu Chu and Flash quickly leave and realize that something in the briefcase is important. Flash finds confidential government plans in a secret compartment of the briefcase and suspects they can get $75 from the thugs. Chu Chu wants to hold out for $500, and they finally agree to ask for $250. Meanwhile, the lead thug, Johnson, interrogates Harry, who admits that two people should arrive soon with the briefcase. At that moment, Chu Chu calls and demands $300. When they agree, she promises to call back with a safe meeting place. Chu Chu’s neighbor, Vittorio, is a hot dog vendor and agrees to make the exchange the next day. Chu Chu picks a quiet park as the location and gives Harry and the thugs an elaborate hot dog order to use as the exchange code. Johnson is furious that $2 million worth of plans are at stake and, since Harry knows what Flash looks like, they return to the waterfront to see if they can get information. A homeless man sends them to the Commander’s decrepit boat. When Johnson describes the man they are looking for, the Commander offers to investigate for $50. The Commander realizes the thugs are looking for Flash and, knowing that Flash is meeting with Charlie, the Commander sends his minions to trail Charlie. When Flash meets Charlie, the Commander’s people follow them to Chu Chu’s building and observe as Charlie sleeps on the outside landing and Flash goes inside. Chu Chu agrees to let Flash sleep on the sofa and gives him a dance lesson. He shares his story, admitting he was an alcoholic for twenty years, but is newly sober and saving for a bus ticket to the job in Michigan. Chu Chu reveals that she was part of a two person Latin band in New York City, but her partner abruptly deserted the act; Chu Chu moved to San Francisco to start over. The next morning, the Commander waits outside for Flash, demanding the files and offering to share the reward money, but Flash denies any knowledge of the situation. He leaves with Chu Chu, Vittorio and Charlie, and the Commander’s people follow. Everyone arrives at the park, which is unexpectedly hosting a fair with hundreds of hot dog vendors. Harry and the thugs go to several hot dog carts, looking for the correct one. Meanwhile, when a boy’s order matches the “code,” Vittorio starts to hand him the case, but Flash signals him to stop and Vittorio shoves the briefcase back into his cart. Within moments, the briefcase is burning. The thugs arrive as Flash and Chu Chu reach the cart and a chase ensues. As Charlie trips the thugs, Flash dives into the cart to save the briefcase, but Chu Chu loses her grip and the cart careens downhill, eventually crashing in bushes. Later, Flash attempts to sell the plans to the government, but is rebuffed. Deciding that the Commander is their best hope, Flash and Chu Chu arrive at his boat where he is celebrating his birthday. He offers $50 for the plans, but Flash negotiates for $104.88 to cover the rest of his ticket and Chu Chu’s rent. Harry and the thugs arrive as the birthday cake is brought out and, in the chaos, the lit cake falls onto the boat and starts a fire. Someone tries to douse the flames, but the water bucket is full of gasoline and the fire spreads. Flash hands the secret plans to Harry before he and Chu Chu jump to safety in the water. Chu Chu wants to split the money evenly, but Flash only takes $24.88 for his ticket. Later, Flash decides not to buy the ticket after all, but when he learns that Chu Chu is on the Michigan bus to join him, he hurries to meet her for the ride.
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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