The Lady in Red (1979)

R | 94 mins | Adventure | 27 July 1979

Director:

Lewis Teague

Writer:

John Sayles

Producer:

Julie Corman

Cinematographer:

Daniel Lacambre

Production Designer:

Jac McAnelly
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HISTORY

During development, a 27 Apr 1978 HR brief announced that long time Roger Corman collaborator Frances Doel would write the screenplay, but she is not credited on screen. John Sayles was later hired and received sole writing credit.
       Trade publications reported on several early casting options. According to a 10 May 1978 HR brief, actress Claudia Jennings was selected for the role of “Anna Sage” and Michael Moriarty was a top choice for the part of “John Dillinger.” Actor Ben Gazzara, who had recently completed another New World Pictures production, Saint Jack (1979, see entry), was also named in connection with the role of Dillinger in a 17 Feb 1978 HR item. A 24 Apr 1978 HR brief stated that the studio was in discussions with actress Mia Farrow to play the lead, “Polly Franklin.” According to reports in the 10 Jan 1978 and the 4 Apr 1979 HR, television stars Lee Majors and Jack Lord were also considered for roles.
       News items from the 14 May 1979 DV and the 23 May 1979 Var indicated that filming took place during May 1979. The 1 Aug 1979 Var review noted that principal photography began late-Apr 1979 at locations in the Los Angeles, CA, area.
       The review also mentioned that the budget was $1 million, while earlier reports in the 10 May 1978 HR described the project as a $7 million production.
       Although the 31 Jul 1978 LAT review stated that the film represented Lewis Teague’s directorial ... More Less

During development, a 27 Apr 1978 HR brief announced that long time Roger Corman collaborator Frances Doel would write the screenplay, but she is not credited on screen. John Sayles was later hired and received sole writing credit.
       Trade publications reported on several early casting options. According to a 10 May 1978 HR brief, actress Claudia Jennings was selected for the role of “Anna Sage” and Michael Moriarty was a top choice for the part of “John Dillinger.” Actor Ben Gazzara, who had recently completed another New World Pictures production, Saint Jack (1979, see entry), was also named in connection with the role of Dillinger in a 17 Feb 1978 HR item. A 24 Apr 1978 HR brief stated that the studio was in discussions with actress Mia Farrow to play the lead, “Polly Franklin.” According to reports in the 10 Jan 1978 and the 4 Apr 1979 HR, television stars Lee Majors and Jack Lord were also considered for roles.
       News items from the 14 May 1979 DV and the 23 May 1979 Var indicated that filming took place during May 1979. The 1 Aug 1979 Var review noted that principal photography began late-Apr 1979 at locations in the Los Angeles, CA, area.
       The review also mentioned that the budget was $1 million, while earlier reports in the 10 May 1978 HR described the project as a $7 million production.
       Although the 31 Jul 1978 LAT review stated that the film represented Lewis Teague’s directorial debut, Teague had previously co-directed the feature film, Dirty O’Neil (1974, see entry).
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
14 May 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jan 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Apr 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jul 1979.
---
Los Angeles Times
31 Jul 1979
Section H, p. 8.
Variety
23 May 1979.
---
Variety
1 Aug 1979
p. 20, 42.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
New World Pictures Presents
A Julie Corman Production
A New World Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
Asst prod mgr
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d unit prod mgr
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Titles and opticals
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Gaffer
Key grip
Asst cam
Asst cam
Still photog
2d unit dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Props
COSTUMES
Men's costumer
Women's costumer
MUSIC
Mus comp and adpt
Mus consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Hairdresser
Makeup
Miss Martin's makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting dir
Prod coord
Scr supv
Addl casting
2d unit scr supv
STAND INS
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
SOURCES
SONGS
"Ain't She Sweet," courtesy Warner Bros. Music
"Baby Face," courtesy Warner Bros. Music
"Forty-Second Street," courtesy Warner Bros. Music
+
SONGS
"Ain't She Sweet," courtesy Warner Bros. Music
"Baby Face," courtesy Warner Bros. Music
"Forty-Second Street," courtesy Warner Bros. Music
"If I Could Be With You," courtesy Warner Bros. Music
"We're In The Money," courtesy Warner Bros. Music
"Wouldn't It Be Wonderful," by Michael Feinstein.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Guns, Sin, and Bathtub Gin
Touch Me and Die
Release Date:
27 July 1979
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 27 July 1979
Production Date:
late April--May 1979
Copyright Claimant:
Lady in Red Productions
Copyright Date:
18 September 1979
Copyright Number:
PA48860
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
94
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the 1930s, Polly Franklin is a plucky young woman who works on the family farm under the watchful eye of her stern, pious father, but dreams of being a Hollywood dancer and practices tap dancing in the barn. While delivering eggs in town, Polly witnesses a bank robbery and is taken hostage during the getaway. After being freed, she is hounded by newspapermen, eager for a story. Outside the police station, Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Lingle sweet-talks innocent Polly into granting an interview, then uses the opportunity to seduce her. With a new taste for adventure, Polly leaves behind her abusive father and hitchhikes to Chicago, Illinois. There, she works as a seamstress and befriends co-worker Rose Shimkus, a political activist. When Rose looks after a factory girl who is suffering from an abortion, their ruthless boss, Patek, complains to federal agents that Rose is a communist agitator. As Rose is taken to jail, Polly incites a riot against Patek. She loses her job, but soon finds work as a dance hall girl. Her seasoned colleagues advise Polly to supplement her meager pay by seducing men on the side. However, the first time Polly leads a customer to the private areas of the hall, she is arrested on moral charges. In jail, she is introduced to the sadistic prison matron, Tiny Alice, but is also reunited with Rose. One day, Rose provokes Tiny Alice and is sent to solitary confinement, known as “the cooler.” Upon release, Rose is sickly. As Polly tries to defend her friend ... +


In the 1930s, Polly Franklin is a plucky young woman who works on the family farm under the watchful eye of her stern, pious father, but dreams of being a Hollywood dancer and practices tap dancing in the barn. While delivering eggs in town, Polly witnesses a bank robbery and is taken hostage during the getaway. After being freed, she is hounded by newspapermen, eager for a story. Outside the police station, Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Lingle sweet-talks innocent Polly into granting an interview, then uses the opportunity to seduce her. With a new taste for adventure, Polly leaves behind her abusive father and hitchhikes to Chicago, Illinois. There, she works as a seamstress and befriends co-worker Rose Shimkus, a political activist. When Rose looks after a factory girl who is suffering from an abortion, their ruthless boss, Patek, complains to federal agents that Rose is a communist agitator. As Rose is taken to jail, Polly incites a riot against Patek. She loses her job, but soon finds work as a dance hall girl. Her seasoned colleagues advise Polly to supplement her meager pay by seducing men on the side. However, the first time Polly leads a customer to the private areas of the hall, she is arrested on moral charges. In jail, she is introduced to the sadistic prison matron, Tiny Alice, but is also reunited with Rose. One day, Rose provokes Tiny Alice and is sent to solitary confinement, known as “the cooler.” Upon release, Rose is sickly. As Polly tries to defend her friend from persistent bullying by Tiny Alice, she is also sent to the cooler. While there, Polly makes a deal with the matron. In exchange for her own jail release, and for allowing Rose to complete her prison sentence in the infirmary, Polly agrees to pay Tiny Alice $20 a week. In order to earn the money, Polly must work as a prostitute, and Tiny Alice gives her the address for a brothel, run by a savvy Romanian immigrant, Anna Sage. Satin, one of Anna’s experienced prostitutes, teaches Polly the house rules, and introduces the newcomer to Pinetop, the brothel’s piano player, and Pops Geissler, a former bank robber, who works behind the bar. To protect the business, Anna pays off law enforcement agents and members of organized crime. While the friendly Captain Hennessey collects for the police, the thuggish Frognose Balducci oversees the mafia’s interest. One night, Polly spends an entire night with Turk, a hired killer, who is kinder than her usual customers. Meanwhile, Polly persuades Anna to hire a street urchin named Eddie to help Pops with chores. During an outdoor party attended by Polly and other girls from the brothel, Turk arrives disguised in a gorilla mask and guns down a mob boss. When the mask is briefly pulled off, Turk realizes that Polly sees his face. Afterward, Turk is detained by police as a suspect, but Polly issues a statement that she never saw him at the scene. Later, she receives roses from Turk, along with an “I owe you” note. Meanwhile, during an argument at the prison, Rose is fatally stabbed by Tiny Alice. In retaliation, the inmates electrocute the prison matron under a hair dryer. After Frognose murders Satin for being impertinent, Anna is forced to close the brothel. She later opens a diner and hires Polly to wait tables, while Pops and Eddie work in the kitchen. One day, a charming stranger, Jimmy, enters the diner and flirts with Polly. After work, he invites her to the movies and the two begin a courtship. Jimmy is not bothered by Polly’s former life as a prostitute, and they discuss plans to start a new life in California. Meanwhile, immigration authorities threaten to deport Anna unless she provides them with information about her underworld connections. After Lingle, the reporter, remarks that Jimmy could enter a look-a-like contest for the famous gangster, John Dillinger, Anna shows Hennessey a photograph of Polly’s boyfriend. Convinced that Jimmy and Dillinger are the same man, the captain provides Anna with contacts at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Hoping to earn favor with immigration authorities, Anna informs lead agent Melvin Purvis that Polly and Dillinger will be at the Biograph Theater that night, and Polly can be identified by her red dress. As the couple leaves the cinema, Dillinger notices agents approaching and pushes Polly aside. Unarmed, the gangster is gunned down by a barrage of bullets. As bystanders learn that the dead man is Dillinger, they dip their handkerchiefs in his blood as a valuable souvenir. The following day, newspaper headlines announce that law enforcement was aided by the “lady in red.” However, Polly convinces her friend Eddie that she is not an informant, and explains that Anna was behind the setup. Tired of being betrayed and dependent on others, Polly plans to start a new life by robbing a bank. In addition to Eddie, she enlists the help of Pinetop and Pops, who recommends stealing from a small, mafia-controlled bank because the safe is always well stocked. Meanwhile, Frognose is concerned about newspaper reports of Polly’s relationship to the FBI and orders Lingle, who is on the mafia’s payroll, to provide her whereabouts. From the window of Eddie’s apartment, Polly notices the traitorous Lingle pointing out her location to Frognose’s men. When they arrive to kill her, she is ready and able to defend herself. In retaliation, Pinetop murders Frognose, while Lingle hides out of sight. On the day of the robbery, Pops enters the bank, disguised as a rich invalid in a wheelchair, with Polly as his nurse and Pinetop his chauffeur. As Eddie stands guard outside, the three quickly raid the vault, but when they drive away, law enforcement shoots at them. During the chase, the three men die, but Polly escapes, clutches the money and hitchhikes to California. Meanwhile, Turk repays Polly for her earlier act of loyalty by killing Lingle. +

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

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