Best Seller (1987)

R | 95 mins | Drama, Mystery | 25 September 1987

Director:

John Flynn

Writer:

Larry Cohen

Producer:

Carter DeHaven Jr.

Cinematographer:

Fred Murphy

Production Designer:

Gene Rudolf

Production Company:

Hemdale Film Corporation
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HISTORY

In Dec 1980, director/producer Larry Cohen sold his screenplay titled Hard Cover for $375,000 to Time-Life Productions, according to a report in the 24 Dec 1980 Var. Larry Sugar was set to produce the film, which was scheduled to begin shooting in summer 1981 on location in New York City; Dallas, TX; and Kansas City, MO. The film’s producers offered actor Paul Newman a seven-figure salary to star, according to the 6 Jan 1981 HR. That report said the film’s budget would be $13 million. However, Newman was never confirmed and Sugar did not stay with the production.
       By Mar 1982, Larry Cohen was serving not only as the film’s screenwriter, but also its director and producer, according to the 8 Mar 1982 HR. However, Cohen did not stay on as producer or director. He is only credited onscreen as the film’s writer.
       Actor Michael Moriarty, who starred in Cohen's Q (1982, see entry), was set to star in Hard Cover which was scheduled to start shooting in New York, NY, in fall 1982, according to the 8 Mar 1982 HR. However, the 12 March 1982 HR said that filming was being pushed back to spring 1983, while the 15 Mar 1982 HR announced that fellow Q star David Carradine was also joining the cast. However, neither Moriarty nor Carradine stayed with the film.
       By the time principal photography began on 5 May 1986 in Los Angeles, CA, actors James Woods and Brian Dennehy were playing the leading roles and the title had changed to Best Seller, ... More Less

In Dec 1980, director/producer Larry Cohen sold his screenplay titled Hard Cover for $375,000 to Time-Life Productions, according to a report in the 24 Dec 1980 Var. Larry Sugar was set to produce the film, which was scheduled to begin shooting in summer 1981 on location in New York City; Dallas, TX; and Kansas City, MO. The film’s producers offered actor Paul Newman a seven-figure salary to star, according to the 6 Jan 1981 HR. That report said the film’s budget would be $13 million. However, Newman was never confirmed and Sugar did not stay with the production.
       By Mar 1982, Larry Cohen was serving not only as the film’s screenwriter, but also its director and producer, according to the 8 Mar 1982 HR. However, Cohen did not stay on as producer or director. He is only credited onscreen as the film’s writer.
       Actor Michael Moriarty, who starred in Cohen's Q (1982, see entry), was set to star in Hard Cover which was scheduled to start shooting in New York, NY, in fall 1982, according to the 8 Mar 1982 HR. However, the 12 March 1982 HR said that filming was being pushed back to spring 1983, while the 15 Mar 1982 HR announced that fellow Q star David Carradine was also joining the cast. However, neither Moriarty nor Carradine stayed with the film.
       By the time principal photography began on 5 May 1986 in Los Angeles, CA, actors James Woods and Brian Dennehy were playing the leading roles and the title had changed to Best Seller, according to production charts in the 27 May 1986 HR. The name reverted to Hard Cover according to a notice in the 10 Sep 1986 Var. However, by the time the film opened on 25 Sep 1987, the title was once again Best Seller. Reviews tended to be positive.
       Locations used for filming include the Wall Street, Tribeca and Fifth Avenue areas of New York City, according to promotional materials in AMPAS library files. A hillside ranch in Valencia, CA, served as the Oregon family home for the “Cleve” character, while a mansion overlooking the beach in Malibu, CA, served as the mansion of the “David Madlock” character. The front steps of Los Angeles City Hall was used for the exterior shots in the 1972 sequence, while an abandoned prison in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles was used for interior shots.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
18 Sep 1987
p. 3, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Mar 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 May 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 May 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Sep 1987
p. 6, 67.
Los Angeles Times
25 Sep 1987
p. 16.
New York Times
25 Sep 1987
p. 24.
Variety
24 Dec 1980.
---
Variety
10 Sep 1986.
---
Variety
23 Sep 1987
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
An Orion Pictures Release
Hemdale Film Corporation Presents
A Carter De Haven Production
A John Flynn Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Unit prod mgr, New York crew
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Best boy elec
Elec
Key grip/Dolly grip
Best boy grip
Still photog
Cam and lenses supplied by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Story board artist
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
2d asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Set dec
Swing gang
Swing gang
Set dec, New York crew
COSTUMES
Ward
Ward
MUSIC
Mus by
Mus supv
Mus ed
Mus coord
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff, New York crew
Title des and montage seqs by
Opt eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hair/Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
and Associates
Prod exec
Scr supv
Prod coord
Asst to Mr. De Haven
Loc mgr
Unit pub
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Prod secy
Extra casting
Extra casting
Voice casting
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Prod van driver
Honeywagon driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
First aid
Craft service
Prod office supv, New York crew
Prod office coord, New York crew
Prod accountant, New York crew
Prod services and equipment
Completiion guarentee
Legal services performed by
Insurance provided by
Insurance provided by
Motion picture banking by
Motion picture banking by
Post prod supv
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Addl stunt coord
Addl stunt coord
Stunt double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Plaisir D'Amour," written by Jean Paul Martini
"Reverie," written by Claude DeBussy.
SONGS
"Perfect Ending," words and lyrics by Lamont Dozier, performed by Ben E. King, produced by Lamont Dozier, executive producer Joe Regis.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Hard Cover
Release Date:
25 September 1987
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 25 Sep 1987
Production Date:
began 5 May 1986 in Los Angeles, CA and New York City
Copyright Claimant:
Hemdale Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
10 March 1988
Copyright Number:
PA371968
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
95
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28242
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1972 Los Angeles, California, three robbers wearing Richard Nixon masks invade a police evidence depository building. They go to evidence lockers and retrieve a footlocker, killing three police officers in the process. Another officer, Dennis Meechum, is also shot, but stabs one of the robbers in the abdomen. Despite his wound, the masked robber escapes to the getaway van where his cohorts open the footlocker to reveal a briefcase full of money. Dennis Meechum is rushed to emergency surgery that saves his life. He continues to serve on the Los Angeles Police Department, and in 1981 receives a medal of valor for participating in an undercover operation. Dennis also develops a side career as an author. His first book, Inside Job: The Anatomy of a Robbery, about the depository heist, becomes a giant bestseller. He goes on to write several more acclaimed novels, but tells a reporter he considers himself a cop first and an author second. In 1987, Dennis chases a suspect while working an undercover operation on the docks in San Pedro, California. The suspect runs into a warehouse full of workers and climbs into the rafters preparing to shoot Dennis. However, before he can pull the trigger, a hired gunman named Cleve shoots and kills the suspect. Cleve disappears before police can arrest him, but when Dennis returns to his car, he finds an envelope addressed to him on the windshield. The note inside reads, “Say Thank You.” The next morning over breakfast with his sixteen-year-old daughter, Holly, Dennis learns that Cleve gave Holly and her friends a ride home several days earlier. Later, Dennis has a ... +


In 1972 Los Angeles, California, three robbers wearing Richard Nixon masks invade a police evidence depository building. They go to evidence lockers and retrieve a footlocker, killing three police officers in the process. Another officer, Dennis Meechum, is also shot, but stabs one of the robbers in the abdomen. Despite his wound, the masked robber escapes to the getaway van where his cohorts open the footlocker to reveal a briefcase full of money. Dennis Meechum is rushed to emergency surgery that saves his life. He continues to serve on the Los Angeles Police Department, and in 1981 receives a medal of valor for participating in an undercover operation. Dennis also develops a side career as an author. His first book, Inside Job: The Anatomy of a Robbery, about the depository heist, becomes a giant bestseller. He goes on to write several more acclaimed novels, but tells a reporter he considers himself a cop first and an author second. In 1987, Dennis chases a suspect while working an undercover operation on the docks in San Pedro, California. The suspect runs into a warehouse full of workers and climbs into the rafters preparing to shoot Dennis. However, before he can pull the trigger, a hired gunman named Cleve shoots and kills the suspect. Cleve disappears before police can arrest him, but when Dennis returns to his car, he finds an envelope addressed to him on the windshield. The note inside reads, “Say Thank You.” The next morning over breakfast with his sixteen-year-old daughter, Holly, Dennis learns that Cleve gave Holly and her friends a ride home several days earlier. Later, Dennis has a meeting with his publishers. He has missed four deadlines for his latest novel and the publisher may ask him to return their advance money. Cleve leaves a message for Dennis to meet him at a bar on the docks. There, Cleve reveals he knows a lot about Dennis’s life, including the fact Dennis has had writer’s block since his wife Kate’s death, and that he is now deep in debt due to medical bills for her caner treatment. Cleve asks Dennis to write a book about him and his former boss, promising it will be a best seller. When Dennis returns to his car, he finds a scrapbook full of newspaper clippings about the death of various people. The next day at the shooting range, Dennis and Cleve compliment each other’s firing prowess, then Dennis arrests Cleve for the murder of the suspect in the dock warehouse. However, when Cleve reports that businessman David Madlock, head of Kappa International, is connected to all the killings in the scrapbook, Dennis agrees to hear him out. Cleve tells him that he worked as a hired assassin to get rid of people creating problems for Kappa. Cleve quit Kappa after he and Madlock had a disagreement and now Cleve wants to expose Madlock’s nefarious dealing. Dennis suggests Cleve be a witness against Madlock. Cleve says Madlock could buy his way out of a trial, but cannot escape a book. Cleve also tells him the initial $2.5 million used to start Kappa International in 1972 came from the police depository heist. Cleve was the driver of the getaway van and says the other three people involved died in the van. The next day, Cleve takes Dennis to a party honoring Madlock. Cleve taunts Madlock with the fact that he is working with Dennis on a book, then Madlock’s men escort them out of the party. Although still skeptical, Dennis flies to New York City with Cleve to retrieve evidence implicating Madlock and Kappa in the murders that Cleve committed. Cleve offers specific details about the killings, bragging that he always managed to make the murders look like accidents. As the two take a taxi across town, the driver stops to buy cigarettes. Suspicious, Cleve tells Dennis to get out of the taxi, which explodes into flames seconds later. They chase the taxi driver down, finding him hiding in a photo booth in an amusement arcade. The driver reports two of Madlock’s men, Thorn and Pearlman, paid him off. Afterward, Cleve puts money in the photo machine, which takes photos as Cleve slits the taxi driver’s neck. That night at a bar, Cleve deliberately burns his hand with a cigarette to demonstrate that pain does not bother him. When Dennis grabs Cleve’s hand, his mind flashes back to the police depository incident. He rips Cleve’s shirt open to find a large scar on Cleve’s abdomen and realizes Cleve is the man he stabbed. An infuriated Dennis promises not only to arrest Cleve when they are finished, but also to kill him. The two fly to Oregon so Dennis can meet Cleve’s warm and welcoming family, who have no idea Cleve is a hired killer. Dennis wonders how a “freak of nature” like Cleve can come out of such a wholesome environment. Cleve says that the contrast will make the book even more fascinating, but to make sure he comes across well in it. Upon returning to Los Angeles, Madlock’s lawyer, Mr. Graham, promises that if Dennis writes the book, they will hold it up for years in court. Graham offers Dennis money to write an authorized biography of Madlock, but he declines. In the following weeks, Dennis writes the first few chapters and shows them to his literary agent, Roberta Gillian. She is impressed and wants to read the rest. Dennis says he will arrest Cleve when it is over. After Dennis leaves, Cleve appears inside Roberta’s house wanting to know if he came across as likable in the book and demanding to read the manuscript, but she does not have a copy. Dennis and Cleve fly to El Paso, Texas, so Dennis can question a woman who aided Cleve in one of his murders, but Madlock’s men show up and kill her before Dennis can get any answers. Her murder, however, convinces Dennis that Madlock truly is afraid of the book. Back in Los Angeles, another of Madlock’s men, Thorn, breaks into Dennis’s house to steal the manuscript. Holly Meechum catches him, but Cleve arrives, kills Thorn, and takes Holly to stay with Roberta Gillian so she will be safe. When Dennis returns to his house, Cleve is there reading the manuscript. He likes the book and suggests that killing Madlock would be the perfect ending. The next morning, Madlock’s men kidnap Holly from Roberta’s house. Dennis goes to a meeting at Madlock’s house and assures him the book is being published. Madlock says the only way he can guarantee Holly’s safety is if Dennis comes to work for him at Kappa International. Meanwhile, Cleve sneaks onto the grounds and kills the five security guards. Cleve uses the home’s loudspeaker system to taunt Madlock, saying he is coming for him. Madlock pulls out a gun and shoots Dennis in the stomach. As Cleve and Madlock exchange gunfire, Holly rushes to be with her father, but Madlock grabs her and holds a gun to her head. Dennis orders Cleve not to shoot Madlock. Cleve lowers his gun and Madlock immediately shoots him in the chest. Cleve falls down the stairs. Madlock surrenders his gun to Dennis, who then handcuffs him. A dying Cleve says Dennis should have killed Madlock and reminds him that he is supposed to be the hero of the book. One year later, Dennis’s new novel, Retribution: The Fall of David Madlock and Kappa International has been on the bestseller list for twenty-eight weeks. +

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

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