No Way Out (1987)

R | 114 mins | Drama, Mystery | 14 August 1987

Director:

Roger Donaldson

Writer:

Robert Garland

Cinematographer:

John Alcott

Production Designer:

Dennis Washington
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HISTORY

No Way Out is a remake of the 1948 suspense drama The Big Clock (see entry). Both movies were based on the 1946 novel The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing. While the 1948 movie was set in the New York City publishing milieu, screenwriter Robert Garland updated the setting to the world of military intelligence in Washington, D.C.
       A 14 Nov 1977 DV article announced that BNB Associates, a talent management firm that primarily represented musicians, was expanding into film and television production. One of the films the company announced was Garland’s script, Finished With Engines. The DV article said filming would start in spring or summer 1978, but nothing ever came of it. Over the next nine years, six movie studios and three television networks rejected the script as being implausible, according to a 23 Aug 1987 LAT article. Finally, in 1986, Orion Pictures wanted to make the film, executive producer Mace Neufeld told the 30 Jul 1987 HR.
       Principal photography began on 7 Apr 1986 in Los Angeles, CA, with the working title Deceit, according to the 14 May 1986 DV production chart. The production moved to Washington, D. C. in May and wrapped in late Jun, according to the 24 Jun 1986 DV. Promotional materials in AMPAS library files indicate that exteriors were shot at the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, but Pentagon interiors were filmed on a soundstage at the former MGM Studios in Culver City, CA. Other locations in the Washington, D.C. area, include Georgetown; the Old Post Office Pavilion at 4960 Washington ... More Less

No Way Out is a remake of the 1948 suspense drama The Big Clock (see entry). Both movies were based on the 1946 novel The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing. While the 1948 movie was set in the New York City publishing milieu, screenwriter Robert Garland updated the setting to the world of military intelligence in Washington, D.C.
       A 14 Nov 1977 DV article announced that BNB Associates, a talent management firm that primarily represented musicians, was expanding into film and television production. One of the films the company announced was Garland’s script, Finished With Engines. The DV article said filming would start in spring or summer 1978, but nothing ever came of it. Over the next nine years, six movie studios and three television networks rejected the script as being implausible, according to a 23 Aug 1987 LAT article. Finally, in 1986, Orion Pictures wanted to make the film, executive producer Mace Neufeld told the 30 Jul 1987 HR.
       Principal photography began on 7 Apr 1986 in Los Angeles, CA, with the working title Deceit, according to the 14 May 1986 DV production chart. The production moved to Washington, D. C. in May and wrapped in late Jun, according to the 24 Jun 1986 DV. Promotional materials in AMPAS library files indicate that exteriors were shot at the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, but Pentagon interiors were filmed on a soundstage at the former MGM Studios in Culver City, CA. Other locations in the Washington, D.C. area, include Georgetown; the Old Post Office Pavilion at 4960 Washington Boulevard; the Omni Shoreham Hotel at 2500 Calvert Street N.W.; Chesapeake Bay, VA; and the Baltimore, MD, subway.
       Actor Kevin Costner filmed No Way Out prior to The Untouchables (1987, see entry), but Orion Pictures opted to delay the opening of No Way Out until after director Brian De Palma’s big-budget gangster drama was released on 6 Jun 1987. The 1 Mar 1987 LAT explained that Orion wanted to capitalize on publicity from The Untouchables, in which Costner starred as “Elliot Ness,” hoping it would “heat his public image” and increase ticket sales.
       The film opened on 806 screens on 14 Aug 1987, taking in $4.3 million in its first three days of release, according to the Box Office Mojo website. Six weeks later, No Way Out had grossed $30.4 million.
       End credits state: “This film is dedicated to the memory of John Alcott, B.S.C,” the film’s director of photography. Alcott died while on vacation in France after production wrapped.
       End credits contain the following acknowledgments: “The Producers would like to thank the following for their kind cooperation with the filming of NO WAY OUT: Furs by Jerry Sorbara; United States Department of the Interior; General Services Administration; Federal Protective Service; David Simon, Director, Mayor’s Office of Film & Television Development, District of Columbia; Captain Louis Widawski, Special Operations Division, D.C. Metropolitan Police; Jack Smith, Director, Maryland Film Commission; The Virginia Film Commission; Alexandria Tourist Council; National Park Service, National Capital Region; Trans World Airlines; The Hay Adams Hotel; The Omni Shoreham Hotel; Georgetown Park; The Old Post Office Pavilion; Annapolis Sailing School; Boutique Display and Fashion Apparel by Casini of Washington, D.C.; Creative Film Promotions; Sperry Computer Corporation; Ritz Cigarettes.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Oct 1987.
---
Daily Variety
14 Nov 1977
p. 3.
Daily Variety
14 May 1986.
---
Daily Variety
24 Jun 1986
p. 10.
Daily Variety
11 Aug 1987
p. 3, 20.
Hollywood Reporter
2 May 1886.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jul 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 1987
p. 3, 41.
Los Angeles Times
1 Mar 1987.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Aug 1987
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
23 Aug 1987.
---
New York Times
14 Aug 1987
p. 3.
Screen International
17 May 1986
p. 4, 26.
Variety
12 Aug 1987
p. 12.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Neufeld-Ziskin Garland Production
A Roger Donaldson Film
An Orion® Pictures Release
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
Prod mgr, New Zealand crew
1st asst dir, New Zealand crew
2d asst dir, New Zealand crew
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
Scr story and scr by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Operating cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam op
Steadicam asst
Gyrosphere cam op
Gyrosphere cam asst
Still photog
Gaffer
Best boy
Elec best boy (M.G.M.)
Key grip
Dolly grip
2d company grip
2d company grip (M.G.M.)
Rigging gaffer
Video asst
Cam op, Washington, D.C. crew
Cam op, Washington, D.C. crew
Cam op, Washington, D.C. crew
Cam op, Washington, D.C. crew
1st asst cam, Washington, D.C. crew
1st asst cam, Washington, D.C. crew
1st asst cam, Washington, D.C. crew
2d asst cam, Washington, D.C. crew
2d asst cam, Washington, D.C. crew
Steadicam op, Washington, D.C. crew
Still photog, Washington, D.C. crew
Gaffer, Washington, D.C. crew
Key grip, Washington, D.C. crew
Dir of photog, New Zealand crew
Cam op, New Zealand crew
Gaffer, New Zealand crew
Generator op, New Zealand crew
Key grip, New Zealand crew
ART DIRECTORS
Sketch artist
Prod des, New Zealand crew
FILM EDITORS
Post prod supv
Asst post prod supv
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set des
Set des
Set des
Set dec
Const coord
Lead man
General foreman
Stage foreman
Stage foreman
Stage foreman
Standyby painter
Greensman
Propmaster
1st asst propmaster
2d asst propmaster
Greensman, Washington, D.C. crew
Prop master, New Zealand crew
Const mgr, New Zealand crew
Ship's bridge const, New Zealand crew
Ship's bridge const, New Zealand crew
COSTUMES
Men's ward supv
Men's costumer
Women's ward supv
Women's costumer
MUSIC
Original mus
Mus ed
Mus ed
Musician
Musician
Musician
Mus rec by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
Cable man
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd eff supv
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Foley ed
Dial ed
Cable man, Washington, D.C. crew
Sd rec, New Zealand crew
Boom man, New Zealand crew
Re-rec at
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Computer video eff
Title des
Spec eff supv, New Zealand crew
Opticals by
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup artist
Extra makeup artist, Washington, D.C. crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Cam helicopter pilot
Scr supv
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Prod coord
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst to Laura Ziskin
Asst to Roger Donaldson
Asst to Mace Neufeld
Loc mgr
Prod asst
Office prod asst
Craft service
Unit pub
Extra casting
Extra casting
Extra casting
Transportation capt, Washington, D.C. crew
Asst loc mgr, Washington, D.C. crew
Asst to Dennis Washington, Washington, D.C. crew
Prod asst, Washington, D.C. crew
Prod asst, Washington, D.C. crew
Nurse, Washington, D.C. crew
Craft service, Washington, D.C. crew
Extra casting, Washington, D.C. crew
Prod coord, New Zealand crew
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord, New Zealand crew
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing (New York, 1946).
SONGS
“No Way Out,” words & music by Paul Anka and Michael McDonald, performed by Julia Migenes and Paul Anka, produced by Denny Diante, arranged by Robbie Buchanan, courtesy of CBS/Columbia Records, published by Paulanne Music, Inc. and Genevieve Music
“Say It,” words & music by Paul Anka and Richard Marx, performed by Paul Anka, courtesy of Paul Anka, published by Paulanne Music, Inc. and Chi/Boy Music
“Wild Thing,” by Chip Taylor, published by Blackwood Music, Inc.
+
SONGS
“No Way Out,” words & music by Paul Anka and Michael McDonald, performed by Julia Migenes and Paul Anka, produced by Denny Diante, arranged by Robbie Buchanan, courtesy of CBS/Columbia Records, published by Paulanne Music, Inc. and Genevieve Music
“Say It,” words & music by Paul Anka and Richard Marx, performed by Paul Anka, courtesy of Paul Anka, published by Paulanne Music, Inc. and Chi/Boy Music
“Wild Thing,” by Chip Taylor, published by Blackwood Music, Inc.
“Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” by Rod Stewart and Carmine Appice, published by WB Music Corp. & Nite Stalk Music and Rod Stewart
“Twistin’ U.S.A,” by Kal Mann, published by Kalmann Music, Inc.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Deceit
Finished with Engines
Release Date:
14 August 1987
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 14 August 1987
Los Angeles opening: 18 August 1987
Production Date:
7 April--late June 1986
Copyright Claimant:
Orion Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
24 October 1987
Copyright Number:
PA351148
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in selected theatres.
Color
Metrocolor ®
Prints
Release prints by DeLuxe ®
Duration(in mins):
114
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28267
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Washington, D. C., United States Navy Lieutenant Commander Tom Farrell attends a presidential inauguration ball where he meets Susan Atwell, who indicates that she is the mistress of one of the high-powered officials in attendance. The two are drawn to each other and leave early, but go to her friend Nina Beka’s apartment to have sex because Susan cannot risk her lover finding him in her apartment. The next day, Susan drives Tom to the airport and kisses him goodbye. Based on a battleship, Tom rescues a crewman who falls overboard during a storm, and is hailed a hero by the media. Defense Secretary David Brice reassigns him to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, to be his liaison with the intelligence community. Brice explains that the military has spent $2 billion over five years on a failed prototype for a huge “phantom submarine” undetectable to sonar. Brice intends to terminate funding for the project, but knows he will get resistance from Congress, especially Senator Duvall. Anticipating Duvall to cite facts from Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that support continued funding, Brice asks Tom to obtain copies, so he can refute Duvall’s arguments. Tom visits Susan’s apartment and resumes his affair. When she takes a Polaroid photograph of him, he pulls the paper off too soon and it does not develop properly. Noticing Susan’s expensive gold jewelry box, he assumes her high-powered boyfriend bought it for her, but she claims it was originally a gift to him from a foreign government. Pressed to identify her lover, Susan reveals it is David Brice. As she prepares to go to a black-tie party, she explains that Brice will be there ... +


In Washington, D. C., United States Navy Lieutenant Commander Tom Farrell attends a presidential inauguration ball where he meets Susan Atwell, who indicates that she is the mistress of one of the high-powered officials in attendance. The two are drawn to each other and leave early, but go to her friend Nina Beka’s apartment to have sex because Susan cannot risk her lover finding him in her apartment. The next day, Susan drives Tom to the airport and kisses him goodbye. Based on a battleship, Tom rescues a crewman who falls overboard during a storm, and is hailed a hero by the media. Defense Secretary David Brice reassigns him to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, to be his liaison with the intelligence community. Brice explains that the military has spent $2 billion over five years on a failed prototype for a huge “phantom submarine” undetectable to sonar. Brice intends to terminate funding for the project, but knows he will get resistance from Congress, especially Senator Duvall. Anticipating Duvall to cite facts from Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that support continued funding, Brice asks Tom to obtain copies, so he can refute Duvall’s arguments. Tom visits Susan’s apartment and resumes his affair. When she takes a Polaroid photograph of him, he pulls the paper off too soon and it does not develop properly. Noticing Susan’s expensive gold jewelry box, he assumes her high-powered boyfriend bought it for her, but she claims it was originally a gift to him from a foreign government. Pressed to identify her lover, Susan reveals it is David Brice. As she prepares to go to a black-tie party, she explains that Brice will be there with his wife, but he enjoys seeing Susan waiting in the wings. Tom becomes jealous, crashes the party, and sneaks away with Susan before Brice can get her alone. They drive to a bed and breakfast along Chesapeake Bay for an idyllic romantic weekend together, registering under the name Mr. and Mrs. Smyth. While sailing on the bay, Susan declares her love for Tom. However, when they return to her apartment in Washington, D. C., Tom is angry that he has to share her with Brice. Seeing Brice arrive, Susan hurries Tom out the back door, but Brice sees his figure hurrying away in the dark. He accuses Susan of cheating, and slaps her. Susan falls over a railing onto the dining room table below and breaks her neck. Brice confesses to his assistant, Scott Pritchard, with the intention of surrendering to police, but Pritchard convinces him to instead return to Susan’s apartment and clean up any evidence that links him to her. Pritchard concocts a scheme in which they will claim that a mythical Russian spy named “Yuri,” long rumored to be in American military intelligence, has infiltrated the Pentagon, and was having an affair with Susan. Accusing Yuri as the one who killed Susan, they will conduct a massive manhunt for him. Brice and Pritchard assign Tom to head the search for Yuri. When they give Tom the file, he realizes Susan is dead. When Tom demands more details for his investigation, Pritchard reveals that Susan was the mistress of both Brice and Yuri, and the news linking the Secretary of Defense to a Russian spy would create a national scandal. Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) goes through the evidence collected at Susan’s apartment and finds the poorly developed Polaroid photograph. Computer technician Sam Hesselman, an old friend of Tom Farrell’s, says a computer program can enhance the image, but it will take many hours. When Pritchard and Tom question Susan’s friend, Nina Beka, she admits Susan was seeing Brice, but keeps quiet about Tom. Afterward, Pritchard sends two U.S. Army Special Forces assassins to silence Nina. Tom races to stop them and sends Nina away before they can kill her. He slips Susan’s gold jewelry box out of the evidence bag and sends one of his men to translate the Arabic inscription on the box. Meanwhile, Tom has Sam Hesselman check State Department records to see if Brice registered the jewelry box as a gift from the Moroccan government. Sam prints a long list of gifts given to United States officials from foreign governments. Investigators track down the man who rented Tom the boat in Annapolis, Maryland, and bring him to the Pentagon. He spots Tom from a distance, but Tom rushes away before he can be identified. Officials seal the building and take him room to room looking for the man he pointed out. They also bring the bellboy from the bed and breakfast to the Pentagon and join the search. As Sam’s computer enhancement of the Polaroid photograph progresses too quickly, Tom confides that Pritchard is trying to frame him and asks his friend to slow process to give him more time to prove his innocence. When the printout of gifts to government officials shows Brice did not register the gold jewelry box, Tom asks Sam to insert evidence of the gift into the computer records. Sam agrees to both requests, but later tells Scott Pritchard that he believes Tom is in over his head. However, when Sam reveals that Tom suspects Brice killed Susan, Pritchard shoots and kills him. Tom goes to Brice, demanding the search be ended immediately or he will show the CID that Susan’s gold jewelry box was a private gift from the Moroccan government. Seeing the computer printout, Brice knows Tom has trapped him. Pritchard comes to Brice’s office announcing that “Yuri” has killed Sam Hesselman, but Tom realizes Pritchard is the murderer. Brice suggests to Tom that they accuse Pritchard of being “Yuri” and the one who killed Susan. Distressed that Brice plans to betray him, Pritchard picks up a gun and shoots himself. Brice tries to make a deal with Tom to keep his secret, but Tom remains noncommittal. He goes to a suburban house to be debriefed about the incident. Afterward, a Russian KGB agent appears and congratulates Tom for his deep undercover mission infiltrating American military intelligence, but tells him it is time to return to Moscow. Tom refuses, rushes out of the house, and drives away. +

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

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