Deal of the Century (1983)

PG | 95 mins | Satire | 4 November 1983

Director:

William Friedkin

Writer:

Paul Brickman

Producer:

Bud Yorkin

Cinematographer:

Richard Kline

Production Designer:

Bill Malley

Production Company:

Warner Bros., Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

       On 3 Aug 1982, HR announced the start of principal photography as 18 Oct 1982, with an estimated budget of $10 million. However, according to production notes in AMPAS library files, photography actually began 1 Nov 1982.
       Screenwriter Paul Brickman first conceived the film nearly four years earlier, after noting that, over the previous four decades, the strongest critics of the U.S. Department of Defense were General George Patton, General Douglas MacArthur, and President Dwight Eisenhower, who advised the nation to beware the “military industrial complex” before leaving office in 1961. Events in Brickman’s screenplay paralleled actual events in recent history, and presaged contemporary developments in national defense, such as government plans for an unmanned fighter plane not unlike the “Peacemaker” drone depicted in the film, and the similarly named “Peacekeeper” missile system announced by then-President Ronald Reagan.
       The cast rehearsed for three weeks and visited several of the proposed locations prior to photography. Director William Friedkin consulted Greg Copley, publisher of Defense and Foreign Affairs magazine, and aircraft engineer/weapons dealer Charles Rostocil, in addition to reading extensively on the subject. The director interviewed approximately 2,000 potential background actors, offering the 200 available roles to unemployed aerospace workers and military retirees.
       While many of the interior scenes were filmed at the Burbank Studios in Burbank, CA, much of the photography took place at an assortment of locations. Among them was Olvera Street in Los Angeles, CA, the city’s earliest known settlement, whose eighteenth-century architecture became the set for the fictitious Central American country, San Miguel. Over 100 local residents, many of whom were of ... More Less

       On 3 Aug 1982, HR announced the start of principal photography as 18 Oct 1982, with an estimated budget of $10 million. However, according to production notes in AMPAS library files, photography actually began 1 Nov 1982.
       Screenwriter Paul Brickman first conceived the film nearly four years earlier, after noting that, over the previous four decades, the strongest critics of the U.S. Department of Defense were General George Patton, General Douglas MacArthur, and President Dwight Eisenhower, who advised the nation to beware the “military industrial complex” before leaving office in 1961. Events in Brickman’s screenplay paralleled actual events in recent history, and presaged contemporary developments in national defense, such as government plans for an unmanned fighter plane not unlike the “Peacemaker” drone depicted in the film, and the similarly named “Peacekeeper” missile system announced by then-President Ronald Reagan.
       The cast rehearsed for three weeks and visited several of the proposed locations prior to photography. Director William Friedkin consulted Greg Copley, publisher of Defense and Foreign Affairs magazine, and aircraft engineer/weapons dealer Charles Rostocil, in addition to reading extensively on the subject. The director interviewed approximately 2,000 potential background actors, offering the 200 available roles to unemployed aerospace workers and military retirees.
       While many of the interior scenes were filmed at the Burbank Studios in Burbank, CA, much of the photography took place at an assortment of locations. Among them was Olvera Street in Los Angeles, CA, the city’s earliest known settlement, whose eighteenth-century architecture became the set for the fictitious Central American country, San Miguel. Over 100 local residents, many of whom were of Central American origin, appeared as background actors. Another location was the Chet Hollifield Federal Building in Laguna Niguel, CA, a structure originally intended to house Rockwell International Corporation’s aborted B-1 Bomber program. The sparsely occupied building appeared in the film as Luckup Corporation headquarters. An unused portion of Santa Barbara Airport, in Santa Barbara, CA, was the set for the armaments show, which featured modified World War II-era tanks from the California Military Museum, and artillery from Stembridge Guns, a weapons supplier located in Glendale, CA.
       A Mar 1982 press release from Warner Bros. Pictures announced the conclusion of principal photography, although AMPAS notes state that Friedkin shot additional footage at the 1983 Paris Air Show for use in the film.
       Deal of the Century was originally scheduled to open on 28 Oct 1983, as reported in the 5 Oct 1983 Var. However, according to the 4 Nov 1983 NYT, the film opened that day. It garnered mostly negative reviews, the majority of which lamented its lack of humorous content. The Jan 1984 Box reported receipts of $3.5 million from 1200 theaters, making it the highest grossing release during its opening weekend, although there was little competition.
       On 28 Nov 1986, LAHExam reported that the film’s commercial television debut, originally scheduled for 2 Dec 1986, was postponed, due to recent revelations of illicit weapons sales to Iran by the Reagan Administration. A Warner Bros. spokesman explained that airing a picture about weapons dealers might elicit a negative reaction from the public.
      End credits include the statement: “Helicopter courtesy of Hiller Aviation; 1100B manufactured by Hiller Aviations, Porterville, Calif.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Jan 1984
p. 51.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jul 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 1983
p. 3, 25.
LAHExam
28 Nov 1986.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Dec 1982
Part VI, p. 1, 8.
Los Angeles Times
5 Nov 1983
p. 4.
New York Times
4 Nov 1983
p. 13.
Variety
5 Oct 1983.
---
Variety
26 Oct 1983
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A William Friedkin Film
A Bud Yorkin Production
In Association with Steve Tisch and John Avnet
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Panaglide® op
Asst cam
2d asst cam
Video coord
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
Film ed
Film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
COSTUMES
Cost
Men's costumer
Women's costumer
SOUND
Supv sd eff ed
Supv dial ed
Sd eff ed
Prod mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
2d unit dir in charge of opt eff
Visual eff ed
Visual eff asst ed supv
Supv visual eff enhancements
Motion control photog by
Motion control supv
Motion control supv
Motion control tech
Motion control tech
Motion control tech
Motion control tech
Motion control tech
Motion control asst
Computer op
Motion control gaffer
Motion control grip
Prod coord
Front projection system by
Consultant
Zoptic op
Zoptic projectionist
Rear projection coord
Spec miniature eff by
Matte paintings by
Matte artist
Titles by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Loc mgr
Prod assoc
Prod secy
Asst to the prod
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"Someone To Watch Over Me," written by George and Ira Gershwin, sung by Nikki Costa, courtesy of Renquet Records
"Shine," music by Arthur Rubinstein, lyrics by Cynthia Morrow, sung by Maxine Waters, Julia Waters, Clydene Jackson
"Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White," written by Louiguy, Mack David, and Jacques Larue, performed by Perez Prado and His Orchestra, courtesy of RCA Records
+
SONGS
"Someone To Watch Over Me," written by George and Ira Gershwin, sung by Nikki Costa, courtesy of Renquet Records
"Shine," music by Arthur Rubinstein, lyrics by Cynthia Morrow, sung by Maxine Waters, Julia Waters, Clydene Jackson
"Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White," written by Louiguy, Mack David, and Jacques Larue, performed by Perez Prado and His Orchestra, courtesy of RCA Records
"Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie, performed by The Chipmunks, courtesy of RCA Records and Bagdasarian Productions.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
4 November 1983
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 4 November 1983
Production Date:
1 November 1982--March 1983
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 February 1984
Copyright Number:
PA203508
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® Cameras by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
95
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27187
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Southern California, Frank Stryker, Chief Executive Officer of the Luckup Corporation, rejects an advertising agency’s campaign to promote the “Peacemaker” predator drone, and advises the agency representatives that the target audience is only interested in how efficiently a weapon can kill. Back at Luckup headquarters, Frank expresses concern over the failure of salesman Harold DeVoto to complete a deal with Gen. Arturo Cordosa, dictator of San Miguel, a Central American republic. On Christmas Eve, Cordosa addresses the citizens of San Miguel, explaining his need for a larger arsenal, followed by denouncements of his political opponents and the nation’s women. In a San Miguel nightclub, weapons merchant Eddie Muntz unwittingly attempts to flirt with Harold’s cynical wife, Catherine, before going upstairs to sell anti-tank guns to a group of rebels. Days later, Eddie delivers the weapons, but an attack by government forces prevents him from collecting payment and leaves him with a bullet in his foot. Back in his hotel, Eddie encounters Harold, who is intent on committing suicide. The salesman laments the three years he spent in San Miguel, particularly the past six weeks, during which his marriage has dissolved while awaiting Cordosa’s confirmation of a $300 million offer to purchase the Peacemaker drone. Eddie tries to assure Harold of a positive outcome and advises him to be patient. As Eddie crosses the hallway, he hears a gunshot and returns to Harold’s room to find him dead on the floor as the telephone rings nearby. Eddie answers the phone, and is soon dining at the dictator’s palace, claiming to be Harold’s associate. He agrees to sell Luckup’s technology ... +


In Southern California, Frank Stryker, Chief Executive Officer of the Luckup Corporation, rejects an advertising agency’s campaign to promote the “Peacemaker” predator drone, and advises the agency representatives that the target audience is only interested in how efficiently a weapon can kill. Back at Luckup headquarters, Frank expresses concern over the failure of salesman Harold DeVoto to complete a deal with Gen. Arturo Cordosa, dictator of San Miguel, a Central American republic. On Christmas Eve, Cordosa addresses the citizens of San Miguel, explaining his need for a larger arsenal, followed by denouncements of his political opponents and the nation’s women. In a San Miguel nightclub, weapons merchant Eddie Muntz unwittingly attempts to flirt with Harold’s cynical wife, Catherine, before going upstairs to sell anti-tank guns to a group of rebels. Days later, Eddie delivers the weapons, but an attack by government forces prevents him from collecting payment and leaves him with a bullet in his foot. Back in his hotel, Eddie encounters Harold, who is intent on committing suicide. The salesman laments the three years he spent in San Miguel, particularly the past six weeks, during which his marriage has dissolved while awaiting Cordosa’s confirmation of a $300 million offer to purchase the Peacemaker drone. Eddie tries to assure Harold of a positive outcome and advises him to be patient. As Eddie crosses the hallway, he hears a gunshot and returns to Harold’s room to find him dead on the floor as the telephone rings nearby. Eddie answers the phone, and is soon dining at the dictator’s palace, claiming to be Harold’s associate. He agrees to sell Luckup’s technology to Cordosa, enabling San Miguel to manufacture and sell Peacemakers. On his way to the airport, Eddie shares a taxicab with Catherine, who, unbeknown to Eddie, is returning with her husband’s body to Los Angeles, California. Shortly after arriving in Los Angeles, Eddie’s business partner, former test pilot Ray Kasternak, offers his resignation, explaining that the sale of weaponry is against his Christian beliefs. Eddie informs him that they are facing bankruptcy and asks him to stay until their finances are in order. That evening, Eddie’s brother, Freddie Muntz, admonishes him for meddling in the affairs of third-world nations, and offers him a job selling used cars. Eddie ignores the offer, unable to extricate himself from his faltering business. The following day, a demonstration of the Peacemaker at Luckup headquarters turns disastrous as the drone goes haywire and fires a missile into the company’s fuel reservoir. Word reaches U.S. military officials, who cancel all Peacemaker orders. That evening, Catherine appears at Eddie’s apartment, asking advice on how she can claim her late husband’s sales commissions. When Eddie offers her sympathy but no assistance, she produces a gun, which accidentally discharges a bullet into Eddie’s injured foot. Catherine uses the opportunity to steal the Cordosa contract before driving Eddie to the hospital. Later, she delivers the contract to Frank, expecting to collect the commission, but is informed that Cordosa has canceled the sale. At Catherine’s suggestion, Frank hires Eddie to convince Cordosa and any other potential customers to purchase the Peacemaker at the upcoming West Coast Arms Show. Because Ray’s understanding of aircraft is crucial to the team’s success, he agrees to assist Eddie at the tradeshow, with the hope of leaving the business once their commission has been secured. On the eve of the tradeshow, Catherine joins Eddie in his bedroom, while Ray studies the Peacemaker’s specifications. The next day, Eddie is summoned to the makeshift office of Khayim Masaggi, the world’s richest weapons merchant. Masaggi emphasizes the importance of selling the Peacemaker to Cordosa, explaining that the demand for drones and anti-drone weaponry would result in a windfall for arms dealers, and “limited global warfare” for the next decade. Desperate for a deal with Cordosa, Eddie honors the general’s request for a tryst with Catherine. When the dictator is unable to perform sexually, Catherine coerces him to sign the contract as compensation. At the tradeshow the next day, Eddie apologizes to Catherine for using her as a prostitute, while Ray examines a new fighter plane. Before Eddie can stop him, Ray is flying high overhead, and contacts Frank by radio, threatening to bomb the tradeshow unless all of the participants “join together in a moment of prayer.” Frank deploys the Peacemaker to shoot Ray out of the sky, but Eddie triggers a malfunction in the command center, allowing Ray to destroy the drone. Months later, Ray is a member of the Missionary Air Force, flying supply planes in Africa. Eddie plans to marry Catherine, both of whom have found happiness selling used cars for Freddie Muntz. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.