Music Box (1989)

PG-13 | 123 mins | Drama | 25 December 1989

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HISTORY

The massacres referred to in the film are based on historical events that occurred in Hungary from Oct 1944 to Jan 1945. After the Hungarian government agreed to a cease-fire with the Soviet Union, The “Nyilaskeresztes Párt – Hungarista Mozgalom,” or "Arrow Cross Party-Hungarist Movement,” a fascist group that believed Hungarians were a super race descended from the Magyars, successfully overthrew the government. They reinstated deportation of 80,000 Hungarian Jews to the Nazi death camps, and executed another 38,000 Hungarians, mostly Romas.
       A 12 Aug 1988 DV news item reported that United Artists had put Music Box into turnaround before a 5 Oct 1988 DV news item announced that Carolco had agreed to fund the production. Although no budget was given, it was estimated to be under $18 million.
       According to a 17 Jan 1989 HR news brief, principal photography was scheduled to begin 23 Jan 1989 in Chicago, IL. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, during filming in Chicago, the weather turned unseasonably warm. 50,000 pounds of crushed ice was supplied by Fulton Ice Company to manufacture snow. Locations in Chicago included the State of Illinois Center and the National Bohemian Cemetery. In Budapest, the Chain Bridge where the real life atrocities took place was used. Although a 4 Feb 1989 Screen International reported that filming had been completed in Chicago in the end of Jan and the production was moving to Budapest, Hungary for two weeks, it was not until 18 Apr 1989 that DV reported the shooting had been completed.
       A 14 Jul ... More Less

The massacres referred to in the film are based on historical events that occurred in Hungary from Oct 1944 to Jan 1945. After the Hungarian government agreed to a cease-fire with the Soviet Union, The “Nyilaskeresztes Párt – Hungarista Mozgalom,” or "Arrow Cross Party-Hungarist Movement,” a fascist group that believed Hungarians were a super race descended from the Magyars, successfully overthrew the government. They reinstated deportation of 80,000 Hungarian Jews to the Nazi death camps, and executed another 38,000 Hungarians, mostly Romas.
       A 12 Aug 1988 DV news item reported that United Artists had put Music Box into turnaround before a 5 Oct 1988 DV news item announced that Carolco had agreed to fund the production. Although no budget was given, it was estimated to be under $18 million.
       According to a 17 Jan 1989 HR news brief, principal photography was scheduled to begin 23 Jan 1989 in Chicago, IL. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, during filming in Chicago, the weather turned unseasonably warm. 50,000 pounds of crushed ice was supplied by Fulton Ice Company to manufacture snow. Locations in Chicago included the State of Illinois Center and the National Bohemian Cemetery. In Budapest, the Chain Bridge where the real life atrocities took place was used. Although a 4 Feb 1989 Screen International reported that filming had been completed in Chicago in the end of Jan and the production was moving to Budapest, Hungary for two weeks, it was not until 18 Apr 1989 that DV reported the shooting had been completed.
       A 14 Jul 1989 NYT article reported that director Costa-Gavras was in Paris, France editing the movie.
       The film was critically well received, and Jessica Lange earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
       The following statements appears in end credits: “The producers wish to express their sincere appreciation to: American Airlines, Malev Hungarian Airlines, Furs by Givenchy from Lawrence Bay Furs, Ltd., State of Illinois Film Office, Ron Ver Mulem, Michael Tristano-Director-C.M.S., The Chicago Mayor’s Office of Film and Entertainment, Charles Geocaris, The Chicago Tribune, The Field Museum of National History, The John G. Shedd Aquarium, Cook County Sherriff – James O’Grady, The Law Firm of Conklin and Roadhouse, The Law Firm of Jones, Day, Beavis and Pogue – Chicago, The Village of Winnetka, Illinois, World Wide Photos; “We wish to thank Intercom Ltd and Mafilm of Hungary for their co-operation;”; "©1933 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. The Three Stooge is a trademark of Norman Maurer Productions, Inc."; and, "Mr. Magoo courtesy of Columbia Pictures, Inc." More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
12 Aug 1988.
---
Daily Variety
5 Oct 1988.
---
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jan 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Dec 1989
Calendar, p. 2.
New York Times
14 Jul 1989.
---
New York Times
25 Dec 1989
p. 49.
Screen International
4 Feb 1989.
---
Variety
27 Dec 1989
p. 10.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Carolco Pictures presents
An Irwin Winkler Production
a Costa-Gavras film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st ast dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Prod mgr, Budapest unit
1st asst dir, Budapest unit
2d asst dir, Budapest unit
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st cam asst
Gaffer
Gaffer
Best-boy (Elec)
Generator op
Key grip
Best-boy grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
Spec photo retouching and printing, Ron Gordon Pho
Spec photo retouching and printing, Ron Gordon Pho
Spec photo retouching and printing
Cam asst, Budapest unit
Gaffer, Budapest unit
Still photog, Budapest unit
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir, Budapest unit
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set des
Set dec
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Props buyer
Const coord
Const foremen
Const foreman
Paint foreman
Standby painter
Swing gang
Swing gang
19th century music box artwork by
Music box tech
Model railroad builder
Set dresser, Budapest unit
Prop buyer, Budapest unit
Propman, Budapest unit
Const coord, Budapest unit
Const mgr, Budapest unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men's cost supv
Costumer to Ms. Lange
Set costumer
Ward master, Budapest unit
Ward asst, Budapest unit
MUSIC
Group Muzsikas
Group Muzsikas
Group Muzsikas
Group Muzsikas
Guest mus
Orch
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd mixer
Cableman
Post prod supv
Dial ed
Sd eff ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Looping ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff asst
Spec eff, Budapest unit
Op eff and titles
DANCE
Choreog
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup artist for Ms. Lange
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist for Ms. Lange
Makeup artist, Budapest unit
Hairdresser, Budapest unit
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Scr supv
Unit and loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Loc asst
Loc asst
Prod assoc
Trainee
Casting asst (Los Angeles)
Casting (Chicago)
Casting (Chicago)
Extras casting supv
Extras casting, Holzer Roche Casting, Inc.
Unit pub
Trailer
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Accounting asst
Post prod accountant
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Researcher
Asst to exec prod
Asst to prod mgr
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Craft service
Model railroad equip provided by
of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Loc mgr, Budapest unit
Loc mgr, Budapest unit
Unit mgr, Budapest unit
Unit mgr, Budapest unit
Transportation captain, Budapest unit
Prod secy, Budapest unit
Prod secy, Budapest unit
Cashier, Budapest unit
Post prod facilities
Prod financing provided by
Credit Lyonnais Bank Nederland NV.
Prod financing provided by
STAND INS
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
Loop group
COLOR PERSONNEL
Laboratories
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 December 1989
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 25 December 1989
Production Date:
23 January--April 1989
Copyright Claimant:
Carolco Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
24 January 1990
Copyright Number:
PA443145
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Panavision Panaflex® cameras and lenses by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
123
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30040
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Miska “Mike” Laszlo receives a letter stating his citizenship is being revoked and he is being deported to Hungary to face war crime charges. Laszlo’s daughter Ann Talbot, a defense attorney, looks over the papers and feels there must be a mistake and assures Laszlo she will take care of it. However, when Ann and Laszlo speak with the State Department investigator, Jack Burke, they learn that documents recently released to the United Nations list Laszlo as a perpetrator of war crimes in Hungary during World War II. Laszlo protests the communists are getting back at him for demonstrating against the Hungarian government, but later admits to Ann that he lied on his immigration application citing that he was farmer when in reality he was a clerk for the gendarmerie during the war. However, Laszlo insists he is innocent of war crimes and begs Ann to defend him. Ann’s ex-husband, Dean Talbot warns her not defend her father, as he may be guilty. That night, while watching his eleven-year-old grandson, Mikey, do his pushups, he declares, “a healthy body makes a healthy spirit.” When Mikey asks about the trial, Laszlo insists it is all a mistake and as a family they must stick together. Ann overhears, and later tells Laszlo she will defend him. For safety’s sake, she suggests he live with her until the matter is settled. The next day, Ann turns all her cases over to her legal team and moves into the offices of Henry Talbot, her ex-father –in-law. When she announces Irwin Silver is judging the case, both Henry and Dean warn her that although ... +


Miska “Mike” Laszlo receives a letter stating his citizenship is being revoked and he is being deported to Hungary to face war crime charges. Laszlo’s daughter Ann Talbot, a defense attorney, looks over the papers and feels there must be a mistake and assures Laszlo she will take care of it. However, when Ann and Laszlo speak with the State Department investigator, Jack Burke, they learn that documents recently released to the United Nations list Laszlo as a perpetrator of war crimes in Hungary during World War II. Laszlo protests the communists are getting back at him for demonstrating against the Hungarian government, but later admits to Ann that he lied on his immigration application citing that he was farmer when in reality he was a clerk for the gendarmerie during the war. However, Laszlo insists he is innocent of war crimes and begs Ann to defend him. Ann’s ex-husband, Dean Talbot warns her not defend her father, as he may be guilty. That night, while watching his eleven-year-old grandson, Mikey, do his pushups, he declares, “a healthy body makes a healthy spirit.” When Mikey asks about the trial, Laszlo insists it is all a mistake and as a family they must stick together. Ann overhears, and later tells Laszlo she will defend him. For safety’s sake, she suggests he live with her until the matter is settled. The next day, Ann turns all her cases over to her legal team and moves into the offices of Henry Talbot, her ex-father –in-law. When she announces Irwin Silver is judging the case, both Henry and Dean warn her that although Silver is fair, he is also Jewish and may show bias. Later, Ann informs Laszlo the prosecution claims to have witnesses identifying him as part of the “Secret Section” that massacred the Jews, Laszlo insists he is being framed. The next day, Georgine Wheeler, Ann’s private investigator, escorts Laszlo and Mikey back to Laszlo’s house to get some documents. An angry mob protesting outside hurls rocks through the windows. A photographer captures Laszlo with his arm around Mikey, waving a bat and screaming for the crowd to leave him alone. Later, Georgine investigates Laszlo’s finances, discovering he once loaned $2,000 to a Tibor Zoldan, a Hungarian immigrant. When questioned, Laszlo claims he loaned Zoldan the money but was never paid back. The next day, Burke accuses Laszlo of being a member of the “Arrow Cross Party,” a Hungarian death squad organized by the Nazi S.S. Ann counters with a videotape showing Laszlo throwing eggs at a Hungarian dance troupe screaming anti-communist slogans, asserting that the communist government of Hungary has trumped up war crime charges to get even. The first witness, a photograph specialist, takes the stand and testifies Laszlo’s immigration papers and a Photostat of an Arrow Cross identification card are for the same man. Ann gets the witness to admit that no definitive conclusion can be made from a Photostat. She then asks if he is Jewish, claiming this could cause him to be biased against her father. The witness announces he is Unitarian, but has Jewish blood on his father’s side. That night, Laszlo and Ann return home to find Mikey with a black eye. The next day, Burke announces the Hungarian government sent the original Arrow Cross identification card and it is being tested. The next witness is Judit Hollo, a dry cleaner from Budapest, who claims she watched Laszlo and a man with a scar execute a Gypsy mother and child. During cross-examination, Ann reveals that Hollo’s son is a member of the Hungarian government’s cultural bureau. Next, Istvan Boday, an English speaking Hungarian, takes the stand and identifies Laszlo as the man who force marched his family and others to the banks of the Danube. There, he and a man with a scar tied them with together with wire, and shot some of them before pushing the living and the dead into the river. Istvan was able to free himself from the wire and swim downstream. Ann asks Istvan if he is a member of the Communist party and is embarrassed to learn he is a political advocate who opposes the present regime. The next day, Geza Vamos, a former janitor at an interrogation center, testifies that Laszlo forced prisoners to do pushups over a bayonet until they collapsed, impaling themselves. Ann tricks Vamos into lying about never talking to Istvan Boday before he testified. She also presents evidence that the two men met the night before. Burke’s last witness is Melinda Kalman, who testifies that Laszlo and a man with a scar arrested her on suspicion of being a Jew and took her to the interrogation center. Although she protested she was a Roman Catholic, they stripped her, burned her with cigarettes and had multiple police officers rape her. After hours of being abused, Laszlo marched her into a snowy field and ordered her to do pushups over a bayonet chanting, “A healthy body makes a healthy spirit.” Melinda could only manage one pushup before falling on the blade. She woke up later and was informed she was found naked, bleeding by the river. When Ann declines to cross-examine Kalman, Laszlo charges the witness box screaming he is not the man. Melinda spits in his face. Laszlo has a heart attack and collapses. At the hospital, Laszlo reiterates his innocence, and demands to return to his own house. Later, Georgine finds Laszlo has been paying $1,000 a month to Tibor Zoldan. The payments stopped a month after Zoldan died in a car crash. Ann refuses to hear any more, screaming that her father is not a monster. At a birthday party for Mikey, Ann learns Henry Talbot was a member of the Office of Strategic Services, a U.S. intellegence unit formed during World War II, and was in charge of helping former Nazis escape Germany after the war. Ann asks for his help in clearing Laszlo. A few days later, Ann calls Vladimir Kostav, an ex-KGB colonel in counter intelligence to the stand. Kostav testifies he was part of “Operation Harlequin,” a program to besmirch defectors from the communist countries by engineering forged identification cards and accusing them of war crimes. Before Ann can celebrate, she is called into Judge Silver’s chambers and informed the government has found a witness, Pal Horvath, who claims he served with Laszlo in the gendarmerie. As the man is terminally ill, Silver, Burke and Ann must go to Budapest to hear his testimony. Before boarding the plane, Georgine forces Ann to take a file containing an address for Tibor Zoltan’s sister, insisting Tibor was blackmailing Laszlo. In Budapest, a man delivers papers to Ann he claims will exonerate Laszlo. The next day, Ann confronts Hovath with the fact that he previously swore to the Hungarian government that two other men were the “Miska” who committed war crimes, not Laszlo. Over Burke’s protest, Silver bars Hovath as a witness. Before returning to the U.S., Ann visits Madga Zoltan, Tibor’s sister, claiming to have known her brother in America. Madga produces a pawn ticket that Tibor sent her and asks Ann to find out what it is for. As Ann is about to leave, she sees Tibor’s picture. He has a huge scar on his face. Returning to Chicago, Ann trades the pawn ticket for a music box. Inside, she finds photographs showing Laszlo in an Arrow Cross uniform in front of dead bodies. One picture has him directing a firing squad. She goes to Henry Talbot’s house where a victory party for Laszlo is being held. Ann confronts him with the evidence, but Laszlo refuses to admit his sins. When Ann threatens to never allow Laszlo to see Mikey again, the old man threatens to hurt her. That night, Ann mails the photographs to State Department Investigator Jack Burke. +

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

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