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HISTORY

The film is loosely based on the 1950 film D.O.A. (see entry). Although credits do not mention the original film, its screenwriters, Russell Rouse and Clarence Greene, receive onscreen story credits. As noted in the 18 Mar 1988 HR review, the first D.O.A. was inspired by the 1931 German comedy The Man in Search of His Murderer (Der Mann, Der Seinen Mörder Sucht), directed by Robert Siodmak and written by Ernst Neubach, Ludwig Hirschfeld, Curt Siomak, and a young Billy Wilder.
       The 11 Aug 1980 DV announced that a remake of D.O.A. was underway, and listed Saul Zaentz and Kalpix, Inc., headed by Ian Sander, as co-producers. Th project was set to begin filming in Apr 1981, with locations in San Francisco, CA; Sacramento, CA; and Washington, D.C. However, seven years later, the Aug 1988 AmCin reported that producer Laura Ziskin was developing the project with her partner, Ian Sander, and noted that Ziskin was inspired to update the thriller after seeing the 1950 D.O.A. on television as a child.
       Principal photography began on 11 May 1987 in Austin, TX, as announced in the 12 Jun 1987 DV production chart. Filming took place on the campuses of St. Edward’s University and Southwest Texas University in San Marcos, TX, where the tar pit was constructed. Additional scenes were shot at the Texas Capitol Building, the Austin County Jail, the nightclubs on 6th Street, and on the fourth floor of the courthouse, as stated in an Aug 1988 AmCin article. An original ending was ... More Less

The film is loosely based on the 1950 film D.O.A. (see entry). Although credits do not mention the original film, its screenwriters, Russell Rouse and Clarence Greene, receive onscreen story credits. As noted in the 18 Mar 1988 HR review, the first D.O.A. was inspired by the 1931 German comedy The Man in Search of His Murderer (Der Mann, Der Seinen Mörder Sucht), directed by Robert Siodmak and written by Ernst Neubach, Ludwig Hirschfeld, Curt Siomak, and a young Billy Wilder.
       The 11 Aug 1980 DV announced that a remake of D.O.A. was underway, and listed Saul Zaentz and Kalpix, Inc., headed by Ian Sander, as co-producers. Th project was set to begin filming in Apr 1981, with locations in San Francisco, CA; Sacramento, CA; and Washington, D.C. However, seven years later, the Aug 1988 AmCin reported that producer Laura Ziskin was developing the project with her partner, Ian Sander, and noted that Ziskin was inspired to update the thriller after seeing the 1950 D.O.A. on television as a child.
       Principal photography began on 11 May 1987 in Austin, TX, as announced in the 12 Jun 1987 DV production chart. Filming took place on the campuses of St. Edward’s University and Southwest Texas University in San Marcos, TX, where the tar pit was constructed. Additional scenes were shot at the Texas Capitol Building, the Austin County Jail, the nightclubs on 6th Street, and on the fourth floor of the courthouse, as stated in an Aug 1988 AmCin article. An original ending was shot on a Ferris wheel in Dallas, TX, but the sequence was cut from the final edit. Pickup shots for the hospital sequences were filmed in Los Angeles, CA. Director of photography Yuri Neyman used two Arriflex BL-4 hand-held cameras with high-speed lenses for most of the shoot, and an Arriflex III for the second unit.
       D.O.A. received lukewarm reviews and did not perform well at the box-office. A Jun 1988 Box review, which credited the movie for being “the most cerebral and stylish film that Touchstone Pictures has ever turned out,” reported that it grossed $11.3 million in its first three weeks of release.
       The film marked the American feature film directorial debut of husband and wife team Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel. At that time, the two were known for creating the popular video character “Max Headroom.”
       Camera operator Martin Schaer is credited as Martin “Schear,” and special effects assistant Kenny Miller is credited as “Kenney” Miller.
       End credits state: “Filmed on location in Austin, Texas.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Aug 1988
p. 30.
Box Office
Jun 1988
Section R, p. 48.
Daily Variety
11 Aug 1980.
---
Daily Variety
16 Mar 1988
p. 2, 27.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 1988
p. 5, 18.
Los Angeles Times
18 Mar 1988
p. 6.
New York Times
18 Mar 1988
p. 8.
Variety
16 Mar 1988
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Touchstone Pictures presents
in association with Silver Screen Partners III
A Ziskin/Sander production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
Elec
Elec
Elec
Addl photog
Addl 1st asst cam
Addl 1st asst cam
Addl 1st asst cam
Black & white processing by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Story board artist
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Leadman
On set dresser
Prop master
Asst props
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Const coord
Const foreman
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Scenic paint foreman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Ward supv
Ward asst
MUSIC
Orig score by
Score prod by
Score prod by
Score eng by
Synthesizer programmer
Mus arr
Mus ed, Michael Linn Ellsworth
SOUND
ADR group
ADR group
ADR group
ADR group
ADR group
ADR group
ADR group
ADR group
ADR group
ADR group
ADR group
Sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
ADR ed
ADR ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Foley re-rec
Foley rec at
ADR rec at
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Logo typography
Titles & opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hair/Make-up asst
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Pre-prod coord
Prod coord
Asst to the prods (Austin)
Asst to the prods (Los Angeles)
Loc mgr
Loc asst
Loc restoration
Texas casting
Los Angeles casting asst
Extras casting
Voice casting
Prod accountant
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
First aid
First aid, Michael Barefoot
Craft service
Craft service
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Post prod assoc
Post prod assoc
Pub intern
Post prod coord
Insurance provided by
Post prod accounting
Completion guaranteer
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the film D.O.A. , written by Russell Rouse and Clarence Greene (Cardinal Pictures, 1950).
SONGS
“Too Much Sex, Not Enough Affection,” written by Pat MacDonald, performed by Timbuk 3, courtesy of I.R.S. Records
“Life Is Hard,” written by Pat MacDonald, performed by Timbuk 3, courtesy of I.R.S. Records
“If You See Me Laughing,” written by Erik Hokkanen, performed by Erik & The Offbeats
+
SONGS
“Too Much Sex, Not Enough Affection,” written by Pat MacDonald, performed by Timbuk 3, courtesy of I.R.S. Records
“Life Is Hard,” written by Pat MacDonald, performed by Timbuk 3, courtesy of I.R.S. Records
“If You See Me Laughing,” written by Erik Hokkanen, performed by Erik & The Offbeats
“Don’t Bang The Drum,” written by Mike Scott & Karl Wallinger, performed by The Waterboys, courtesy of Ensign/Chrysalis Records
“Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round The Old Oak Tree,” written by Irwin Levine & Larry Brown
“Rebel Yell,” written by Billy Idol & Steve Stevens, performed by Billy Idol, courtesy of Chrysalis Records.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
18 March 1988
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 18 March 1988
Production Date:
began 11 May 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Touchstone Pictures a.a.d.o. the Walt Disney Company
Copyright Date:
24 March 1988
Copyright Number:
PA358941
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
96
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During an unseasonably balmy Christmas season, English professor Dexter “Dex” Cornell stumbles into a police station to report his own murder and describe the events of the past two days: In class, Dex’s lecture is upstaged by his star pupil, Nicholas “Nick” Lang, a precocious intellectual who has just completed his first novel, Out of Whack. Nick is desperate for Dex to read the manuscript, and claims his professor’s feedback is a matter of life and death. However, Dex avoids the novel. He has been suffering writer’s block for years, and the boy’s talent reminds him of his own shortcomings. As Dex settles into his office and gives Out of Whack an “A” grade without reading it, he is startled by the thud of a body crashing into the window, and realizes that Nick has thrown himself off the rooftop to commit suicide. Shortly thereafter, Dex’s colleague, Hal Petersham, comes to the office with a bottle of whiskey. He pours the liquor into a coffee mug and hands it to Dex, who tells him about Nick’s troubled past. The boy’s father tried to rob a tycoon named Mr. Fitzwaring, and both men were killed during the break in. Despite the tragedy, Mrs. Fitzwaring took pity on Nick and financed his college education. ... +


During an unseasonably balmy Christmas season, English professor Dexter “Dex” Cornell stumbles into a police station to report his own murder and describe the events of the past two days: In class, Dex’s lecture is upstaged by his star pupil, Nicholas “Nick” Lang, a precocious intellectual who has just completed his first novel, Out of Whack. Nick is desperate for Dex to read the manuscript, and claims his professor’s feedback is a matter of life and death. However, Dex avoids the novel. He has been suffering writer’s block for years, and the boy’s talent reminds him of his own shortcomings. As Dex settles into his office and gives Out of Whack an “A” grade without reading it, he is startled by the thud of a body crashing into the window, and realizes that Nick has thrown himself off the rooftop to commit suicide. Shortly thereafter, Dex’s colleague, Hal Petersham, comes to the office with a bottle of whiskey. He pours the liquor into a coffee mug and hands it to Dex, who tells him about Nick’s troubled past. The boy’s father tried to rob a tycoon named Mr. Fitzwaring, and both men were killed during the break in. Despite the tragedy, Mrs. Fitzwaring took pity on Nick and financed his college education. Dex decides to read Out of Whack after all, and takes it home where his wife, Gail, reminds him to sign their divorce papers. Dex wants to save the marriage, but Gail complains that he lost his integrity and his romantic vitality when he stopped writing. As Gail leaves, she chides Dex’s apathy, and accuses him of exchanging alcohol for ambition. Dex fails to sign the divorce papers and returns to campus, where he unexpectedly reunites with Gail at the opening of the Fitzwaring Art Gallery. When Mrs. Fitzwaring makes an inaugural speech that mourns Nick’s death, Gail learns about the suicide, becomes ill, and is escorted home by Hal Petersham and his girl friend, Dr. Elaine Wells. Looking for more alcohol, Dex goes to the Continental Club and sits next to a young woman, unaware that she is Mrs. Fitzwaring’s daughter, “Cookie.” As Cookie offers Dex a martini and starts to cry, a man named Bernard drags her away, and Dex is spotted by one of his female students, Sydney Fuller. The girl is infatuated with Dex and encourages him to drink. The next morning, Dex awakens in Sydney’s dormitory bedroom and is relieved to learn their evening was platonic. Dex telephones Gail, and she confesses she once had an affair with Nick Lang. Unfazed, Dex declares his love, but Gail discourages him from coming home and finds Nick’s novel, Out of Whack, in his briefcase. As Dex hangs up the telephone, he is overcome with vertigo and goes to the hospital, where he discovers he has been poisoned with a lethal dosage of radium chloride. Hal’s girl friend, Dr. Elaine Wells, declares that Dex ingested the chemical compound in an alcoholic beverage, and regrets he has one day to live. Dex races home with renewed appreciation for life and reunites with Gail. However, she is hit over the head by an intruder and dies. Police arrive at the scene and notice Nick’s Out of Whack manuscript, burning in the fireplace. The detectives are aware of Gail’s affair, and accuse Dex of murdering his wife to exact revenge. They reveal that Nick did not commit suicide, after all, and assume that Dex pushed his student off the roof. As Dr. Elaine Wells tries to sedate Dex with an intravenous drug, he grabs the needle, threatens to hold her hostage, and escapes to Sydney’s dormitory. He accuses the girl of poisoning him, but she insists she is innocent, and he loses consciousness. When Dex awakens, he explains his predicament, douses his hand in super glue, and grabs Sydney’s wrist, creating a bond so she cannot get away. After a series of false leads, the two go to Nick’s funeral, where Dex recognizes Cookie Fitzwaring from the bar and realizes she was also Nick’s lover. Dex corners Cookie and accuses her of poisoning his martini, but her mother’s chauffeur, Bernard, comes to the girl’s rescue. Dodging gunfire, Dex and Sydney run away, and Sydney is caught in an open elevator shaft. As she dangles from the conveyor, her skin rips away from Dex’s hand and they escape together. Dex sends Sydney home in a taxicab and goes to the Fitzwaring mansion, where he confronts Mrs. Fitzwaring and Bernard in the horse stable. Just then, Cookie arrives and holds her mother at gunpoint, accusing her of killing Nick. In the ensuing commotion, Bernard knocks Dex unconscious and he comes to in the back seat of a car. Bernard drives Dex back to the university and they pick up Cookie, but the girl is drunk and out of control. Still, Dex is convinced of her innocence and pushes Bernard out the car door in an attempt to get away. Cookie takes over the steering wheel. Bernard jumps on the roof, but his gun misfires, accidentally shooting her dead. The car plummets into a tar pit and sinks while Bernard continues to fight. Dex throws him back into the muck, grabs his gun, and stumbles to a campus carnival. He is hassled by a crowd of impudent coeds, but Sydney comes to his rescue, and they go back to his office to make love. When she falls asleep, Dex returns to the Fitzwaring mansion and confronts Mrs. Fitzwaring, who has just learned about her daughter’s death and reveals the true story of her relationship with Nick. Mrs. Fitzwaring was once married to Nick’s father, but she abandoned him after she gave birth to Nick, and secretly assumed a new identity as Mrs. Fitzwaring. Nick’s father tracked her down at the mansion and revealed her ruse to Mr. Fitzwaring, who threatened to destroy her relationship with Cookie. Mrs. Fitzwaring murdered both men, and vowing to protect her secret, Bernard invented the story of the break-in. Mrs. Fitzwaring laments the loss of both children and commits suicide, making Dex a witness to yet another killing. Dex is enraged by the wasted lives, and his failure to identify the murderer. He returns to his office and ransacks the bookshelves in a tantrum, then soothes himself with a drink from Hal’s whiskey bottle. Remembering that Hal poured the liquor into a coffee mug before giving it to him on the afternoon of Nick’s death, Dex telephones his friend and orders him to come to the office. When Hal arrives, he refuses to taste the whiskey and Dex realizes he is the killer. Hal explains his plans to publish Nick’s novel under his own name. He was obliged to kill Gail, and poison Dex, because they knew about Out of Whack and were likely to expose his deception. A fight ensues, and Dex shoots Hal in the chest. Hal plunges through the window to his death. Back at the police station, Dex completes his story and walks away toward certain death. +

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

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