Light Sleeper (1992)

R | 103 mins | Drama | 21 August 1992

Director:

Paul Schrader

Writer:

Paul Schrader

Producer:

Linda Reisman

Cinematographer:

Ed Lachman

Editor:

Kristina Boden

Production Designer:

Richard Hornung

Production Company:

Grain of Sand Productions
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HISTORY

According to the 18 Aug 1991 LAT, writer-director Paul Schrader was inspired to write the film in 1990, after having a dream about a drug dealer he knew in Los Angeles, CA, years before. He completed the first draft of the screenplay in less than four weeks. Schrader, who wrote Martin Scorsese’s 1976 release Taxi Driver (see entry), asked Robert De Niro to reprise his Taxi Driver role in Light Sleeper, but De Niro was booked on other projects for the next two years. Willem Dafoe was cast after starring in the Shrader-penned Scorsese film, The Last Temptation of Christ (1988, see entry). After being “rejected by 29 studios,” Schrader invested his life savings, $350,000, to begin pre-production. Later, executive producer Mario Kassar, head of Carolco Pictures, agreed to finance the $6-million picture. Dafoe and fellow lead actor Susan Sarandon agreed to work for reduced rates, while the rest of the cast and crew worked for union scale. To stay within the tight budget, Schrader took no salary for himself.
       The 5 Mar 1992 LAT deemed Light Sleeper the unofficial “third installment” of Schrader’s personal films, Taxi Driver, and American Gigolo (1980, see entry), which he also directed. In an 18 Aug 1991 LAT interview, Shrader explained that the film’s title was inspired by a verse from the New Testament book of Corinthians, stating, “Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.”
       The 19 Apr 1991 Screen International reported that actress Stockard Channing had been hired, ... More Less

According to the 18 Aug 1991 LAT, writer-director Paul Schrader was inspired to write the film in 1990, after having a dream about a drug dealer he knew in Los Angeles, CA, years before. He completed the first draft of the screenplay in less than four weeks. Schrader, who wrote Martin Scorsese’s 1976 release Taxi Driver (see entry), asked Robert De Niro to reprise his Taxi Driver role in Light Sleeper, but De Niro was booked on other projects for the next two years. Willem Dafoe was cast after starring in the Shrader-penned Scorsese film, The Last Temptation of Christ (1988, see entry). After being “rejected by 29 studios,” Schrader invested his life savings, $350,000, to begin pre-production. Later, executive producer Mario Kassar, head of Carolco Pictures, agreed to finance the $6-million picture. Dafoe and fellow lead actor Susan Sarandon agreed to work for reduced rates, while the rest of the cast and crew worked for union scale. To stay within the tight budget, Schrader took no salary for himself.
       The 5 Mar 1992 LAT deemed Light Sleeper the unofficial “third installment” of Schrader’s personal films, Taxi Driver, and American Gigolo (1980, see entry), which he also directed. In an 18 Aug 1991 LAT interview, Shrader explained that the film’s title was inspired by a verse from the New Testament book of Corinthians, stating, “Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.”
       The 19 Apr 1991 Screen International reported that actress Stockard Channing had been hired, but she did not appear in the film. The 8 May 1991 HR announced that filming was set to begin on 28 May 1991 in New York City and last eight weeks, and noted a $5 million budget. Following the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) strikes in NY, the picture received a contract from IATSE’s new East Coast Council, which was oriented toward low-budget productions. Principal photography was completed in late Jul 1991, according to the 2 Aug 1991 HR. Production was plagued with stifling hot temperatures that caused the film negative to melt, and special air-conditioners were mounted on the cameras, as noted in the 18 Aug 1991 LAT.
       The 2 Mar 1992 Var announced that the film would premiere in Los Angeles, CA, on 5 Mar 1992, as part of a tribute to Paul Schrader from the American Cinematheque, to be held at the Directors Guild of America theater.
       In 1992, the picture screened at the Sundance Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival in Germany, the Melbourne Film Festival in Australia, and the Sao Paulo Film Festival in Brazil, in addition to the 1993 Gothenburg Film Festival in Sweden.
       According to the 5 Mar 1992 LAT, Light Sleeper was to have been released that month, but its distributor, Seven Arts, owned by Carolco, was dissolving because of economic hardships. However, Schrader signed a distribution deal that week with Fine Line Features. Due to the delay, the picture was set to be released in London, England, before its U.S. release.
       The 3 Aug 1991 HR announced a benefit premiere to be held on 18 Aug 1992 at Cinema I in New York City, in honor of the Soho actors’ ensemble, the Wooster Group, of which Willem Dafoe was a member.
       End credits include the following acknowledgements: “Excerpt from Scorpio Rising courtesy of Mystic Fire Video and Kenneth Anger.” Also, “The producers wish to thank: New York Mayor’s Office for Film, Theatre & Broadcasting; New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture & Television Development; New York City Department of Sanitation – Steven M. Polan, Commissioner; New York City Police Department Movie and Television Unit; Bill Nisselson; David Salle; Sperone Westwater Gallery; Dakota Jackson; Michael Graves; Eileen Lane Antiques of Soho, N.Y.; Delorenzo 1950; Niels Coogan; 1010 WINS Radio; Spectrum Entertainment; Pepsi-Cola Entertainment & Marketing; Panasonic Company; Triton Water Company; Bear Medical Systems.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
8 May 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 1992
p. 6, 68.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 1992
p. 3, 29.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 1992.
---
Interview
Mar 1992
pp. 52-53.
Los Angeles Times
18 Aug 1991
Calendar, p. 21, 23-26.
Los Angeles Times
5 Mar 1992
Calendar, p. 1, 10.
Los Angeles Times
4 Sep 1992
Calendar, p. 4.
New York Times
21 Aug 1992
p. 12.
Screen International
19 Apr 1991.
---
Variety
2 Feb 1992
p. 80.
Variety
2 Mar 1992.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Mario Kassar Presents
A Film by Paul Schrader
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Exec prod
Co-exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam trainee
Gaffer
Best boy
Key grip
Grip
Steadicam op
Steadicam asst
Cam op/2d unit
Still photog
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
Prod des asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art facilities
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Ed intern
Negative matching by
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
2d prop
Lead person
1st set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Scenic charge
Asst set dec
Scenic
Scenic
Const coord
Key set builder
Carpenter
Const grip
COSTUMES
Ward provided by
Assoc cost des
Ward supv
Ward supv
Cost asst
MUSIC
Mus comp and performed by
Mus supv
Mus prod by
Asst mus prod
Rec eng
SOUND
Sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
Apprentice sd ed
Re-rec
Foley eng
Foley artist
Foley artist
ADR eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff coord
Main and end titles des and prod by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Ms. Sarandon's hair des
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Prod auditor
Loc mgr
Asst to Mr. Schrader and Ms. Reisman
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst prod auditor
Accounting asst
Asst loc mgr
Loc asst
Loc scout
Prod asst to Mr. Schrader
Prod asst to Mr. Schrader
Key prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod office asst
Loc dept asst
Scr supv trainee
Casting asst
Extras casting
Craft service
Craft service
Transportation coord
Teamster capt
Parking coord
Pub, Dennis Davidson Associates
Legal counsel, Pryor, Cashman, Sherman & Flynn
Legal counsel, Pryor, Cashman, Sherman & Flynn
Legal counsel, Pryor, Cashman, Sherman & Flynn
Completion bond
Post-prod facilities
Stage facilities
Mus video consultant
STAND INS
Stunt cabbie
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Dailies timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"24-7-365," (Agami/Belmaati/Christiansen/Moller), ©1991 Megasong Publishing, Denmark, performed by Wizdom-N-Motion, courtesy of Mega Records, Denmark ©1991
"Twisted," (Child, Warren, Roberts), 1991 Virgin Songs, Inc./EMI April Music Inc./Desmobile Music/Realsongs/Stimulus Music, performed by Kane Roberts, courtesy of Geffen Records ©1991.
DETAILS
Release Date:
21 August 1992
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 21 August 1992
Los Angeles opening: 4 September 1992
Production Date:
28 May--late July 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Grain of Sand Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
31 December 1991
Copyright Number:
PAu1629137
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
103
Length(in feet):
9,256
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31539
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In New York City, forty-year-old John LeTour delivers drugs to upscale clients for his employer, Ann. He keeps a diary of his experiences, which, he is told, is a sure sign of “burn-out.” When he finishes his deliveries for the night, he returns to Ann’s apartment and drops off his payments. The next day, John meets a dealer named “Jealous,” who asks if John will take over from Ann, who plans to quit the drug business soon. John fears he will be tempted to start using drugs again, and says he wants to get into the music business instead. Before leaving, Jealous warns John that police are on the lookout for dealers, after a well-to-do young woman was found dead with large amounts of cocaine. At Ann’s apartment, Robert, a fellow dealer, tells John he will be joining Ann in her new cosmetics business after the new year, and suggests that John work with them. However, John is waiting for Ann to ask him herself. When John makes a delivery to a longtime client named Eddie, he sees that the addict is strung out, and refuses to sell him a large amount of cocaine, fearing he will overdose. John offers Eddie a small portion instead, and instructs him to go to bed. On the street, John sees his former girl friend, Marianne Jost, waiting for a taxicab, and orders his driver to pick her up. She is surprised to see him after several years, and reports she is not allowed to be around her former drug associates, as she has been “clean” for four years. John shares that he has also been off drugs for two years. Marianne asks ... +


In New York City, forty-year-old John LeTour delivers drugs to upscale clients for his employer, Ann. He keeps a diary of his experiences, which, he is told, is a sure sign of “burn-out.” When he finishes his deliveries for the night, he returns to Ann’s apartment and drops off his payments. The next day, John meets a dealer named “Jealous,” who asks if John will take over from Ann, who plans to quit the drug business soon. John fears he will be tempted to start using drugs again, and says he wants to get into the music business instead. Before leaving, Jealous warns John that police are on the lookout for dealers, after a well-to-do young woman was found dead with large amounts of cocaine. At Ann’s apartment, Robert, a fellow dealer, tells John he will be joining Ann in her new cosmetics business after the new year, and suggests that John work with them. However, John is waiting for Ann to ask him herself. When John makes a delivery to a longtime client named Eddie, he sees that the addict is strung out, and refuses to sell him a large amount of cocaine, fearing he will overdose. John offers Eddie a small portion instead, and instructs him to go to bed. On the street, John sees his former girl friend, Marianne Jost, waiting for a taxicab, and orders his driver to pick her up. She is surprised to see him after several years, and reports she is not allowed to be around her former drug associates, as she has been “clean” for four years. John shares that he has also been off drugs for two years. Marianne asks if he is still dealing drugs, and John denies it. When his beeper goes off, however, John admits that he still works for Ann, and Marianne orders the driver to let her out. Later, John visits a psychic named Teresa Aranow, who predicts that a woman will soon betray him. She warns him not to abuse drugs. John makes a delivery to a client named Tis, who buys Valium to calm his nerves, after his underaged date overdosed on drugs and was admitted to the hospital. As he leaves, John sees Marianne’s sister, Randi, in a hospital hallway, and learns she and Marianne are there visiting their cancer-stricken mother. Surprised to see John again, Marianne refuses to let him say hello to her mother, but consents to a cup of coffee. John remembers their relationship fondly, but Marianne reminds him how difficult it was. Repeating his plan to leave the drug trade, John asks her to start over with him, but she remains distant. In time, Ann takes John to lunch and admits she is afraid that her cosmetics business will fail. John claims he will always be there if she needs him. Later, he returns to the hospital to see Marianne, and visits her mother. When Marianne sees John gently reaching out to her comatose parent, she kisses him, and they go back to her hotel to have sex. Although Marianne does not regret their encounter, she insists that she never wants to see him again. As she leaves, John professes his love. Later, Ann chastises John for disappearing for several hours. Longing for a change in his life, John believes Marianne is the answer. He telephones her hotel room, but she is not there. He calls back several times and records her voice on the answering machine, listening to it repeatedly. Homicide Detective Bill Guidone accosts John, roughs him up, and accuses him of having ties to a wealthy college girl who was found murdered, with uncut cocaine in her possession. Guidone suspects that the high-quality drugs came from a “classy” dealer such as John, and orders him to gather information and report back to him in one week. John discovers that Marianne checked out of her hotel, and calls the hospital to learn her mother passed away. At the wake, Marianne orders him to leave, shouting until her sister escorts him outside. Randi explains that Marianne feels guilty because she was not there when their mother died. Distraught, John returns to work and gets into an argument with Ann. He reveals his disappointment that she did not ask him to join her new business. Ann apologizes, claiming she did not think he would be interested in a cosmetics company, and invites him to work with her, but he leaves in anger. When John makes a delivery to Tis at his high rise apartment, Marianne stumbles into the room, having recently relapsed. She sees John, and flees to the bedroom, prompting Tis to comment on their association. John leaves dumbfounded. On the street, he hears a woman scream, and turns the corner to see Marianne’s body laying on the sidewalk. He walks away, and later listens to a radio news report about a woman who fell thirty-four stories to her death from a lonely apartment. Early in the morning, John visits psychic Teresa at her home, and begs for a reading. Teresa sees “death” around him, and claims someone was murdered. She insists, however, that he has no reason to be afraid. Later, John telephones Guidone, and tells him that Marianne was not alone in the apartment, as the news reported, and hints at Tis’s involvement. John buys a gun to protect himself, then visits Randi, who reveals that her sister had gotten back on drugs, but dismisses the notion that she was murdered. Later, Tis calls Ann, requesting that John make a delivery, but John refuses to go unless Ann accompanies him. She agrees, and en route, John asks her to mail a letter to his sister if anything should happen to him. When they arrive at a hotel, they are held at gunpoint by Tis’s bodyguards. Tis accuses John of talking to police, and claims he had nothing to do with Marianne’s death. When he orders Ann to wait outside, she shouts “fire” in the hallway. John shoots Tis’s men, and is hit by return gunfire in the arm and leg. Pursuing Tis into a bedroom, he shoots him in the head. In time, Ann visits John in jail as he awaits sentencing. He tells her he expects imprisonment, but incarceration has been a “relief,” and he has been doing a lot of writing. When Ann remarks how much she has enjoyed his letters, John wonders aloud why they never slept together. He shares his regrets at the missed opportunity, and tells Ann it is the only thing he looks forward to. Ann holds his hand and admits she wants the same thing. +

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

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