Racing With the Moon (1984)

PG | 108 mins | Comedy-drama, Romance | 23 March 1984

Director:

Richard Benjamin

Writer:

Steven Kloves

Cinematographer:

John Bailey

Production Designer:

David L. Snyder

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

Racing with the Moon marked the debut feature screenplay for writer Steven Kloves. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, literary agent-turned-producer Alain Bernheim had been inspired to make a picture about World War II and entrusted the twenty-three-year-old Kloves to develop the original story based on their discussions. With the completed screenplay, Bernheim was able to interest producer John Kohn and director Richard Benjamin.
       As explained in a 6 Nov 1983 NYT article, United Artists (UA) was the first studio to acquire the script, but the company abandoned the idea after UA executive David Begelman was ousted in 1982. Several other studios rejected Racing with the Moon, concerned about its commercial prospects, until Sherry Lansing, head of production at Twentieth Century-Fox, endorsed it. Soon afterward, however, Lansing left the studio to pursue a career as an independent producer. Although Fox was willing to proceed with the project, producers Bernheim and Kohn felt restricted by the $6 million budget. Douglas Stern and John Davis were two of the Fox executives who had been assigned to supervise the production, according to an 8 Apr 1983 Screen International brief. Hoping for a better deal, Bernheim and Kohn approached Lansing and her new producing partner, Stanley Jaffe, who had recently signed a five-year production agreement at Paramount Pictures, which was announced in the 4 Jan 1983 DV. Still enthusiastic about the story, Lansing used her influence at both studios to negotiate a quick turnaround with just ten days until the start of principal photography. Paramount increased the budget to $6.5 ... More Less

Racing with the Moon marked the debut feature screenplay for writer Steven Kloves. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, literary agent-turned-producer Alain Bernheim had been inspired to make a picture about World War II and entrusted the twenty-three-year-old Kloves to develop the original story based on their discussions. With the completed screenplay, Bernheim was able to interest producer John Kohn and director Richard Benjamin.
       As explained in a 6 Nov 1983 NYT article, United Artists (UA) was the first studio to acquire the script, but the company abandoned the idea after UA executive David Begelman was ousted in 1982. Several other studios rejected Racing with the Moon, concerned about its commercial prospects, until Sherry Lansing, head of production at Twentieth Century-Fox, endorsed it. Soon afterward, however, Lansing left the studio to pursue a career as an independent producer. Although Fox was willing to proceed with the project, producers Bernheim and Kohn felt restricted by the $6 million budget. Douglas Stern and John Davis were two of the Fox executives who had been assigned to supervise the production, according to an 8 Apr 1983 Screen International brief. Hoping for a better deal, Bernheim and Kohn approached Lansing and her new producing partner, Stanley Jaffe, who had recently signed a five-year production agreement at Paramount Pictures, which was announced in the 4 Jan 1983 DV. Still enthusiastic about the story, Lansing used her influence at both studios to negotiate a quick turnaround with just ten days until the start of principal photography. Paramount increased the budget to $6.5 million, extended pre-production by a week, and approved four extra days on the shooting schedule.
       However, casting still remained an obstacle. Sean Penn was the first choice to play “Henry ‘Hopper’ Nash” and was interested in the role, but the actor was committed to the play, Slab Boys, which opened on Broadway 7 Mar 1983. By coincidence, Paramount was an investor and also wanted to release another actor in the play, Kevin Bacon, so he could star in Footloose (1984, see entry). The play managed to continue with only mediocre reviews and attendance, but once the studio withdrew funding, Slab Boys closed on 17 Apr 1983.
       According to production notes, principal photography began 2 May 1983 on location in Mendocino, CA. The nearby coastal towns of Westport and Fort Bragg were also used to represent the fictional “Port Muir.” Fort Bragg’s Eagle Hall provided the location for the roller-skating rink, and the town’s railway station, which is the terminus for the historic California Western Railroad or “Skunk” train, was refurbished and redressed to resemble 1942. The film company also assisted in the restoration of the steam locomotive featured in the story. The production spent six weeks in Northern CA, followed by two weeks of soundstage work at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, CA, where the bowling alley interior was constructed. Army Archerd’s 22 Jun 1983 DV column reported that the antique Brunswick bowling alley was from the San Clemente Naval station. Filming was completed on 27 Jun 1983.
       Racing with the Moon's main cast of Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage, and Elizabeth McGovern were three of Hollywood most sought-after young actors, and several reviews noted that the role of Henry marked Penn’s first romantic lead. Interest was further heightened by the fact that Penn and McGovern became engaged after filming. However, as noted in the 29 Jun 1983 LAT, 6 Nov 1983 NYT and the 23 Mar 1984 LAT, the three up-and-coming stars were reluctant to help publicize the film and often refused to give interviews. Although Lansing expressed admiration for the actors, she disagreed “with their position” that “they fulfill their obligation to a film when they leave the set,” as she stated in the 23 Mar 1984 LAT. She added that “it’s terribly frustrating and it puts me in a very uncomfortable position as far as creating an awareness of the film.” She and Jaffe assumed most of the publicity duties as they conducted interviews for television talk shows, magazine spreads, and newspapers. Lansing speculated that the actors’ absence in the promotional campaign could reduce the opening box-office by thirty percent. The HR issued an apology to Elizabeth McGovern in its 8 Jan 1985 issue for including her as one of the “elusive” actors and noted that she conducted several interviews in support of the film.
       The 27 Mar 1984 DV reported that the picture earned $1.8 million during opening weekend at 389 theaters. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
4 Jan 1983.
---
Daily Variety
22 Jun 1983.
---
Daily Variety
27 Mar 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Feb 1984
p. 4, 16.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jan 1985.
---
Los Angeles Times
29 Jun 1983
Section G, p. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
23 Mar 1984
Section G, p. 1, 9.
Los Angeles Times
23 Mar 1984
Section G, p. 1, 10.
New York Times
6 Nov 1983
Section H, p. 1, 21.
New York Times
23 Mar 1984
p. 5.
Screen International
8 Apr 1983.
---
Variety
29 Feb 1984
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Jaffe-Lansing Production
A Richard Benjamin Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Best boy-elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Leadman-prop
Leadman-prop
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men's cost supv
Women's cost supv
MUSIC
Big band orch
Addl orch
Music rec mixer
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Dial ed
Foley ed
Foley by
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Main title des
Titles & opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Tech adv/Mendocino
Tech adv/Los Angeles
Transportation coord
Mendocino liaison
Asst to Art Levinson
Asst to Richard Benjamin
Asst to Alain Bernheim
Asst to John Kohn
Support personnel
Support personnel
Prod auditor
Unit pub
Argus & Butch owned by
Dog trainer
Loc catering
Billiards tech adv
Bowling tech adv
STAND INS
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Beyond The Blue Horizon," by R. A. Whiting, W. F. Harling, L. Robin
"Heart And Soul," by H. Carmichael, F. Loesser
"Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," by D. Raye, H. Prince
+
SONGS
"Beyond The Blue Horizon," by R. A. Whiting, W. F. Harling, L. Robin
"Heart And Soul," by H. Carmichael, F. Loesser
"Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," by D. Raye, H. Prince
"The Lady's In Love With You," by B. Lane, F. Loesser
"Sing, Sing, Sing (With A Swing)," by L. Prima
"Says My Heart," by F. Loesser, B. Lane
"My Ideal," by L. Robin, R. A. Whiting, N. Chase
"Moonlight Becomes You," by J. Burke, J. Van Heusen, performed by Bing Crosby
"Tangerine," by J. Mercer, V. Schertzinger, performed by Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra, vocal by Bob Eberly
"Cherokee," by R. Noble
"Easy Living," by R. Rainger, L. Robin
"Paramount On Parade," by E. Janis, J. King
"Just A Melody For A Memory," by E. Y. Harburg, I. Kahal, J. Gorney, S. Fain
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
23 March 1984
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 23 March 1984
Production Date:
2 May--27 June 1983
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
8 May 1984
Copyright Number:
PA212233
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® Cameras by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
108
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27172
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During Christmas 1942, in the small northern California coastal town of Port Muir, seventeen-year-old Henry “Hopper” Nash and his best friend Nicky have six weeks remaining until they join the Marines. In the meantime, the two boys work at the bowling alley, where they reset pins and often mock the rich kids in town, whom they call “Gatsbys.” While Nicky is impulsive and determined to have as much as fun as possible before they leave, Henry is more modest and has to be persuaded to join his friend on a double date. Alone at the movies one night, Henry is captivated by the beautiful girl working in the ticket booth and anonymously sends her daisies. He secretly follows her home and assumes her family is wealthy as she enters a nice estate. At the library, Henry encounters her again and admits to leaving the daisies, but embarrasses himself by accidentally knocking over a bookcase. Later, the girl introduces herself as Caddie Winger and invites Henry to be her friend Gretchen’s date at a roller-skating event on Christmas Eve. Although disappointed he is not Caddie’s date, Henry agrees to go and pretends he has no plans to be with his family that night. After Caddie arrives at the event with a blind date, Michael, who is Gretchen’s cousin, she notices that Henry is very uncomfortable on skates. When he tumbles out of the rink, she recommends taking a break. While Gretchen and Michael continue to skate, Henry welcomes the chance to talk with Caddie alone. During their tentative conversation, Caddie finds Henry charming and suggests ... +


During Christmas 1942, in the small northern California coastal town of Port Muir, seventeen-year-old Henry “Hopper” Nash and his best friend Nicky have six weeks remaining until they join the Marines. In the meantime, the two boys work at the bowling alley, where they reset pins and often mock the rich kids in town, whom they call “Gatsbys.” While Nicky is impulsive and determined to have as much as fun as possible before they leave, Henry is more modest and has to be persuaded to join his friend on a double date. Alone at the movies one night, Henry is captivated by the beautiful girl working in the ticket booth and anonymously sends her daisies. He secretly follows her home and assumes her family is wealthy as she enters a nice estate. At the library, Henry encounters her again and admits to leaving the daisies, but embarrasses himself by accidentally knocking over a bookcase. Later, the girl introduces herself as Caddie Winger and invites Henry to be her friend Gretchen’s date at a roller-skating event on Christmas Eve. Although disappointed he is not Caddie’s date, Henry agrees to go and pretends he has no plans to be with his family that night. After Caddie arrives at the event with a blind date, Michael, who is Gretchen’s cousin, she notices that Henry is very uncomfortable on skates. When he tumbles out of the rink, she recommends taking a break. While Gretchen and Michael continue to skate, Henry welcomes the chance to talk with Caddie alone. During their tentative conversation, Caddie finds Henry charming and suggests they get together later. Henry ignores Nicky’s warning about getting involved with a “Gatsby” girl, and takes her to one of his favorite places, an abandoned taproom on a seaside cliff. He impresses her with his piano playing, confessing that his mother forced him to learn when he would have preferred being on the baseball field. Following the outing, Caddie returns to the Donnelly estate, where she lives with her mother, Mrs. Winger, who works as the family’s maid. As a Christmas gift, Caddie receives a sweater from Alice, the Donnellys’ daughter, who is about the same age. Skipping school, Henry takes Caddie to a secluded pond, and the two make love after going skinny-dipping. He later tells Nicky that he thinks Caddie is “the one.” That night, the two boys get drunk and race to jump on a freight train, as they did when they were kids. After the stunt, Nicky confesses that his girl friend, Sally Kaiser, is pregnant and needs Henry’s help finding $150 for an abortion. Henry says he will think about it. He stays up until morning and goes to the cemetery, where his father, Mr. Nash, works as a gravedigger, to watch the funeral of a young serviceman. When Henry breaks free from school during a civil defense drill and meets Caddie dressed as a wounded soldier, she does not find the joke amusing. Caddie takes Henry along as she delivers library books to real injured soldiers at the veterans hospital. Henry is uncomfortable as one of the patients, a young amputee named Frank, talks to him. Afterward, Henry is annoyed at Caddie for trying to teach him a “lesson,” but also admits their relationship has made him think more about coming back from the war. When Caddie fancies a pair of dress shoes at a shop and resists the urge to buy them, Henry teases her about being a “Gatsby” girl. She does not say anything, but realizes he is under the impression that she is from a rich family. She arrives at the bowling alley one night hoping to resolve the misunderstanding, but Henry is too busy to talk. Nicky’s girl friend Sally also unexpectedly shows up and Caddie is curious why the girl is so upset. Meanwhile, Henry decides to help his friend obtain the abortion money and suggests they hustle two sailors at pool. However, the match turns into a close competition, and when Henry loses the final points, he and Nicky flee quickly to avoid paying the wager. Henry arrives at his house late for his own birthday party as his angry father and a confused Caddie greet him on the front porch. Desperate for the money, Nicky blurts out in front of Caddie that he needs $150. Henry reluctantly explains the situation, and Caddie says she will try and help. At the Donnelly residence, Alice catches Caddie stealing pearls, but is sympathetic and agrees to give her the money. Nicky, Henry, and Caddie later take Sally to a squalid trailer park, and the boys wait outside while Caddie stays with her during the abortion procedure and comforts the hysterical girl on the drive back home. The situation upsets Caddie, and when Henry tries to reassure her, she reveals her family is not wealthy. Crying, Caddie says she was afraid the truth would disappoint him and asks Henry to leave her alone. After watching her run away, Henry screams at Nicky for behaving so casually about the abortion risk and says he is tired of his troublemaking. Over the next week, Henry ignores Nicky’s attempts to reconcile. Noticing that the two friends are estranged, Mr. Nash tells his son that when Nicky was a young boy, he used to exhaust himself by sitting for hours at the grave of his recently deceased mother. As the start of their military service approaches, Henry makes peace with Nicky, stating that they have to “stick together.” Meanwhile, Henry leaves Caddie a treasure map. She follows the instructions and finds the dress shoes she wanted, by a tree. Henry is also there, and the two declare their love. At the train station, Mr. and Mrs. Nash say goodbye to their son and Nicky. Caddie gives Henry a photograph of her and embraces him. As the train begins to leave without them, Mr. Nash panics, while Henry and Nicky confidently race to catch it and jump onboard. +

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

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