Nuts (1987)

R | 115 mins | Drama | 20 November 1987

Director:

Martin Ritt

Producer:

Barbra Streisand

Cinematographer:

Andrzej Bartkowiak

Editor:

Sidney Levin

Production Designer:

Joel Schiller

Production Company:

Warner Bros., Inc.
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HISTORY

The film concludes with this postscript: “Claudia Draper was tried in the State Supreme Court, New York County, on a charge of manslaughter in the first degree. She was defended by Aaron Levinsky. She was acquitted. Dr. Herbert A. Morrison resigned from the staff of New York County Prison Hospital. He was then appointed Director of Health and Welfare Commission, County of New York."
       Nuts is based on the play of the same name by Tom Topor, which debuted Off-Off Broadway at the WPA Theater in 1979. The 23 Nov 1981 LAHExam reported Universal Pictures purchased the film rights and financed the play’s move to Broadway at the urging of Stevie Phillips, a Universal executive who was serving as the film’s co-producer. Nuts opened on Broadway at the Biltmore Theater on 30 Apr 1980 to unfavorable reviews and ran for ninety-six performances. However, when the play opened in Los Angeles, CA, at the ninety-nine-seat Beverly Hills Playhouse on 6 Aug 1981, the reviews were good and the play soon transferred to the 348-seat L.A. Stage Company. Phillips told the LAHExam that Universal had been skeptical about the film after the play’s poor reception in New York, but the success of the Los Angeles run helped convince the studio otherwise.
       While the play was running in Los Angeles, playwright Tom Topor was busy writing the screenplay as stipulated in his contract to sell the film rights. Mark Rydell signed on to direct and co-produce the film, budgeted at $10 million. However, nothing came of the project.
       In mid-1985, the project transferred from Universal Pictures to Warner Bros. Pictures, with Mark ... More Less

The film concludes with this postscript: “Claudia Draper was tried in the State Supreme Court, New York County, on a charge of manslaughter in the first degree. She was defended by Aaron Levinsky. She was acquitted. Dr. Herbert A. Morrison resigned from the staff of New York County Prison Hospital. He was then appointed Director of Health and Welfare Commission, County of New York."
       Nuts is based on the play of the same name by Tom Topor, which debuted Off-Off Broadway at the WPA Theater in 1979. The 23 Nov 1981 LAHExam reported Universal Pictures purchased the film rights and financed the play’s move to Broadway at the urging of Stevie Phillips, a Universal executive who was serving as the film’s co-producer. Nuts opened on Broadway at the Biltmore Theater on 30 Apr 1980 to unfavorable reviews and ran for ninety-six performances. However, when the play opened in Los Angeles, CA, at the ninety-nine-seat Beverly Hills Playhouse on 6 Aug 1981, the reviews were good and the play soon transferred to the 348-seat L.A. Stage Company. Phillips told the LAHExam that Universal had been skeptical about the film after the play’s poor reception in New York, but the success of the Los Angeles run helped convince the studio otherwise.
       While the play was running in Los Angeles, playwright Tom Topor was busy writing the screenplay as stipulated in his contract to sell the film rights. Mark Rydell signed on to direct and co-produce the film, budgeted at $10 million. However, nothing came of the project.
       In mid-1985, the project transferred from Universal Pictures to Warner Bros. Pictures, with Mark Rydell still on board as director. The 1 Oct 1985 DV quoted Rydell as saying that Universal thought the film’s subject matter involving prostitution and incest was “too hot to handle,” so they turned down the project. Although actress Debra Winger was originally set to star, actress Barbra Streisand had been signed for the lead for $5 million. Alvin Sargent and Darryl Ponicsan were doing a rewrite of the script and filming was set to start in Jan 1986. The 1 Jan 1986 LADN reported that actress Bette Midler had also been considered for the lead.
       The 7 Jan 1986 LADN said the film’s start date had been pushed back to 24 Feb 1986 and that they would shoot a week’s worth of exteriors in New York City before moving to a soundstage at Warner Bros. Burbank, CA, studios. However, in mid-Mar 1986, director Mark Rydell left the project after disagreeing with Warner Bros. on aspects of the film. The 18 Mar 1986 HR said that “schedule, budgetary, and creative differences” were the reason for Rydell’s departure and quoted him as saying there was no animosity between him and the studio and that he regretted not being able to work with Barbra Streisand. Nuts was the second film starring Streisand that Rydell had walked away from. He had previously been set to direct A Star is Born (1976, see entry).
       The 21 Mar 1986 HR reported that director Alan Pakula was reading the script for Nuts at the request of Warner Bros., but Martin Ritt ended up signing on as director.
       Actor Richard Dreyfuss was set to play the role of “Aaron Levinsky,” but he changed his mind, opting instead to star in director Barry Levinson’s Tin Men (1987, see entry), according to the 15 May 1986 Chicago Tribune. Actor Dustin Hoffman was ready to sign on for the male lead, but Warner Bros. balked at his $5 million salary, according to the 4 Jun 1986 HR . Other actors considered for the part were Paul Newman, Al Pacino and Marlon Brando, the 6 Jun 1986 LAHExam reported. Ultimately, Streisand, who was also serving as producer, and Martin Ritt decided Dreyfuss was the right actor for the part and delayed filming until after Tin Men was completed.
       Principal photography began on 20 Oct 1986 according to the 26 Nov 1986 DV production chart. Interior scenes were shot in Los Angeles, while a handful of exteriors were done in New York City. The 16 Jan 1987 HR said the film was scheduled to wrap in mid-Feb 1987.
       End credits state: “Cartoons from the best seller The Life Extension Companion, copyright by Durk Pearson, Sandy Shaw, and The Laboratory For The Advancement of Biomedical Research (Warner Books, 1984); Phobiaphobia and Phenylalanine Aggressiveness Cartoons by Roberta Gregory; Anecdotal Evidence cartoon by Randall Hylkema.”
       End credits also state: “Special thanks to: City of New York Department of Corrections and the Director of Special Events; City of New York Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Chicago Tribune
15 May 1986.
---
Daily Variety
1 Oct 1985.
---
Daily Variety
16 Nov 1987
p. 3, 14.
Daily Variety
26 Nov 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jun 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jan 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Nov 1987
p. 3, 6.
Los Angeles Daily News
1 Jan 1986.
---
Los Angeles Daily News
7 Jan 1986.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
23 Nov 1981
Section B, p.1, 4.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
6 Jun 1986.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Nov 1987
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
22 Nov 1987.
---
New York Times
20 Nov 1987
p. 16.
Variety
18 Nov 1987
p. 14.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. Presents
A Barwood Films/Martin Ritt Production
A Barwood Films Presentation
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Asst to Teri Schwartz
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Video playback
1st cam asst
2d cam asst
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
2d grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
Special stills
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Addl film ed
Addl film ed
1st asst film ed
1st asst film ed
Asst film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Stand-by painter
Set des
COSTUMES
Cost des
Costumer to Ms. Streisand
Men's costumer
Women's costumer
MUSIC
Mus arranged and cond
Supv mus ed
Mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Supv dial ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Prod mixer
Boom op
Cable op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles & opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup for Ms. Streisand
Makeup
Hairstylist for Ms. Streisand
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Asst to the prod
Personal asst to Ms. Streisand
Asst to Teri Schwartz
Asst to Cis Corman
Prod secy
Prod accountant
Prod assoc
Clerk
Office runner
Office runner
Office secy
Office secy
Asst casting
Craft service
Tech advisor
Tech advisor
Public relations
Transportation coord
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Nuts by Tom Topor (New York, 28 Apr 1980).
AUTHOR
SONGS
“Here We Are At Last,” music by Barbra Streisand, lyrics by Richard Baskin, arranged & played by Randy Waldman
“Sindhi-Bhairavi,” Traditional Raga, performed by Ravi Shankar, courtesy of CBS Records.
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 November 1987
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 20 November 1987
Production Date:
20 October 1986--mid February 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
27 November 1987
Copyright Number:
PA357480
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
115
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28774
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In New York City, high-priced prostitute Claudia Draper is jailed on first-degree manslaughter charges after she kills a client who attacked her. At her competency hearing, she meets Clarence Middleton, the lawyer her aging mother and stepfather, Rose and Arthur Kirk, hired, but does not like him. Claudia punches him in the face in the courtroom, and he immediately resigns. The judge assigns Aaron Levinsky, an attorney who happens to be in the courtroom, to represent her. Two psychiatric reports say Claudia is not competent to stand trial, but Aaron demands a chance to talk with his new client, and the hearing is postponed until Monday. Claudia takes an immediate dislike to Aaron, who tells her they must get at least one psychiatrist to say she is competent to stand trial, otherwise she will remain locked in the prison’s psychiatric wing. Claudia wants to take the stand, but Aaron advises against that, saying she has no idea what cross-examination can be like. The attorney looks around Claudia’s apartment, where the killing of Allen Green occurred in the bathroom. The apartment is large with many nice things, indicating Claudia lived well. Aaron picks out some clothes for Claudia to wear to the hearing. Though upset to see someone going through her belongings, she agrees to wear the black dress to the courtroom. The next day, psychiatrist Herbert Morrison, the ward unit chief at New York County Prison Hospital, where Claudia is being held, testifies that she is not competent to stand trial. When Claudia was brought in, she was nearly catatonic and would not speak. When she did start talking, she was angry and belligerent and used inappropriate humor. She ... +


In New York City, high-priced prostitute Claudia Draper is jailed on first-degree manslaughter charges after she kills a client who attacked her. At her competency hearing, she meets Clarence Middleton, the lawyer her aging mother and stepfather, Rose and Arthur Kirk, hired, but does not like him. Claudia punches him in the face in the courtroom, and he immediately resigns. The judge assigns Aaron Levinsky, an attorney who happens to be in the courtroom, to represent her. Two psychiatric reports say Claudia is not competent to stand trial, but Aaron demands a chance to talk with his new client, and the hearing is postponed until Monday. Claudia takes an immediate dislike to Aaron, who tells her they must get at least one psychiatrist to say she is competent to stand trial, otherwise she will remain locked in the prison’s psychiatric wing. Claudia wants to take the stand, but Aaron advises against that, saying she has no idea what cross-examination can be like. The attorney looks around Claudia’s apartment, where the killing of Allen Green occurred in the bathroom. The apartment is large with many nice things, indicating Claudia lived well. Aaron picks out some clothes for Claudia to wear to the hearing. Though upset to see someone going through her belongings, she agrees to wear the black dress to the courtroom. The next day, psychiatrist Herbert Morrison, the ward unit chief at New York County Prison Hospital, where Claudia is being held, testifies that she is not competent to stand trial. When Claudia was brought in, she was nearly catatonic and would not speak. When she did start talking, she was angry and belligerent and used inappropriate humor. She seemed to believe there was a conspiracy against her. Claudia shouts out during Morrison’s testimony and the judge warns her to be quiet. When Aaron cross-examines him, Dr. Morrison mentions that Claudia was a prostitute, but Aaron points out she has not been charged with prostitution. Rose Kirk testifies that her daughter became moody and withdrawn starting in the sixth grade, and one time tried to attack her and Claudia’s stepfather with scissors. Years later, when Claudia divorced, Rose invited her daughter to move back home, but she refused. She says she sent Claudia many letters, but they were all sent back. Claudia refuses to let Aaron cross examine Rose. Arthur Kirk tells the court he became Claudia’s stepfather when she was five years old, after her father walked out on them. He testifies that he tried to make up for "abandonment issues" by spoiling her with gifts. Arthur also routinely gave young Claudia money as an incentive for doing chores. Claudia doodles on a notepad throughout the testimony. At one point, she draws a picture of a mother, father, and young girl. Aaron notices that none of them have mouths, and is struck with an idea. Although Claudia does not want Aaron to cross examine her stepfather, he insists. Aaron asks how old Claudia was when Arthur stopped giving her baths. Arthur does not remember, but Aaron presses him for an answer. Claudia recalls being a teenager and Arthur knocking at the locked bathroom door. She remembers him slipping money under the door until she let him in. Claudia collapses in the courtroom, screaming, “Don’t let him hurt me!” That evening, Aaron goes to see Claudia in the jail hospital, apologizing for failing to take her feelings into account. Claudia starts crying, and Aaron tells her that he believes she is sane. Later, he confronts Dr. Morrison, angry that he sedated Claudia after the breakdown in court. The next day, Claudia comes to court in a bathrobe, but is fairly coherent. When she takes the stand, Aaron asks her to explain what will happen if she loses the competency hearing. Claudia says they can hold her in the psychiatric wing for a year and renew that hold on a yearly basis for up to two-thirds of the maximum sentence for the crime with which she is charged. Since first-degree manslaughter carries a maximum of twenty-five years, she could be held in the psychiatric wing for seventeen years without ever going to trial. Essentially they could hold her in a hospital for the criminally insane for the rest of her life. She insists she is mentally and physically ready to go to trial. Under cross-examination, District Attorney Francis MacMillan asks if she and her husband, Peter Draper, wanted children. Claudia says no and acknowledges that she had an abortion because she does “not believe in childhood.” MacMillan asks how she paid the rent after her divorce, noting that she lives in a luxury apartment on the Upper East Side. She replies that she lived on “gifts” from male friends. When MacMillan presses for specifics, Claudia reports she was a prostitute for three years and made over $100,000 per year. She also testifies that it hurt less to sell herself to strangers than to ask her parents for money. Dr. Herbert Morrison returns to the stand and the D.A. asks if he has changed his opinion about Claudia’s competency in light of the testimony. He replies, “Absolutely not.” Claudia becomes angry and insists she is sane. In his closing statement, Aaron says they should not confuse Claudia's behavior with her capacity to stand trial. Judge Stanley Murdoch offers to adjourn the hearing for two weeks if Claudia will consent to an independent psychiatric examination, but she refuses. While the judge deliberates, Rose tells Claudia she wants the best for her. The two women hug. Claudia thanks Aaron for defending her. When Judge Murdoch returns, he rules that Claudia is competent, and releases her on her own recognizance until her manslaughter trial begins. Claudia rushes out of the courtroom and wanders down the sidewalk, happy to be free. +

GENRE
Genre:
Sub-genre:
Psychological


Subject
Subject (Major):

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

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