Ratboy (1986)

PG-13 | 104 mins | Drama, Adventure | 17 October 1986

Director:

Sondra Locke

Writer:

Rob Thompson

Producer:

Fritz Manes

Cinematographer:

Bruce Surtees

Editor:

Joel Cox

Production Designer:

Edward Carfagno

Production Company:

Warner Bros., Inc.
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HISTORY

       Ratboy marked the directorial debut for actress Sondra Locke, who also stars as “Nikki Morrison.” However, it was originally slated to be the directorial debut for Rob Thompson, who also wrote the screenplay. The 11 Mar 1983 DV announced that Edward R. Pressman was producing the film on a $2 million to $3 million budget with rock singer Iggy Pop starring as “Ratboy.” However, nothing came of that.
       Sondra Locke had been acting for almost twenty years, debuting in 1968’s The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter , but she was better known as the girl friend of actor-director Clint Eastwood. The two had been together eleven years and she co-starred in six of his movies. Wanting to make a film without Eastwood, Locke told the 23 Mar 1986 LAT that she had her agent send her many scripts. She was drawn to the comic fable of Ratboy, but felt it was not the right acting vehicle for her. However, the story began to haunt her and she decided to direct it.
       Warner Bros. Pictures already owned the screenplay, but had forgotten about it after the deal with Pressman fell apart, the 19 Aug 1986 LAT reported. Since Eastwood’s Malpaso Production company crew was not working on one of his films at the time, Locke decided to use them for her picture, preferring to work with a crew she already knew.
       However, the script needed to be updated. Originally, the story was set in New York City in the publishing world and the “Nikki Morrison” character was writing a book ... More Less

       Ratboy marked the directorial debut for actress Sondra Locke, who also stars as “Nikki Morrison.” However, it was originally slated to be the directorial debut for Rob Thompson, who also wrote the screenplay. The 11 Mar 1983 DV announced that Edward R. Pressman was producing the film on a $2 million to $3 million budget with rock singer Iggy Pop starring as “Ratboy.” However, nothing came of that.
       Sondra Locke had been acting for almost twenty years, debuting in 1968’s The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter , but she was better known as the girl friend of actor-director Clint Eastwood. The two had been together eleven years and she co-starred in six of his movies. Wanting to make a film without Eastwood, Locke told the 23 Mar 1986 LAT that she had her agent send her many scripts. She was drawn to the comic fable of Ratboy, but felt it was not the right acting vehicle for her. However, the story began to haunt her and she decided to direct it.
       Warner Bros. Pictures already owned the screenplay, but had forgotten about it after the deal with Pressman fell apart, the 19 Aug 1986 LAT reported. Since Eastwood’s Malpaso Production company crew was not working on one of his films at the time, Locke decided to use them for her picture, preferring to work with a crew she already knew.
       However, the script needed to be updated. Originally, the story was set in New York City in the publishing world and the “Nikki Morrison” character was writing a book when she stumbled upon “Ratboy.” Locke believed Hollywood was a better setting, so “Nikki” became a freelance journalist trying to make a name for herself through the discovery of “Ratboy.”
       Principal photography began on 6 Sep 1985, according to the 1 Oct 1985 HR production chart. However, the 4 Oct 1985 DV production chart indicated the start date was 16 Sep 1985. Promotional materials in AMPAS library files indicate the film was shot in Los Angeles, CA, and in Marin County in Northern California, including at Mount Tamalpais State Park and Point Reyes Station. The 15 Feb 1987 LAT reported the film’s budget was $8 million.
       Locke cast four-foot, six-inch tall actress Sharon Baird in the title role of “Ratboy” after a long search. In the film’s opening credits, her name is given as “Sharon Baird,” but in the closing credits, her name is listed as “S.L. Baird.” Baird had been an original member of the Mousteketeers on television’s The Mickey Mouse Club (1955-1958) and had acted in television programming aimed at children throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
       Makeup artist Rick Baker designed the look of the “Ratboy” character. Baird spent five hours in makeup each day before she was ready for the camera. The 31 Oct 1985 DV said that while in the makeup, Baird was only allowed to drink through a straw and that some days she spent eighteen hours in the makeup.
       The 15 Feb 1987 LAT noted that French critics loved Ratboy when it played at the 1986 Deauville Film Festival, praising it as “the revelation of the festival.” However, when Warner Bros. test screened it in the United States, American audiences hated it. Consequently, plans for a nationwide release in late summer 1986 were scrapped. Locke attributed the poor test scores to the fact that American audiences “don’t quite know what to make of something that’s not mainstream.”
       Ratboy opened exclusively in New York City at the Gemini Theater on 17 Oct 1986, earning $2,740 in its first week and $2,000 in its second week, according to the 28 Oct 1986 DV box office report. The film opened in Los Angeles, CA, on 20 Mar 1987, playing exclusively at the Beverly Center Cineplex. According to the Jun 1987 Box, the film earned $6,000 in its first week there and $3,000 in its second week.

      End credits include “Special thanks to Merv Griffin and his organization.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Jun 1987.
---
Daily Variety
11 Mar 1983
p. 12.
Daily Variety
4 Oct 1985.
---
Daily Variety
31 Oct 1985.
---
Daily Variety
8 Oct 1986
p. 3, 19.
Daily Variety
28 Oct 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Oct 1986
p. 3, 36.
Los Angeles Times
23 Mar 1986
p. X22, X23, X24.
Los Angeles Times
19 Aug 1986.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Feb 1987.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Mar 1987
p. 20.
Variety
8 Oct 1986
p. 21, 29.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. Pictures presents
A Malpaso Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Addl cam op
Cam asst
Cam asst
Still photog
Key grip
2d grip
Dolly grip
Gaffer
Best boy
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Const coord
Prop master
Leadman
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Women's ward
Men's ward
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus ed
Mus coord
SOUND
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
ADR ed
Sd mixer
Boom man
Cable man
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Ratboy des by
Hairstylist
Makeup artist
Ratboy makeup
Boris, Inc.
Boris, Inc.
Boris, Inc.
Boris, Inc.
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting exec
Scr supv
Unit pub
Asst to prod
Asst to prod
Prod secy
Auditor
Asst to Miss Locke
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
First aid
Animal handler
Animal handler
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
“Personality,” written by Lloyd Price and Howard Logan, performed by Lloyd Price, end title performed by Craig Morris, produced by Steve Dorff
“Hollywood Boulevard Street Rap,” written by Steve Dorff and Milton L. Brown, performed by The L.A. Dream Team, courtesy of MCA Records, produced by Steve Dorff
“Out Of Control,” written by Steve Dorff and Steve Diamond, performed by The Waters, produced by Steve Dorff
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SONGS
“Personality,” written by Lloyd Price and Howard Logan, performed by Lloyd Price, end title performed by Craig Morris, produced by Steve Dorff
“Hollywood Boulevard Street Rap,” written by Steve Dorff and Milton L. Brown, performed by The L.A. Dream Team, courtesy of MCA Records, produced by Steve Dorff
“Out Of Control,” written by Steve Dorff and Steve Diamond, performed by The Waters, produced by Steve Dorff
“Gotta Get Rich,” written by Steve Dorff and Steve Diamond, performed by Craig Morris, produced by Steve Dorff
“Pretty Face,” written by Steve Dorff, John Bettis and Phil Brown, performed by Phil Brown
“Looking For Trouble,” written by Sam Lorber and Dave Innis, performed by T.J. Seals
“I Get Mental,” written by Dennis Matkosky, Danny Sembello and David Batteau, performed by Lynn Davis
“Don’t Follow Me,” written by Marc O’Connell and Shari Saba, performed by Shari Saba
“In The Name Of Love,” written by Steve Dorff and Phil Brown, performed by Phil Brown
“Throw Down,” written by Dennis Matkosky and Richard Wolf, performed by Brenda Russell
“Tangled Up In You,” written by Steve Dorff, John Bettis and Phil Brown, performed by Phil Brown
“The Heart I Left Behind,” written by Steve Dorff and Milton L. Brown, performed by Craig Morris
“Night Games,” written and performed by Don Stalker and Steve Berg
“Entrega,” written and performed by Dahlia Pujol.
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DETAILS
Release Date:
17 October 1986
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 17 October 1986
Los Angeles opening: 20 March 1987
Production Date:
began 6 or 16 September 1985
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
4 February 1987
Copyright Number:
PA315561
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor®
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
104
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28188
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Los Angeles, California, Nikki Morrison is a down-on-her-luck freelance journalist who has been working as a window dresser to make ends meet. In her quest for fame, Nikki has tried all sorts of get-rich-quick schemes over the years. When she gets word of a half-human-half-rat creature that was captured at a trash dump in the Hollywood Hills, she goes to investigate. While other reporters talk to bums living near the dump who claim “Ratboy” is real, Nikki finds an envelope marked “To Whom It May Concern.” She goes to a deserted oil well in the hills to meet a man who offers to take her to the Ratboy. He blindfolds her and drives her to a cabin in the woods where he and his partner are holding the creature. They want Nikki’s help in generating publicity about Ratboy, then plan to sell him to the highest bidder. They offer Nikki five percent of the profit, but she declines, saying she wants the media rights instead. Nikki goes inside the cabin where she sees the creature that is the size of a small man, but has a tail, whiskers, a snout-like nose, elongated ears and beady black eyes that make his face look like that of a rat. Ratboy is initially afraid of Nikki, but she slowly wins him over by reading him a fairy tale. She gives him a transistor radio and a pair of sunglasses and promises to come back. Ratboy turns on the radio and starts dancing. The next day, Nikki returns, bringing the pistol the two men requested. She also brings a photographer and a policeman. She has investigated the two to learn they ... +


In Los Angeles, California, Nikki Morrison is a down-on-her-luck freelance journalist who has been working as a window dresser to make ends meet. In her quest for fame, Nikki has tried all sorts of get-rich-quick schemes over the years. When she gets word of a half-human-half-rat creature that was captured at a trash dump in the Hollywood Hills, she goes to investigate. While other reporters talk to bums living near the dump who claim “Ratboy” is real, Nikki finds an envelope marked “To Whom It May Concern.” She goes to a deserted oil well in the hills to meet a man who offers to take her to the Ratboy. He blindfolds her and drives her to a cabin in the woods where he and his partner are holding the creature. They want Nikki’s help in generating publicity about Ratboy, then plan to sell him to the highest bidder. They offer Nikki five percent of the profit, but she declines, saying she wants the media rights instead. Nikki goes inside the cabin where she sees the creature that is the size of a small man, but has a tail, whiskers, a snout-like nose, elongated ears and beady black eyes that make his face look like that of a rat. Ratboy is initially afraid of Nikki, but she slowly wins him over by reading him a fairy tale. She gives him a transistor radio and a pair of sunglasses and promises to come back. Ratboy turns on the radio and starts dancing. The next day, Nikki returns, bringing the pistol the two men requested. She also brings a photographer and a policeman. She has investigated the two to learn they are both on parole and points out that it is illegal for parolees to possess firearms. When she accuses them of kidnapping Ratboy, they speed off in their van to avoid arrest and Nikki proclaims that Ratboy is hers. The photographer and policeman are actually Nikki’s brothers, Billy and Omer, wearing costumes. They help her capture Ratboy and take him to their mother’s house where they all live. Nikki goes to the dump and gets some old tires and other items from the rat’s nest where he was living to make him feel more at home. Meanwhile, she brags to her brothers about all the money they can make from selling Ratboy’s story. She plans to have a quickie book written within in a few weeks, then will sell television and movie rights and arrange a worldwide public appearance tour. Additionally, she anticipates tremendous revenue from the merchandising rights for Ratboy dolls and toys. Ratboy is not easily domesticated. He becomes frightened seeing his image in the mirror and runs amok in the house, breaking many things and biting the brothers when they try to catch him. He also refuses to eat any of the food they give him, but he does show tenderness for Nikki. When Nikki cannot get any Hollywood bigwigs interested in Ratboy, she decides they need a higher profile, so they all move into a luxury suite at the Chateau Marmont hotel on the Sunset Strip. Ratboy is barely able to speak, so Nikki hires an acting coach to help him with elocution. Even so, he still does not say much, but when he does speak, he frequently asks for Nikki. When Omer Morrison asks him what his name is, he replies, “Eugene.” Nikki takes her brothers and Ratboy to a party at a rich Hollywood producer’s penthouse, hoping to make a deal. The guests are fascinated, initially assuming Ratboy is wearing a costume or a mask. Frightened, Ratboy hides under a table where he finds some pills on the carpet and takes one. Nikki chats up the party guests. One is a reporter from the Los Angeles Tribune newspaper who is intrigued by the story. Another is a booking agent for Merv Griffin’s television talk show. Nikki leaves with the booking agent just as the pill Ratboy took starts to take effect, leaving him disoriented. He panics and climbs down the side of the building, then wanders through town and onto Hollywood Boulevard. He hides in an alley to get away from all the people. In the early morning hours, the Los Angeles Tribune publishes Ratboy’s picture on the front page with a story headlined, “Ratboy: Real or Fake?” Ratboy finds a homeless encampment in an abandoned building and meets a young black man named Manny. When Ratboy asks for Nikki repeatedly, Manny telephone Nikki and tells her to bring money. When Nikki arrives, she sees Manny and Ratboy getting along well. She hires Manny to watch Ratboy for $1,000 a week, until they debut him at a press conference. After Nikki and her brothers leave the hotel suite, Manny calls his friend, Heavy, to sell Ratboy jewelry and watches. Ratboy buys a large faceted crystal ball on a gold chain with the money Nikki gave him for an allowance. On the day of the press conference, Nikki does press interviews all day long and appears on The Merv Griffin Show. Meanwhile, Ratboy thinks he has a date with Nikki in an alley off Hollywood Boulevard. At the last minute, he panics saying he is ugly, but Manny calms him down, saying that he probably has royal blood in his veins. When Nikki does not show up for the date after an hour, Ratboy returns to the limousine and demands Manny read him fairy tales from his book, which helps him fall asleep in the back of the car. Manny drives Ratboy to the Million Dollar Theater in downtown Los Angeles for his public debut and some two dozen reporters are in the audience. When the spotlight shines on Ratboy, he panics, reminded of scary police helicopter lights that used to fly over the dump. He climbs the curtain into the balcony and runs away. On the street, Manny catches Ratboy, steals a Lincoln Continental automobile and drives off. Manny offers to serve as Ratboy’s new manager, while pondering if he should instead demand a ransom for him. When Manny stops at a grocery store, Ratboy scribbles a note, addresses an envelope to Nikki and drops it in a mailbox. When radio news reports that police are searching for Ratboy, Manny decides to ditch the Lincoln and steals a Corvette sports car. Manny drives to the high desert and stops at a roadside bar, where he meets two women, Aurora and Trudy, with whom he plans to have sex. He leaves with them, telling Ratboy to wait in the car for him. Ratboy climbs into a tree to wait, but when Manny does not return by morning, Ratboy wanders through the countryside. After several days, Ratboy finds his way to the abandoned house where he lived as a child. Meanwhile, Nikki receives the envelope Ratboy sent her, but the letter inside is merely some primitive drawings. Nikki finds Ratboy at the deserted house and apologizes, saying she got caught up in the glamour and hope for fame. Ratboy says he wants to go back to the dump where they found him. Nikki agrees, but tells him it is not safe for him there right now, as reporters will be looking for him. As they drive through the countryside to find a safe place for him to hide, police spot Nikki’s car and give chase. Nikki tries to outrun them and pulls into a barn to hide. Police throw teargas into the barn. Nikki rushes out and collapses while Ratboy dashes to the car and drives off. Police follow, but their car overturns. Ratboy rescues Nikki from the police car and the two drive off. Another police car gives pursuit, as Ratboy drives to the edge of a lake. Getting out of the car, he runs away on foot, but is shot in the arm by police and falls into the lake. Police search the lake for his body, but only find his book of fairy tales. As Nikki puts the book in her jacket pocket, she finds half of Ratboy’s faceted crystal ball. A moment later, she is blinded by a bright light. Going toward the light, she sees Ratboy in a tree, signaling to her by reflecting the sun with the other half of the crystal ball. He climbs out of the tree and runs down the hill where he is free once more.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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