The Freshman (1990)

PG | 102 mins | Screwball comedy | 20 July 1990

Director:

Andrew Bergman

Writer:

Andrew Bergman

Producer:

Mike Lobell

Cinematographer:

William Fraker

Editor:

Barry Malkin

Production Designer:

Ken Adam
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HISTORY

       Writer-director Andrew Bergman told the 10-17 Oct 1990 Time Out in London, England, that he got the idea for The Freshman from a newspaper article about mobster Vincent “Fat Vinnie” Teresa being arrested for smuggling a near-extinct lizard into the United States. Later, after sending his script to Marlon Brando in 1988, the legendary actor invited him and producer Mike Lobell to his Tahiti island for a business vacation. Brando was ultimately paid $3 million for his role, “plus percentages.”
       The 14 Mar 1988 DV noted that the budget for The Freshman was $12 million. Principal photography was scheduled to begin in Oct 1988, but the 6 Jun 1989 HR reported that filming began that day, eight months later. According to studio notes in AMPAS library files, the production actually began in late May. After shooting exteriors in New York City for three weeks, the production moved to Toronto, Canada, for “the remainder of the 11-week schedule.” Among New York landmarks in the film are Grand Central Station, Washington Square, New York University, Little Italy, and Greenwich Village.
       According to an American Humane Society document in AMPAS library files, the film’s endangered “Komodo dragon” was played by seven “unendangered water monitor lizards,” each with its own “talent.” Some were “docile” and accustomed to being handled by humans, and others were speedy runners. Filmed in Toronto, the lizard scenes were not monitored by the society’s representatives.
       The 1 Sep 1989 LAHExam reported that while still on set in Toronto, star Marlon Brando called a Globe and Mail newspaper reporter to his trailer and lambasted ... More Less

       Writer-director Andrew Bergman told the 10-17 Oct 1990 Time Out in London, England, that he got the idea for The Freshman from a newspaper article about mobster Vincent “Fat Vinnie” Teresa being arrested for smuggling a near-extinct lizard into the United States. Later, after sending his script to Marlon Brando in 1988, the legendary actor invited him and producer Mike Lobell to his Tahiti island for a business vacation. Brando was ultimately paid $3 million for his role, “plus percentages.”
       The 14 Mar 1988 DV noted that the budget for The Freshman was $12 million. Principal photography was scheduled to begin in Oct 1988, but the 6 Jun 1989 HR reported that filming began that day, eight months later. According to studio notes in AMPAS library files, the production actually began in late May. After shooting exteriors in New York City for three weeks, the production moved to Toronto, Canada, for “the remainder of the 11-week schedule.” Among New York landmarks in the film are Grand Central Station, Washington Square, New York University, Little Italy, and Greenwich Village.
       According to an American Humane Society document in AMPAS library files, the film’s endangered “Komodo dragon” was played by seven “unendangered water monitor lizards,” each with its own “talent.” Some were “docile” and accustomed to being handled by humans, and others were speedy runners. Filmed in Toronto, the lizard scenes were not monitored by the society’s representatives.
       The 1 Sep 1989 LAHExam reported that while still on set in Toronto, star Marlon Brando called a Globe and Mail newspaper reporter to his trailer and lambasted the production, calling it “horrible,” “an unpleasant experience,” and “a stinker.” “It’s going to be a flop,” Brando said, “but after this, I’m retiring.” A week and a half later, Brando recanted his remarks and apologized in a formal statement, citing “trying times of a very personal nature,” according to the 12 Sep 1989 DV. “Clearly, I was wrong about the quality of the picture.” The Sep 1990 Premiere speculated that Brando was angry about not receiving overtime payments, and also cranky from a muscle strain during an ice skating scene that required a neck brace. Five months later, the 1 Feb 1990 DV noted that after seeing parts of the film for the first time during postsynch “looping,” Brando was “so tickled with his first comedy he’d like a sequel.” Co-star Maximilian Schell added that he and Brando talked about continuing their “con men” characters in another film, but no such project ever materialized.
       Favorable audience and critical reactions at preview screenings prompted Tri-Star to move the New York, Los Angeles, CA, and Toronto openings of The Freshman forward a month from 17 Aug 1990 to 20 Jul 1990, the 2 Jul 1990 DV reported. The film broke nationally the following week on 1,200 screens. However, the Sep 1990 issue of Premiere reported that Paramount Pictures threatened to enjoin the film’s release, claiming that Brando’s parody of The Godfather (1972, see entry) and his own character, “Don Vito Corleone,” infringed upon the studio’s copyrights. The 18 Jul 1990 Var announced that Paramount and Tri-Star Pictures settled the dispute. Tri-Star agreed to rescore “a couple of snippets of music borrowed from the soundtrack” of The Godfather and print a disclaimer in the final credits (see above). No mention was made of any financial compensation to Paramount, beyond licensing scenes from The Godfather: Part II (1974, see entry). The latter film, incidentally, co-starred Bruno Kirby as the young “Clemenza,” Vito Corleone’s right-hand man. In The Freshman, Kirby portrayed the Brando character’s nephew. Another actor, Gianni Russo, in a cameo as the maitre d’ at the Gourmet Club, portrayed Vito Corleone’s son-in-law, “Carlo,” in The Godfather.
       The Sep 1990 Box reported a “promising” $205,876 gross on only six screens during the film’s debut weekend.
      End credits contain the following disclaimer: “Paramount Pictures Corporation is the exclusive owner of all motion picture rights in and to The Godfather, The Godfather, Part II, and the characters of Don Vito Corleone. Any incidental allusion thereto in this motion picture occurs with the permission of Paramount Pictures Corporation.” Other information includes: “Scenes from The Godfather Part II courtesy of Paramount Pictures Corporation”; “Clips from Forty Second Street provided by Turner Entertainment Co.”; Charlie Chaplin™ © Copyright Bubbles Inc. S.A. 1990, represented by Bliss House, Inc., Springfield, MA 01103”; “Zeichen” by Kandinsky.” Acknowledgements include the following: “The Producers Wish to Thank: Amtrak; City of Toronto Film Liaison; Ontario Film Development Corporation; Cadillac Fairview Corporation, Woodbine Centre; City of Mississauga, Ontario Canada; Kuchne & Nagel International Ltd.; PMI Food Equipment Group Canada; Swissmar Imports Ltd; City of New York, Mayor’s Office for Film, Theater and Broadcasting, Patricia Reed Scott; New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development; New York University Tisch School of The Arts; Villeroy & Boch Tableware Limited; United Airlines; Mercedes Benz of America; Porsche Cars of North America, Inc.; Abercrombie & Fitch; Reunion des Musees Nationaux; McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Co.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Sep 1990
Section R, p. 66.
Daily Variety
14 Mar 1988
p. 1, 26.
Daily Variety
12 Sep 1989
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Feb 1990
p. 2.
Daily Variety
2 Jul 1990
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 1990
p. 6, 84.
LAHExam
1 Sep 1989
Section A, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
20 Jul 1990
Section F, p. 1.
New York Times
20 Jul 1990
p. 10.
Premiere
Sep 1990
pp. 39-44.
Time Out (London)
10-17 Oct 1990
p. 20.
Variety
18 Jul 1990
p. 13, 19.
Variety
18 Jul 1990
p. 95.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Tri-Star Pictures Presents
A Lobell/Bergman Production
A Tri-Star Release
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
3rd asst dir
Unit prod mgr, New York crew
2d asst dir, New York crew
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st ass cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam op
Gaffer
Best boy
Rigging gaffer
Key grip
2d grip
Rigging grip
Still photog
Gaffer, New York crew
Key grip, New York crew
Steadicam op, New York crew
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
1st asst art dir
1st asst art dir
Art dir, New York crew
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
Loc asst ed
2d asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dressing buyer
Prop master
Props
Head scenic artist
Const coord
Fine art recreation "Mona Lisa"
Chargeman scenic artist, New York crew
Prop master, New York crew
Set dec, New York crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst to cost des
Ward master
Ward supv, New York crew
Ward supv, New York crew
MUSIC
Mus by
Supv mus ed
Mus ed
Scoring mixer
Mus supv
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Asst ADR ed
Re-rec mixer
ADR rec
Foley artist
Boom op
Boom op, New York crew
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Title des by
DANCE
Dance choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Mr. Brando's hair/Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Casting
Exec in charge of prod
Canadian casting
Prod accountant
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Scr supv
Unit pub
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Prod secy
Prod asst
Asst to Mr. Brando
Asst to Mr. Lobell
Asst to Mr. Lobell
Asst to Mr. Lobell
Asst to Mr. Bergman
Asst to Mr. Bergman
Mr. Brando's dial coach
Animal wrangler
Product placement
Mr. Brando's skating coach
Prod office coord, New York crew
Hairstylist, New York crew
Loc mgr, New York crew
Craft service, New York crew
Tech adv, New York crew
Teamster capt, New York crew
Lizard trained and supplied by
Lizard trained and supplied by
Lizard trained and supplied by
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"From Her To Eternity," written by Nick Cave, Anita Lane, Blixa Bargeld, Mick Harvey, Barry Adamson & Hugo Race, performed by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, courtesy of Mute Records, Ltd.
"Guantanamera," arranged & adapted by Carmine Coppola
"Heart and Soul," written by Hoagy Carmichael & Frank Loesser
+
SONGS
"From Her To Eternity," written by Nick Cave, Anita Lane, Blixa Bargeld, Mick Harvey, Barry Adamson & Hugo Race, performed by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, courtesy of Mute Records, Ltd.
"Guantanamera," arranged & adapted by Carmine Coppola
"Heart and Soul," written by Hoagy Carmichael & Frank Loesser
"I Wanna Be Around," written by Sadie Vimmerstedt & Johnny Mercer, performed by Tony Bennett, courtesy of CBS Records, Music Licensing Department
"Introit: 'Viri Galilaei'," performed by Schola Cantorum of Amsterdam Students, courtesy of Sony Classical U.S.A.
"Maggie's Farm," written by Bob Dylan, performed by Bert Parks, produced by Don Was and David Was
"Mona Lisa," written by Jay Livingston & Ray Evans, performed by Nat King Cole, courtesy of Capitol Records, by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
"Mona Lisa," written by Jay Livingston & Ray Evans, performed by Bert Parks, produced by Don Was and David Was
"New York, New York," written by Jiggs Chase, Melvin Glover & Sylvia Robinson, performed by Grandmaster Flash, courtesy of Sugar Hill Records
"Parlami D'Amore Mariu," written by Caspar Andrea Bixio and E. Neri, performed by Ferruccio Tagliavini, courtesy of BMG Ariola S.p.A.
"Shuffle Off To Buffalo," written by Al Dubin & Harry Warren
"Straight Outta Compton," written by M.C. Ren, Ice Cube, Eazy-E & Dr. Dre, performed by N.W.A., courtesy of Ruthless/Priority Records
"String Quartet No. 13 In A Minor, D 824," Rosamonde "Allegro Manon Troppo," written by Franz Schubert, performed by Caspar de Salo Quartet, courtesy of Masterpiece Productions, Ltd., under license from CBS Special Products, a division of CBS Records, Inc.
"Tequila," written by Chuck Rio, performed by Bert Parks, produced by Don Was and David Was
"There She Is, Miss America," original words and music by Bernie Wayne, special parody lyrics by Andrew Bergman, performed by Bert Parks, produced by Don Was and David Was.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 July 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 20 July 1990
Production Date:
late May--early September 1989
Copyright Claimant:
Gemini Film Enterprises
Copyright Date:
28 August 1990
Copyright Number:
PA477419
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
102
Length(in feet):
9,229
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30154
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In rural Vermont, animal activist Dwight Arnold gives his stepson, Clark Kellogg, $600 “spending money” before he gets on the train headed for New York University Film School. When Clark arrives at Grand Central Station in New York City, Victor Ray offers to drive him to his dormitory, but speeds off with Clark’s luggage and money. Clark meets his roommate, Steve Bushak, and his cinema professor, Arthur Fleeber, who insists he pay $700 for books, written by Fleeber, before attending classes. Spotting Victor walking by outside Fleeber’s window, Clark chases him down and demands his clothes and money back. Victor claims he gambled away the money, but to make amends, the thief tells Clark where he can get a high-paying courier job. The next afternoon, Clark arrives at the Old World Social Club in Little Italy, where Victor introduces him to “Uncle” Carmine Sabatini, an “importer.” Clark is shocked by Carmine’s resemblance to “Don Vito Corleone” in The Godfather film, and suspects he may be a mobster. Carmine flatters Clark and offers him $500 to pick up a “package” at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and deliver it to an address in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. When Clark asks if the job is “legal,” Carmine grips the young man’s hand in a firm, two-fisted “handshake of friendship” to alleviate his doubts. He invites Clark to pick up car keys at his house in the borough of Queens that night. After Carmine leaves, Victor remarks admiringly how much his uncle liked him. Later, in film class, Professor Fleeber mouths dialogue from The Godfather: Part ... +


In rural Vermont, animal activist Dwight Arnold gives his stepson, Clark Kellogg, $600 “spending money” before he gets on the train headed for New York University Film School. When Clark arrives at Grand Central Station in New York City, Victor Ray offers to drive him to his dormitory, but speeds off with Clark’s luggage and money. Clark meets his roommate, Steve Bushak, and his cinema professor, Arthur Fleeber, who insists he pay $700 for books, written by Fleeber, before attending classes. Spotting Victor walking by outside Fleeber’s window, Clark chases him down and demands his clothes and money back. Victor claims he gambled away the money, but to make amends, the thief tells Clark where he can get a high-paying courier job. The next afternoon, Clark arrives at the Old World Social Club in Little Italy, where Victor introduces him to “Uncle” Carmine Sabatini, an “importer.” Clark is shocked by Carmine’s resemblance to “Don Vito Corleone” in The Godfather film, and suspects he may be a mobster. Carmine flatters Clark and offers him $500 to pick up a “package” at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and deliver it to an address in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. When Clark asks if the job is “legal,” Carmine grips the young man’s hand in a firm, two-fisted “handshake of friendship” to alleviate his doubts. He invites Clark to pick up car keys at his house in the borough of Queens that night. After Carmine leaves, Victor remarks admiringly how much his uncle liked him. Later, in film class, Professor Fleeber mouths dialogue from The Godfather: Part II as he projects a scene between “Michael Corleone” and a corrupt senator, then asks Clark how the scene relates to what Karl Marx wrote in Das Kapital. When Clark has no answer, Fleeber demands he deliver a five-page paper the next day. That evening, arriving at the Sabatini house, Clark is met by Carmine’s daughter, Tina Sabatini, who shows him what he takes to be a copy of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. When he comments on how authentic it looks, she corrects him by explaining that after the Mona Lisa toured the United States ten years earlier, a copy went back to Paris, France, and the original ended up on the Sabatini family wall. Tina allays any concern about security by telling him, “People don’t steal things from my father.” She gives Clark a car key and kisses him goodbye. The next day, Clark and his roommate Steve drive a Cadillac to the import warehouse at JFK and take possession of a Komodo dragon, a large Indonesian lizard. Placed in the back seat, the creature vomits on the way to New Jersey, prompting a stop at a gas station. The Komodo dragon escapes to a nearby shopping mall and terrorizes shoppers, but Clark and Steve capture it and return to the car. They deliver the creature to Larry London, also known as Hans Kurt Schlagel, a German chef who gives Clark a packet of money. That night, when Clark telephones his mother, he mentions transporting the Komodo dragon. Looking at a reference book, she warns him that they are an endangered species. Unknown to Clark and his mother, her animal-rights-campaigning husband, Dwight Arnold, eavesdrops on the call and is agitated to hear about the lizard. As Clark arrives at Carmine’s social club the next day, Chuck Greenwald and Lloyd Simpson, agents from the Department of Justice’s Fish and Wildlife Division, take photographs from a nearby roof. Carmine warmly greets Clark and laughs about the Komodo-in-the-mall episode, and Clark is surprised he knows about it. Concerned about the lizard’s rarity, he asks to be released from their agreement, but Carmine dissuades him, partly because his daughter, Tina, is in love with Clark and plans to marry him. Carmine compliments Clark on the way he “opens” his heart and expresses what is on his mind—the trait of a loyal man. Adding that he looks upon Clark as “a real son,” Carmine kisses him on the lips. A bartender crosses himself. Outside the club, Carmine presents Clark with a Mercedes Benz automobile as an engagement gift. The agents stationed on the nearby rooftop take photographs. Afterward, Clark mentions the kiss to Victor, who crosses himself and informs the young man that he received the “kiss of all kisses,” a sacred Sicilian sign of loyalty. Clark drives away, and the agents follow, but when they flash their lights for him to pull over, he evades them. Arriving at Tina’s college, Clark is introduced to her music teacher, a priest who is already preparing music for their upcoming wedding. Seeing Clark’s reluctance, Tina assures him they do not have to “rush into it,” as long as he is waiting for her. She also reveals that he was “chosen” for the courier job from the moment Victor saw him at Grand Central Station. Later, as an excuse for not turning in his five-page paper, Clark explains to Professor Fleeber what has been going on, but Fleeber thinks he is “pitching” a screenplay idea for a film noir. At that moment, agents Greenwald and Simpson enter the room, arrest Clark, and take him to an abandoned building for interrogation. They tell him his stepfather, Dwight, turned him in, and further explain that Carmine Sabatini, better known as “Jimmy the Toucan,” and Larry London, born Hans Kurt Schlagel, run the Gourmet Club, a “movable feast” that occurs every few months in secret locations. Wealthy patrons pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to dine on exotic, nearly extinct animals. Since there are only eight Komodo dragons left in the world, the price per plate will be $350,000, and with a chef like Schlagel, one Komodo dragon could supply sixty servings, worth a total of $20 million. Clark refuses to believe Carmine would be involved, but the agents demand he tell them the place and time of the next Gourmet Club dinner, and “give us the old man,” or else he faces two years in federal prison. Later, Clark follows Carmine on the streets of Little Italy, observing how he treats everyone with respect. That night, Carmine comes to his dormitory room to tell him he spotted him on the street earlier. They share memories of a series of children’s books that Carmine read to Tina and Clark’s late father read to him. They discuss poetry. Finally, Carmine asks if Clark has anything to tell him, then adds that he knows Clark will do the right thing. In class the next day, during a screening of The Godfather, Part II, Clark is shocked when “Michael Corleone” gives his brother “Fredo” a kiss on the lips, signifying Fredo’s betrayal. As Fleeber discusses loyalty, Tina enters and asks to see Clark. The professor mocks her until she reveals her identity, then becomes obsequious and asks if he can meet “Jimmy the Toucan.” Clark and Tina drive to a rink where Carmine is ice skating with a woman. He tells them it is time to go to the Gourmet Club. They dress in formal attire and drive to a wooded location, where dozens of expensive cars are parked in a cornfield. Clark tells Carmine about the two agents, who are following them, accompanied by Clark’s stepfather, Dwight. Carmine explains that the men are legitimate government agents, but are on the payroll of the Binelli Family, a New Jersey outfit that wants to take over the Gourmet Club. After Carmine, Tina, and Clark enter a large tent filled with wealthy men and young women sitting at tables, Larry London wheels the live Komodo dragon among them to display the evening’s main course. Clark slips outside as a signal to Greenwald and Simpson, then enters the kitchen. Suddenly, the agents rush in with drawn guns. Pretending to believe Clark has betrayed him, Carmine grabs him and puts a gun to his head, but in the ensuing struggle, the gun goes off and Carmine drops to the floor, apparently dead. Dwight enters and asks his stepson to return home, but Clark refuses. When the agents leave with some of the evening’s money and return to their car, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrest them. Carmine stands up, unhurt, and brushes himself off. Victor and Tina enter the kitchen, and Larry confides that he is ready to serve the privileged gourmets a meal of tiger fish and smoked turkey in special sauce. They tell Clark this is the last Gourmet Club meal, a long-running scam that fleeces rich men who think they are dining on rare animals. The millions that Carmine made have built the new “Sabatini Wing” at the Bronx Zoo, which will house endangered animals, including the Komodo dragon. After everyone has left, Tina and Clark dance. The marriage is off, she tells him, but she wants to spend time with him. Tina explains that from the beginning, Clark was the bait to get his well-known activist stepfather to telephone the Justice Department and get the crooked agents involved. Carmine bids Clark arrivederci, but as the old man walks away with the Komodo dragon, Clark helps him carry it. +

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

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