Tracks (1979)

90 mins | Drama | 16 February 1979

Director:

Henry Jaglom

Writer:

Henry Jaglom

Producer:

Howard Zucker

Cinematographer:

Paul Glickman

Production Designer:

Bryan Ryman

Production Company:

Rainbow Pictures
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HISTORY

On 26 Apr 1974, DV announced that producer Howard Zucker, director Henry Jaglom, and French producer Henri Lange had formed HHH Rainbow Prods., and independent, low-budget film studio. As part of the deal, Jaglom created a HHH Rainbow Prods. subsidiary called the Filmmakers Co-Op, which represented actors, writers, and directors, such as Dennis Hopper, Paul Williams, and Martin Scorsese, who agreed to exchange reduced salaries for “heavy participation” in film grosses. Tracks was set to be the first Filmmakers Co-Op production, with Hopper cast in the starring role as “Sgt. Jack Falen,” a $1 million budget, and principal photography scheduled to begin before the end of 1974. However, a 19 Aug 1974 Box news item, which announced the casting of Dean Stockwell and Richard Romanus, listed the production company as Rainbow Pictures, without mentioning Filmmakers Co-Op. Romanus did not remain with the project. Over nine months later, a 30 Apr 1975 DV news item stated that principal photography had begun.
       As noted in a 26 Mar 1979 Box article, Jaglom selected songs and actors to evoke the WWII era, when U.S. citizens were generally united against the war. Jaglom noted his intention to contrast the social accord of the 1940s and 1950s with the cultural divisiveness of the Vietnam War. Illustrating a “deliberate clash with the past,” Jaglom cast popular 1950s child star Dean Stockwell as a left-wing political activist, as well as two children of 1940s Hollywood actors: Topo Swope, the daughter of Dorothy McGuire, and Taryn Power, the daughter of Tyrone Power. Tracks marked Taryn Power’s feature ... More Less

On 26 Apr 1974, DV announced that producer Howard Zucker, director Henry Jaglom, and French producer Henri Lange had formed HHH Rainbow Prods., and independent, low-budget film studio. As part of the deal, Jaglom created a HHH Rainbow Prods. subsidiary called the Filmmakers Co-Op, which represented actors, writers, and directors, such as Dennis Hopper, Paul Williams, and Martin Scorsese, who agreed to exchange reduced salaries for “heavy participation” in film grosses. Tracks was set to be the first Filmmakers Co-Op production, with Hopper cast in the starring role as “Sgt. Jack Falen,” a $1 million budget, and principal photography scheduled to begin before the end of 1974. However, a 19 Aug 1974 Box news item, which announced the casting of Dean Stockwell and Richard Romanus, listed the production company as Rainbow Pictures, without mentioning Filmmakers Co-Op. Romanus did not remain with the project. Over nine months later, a 30 Apr 1975 DV news item stated that principal photography had begun.
       As noted in a 26 Mar 1979 Box article, Jaglom selected songs and actors to evoke the WWII era, when U.S. citizens were generally united against the war. Jaglom noted his intention to contrast the social accord of the 1940s and 1950s with the cultural divisiveness of the Vietnam War. Illustrating a “deliberate clash with the past,” Jaglom cast popular 1950s child star Dean Stockwell as a left-wing political activist, as well as two children of 1940s Hollywood actors: Topo Swope, the daughter of Dorothy McGuire, and Taryn Power, the daughter of Tyrone Power. Tracks marked Taryn Power’s feature film debut. Producer Howard Zucker is credited in the role of “Gene” with the pseudonym, “Zack Norman,” and Jaglom’s wife, Patrice Townsend, who is listed onscreen as assistant to the director, also appears in the film in an uncredited role, as a “meditator.”
       According to Box, the picture was filmed on cross-country trains, using real-life stewards and passengers as background actors. Jaglom reportedly travelled across the U.S. by train six times “to get background material” even before the production began. Jaglom staged Sgt. Jack Falen’s final destination in Dodge City, KS, because the location marked the hometown of actor Dennis Hopper.
       Tracks premiered at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, where it was honored as one of eight films in the official critics selection, as noted in a 28 Apr 1976 Women’s Wear Daily article. However, the picture was not picked up by a distributor in 1976, reflecting the film industry’s aversion to controversial Vietnam War properties at that time, according to the 26 Mar 1979 Box. With the success of Coming Home (1978, see entry) and The Deer Hunter (1978, see entry), Tracks was acquired by distributor Trio Releasing Company, making its New York City debut at the American Mavericks Festival on 27 Jan 1979, and opening for general release on 16 Feb 1979 at the Quad Theatre. Box reported that the film also screened in Boston, MA, Cambridge, MA, and Providence, RI, and was scheduled for a national opening in spring 1979. It had already been distributed as a “big hit” in Italy, France, England, and Germany. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 Aug 1974.
---
Box Office
26 Mar 1979.
---
Daily Variety
26 Apr 1974
p. 1, 12.
Daily Variety
30 Apr 1975.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Dec 1976
p. 29.
New York Times
16 Feb 1979.
---
Variety
19 May 1976
p. 27.
Variety
7 Feb 1979.
---
Women's Wear Daily
28 Apr 1976.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Rainbow Pictures presents
A film by Henry Jaglom
A Howard Zuker production
A Rainbow picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
Gaffer
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
SET DECORATOR
Props
MUSIC
Mus consultant
Mus consultant
Mus consultant
SOUND
Re-rec
Re-rec
Re-rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Exec in charge of prod
Asst to the dir
Scr supv
Prod secy
Prod bookkeeper
Consultant
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
SOURCES
SONGS
We with to express our thanks to RCA Records, MCA Records (Decca Label), Columbia Records for the following songs: "Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition," written by Frank Loesser, performed by Kay Kyser and his Orchestra
"Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree," written by Lew Brown, Sam H. Stept and Charles Tobias, performed by Glen Miller and his Orchestra
"These Foolish Things," performed by Bing Crosby
+
SONGS
We with to express our thanks to RCA Records, MCA Records (Decca Label), Columbia Records for the following songs: "Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition," written by Frank Loesser, performed by Kay Kyser and his Orchestra
"Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree," written by Lew Brown, Sam H. Stept and Charles Tobias, performed by Glen Miller and his Orchestra
"These Foolish Things," performed by Bing Crosby
"This Love Of Mine," written by Barry Parker, Henry W. Sanicola and Frank Sinatra, performed by Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with Frank Sinatra
"He Wears A Pair Of Silver Wings," written by Michael Carr and Eric Maschwitz, performed by Dinah Shore
"(There'll Be A) Hot Time In The Town Of Berlin," written by Joseph Bushkin and John De Vries, performed by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters
"My Sister And I," written by Alex C. Kramer, Joan Whitney and Hy Zaret, performed by Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra
"The Way You Look Tonight," written by Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern, performed by Fred Astaire
"There's A Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere," written by David L. McEnery, Bob Miller and Paul Roberts, performed by Elton Britt and the Skytoppers.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
16 February 1979
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 15 December 1976
New York opening: 16 February 1979
Production Date:
began late April 1975
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
90
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24425
SYNOPSIS

Sgt. Jack Falen prepares to escort the body of a friend across country for a military funeral. As Jack boards the train, he hears a radio broadcast of President Nixon announcing that America has signed a peace treaty with North Vietnam. At the beginning of his journey, Jack meets Mark. They flirt with a female passenger. The woman is attracted to Jack, but he leaves her side to listen to Gene, a balding land salesman who is arguing baseball with another passenger. Jack then walks away mid-conversation to sit with Emile, an aging intellectual, who explains yoga positions. Jack spends the day talking with Gene, Emile, and Mark about vegetarianism, chess, and the dangers of smoking, but he cannot sit still and consistently interrupts conversations to leave. However, he relaxes in his sleeping car, listening to music from WWII and smoking a marijuana cigarette. In Vietnam, Jack and his friend would take drugs and watch the tracer bullets fly overhead, but one day a tracer round killed his buddy. Jack insists there will be band and a parade waiting for the funeral. When Mark invites Jack to the dining car to meet two college girls named Stephanie and Chloe, Jack changes out of his uniform, and joins them, but he is too anxious to stay at the table, and Stephanie joins him at the bar. Although Jack invites her to his room, Stephanie goes back to the table and Jack leaves. However, Stephanie later goes to Jack’s berth and they embrace, but Jack’s aggressiveness scares her away. The next morning, Jack apologizes to Stephanie and ... +


Sgt. Jack Falen prepares to escort the body of a friend across country for a military funeral. As Jack boards the train, he hears a radio broadcast of President Nixon announcing that America has signed a peace treaty with North Vietnam. At the beginning of his journey, Jack meets Mark. They flirt with a female passenger. The woman is attracted to Jack, but he leaves her side to listen to Gene, a balding land salesman who is arguing baseball with another passenger. Jack then walks away mid-conversation to sit with Emile, an aging intellectual, who explains yoga positions. Jack spends the day talking with Gene, Emile, and Mark about vegetarianism, chess, and the dangers of smoking, but he cannot sit still and consistently interrupts conversations to leave. However, he relaxes in his sleeping car, listening to music from WWII and smoking a marijuana cigarette. In Vietnam, Jack and his friend would take drugs and watch the tracer bullets fly overhead, but one day a tracer round killed his buddy. Jack insists there will be band and a parade waiting for the funeral. When Mark invites Jack to the dining car to meet two college girls named Stephanie and Chloe, Jack changes out of his uniform, and joins them, but he is too anxious to stay at the table, and Stephanie joins him at the bar. Although Jack invites her to his room, Stephanie goes back to the table and Jack leaves. However, Stephanie later goes to Jack’s berth and they embrace, but Jack’s aggressiveness scares her away. The next morning, Jack apologizes to Stephanie and later reconnects with the lady he flirted with the previous day. She invites him to her cabin and they make love. That evening, Jack dines with Stephanie and Chloe, and when he excuses himself to check on his friend’s coffin, Chloe interrogates Stephanie about her feelings for Jack. Later, Jack plays poker with a Korean War veteran who tells him to stop feeling sorry for himself, but as the man talks, Jack hallucinates that Stephanie is being raped by fellow passengers. Jack returns to his quarters and listens to his radio. The next day, Jack flirts with Stephanie and talks with Mark, confessing that he joined the army to escape poverty. Jack hallucinates that he is hunting a military policeman with a pistol throughout the train. Jack rushes to a bathroom, strips off his uniform, and runs naked back to his car. As Jack dresses in his civilian clothes, Mark bursts inside and explains that he is a revolutionary. Mark claims he is being pursued and begs Jack to hide him, but Jack throws him out, raving that Mark is the reason his friend is dead. Jack then hallucinates that Gene, Emile, and the rest of the male passengers chase Mark off the train and beat him. That night, Jack imagines going into a passageway where Mark, wearing an army uniform, approaches. He curls up into a ball and silently screams. The next morning, Stephanie decides to stay on the train with Jack despite Chloe’s objections. Stephanie tells her friend that Jack has had a miserable life and she wants to give him one nice experience. Meanwhile, Jack imagines sitting next to an old lady who tells him everything will be fine. A group of train stewards appear, pick up the old woman, and drag her away. When a steward threatens Jack, an old man tells him that he is in great danger. Later, Jack hallucinates that he and Stephanie leave the train and make love in a grassy field. He breaks down, crying that he could not help Mark. The emotion provokes a second hallucination, where Mark morphs into Stephanie, wearing an army dress uniform. Jack keeps making love to Stephanie, but she becomes frightened and pushes him off to run away. The hallucinations end and Jack finds himself sitting alone on the train, sobbing. Upon arriving at his destination, Jack is met by two undertakers instead of a parade. Jack is confused, declaring that his friend was a hero and there should be a crowd to welcome him. The undertakers apologize and inform him of the funeral location and time. Jack wanders around town, ending up in an empty schoolroom, where he hallucinates that he goes home and plays with toy soldiers. At the cemetery, Jack is incensed there are no mourners. He asks to be left alone at the gravesite, and has a breakdown. In his mind’s eye, he leaps into the grave, opens the coffin, finds his battle gear, and runs across the cemetery to engage in battle. +

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

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