Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

R | 90 mins | Drama | 3 November 1976

Director:

John Carpenter

Writer:

John Carpenter

Producer:

J. S. Kaplan

Cinematographer:

Douglas Knapp

Editor:

John T. Chance

Production Designer:

Tommy Wallace

Production Company:

The C K K Corporation
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HISTORY

End credits include the statement: "Interiors filmed at Producers Studios, Inc., Hollywood, California."
       As noted in a 14 Dec 1977 Var article, Assault on Precinct 13 was an homage to Howard Hawks’s film, Rio Bravo (1959, see entry), which featured John Wayne in the role of “John T. Chance.” According to the Feb 1978 issue of Film and Filming, director John Carpenter was listed in the credits for Assault on Precinct 13 as film editor with the pseudonym John T. Chance. The film’s budget was $200,000.
       As stated in a 22 Aug 1979 Village Voice article, the film was not well-received in the U.S. upon its domestic release in 1976. However, a screening at the May 1977 Cannes Film Festival received favorable reviews from British critics, causing the film to be booked in the Aug 1977 Edinburgh Film Festival, according to the 12 Dec 1977 Var. From there, it traveled to the 21st London Film Festival (LFF) in Nov 1977, where Carpenter was greeted as “one of the three most sought after directors” of the event and U.K. distribution by Miracle Films was secured.
       On 11 Jun 1979, DV reported that the film was set for reissue that year by Compass International Pictures to take advantage of Carpenter’s popularity after his successful release of Halloween (1978, see entry). After a trial seven-day run in two San Antonio, TX, theaters, the 1979 release of Assault on Precinct 13 grossed $11,748. Miracle Films also re-released the film in the U.K. As stated ... More Less

End credits include the statement: "Interiors filmed at Producers Studios, Inc., Hollywood, California."
       As noted in a 14 Dec 1977 Var article, Assault on Precinct 13 was an homage to Howard Hawks’s film, Rio Bravo (1959, see entry), which featured John Wayne in the role of “John T. Chance.” According to the Feb 1978 issue of Film and Filming, director John Carpenter was listed in the credits for Assault on Precinct 13 as film editor with the pseudonym John T. Chance. The film’s budget was $200,000.
       As stated in a 22 Aug 1979 Village Voice article, the film was not well-received in the U.S. upon its domestic release in 1976. However, a screening at the May 1977 Cannes Film Festival received favorable reviews from British critics, causing the film to be booked in the Aug 1977 Edinburgh Film Festival, according to the 12 Dec 1977 Var. From there, it traveled to the 21st London Film Festival (LFF) in Nov 1977, where Carpenter was greeted as “one of the three most sought after directors” of the event and U.K. distribution by Miracle Films was secured.
       On 11 Jun 1979, DV reported that the film was set for reissue that year by Compass International Pictures to take advantage of Carpenter’s popularity after his successful release of Halloween (1978, see entry). After a trial seven-day run in two San Antonio, TX, theaters, the 1979 release of Assault on Precinct 13 grossed $11,748. Miracle Films also re-released the film in the U.K. As stated in a 29 Jan 1980 HR news brief, Assault on Precinct 13 was doubled-billed with Halloween in Spring 1980 on 270 screens in the Odeon Theatre circuit.
       In 1978, John Carpenter was awarded with a “Special Silver Plaque” at the Chicago International Film Festival after the screening of Assault on Precinct 13 and Halloween as reported in the 4 Dec 1978 Box.
       A 15 Aug 1986 DV brief, announced that CKK Corp. filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in a Los Angeles, CA, U.S. District Court accusing the defendants, Turtle Releasing Co.’s Irwin Yablans and Media Home Entertainment’s Joe Wolf, of distributing the film past the expiration date of a deal that ended three years earlier on 31 Jul 1983. The outcome of the lawsuit could not be determined as of the writing of this Note.
       Assault on Precinct 13 (2005, see entry) was remade with Jean-François Richet directing.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
4 Dec 1978.
---
Daily Variety
11 Jun 1979.
---
Daily Variety
15 Aug 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Nov 1976
p. 24.
New York Times
18 Aug 1979.
---
Variety
17 Nov 1976
p. 19.
Variety
12 Dec 1977.
---
Variety
14 Dec 1977.
---
Village Voice
22 Aug 1979.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Asst prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
Best boy
Best boy
Key grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
2d asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Set const
Set painter
COSTUMES
Ward mistress
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Make-up
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Post prod supv
STAND INS
Stunt driver
Stunt driver
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 November 1976
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 3 November 1976
Copyright Claimant:
CKK Corporation
Copyright Date:
25 January 1980
Copyright Number:
PA66508
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Metrocolor
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
90
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

At 3:10 a.m., police, shooting from the rooftops, gun down six heavily armed gang members. Later, four multi-racial Los Angeles gang warlords meet in a room full of stolen automatic weapons. Each man cuts his arm and bleeds in a glass bowl. That afternoon, Ethan Bishop is disappointed to learn that his first night as a police lieutenant will be spent supervising the decommissioning of the Anderson precinct, aka Precinct 13. At 5:11 p.m., special agent Starker arrives at Los Cruces prison to transport three prisoners to Sonora, California. The warden introduces him to the convicts: Wells, a muscular African-American man; Cornell, an ill and skinny white man; and Napoleon Wilson, a death row inmate, shackled to a chair. The warden knocks Wilson off the chair, then leads him outside where Wilson wraps his chains around the Warden’s legs and pulls him off his feet. Meanwhile, Lawson and his young daughter, Kathy, drive by the Anderson precinct looking for Kathy’s nanny’s house. They pass the gang leaders, who screw silencers onto their automatic weapons. Later, Bishop arrives at Anderson and meets his skeleton crew: Julie, a switchboard operator; Leigh, a secretary; and Chaney, an elderly police sergeant. Bishop is briefed that only two shotguns are left in the precinct and he will be relieved at 4 a.m.; the precinct will close at 10 a.m. Meanwhile, on the prison bus, Cornell has a coughing fit so bad that Starker orders the driver to go to the nearest police precinct. At 6:18 p.m., Lawson stops at a phone booth, while Kathy runs over to an ice cream truck. ... +


At 3:10 a.m., police, shooting from the rooftops, gun down six heavily armed gang members. Later, four multi-racial Los Angeles gang warlords meet in a room full of stolen automatic weapons. Each man cuts his arm and bleeds in a glass bowl. That afternoon, Ethan Bishop is disappointed to learn that his first night as a police lieutenant will be spent supervising the decommissioning of the Anderson precinct, aka Precinct 13. At 5:11 p.m., special agent Starker arrives at Los Cruces prison to transport three prisoners to Sonora, California. The warden introduces him to the convicts: Wells, a muscular African-American man; Cornell, an ill and skinny white man; and Napoleon Wilson, a death row inmate, shackled to a chair. The warden knocks Wilson off the chair, then leads him outside where Wilson wraps his chains around the Warden’s legs and pulls him off his feet. Meanwhile, Lawson and his young daughter, Kathy, drive by the Anderson precinct looking for Kathy’s nanny’s house. They pass the gang leaders, who screw silencers onto their automatic weapons. Later, Bishop arrives at Anderson and meets his skeleton crew: Julie, a switchboard operator; Leigh, a secretary; and Chaney, an elderly police sergeant. Bishop is briefed that only two shotguns are left in the precinct and he will be relieved at 4 a.m.; the precinct will close at 10 a.m. Meanwhile, on the prison bus, Cornell has a coughing fit so bad that Starker orders the driver to go to the nearest police precinct. At 6:18 p.m., Lawson stops at a phone booth, while Kathy runs over to an ice cream truck. The ice cream driver is distracted by a black car that keeps circling the block. After Kathy skips away with her ice cream, the driver is pulled out of the truck by the white gang leader. Realizing she got the wrong flavor, Kathy comes back to the truck and is shot by the gang leader, who then fatally shoots the driver. Lawson finishes his call and sees Kathy lying by the truck. Cradling Kathy’s body, Lawson sees the black car drive away and the dying driver says there is a gun under the dashboard. Meanwhile, the police bus arrives at Anderson, and a reluctant Bishop allows Starker to use the holding cells, while he calls a doctor. At 7 p.m., Lawson chases Kathy’s killers until they jump out of their car and run. Lawson kills the white gang leader, then realizes he is out of bullets, and runs to Anderson precinct. Collapsing at the front desk, Lawson is so traumatized that he can only say he is being followed. Ethan Bishop puts Lawson into the Captain’s office and tries to call a doctor, but the phones and the lights go dead. Bishop at first believes it is an outside power failure, but the streetlights remain on. Special agent Starker decides to leave; however, when Chaney and Bishop step outside, Chaney is shot dead. Bishop runs back inside, and rushes to the holding cells, but is too late to prevent Starker, the guards and Cornell from being gunned down as they step outside. Napoleon Wilson steals Starker’s keys, but Bishop makes Starker give them to him after he gets Wilson and Wells back inside and into the holding cells. Salvos of bullets greet Bishop as he returns to the lobby. When the firing stops, he looks outside and sees everyone is gone. Leigh explains there is no rear exit to the building, and all the surrounding buildings are abandoned. As Bishop gives her his revolver and orders her to watch the windows, the gang leaders throw the glass bowl of blood at the door. Sobbing, Julie pleads with Bishop to give the gang Lawson, but he refuses. The shooting resumes, and Bishop hands Leigh the cell keys, ordering her to free the prisoners. As she opens the cells, a thug breaks down the outside door and shoots her in the arm. She smashes the man in the face with the key ring and opens the cell. With Wells and Wilson, she fights her way back to the lobby and barricades the door. Other gang members smash through the windows. Bishop tosses Wilson a shotgun while Wells retrieves a gun from a slain gang member. When the fighting is over, they discover Julie is dead. Bishop notices an acetylene tank and exclaims that they could have been blown to pieces. Looking outside, Bishop sees that all the corpses have been removed to make it seem like nothing has happened. When Wells informs them he is leaving, Bishop stands in his way and Wells pulls his gun. Leigh steps between them, telling Wells he will be gunned down if he goes outside, then notices Wells is out of bullets. A quick check shows they have only eight bullets left. Remembering that a tunnel runs from the basement to a manhole in the parking lot, Leigh explains someone could crawl out, and go for help. The two prisoners play a game to decide who goes out and Wells loses. He crawls out, hotwires a car and drives off. When Wells stops at a phone booth, a gang member sits up in the back seat and shoots him in the head. Wilson recommends they retreat to the basement as it is easier to defend. As they descend the stairs, Leigh asks Wilson why he did not try to escape and Wilson replies that there are only two things a man never leaves behind, one is a helpless man, but he does not say what the second is. Bishop wraps some flares around the acetylene tank, explaining that when the gang attacks, he will shoot the flares to detonate the tank. He and Wilson will use a huge metal sign to shield them from the blast. Meanwhile, policemen patrolling the neighborhood call for backup when they find a dead telephone repairman hanging from a pole. Back at Precinct 13, the gang attacks, but Wilson and Bishop use clubs to force them back. Leigh shoots a man coming in from the sewer. When the hall is full, Bishop shoots the tank with his final bullet and it explodes. As the smoke clears, police enter to find Wilson, Leigh, Bishop and Lawson still alive. When a policeman tries to handcuff Wilson, Ethan Bishop pushes him away and says it will be a privilege if Wilson will walk out with him. The two leave the smoking basement.
+

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

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