The Domino Principle (1977)

R | 100 mins | Drama, Adventure | 1977

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HISTORY

In Adam Kennedy's novel, the assassination target was the President of the United States, Roy Tucker was imprisoned at Indiana State Prison instead of CA's San Quentin State Prison, and his wife was named Thelma, not Ellie.
       The film begins with a series of black and white film clips of assassinations, carnage, and rampaging crowds, with voice-over narration stating that we are all manipulated and brainwashed, and that secret, powerful organizations direct us to benefit their own ends.
       Associated General Films was formed by Sir Lew Grade's London-based Associated Television and the Boston, MA-based General Cinema Corporation for the purpose of producing fifteen to twenty films a year, according to the 22 Oct 1975 Var. The 5 Dec 1975 DV put the budget for The Domino Principle at roughly $6 million, but producer-director Stanley Kramer told the 28 April 1976 Var that the final budget was $4 million.
       Actors Oskar Werner and James Whitmore were originally approached for key roles in The Domino Principle, the 9 Mar 1976 HR and 26 Feb 1976 DV noted, respectively.
       The 12 Apr 1976 Box reported that filming was originally scheduled to begin at Stateville Prison, Joliet, IL, but Warden David Brieton rejected the idea of allowing forty-to-fifty members of the cast and crew into the prison for sixteen days, citing security considerations.
       Kramer's "diary" in the Mar 1977 issue of Los Angeles magazine detailed the film's nine-week schedule: on the first day of shooting, 12 Apr 1976, at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, CA, an inmate stabbed a security ... More Less

In Adam Kennedy's novel, the assassination target was the President of the United States, Roy Tucker was imprisoned at Indiana State Prison instead of CA's San Quentin State Prison, and his wife was named Thelma, not Ellie.
       The film begins with a series of black and white film clips of assassinations, carnage, and rampaging crowds, with voice-over narration stating that we are all manipulated and brainwashed, and that secret, powerful organizations direct us to benefit their own ends.
       Associated General Films was formed by Sir Lew Grade's London-based Associated Television and the Boston, MA-based General Cinema Corporation for the purpose of producing fifteen to twenty films a year, according to the 22 Oct 1975 Var. The 5 Dec 1975 DV put the budget for The Domino Principle at roughly $6 million, but producer-director Stanley Kramer told the 28 April 1976 Var that the final budget was $4 million.
       Actors Oskar Werner and James Whitmore were originally approached for key roles in The Domino Principle, the 9 Mar 1976 HR and 26 Feb 1976 DV noted, respectively.
       The 12 Apr 1976 Box reported that filming was originally scheduled to begin at Stateville Prison, Joliet, IL, but Warden David Brieton rejected the idea of allowing forty-to-fifty members of the cast and crew into the prison for sixteen days, citing security considerations.
       Kramer's "diary" in the Mar 1977 issue of Los Angeles magazine detailed the film's nine-week schedule: on the first day of shooting, 12 Apr 1976, at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, CA, an inmate stabbed a security officer with a homemade weapon within 100 feet of the production. Five days later, on 17 Apr, the film moved to San Francisco, CA, and then, on 21 Apr, relocated to CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles for a week of interiors. The production traveled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, which stood in for Puntaveras, Costa Rica, on 3 May for ten days of location shooting, then returned to CBS Studio Center on 17 May. The remainder of filming occurred around Los Angeles--in Bel-Air and Santa Monica, at Burbank Airport and the Forum in Inglewood, and at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Larrabee in West Hollywood. The final day of shooting was 18 Jun 1976.
       This was the final feature film of actor Jay Novello and cinematographer Ernest Laszlo. Kramer, who had worked many times with Laszlo, brought him in to replace Fred Koenekamp, who was injured early in the production while shooting a scene in Puerto Vallarta, the 25 May 1976 DV reported. Actor Gene Hackman briefly retired not long after the film wrapped. He told the 31 Dec 1978 LAT, "I was on the take-the-money-and-run bandwagon. I knew it, and I had to stop," adding that he did The Domino Principle "just for the money, and it shows."
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
12 Apr 1976.
---
Daily Variety
5 Dec 1975.
---
Daily Variety
26 Feb 1976.
---
Daily Variety
30 Mar 1976.
---
Daily Variety
25 May 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 1977
p. 3.
Los Angeles
Mar 1977
pp. 208-214.
Los Angeles Times
23 Mar 1977
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
5 Aug 1977.
---
Los Angeles Times
31 Dec 1978
p. J-25.
New York Times
24 Mar 1977
p. 23.
Variety
22 Oct 1975.
---
Variety
28 Apr 1976.
---
Variety
23 Mar 1977
p. 22.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Sir Lew Grade Presents
For Associated General Films
In Association with Martin Starger
A Stanley Kramer Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr/Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
Key grip
Chief elec
Aerial photog
Crab dolly
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Asst cam
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Const coord
Set illustrator
Set des
Asst prop man
Lead man
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
Head sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Main title des
Optical & color
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Prod coord
Prod coord
Casting
Aerial coord
Cars furnished by
Cars furnished by
Exec prod mgr
Transportation capt
Prod asst
Prod secy
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Color by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Domino Principle by Adam Kennedy (New York, 1975).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Some Day Soon," lyrics by Harry Shannon, music by Billy Goldenberg, sung by Shirley Eikhard
"No Puedo Olvidar," lyrics by Orlando Perez, music by Billy Goldenberg
"Stay A Little Longer," lyrics and music by Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan, sung by Gene Hackman and Candace Bergen.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Domino Killings
Release Date:
1977
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 23 March 1977
Production Date:
12 April--18 June 1976 in San Quentin, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, CA, and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Copyright Claimant:
KM International Entertainment
Copyright Date:
8 April 1991
Copyright Number:
1495988
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Photo equip by Panavision
Duration(in mins):
100
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
Mexico, United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

At San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California, prisoner Roy Tucker is told to report to Warden Ditcher’s office to make shelves. When he arrives, the warden introduces Roy to his colleague, Marvin Tagge, and leaves the office. Tagge tells Roy that a group on the outside wants to help him, but Roy replies that since he faces fifteen years in prison for murder, the only way Tagge can help is to get him and his cellmate, Oscar Spiventa, out of maximum security. Later that day, guards move Roy and Oscar into the “general population.” Oscar knows something is going on, but Roy refuses to talk about it. When Roy returns to the warden’s office, Tagge asks personal questions about his military history. Roy explains that after a West Virginia judge gave him the choice of going to jail or enlisting in the Army, he became a decorated hero in Vietnam, a marksman in a “search and destroy” unit. The next time Roy visits the warden’s office, Tagge’s assistant, Ross Pine, asks more personal questions, such as how does it feel to kill another human being? Asked about the crime that put him in prison, Roy says he killed a man named Bert Riggins for mistreating his wife, Ellie, whom Roy later married. The next time Roy is called to the office, Tagge asks him to write the name Harry Waldron over and over, because it will be the new name on his passport, his $200,000 bank account, and the deed to his house after he escapes from San Quentin. To make sure the deal is legitimate, Roy asks Warden Ditcher to give his guarantee. The warden says ... +


At San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California, prisoner Roy Tucker is told to report to Warden Ditcher’s office to make shelves. When he arrives, the warden introduces Roy to his colleague, Marvin Tagge, and leaves the office. Tagge tells Roy that a group on the outside wants to help him, but Roy replies that since he faces fifteen years in prison for murder, the only way Tagge can help is to get him and his cellmate, Oscar Spiventa, out of maximum security. Later that day, guards move Roy and Oscar into the “general population.” Oscar knows something is going on, but Roy refuses to talk about it. When Roy returns to the warden’s office, Tagge asks personal questions about his military history. Roy explains that after a West Virginia judge gave him the choice of going to jail or enlisting in the Army, he became a decorated hero in Vietnam, a marksman in a “search and destroy” unit. The next time Roy visits the warden’s office, Tagge’s assistant, Ross Pine, asks more personal questions, such as how does it feel to kill another human being? Asked about the crime that put him in prison, Roy says he killed a man named Bert Riggins for mistreating his wife, Ellie, whom Roy later married. The next time Roy is called to the office, Tagge asks him to write the name Harry Waldron over and over, because it will be the new name on his passport, his $200,000 bank account, and the deed to his house after he escapes from San Quentin. To make sure the deal is legitimate, Roy asks Warden Ditcher to give his guarantee. The warden says a guard will let him through a gate in the exercise yard and a truck driver will smuggle him to freedom. When Roy demands that they let Oscar go with him, they reluctantly agree, but Oscar turns down Roy’s offer and tells him that once he escapes, they will own him, so he had better “find out who they are.” When the whistle blows for the inmates to return to their cells, Roy slips through an unlocked gate, and Oscar decides to follow. They are taken to San Francisco, California, in a delivery truck. Under the Golden Gate Bridge, two men shoot Oscar and knock Roy unconscious when he tries to stop them. He awakes in a suite at the Hyatt Regency. General Tom Reser introduces himself and explains that Roy is “bought and paid for,” and though he has new clothes in the closet, credit cards, money and the freedom to walk around San Francisco, he cannot contact his lawyer or his friends. Reser puts Roy on the phone with Ellie, but after a brief emotional conversation, the phone goes dead; Reser says Ellie is outside the country and Roy will join her in a few days. In the meantime, Roy is to call the hotel desk about an air-conditioning problem if he needs to contact Reser. Roy spends the day walking around San Francisco, but as he sits in a bar, a television newsman announces that Roy Tucker escaped from San Quentin, murdered his cellmate, kidnapped a truck driver, and fled to Canada. In a panic, Roy calls his lawyer, Arnold Schnaible, and meets him on a rapid-transit train. Arnold tells Roy that the “organization” is powerful and could easily kill them both, but everything will be all right if Roy keeps his mouth shut and does his job. Later, when Roy returns to the hotel, a switchboard operator gives him a message to “watch the ten o’clock news.” Turning on the television, he discovers that Arnold has been found dead. Roy calls the front desk to report an air-conditioning problem. He is flown to Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Tagge picks him up at the airport and takes him to his beachside villa, where Ellie is waiting. The couple spends the next few days enjoying the tropical paradise. Ellie believes that the organization helps innocent prisoners and that Roy is waiting for a new trial. Roy breaks away one afternoon to go to a local bank to get money, then he slips into a travel agency to buy plane tickets to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Later, Captain Ruiz from the Puntarenas district’s immigration office shows up to request Roy’s passport for registration—a formality, he says. After a day in town, Roy and Ellie return home to find Tagge, Ross Pine and General Reser waiting. Reser tells Roy that Ruiz took his passport to prevent him from flying to Rio, but he will not need it because they are flying to California on a private jet. After arriving in Long Beach and checking into a hotel with Ellie, Roy is instructed to take a taxi to the Forum arena in Los Angeles, where a lady picks him up and delivers him to a military installation, where General Reser puts him on a military helicopter. As they hover several hundred feet above the ocean, Reser tells Roy to toss a string of ten dye canisters into the water, hands him a sniper’s rifle, and challenges him to explode the canisters with twenty shots. Roy hits them all with only twelve shots. Then they fly to a remote compound so that Roy can memorize the layout. Realizing that the organization is setting him up to be an assassin, Roy refuses. The general warns that they will not let him “walk away,” then returns him to his hotel to think about it. Ellie and her clothes are gone, and there is no message for him at the front desk. He hails a cab and heads for the local police station, but a car drives by with Ellie and a couple of men in the back seat. The car stops, and General Reser puts Roy into the back seat as Pine pulls Ellie out from the opposite side. The doors lock and a partition drops between the back seat and the driver, preventing Roy from getting out. As they drive away, Reser says that if Roy pulls “another trick,” they will kill Ellie. They drive Roy to a helicopter, and after they take off, Reser gives him an empty sniper’s rifle. Approaching the compound, Reser hands Roy a bullet clip and directs his attention to a man walking his dog. Roy aims and fires several shots. The man falls dead, and his bodyguards return fire, hitting the pilot and damaging the helicopter. Reser radios a nearby car to pick them up. As soon as they land, Reser hurries Roy away before agents blow up the helicopter. They drive to a van and blow up the getaway car. The van takes them to a house, where Roy breaks a bottle and puts the jagged edge to Pine’s throat, ordering Reser to bring Ellie there within a half hour. After she arrives, Tagge drives them to an airport to catch a plane back to Costa Rica. Roy claims that he did not aim to kill the man at the compound, but Tagge says it did not matter because two other assassins were nearby, shooting at the same time. One of them was his cellmate, Oscar, who was in on the plan the whole time. As Roy and Ellie taxi away in a small private jet, Roy notices a man put something into the back seat of Tagge’s car, but is unable to warn him. Tagge's car explodes moments after he gets inside. On the flight, Ellie tells Roy that she knows he killed her husband, but he denies it. After they return to Puntarenas, Roy discovers that his bank account is empty and his passport has been destroyed. At the villa, he sees a truck purposely hit and kill Ellie on the nearby road. When Oscar and Ross show up afterward, Roy kills them, puts their bodies in their car, and dumps it in the ocean. As Roy walks along the beach, a sniper aims at him.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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