Steel (1980)

PG | 99 mins | Drama | 21 November 1980

Director:

Steve Carver

Writer:

Leigh Chapman

Cinematographer:

Roger Sherman

Editor:

David Blewitt

Production Designer:

Ward Preston

Production Company:

Davis / Panzer Productions
Full page view
HISTORY

End credits include the following: “this film is dedicated to A. J. Bakunis, a man whose zest for life was admired by all who knew him.” Also, the following statements: “Special Thanks To: The Governor and the People of the State of Kentucky, The Kentucky Film Commission, Mercedes-Benz, Ford Motor Company, Avis Corporation, Duncan Machinery Movers, Kentucky-Harlan Coal Co., The Members of Ironworkers Local 70, Whalen Erecting Co. of Kentucky, Lexington Steel Co., Huber Hunt Nicholes Inc., The University of Kentucky, Levi-Strauss, Hang Ten,” and “ Steel was filmed entirely on location in Lexington, Kentucky.”
       The film was initially released as Steel, and the 6 Aug 1980 Var reviewed it under that title. However, as noted in the 28 Nov 1980 LAT review, when the film was released in Los Angeles, CA, it was titled Look Down and Die, and may have carried this latter title during its Los Angeles area run.
       An article in the 23 Mar 1981 DV reported that Davis-Panzer Productions secured the film’s $4.1 million budget primarily through pre-sales, including deals with the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), Time-Life, and Home Box Office (HBO). According to an article in the 16 Jul 1979 DV, star and executive producer Lee Majors invested $1 million of his own money in the project.
       The 31 May 1978 DV reported principal photography was scheduled to begin 5 Jul 1978 in KY. However, an announcement in the 16 Aug 1978 Var noted that principal photography began 14 Jul 1978, and the 6 Aug 1980 Var ... More Less

End credits include the following: “this film is dedicated to A. J. Bakunis, a man whose zest for life was admired by all who knew him.” Also, the following statements: “Special Thanks To: The Governor and the People of the State of Kentucky, The Kentucky Film Commission, Mercedes-Benz, Ford Motor Company, Avis Corporation, Duncan Machinery Movers, Kentucky-Harlan Coal Co., The Members of Ironworkers Local 70, Whalen Erecting Co. of Kentucky, Lexington Steel Co., Huber Hunt Nicholes Inc., The University of Kentucky, Levi-Strauss, Hang Ten,” and “ Steel was filmed entirely on location in Lexington, Kentucky.”
       The film was initially released as Steel, and the 6 Aug 1980 Var reviewed it under that title. However, as noted in the 28 Nov 1980 LAT review, when the film was released in Los Angeles, CA, it was titled Look Down and Die, and may have carried this latter title during its Los Angeles area run.
       An article in the 23 Mar 1981 DV reported that Davis-Panzer Productions secured the film’s $4.1 million budget primarily through pre-sales, including deals with the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), Time-Life, and Home Box Office (HBO). According to an article in the 16 Jul 1979 DV, star and executive producer Lee Majors invested $1 million of his own money in the project.
       The 31 May 1978 DV reported principal photography was scheduled to begin 5 Jul 1978 in KY. However, an announcement in the 16 Aug 1978 Var noted that principal photography began 14 Jul 1978, and the 6 Aug 1980 Var review specified the film was shot in Lexington, KY.
       As tracked in the Var review and an article in the 23 Sep 1978 LAT, stuntman A. J. Bakunis died after being injured during a stunt performed for the film. The scene, depicting the death of character “Big Lew Cassidy,” had already been filmed with a shorter jump, but Bakunis desired to regain the world free-fall record. His previous free-fall record of 230 feet had been surpassed on 2 Sep 1978 by Dar Robinson, who jumped 286 feet. Lee Majors arranged for Bakunis’s 323 foot free-fall from the Kincaid Tower, a building being used for the film during its construction. Bakunis helped design the 7,200 square foot outer air bag, with a smaller inner air bag. However, the outer bag burst when Bakunis landed at a speed of 115 miles per hour, and the smaller air bag did not provide enough cushion upon impact. Bakunis broke his hips and shoulder blades, and the severe bruising of his lungs proved fatal. A. J. Bakunis died on Friday, 22 Sep 1978, fifteen hours after the fall. The film was dedicated to Bakunis, and the 1 Aug 1980 DV noted that the 31 Jul 1980 Louisville, KY, premiere of the film benefitted a scholarship fund named for Bakunis.
       An item in the 23 Mar 1979 HR announced that Columbia Pictures would handle international distribution, and the 16 Jul 1979 DV reported that Steel had been released in its first market, which was the Philippines. The 6 Aug 1980 Var review noted that Columbia had initially planned to handle domestic distribution of the film in Apr 1980, but producers Peter S. Davis and William N. Panzer preferred a summer release, and Columbia “bowed out.” World-Northal picked up Steel for domestic distribution.
       An article in the 23 Mar 1981 DV reported that Steel received critical acclaim and several distributors tried different advertising campaigns, but the film’s box-office results were “disappointing.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
31 May 1978.
---
Daily Variety
16 Jul 1979.
---
Daily Variety
23 Mar 1981
p. 1, 40.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Mar 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 1980
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
23 Sep 1978
p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
28 Nov 1980
p. 9.
New York Times
13 Dec 1980
p. 55.
Variety
16 Aug 1978.
---
Variety
6 Aug 1980
p. 22.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Davis / Panzer Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
2d unit dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op
Asst cam
Asst cam
Asst cam
Still photog
Gaffer
Best boy
Key grip
Best boy
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus supv
Mus ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles and opt
Title des by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Post prod supv
Asst to the prods
Prod office coord
Prod secy
Auditor
Auditor
Prod asst
Prod asst
Scr supv
Asst to the assoc prod
Prod assoc
Craft services
Tech adv
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Casting asst
Casting
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stuntman
Stuntman
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Boney Fingers,” written by Hoyt Axton and Renee Armand, ©1974 Irving Music, Inc., Lady Jane Music, BMI, performed by Hoyt Axton and Renee Armand, courtesy of A & M Records
“Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys,” written by Ed Bruce and Patsy Bruce, ©1975 True Publishing Co., Sugarplum Music Co., BMI, performed by Troy Seals and Mark Gray
“I Can’t Love You Enough,” written by Troy Seals and Max P. Barnes, ©1977 Irving Music, Inc., [two music companies indecipherable in end credits], BMI, performed by Troy Seals and Deborah Allen
+
SONGS
“Boney Fingers,” written by Hoyt Axton and Renee Armand, ©1974 Irving Music, Inc., Lady Jane Music, BMI, performed by Hoyt Axton and Renee Armand, courtesy of A & M Records
“Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys,” written by Ed Bruce and Patsy Bruce, ©1975 True Publishing Co., Sugarplum Music Co., BMI, performed by Troy Seals and Mark Gray
“I Can’t Love You Enough,” written by Troy Seals and Max P. Barnes, ©1977 Irving Music, Inc., [two music companies indecipherable in end credits], BMI, performed by Troy Seals and Deborah Allen
“Walking On Air,” written by Troy Seals, Eddie Setser and Mark Gray, ©1979 Irving Music, Inc., [music company indecipherable in end credits], BMI, performed by Troy Seals
“Walls Of The Bottle,” written by Troy Seals and Don Goodman, ©1977 Irving Music, Inc., [music company indecipherable in end credits], BMI, performed by Mark Gray
“When You Get Off Work,” written by Sylvia Price, ©1979 Irving Music, Inc., [music company indecipherable in end credits], BMI, performed by Deborah Allen.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Look Down and Die
Release Date:
21 November 1980
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 21 November 1980
New York opening: 12 December 1980
Production Date:
began 14 July 1978 in Lexington, KY
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex Camera by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Metrocolor®
Duration(in mins):
99
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

At his high-rise construction site, Cassco owner “Big Lew” Cassidy argues with his younger brother, Eddie, who refuses to let Lew use his trucks on credit while arranging additional financing. Lew joins his trusted aide, “Pignose” Moran, and admits that construction is moving slowly, but promises to handle Eddie and secure the needed bank funds. At the top floor, Lew welds on the high steel beams alongside his crew, and when a rookie named Tommy freezes with fright, Lew crawls to Tommy’s side and calms him while the crane raises a rescue basket. As Lew helps Tommy into the basket, a canister explodes on the level below, knocking Lew off the beam, and he falls to his death. After the funeral, Eddie approaches Lew’s daughter, Cass, and promises to honor his deal with Lew. He knows the building must “top out” in three weeks and offers to take charge. She refuses, accusing him of providing substandard material on a previous construction job, resulting in the death of six workers. Eddie claims it was never proven, but she counters that her father knew, and leaves. Pignose informs her that at noon on the due date, the bank will count the floors, and if Cassco has not raised thirty-six floors, Eddie will take over the bond and get the building. Cass wonders if it is possible to raise nine floors in three weeks, and Pignose admits it will require taking risks. He proposes hiring Mike Catton, who was the best foreman in the business, but now drives trucks. She locates Mike, but he refuses her offer, insisting he no longer ... +


At his high-rise construction site, Cassco owner “Big Lew” Cassidy argues with his younger brother, Eddie, who refuses to let Lew use his trucks on credit while arranging additional financing. Lew joins his trusted aide, “Pignose” Moran, and admits that construction is moving slowly, but promises to handle Eddie and secure the needed bank funds. At the top floor, Lew welds on the high steel beams alongside his crew, and when a rookie named Tommy freezes with fright, Lew crawls to Tommy’s side and calms him while the crane raises a rescue basket. As Lew helps Tommy into the basket, a canister explodes on the level below, knocking Lew off the beam, and he falls to his death. After the funeral, Eddie approaches Lew’s daughter, Cass, and promises to honor his deal with Lew. He knows the building must “top out” in three weeks and offers to take charge. She refuses, accusing him of providing substandard material on a previous construction job, resulting in the death of six workers. Eddie claims it was never proven, but she counters that her father knew, and leaves. Pignose informs her that at noon on the due date, the bank will count the floors, and if Cassco has not raised thirty-six floors, Eddie will take over the bond and get the building. Cass wonders if it is possible to raise nine floors in three weeks, and Pignose admits it will require taking risks. He proposes hiring Mike Catton, who was the best foreman in the business, but now drives trucks. She locates Mike, but he refuses her offer, insisting he no longer works construction, and even if he took the job, it would take a special crew to complete it on such a tight schedule. Cass leaves, disappointed that Mike did not live up to Pignose’s description. Later, Mike arrives at the construction site as Cass demands that Eddie’s truck driver, Kellin, deliver his load of steel, but he claims it is his lunch break. Mike offers to move the truck, but Kellin refuses, so Mike tips it over with a tractor, depositing the steel at the site. Pignose meets privately with Mike, and admits that he knows Mike froze on his last job and has not been on top of a construction site since. Mike worries that others will discover his secret, but Pignose believes this job gives Mike a chance to prove himself again. Mike and Cass assemble their wild crew, including Dancer, Cherokee, Tank, Valentino, and Harry. They approach the site’s regular workers and select Lionel and his partner, Surfer, to join the special crew. “The Kid,” a rookie who worked with Dancer, arrives and Mike also gives him a chance. Later, Eddie offers to hire Mike for triple the salary, but Mike refuses because his friends died on a construction site due to Eddie’s negligence. As the crew works, Dancer notices that Mike never leaves the top floor to climb the beams. Later, Mike joins Cass for drinks at her ranch, and although he suppresses his emotions, she does not hide her feelings for him. Elsewhere, Eddie bribes the truckers’ union representative to initiate a wildcat strike, thus voiding Eddie’s deal to deliver steel to Cassco. When Cass learns of the strike, she is disheartened because they do not have enough steel for the day’s work. Cass wonders if she should give up, but Mike promises to take care of the problem. That night, Mike and his crew break into Eddie’s business and steal the trucks loaded with steel. Kellin wants to contact the police, but Eddie refuses. The next day, Lionel is devastated when Surfer is killed in a fall, but Mike consoles him and then assigns the Kid to take Surfer’s place. Later, Dancer forces Mike to admit his fear of climbing the high beams. Dancer leaves, but Mike rallies the others, and work continues. Harry assures Mike he will overcome his fear, but cannot force it. That evening, Cass empathizes with Mike’s predicament, and he admits he likes her. A wind storm arises during the night and when Mike returns to secure the construction site, his crew is also there. As they work in the dark, the Kid falls, forcing Mike to cross the high beams to save him. Meanwhile, Eddie’s thugs beat up Pignose. The next day, Mike wants to retaliate, but Pignose reminds him they have thirty-six hours to hang two floors, and Mike orders everyone to work around the clock until the job is done. They need more steel for the last floor and Cass learns Eddie that has blocked all truckers from helping them, but Mike promises to handle the situation. Eddie is certain the project will not be finished on time, arranges to meet the banker at the noon deadline, and plans to take over the building. As the crew works through the final night, Eddie sleeps in his car at the site and hires thugs to block the gates. Mike’s men are uncertain if they will make it, but Mike rallies the crew and they push hard. In the morning, Dancer returns and Mike puts him back to work. Mike and his crew climb to the top beams as several helicopters fly to the building with the remaining steel. Eddie sends his thugs into the construction site to stop the work, but Cass and Pignose trap them on the freight elevator. Mike’s crew finishes the floor before noon, and as they yell down to Eddie that he is parked in a “No Parking” zone, Tank mans the crane, drops a steel beam on Eddie’s car, and it explodes upon impact. The crew celebrates their success and hangs the American flag from the top floor. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.