Where the Buffalo Roam (1980)

R | 100 mins | Satire | 25 April 1980

Director:

Art Linson

Writer:

John Kaye

Producer:

Art Linson

Cinematographer:

Tak Fujimoto

Production Designer:

Richard Sawyer

Production Company:

Universal Pictures
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HISTORY

In opening credits, the title of the film is followed by a statement that reads: "A movie based on the twisted legend of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson."
       According to a Jun 1980 Playboy article and production notes in AMPAS library files, producer-director Art Linson and screenwriter John Kaye decided that journalist Hunter S. Thompson’s Rolling Stone magazine story “The Banshee Screams for Buffalo Meat” would be good source material for a feature film and Universal Pictures agreed to produce the project for $4 million. The three men met in Aspen, CO, where Thompson was based, to determine their compatibility. After spending three action-packed days exposed to the journalist’s drug and alcohol abuse, emotional instability and legal violations, Linson and Kaye returned to Los Angeles, CA, where Kaye finished a screenplay eight months later. Kaye’s script revolved around an interpretation of Thompson’s friendship with Oscar Zeta Acosta, a Latino attorney who called himself the “Brown Buffalo” and matched his friend’s appetite for drugs and anarchy. In 1974 or 1975, Acosta supposedly disappeared in the Caribbean amid rumors of illicit activities. He was believed to be dead, although a body was never found.
       Early on, actor Peter Boyle agreed to play the part of Acosta, who was referred to as “Mendoza” in the script. However, other Latino actors threatened to protest if Boyle was not replaced by a Chicano thespian so Linson changed the character’s ethnicity. Bill Murray, who had not yet been credited in a feature film, was hired after Linson promised flexibility in the script for the actor to convey his interpretation of Thompson.
       A 3 May 1979 DV ... More Less

In opening credits, the title of the film is followed by a statement that reads: "A movie based on the twisted legend of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson."
       According to a Jun 1980 Playboy article and production notes in AMPAS library files, producer-director Art Linson and screenwriter John Kaye decided that journalist Hunter S. Thompson’s Rolling Stone magazine story “The Banshee Screams for Buffalo Meat” would be good source material for a feature film and Universal Pictures agreed to produce the project for $4 million. The three men met in Aspen, CO, where Thompson was based, to determine their compatibility. After spending three action-packed days exposed to the journalist’s drug and alcohol abuse, emotional instability and legal violations, Linson and Kaye returned to Los Angeles, CA, where Kaye finished a screenplay eight months later. Kaye’s script revolved around an interpretation of Thompson’s friendship with Oscar Zeta Acosta, a Latino attorney who called himself the “Brown Buffalo” and matched his friend’s appetite for drugs and anarchy. In 1974 or 1975, Acosta supposedly disappeared in the Caribbean amid rumors of illicit activities. He was believed to be dead, although a body was never found.
       Early on, actor Peter Boyle agreed to play the part of Acosta, who was referred to as “Mendoza” in the script. However, other Latino actors threatened to protest if Boyle was not replaced by a Chicano thespian so Linson changed the character’s ethnicity. Bill Murray, who had not yet been credited in a feature film, was hired after Linson promised flexibility in the script for the actor to convey his interpretation of Thompson.
       A 3 May 1979 DV brief reported that principal photography would begin 5 Jul 1979. Playboy stated that the production had a six-week schedule. A 11 Sep 1979 DV news item reported that the production ended that day after nine weeks. Both Stages 44 and 26 at Universal Studios were used for filming, according to the 11 Sep 1979 DV and Playboy.
       Production notes stated that fifteen sets were built to film Thompson’s office in Woody Creek, CO, a Super Bowl hotel suite, a courtroom, the offices of Blast magazine, Mooney’s saloon, and the airplane cabins on the campaign trail. The cabins were built so that the walls could be deconstructed to allow for camera and lighting equipment, during filming. Exterior locations included the Sheraton Universal Hotel, the Burbank Airport, the Lincoln Heights Jail, the Motion Picture Hospital and Retirement Home’s L. B. Mayer Auditorium, a small shuttered hospital in Glendale named Monte Sano, and an isolated ranch with a nearby airstrip and lake in Piru, CA.
       According to Playboy, the picture marked Linson’s directorial feature film debut.
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
3 May 1979.
---
Daily Variety
11 Sep 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 1980
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
1 Sep 1979
Section II, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
28 Apr 1980
p. 1.
New York Times
26 Apr 1980
p. 18.
Playboy
Jun 1980
p. 143, 182, 230, 232-6.
Variety
2 Apr 1980
p. 22.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Co-starring:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Unit prod mgr, Second unit crew
1st asst dir, Second unit crew
2d asst dir, Second unit crew
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Asst cam
Key grip
Gaffer
2d grip
Dolly grip
Best boy
Stills
Dir of photog, Second unit crew
Cam op, Second unit crew
1st asst cam, Second unit crew
2d asst cam, Second unit crew
Grip, Second unit crew
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop man
Leadman
Painter
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Cost supv
Men`s cost
Women`s cost
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus coord and prod
Orch arr
SOUND
Sd re-rec
Sd re-rec
Sd eff ed
Loop dial ed
Boom man
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Title splatters, Gonzo calligraphy and incidental
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec consultant
Casting
Tech adv
Asst to prod
Transportation capt
Craft service
Co-capt
Prod secy
Unit pub
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the Rolling Stone magazine articles "The Banshee Screams for Buffalo Meat: Fear and Loathing in the Graveyard of the Weird" (15 Dec 1977) and "Strange Rumblings in Aztlan" (29 Apr 1971) by Hunter S. Thompson.
SONGS
"Keep On Chooglin," performed by Credence Clearwater Revival, courtesy of Fantasy Records.
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 April 1980
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 25 April 1980
Production Date:
5 July--11 September 1979 in Los Angeles, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
2 June 1980
Copyright Number:
PA69254
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex Camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
100
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25974
SYNOPSIS

In a cabin tucked in the snow-covered mountains of Colorado, journalist Hunter S. Thompson has two hours until his deadline. He screams when the telephone rings, vowing not to answer the call because it is his editor. When the editor telephones a second time, Hunter feeds an advertisement into the fax machine. When the telephone rings a third time, Hunter shoots the fax machine with a gun. Back at the typewriter, he continues his story about his lawyer, Carl Lazlo, and recalls the way things were in 1968 San Francisco, California: Hunter is checked into a hospital to finish his deadline. He is hooked to an intravenous line with Wild Turkey whiskey, and cooks food on a hot plate, while he and a nurse ingest various drugs. Lazlo visits Hunter and advises him to leave the hospital immediately. As Hunter drives away, he types Lazlo’s opinions about illegal police searches on his young clients. Lazlo adds that judges compound the problem by handing out unfair sentences. As the interview continues, Hunter sideswipes a car that crashes into a parked police motorcycle. At a bar, Hunter and Lazlo talk while drinking beers, and Hunter places several sports bets to his bookmaker on a payphone. Later at the courthouse, Hunter observes Lazlo and his clients. Before the hearing starts, Hunter swallows several pills, and drinks a Bloody Mary. Lazlo tells the judge that if he took all his cases to trial he could back up the courts for six years, and suggests that his motions be heard instead. In the hallway, Blast magazine editor, Marty Lewis, finds Hunter and reminds him of ... +


In a cabin tucked in the snow-covered mountains of Colorado, journalist Hunter S. Thompson has two hours until his deadline. He screams when the telephone rings, vowing not to answer the call because it is his editor. When the editor telephones a second time, Hunter feeds an advertisement into the fax machine. When the telephone rings a third time, Hunter shoots the fax machine with a gun. Back at the typewriter, he continues his story about his lawyer, Carl Lazlo, and recalls the way things were in 1968 San Francisco, California: Hunter is checked into a hospital to finish his deadline. He is hooked to an intravenous line with Wild Turkey whiskey, and cooks food on a hot plate, while he and a nurse ingest various drugs. Lazlo visits Hunter and advises him to leave the hospital immediately. As Hunter drives away, he types Lazlo’s opinions about illegal police searches on his young clients. Lazlo adds that judges compound the problem by handing out unfair sentences. As the interview continues, Hunter sideswipes a car that crashes into a parked police motorcycle. At a bar, Hunter and Lazlo talk while drinking beers, and Hunter places several sports bets to his bookmaker on a payphone. Later at the courthouse, Hunter observes Lazlo and his clients. Before the hearing starts, Hunter swallows several pills, and drinks a Bloody Mary. Lazlo tells the judge that if he took all his cases to trial he could back up the courts for six years, and suggests that his motions be heard instead. In the hallway, Blast magazine editor, Marty Lewis, finds Hunter and reminds him of his deadline in nineteen hours. Back in the courtroom, the judge gives three of Lazlo’s clients six-month jail sentences after a pack of cigarettes is found during an illegal police search of their apartment. In the second case, police search a friend’s backpack held by teenager Billy Kramer and find a pound of marijuana. When the judge grants Billy a three-year prison sentence, the teenager says he does not understand. The judge responds by increasing the boy’s sentence to five years to life. Lazlo stirs up the crowd, picks up the district attorney, and throws him at the judge. Later, Hunter delivers copy to Marty while Lazlo is sent to jail for contempt and later quits the law profession. Hunter remembers that in 1972 the political climate of the country turned grim in the age of Richard Nixon, and it was a good reason to take lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). At the time, Hunter had an episode of paranoia and attacked the chauffeur. When Hunter calms down, he remembers he is on assignment to cover the Super Bowl. He requests that several office machines be sent to his room along with some gourmet food from room service. In his hotel room, Hunter dresses like a referee. He takes a telephone call from Marty, and as they talk, room service appears. Hunter offers a marijuana cigarette to the bellhop, and asks Marty for more expense money. The editor is quick to remind Hunter that 10,000 words are due the following day. Soon, the desk sends two bellmen to investigate the complaints of noise coming from Hunter’s room. Inside, Hunter throws football passes to a bellman and a maid, and ignores the knocks on the door. The next morning, Lazlo, wearing a Richard Nixon mask, joins Hunter in the hotel restaurant after an absence of three years and persuades him to ignore his assignment. As the men leave, they trade Hunter’s game tickets, press passes, and hotel room for a bottle of wine and a suede hat from bystanders. While driving, Hunter and Lazlo snort cocaine. At a secluded cabin, Lazlo introduces Hunter to Billy, who was released from Folsom Prison after three years, and Rojas, a Mexican revolutionary that Lazlo has been supplying with guns. Lazlo thinks that Rojas’ cause would make a good story for Hunter, but the writer is not convinced, and sprays one of Rojas’ men with mace, then asks for a ride back to his hotel. However, Lazlo complains that he needs Hunter’s help. At night, they greet a plane on a secluded runway, and load it with guns. When a police helicopter appears, Lazlo, Rojas, and the others escape, leaving Hunter behind. Somehow, Hunter returns to civilization and later speaks to a college audience about journalism. A bottle of liquor and an ice bucket accompany him on stage. When one student asks if drugs and alcohol will make her a better journalist, Hunter lights a marijuana cigarette. The enthusiastic crowd throws additional marijuana cigarettes on the stage. Another student asks if Hunter plans to write any more articles about Lazlo and questions if he ever existed at all. Hunter responds that Lazlo is very real, but has not been seen in some time and is believed to be dead. He again remembers in 1972: Hunter is assigned to cover the presidential campaign. However, press secretary Dooley kicks Hunter off the press plane before it leaves and he rides on the “zoo” airplane with the technical staff instead. When he is seated next to a fellow journalist named Harris from the Post, he offers him Quaaludes to calm his fear of turbulence, and cure his headache. Before long, Harris is laughing and dancing in the aisles, and joins Hunter in the co-pilot’s seat in the cockpit. With Harris out of commission, Hunter steals his suit and his press credentials. He then boards the campaign press plane only to discover that Lazlo plans to go along, and is eager to share new information with Hunter about his work with revolutionaries. When Dooley calls Lazlo “a fat clown,” Hunter knocks Dooley unconscious. He sprays everyone in the cabin with a fire extinguisher he grabs from the overhead bin, even President Nixon, who peers through the door of his private quarters. As Hunter and Lazlo leave the airplane, Lazlo has a truck waiting to drive them to a remote cabin, where Lazlo is certain they can be partners and build their own paradise. Only this time, Hunter is convinced Lazlo is insane and refuses to go. Back in the present, Hunter finishes his story, and admits that maybe Lazlo was not insane, he just had “strange rhythms.” In celebration, he pours a glass of Wild Turkey, and shares alcohol with his Doberman Pincher, Bronco. He acknowledges that although Lazlo and Richard Nixon are gone, he is not going to believe it until he has the opportunity to gnaw on their skulls with his own teeth. With all certainty, he promises to find them and follow through with his plan. +

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

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