Don't Cry, It's Only Thunder (1982)

PG | 108 mins | Drama | 12 March 1982

Director:

Peter Werner

Writer:

Paul Hensler

Producer:

Walt DeFaria

Cinematographer:

Don McAlpine

Production Designer:

Robert Checchi

Production Company:

Sanrio Communications, Inc.
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HISTORY

Opening titles begin with the phrase: “Suggested by a true story.” End credits include special thanks to: The Fabella Refugee Center in Manila, Philippines, Ministry of Social Services, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense of the Philippine Government, the officers and airmen of Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, and the staff and crew of Philippine Motion Picture Props. Onscreen credits indicate that Don’t Cry, It’s Only Thunder was filmed in the Philippines.
       On 25 Mar 1980, a DV news item announced that Sanrio Communications, Inc. had optioned the script and story for Don’t Cry, It’s Only Thunder, based on screenwriter and co-producer Paul Hensler’s personal experiences during the Vietnam War. A news story in the 27 Aug 1980 Var suggested that Hensler began writing about Vietnam while working as a technical advisor on the 1979 films, Apocalypse Now (see entry) and American Graffiti (see entry), and spent three years attempting to find producers interested in his story. Sanrio reportedly responded to the screenplay after surveys indicated that the public was interested in learning more about the Vietnam War “in human terms,” and budgeted Don’t Cry, It’s Only Thunder at $2 million. An article in the 19 Apr 1981 HR also indicated that the company had not been interested in developing a film about Vietnam, but decided to proceed following successful test-marketing of the synopsis. Various contemporary sources reported that the motion picture marked the first non-animated production by Sanrio Communications, Inc. and its Tokyo, Japan-based parent company, Sanrio Co. Ltd.
       According to the 8 Jun 1980 ...

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Opening titles begin with the phrase: “Suggested by a true story.” End credits include special thanks to: The Fabella Refugee Center in Manila, Philippines, Ministry of Social Services, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense of the Philippine Government, the officers and airmen of Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, and the staff and crew of Philippine Motion Picture Props. Onscreen credits indicate that Don’t Cry, It’s Only Thunder was filmed in the Philippines.
       On 25 Mar 1980, a DV news item announced that Sanrio Communications, Inc. had optioned the script and story for Don’t Cry, It’s Only Thunder, based on screenwriter and co-producer Paul Hensler’s personal experiences during the Vietnam War. A news story in the 27 Aug 1980 Var suggested that Hensler began writing about Vietnam while working as a technical advisor on the 1979 films, Apocalypse Now (see entry) and American Graffiti (see entry), and spent three years attempting to find producers interested in his story. Sanrio reportedly responded to the screenplay after surveys indicated that the public was interested in learning more about the Vietnam War “in human terms,” and budgeted Don’t Cry, It’s Only Thunder at $2 million. An article in the 19 Apr 1981 HR also indicated that the company had not been interested in developing a film about Vietnam, but decided to proceed following successful test-marketing of the synopsis. Various contemporary sources reported that the motion picture marked the first non-animated production by Sanrio Communications, Inc. and its Tokyo, Japan-based parent company, Sanrio Co. Ltd.
       According to the 8 Jun 1980 HR, Hensler departed that day for location scouts in Manila, Philippines, accompanied by executive producer Ken Kawarai, producer Walt deFaria, and production manager Lester Berman. Principal photography was anticipated to begin in the Philippines fall 1980. An 18 Jul 1980 DV news item indicated a production start date of 15 Sep 1980, and a spring 1981 release. According to the 24 Jul 1980 DV, Brooke Adams was attached to star.
       Following the beginning of a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strike in Jul 1980, Var reported on 6 Aug 1980 that Don’t Cry, It’s Only Thunder was granted permission to move ahead with production, due to an interim agreement. According to the 4 Oct 1980 edition of Screen International, the strike occurred “about half-way” through the casting process, after Dennis Christopher had already been signed for the lead role and Sanrio had committed $1 million of its estimated $2.5 million budget, which, if lost, would have closed down the company. Actress Susan St. James was added to the cast after SAG approved the film’s interim agreement. The article confirmed that principal photography began 15 Sep 1980 in Manila, with a thirty-five-person contingent crew scheduled on location until mid-Nov 1980. A 5 Nov 1980 Var story confirmed that filming would conclude later that month at the Clark Air Force Base in Mabalacat, Philippines, following photography at the Fabella Refugee Transit Center in the city of Mandaluyong, Philippines. On 13 Nov 1980, DV reported that principal photography was complete, while the 1 Dec 1980 HR indicated that filmmakers expected to finish the picture in the first week of Mar 1981 for a fall 1981 release. At that time, Sanrio had not yet decided whether the company would distribute the film independently, despite discussing distribution deals with several major studios. The article reported a budget of “just under $3 million,” provided in full by Sanrio Co. Ltd. Production lasted forty-two days and ran one-half day over schedule. However, the 19 Apr 1981 HR claimed the production lasted forty days, and that half of the final film was edited and completed at a cost of only $1.8 million, while an article in the 18 Mar 1982 HR reported a $2.6 million budget. An advertisement in the 25 Mar 1981 HR indicated that the film was currently in post production, while the 19 Apr 1981 HR and the 20 Aug 1981 HR stated that the film was expected to participate in the Cannes Film Festival in France, and the World Film Festival in Montreal, Canada. In addition, Don’t Cry, It’s Only Thunder would be presented at Judith Crist’s Film Weekend at the Tarrytown Conference Center in Tarrytown, NY, on 2 Jan 1982, as reported in the 22 Dec 1981 HR.
       The 7 Jan 1982 LAT announced that the official benefit premiere was scheduled for 14 Jan 1982 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, CA, with proceeds going to the Los Angeles Child Care and Development Council, Inc. Var reported on 20 Jan 1982 that deFaria was in the process of speaking with two potential distributors, and would test screen the film that month in Amarillo, TX, and Tucson, AZ. A 26 Feb 1982 HR brief also included IL among the test markets, where the film had been enthusiastically received, prompting Sanrio to schedule a 12 Mar 1982 release date in Los Angeles, CA.
       The 18 Mar 1982 HR article stated that Don’t Cry, It’s Only Thunder opened in twenty-five Los Angeles theaters, and that Sanrio had spent $400,000 on the picture’s advertising. Although some foreign sales had already been negotiated, the film was scheduled to participate in the American Film Market that year.
       Despite overwhelmingly positive reception, the 23 Mar 1982 Var reported that after two weeks in release, the film had only grossed $65,000. As a result, Sanrio Co. Ltd. decided to shut down the Los Angeles Sanrio Communications, Inc. office, at which time deFaria would resign, and all future U.S. ventures would be handled by the company’s merchandising branch in San Francisco, CA.
       Don’t Cry, It’s Only Thunder received the Golden Halo Award from the Southern California Motion Picture Council, as reported by the 15 Mar 1982 HR.
       The film marked the motion picture debut of director Peter Werner, as well as actors Thi Lien and Truong Minh Hai.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
25 Mar 1980
---
Daily Variety
18 Jul 1980
---
Daily Variety
24 Jul 1980
---
Daily Variety
13 Nov 1980
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 1980
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 1980
p. 1, 4
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 1981
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Apr 1981
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 1981
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 1981
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Feb 1982
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 1982
p. 3, 17
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1982
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 1982
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Jan 1982
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Mar 1982
pp. 27-28
New York Times
3 Dec 1982
p. 12
Screen International
4 Oct 1980
p. 13
Variety
6 Aug 1980
---
Variety
27 Aug 1980
---
Variety
5 Nov 1980
---
Variety
20 Jan 1982
p. 6, 36
Variety
10 Mar 1982
p. 10
Variety
23 Mar 1982
p. 1, 19
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Sanrio Film
Sanrio presents
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
2d unit dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Gaffer
Jim Glennon
Cam op
Asst cam
Stillman
Best boy
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst to the prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Const supv
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst to the cost des
MUSIC
Mus comp and conducted by
Mus rec
for Motion Picture Recording Inc.
SOUND
Sd eff
Sound FX, Inc.
Rec mixer
Warner/Hollywood Studios
Rec mixer
Warner/Hollywood Studios
Rec mixer
Warner/Hollywood Studios
ADR mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Vocal eff advisor
Titles and opticals by
Hollywood
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Jackie Saunders
Scr supv
Prod coord
Casting and asst to the dir
Loc accountant
Asst to the prods
Vietnamese children coord
Loc casting coord
Prod supv
Generator op
Marketing coord
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Unit pub
Public relations
COLOR PERSONNEL
[Col] Processing by
Sydney, Australia
SOURCES
SONGS
"Questions And Answers," music by Maurice Jarre, lyrics by Norman Gimbel.
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 March 1982
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 12 Mar 1982; New York opening: week of 3 Dec 1982
Production Date:
15 Sep--mid Nov 1980 in Manila, Philippines
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by DeLUXE®
Duration(in mins):
108
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In 1967, U.S. Air Force officers carry dead and injured comrades onto helicopters, and one soldier, Allen Atkins, notices a group of Vietnamese children being held at gunpoint nearby. He grabs a young mute girl, Anh, and carries her onboard the helicopter. Meanwhile, Private Brian Anderson, also a young doctor, attends to patients at the Tim Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon, Vietnam. He steals medicine vials and discreetly hands them to Moses Drapper, a supply officer. Onboard the helicopter, an injured Vietnamese woman releases a gas bomb that fills the vessel and causes the pilot to crash. Allen arrives at the hospital severely injured, and tells Brian, his roommate, to find the Vietnamese girl who was on the helicopter with him. When Brian finds Anh sitting alone, he carries her into the hospital to treat her wounds. Nearby, Captain Morris flirts with a new medical intern, Katherine Cross, and invites her out for a drink. When Morris notices Brian treating Anh, he instructs the private to leave, but Katherine orders the girl a series of tests and treatments. Brian then visits Allen, who instructs his friend to save a group of orphans and nuns, hiding in a nearby warehouse. Returning to his room, Brian gives a soldier named Tripper an injection that he stole from the hospital to treat his sexually-transmitted disease, in exchange for the use of an ambulance the next day. In the morning, Brian and Anh find the orphans and two nuns, Sister Marie and Sister Hoa, and drive them to a neighboring town. Sister Marie says that Allen had supplied them with money for food each week. During their drive, the ambulance gets a ...

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In 1967, U.S. Air Force officers carry dead and injured comrades onto helicopters, and one soldier, Allen Atkins, notices a group of Vietnamese children being held at gunpoint nearby. He grabs a young mute girl, Anh, and carries her onboard the helicopter. Meanwhile, Private Brian Anderson, also a young doctor, attends to patients at the Tim Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon, Vietnam. He steals medicine vials and discreetly hands them to Moses Drapper, a supply officer. Onboard the helicopter, an injured Vietnamese woman releases a gas bomb that fills the vessel and causes the pilot to crash. Allen arrives at the hospital severely injured, and tells Brian, his roommate, to find the Vietnamese girl who was on the helicopter with him. When Brian finds Anh sitting alone, he carries her into the hospital to treat her wounds. Nearby, Captain Morris flirts with a new medical intern, Katherine Cross, and invites her out for a drink. When Morris notices Brian treating Anh, he instructs the private to leave, but Katherine orders the girl a series of tests and treatments. Brian then visits Allen, who instructs his friend to save a group of orphans and nuns, hiding in a nearby warehouse. Returning to his room, Brian gives a soldier named Tripper an injection that he stole from the hospital to treat his sexually-transmitted disease, in exchange for the use of an ambulance the next day. In the morning, Brian and Anh find the orphans and two nuns, Sister Marie and Sister Hoa, and drive them to a neighboring town. Sister Marie says that Allen had supplied them with money for food each week. During their drive, the ambulance gets a flat tire and a young Vietnamese boy, Duc, helps Brian with the repairs. Despite their search, multiple orphanages refuse to take the children because they have no room; finally, the nuns find an evacuated building suitable for opening their own orphanage, but they are required to pay. Brian reluctantly gives Sister Hoa the cash, but assures the nuns that he will not be returning. Before he leaves, Sister Hoa asks who will remove Anh’s arm bandages, and Brian gives her the name of Katherine Cross. At the hospital, Captain Morris threatens to reassign Brian to the mortuary unless he offers information about the black market for drugs that the young private has been helping to operate within the unit. Later, Brian learns that Allen died in surgery that afternoon. Having declined Captain Morris’ offer, Brian begins his training in the mortuary. That night, Brian gets drunk and runs into Katherine, who is on her way to attend to the orphans. When Brian reports late for duty the next morning, mortuary officer Major Flaherty chastises him. Katherine threatens to expose Brian’s black market connections unless he uses them to obtain medicine and help the orphans. When Brian and Katherine bring supplies to the orphanage, Brian again claims he does not have time to return. He later tells Moses about his situation and asks to trade his personal rations for food and supplies, but Moses refuses. Brian bets Tripper $50 that he will be able to seduce Katherine. The next day, Brian steals two boxes from the supplies hangar and accompanies the two nuns to the local market. When Katherine and Brian learn that the nuns have sheltered more children, for whom they cannot provide, they become angry about their increasing responsibilities, and Katherine leaves. The next day, Brian helps repair the building and bathe the orphans. After nightfall, Moses discovers Brian snooping in the supplies hangar and threatens to retaliate if he attempts to steal again. After staying late at the mortuary, Brian tends to an abandoned, crying baby outside the orphanage. During a series of Vietcong attacks in the city, Brian borrows another soldier’s motorcycle and visits Katherine at the women’s barracks to convince her to resume working with the orphans. She refuses, explaining that she does not want to risk losing her status as a doctor after years of training and sacrifice. When she apologizes, Brian accuses her of being afraid. Brian rides through the city, pursued by two patrolling officers, until he crashes into a flower stand. The stand owner helps hide Brian because he recognizes him from the orphanage. Waiting for the fighting to stop, Brian stays at the orphanage and teaches the children English. A sudden explosion kills a few children, and frightens the rest. Brian takes three critically injured boys back to camp on the motorcycle, but the gate guard does not permit entry. Brian then brings the children to Katherine, who agrees to shelter them in her room, and returns to the orphanage. Amidst continuing explosions, Brian shoots at two intruders and saves Anh, promising to adopt her and bring her back to the U.S. At Katherine’s barracks, she informs Brian that one of the boys died from his head injuries. As the two surviving children sleep, Brian and Katherine make love. In the mortuary, Major Flaherty reveals that he knows about the orphanage, but instructs Brian to remember his priorities at the compound. On Brian’s birthday, Moses offers to help him transport supplies in exchange for bringing a group of orphans to stay with Sister Marie and Sister Hoa. During the children’s mathematics lesson, Brian and Katherine arrive with an ambulance full of food. The orphans eat, play, and bathe, and Anh uses hand signals to tell Brian that she loves him. Before Brian leaves with Anh to process the adoption papers, Duc begs to accompany them, but Brian refuses. Hurt by Brian’s favoritism, Duc accuses Brian of being a pedophile, and runs away. The Vietnamese immigration official cites the many complications of the girl’s status as an undocumented orphan. As Anh returns to the truck, two people rig the vehicle with a bomb and run away. While Brian enters the immigration office, the truck explodes and Anh dies. Before Anh’s funeral, Sister Hoa consoles Brian and confesses her romantic feelings for him. However, she acknowledges Brian’s relationship with Katherine and laments his impending discharge. Sometime later, Tripper steals a birthday cake from the compound and brings it to the children. Brian says that Tripper won their bet and hands him $50, but Sister Marie grabs the money. The private tells Duc that he loves him, and will be sad to leave. After giving instructions to the two nuns about contacting Tripper for future supplies, he says goodbye. Brian kisses Katherine before boarding a helicopter back to the U.S., where he looks through photographs of the orphans.

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

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