The Last Word (1982)

PG | 98 or 103-105 mins | Drama | 19 May 1982

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HISTORY

According to the 19 Dec 1979 DV, the screenplay was completed in spring 1978. On 27 Mar 1978, a DV brief announced that director Ted Post was scheduled to begin principal photography on the project, then titled Fort Travis, on 15 May 1978, in Southern CA. A 1 Mar 1978 Var advertisement reported a release date of Oct that same year.
       As stated in the 4 Apr 1978 HR, Fort Travis was the first film under production company Sundance-Suncrest, which would co-finance the $3 million budget with another American investment organization and a German tax shelter group. A 21 Jun 1978 DV article noted that producers Richard G. Abramson and Michael C. Varhol originally sought U.S. funding, but realized that the project qualified for German tax grants due to the involvement of German-born Horatius Haeberle, who reportedly wrote the original script before it was later revised and Haeberle was granted story credit. A 3 May 1978 Var item indicated that actress Karen Black’s then-husband, L. M. Kit Carson, had been hired to write the screenplay along with Alvin Boretz, who does not receive onscreen credit.
       Meanwhile, the 20 Apr 1978 DV announced that filming had been delayed to 30 May 1978, after Roy Boulting replaced Post as director. The 14 Jun 1978 HR, 24 Aug 1978 DV, and 15 Sep 1978 DV included Karen Lamm, Eloy Phil Casados, and David James White among the cast, respectively, although the actors are not credited onscreen.
       On 21 Jun 1978, DV reported that the production ... More Less

According to the 19 Dec 1979 DV, the screenplay was completed in spring 1978. On 27 Mar 1978, a DV brief announced that director Ted Post was scheduled to begin principal photography on the project, then titled Fort Travis, on 15 May 1978, in Southern CA. A 1 Mar 1978 Var advertisement reported a release date of Oct that same year.
       As stated in the 4 Apr 1978 HR, Fort Travis was the first film under production company Sundance-Suncrest, which would co-finance the $3 million budget with another American investment organization and a German tax shelter group. A 21 Jun 1978 DV article noted that producers Richard G. Abramson and Michael C. Varhol originally sought U.S. funding, but realized that the project qualified for German tax grants due to the involvement of German-born Horatius Haeberle, who reportedly wrote the original script before it was later revised and Haeberle was granted story credit. A 3 May 1978 Var item indicated that actress Karen Black’s then-husband, L. M. Kit Carson, had been hired to write the screenplay along with Alvin Boretz, who does not receive onscreen credit.
       Meanwhile, the 20 Apr 1978 DV announced that filming had been delayed to 30 May 1978, after Roy Boulting replaced Post as director. The 14 Jun 1978 HR, 24 Aug 1978 DV, and 15 Sep 1978 DV included Karen Lamm, Eloy Phil Casados, and David James White among the cast, respectively, although the actors are not credited onscreen.
       On 21 Jun 1978, DV reported that the production had been re-titled The Number, and the following month, a 21 Jul 1978 DV advertisement stated that principal photography began 10 Jul 1978 at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (M-G-M) studios in Culver City, CA. The 24 Aug 1978 HR indicated that the picture had finished filming the previous week in Hollywood, CA. Although no distribution deal had been established at the time, filmmakers expected to complete post production in Nov 1978.
       Nearly a year later, a 27 Sep 1979 DV item announced that Variety International Pictures (VIP) had acquired domestic distribution rights for the film under its new title, Danny Travis. On 12 Nov 1979, DV reported that the title was changed again to The Last Word, while the 28 Nov 1979 HR anticipated a 29 Feb 1980 release.
       According to the 19 Dec 1979 Var, The Last Word was screened at that year’s Chicago Film Festival as part of a tribute honoring Karen Black. A 9 Jan 1980 DV brief stated that VIP assigned Kirby Andrews to oversee all press, trailers, and radio and television campaigns marketing the film. Although the 23 Jan 1980 Var estimated a Mar 1980 release, the 18 Mar 1980 LAHExam anticipated the picture to open in Apr 1980. However, the 2 Apr 1980 HR announced that three simultaneous world premieres were scheduled for 23 May 1980 in Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; and Corpus Christi, TX. A 15 Apr 1980 HR article indicated that, following the premieres, the distributor aimed to release the film, which reportedly cost a total of $5 million, in 150 TX and LA theaters. Two years later, The Last Word opened in Los Angeles, CA, on 19 May 1982.
       Various contemporary sources provided conflicting reports regarding the film’s length: the 21 Nov 1979 Var review following the Chicago Film Festival screening noted a 105-minute runtime, while the 4 Feb 1980 HR review listed a ninety-eight-minute runtime, and the 20 May 1982 LAT indicated a length of 104 minutes. However, the copy of the film viewed for this record was 103 minutes. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
27 Mar 1978.
---
Daily Variety
20 Apr 1978.
---
Daily Variety
21 Jun 1978.
---
Daily Variety
21 Jul 1978.
---
Daily Variety
24 Aug 1978.
---
Daily Variety
15 Sep 1978.
---
Daily Variety
27 Sep 1979.
---
Daily Variety
12 Nov 1979.
---
Daily Variety
19 Dec 1979.
---
Daily Variety
9 Jan 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Apr 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jun 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Nov 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Apr 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 1980.
---
LAHExam
18 Mar 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 May 1982
p. 3.
Variety
1 Mar 1978
p. 39.
Variety
3 May 1978.
---
Variety
21 Nov 1979
p. 25.
Variety
19 Dec 1979.
---
Variety
23 Jan 1980.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Horatius Haeberle Presents
A Sundance-Suncrest Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Trainee asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
Gaffer
Key grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men`s ward
Women's ward
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Asst to the prods
Prod coord
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Prod auditor
Prod auditor
Prod auditor
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Asst to Mr. Harris
Catering
Casting
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
[Col by]
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Fort Travis
The Number
Danny Travis
Release Date:
19 May 1982
Premiere Information:
Dallas, TX
Houston, TX
and Corpus Christi, TX premieres: 23 May 1980
TX and LA opening: summer 1980
Los Angeles opening: 19 May 1982
Production Date:
10 July--mid August 1978 in Culver City, CA and Hollywood, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Patrick V. Kennedy
Copyright Date:
4 August 1982
Copyright Number:
PA153414
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex Camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
98 or 103-105
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
Germany, United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In a decrepit, west side neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, news correspondent Paula Herbert reports on the apartment building demolition occurring behind her that was instigated by Governor Frank R. Davis. Meanwhile, inventor Danny Travis meets with a lawyer to defend the residents of his apartment building, who will soon be forced to leave their homes. Instead of paying the legal fees, Danny offers a share of the profits for his invention—a miniature, solar-powered, remote control car. The lawyer refuses, demanding Danny procure $1,000 instead. Danny returns home to his apartment and greets his grown daughter, Denise, and seven-year-old daughter, Ellie. He gives his neighbor vegetables from his rooftop solar garden and speaks to her about the upcoming eviction. Paula Herbert enters the Travis’ apartment with her cameraman, offering to interview him and inform the public of their plight, but he declines. Later, police Captain Garrity summons Danny to his office to ask him about his teenage son, Ben, who was arrested and included in a criminal line-up. Garrity mentions their shared history as former neighbors in the apartment complex. On the bus home, Ben confesses he wants to quit school and get a job. While Denise works her job at a fish factory the next day, Danny meets two businessmen who agree to pay $1,000 for the solar car. That night, Danny tells Denise the news, but she is enraged to learn that he used the money to pay the lawyer. After Ben returns home from a party, Denise tells him of Danny’s plan to move forward with the lawsuit. Danny overhears them worrying about their poor financial situation and visits the local welfare office. The caseworker reviews ... +


In a decrepit, west side neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, news correspondent Paula Herbert reports on the apartment building demolition occurring behind her that was instigated by Governor Frank R. Davis. Meanwhile, inventor Danny Travis meets with a lawyer to defend the residents of his apartment building, who will soon be forced to leave their homes. Instead of paying the legal fees, Danny offers a share of the profits for his invention—a miniature, solar-powered, remote control car. The lawyer refuses, demanding Danny procure $1,000 instead. Danny returns home to his apartment and greets his grown daughter, Denise, and seven-year-old daughter, Ellie. He gives his neighbor vegetables from his rooftop solar garden and speaks to her about the upcoming eviction. Paula Herbert enters the Travis’ apartment with her cameraman, offering to interview him and inform the public of their plight, but he declines. Later, police Captain Garrity summons Danny to his office to ask him about his teenage son, Ben, who was arrested and included in a criminal line-up. Garrity mentions their shared history as former neighbors in the apartment complex. On the bus home, Ben confesses he wants to quit school and get a job. While Denise works her job at a fish factory the next day, Danny meets two businessmen who agree to pay $1,000 for the solar car. That night, Danny tells Denise the news, but she is enraged to learn that he used the money to pay the lawyer. After Ben returns home from a party, Denise tells him of Danny’s plan to move forward with the lawsuit. Danny overhears them worrying about their poor financial situation and visits the local welfare office. The caseworker reviews Danny’s employment history and criticizes him for “throwing away” his past opportunities working for reputable organizations. He claims that Danny’s time in a mental institution will help qualify him for the program, if Danny agrees to secretly give him a portion of his monthly allowance. Danny crushes the man’s hand and is arrested, but Paula pays his bail and takes him out for a drink. She records their conversation and plays it back to her boss, Roger, claiming that Danny’s restraining order against the state would make an interesting news story. The next day, a police marshal informs Danny that the lawyer’s petition was denied and attempts to force him out of the apartment. Ben fires the officer’s gun, and Danny handcuffs the marshal to a bathroom pipe. Danny instructs the children to pack clothes, but they refuse to leave him alone in the apartment. Garrity and multiple officers surround the building and telephone Danny, who demands to speak with the governor. However, Garrity is unable to contact Governor Davis, who is judging a beauty contest in another county. While the Travis family watches Paula’s live television report, Ben urges his father to be interviewed on camera. From the window, Danny requests to speak with Paula; Paula begs permission from Chief of Police Al Norris, who telephones the city mayor. The mayor telephones the governor’s aide, who interrupts the governor’s tryst with the beauty contest winner to alert him of the situation. After Danny releases the marshal and sends Ellie away with a family friend, Paula enters the apartment with her cameraman. During the interview, Paula intimidates Danny, but he refuses to leave the apartment, demanding to know why the governor purchased their “slum” neighborhood properties from a redevelopment company while remaining unconcerned with the residents’ interests. Frustrated with corrupt politicians, he proposes that the honest Americans secede from the U.S. Although the cameraman leaves after the interview, Paula announces she will stay the night in Ellie’s room. The next morning, Danny tells Paula that his wife died, and she shares a story about a past career mistake. Paula radios Roger, who instructs her to get another interview that evening, and reveals that someone named “Janet Vaughn” owns majority shares in the redevelopment company. At the mayor’s office, Governor Davis chastises Garrity for allowing Danny television exposure. That evening, while the Travis family celebrates Ben’s birthday, Paula radios Roger to tell him she recognized the name “Janet Vaughn” as the stage name of actress Sarah Vaughn, the governor’s sister. When Roger realizes that Danny’s lawyer also represents Vaughn, he urges Paula to wait to reveal the connection during the television broadcast. Later, Danny admits that he does not want to speak on camera again, but the governor records a televised statement discrediting Danny’s claims and promoting his own image for the gubernatorial re-election. Paula decides to tell Danny about the company ownership and films him exposing the governor’s corruption. Meanwhile, Garrity sends multiple S.W.A.T. team members inside the building to release tear gas within the apartment. Hoping to drive the S.W.A.T. patrolmen away, Danny breaks a water pipe and Ben blows the electric fuses to create explosive sparks. Danny then releases his remote control car, which contains multiple sticks of dynamite. An officer shoots Ben through a hole in the wall, prompting Danny to relent and evacuate the apartment. As police lock Danny in the patrol car and paramedics carry Ben away, a crowd of onlookers cheer in support. +

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

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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.