Partners (1982)

R | 92 mins | Comedy | 30 April 1982

Director:

James Burrows

Writer:

Francis Veber

Producer:

Aaron Russo

Cinematographer:

Victor J. Kemper

Production Designer:

Richard Sylbert

Production Companies:

Golden Pictures , Paramount Pictures
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HISTORY

       According to a 14 May 1982 LAHExam article, writer-executive producer Francis Veber wrote the screenplay for Partners in French while at his home in Paris, France, before translating it to English to sell to American filmmakers. Production notes in AMPAS library files indicated that producer Aaron Russo received the script from Filmways executive Mike Medavoy, and immediately telephoned Veber to collaborate. Although the depiction of homosexuality in Veber’s French screen adaptation of the 1973 stage play, La Cage aux Folles (1978) and its 1980 sequel, La Cage aux Folles II, was successful with U.S. audiences, he decided to write Partners about American characters in U.S. settings, due to his fascination with its cities’ concentrated gay neighborhoods. The 24 Dec 1980 Var reported that Russo was searching for a director to begin filming in 1981, despite the project not yet having studio backing. A 26 Jun 1981 DV story stated that Russo met television director James Burrows through Danny DeVito, star of Burrows’ series, Taxi (ABC, 12 Sep 1978--Jun 1982, NBC, Sep 1982--27 Jul 1983), and hired him to make his motion picture directorial debut. The film was budgeted at $7.5 million, which the 1 Apr 1981 HR claimed was part of an eight-picture production deal made by Paramount Pictures executive Michael Eisner. Production materials also noted the film was produced under Russo's independent company, Golden Pictures, although it is not credited onscreen.
       On 15 Apr 1981, HR announced the casting of Ryan O’Neal and John Hurt, since the alleged pairings of both Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen and ... More Less

       According to a 14 May 1982 LAHExam article, writer-executive producer Francis Veber wrote the screenplay for Partners in French while at his home in Paris, France, before translating it to English to sell to American filmmakers. Production notes in AMPAS library files indicated that producer Aaron Russo received the script from Filmways executive Mike Medavoy, and immediately telephoned Veber to collaborate. Although the depiction of homosexuality in Veber’s French screen adaptation of the 1973 stage play, La Cage aux Folles (1978) and its 1980 sequel, La Cage aux Folles II, was successful with U.S. audiences, he decided to write Partners about American characters in U.S. settings, due to his fascination with its cities’ concentrated gay neighborhoods. The 24 Dec 1980 Var reported that Russo was searching for a director to begin filming in 1981, despite the project not yet having studio backing. A 26 Jun 1981 DV story stated that Russo met television director James Burrows through Danny DeVito, star of Burrows’ series, Taxi (ABC, 12 Sep 1978--Jun 1982, NBC, Sep 1982--27 Jul 1983), and hired him to make his motion picture directorial debut. The film was budgeted at $7.5 million, which the 1 Apr 1981 HR claimed was part of an eight-picture production deal made by Paramount Pictures executive Michael Eisner. Production materials also noted the film was produced under Russo's independent company, Golden Pictures, although it is not credited onscreen.
       On 15 Apr 1981, HR announced the casting of Ryan O’Neal and John Hurt, since the alleged pairings of both Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen and James Caan and Dudley Moore fell through due to scheduling conflicts. According to production notes, Russo and Burrows flew to New York City to meet with O’Neal during production of So Fine (1981, see entry), agreeing to delay the start date of Partners until the actor finished filming. O’Neal reportedly flew from location in Italy on a Friday and began work on Partners on a Monday. A 25 Aug 1981 LAT article stated that Hurt discussed his role with Eisner and Paramount executive Don Simpson, who accompanied him to Los Angeles International Airport the day after he attended the Academy Awards for his Best Actor nomination in The Elephant Man (1981, see entry). During his flight to Paris, France, Hurt read the script and agreed to join the project. The story noted that the actor considered playing the character as an Englishman in order to keep his natural accent, but later decided against it.
       An 8 Jun 1981 HR brief claimed that Jennifer Ashley was cast in the lead female role played by Robyn Douglass; however, she is credited onscreen as “Secretary.” A Paramount press release cast list misspelled Kenneth McMillan’s character as “Chief Wilkens.”
       Var production charts on 17 Apr 1981 reported that principal photography was scheduled to begin 27 Apr 1981 in Los Angeles. A 28 Apr 1981 HR brief confirmed the Los Angeles location, but erroneously claimed that the story takes place in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. The 26 Jun 1981 DV also stated that filming took place in West Hollywood, CA, where the filmmakers visited several gay bars and consulted various homosexual people for the purpose of “accuracy.” Production notes indicated that a downtown Los Angeles office building served as the location for the police station and the interior apartment set was built on a stage at Raleigh Studios, across the street from the Paramount Pictures lot in Hollywood, CA. In addition, the Santa Clarita, CA, motel setting at the end of the film was shot at Vacation Village on the coast of Mission Bay in San Diego, CA. A 29 Jun 1981 HR advertisement announced that principal photography was completed four days ahead of schedule. The 26 Jun 1981 DV indicated that Burrows was under pressure to finish production before the threatened 1 Jul 1981 Directors Guild of America (DGA) strike.
       On 17 Jul 1981, LAT clarified a previous statement from Russo claiming that the Alliance of Gay Artists (AGA) approved the film’s script, instead reporting that the organization disapproved of the story’s stereotypes. A year later, the 28 Jul 1982 LAT stated that in 1981, an AGA representative met with filmmakers to suggest revisions for the script, which were allegedly not considered.
       A 16 Apr 1982 DV brief announced the 27 Apr 1982 San Diego premiere benefitting the Variety Club 57, which raised funds for children’s charities. The picture was scheduled to open domestically 30 Apr 1982 in 850 theaters. A 10 Mar 1982 Var news item reported that Paramount distribution president Frank Mancuso denied accusations that the film had been rescheduled from a fall 1982 release in order to take advantage of the box office success of two other homosexual-themed films released Feb 1982, Personal Best (1982, see entry) and Making Love (1982, see entry).
       According to LAHExam, Partners earned $4.1 million during its first ten days of release, and received poor reviews, which criticized the film’s offensive stereotypes.
       Although the 30 Apr 1982 NYT review listed a ninety-eight minute runtime, the film viewed by AFI Catalog had a duration of ninety-three minutes. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
5 Jun 1981
p. 10.
Daily Variety
16 Apr 1982.
---
Daily Variety
26 Jun 1981
p. 3, 27.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 1981
p. 1, 13.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Apr 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 1982
p. 3.
LAHExam
14 May 1982
Section D, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
17 Jul 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Aug 1981
pp. 1-2.
Los Angeles Times
30 Apr 1982
p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
28 Jul 1982.
---
New York Times
30 Apr 1982
p. 12.
Variety
24 Dec 1980.
---
Variety
17 Apr 1981.
---
Variety
10 Mar 1982.
---
Variety
5 May 1982
p. 21.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
An Aaron Russo Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Gaffer
Key grip
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Best boy
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Company grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst prod des
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Swing gang
Swing gang
Standby painter
COSTUMES
Men`s ward
Women's ward
Mr. O'Neal's ward
Cost des
MUSIC
Orig mus
Mus ed
Spec orch
SOUND
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd mixer
Sd utility
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Mr. O'Neal's makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to Aaron Russo
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Addl casting
Casting
Casting
Prod asst
Prod coord
Prod accountant
Prod asst
Extras casting
Tech consultant
First aid
Craft service
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Driver
Driver
Mr. O'Neal's driver
Unit pub
Unit pub
STAND INS
Stunt person
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Get It Up For Love," by N. Doheny, performed by Tata Vega, courtesy of Motown Record Corporation
"Red Light," by M. Gore and D. Pitchford, performed by Linda Clifford, courtesy of RSO Records, Inc.
"Love On A Two Way Street," by S. Robinson and B. Keyes, performed by Stacy Lattisaw, courtesy of Cotillion Records
+
SONGS
"Get It Up For Love," by N. Doheny, performed by Tata Vega, courtesy of Motown Record Corporation
"Red Light," by M. Gore and D. Pitchford, performed by Linda Clifford, courtesy of RSO Records, Inc.
"Love On A Two Way Street," by S. Robinson and B. Keyes, performed by Stacy Lattisaw, courtesy of Cotillion Records
"Slow Hand," by M. Clark and J. Bettis, performed by The Pointer Sisters, courtesy of Planet Records
"Call Me," by D. Harry and G. Moroder, performed by Blondie, courtesy of Chrysalis Records.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 April 1982
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 30 April 1982
Production Date:
27 April--late June 1981 in Los Angeles and San Diego, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Titan Productions
Copyright Date:
13 October 1982
Copyright Number:
PA150084
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
92
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26389
SYNOPSIS

At the Los Angeles, California, Police Department, arrogant detective, Sargent Bob Benson, and shy, homosexual officer Fred Kerwin simultaneously arrive for separate meetings with Chief Wilkins. Benson enters Wilkins’ office first, and the captain briefs him on the murder of a homosexual magazine model named Davis, whose newspaperman father has accused the police department of prejudice for failing to catch the killer. In response, Wilkins assigns Benson to work undercover with Kerwin, posing as a homosexual couple. At home, Benson says goodbye to his girl friend and picks up Kerwin in their assigned vehicle—a pink Volkswagen convertible—wearing a sweatband and leather jacket. While Benson brakes to apologize for accidentally grazing Kerwin’s leg, a passing vehicle crashes into them. Benson telephones Wilkins from the automotive repair shop and complains about working with Kerwin, but Wilkins refuses to terminate the investigation. At the motel where Davis was killed, Benson is uncomfortable with the homosexual manager’s obvious attraction to him, but Kerwin suggests Benson flirt in order to gain information. While groping Benson under the table, the manager admits that he saw flashbulbs from Davis’s room the night of the murder. Later, Benson and Kerwin move into an apartment, but Benson quickly leaves to escape his exhibitionist male neighbors. On his walk, he meets a woman who mistakes him for a homosexual and invites him into her apartment while she showers. Realizing his sexuality is being questioned, Benson barges into the bathroom and they attempt to have sex, but he is unable to become aroused. That night, he returns to the apartment where Kerwin is hosting a housewarming party attended by their neighbors, including Davis’ former roommate, Al. Although Kerwin is uncomfortable, ... +


At the Los Angeles, California, Police Department, arrogant detective, Sargent Bob Benson, and shy, homosexual officer Fred Kerwin simultaneously arrive for separate meetings with Chief Wilkins. Benson enters Wilkins’ office first, and the captain briefs him on the murder of a homosexual magazine model named Davis, whose newspaperman father has accused the police department of prejudice for failing to catch the killer. In response, Wilkins assigns Benson to work undercover with Kerwin, posing as a homosexual couple. At home, Benson says goodbye to his girl friend and picks up Kerwin in their assigned vehicle—a pink Volkswagen convertible—wearing a sweatband and leather jacket. While Benson brakes to apologize for accidentally grazing Kerwin’s leg, a passing vehicle crashes into them. Benson telephones Wilkins from the automotive repair shop and complains about working with Kerwin, but Wilkins refuses to terminate the investigation. At the motel where Davis was killed, Benson is uncomfortable with the homosexual manager’s obvious attraction to him, but Kerwin suggests Benson flirt in order to gain information. While groping Benson under the table, the manager admits that he saw flashbulbs from Davis’s room the night of the murder. Later, Benson and Kerwin move into an apartment, but Benson quickly leaves to escape his exhibitionist male neighbors. On his walk, he meets a woman who mistakes him for a homosexual and invites him into her apartment while she showers. Realizing his sexuality is being questioned, Benson barges into the bathroom and they attempt to have sex, but he is unable to become aroused. That night, he returns to the apartment where Kerwin is hosting a housewarming party attended by their neighbors, including Davis’ former roommate, Al. Although Kerwin is uncomfortable, Benson forces him to follow Al upstairs to his apartment to question him. Sometime later, Kerwin returns with a stolen photograph of Davis and his former boyfriend. The next morning, Kerwin serves Benson breakfast in bed and insists that Benson seduce Davis’ boyfriend by dressing up in a leather outfit. Benson visits the man at work, inviting him to meet him outside at the end of his shift. Around 1:00 am, they drive to the beach and swim naked in the ocean while Kerwin hides in the back seat of the car, but the three men are arrested by a group of jeering policemen. In the morning, Davis’ boyfriend reveals that a mysterious man with a hoarse voice once telephoned Davis to pose for photographs, and that his friend, Clyde Thompson, was also murdered by an unknown killer six months earlier. Benson discovers that Clyde modeled for the same magazine as Davis, and locates Clyde’s roommate, Stiward “Ed” K. Petersen. He returns home, where Kerwin prepares dinner and draws him a bath. The next afternoon, Benson follows Petersen to his apartment, but Petersen shoves him and runs away. At Kerwin’s suggestion, Benson poses nude for the magazine in order to entice the killer, but becomes flustered around the attractive female photographer, Jill. That night, Benson helps Kerwin mend a shirt, and Kerwin prepares a fancy meal to celebrate the end of their first week on the case. On his way to buy bread, Benson bumps into Jill and invites her to join them for dinner. Unable to contain their attraction, Benson and Jill retreat to the bedroom and make love. Jealous and alone, Kerwin goes to a bar and encounters Al, who says that Jill has a habit of positioning herself in between homosexual couples. After Kerwin leaves, a bar patron tells Al about rumors claiming that Jill killed Clyde Thompson. In the morning, Kerwin spitefully prepares breakfast for Benson and Jill before telephoning Wilkins to report that Benson is risking their cover by having sex with women. Once the magazine is published, Benson receives multiple telephone calls soliciting sex and offering him modeling jobs. One day, the hoarse-voiced man phones, arranging to meet Benson on a street corner that evening. At nightfall, Benson gets into a limousine, with Kerwin, Wilkins, and two police officers following behind. In a motel room, the driver instructs Benson to remove his clothes; outside, Kerwin becomes nervous and prematurely barges into the room, ruining the mission before the real killer can reveal himself. As Kerwin cries in the car, the officers receive a report that Ed Petersen was recently found dead. Benson leaves to meet Jill, and Kerwin returns to the bar, where Al divulges the rumor. He theorizes that Petersen was involved in a blackmailing scheme with Jill, thus explaining why he never alerted police. Kerwin telephones Benson while Benson and Jill are making love, but quickly hangs up. The next morning, Kerwin shares his findings, but Benson refuses to listen. While Kerwin runs to the police station to tell Wilkins, Benson telephones the captain to complain about Kerwin’s jealous behavior. Once Kerwin arrives at the station, Wilkins dismisses his claims. Kerwin then breaks into Jill’s house and steals a canister of film from her photography lab, bringing it to the station to be developed. Moments later, Jill comes home and listens to her telephone messages, one of which is from Petersen, claiming that Benson has been following him and instructing her where to find the film in her darkroom. After fruitlessly searching, Jill finds her co-conspirator, Douglas, standing in her living room, demanding possession of the photograph negatives. Believing Benson has them, she telephones him to arrange a weekend trip at a motel in Santa Clarita, California. At the station, Wilkins laughs at Kerwin for falling in love with Benson, but a police officer interrupts, reporting that Jill was found strangled in her home. Upon finding a note from Benson, Kerwin races to catch up with his partner in Santa Clarita. Benson throws him out of the room, however, and Douglas barges in, holding Benson at gunpoint. Douglas explains that he murdered Jill, Petersen, and another model for blackmailing him. Kerwin fumbles with his gun and kills Douglas, but the man shoots back, striking Kerwin in the abdomen and knocking him unconscious. Benson holds Kerwin in his arms and speaks to him comfortingly, vowing to return to their domestic partnership. Later, Wilkins reveals that Douglas was a stockbroker with a family who was afraid of being revealed as a closeted homosexual. The captain assures Benson that Kerwin will survive his injuries, and is eager to fulfill Benson’s promise by moving in together. +

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

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