The Flamingo Kid (1984)

PG-13 | 98 mins | Comedy-drama | 21 December 1984

Director:

Garry Marshall

Producer:

Michael Phillips

Cinematographer:

James A. Contner

Editor:

Priscilla Nedd

Production Designer:

Lawrence Miller

Production Company:

ABC Motion Pictures
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HISTORY

The Flamingo Kid was the debut screenplay for writer Neal Marshall (no relation to director Garry Marshall). Promotional materials in AMPAS library files reveal Neal Marshall wrote the script in the early 1970s, based on his experiences as a parking attendant at a Long Island, NY, beach club. In 1973, Marshall’s friend, rock singer Cass Elliot, mentioned the script while playing cards with producer Michael Phillips and his then-wife, Julia Phillips. Michael and Julia Phillips quickly optioned the script, but were unable to get financing as the market for teenage comedies was not proven at that point.
       In the early 1980s, Michael Phillips reoptioned the script, and in 1982 mentioned it to director Garry Marshall over a game of basketball. Garry Marshall loved the story and showed it to Brandon Stoddard, head of ABC Motion Pictures. The 11 Jul 1983 DV reported that Stoddard brought in Neal Marshall for rewrites, and later hired Oscar-winning screenwriter Bo Goldman for another rewrite, then greenlit the film. Garry Marshall also rewrote portions of the script.
       Although Goldman was listed as a writer in the production charts during filming, he is not credited onscreen. Goldman’s rewrite changed the episodic nature of the story to emphasize the relationships between teenager “Jeffrey Willis” and his mentor “Phil Brody,” and between Jeffrey and his father “Arthur Willis,” the 1 Sep 1983 DV reported. The time period was also changed from the mid 1950s to summer 1963, a time considered to be the last moments of America’s innocence, just before President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the beginning of the disillusionment of the 1960s.
       Principal photography began on 29 ... More Less

The Flamingo Kid was the debut screenplay for writer Neal Marshall (no relation to director Garry Marshall). Promotional materials in AMPAS library files reveal Neal Marshall wrote the script in the early 1970s, based on his experiences as a parking attendant at a Long Island, NY, beach club. In 1973, Marshall’s friend, rock singer Cass Elliot, mentioned the script while playing cards with producer Michael Phillips and his then-wife, Julia Phillips. Michael and Julia Phillips quickly optioned the script, but were unable to get financing as the market for teenage comedies was not proven at that point.
       In the early 1980s, Michael Phillips reoptioned the script, and in 1982 mentioned it to director Garry Marshall over a game of basketball. Garry Marshall loved the story and showed it to Brandon Stoddard, head of ABC Motion Pictures. The 11 Jul 1983 DV reported that Stoddard brought in Neal Marshall for rewrites, and later hired Oscar-winning screenwriter Bo Goldman for another rewrite, then greenlit the film. Garry Marshall also rewrote portions of the script.
       Although Goldman was listed as a writer in the production charts during filming, he is not credited onscreen. Goldman’s rewrite changed the episodic nature of the story to emphasize the relationships between teenager “Jeffrey Willis” and his mentor “Phil Brody,” and between Jeffrey and his father “Arthur Willis,” the 1 Sep 1983 DV reported. The time period was also changed from the mid 1950s to summer 1963, a time considered to be the last moments of America’s innocence, just before President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the beginning of the disillusionment of the 1960s.
       Principal photography began on 29 Aug 1983 in the New York City area according to a 2 Sep 1983 DV production chart. The film had a $9 million budget and a six-week shooting schedule, and was planned for a summer 1984 release. Promotional material in AMPAS library files show the Silver Gull Club, a beach club on Long Island shore, doubled as the El Flamingo Beach Club, while the Woodhaven section of Queens, NY, was used for the Willis’s Brooklyn neighborhood.
       Although the film wrapped in mid Oct 1983, ABC Motion Pictures requested more scenes to emphasize the father-son relationship. On 23 Apr 1984, DV reported that actors Matt Dillon and Hector Elizondo were shooting additional scenes in Malibu, CA.
       The film went through several titles, the 7 Dec 1984 NYT reported. The original screenplay was called Sweet Ginger Brown, the name of a winning hand in gin rummy. That title was discarded after marketing surveys showed it sounded like soft-core pornography. Then it became The Flamingo Kid, but fears that it would be confused with The Karate Kid (1984, see entry) caused a brief switch to Mr. Hot Shot, followed by The Hot Shot. Eventually, producers reverted to The Flamingo Kid.
       The Flamingo Kid holds the distinction of being the first film to receive the new PG-13 rating created by the MPAA in summer 1984. The 3 Jul 1984 LAHExam reported the film received the rating due to profanity. Under previous MPAA rules, profanity meant an automatic R rating, but the new PG-13 rating allowed for limited profanity. Producer Michael Phillips told the paper he thought the rating was appropriate and had no plans to appeal it.
       While the film was the first to receive the PG-13 rating, it was not the first released with that rating. That distinction goes to Red Dawn (see entry), released on 10 Aug 1984. Three other PG-13 films, The Woman in Red and Dreamscape (see entries), both released on 15 Aug 1984, and Dune (see entry), released on 14 Dec 1984, came out prior to The Flamingo Kid.
       The movie opened on 531screens on 21 Dec 1984, taking in $2 million in its first five days of release, according to a 27 Dec 1984 DV box-office chart. It expanded to eighty-four more screens on its second weekend when it earned another $4.4 million. After seven weeks in theatres, it had grossed a total of $21.1 million, according to the 12 Feb 1985 DV box-office chart.
       The Flamingo Kid was the first starring role for actress Janet Jones, who had previously been a dancer in several movies and on the television show Dance Fever. Actor Fisher Stevens also had his first major film role in The Flamingo Kid, after playing small roles in various film and television shows. Similarly, it was actor Brian McNamara’s first major film role. The film was also the first screen credit for actress Marisa Tomei, who appears in a crowd scene.
       End credits state: “A special thank you to the Silver Gull Club, Inc. and Tom August”; “The producers wish to also thank: Marty Kurzfeld, Terry Hyman, Charles Bornstein, Arthur Silver, John Collins, and Barbara Sue Wells”; “Period cars provided by Michael Lindgren”; “Flamingo scooter designed and built by Kevin O’Callaghan”; “’Notorious,’ ‘Duel In The Sun’ sequences courtesy of ABC Video Enterprises, Inc.; ‘Mr. Ed’ sequence courtesy of Orion Entertainment Corporation; ‘The Real McCoys’ sequence courtesy of Brennan-Westgate Productions; ‘Lucky Strike' commercial courtesy of the American Tobacco Company.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 Jul 1983
p 1, 9.
Daily Variety
1 Sep 1983.
---
Daily Variety
2 Sep 1983.
---
Daily Variety
23 Apr 1984.
---
Daily Variety
27 Nov 1984
p. 2, 13.
Daily Variety
27 Dec 1984.
---
Daily Variety
12 Feb 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Nov 1984
p. 3, 24.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
3 Jul 1984.
---
Los Angeles Times
21 Dec 1984
p. 8.
New York Times
7 Dec 1984.
---
New York Times
21 Dec 1984
p. 25.
Variety
28 Nov 1984
p. 19.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
[and]
as
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
ABC Motion Pictures Presents
A Mercury Entertainment Production
A Garry Marshall Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d unit asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Key grip
Dolly grip
Best boy grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Addl film ed
1st asst fim ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Draftsman
Leadman
Prop master
Asst propman
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men's cost supv
Ladies' cost supv
MUSIC
Mus ed
Orig Latin band mus comp & arranged by
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Cable man
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Post prod dial
ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Opticals
Titles by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Exec in charge of prod
Prod assoc
Scr supv
Dial coach
Asst to Mr. Marshall
Secy to Mr. Marshall
Asst to the prod
Secy to the prod
Research
Post prod supv
Transportation capt
Bits and extras
Bits and extras
Tech adv
Casting asst
N. Y. prod office coord
Loc mgr
Auditor
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
“Breakaway,” music by Bennett Salvay & Snuffy Walden, words by Arlene Matza, publisher: ABC Circle Music, Inc., performed by Jesse Frederick
“Just One Look,” composer: Payne, Carroll, publisher: Premiere Album Music Publishing, performed by Doris Troy, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“It’s All Right,” composer: Curtis Mayfield, publisher Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp., performed by The Impressions, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
+
SONGS
“Breakaway,” music by Bennett Salvay & Snuffy Walden, words by Arlene Matza, publisher: ABC Circle Music, Inc., performed by Jesse Frederick
“Just One Look,” composer: Payne, Carroll, publisher: Premiere Album Music Publishing, performed by Doris Troy, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“It’s All Right,” composer: Curtis Mayfield, publisher Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp., performed by The Impressions, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
“Finger Poppin’ Time,” composer: Hank Ballard, publisher Fort Knox Music Co., performed by Hank Ballard and The Midnighters, courtesy of Gusto Records
“Chain Gang,” composer: Sam Cooke, C. Cooke, publisher: ABKCO Music, Inc., performed by Sam Cooke, courtesy of RCA Records
“Get A Job,” composer: Horton, Lewis, Edward, Beal, publisher: Dandelion Music Co. & Wildcat Music, Inc., performed by The Silhouettes, courtesy of Kae Williams, Sr.
“Walk Right In,” composer: Cannon, Woods, arr. by Darling, Svanoe, publisher Peer International Corp., performed by The Rooftop Singers, courtesy of Vanguard Recording Society, Inc.
“Theme From ‘A Summer Place,’” composer: Max Steiner, publisher Warner Bros. Music, arranged by Curt Sobel
“Money (That’s What I Want),” composer: Berry Gordy, Jr., Janie Bradford, publisher: Jobete Music Company, Inc., performed by Barrett Strong, courtesy of Motown Records
“Stand By Me,” composer: King, Glick, Lieber, Stoller, publisher: Rightsong Music, Inc., Trio Music, ADT Enterprises, performed by Ben E. King, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp. by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“Good Golly Miss Molly,” composer: J. Marachico, Bumps Blackwell, publisher: Parker Music, performed by Little Richard, courtesy of Specialty Records
“South Street,” composer: Kal Mann, David Appell, publisher: Kalmann Music, Inc., performed by The Orlons, courtesy of ABKCO Records
“Runaround Sue,” composer: Ernest Maresca, Dion DiMucci, publisher: Rust Enterprises, Inc., Schwartz Music Co., Inc., Ernest Maresca, performed by Dion, courtesy of Laurie Records
“Da Doo Ron Ron,” composer: Phil Spector, Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry, publisher Trio Music Company & Mother Bertha Music, Inc., produced by Phil Spector, featuring The Crystals, courtesy of Phil Spector International
“Stranger On The Shore,” composer: Acker Bilk, Robert Mellin, published by EMI Music Publishing, Ltd., performed by Acker Bilk, courtesy of Polygram Records, Inc.
“Heat Wave (Love Is Like A),” composer Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, publisher Jobete Music Company, Inc., performed by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, courtesy of Motown Records
“Yes, Indeed,” composer: Sy Oliver, publisher: Embassy Music Corp., performed by Ray Charles, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“He’s So Fine,” composer: Ronald Mack, publisher: Legs Music, Inc., performed by The Chiffons, courtesy of Laurie Records
“Green Onions,” composer: Booker T. Jones, Steve Crooper, Lewis Steinberg, Al Jackson, Jr., publisher: Irving Music, Inc., performed by Booker T. and the M.G.’s, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“One Fine Day,” composer: Carole King, Gerry Goffin, publisher: Screen Gems-EMI Music, Inc., performed by The Chiffons, courtesy of Laurie Records
“Cha Cha Dinero,” composer: The Roper Band, publisher: Roper Music, Inc., performed by The Roper Band, courtesy of Roper Records.
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DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Mr. Hot Shot
Sweet Ginger Brown
The Hot Shot
Release Date:
21 December 1984
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 21 December 1984
Production Date:
29 August--mid October 1983
Copyright Claimant:
ABC Motion Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 December 1984
Copyright Number:
PA241502
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Color by Deluxe ®
Lenses
Panaflex ® camera and lenses by Panavision ®
Duration(in mins):
98
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27419
SYNOPSIS

In 1963 Brooklyn, New York, eighteen-year-old Jeffrey Willis is invited to spend the Fourth of July at the exclusive El Flamingo Beach Club in Far Rockaway, Long Island, New York. Steve Dawkins and Henry “Hawk” Ganz, two friends who used to live in the neighborhood whose families are now members of the El Flamingo, need a third player for a gin rummy game at the club. Jeffrey, who is a whiz at math and cards, helps them win $89.90 in a penny-a-point gin rummy game. Jeffrey is impressed by the luxurious club and is smitten upon meeting the beautiful, blonde Carla Samson from California who is staying the summer with her relatives, the wealthy Brody family. After the holiday buffet and fireworks, Jeffrey and his friends are leaving when a car stalls in the parking lot. Jeffrey examines the engine and gets the car started. The parking lot attendant offers him a job and puts Jeffrey to work. The next morning, Jeffrey tells his father, plumber Arthur Willis, that he has taken the job. Arthur is upset as he arranged with one of his plumbing clients for Jeffrey to work as an office boy at an engineering firm in Brooklyn. Arthur dreams of his son becoming an engineer, but Jeffrey does not want to spend his summer in an office. Jeffrey places the $40 he made in tips on the table, confident he can contribute to his college tuition, but his father dismisses the gesture, saying that working for tips is not an honest job. That afternoon at the El Flamingo, Jeffrey and other parking attendants watch a high-stakes gin rummy game in which “king” of the game Phil ... +


In 1963 Brooklyn, New York, eighteen-year-old Jeffrey Willis is invited to spend the Fourth of July at the exclusive El Flamingo Beach Club in Far Rockaway, Long Island, New York. Steve Dawkins and Henry “Hawk” Ganz, two friends who used to live in the neighborhood whose families are now members of the El Flamingo, need a third player for a gin rummy game at the club. Jeffrey, who is a whiz at math and cards, helps them win $89.90 in a penny-a-point gin rummy game. Jeffrey is impressed by the luxurious club and is smitten upon meeting the beautiful, blonde Carla Samson from California who is staying the summer with her relatives, the wealthy Brody family. After the holiday buffet and fireworks, Jeffrey and his friends are leaving when a car stalls in the parking lot. Jeffrey examines the engine and gets the car started. The parking lot attendant offers him a job and puts Jeffrey to work. The next morning, Jeffrey tells his father, plumber Arthur Willis, that he has taken the job. Arthur is upset as he arranged with one of his plumbing clients for Jeffrey to work as an office boy at an engineering firm in Brooklyn. Arthur dreams of his son becoming an engineer, but Jeffrey does not want to spend his summer in an office. Jeffrey places the $40 he made in tips on the table, confident he can contribute to his college tuition, but his father dismisses the gesture, saying that working for tips is not an honest job. That afternoon at the El Flamingo, Jeffrey and other parking attendants watch a high-stakes gin rummy game in which “king” of the game Phil Brody, who owns a foreign car dealership, plays against retired Air Force Colonel Cal Eastland, who owns the El Flamingo. Jeffrey is impressed by Phil Brody’s style and his habit of holding his cards in an upside-down fan pattern. That night, Jeffrey tries to imitate holding cards in the upside-down fan, but cannot master it. Phil Brody’s daughter, Joyce, invites Steve Dawkins to dinner, while Joyce’s cousin, Carla Samson, invites Jeffrey. Phyllis, Phil’s snotty wife, is aghast to have a parking lot attendant come for dinner, but Phil Brody takes a shine to Jeffrey after the young man compliments his card playing. Phil teaches Jeffrey some of the finer points of cards, explaining that he does not have a son to share his expertise with. Carla and Jeffrey have a nice evening and share a kiss as he leaves. The next day, Phil arranges for Jeffrey to be promoted to cabana boy. Over the next few weeks, Jeffrey makes a lot of money in tips and wins a lot of money in penny-a-point gin rummy games with his friends. Phil Brody takes Jeffrey to his Long Island car dealership, Brody Motors, and lets him drive an Italian-made sports car. Phil never went to college, but took some night courses at New York University and believes education is not as essential as sales ability, because it is the salesmen of the world who make the money. Phil believes Jeffrey would make a good salesman and will give Jeffrey a job whenever he wants one. Jeffrey, who has been accepted at the Pratt Institute and is on the waiting list for Columbia University, tells his family that he has decided not to go to college and repeats things that Phil said about salesmen making the most money. Arthur Willis’s dream is for his children to be educated, but Jeffrey insists he is going to be a car salesman. The next day, Arthur Willis comes to the club and invites Jeffrey to join the family for a meal at a nice restaurant after his shift ends, but Jeffrey and his friends are going to the horse races in Yonkers. Arthur and Jeffrey argue until Phil steps in, complimenting Arthur on what a fine son he has and advising him to let Jeffrey spend time with his friends. At the horse races, Jeffrey and his friends lose money after betting on a horse that was supposed to be a “sure thing.” Afterward at a diner, some guys from the racetrack start a fight with them and police arrest them all. Arthur bails his son out of jail. On the drive home, Jeffrey and his father get into an argument about money. Jeffrey criticizes his father for saving all his money and making them live in a “dump” in Brooklyn. Hearing that, Arthur slaps his son in the face. When he gets home, Jeffrey packs some clothes and says he is moving out. Arthur mocks him, asking if he is going to become a “fast car salesman.” Arthur admits that fast things frighten him. He also says that there are two important things in life: finding out what you do well and finding out what makes you happy. Arthur says if God is smiling on you, they’re both the same thing. Jeffrey sleeps in a cabana at the club and the next day tells Phil Brody he is ready to work for him. Phil offers him a job as a stock boy at his dealership in Yonkers. Jeffrey was expecting to be a car salesman, but Phil explains he has to grow into the position. That night, Jeffrey and Carla make love on the beach. Carla hopes he can come visit her in Los Angeles where she will attend college. On Labor Day, Phil and his team play another high-stakes gin rummy game against Col. Eastland and his team. As usual, Brody is winning, but Jeffrey notices a man named Big Sid observing the game and signaling Brody about Eastland’s cards. Big Sid collapses from sunstroke, falling onto Eastland, and both are taken to the hospital. The other members of Eastland’s team, Charlie Cooper and Mario Minetta, need a third player and Jeffrey volunteers. Jeffrey plays against Phil and wins several hands. The game goes on for hours and moves inside when it gets dark and Jeffrey continues to win. On the last hand, the men agree to double the stakes. As Phil hesitates about which card to discard, Jeffrey comments that it is not so easy to win without Big Sid there to help him, then puts down the winning hand. Angry at losing, Phil storms away from the card table. Delighted at their windfall, Jeffrey’s two teammates give him a share of the winnings. Jeffrey tells them how Phil has been cheating all summer with the help of Big Sid. Later, Phil comes to congratulate Jeffrey on winning and offers to let him be a salesman at his new dealership in Newport, California, so he can be close to Carla. Jeffrey declines and tells Brody that he told the others about his cheating scam. Jeffrey tells his friends at the beach club goodbye and goes to Larry’s Fish House where his family is having dinner. He makes up with Arthur and says he intends to move back home, then gives his father a hug.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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