Big Trouble (1986)

R | 93 mins | Comedy | 30 May 1986

Director:

John Cassavetes

Writer:

Warren Bogle

Producer:

John Cassavetes

Cinematographer:

Bill Butler

Production Designer:

Gene Callahan

Production Companies:

Columbia Pictures, Delphi III Productions
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HISTORY

End credits state: “Special thanks: Apple Computer, Inc,” and in music credits, composer Franz Joseph Haydn is incorrectly listed as “Franz Josef Hayden.”
       A 30 May 1986 NYT movie review suggested that the picture was a contemporary update of director Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944, see entry) with actors Alan Arkin and Beverly D’Angelo filling the roles played by Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck.
       A brief in a 26 Apr 1984 HR and 8 May 1984 HR production charts stated that principal photography began 23 Apr 1984 in Los Angeles, CA. The film would be shot on location around Los Angeles, and at the Burbank Studios.
       According to a 22 May 1984 DV news item, writer-producer-director Andrew Bergman resigned as director after three weeks of production. Bergman admitted to being overwhelmed at holding down three positions of responsibility. According to news items in the 13 Jun 1984 and 3 Jul 1984 DV, actor-director John Cassavetes replaced Bergman, although Bergman would retain a shared producing credit with Michael Lobell, and a sole screenwriter credit. However, neither man received onscreen credit. Bergman left for New York, but gave Cassavetes input by telephone. Reportedly, most of Bergman’s footage was left intact, although a sequence involving an unfinished freeway in Phoenix, AZ, was reshot. A set was built on Stage 1 at the Burbank Studios to replicate the interiors of a mansion to which the company no longer had access. The NYT’s review also suggested that the screenplay credited to Warren Bogle was an homage to actor W. C. Fields, who often used the name Charles ... More Less

End credits state: “Special thanks: Apple Computer, Inc,” and in music credits, composer Franz Joseph Haydn is incorrectly listed as “Franz Josef Hayden.”
       A 30 May 1986 NYT movie review suggested that the picture was a contemporary update of director Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944, see entry) with actors Alan Arkin and Beverly D’Angelo filling the roles played by Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck.
       A brief in a 26 Apr 1984 HR and 8 May 1984 HR production charts stated that principal photography began 23 Apr 1984 in Los Angeles, CA. The film would be shot on location around Los Angeles, and at the Burbank Studios.
       According to a 22 May 1984 DV news item, writer-producer-director Andrew Bergman resigned as director after three weeks of production. Bergman admitted to being overwhelmed at holding down three positions of responsibility. According to news items in the 13 Jun 1984 and 3 Jul 1984 DV, actor-director John Cassavetes replaced Bergman, although Bergman would retain a shared producing credit with Michael Lobell, and a sole screenwriter credit. However, neither man received onscreen credit. Bergman left for New York, but gave Cassavetes input by telephone. Reportedly, most of Bergman’s footage was left intact, although a sequence involving an unfinished freeway in Phoenix, AZ, was reshot. A set was built on Stage 1 at the Burbank Studios to replicate the interiors of a mansion to which the company no longer had access. The NYT’s review also suggested that the screenplay credited to Warren Bogle was an homage to actor W. C. Fields, who often used the name Charles Bogle when credited as writer on a picture. The reviewer thought that either contributors Bergman or perhaps actress-writer-director Elaine May gave their approval for the onscreen credit.
       A 30 Jul 1984 Columbia Pictures press release in AMPAS library files announced that principal photography was completed that day. The NYT alluded to the fact that the movie was beset with problems that delayed its release, but did not elaborate on the circumstances.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 May 1984.
---
Daily Variety
13 Jun 1984.
---
Daily Variety
3 Jul 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Apr 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 May 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jun 1986
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
27 Jun 1986
p. 17.
New York Times
30 May 1986
p. 8.
Variety
4 Jun 1986
p. 16, 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures Presents
from Columbia - Delphi III Productions
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Chief lighting tech
Key grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Prop master
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men`s cost
Women`s cost
MUSIC
Scoring mixer
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom man
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
A. D. R. ed
Asst A. D. R. ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title des
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Casting
Scr supv
Prod coord
Loc mgr
Loc auditor
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Asst to the prod
Asst to Mr. Cassavetes
Prod asst
Prod asst
Unit pub
Prod facilities by the
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
[Col by]
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Eine Kleine Nachtmusik," written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, arranged and adapted by Bill Marx
"Trio No. 15," written by Franz Joseph Haydn.
SONGS
"Happy Birthday To You," written by Mildred J. Hill and Patty S. Hill
Excerpt from "La Boheme," written by Giacomo Puccini.
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 May 1986
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 30 May 1986
Los Angeles opening: 26 June 1986
Production Date:
23 April--30 July 1984 in Los Angeles, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Date:
12 December 1985
Copyright Number:
PA273542
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
93
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27679
SYNOPSIS

When identical triplet sons, Peter, Michael, and Joshua Hoffman, aspire to be professional classical musicians, their father, Leonard Hoffman, is in a quandary how to send his offspring to Yale University after they are denied scholarships. Leonard tells his wife, Arlene, they cannot afford tuition, but she insists the boys must attend Yale because it is an important steppingstone for their musical careers. At United Marine Insurance, coworkers congratulate Leonard on his sons’ acceptance to Yale, then his boss, O’Mara, suggests he ask company president, Winslow, a Yale alumnus, for help. However, Winslow refuses to exert his influence with the scholarship committee. On his way home, Leonard stops at the home of Blanche Rickey to sell her a homeowner’s policy. There, Blanche reveals that her husband is terminally ill, and has requested that she kill him. Leonard suggests that a life insurance policy may be more useful, but Blanche is distressed and asks him to leave. As Leonard walks to his car, he meets Steve, Blanche’s husband, who arrives with a pickup truck filled with illegal Chinese immigrants. Steve explains to Blanche that he is preparing the group for work at the Sheraton Hotel. Later, Blanche calls Leonard at home, and asks him to meet her the following day at a drug store. Leonard says he will sell the Rickeys a catastrophic accident policy if Blanche agrees to give him Dr. Lopez’s contact information so he can confirm her husband’s medical history. He also informs Blanche that the policy is worth $2.5 million, but the fine print contains a “double indemnity” clause that will pay $5 million if the insured dies from a fall off a train. Leonard ... +


When identical triplet sons, Peter, Michael, and Joshua Hoffman, aspire to be professional classical musicians, their father, Leonard Hoffman, is in a quandary how to send his offspring to Yale University after they are denied scholarships. Leonard tells his wife, Arlene, they cannot afford tuition, but she insists the boys must attend Yale because it is an important steppingstone for their musical careers. At United Marine Insurance, coworkers congratulate Leonard on his sons’ acceptance to Yale, then his boss, O’Mara, suggests he ask company president, Winslow, a Yale alumnus, for help. However, Winslow refuses to exert his influence with the scholarship committee. On his way home, Leonard stops at the home of Blanche Rickey to sell her a homeowner’s policy. There, Blanche reveals that her husband is terminally ill, and has requested that she kill him. Leonard suggests that a life insurance policy may be more useful, but Blanche is distressed and asks him to leave. As Leonard walks to his car, he meets Steve, Blanche’s husband, who arrives with a pickup truck filled with illegal Chinese immigrants. Steve explains to Blanche that he is preparing the group for work at the Sheraton Hotel. Later, Blanche calls Leonard at home, and asks him to meet her the following day at a drug store. Leonard says he will sell the Rickeys a catastrophic accident policy if Blanche agrees to give him Dr. Lopez’s contact information so he can confirm her husband’s medical history. He also informs Blanche that the policy is worth $2.5 million, but the fine print contains a “double indemnity” clause that will pay $5 million if the insured dies from a fall off a train. Leonard explains how they can commit fraud when Steve arrives, and says he is grateful that insurance will take care of his wife because he is not well. The doctors predicted that he may have a fatal heart attack at any moment. Suddenly, Steve has an attack, and thrashes against the shelves until it subsides. Blanche guides her husband to the car, and promises to be in contact. Sometime later at the Rickey home, Blanche and Steve sign copies of the policy Leonard prepared. When Blanche makes a comment that her home will be safe for another year, it appears that Steve thinks he signed a homeowner’s policy. At the office, O’Mara, the head insurance investigator, congratulates Leonard for selling a catastrophic accident policy, the company’s worst product, to unsuspecting customers. Blanche telephones Leonard to inform him that Steve will attend his army reunion by train, despite breaking his foot. She arranges for Leonard to chauffeur Steve to the station. Later, Leonard calls Dr. Lopez, and confirms that Steve’s medical condition is terminal. Still later, Leonard, wearing a suit identical to Steve’s, drives while Blanche strangles her husband in a secluded area on the way to the station. They hide Steve’s body, but Leonard is clearly disturbed by the murder. He boards the train using crutches to impersonate Steve, and Leonard jumps from the train as Blanche waits. She dumps Steve’s body, wrapped in a blanket, by the side of the road, but Leonard fears sloppy actions will get them arrested. He hides the body at home in an extra bunk bed in his sons’ bedroom. Soon the television news reports that Steve’s body has been found with a horribly disfigured face. At work, United Marine Insurance president Winslow calls Leonard and O’Mara into a meeting with Blanche, and her attorney, Lloyd Nagle. Leonard immediately recognizes that “Lloyd” is actually Steve in disguise. Although Blanche dissolves into hysteria upon O’Mara’s aggressive questioning, Lloyd retains his composure. Winslow informs Blanche that his company will not pay any insurance claim until a full investigation is made. Once Leonard leaves, Lloyd waves him into the men’s room. There, Lloyd assures Leonard that the body of a homeless man from the morgue was used to stage Steve’s train accident. In response, Leonard vomits, but Lloyd reminds him that they are very close to getting their money. Later, as the Rickeys abandon their rental home, Steve is confident that the insurance money will soon be theirs. O’Mara and Leonard visit Dr. Lopez’s office to learn the autopsy results. Dr. Lopez informs them he has reconstructed Steve’s torn face. When he pulls back the sheet, Steve Rickey appears unconscious on the gurney. The doctor says the cause of death is a broken neck. However, O’Mara tickles Steve’s foot, and he laughs. O’Mara announces that everyone is under arrest. However, orderlies in the room tie him with rope, and the Rickeys kidnap O’Mara and Leonard. On a deserted road, Steve stops driving as he and Blanche fight over whether their scheme is working. Leonard becomes catatonic, but agrees that Steve should force Winslow to pay the claim or risk being kidnapped. They drive to the Winslow mansion, and the men enter through an open window, stealing silver and artwork. As Leonard and Steve remove a heavy marble Michelangelo statue, the Winslows return home, and are surprised with a birthday cake by family, friends and staff. At first, no one notices the thieves because the electricity is temporarily turned off. Then Winslow recognizes Leonard and threatens to call the police unless the men leave. Next, Steve and Leonard drive to the United Marine Insurance office to rob the company safe. They are in the middle of their heist when a band of terrorists discovers them. The leader orders his men to shut off the timer to their bomb. Outside, O’Mara convinces Blanche that Winslow is wealthy and dangerous, and he must save Steve and Leonard before something tragic happens. Meanwhile, police arrive, and an officer questions why Blanche is loitering in front of a building about to be blown up by terrorists. Blanche convinces him that her husband, Leonard, and O'Mara are searching for the culprits. Inside, O’Mara finds Leonard and Steve. Before long, Steve persuades O'Mara that they intended to capture the terrorists all along. Meanwhile, Winslow appears and is convinced Steve and Leonard are responsible for the mayhem. However, he is bewildered to see terrorists, but police call O’Mara a hero, and, he, in turn, praises Steve and Leonard for their bravery. When Steve tells Winslow they deserve a reward, Winslow thanks him for saving the company and promises to do anything. Later, everyone is invited to hear the Hoffman triplets give a send-off concert on the grounds of Winslow’s mansion before they leave for Yale University. As the boys play, Steve has an idea to create a Broadway show for Blanche and hire the Hoffman triplets to do the music. Leonard grabs Steve by the neck and throttles him, but the other guests separate the men. +

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

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