A Fine Mess (1986)

PG | 100 mins | Comedy | 8 August 1986

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HISTORY

A 26 Sep 1983 DV article announced that actors Richard Pryor and Burt Reynolds would team up for a movie produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, and inspired by a Laurel & Hardy short The Music Box, which received an Academy Award for best live-action short subject of 1932. A 14 Dec 1983 DV article stated that writer-director Blake Edwards wrote an unusually concise fifty-three-page script also titled The Music Box, the film’s working title, containing sections with general descriptions but no dialog to leave room for improvisation. The approach played to Pryor’s strengths but he left the project.
       A 29 Mar 1985 DV production chart announced that principal photography began on 4 Mar 1985 in Los Angeles. A 4 Apr 1986 HR article stated the picture had a $15 million budget. A 10 Jun 1985 HR brief reported that principal photography was completed that day.
       According to a 19 Apr 1985 HR article, Edwards recreated a piano-moving sequence on stairs rising five stories on Micheltorena Street in Silverlake, CA, similar to the Laurel & Hardy footage and not far from where the comedy duo’s original sequence was filmed. As reported in a 10 Mar 1986 People article, filmmakers cut the piano-moving scene that had been the inspiration for the whole movie after it was determined the storyline had evolved to the point where it no longer made sense.
       An Aug 1986 AmCin article reported that the sound stages at Culver City, CA’s Laird International Studio were used to shoot about half the picture. ... More Less

A 26 Sep 1983 DV article announced that actors Richard Pryor and Burt Reynolds would team up for a movie produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, and inspired by a Laurel & Hardy short The Music Box, which received an Academy Award for best live-action short subject of 1932. A 14 Dec 1983 DV article stated that writer-director Blake Edwards wrote an unusually concise fifty-three-page script also titled The Music Box, the film’s working title, containing sections with general descriptions but no dialog to leave room for improvisation. The approach played to Pryor’s strengths but he left the project.
       A 29 Mar 1985 DV production chart announced that principal photography began on 4 Mar 1985 in Los Angeles. A 4 Apr 1986 HR article stated the picture had a $15 million budget. A 10 Jun 1985 HR brief reported that principal photography was completed that day.
       According to a 19 Apr 1985 HR article, Edwards recreated a piano-moving sequence on stairs rising five stories on Micheltorena Street in Silverlake, CA, similar to the Laurel & Hardy footage and not far from where the comedy duo’s original sequence was filmed. As reported in a 10 Mar 1986 People article, filmmakers cut the piano-moving scene that had been the inspiration for the whole movie after it was determined the storyline had evolved to the point where it no longer made sense.
       An Aug 1986 AmCin article reported that the sound stages at Culver City, CA’s Laird International Studio were used to shoot about half the picture. Other locations included a Beverly Hills mansion, Santa Anita Racetrack, a downtown Los Angeles junkyard, various spots in Venice, Westwood, and Santa Monica, CA, as well as one day’s shoot in Monument Valley, UT.
       A 23 May 1985 LAHExam article stated that production designer Rodger Maus spent $170 thousand to build the Dinkie’s set, a drive-in located at Montana Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard in Brentwood, CA. Maus claimed that the location was used because no space was available to create the set on a studio backlot. Drive-in construction began 29 Apr, and the shoot on that set lasted three weeks. According to the 10 Mar 1986 People, Palmdale, CA, was the location shown at the end of the film against a backdrop of a setting sun.
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Aug 1986
p. 29-32.
Daily Variety
26 Sep 1983.
---
Daily Variety
14 Dec 1983
p. 8.
Daily Variety
29 Mar 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Apr 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jun 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Apr 1986
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 1986
p. 3, 15.
LAHExam
23 May 1985.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 Aug 1986
p. 10.
New York Times
8 Aug 1986
p. 15.
People
10 Mar 1986.
---
Variety
9 Jul 1986
p. 15, 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
From Columbia-Delphi V Productions
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Key grip
Chief lighting tech
Still photog
Video op
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Cost supv
Ms. Alonso's and Mr. Sorvino's jewelry provided by
MUSIC
Orig mus by
Mus supv
Mus supv
Mus supv
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hair des by
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod controller
Roller-skate choreog
Prod coord
Prod accountant
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt - Picture cars
Public relations
Unit pub
Pianos appear courtesy of
Player piano rolls provided by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
SOURCES
SONGS
“A Fine Mess,” written by Henry Mancini and Dennis Lambert, produced by Peter Bunetta and Rick Chudacoff for Ripe Productions, performed by The Temptations
“Walk Like A Man,” written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio, produced by Rick James, performed by The Mary Jane Girls,
“Love’s Closin’ In,” written, produced and performed by Nick Jameson
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SONGS
“A Fine Mess,” written by Henry Mancini and Dennis Lambert, produced by Peter Bunetta and Rick Chudacoff for Ripe Productions, performed by The Temptations
“Walk Like A Man,” written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio, produced by Rick James, performed by The Mary Jane Girls,
“Love’s Closin’ In,” written, produced and performed by Nick Jameson
“Slow Down,” written by Larry Williams, produced by Peter Bunetta and Rick Chudacoff for Ripe Productions, performed by Billy Vera and The Beaters
“Don’t Slow Down,” written by Richard Page, Steve George, John Lang and Steve Farris, produced by Mr. Mister and Paul DeVilliers, performed by Mr. Mister, courtesy of RCA Records
“Easier Said Than Done,” written by William Linton and Larry Huff, produced by Peter Bunetta and Rick Chudacoff for Ripe Productions, performed by Chico DeBarge
“Can’t Help Falling In Love,” written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George Weiss, produced by Lindsey Buckingham and Richard Dashut, performed by Christine McVie, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
“I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday,” written by Dave Bartholomew, Roy Hayes & Antoine Domino, produced and performed by Los Lobos, courtesy of Slash/Warner Bros. Records
“Wishful Thinking,” written by Bobby Sandstrom, Michael Price and David Bryant, produced by Steve Barri and Tony Peluso, performed by Smokey Robinson
“Movin’ So Close,” written by Keith Burston, Darryl Littlejohn and Eric Douglas, produced by Mark Davis, executive producer Smokey Robinson, performed by Second Generation
“Now I’m Talking About Now,” written by Anne R. Boston, John F. Calder, Robert Elsey, William Burton and John E. Garnett, produced by Mike Howlett, performed by The Swimming Pool Q’s, courtesy of A&M Records.
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DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Blake Edwards' A Fine Mess
The Music Box
Release Date:
8 August 1986
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 8 August 1986
Production Date:
4 March--10 June 1985
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Date:
12 August 1986
Copyright Number:
PA299458
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Prints
Prints by deluxe®
Duration(in mins):
100
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27845
SYNOPSIS

After filming a scene for a movie at a racetrack, background actor Spence Holden sneaks into the stables to take a nap. He awakens, and hears two criminals, Wayne “Turnip” Farragalla and Maurice “Binky” Dzundza, plotting to use an undetectable amphetamine on a horse named “Sorry Sue” in an upcoming race. The conspirators spot Spence Holden and chase him as he heads back to the set. There, he steals a blue antique car, and drives onto the track while Turnip Farragalla follows on a thoroughbred horse until Spence eludes him. Spence arrives at Dinkie’s, a drive-in restaurant, to see his friend, Dennis Powell, a waiter on roller skates. He tells Dennis the story behind the stolen car, then abruptly leaves with Dennis when a patrol car pulls into the restaurant parking lot. Police pursue the blue convertible while Dennis insists on going back to work to finish his shift at Dinkie’s. By the time Spence parks the car at a junkyard, Dennis thinks Spence is going to get them killed and refuses to get back in the vehicle. Spence drives away while Dennis runs off as a menacing watchdog chases him. Later, Spence arranges to return the antique car to the set. The following day, as Spence drives Dennis to the racetrack, he suggests that his friend withdraw his savings to bet on Sorry Sue in the third race. At the track, Binky and Turnip wait for Spence to return. Meanwhile, Spence convinces Dennis to create a diversion so that he can place a bet at the window undetected. The bet is made, but Turnip and Binky see Spence and chase him. When Sorry Sue wins the ... +


After filming a scene for a movie at a racetrack, background actor Spence Holden sneaks into the stables to take a nap. He awakens, and hears two criminals, Wayne “Turnip” Farragalla and Maurice “Binky” Dzundza, plotting to use an undetectable amphetamine on a horse named “Sorry Sue” in an upcoming race. The conspirators spot Spence Holden and chase him as he heads back to the set. There, he steals a blue antique car, and drives onto the track while Turnip Farragalla follows on a thoroughbred horse until Spence eludes him. Spence arrives at Dinkie’s, a drive-in restaurant, to see his friend, Dennis Powell, a waiter on roller skates. He tells Dennis the story behind the stolen car, then abruptly leaves with Dennis when a patrol car pulls into the restaurant parking lot. Police pursue the blue convertible while Dennis insists on going back to work to finish his shift at Dinkie’s. By the time Spence parks the car at a junkyard, Dennis thinks Spence is going to get them killed and refuses to get back in the vehicle. Spence drives away while Dennis runs off as a menacing watchdog chases him. Later, Spence arranges to return the antique car to the set. The following day, as Spence drives Dennis to the racetrack, he suggests that his friend withdraw his savings to bet on Sorry Sue in the third race. At the track, Binky and Turnip wait for Spence to return. Meanwhile, Spence convinces Dennis to create a diversion so that he can place a bet at the window undetected. The bet is made, but Turnip and Binky see Spence and chase him. When Sorry Sue wins the race, Dennis collects his winnings with the thugs in pursuit. The friends escape in Spence’s yellow car, as Binky and Turnip follow. When Spence’s vehicle becomes trapped in an alley, the friends duck into the offices of Ishimine & Co. Auctioneers. They take seats at the auction and hide in plain sight. Turnip tells Binky the men have disappeared. As Dennis awkwardly stretches to check his underarm for an offensive odor, the auctioneer mistakes his raised hand for a bid on a player piano. Soon, Ellen Frankenthaler, an auction employee, informs the friends that they have purchased the player piano for $10 thousand. Spence tells Ellen that Turnip and Binky intend to kill them. He hands over $10 thousand in cash, and asks her to sneak them out of the building, and they steal the thugs’ red and white Cadillac. Later, crime boss, Tony Pazzo, orders Binky and Turnip to find their car and dispose of Spence and Dennis or else he will kill them. At Dinkie’s, Dennis places an order with the kitchen, when his manager, Wardell Fleckin, tells him he is fired due to his disappearance the previous night. When Dennis apologizes, Wardell reinstates him but issues a warning. At his apartment, Spence watches a television reporter interview Dr. Henry Garfung, a veterinarian, who states that Sorry Sue was drugged. As Spence calls police to report his car stolen, two detectives, Blist and Hunker, appear at his door to question him about his bullet-riddled automobile. At Dinkie’s, Wardell Fleckin fires Dennis when he overhears the car hop offer a complimentary meal to Ellen Frankenthaler after she tells him that Claudia Pazzo, a wealthy auction goer, wants to buy the player piano. Ellen drives Dennis home and spends the night. The following morning, Spence arrives and informs Dennis that police are checking his car for fingerprints. He thinks it is important that they get their stories straight before police question Dennis. When Dennis admits he was with Ellen Frankenthaler, Spence comments that she knows too much about their situation. Soon, Claudia Pazzo appears at Dennis’s front door, and offers to buy the piano. The friends mess up the deal, selling the piano for $8 thousand including delivery costs. Spence says they will use his brother-in-law Phil’s truck to make the delivery, then collect the money. Spence trades Phil the stolen Cadillac for use of his truck. When Phil takes his wife for a drive in the red and white Cadillac, they get into an accident with Binky and Turnip, who are driving a brand new Cadillac. An argument erupts as both parties claim ownership of the red and white Cadillac. Spence calls Claudia Pazzo to arrange for delivery, and she agrees to a date at his apartment. Meanwhile, Dennis dines with Ellen and updates her about the sale of the player piano. When Claudia arrives at Spence’s apartment, she lets her white fur coat fall to the ground, as she walks to the bedroom, wearing only her panties. As Spence and Claudia make love, Binky and Turnip arrive after getting Spence’s address from his brother-in-law, Phil. They surprise Spence and demand to see Dennis. When they break down the bathroom door, Claudia screams and chases them out of the apartment. Spence escapes and hides at Dennis’s apartment. When Dennis and Ellen return after their dinner, she says Claudia looks familiar but she cannot place her. At a girly bar, Turnip and Binky discuss their options. If they do not apprise their boss of recent events and he finds out, they are in trouble. If the boss finds out that his wife, Claudia, slept with Spence, they are in trouble. At the police station, detectives arrest Leopold Klop, the scientist responsible for the drug used on Sorry Sue. Leopold identifies Turnip and Binky, two of Tony Pazzo’s henchmen, as responsible for the crime. The next day, Spence and Dennis deliver the piano to the Pazzo residence. Meanwhile, Ellen’s boss, Mr. Ishimine, reveals Claudia’s crime connections, and Ellen races to the Pazzo residence to warn Spence and Dennis. After placing the piano in the Pazzo game room, Spence finds Claudia in her bedroom. Before he can get romantic, Spence hides under Claudia’s bed as Tony prods his wife to wake up. In the game room, Dennis realizes he is trapped and turns on the player piano as a diversion. As Tony returns to his bedroom to thank Claudia for the piano, Spence moves from under the bed to under the bedcovers. Tony embraces his wife, while Spence tries not to be discovered. When Claudia suggests her husband meet her in the kitchen, Spence and Dennis frantically search for better hiding places. Tony tells Claudia about Binky’s warning, and urges his wife to pack for an unexpected trip out of town. Soon, Dennis escapes in the delivery truck and Spence jumps from a window into the back of the truck. Binky chases them until his steering wheel jams, and the friends escape but are forced back to the Pazzo home when police surround the property. Inside, everyone does their best to avoid getting shot when Ellen appears and warns Dennis about Tony Pazzo. Then, Tony uses Claudia and Ellen as human shields as he climbs into the delivery truck, and police cease their fire. Soon, Dennis dresses as a maid and Spence uses him as a human shield to board a second car. The butler drives them away and police follow. Soon, the delivery truck gets into an accident, causing police cars to converge. Later, a television reporter announces that Pazzo is sentenced to fifteen years in prison for drugging and killing Sorry Sue. Dennis and Ellen marry and open an Indian restaurant with the help of generous financing from Claudia Pazzo. Spence travels to Chile to make a western with Claudia, a well-known actress in her native county. However, Spence ruins a take when he calls Claudia “Maria” instead of “Juanita.” She runs after him, waving a sharp sword as he escapes on horse. Claudia mounts another horse and chases Spence into the desert, brandishing her sword.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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