Cobra (1986)

R | 89 mins | Drama | 23 May 1986

Director:

George P. Cosmatos

Cinematographer:

Ric Waite

Production Designer:

Bill Kenney

Production Company:

Warner Bros., Inc.
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HISTORY

Reviews in the 24 May 1986 Chicago Tribune and the 10 Jun 1986 Village Voice revealed that actor-writer Sylvester Stallone admired Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry (1971, see entry) and Cobra was written as a tribute. Filmmakers carried the theme even further by hiring actor Reni Santoni, who played "Dirty Harry’s" partner, "Chico," to be “Cobra’s” partner, “Sergeant Gonzales,” and actor Andrew Robinson, who played the “Scorpio killer,” was hired as Cobra's adversary “Detective Monte.”
       A 30 Nov 1985 LAT news item reported that one of Cobra’s most quotable lines, “You’re the disease and I am the cure,” may have gotten its inspiration from the British film, Hobson’s Choice (1954). In that film, when actor John Mills falls in love with his employer’s daughter, actor Charles Laughton angrily snaps, “You have an ailment and I have the cure…”
       A 24 Oct 1985 DV article announced that the picture signaled the Cannon Group’s first co-production deal with Warner Bros., Inc.
       Principal photography began on 24 Oct 1985. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, the movie was filmed on location in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Piru, CA. Almost all filming occurred in back alleys, bars, banks, hospitals, insurance companies and tattoo parlors.
       Cobra’s automobile was a custom-built 1950 Mercury coupe with a 350 cubic-inch Chevrolet engine, outfitted with a blower for added horsepower, a Hearst automatic shifter and a 400 hydro transmission with a shift kit. The car could go from zero to sixty miles per hour in four seconds and hit speeds of 140 miles per hour. A hood scoop ... More Less

Reviews in the 24 May 1986 Chicago Tribune and the 10 Jun 1986 Village Voice revealed that actor-writer Sylvester Stallone admired Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry (1971, see entry) and Cobra was written as a tribute. Filmmakers carried the theme even further by hiring actor Reni Santoni, who played "Dirty Harry’s" partner, "Chico," to be “Cobra’s” partner, “Sergeant Gonzales,” and actor Andrew Robinson, who played the “Scorpio killer,” was hired as Cobra's adversary “Detective Monte.”
       A 30 Nov 1985 LAT news item reported that one of Cobra’s most quotable lines, “You’re the disease and I am the cure,” may have gotten its inspiration from the British film, Hobson’s Choice (1954). In that film, when actor John Mills falls in love with his employer’s daughter, actor Charles Laughton angrily snaps, “You have an ailment and I have the cure…”
       A 24 Oct 1985 DV article announced that the picture signaled the Cannon Group’s first co-production deal with Warner Bros., Inc.
       Principal photography began on 24 Oct 1985. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, the movie was filmed on location in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Piru, CA. Almost all filming occurred in back alleys, bars, banks, hospitals, insurance companies and tattoo parlors.
       Cobra’s automobile was a custom-built 1950 Mercury coupe with a 350 cubic-inch Chevrolet engine, outfitted with a blower for added horsepower, a Hearst automatic shifter and a 400 hydro transmission with a shift kit. The car could go from zero to sixty miles per hour in four seconds and hit speeds of 140 miles per hour. A hood scoop was added to the front end, headlights and tail lights were rounded, and most of the decorative chrome was removed. The production built three Cobra cars for stunt work. Although they were identical on the outside, their moving parts were designed for specific sequences, involving high-speed swipes with other vehicles, 180-degree turns, jumps, and 360-degree spins.
       For filming, Stallone used two weapons. His pistol was a .45 Colt automatic with a custom-made ivory grip embellished with a graphic of the head of a king cobra. He also carried a Jati 9 millimeter submachine gun, designed by Finnish engineer Jali Timari in 1980, and compact enough to be carried in a hip holster. Laguna Niguel, CA-based knife maker, Herman Schneider, designed the “Night Slasher’s” custom dagger.
       A 1 Jun 1986 LAT article reported that the film’s body count amounted to twenty-five good guys dead, and forty-two bad guys dead.
       A 28 May 1986 DV article stated that Warner Bros. was the first film studio to offer cash incentives, involving Cobra to wipe out piracy. The studio agreed to pay a reward of $100 each by 30 Jun 1986 for the “first fifteen pirated copies” of the movie. As a deterrent, the company encoded electronic serial markings on 2,100 prints that were distributed throughout North America. The encoded markings helped pinpoint the theft’s geographical origins, and registered on copies made through “a box mirror setup in a projection room” or by “handheld cameras in the audience.”
       A 26 Aug 1986 Chicago Tribune article reported that government censors in Brazil were considering banning the picture after a movie theater was trashed by the audience after one screening, and a retired police officer fired his pistol and wounded three people after another screening. Articles in the 29 Aug 1986 and 4 Sep 1986 DV stated that Brazilian courts upheld an order by its government to raise the film’s viewership age from fourteen to eighteen years, and excise approximately fifteen minutes of footage in five edits, removing the initial supermarket gunfight and the entire final sequence. Despite the government’s cuts, the film took in $3,126,755 in Brazil by the end of Aug. A 28 Jun 1986 Screen International advertisement and a 23 Jul 1986 Var article reported the movie made substantial money overseas: $369,404 in four days in Holland; $561,588 after twelve days in Malaysia; had a three-day opening weekend of $217,213, breaking seventeen house records in Mexico; $4,731,847 after five days in the Philippines; $373,679 after eleven days in Puerto Rico, and $350,404 in Singapore over thirty days.
       The film was nominated for Razzie® awards (Golden Raspberry Award Foundation) in 1987 in several categories.
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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Chicago Tribune
24 May 1986.
---
Chicago Tribune
26 Aug 1986.
---
Daily Variety
24 Oct 1985
p. 1, 15.
Daily Variety
28 May 1986.
---
Daily Variety
29 Aug 1986.
---
Daily Variety
4 Sep 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 May 1986
p. 3, 29.
Los Angeles Times
30 Nov 1985.
---
Los Angeles Times
24 May 1986
p. 1, 8.
Los Angeles Times
1 Jun 1986
p. 13.
New York Times
24 May 1986
p. 11.
Screen International
28 Jun 1986.
---
Variety
28 May 1986
p. 17.
Variety
23 Jul 1986.
---
Village Voice
10 Jun 1986.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. Presents
A Cannon Group. Inc. Golan-Globus Production
A George P. Cosmatos Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Elec best boy
Key grip
Key grip best boy
Dolly grip
Grip
Video eng
Asst video eng
Asst video eng
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set des
Set dec
Leadman
Leadman
Prop master
Const coord
Paint foreman
Standby painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men's costumer
Men's costumer
Women's costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus comp and performed by
Mus supv
Mus ed
Score and orchs arr, cond, and prod
Addl orchs
Elec mus engineered by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Utility sd tech
Supv sd ed
ADR ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec rec
Re-rec rec
Foley artist
Foley artist
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Asst spec eff
Asst spec eff
Asst spec eff
Asst spec eff
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Loc asst
Prod coord
Asst to Mr. Stallone
Asst to Mr. Cosmatos
Asst to Mr. Brubaker
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Mr. Stallone's driver
Prod consultant
Prod accountant
Tech consultant
Pub
First aid
Craft service
Craft service
Post prod asst
Voice casting
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Casting asst
Casting asst
Casting asst
Extra casting
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Fair Game by Paula Gosling (New York, 1978).
AUTHOR
SONGS
“Feel The Heat,” produced, arranged, composed, and performed by Jean Beauvoir, courtesy of Columbia Records and Virgin Records
“Loving On Borrowed Time (Love Theme From Cobra ),” performed by Gladys Knight and Bill Medley, written by Brian Short and Ed Hamilton, produced by Joe Chiccarelli, Gladys Knight appears courtesy of MCA Records
“Suave,” performed by Miami Sound Machine, written by Gloria Estefan and Enrique Garcia, produced by Emilio Estefan, Jr., courtesy of Discos CBS International
+
SONGS
“Feel The Heat,” produced, arranged, composed, and performed by Jean Beauvoir, courtesy of Columbia Records and Virgin Records
“Loving On Borrowed Time (Love Theme From Cobra ),” performed by Gladys Knight and Bill Medley, written by Brian Short and Ed Hamilton, produced by Joe Chiccarelli, Gladys Knight appears courtesy of MCA Records
“Suave,” performed by Miami Sound Machine, written by Gloria Estefan and Enrique Garcia, produced by Emilio Estefan, Jr., courtesy of Discos CBS International
“Voice of America’s Sons (Theme From Cobra ),” performed by John Cafferty And The Beaver Brown Band, written by John Cafferty, produced by Kenny Vance, courtesy of Scotti Brothers Records
“Angel Of The City,” performed by Robert Tepper, written by Robert Tepper, produced by Joe Chiccarelli, courtesy of Scotti Brothers Records
“Hold On To Your Vision,” performed by Gary Wright, written by Hawk Wolinski, James Newton Howard, and Patrick Leonard, produced by Hawk Wolinski.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
23 May 1986
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 23 May 1986
Production Date:
began 24 October 1985
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros., Inc.
Copyright Date:
10 July 1986
Copyright Number:
PA291702
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Eagle Stereo
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® Camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
89
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28156
SYNOPSIS

Within minutes of walking into a Los Angeles, California, supermarket, a gangster spreads panic by spraying the aisles with bullets from his shotgun. Customers scatter while a S.W.A.T. team and police units surround the building and a police helicopter hovers above. Detective Monte uses a bullhorn to order the shooter to put down his weapon. After the gangster shoots a hostage dead, police call Lieutenant Marion “Cobra” Cobretti of the “Zombie Squad.” He arrives in a “souped up” 1950 Mercury coupe with the license plate “AWSOM 50.” After Detective Monte says it was not his idea to call for help, Cobra enters the supermarket, and notices the gangster on the store’s closed-circuit television. He speaks on the public address system, and announces that Cobra will kill him. When Cobra points his gun, the gangster threatens to blow up the store and hostages. Cobra invites the gunman to talk. The shooter wants to televise his grievances, but Cobra denies his request, saying he does not deal with psychopaths. The gangster claims he is not psychotic, but a hero. Cobra throws a knife into the gangster’s stomach and follows it with several shots that kill him. Afterward, Cobra returns to his apartment near Venice Beach, California. At his desk, he eats a slice of leftover pizza, and cleans his gun with a kit he keeps in an egg carton in the refrigerator. As he listens to television news, a reporter says the “Night Slasher,” a serial killer, has struck for the sixteenth time in a little more than a month. There is no pattern to the killings. The killer uses mostly knives and axes to accomplish ... +


Within minutes of walking into a Los Angeles, California, supermarket, a gangster spreads panic by spraying the aisles with bullets from his shotgun. Customers scatter while a S.W.A.T. team and police units surround the building and a police helicopter hovers above. Detective Monte uses a bullhorn to order the shooter to put down his weapon. After the gangster shoots a hostage dead, police call Lieutenant Marion “Cobra” Cobretti of the “Zombie Squad.” He arrives in a “souped up” 1950 Mercury coupe with the license plate “AWSOM 50.” After Detective Monte says it was not his idea to call for help, Cobra enters the supermarket, and notices the gangster on the store’s closed-circuit television. He speaks on the public address system, and announces that Cobra will kill him. When Cobra points his gun, the gangster threatens to blow up the store and hostages. Cobra invites the gunman to talk. The shooter wants to televise his grievances, but Cobra denies his request, saying he does not deal with psychopaths. The gangster claims he is not psychotic, but a hero. Cobra throws a knife into the gangster’s stomach and follows it with several shots that kill him. Afterward, Cobra returns to his apartment near Venice Beach, California. At his desk, he eats a slice of leftover pizza, and cleans his gun with a kit he keeps in an egg carton in the refrigerator. As he listens to television news, a reporter says the “Night Slasher,” a serial killer, has struck for the sixteenth time in a little more than a month. There is no pattern to the killings. The killer uses mostly knives and axes to accomplish his random murders. Late at night, a waitress closes a diner, and is attacked by two killers as she walks to her car. After an autopsy, Cobra suggests that there might be more than one killer involved, but Monte tells him to stick to his own area of expertise. Monte resents Cobra, wants him off the case, and Captain Sears obliges. When his partner, Sergeant Gonzales, asks him what he intends to do, Cobra responds that nothing can be done until another crime is committed. The night slasher and his girl friend, Nancy Stalk, attack a woman driver by a freeway overpass. Ingrid Knudsen, a fashion model, becomes a witness when she drives by the couple in the act of disposing the body. Later, when police investigate the crime scene, Captain Sears gives Cobra permission to exert pressure on possible suspects, but Monte warns him not to kill the wrong guy. Cobra and Sergeant Gonzales cruise the city looking for leads. The killers track Ingrid Knudsen through her license plate, and attempt to kill her after a photo shoot in an underground parking lot. Ingrid hides but they murder the photographer, an office worker, and a building security guard. The killers leave when they hear police sirens. At a hospital, when Cobra and Gonzales question, Ingrid nothing in her life ties her to the murders except passing by the freeway underpass earlier in the evening, and seeing a scary man. Cobra asks if she can identify the suspect. Meanwhile, Nancy Stalk, who is a police department employee, tells the slasher that Ingrid can identify him. He responds that he intends to kill Ingrid. Police tell Ingrid they will transfer her to a safe house in the morning. While Cobra looks for fingerprint and mug shot matches on a database at home, the night slasher sneaks into the hospital, kills a custodian and steals his uniform. Gonzales telephones to say he is at the police station as Cobra ordered, but Cobra tells him it is a trap, and orders him to return to the hospital. When Cobra leaves his apartment, two masked gangsters ambush him. Cobra kills one attacker and the other escapes. At the hospital, the night slasher finds Ingrid’s room, but she locks herself in the bathroom. As the killer breaks the door down, Ingrid escapes into the corridor through the bathroom’s other door. She pulls a fire alarm, and the night slasher evacuates the hospital with the rest of medical personnel. Cobra finds Ingrid, and tells Captain Spears and Chief Halliwell that he suspects the killer has a spy in the police department, although he cannot prove it. Cobra and Gonzales escort Ingrid to a safe house. Nancy Stalk accompanies them but signals accomplices in two other cars to follow Cobra. They cause Gonzales to have an accident, but Cobra’s car spins 180 degrees, as he shoots and dismantles one enemy car. Cobra follows the night slasher through a multi-story parking lot, and onto to canal bridges in Venice, California, and finally to the waterfront. However, Cobra’s car crashes into the propeller of a drydocked boat, and the killer escapes. Later, Monte and Cobra have a fight during a strategy meeting with police management. Monte accuses Cobra of using Ingrid as bait instead of truly protecting her. However, Cobra gets permission to take Ingrid to an undisclosed out of town location. Gonzales and Nancy follow in a second car. Once again, Nancy tips off the night slasher and his gang. Police officers and Ingrid spend the night at the Cross Roads motor court. At dawn, killers on motorcycles approach . Cobra realizes Nancy is missing, then orders everyone back to their rooms. As the killers surround the cottages, Cobra fends off attackers with his submachine gun until they torch the cottages. Gonzales escapes on foot, but is shot in the leg. Cobra and Ingrid escape in a pickup truck. They crash through a roadblock of burning cars and escape on foot through an orange orchard. Cobra instructs Ingrid to hide and she runs into a nearby foundry. Nancy Stalk chases her. Cobra follows Ingrid and torches several killers. Cobra shoots Nancy as she is about to kill Ingrid, climbing up a ladder. The night slasher is at the landing. Cobra shoots at him and orders Ingrid to escape. The killer shouts at Cobra, asking if he wants to join him in hell. Cobra responds that the night slasher is history, and points the red laser beam of his weapon on the killer. The night slasher does not believe Cobra will kill him and insists he will have to arrest him so he can be tried in a court of law. Just as Cobra is about to shoot the killer, the wounded Nancy attacks him from the rear. He overpowers her but drops his gun. Cobra and the night slasher fight one on one. Cobra lands a few good punches, dazes the killer, and attaches him to a metal hook on a conveyor belt that carries the slasher to an industrial incinerator and a fiery death. Cobra finds Ingrid and they return to the motor court. Gonzales will survive his wounds and is loaded into an ambulance. Captain Sears congratulates Cobra and offers him a job if he ever wants to work a detail that is lower risk. Detective Monte shakes Cobra’s hand and says no hard feelings although he claims his solution would have been more subtle. With that remark, Cobra punches Monte in the face and says no hard feelings. Cobra would like his car repaired, but the captain says there is no money in the budget. Cobra and Ingrid drive away on a motorcycle past the orange orchards. +

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

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