Legal Eagles (1986)

PG | 114 mins | Romantic comedy | 18 June 1986

Director:

Ivan Reitman

Producer:

Ivan Reitman

Cinematographer:

Laszlo Kovacs

Production Designer:

John De Cuir

Production Companies:

Universal Pictures , Northern Lights Enterprises
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HISTORY

According to a 15 Jun 1986 NYT article, the screenplay written by Jack Epps, Jr., and Jim Cash in 1984 was originally intended for actors Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murray, but other commitments kept both actors from starring in the project. When director Ivan Reitman could not get the actors he wanted, he went in a completely different direction and gave the script to actor Robert Redford. Both Reitman and Redford shared the same agent, Michael S. Ovitz, who, at the time, was also the president of Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Redford was reportedly eager to do a comedy, and accepted a role on condition that Reitman switch the genre from buddy comedy to romantic comedy. It took five rewrites to accommodate Redford’s request. During filming, Reitman would push for laughs, while Redford would protest if he believed the director was reaching for a "cheap," "corny," or "dumb" joke. According to a 21 Jul 1986 People article, when Redford divulged that he had a clumsy side that filmmakers rarely exploited, Reitman incorporated scenes in which the actor messed up the kitchen, tripped over his own feet, and locked his keys in the car.
       The 15 Jun 1986 NYT stated that the movie’s subject matter was such a departure for Reitman that he aimed to present an accurate portrayal of the art and legal worlds. To achieve this, he became friends with Pace Gallery owner, Arnold B. Glimcher, who acted as an art consultant, and took on the role of executive producer.
       A 26 Nov 1985 HR production chart announced that principal photography began 7 Nov 1985 in New York ... More Less

According to a 15 Jun 1986 NYT article, the screenplay written by Jack Epps, Jr., and Jim Cash in 1984 was originally intended for actors Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murray, but other commitments kept both actors from starring in the project. When director Ivan Reitman could not get the actors he wanted, he went in a completely different direction and gave the script to actor Robert Redford. Both Reitman and Redford shared the same agent, Michael S. Ovitz, who, at the time, was also the president of Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Redford was reportedly eager to do a comedy, and accepted a role on condition that Reitman switch the genre from buddy comedy to romantic comedy. It took five rewrites to accommodate Redford’s request. During filming, Reitman would push for laughs, while Redford would protest if he believed the director was reaching for a "cheap," "corny," or "dumb" joke. According to a 21 Jul 1986 People article, when Redford divulged that he had a clumsy side that filmmakers rarely exploited, Reitman incorporated scenes in which the actor messed up the kitchen, tripped over his own feet, and locked his keys in the car.
       The 15 Jun 1986 NYT stated that the movie’s subject matter was such a departure for Reitman that he aimed to present an accurate portrayal of the art and legal worlds. To achieve this, he became friends with Pace Gallery owner, Arnold B. Glimcher, who acted as an art consultant, and took on the role of executive producer.
       A 26 Nov 1985 HR production chart announced that principal photography began 7 Nov 1985 in New York City, and production notes in AMPAS library files state that the movie shot for eight weeks. The 15 Jun 1986 NYT reported that the film’s budget was $30 million.
       A 30 Jun 1986 NYT article and production notes reported that an unoccupied building located at 32 West 57th Street in Manhattan, NY, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, that served as the exterior of the picture’s Taft Gallery, was cleared to be filmed as its façade burned. However, when filmmakers calculated the cost would amount to more than $500,000, the decision was made to only film establishing shots there. The gallery exterior was recreated at the Universal City Studios and the fires were set under controlled circumstances, shooting at the same angles and using the same lens as the actual location. In the laboratory the two negatives were composited so that it was impossible to tell that the real location was not on fire.
       Other New York City locations included the Mercantile Building in SoHo, the New York Supreme Court, the 6th and 10th precincts of the New York Police Department, the Puck Building, and Sutton Place. Nine cameras were used to blow up a warehouse at the docks in Brooklyn, NY. In January 1986 after the holidays, filming resumed at Universal City Studios on five sound stages. Sets included part of Chelsea’s loft, two courtrooms, the district attorney’s office, Kelly’s apartment, Logan’s apartment, Taft’s residence, as well as other smaller sets.
       A 12 Feb 1986 Var news item reported that $10 million worth of artwork on loan from private collections, galleries, and museums dressed the set on 10 Feb 1986. Filmmakers gathered important sculptures and paintings by Alexander Calder, William DeKooning, Jim Dine, Jean Dubuffet, Hans Hoffman, Roy Lichtenstein, Morris Lewis, Robert Motherwell, Louise Nevelson, Pablo Picasso, George Segal, and Jack Tworkov. Production notes state that when the art was not in use it was stored in an art warehouse and only specially trained movers transported it to and from the set. During filming, actors were dressed in neutral colors so that they would not compete with the artwork for audience attention.
       In the film, two art exhibitions were held. The first one displayed works by “twentieth century masters such as Picasso, Miro, Giacometti, and Calder,” created in the years between 1960 and 1980. In the second exhibition, the gallery selected works by Jim Dine, Robert Rauchenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, and Lucas Samaras from its warehouse collection.
       A 12 May 1986 HR advertisement announced that exhibitors were invited to attend special screenings at 6:00 p.m. on 17 May 1986 in thirty cities around the country. Redford attended an 18 Jun 1986 premiere at the Paramount Theatre for Performing Arts in Austin, TX.
       The following acknowledgments appear in end credits: “The Producers would like to thank the following artists: Nicholas Africano, Deborah Butterfield, Chuck Close, Jim Dine, Willem De Kooning, Barry Flanagan, Sam Francis, Rodney Alan Greenblat, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Kushner, Roy Lichtenstein, O. Winston Lin, Lisa Lombardi, Kim MacConnell, Robert Motherwell, Louise Nevelson, Robert Rauschenberg, David Salle, Lucas Samaras, Kenny Scharf, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Julian Schnabel, Saul Steinberg, Gayle Timmons, Andy Warhol, William Wegman, Joe Zucker,” “And the estates of: Alexander Calder, Jean Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, Hans Hofmann, Morris Louis, Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso, Ad Reinhardt, Tony Smith, Jack Tworkov; And the following galleries: Mary Boone Gallery, Leo Castelli Gallery, Andre Emmerich Gallery, Xavier Fourcade Gallery, Nancy Hoffman Gallery, Knoedler Contemporary Art, Lipman Gallery, Margo Leavin Gallery, Maeght-Lelong Gallerie, Pace/MacGill Gallery, Tony Shafrazi Gallery, Holly Solomon Gallery, The Pace Gallery; And: Robert Abrams, Ann Freeman, Nathan Kolodner, Earl A Powell III, Sotheby’s, David Wolper.” End credits state: "'Grand Femme Debout IV,' Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. David L. Wolper; color transparencies of French Impressionist paintings furnished by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; ‘View of Venice,’ gift of Mr. Cary Grant; ‘Two Girls Reading,’ gift of Dr. and Mrs. Armand Hammer; ‘In the Woods at Giverney – Blanche Hoschede Monet at her easel with Susanne Hoschede Reading,’ Mr. and Mrs. George Gard de Sylva Collection; ‘View of Vetheuil,’ gift of Howard Ahmanson, Jr.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Applause
Jun 1986.
---
Daily Variety
7 Oct 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 May 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 1986
p. 3, 9.
Los Angeles Times
18 Jun 1986
p. 1, 6.
New York Times
15 Jun 1986
pp. 34-35, 39, 41.
New York Times
18 Jun 1986
p. 17.
New York Times
30 Jun 1986.
---
People
21 Jul 1986
pp. 81-82.
Variety
12 Feb 1986.
---
Variety
18 Jun 1986
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
An Ivan Reitman Film
A Northern Lights Enterprises Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
Unit prod mgr, New York crew
2d 2d asst dir, New York crew
Addl 2d asst dir, New York crew
DGA trainee, New York crew
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Scr
Story
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam op
Asst Steadicam op
Addl photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly grip
Elec lighting tech
Elec lighting tech
Still photog
1st asst cam, New York crew
1st asst cam, New York crew
2d asst cam, New York crew
Steadicam op, New York crew
Gaffer, New York crew
Best boy, New York crew
Key grip, New York crew
Best boy, New York crew
Still photog, New York crew
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Asst art dir
Art dir, New York crew
Asst art dir, New York crew
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed, New York crew
SET DECORATORS
Set des
Set des
Set des
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Prop maker foreman
Labor foreman
Foreman
Standby painter
Leadman
Set dec, New York crew
Set dresser, New York crew
Prop master, New York crew
Scenic chargeman, New York crew
Standby scenic chargeman, New York crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Mr. Redford's cost
Ladies cost
Costumer
Costumer
Women's ward, New York crew
Men's ward, New York crew
MUSIC
Supv mus ed
Orchestrator
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
ADR ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Prod sd mixer
Prod sd mixer
Utility sd
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles & opt eff
Spec eff coord, New York crew
Visual eff supv, Boss Film Corporation
Spec eff photog, Boss Film Corporation
Spec eff foreman, Boss Film Corporation
Model shop supv, Boss Film Corporation
MAKEUP
Ms. Winger's makeup
Ms. Winger's hairstylist
Ms. Hannah's hairstylist
Makeup artist, New York crew
Hairstylist, New York crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Loc mgr
Prod office coord
Asst prod office coord
Prod accountant
Asst to Mr. Redford
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Casting asst
Extras casting
Teamster capt, New York crew
Loc mgr, New York crew
Loc coord, New York crew
Prod office coord, New York crew
Asst prod office coord, New York crew
Loc accountant, New York crew
Extas casting, New York crew
Asst to Mr. Reitman, New York crew
Prod liaison, New York crew
Courtroom consultant
Courtroom consultant
Chelsea Deardon's performance piece by
Chelsea Deardon's performance piece by
Chelsea Deardon's performance piece by
Art coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Love Touch," performed by Rod Stewart, written by Mike Chapman, Holly Knight, and Gene Black, available exclusively on Warner Bros. Records, "Put Out The Fire," performed by Darryl Hannah, written by Darryl Hannah, and Michael Monteleone
"Good Lovin'," performed by The Rascals, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Magic Carpet Ride," performed by Steppenwolf, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
DETAILS
Release Date:
18 June 1986
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 18 June 1986
Production Date:
began 7 November 1985
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 July 1986
Copyright Number:
PA293350
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Panaflex® Camera and Lenses by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
114
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In 1968 New York City, guests sing the birthday song to eight-year-old Chelsea Deardon, daughter of artist, Sebastian Deardon, and blow out the candles on her cake. Sebastian gives Chelsea a painting as a present, and inscribes it “To my favorite artist.” As she goes to bed, Chelsea sees her father having an argument. Later, the studio catches on fire. As her father’s business associate, Victor Taft, carries Chelsea to safety, she cries out for her painting as a burning ceiling beam falls on Sebastian and kills him. Eighteen years later, television news reports that Chelsea has been arrested for attempting to steal one of her father’s paintings from the penthouse of developer Robert Forrester. At their house, Jennifer Logan, daughter of assistant district attorney, Tom Logan, shuts off the television. Tom burns the toast as they sit down to breakfast. At work, Tom’s assistant, Carol Freeman, informs him that he is due in court to fill in for another attorney. After closing arguments, the defense attorney, Laura Kelly, asks Tom if she could brief him on special circumstances surrounding the case of another client, Chelsea Deardon, but Tom refuses to listen. Later, at a Manhattan Legal Society banquet dinner, District Attorney Bower announces his retirement, then introduces Tom as keynote speaker, and as his choice to succeed him as district attorney. As Tom speaks, Laura Kelly appears with Chelsea Deardon, and addresses Bower off to the side of the stage. Soon, Bower tells Tom that Laura wants him to examine her client’s “cross-complaint” or she will immediately hold a press conference. When Tom refuses to cooperate, Laura goes before television cameras, and complains ... +


In 1968 New York City, guests sing the birthday song to eight-year-old Chelsea Deardon, daughter of artist, Sebastian Deardon, and blow out the candles on her cake. Sebastian gives Chelsea a painting as a present, and inscribes it “To my favorite artist.” As she goes to bed, Chelsea sees her father having an argument. Later, the studio catches on fire. As her father’s business associate, Victor Taft, carries Chelsea to safety, she cries out for her painting as a burning ceiling beam falls on Sebastian and kills him. Eighteen years later, television news reports that Chelsea has been arrested for attempting to steal one of her father’s paintings from the penthouse of developer Robert Forrester. At their house, Jennifer Logan, daughter of assistant district attorney, Tom Logan, shuts off the television. Tom burns the toast as they sit down to breakfast. At work, Tom’s assistant, Carol Freeman, informs him that he is due in court to fill in for another attorney. After closing arguments, the defense attorney, Laura Kelly, asks Tom if she could brief him on special circumstances surrounding the case of another client, Chelsea Deardon, but Tom refuses to listen. Later, at a Manhattan Legal Society banquet dinner, District Attorney Bower announces his retirement, then introduces Tom as keynote speaker, and as his choice to succeed him as district attorney. As Tom speaks, Laura Kelly appears with Chelsea Deardon, and addresses Bower off to the side of the stage. Soon, Bower tells Tom that Laura wants him to examine her client’s “cross-complaint” or she will immediately hold a press conference. When Tom refuses to cooperate, Laura goes before television cameras, and complains that the D.A.’s office has been uncooperative. Tom quickly responds that Laura’s allegations are a surprise and he intends to take full responsibility for the case. In a follow-up meeting, Tom discovers that the painting Chelsea tried to steal was the one her father gave her for her eighth birthday. He inscribed the back, and Chelsea has her father’s journals with the sketches he did. Chelsea reveals that she never received an inheritance because her father’s estate was bankrupt when his work was destroyed in the fire. Laura adds that Chelsea’s painting was also supposedly destroyed in the fire. The next day, Laura and Tom visit developer Robert Forrester. He announces that he has traded Chelsea’s painting to a business friend for a Picasso, and has dropped criminal charges against her. Laura and Tom visit Forrester’s friend, gallery owner Victor Taft, to question him about taking ownership of the Deardon painting. Victor explains that he discovered Sebastian Deardon, and pursued Forrester for years seeking to get him to relinquish Chelsea’s painting because it was one of Deardon’s last mature and confident works. The attorneys view the painting and the backside, but find no inscription. Tom is convinced that no further action is needed since the charges have been dropped. Laura’s instincts tell her that something is amiss. Later, Chelsea shows up at Tom’s apartment, claiming that she is afraid she is being followed. As Tom drives her home, Chelsea is not surprised that the attorneys could not find her father’s inscription, and asks Tom if he was looking at the right painting. At Chelsea’s loft, she invites Tom to watch her performance art. Her piece is filled with references to fire, puns about fire, and objects that self-extinguish. For the finale, a floor to ceiling photograph of Chelsea bursts into flames. Tom admits that her work makes him uncomfortable. Chelsea leans over and kisses him softly. Tom asks to look at her father’s journal. After stalling, Chelsea admits that any journals and paintings were lost in the fire. As he leaves, Tom suggests she call “911” if there are any problems. He peers out the front door, and sees part of a man’s shoe hiding in a doorway. When he confronts the stranger, the man shoots at him with a rifle and runs away. In the morning, detective C. J. Cavanaugh of the Manhattan South Police Department visits Laura at her apartment, explaining that he was involved with an investigation into the murder of Sebastian Deardon seventeen years earlier. However, his findings were buried in a file cabinet deep in City Hall. He leaves the file for Laura to study. The next day, Laura finds Tom at the courthouse, and shows him evidence that certain Deardon paintings marked destroyed still exist, including the one Victor Taft showed them. Tom and Laura interrupt Victor during an art auction, and requests access to Victor’s business records, but Victor smoothly tells him not to meddle. Tom responds that he will issue a Grand Jury subpoena in the morning to inspect all his records for the last five years including shipping orders, inventory, bills of sale, etc. If Victor fails to comply, a federal marshal will confiscate the records, and Victor will be subject to arrest. The attorneys leave, but follow Victor when he drives to his art warehouse. As Laura rummages through Victor’s file cabinets, he shuts off the electricity and locks the attorneys inside. Victor’s paperwork reveals that he and Forrester were business partners and co-beneficiaries of the Deardon estate. They discover sticks of dynamite on a timer at the bottom of a filing cabinet, and drive a forklift through the warehouse door, narrowly escaping incineration as the vehicle plummets into the river. They pull themselves out of the river and head to the police station. There, they meet with C. J. Cavanaugh, who explains that his investigation uncovered that Taft, Forrester, and another partner named Joe Brock were falsifying their business records, and filing fraudulent tax records. C. J. claims that Taft and Forrester framed Brock, and while Brock was in prison, arranged Deardon’s murder. Brock contracted cancer a year after his release, and died in 1972. C. J. asks Tom to update him if he finds out any new information. Later, Chelsea appears at Victor’s apartment with a gun. They have an altercation, and Chelsea escapes. When she arrives at Tom’s apartment, Chelsea is wet from the rain, and is afraid that Victor has called police. Soon, Tom’s former wife gets the wrong impression when she picks up her daughter, Jennifer, and sees Chelsea. Jennifer promises to explain that nothing happened. Tom gives Chelsea a bed to sleep in, and sleeps in a spare bedroom. Later, Chelsea crawls into bed with Tom, and they make love. In the morning, police ambush the apartment and arrest Chelsea for the murder of Victor Taft. D.A. When Tom’s one-night stand is broadcast on the news, Bower gives him a ninety-day suspension, but Tom quits his job instead. Later, Laura is convinced that Chelsea has been framed. She persuades Tom to act as a defense attorney. In their shared office, Laura wants assurances that Tom will not sleep with Chelsea again, and he promises not to stray. Laura finishes trial notes at Tom’s apartment and negotiates more visitation time for him and his daughter. Tom is grateful and kisses Laura when she leaves. At the start of Chelsea’s trial, the prosecutor claims she fired three shots, witnesses saw her leave the crime scene, the murder weapon was registered in her name, and her fingerprints were on the gun. Also, she had a motive in that she and Victor were secret lovers for two years. Laura and Tom are furious at Chelsea for not informing them of her relationship with Victor. The next day, Tom reminds jurors that insurance paid $2.5 million after a fire killed Sebastian Deardon and destroyed his art. However, there is a possibility the artwork still exists, and is now worth more than $20 million. Victor was not murdered for revenge, he was killed to protect someone who was a co-conspirator in fraud, arson, and murder eighteen years ago. Chelsea is being framed for a crime committed by a co-conspirator. Later, Tom impersonates a new claims adjuster at Victor’s insurance company, and walks away with records to build the case. In the evening, as Tom and Laura sift through the paperwork, a hired killer listens to their conversation. He tries but fails to run them over after they leave the office. When the killer abandons his crashed car and takes off on foot, Tom chases him. The killer is hit by a taxicab. Tom grabs his wallet and finds he is linked to Forrester. Laura and Tom drive to Victor’s apartment, and discover the front door open. They find valuable artwork, and Robert Forrester dead in Victor’s bed. Tom also discovers Chelsea hiding in the shower. She claims that Tom left her a message to meet him at Victor’s apartment. Tom sends Laura and Chelsea to the Taft Gallery. He tells them he will find C. J., Cavanaugh, get a search warrant, and meet them there. At the gallery, a memorial service for Victor is in progress. Laura and Chelsea sneak past the crowd into Victor’s office. As they figure out how to retrieve valuables hidden inside a brightly-colored contemporary statue, C. J. Cavanaugh arrives. He reveals that he is really Joe Brock, the remaining partner of Victor Taft and Robert Forrester. He killed Taft and Forrester for revenge, and insists whatever is stashed inside the sculpture belongs to him. At Manhattan South, Tom meets the real Cavanaugh, realizes the C. J. he knows is an imposter, and races to the Taft Gallery. Joe Brock knocks Laura unconscious, handcuffs Chelsea to a desk, removes a large container embedded in the sculpture, and sets fire to the storeroom. Guests evacuate as the fire spreads to the gallery. Tom fights the crowd to enter the building. When Joe Brock sees Tom, he runs upstairs. Tom gives chase, and they fight in an upper floor hallway. When Tom pushes Joe through a smoky door, he catches fire, is propelled out a second door, and falls into a fountain on the ground floor. Laura frees Chelsea, and they meet up with Tom. However, the stairs are blocked by fire, and they climb down a tall Giacometti sculpture to escape the flames. On the street, they open the container and find several rolled up Sebastian Deardon paintings including the one with the inscription. In court, the prosecutor announces that in light of new evidence, all charges against Chelsea are dropped. D.A. Bower congratulates Tom and suggests he come back to work, but Tom is much happier with what he is doing now. Outside the courthouse, Tom and Laura watch the press interview Chelsea. He tells Laura that her eyes are nicer than Chelsea’s, and they kiss. Soon, they team up and open a law office together. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.