Wisdom (1986)

R | 109 mins | Drama, Romance | 31 December 1986

Director:

Emilio Estevez

Writer:

Emilio Estevez

Producer:

Bernard Williams

Cinematographer:

Adam Greenberg

Editor:

Michael Kahn

Production Designer:

Dennis Gassner

Production Company:

Gladden Entertainment
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HISTORY

The following acknowledgments appear in end credits: “Special acknowledgment of thanks to: David Goss and the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce; Walt Thompson, the City of Sacramento; Victor Sanchez and the Sacramento City Police Department; Charlie Sheen for the use of his film RPG ; Twentieth Century Fox for the use of the film The Day The Earth Stood Still ; footage from the film Down And Out In America courtesy of Joseph Feury Prods, Inc.; Michael Nathanson for his continued support, promotional productions arranged and supplied by Lee Faulker Film Distributors, Inc., Los Angeles; Barrel O’Fun; Bell Helmets; Dataeast Video Games; Ricoh Corporation; Brother Typewriters; Valvoline; Turtlewax; Danecraft Jewelry; Charter Arms; Action Arms; Portavideo; Jockey International; Pioneers of America,” and “In memory of my dear friend Henry Proach.”
       Production notes in AMPAS library files and a 28 Aug 1986 DV news item state that principal photography began 13 Feb 1986 in Los Angeles, CA, and took place over eight weeks shooting on eighty locations. The $6.5 million-budgeted film completed principal photography on 24 Apr 1986 in Sacramento, CA.
       Los Angeles-based locations included a mid-Wilshire residence that doubled as the "Wisdom" home, a shuttered Bank of America, an army surplus store, a Hollywood florist’s shop, and the Northridge, CA, Malibu Grand Prix racetrack in San Fernando Valley. Actor-writer-director Emilio Estevez trained with his Uzi submachine gun in the Mojave Desert.
       The production moved to Sacramento on 19 Mar 1986, where production designer Dennis Gassner converted an older Bank of America to look like the Merchant Bank of America. Ten blocks in downtown Sacramento stood in for St. Paul, ... More Less

The following acknowledgments appear in end credits: “Special acknowledgment of thanks to: David Goss and the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce; Walt Thompson, the City of Sacramento; Victor Sanchez and the Sacramento City Police Department; Charlie Sheen for the use of his film RPG ; Twentieth Century Fox for the use of the film The Day The Earth Stood Still ; footage from the film Down And Out In America courtesy of Joseph Feury Prods, Inc.; Michael Nathanson for his continued support, promotional productions arranged and supplied by Lee Faulker Film Distributors, Inc., Los Angeles; Barrel O’Fun; Bell Helmets; Dataeast Video Games; Ricoh Corporation; Brother Typewriters; Valvoline; Turtlewax; Danecraft Jewelry; Charter Arms; Action Arms; Portavideo; Jockey International; Pioneers of America,” and “In memory of my dear friend Henry Proach.”
       Production notes in AMPAS library files and a 28 Aug 1986 DV news item state that principal photography began 13 Feb 1986 in Los Angeles, CA, and took place over eight weeks shooting on eighty locations. The $6.5 million-budgeted film completed principal photography on 24 Apr 1986 in Sacramento, CA.
       Los Angeles-based locations included a mid-Wilshire residence that doubled as the "Wisdom" home, a shuttered Bank of America, an army surplus store, a Hollywood florist’s shop, and the Northridge, CA, Malibu Grand Prix racetrack in San Fernando Valley. Actor-writer-director Emilio Estevez trained with his Uzi submachine gun in the Mojave Desert.
       The production moved to Sacramento on 19 Mar 1986, where production designer Dennis Gassner converted an older Bank of America to look like the Merchant Bank of America. Ten blocks in downtown Sacramento stood in for St. Paul, MN, and a confrontation between a SWAT team, a helicopter, and two dozen police was filmed at the American River College in Sacramento. The company also shot footage in the Newcastle, Auburn, and Roseville, CA, countryside to double for IA, NE, and MN.
       A 16 Oct 1985 DV news item stated that the picture marked Estevez’s theatrical directorial debut.
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
16 Oct 1985.
---
Daily Variety
28 Apr 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Dec 1986
p. 3, 15.
Los Angeles Times
31 Dec 1986
p. 3.
New York Times
1 Jan 1987
p. 1, 9.
Variety
7 Jan 1987
p. 21.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d cam op
2d cam 1st asst
Addl photog
Still photog
Video asst
Key grip
Best boy grip
Grip
Best boy elec
Elec
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Visual concepts by
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Asst set dec
Asst set dresser
Const coord
Prop master
Asst props
Asst props
COSTUMES
Fashion des by
Ward supv
Costumer's asst
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus arr and programming
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
ADR mixer
ADR mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Titles des by
MAKEUP
Chief makeup
Chief hairdresser
Mr. Estevez' hair des by
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Prod coord
Prod coord
Asst to Mr. Estevez
Asst to Ms. Moore
Voice casting
Casting asst
Casting asst
Extra casting (L. A.)
Extra casting (Sacramento)
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Accounting asst
Fitness trainer
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Unit pub
Public relations coord
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Craft service
Tech adv
Post prod facilities furnished by
Public relations representation (U. S. and Canada)
Public relations representation (International)
Insurance provided by
Catering by
Catering by The Arrangement Inc.
Catering by The Arrangement Inc.
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
Stand-in for Mr. Estevez
Stand-in for Ms. Moore
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Home Again,” performed by Oingo Boingo, courtesy of MCA Records
“Whiskey in My Beer,” written and performed by Gary Austin, produced by Terry Wollman
“Moonbright Misty Night,” written by Ron Gertz, performed by Scott Wojahn, produced by Ron Gertz and Dan Slider
+
SONGS
“Home Again,” performed by Oingo Boingo, courtesy of MCA Records
“Whiskey in My Beer,” written and performed by Gary Austin, produced by Terry Wollman
“Moonbright Misty Night,” written by Ron Gertz, performed by Scott Wojahn, produced by Ron Gertz and Dan Slider
“Tears Run Down,” written, performed and produced by Danny Elfman
“Rock Me Baby,” written, performed and produced by Danny Elfman.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
31 December 1986
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 31 December 1986
Production Date:
13 February--24 April 1986
Copyright Claimant:
Gladden Entertainment Corporation
Copyright Date:
21 July 1987
Copyright Number:
PA334852
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Cameras and lenses provided by Otto Nemenz International Inc.
Duration(in mins):
109
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Twenty-three-year-old John Wisdom remembers high school graduation night five years earlier, when he and his friends stole a sports car and got into an accident while intoxicated. John received a sentence of four years’ probation for grand theft auto, a permanent police record, and believes that society will never let him forget his mistake. At breakfast, John tells his parents, Lloyd and Samantha, he lost his job to the boss’s son. Later, he has three job interviews, but two interviewers reject him because of his felony conviction. However, he is hired by a law firm to be a janitor. There, his boss questions why John would take such a low level position, observes his heart is not in his work, and fires him. Later, John accuses his father of being ashamed that he has not lived up to the family’s expectations. His father asks how John feels about not meeting his own expectations. John applies to college, lies on his application, claiming he has not been convicted of a felony in the past five years. In the interim, he takes a job as a short-order cook at City Burger, a fast food restaurant. His girl friend, Karen Simmons, tells him things would improve if he had a more positive attitude, but her advice only makes him angry. She is unimpressed by his sulking and suggests they temporarily part ways until he figures out how to turn his life around. Meanwhile, John is fired from his City Burger job and contemplates turning to a life of crime. He watches a documentary, Down and Out in America, and is moved by the plight of small ... +


Twenty-three-year-old John Wisdom remembers high school graduation night five years earlier, when he and his friends stole a sports car and got into an accident while intoxicated. John received a sentence of four years’ probation for grand theft auto, a permanent police record, and believes that society will never let him forget his mistake. At breakfast, John tells his parents, Lloyd and Samantha, he lost his job to the boss’s son. Later, he has three job interviews, but two interviewers reject him because of his felony conviction. However, he is hired by a law firm to be a janitor. There, his boss questions why John would take such a low level position, observes his heart is not in his work, and fires him. Later, John accuses his father of being ashamed that he has not lived up to the family’s expectations. His father asks how John feels about not meeting his own expectations. John applies to college, lies on his application, claiming he has not been convicted of a felony in the past five years. In the interim, he takes a job as a short-order cook at City Burger, a fast food restaurant. His girl friend, Karen Simmons, tells him things would improve if he had a more positive attitude, but her advice only makes him angry. She is unimpressed by his sulking and suggests they temporarily part ways until he figures out how to turn his life around. Meanwhile, John is fired from his City Burger job and contemplates turning to a life of crime. He watches a documentary, Down and Out in America, and is moved by the plight of small Midwestern farmers, who are losing their livelihood due to mortgage foreclosures. John decides to become a “criminal” for justice and save the farmers. He buys a used Uzi machine gun, military surplus clothing, and practices his marksmanship. Later, after time apart, he surprises Karen at her apartment with a candlelight dinner, and they make love. Still later, John consults the Internet to learn how to build Molotov cocktails and improvised explosive devices. In the morning, he borrows his mother’s car to begin his crime spree. When the car breaks down, Karen happens to be driving by and stops to talk to him. She offers to give him a ride to the bank. He tells her to leave but when she asks how he is going to return to the car, he asks her to wait for him and keep the motor running. Inside, he takes bank employees, and customers hostage. He destroys the surveillance cameras and steals $700 in cash. Then he demands to know where the mortgage files are kept. He places a homemade bomb in each file cabinet, and ignites the fuses. As the file cabinets explode and burn, John locks everyone inside the building. He looks frantically for Karen on the street but her car is gone. Soon, she pulls up to the curb after making a Tofutti run and he orders her to drive onto the Interstate highway. After an hour of silence, Karen parks on the shoulder and demands to know what is going on. When she discovers the cash he stole, she runs from the car. He explains that he wants to make a statement by destroying mortgages and loans. It will buy time for farmers facing repossessions and foreclosures so that they can get their lives back together. John claims he has changed his attitude just as she suggested. However, Karen is panicked she will be considered an accessory to his crime, and believes his plan makes no sense. He tells her he loves her and asks for a chance to prove it. Karen gets back in the car, and is swayed to help John on his quest. At Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) offices, special agent Williamson tells his colleague, agent Cooper, he does not believe stealing money was John’s objective. When John and Karen arrive in Albuquerque, New Mexico, John locates another bank to menace. He orders Karen to park on a side street and wait for him. As officers in a patrol car tell Karen to move because she is parked near a fire hydrant, John appears and they drive away. Karen asks John if the people he is helping will appreciate what he is doing. John responds he does not know. After John and Karen destroy mortgage documents at two Colorado banks, agent Cooper tells Williamson that bank customers were heard applauding John’s actions. At night, John and Karen take a room at a motel off the Interstate. The motel manager recognizes them and treats them like celebrities. John and Karen watch the news and find most people interviewed are sympathetic to their cause, while agent Williamson tells the press John has destroyed federal property and is a menace. Privately, he confides in Cooper that although the public sides with John, he believes that John is anything but a hero, having seen true heroes fight in Vietnam. The motel manager wakes John and Karen in the middle of the night to introduce townspeople, who bring food, clothing, ammunition, and makeup. The local car dealer loans them a new getaway car, and everyone poses for a group picture. Later, Williamson and local police surround the motel and order John and Karen to surrender. After no response, Williamson and Cooper kick the door open and find two dummies propped up on the floor with pillowcases for heads and a note that reads “Yo Mama.” At John and Karen’s next bank stop, the staff and customers recognize the couple and cooperate. However, the bank security guard appears and points his gun at John. They glare at each other until the guard surrenders, and the couple continues their rampage. Later, Karen wants to know what John’s next move will be now that he has the public on his side. He confesses that he is not sure, but he is tired and wants to end the spree even though Karen notes he has given so many people hope. John admits his criminal activity does not feel right and suggests they flee to Canada. They drive north through Iowa and stop at a convenience store, where Karen buys supplies. As she walks to the register, a sheriff’s deputy recognizes her and reaches for his gun. John runs toward the store with his Uzi, but Karen is faster. She pulls a gun from her jacket and shoots the deputy in the chest. Back on the road, Karen cries and apologizes for the mess. Williamson and Cooper investigate the deputy’s death, and deduce that John and Karen are heading to Canada but will soon run out of money. John feels responsible for the death even though he did not pull the trigger, and believes he has betrayed the public’s trust. Soon, John calls his parents, tells them he loves them, apologizes for his actions, and tearfully says he and Karen never meant to harm anyone. The fugitives arrive in St. Paul, Minnesota, where John commits a robbery so that he and Karen will have money to reach Canada. While FBI and local law enforcement are in pursuit, multiple crashes occur. John and Karen park their getaway car in a crowded school parking lot. As an FBI helicopter looms above them, they decide to run into the school. However, Karen is shot in the back. John carries her into a classroom and lays her down on a counter. Although she pleads with him not to leave, he assures her that the classroom teacher will watch over her. He kisses her and runs outside to face his pursuers. Karen can tell by the way John kissed her that he is not coming back. Officers fan out around the school grounds as John tosses all his ammunition into a trashcan by the football field. As he appears at the top of the bleachers on the visitor’s side, Williamson grabs a bullhorn and orders him to put down his weapons and put his hands up. Instead, John sits down and eats a sandwich he found in the trash. Williamson and his men approach, and Williamson reads John his Miranda rights. When Williamson asks him if he understands, John does not answer. He looks at the marksmen stationed to his left, his right, and behind him, as he massages the trigger of his Uzi. He stands, and is shot several times. As he falls and rolls next to Williamson, the FBI agent tells John that he was left with no choice. As Williamson cups John’s head in his hands, John responds he was left with no choice either, and dies.
+

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

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