Mala Noche (1988)

75 mins | Drama | 4 May 1988

Director:

Gus Van Sant

Writer:

Gus Van Sant

Producer:

Gus Van Sant

Cinematographer:

John Campbell

Production Company:

Northern Film Co.
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HISTORY

The following epigraph appears onscreen after the title: “If you fuck with the bull, you get the horn.”
       After opening credits, voice-over narration by actor Tim Streeter in the role of “Walt” states: “Working in the store Sunday all day, I want to drink this Mexican boy, Johnny Alonzo, from L.A. near Riverside. He makes my heart throb, thumpety thump thump, when I see him. He says he’s eighteen, but he could be sixteen. All I want to do is caress him; I want to hold him. He has these hickeys on his neck. He’s out on the street with friends, staying in a three-dollar-a-night cheap hotel room on Sixth, Skid Row. He speaks almost no English.” Voice-over narration continues throughout the film.
       According to an article in the 26 Dec 1989 LAT, filming took place for one month with a four-person crew in Portland, OR. The review in the 1 Dec 1989 LAT reported the picture was made in 1985. While the 5 Oct 1989 DV and the 26 Dec 1989 LAT article noted a budget of $20,000, the 20 Nov 1988 NYT and the 6 Dec 1989 HR review listed a cost of $25,000.
       The 4 Jan 1986 Village Voice reported that the film was screened in Jan 1986 at the Gay Film Festival in New York City at the Eighth Street Playhouse. The following year, the picture was scheduled to be shown at the Los Angeles International Gay & Lesbian Film & Video Festival at the ...

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The following epigraph appears onscreen after the title: “If you fuck with the bull, you get the horn.”
       After opening credits, voice-over narration by actor Tim Streeter in the role of “Walt” states: “Working in the store Sunday all day, I want to drink this Mexican boy, Johnny Alonzo, from L.A. near Riverside. He makes my heart throb, thumpety thump thump, when I see him. He says he’s eighteen, but he could be sixteen. All I want to do is caress him; I want to hold him. He has these hickeys on his neck. He’s out on the street with friends, staying in a three-dollar-a-night cheap hotel room on Sixth, Skid Row. He speaks almost no English.” Voice-over narration continues throughout the film.
       According to an article in the 26 Dec 1989 LAT, filming took place for one month with a four-person crew in Portland, OR. The review in the 1 Dec 1989 LAT reported the picture was made in 1985. While the 5 Oct 1989 DV and the 26 Dec 1989 LAT article noted a budget of $20,000, the 20 Nov 1988 NYT and the 6 Dec 1989 HR review listed a cost of $25,000.
       The 4 Jan 1986 Village Voice reported that the film was screened in Jan 1986 at the Gay Film Festival in New York City at the Eighth Street Playhouse. The following year, the picture was scheduled to be shown at the Los Angeles International Gay & Lesbian Film & Video Festival at the Four Star Theater on 20 Feb 1987, as noted in the 16 Feb 1987 LAT and 20--26 Feb 1987 LA. Weekly.
       The film was released on 4 May 1988 in New York City, as noted in the NYT review of the same date. Over a year later, the film opened in Los Angeles, CA, on 30 Nov 1989.
       The 5 Mar 1986 Var review listed Gus Van Sant as the film’s editor, in addition to director, producer and writer, but he is not credited in that role. Van Sant appears onscreen, but is not credited as an actor. Modern sources list Karen Kitchen and Peter Daamaan as being involved with the picture’s music, but neither receive onscreen music credits.
       Although there is a 1985 copyright statement onscreen, the picture was not registered for copyright at the time of its release. Gus Van Sant registered the film on 22 Jan 2007.
       Mala Noche received the 1987 Independent/Experimental Film Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
       The picture marked the first theatrically released feature film, and writing and directorial debut of Gus Van Sant.
       End credits state: “Also thanks to: Ken Butler; Dave Jenkins; Michael Stoops; Tiger Warren; George Tohouliotis & Satyricon; Macheesmo Mouse; Pob Estes; Sisters of the Road; Club Plaza Video; Brian Lindström; Katina’s Deli; The Civic Theatre; The Lawnaers; Ted Manar; Katherine Dunn; Jo Kepp; Jim Lowry; Penny Alleh; Nora Wayman; Clinton Street Theatre; Jon & Julie; Prince; Dr. Steven; Kimberly the rock “doc”; Polly De Friez; Bob Zurcher; Dave Gettman; Missy Stewart; Tom Shaw; Brian Puziss; Peggy Conolly; Amy Lambert; Wyatt Heliene; Kirk Wilson; Ted Wessinger; Mark Stevenson; Laurie Sammons; Enrique Escabar; Rocio Kimberly; Dave Ling; Amy Lambert; Tom Joslin; Tom Higgins; Tim Kerr; Garth Edwards.” End credits also state: “Dedicated to Sunny Jim.” End credits acknowledge: “Shot on location in Portland, Oregon.”

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
5 Oct 1989
p. 11
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 1989
p. 4, 27
LA Weekly
20-26 Feb 1987
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Feb 1987
Calendar, p. 5
Los Angeles Times
1 Dec 1989
Calendar, p. 6
Los Angeles Times
26 Dec 1989
Calendar, p. 10
New York Times
4 May 1988
Section C, p. 20
New York Times
20 Nov 1988
Section A, p. 24
Variety
5 Mar 1986
p. 16
Village Voice
4 Jan 1986
p. 53, 59
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Performances by:
as Walt
as Roberto Pepper
as Betty (Walt's girl)
as Hotel clerk
as Drunk man
as Policeman
as Featured wino
as Himself
+

PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Addl photog
FILM EDITOR
SOUND
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
COLOR PERSONNEL
Black & white by
SOURCES
LITERARY
From the story Mala Noche by Walt Curtis (Portland, 1977).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
SONGS
“Gracias A La Vida,” written by Violeta Tarra; “Balderama,” by M. S. Castille & G. Leguizanón; “Hasta La Victoria,” by A. Sanpayo, performed by Peter Dammann and Karen Kitchen; “Guaguaanco,” written and performed by Dave Storrs; “Now Is The Hour,” performed by Roy Thoreson, The Whistling Brakeman; “Never Comes Down Rich Man Stream,” by The Neo Boys, © Trap Music; “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” by John Lennon/Paul McCartney, performed by Beatles; “Dress Of A Pink Color,” by Los Brados Del Norte; “Your Shadow Follows Me,” by Ity Bity; “To Die For Your Love,” performed by Gus Van Sant; “Morir Por Tú Amor,” by Ron Swagar;
SONGWRITERS/COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Bad Night
Release Date:
4 May 1988
Premiere Information:
New York Gay Film Festival: Jan 1986; New York opening: 4 May 1988; Los Angeles opening: 30 Nov 1989
Production Date:
1985
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Gus VanSant, 1952-
22 January 2007
PA0001383168
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Black and White
gauge
16mm
Duration(in mins):
75
Country:
United States
Languages:
Spanish, English
SYNOPSIS

In Portland, Oregon, convenience store clerk Walt Curtis is smitten by Johnny Alonzo, an illegal immigrant from Mexico. Walt invites him to stay at his apartment, but Johnny declines, explaining he is not homosexual. Later, Walt invites Johnny to join him and his friend, Betty, for dinner. Johnny arrives at Betty’s house with his Mexican friend, Roberto Pepper. After dinner, Walt drives Johnny and Roberto to their hotel, and offers Johnny money to have sex with him. However, Johnny runs into his hotel room and locks Roberto out. Afterward, Walt takes Roberto to his apartment and convinces him to have sex. In the morning, Roberto steals $10 from Walt and leaves. As Walt continues working at the store, Johnny and Roberto use him to get free food. One day, Roberto comes into the store alone and reports that Johnny may have left town without him. Walt later learns Roberto is sick and takes care of him. Regaining his strength, Roberto moves in with Walt. When Walt goes to work one day, Roberto hears police officers in the hallway, and fears they are going to deport him. As he sneaks into the hall with a pistol, the officers shoot him dead. Later, Walt learns Johnny was deported, but is now back in Portland. He is surprised to find Johnny waiting for him at his apartment. Learning about Roberto’s death, Johnny blames Walt and leaves in anger. Later, Walt and Betty see Johnny on the street. Walt tells him to visit the store soon, but Johnny ignores ...

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In Portland, Oregon, convenience store clerk Walt Curtis is smitten by Johnny Alonzo, an illegal immigrant from Mexico. Walt invites him to stay at his apartment, but Johnny declines, explaining he is not homosexual. Later, Walt invites Johnny to join him and his friend, Betty, for dinner. Johnny arrives at Betty’s house with his Mexican friend, Roberto Pepper. After dinner, Walt drives Johnny and Roberto to their hotel, and offers Johnny money to have sex with him. However, Johnny runs into his hotel room and locks Roberto out. Afterward, Walt takes Roberto to his apartment and convinces him to have sex. In the morning, Roberto steals $10 from Walt and leaves. As Walt continues working at the store, Johnny and Roberto use him to get free food. One day, Roberto comes into the store alone and reports that Johnny may have left town without him. Walt later learns Roberto is sick and takes care of him. Regaining his strength, Roberto moves in with Walt. When Walt goes to work one day, Roberto hears police officers in the hallway, and fears they are going to deport him. As he sneaks into the hall with a pistol, the officers shoot him dead. Later, Walt learns Johnny was deported, but is now back in Portland. He is surprised to find Johnny waiting for him at his apartment. Learning about Roberto’s death, Johnny blames Walt and leaves in anger. Later, Walt and Betty see Johnny on the street. Walt tells him to visit the store soon, but Johnny ignores him.

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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.