The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990)

R | 101 mins | Comedy | 4 July 1990

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HISTORY

       According to the 10 Aug 1989 Chicago Tribune, the 11 Aug 1989 L.A. Weekly, and the 10 Jul 1990 HR, writer Rex Weiner created “Ford Fairlane” in 1979 as a monthly serial character in a music magazine called New York Rocker. He resumed the adventures of the “rock ‘n’ roll detective” the following year in the L.A. Weekly. Columbia Pictures signed a production deal with Weiner, but never produced his script. The property moved through others studios before arriving at 20th Century Fox. Screenwriter Daniel Waters, who was brought in after earlier rewrites, claimed the script he inherited had been changed from Weiner’s original homage to 1940s “film noir” and rewritten as a “parody of an Eddie Murphy-style detective film” with action actor Bruce Willis in mind. Waters's job, he said, was to “make it hip and funny.” Despite the film’s rock industry milieu, Fox demanded there be no reference to drugs. The budget was $20 million.
       The 10 Aug 1989 HR noted the film’s "'decadent' Bel Air party scene" was filmed at the hidden Sula University in Malibu Canyon, a Japanese-owned school that taught English to Japanese businessmen. A more public location, the “sorority house” at 10919 Strathmore Drive near the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), was used for three days, according to the 13 Jul 1989 and 17 Jul 1989 issues of UCLA Summer Bruin. Shooting required firefighters and a 4,000-gallon water truck when a Corvette sports car was blown up on the street. Students nearby demanded that gunshots and explosions end at 11 p.m. Close-ups for the external scenes at ... More Less

       According to the 10 Aug 1989 Chicago Tribune, the 11 Aug 1989 L.A. Weekly, and the 10 Jul 1990 HR, writer Rex Weiner created “Ford Fairlane” in 1979 as a monthly serial character in a music magazine called New York Rocker. He resumed the adventures of the “rock ‘n’ roll detective” the following year in the L.A. Weekly. Columbia Pictures signed a production deal with Weiner, but never produced his script. The property moved through others studios before arriving at 20th Century Fox. Screenwriter Daniel Waters, who was brought in after earlier rewrites, claimed the script he inherited had been changed from Weiner’s original homage to 1940s “film noir” and rewritten as a “parody of an Eddie Murphy-style detective film” with action actor Bruce Willis in mind. Waters's job, he said, was to “make it hip and funny.” Despite the film’s rock industry milieu, Fox demanded there be no reference to drugs. The budget was $20 million.
       The 10 Aug 1989 HR noted the film’s "'decadent' Bel Air party scene" was filmed at the hidden Sula University in Malibu Canyon, a Japanese-owned school that taught English to Japanese businessmen. A more public location, the “sorority house” at 10919 Strathmore Drive near the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), was used for three days, according to the 13 Jul 1989 and 17 Jul 1989 issues of UCLA Summer Bruin. Shooting required firefighters and a 4,000-gallon water truck when a Corvette sports car was blown up on the street. Students nearby demanded that gunshots and explosions end at 11 p.m. Close-ups for the external scenes at the cylindrical Capitol Records building in Hollywood were created with blue-screen technology; background plates were filmed on location and “composited optically with foreground shots photographed in VistaVision,” as stated in a 29 Jun 1990 HR item. For a scene in which Ford Fairlane sinks “Johnny Crunch’s” yacht, producer Joel Silver personally purchased the shell of a yacht from a junk yard, the 17 May 1990 HR noted. Silver later denied press rumors in a New York City tabloid accusing him of investing $500,000 of the film’s budget into upgrading his private yacht. “I don’t have a yacht,” he said. Principal photography ended in Sep 1989, according to the 21 Sep 1989 Hollywood Drama-Logue.
       American Humane, an organization protecting “animal actors,” gave The Adventures of Ford Fairlane an “acceptable” rating, noting that the main character’s murdered pet Koala bear was a puppet, not a living animal. The Koala reappeared, still alive, at the end of the film.
       Various media reports, including the 19 Apr 1990 USA Today and the 27 Apr 1990 Newsday, hinted that 20th Century Fox held up the film’s scheduled 25 May release, along with a huge promotional campaign, because the film “tested dreadfully” and needed more “tinkering.” However, a Fox spokesman insisted that the film was rescheduled for the summer because its targeted audience, males between eighteen and twenty-four years old, would be out of school.
       The film earned $2 million on its 4 Jul 1990 opening day in 1,201 theaters, according to the 13 Jul 1990 HR. 20th Century Fox blocked the release of a “concert” film featuring Andrew Dice Clay, fearing its probable X-rating would affect his new R-rated acting career. One studio spokesman noted, “There’s a big separation between Andrew Dice Clay the big standup comic and Andrew Dice Clay the movie star.” The concert film was never released threatrically.
       According to the 12 Jun 1990 and 18 Jun 1990 issues of DV, a group that called itself Activists Against Sexist Pigs spray-painted “Boycott Sexism” in red on a billboard promoting The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. It also spray-painted and splattered paint at the entrance to 20th Century Fox Studios. A spokeswoman said the group would “continue the attacks against Clay and studios who promote and try to profit from homophobia and violence against women.” A month earlier, when Clay was scheduled to host NBC-TV’s Saturday Night Live as part of the film’s promotion, Nora Dunn, one of the show’s regular cast, boycotted the show, along with musical guest Sinead O’Connor, the 11 May 1990 Chicago Tribune noted.
      End credits contain the following information: “Special thanks to: Norm Marshall and Associates; The Animal Makers - Jim and Debi Boulden.”
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
[Long Island, NY] Newsday
19 Apr 1989
p. 11.
[Long Island, NY] Newsday
27 Apr 1990
p. 11.
Chicago Tribune
10 Aug 1989
Section C, p. 13.
Chicago Tribune
11 May 1990
p. 1.
Daily Variety
12 Jun 1990
p. 1, 14.
Daily Variety
18 Jun 1990.
---
Hollywood Drama-Logue
21 Sep 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Dec 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 May 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 1989
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
17 May 1990
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jul 1990
p. 10, 98.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jul 1990
p. 1, 65.
LA Weekly
11 Aug 1989.
---
LAHExam
24 Aug 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
4 Jun 1989
Section O, p. 28.
New York Times
11 Jul 1990
p. 16.
Rolling Stone
18 May 1989.
---
UCLA Summer Bruin
13 Jul 1989.
---
UCLA Summer Bruin
17 Jul 1989
p. 1, 6.
USA Today
19 Apr 1990
Section D, p. 1.
Variety
4 Jul 1990.
---
Variety
11 Jul 1990
p. 31.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Special appearances by:
Pussycats:
Black Plague Band:
[and]
Backup singers:
Sorority girls:
[and]
Studio musicians:
[and]
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Silver Pictures Production
A Renny Harlin Film
Produced and Released by Twentieth Century Fox
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Unit prod mgr, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
Addl 2d asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
Story
Based on characters created by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
"B" cam op
"B" cam op
Panaglide op
Cam loader
Chief lighting tech
Best boy
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
Cam op, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
Dolly grip, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Set des
Set des
Leadman
Prop master/Weapons specialist
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Gen foreman
Propmaker foreman
Propmaker gang boss
Propmaker gang boss
Propmaker gang boss
Propmaker gang boss
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Labor foreman
Paint foreman
Prod painter
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Swing
Greensman
COSTUMES
Women's cost supv
Women's cost supv
Men's cost supv
Costumer
Ward asst
Asst to cost des
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Mus supv
Mus supv
Mus supv
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cable op
Playback op
Supv sd eff ed
Supv sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Sd eff rec
Post prod dial
Supv dial ed
Asst dial ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR asst
ADR mixer
ADR rec
Mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Sd asst
Machine op
Eng
Projectionist
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Boom op, 2d unit
VISUAL EFFECTS
Koala bear puppeteer
Addl puppeteer
Addl puppeteer
Addl puppeteer
Addl puppeteer
Spec eff coord
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Helicopter pilot
Helicopter pilot
Helicopter pilot
Spec eff craft service
Prod coord
Asst coord
Asst to Joel Silver
Asst to Renny Harlin
Asst to Andrew Dice Clay
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Casting assoc
Loc mgr
Extras casting
Extras casting
Extras casting
First aid
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Caterer
Cook/Driver
Craft service
Police coord
C.A.S.T. security coord
C.A.S.T. security
C.A.S.T. security
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Accounting asst
Unit pub
Special talent coord
Voice casting
Marsupial vocalization
Loc mgr, 2d unit
Asst loc mgr, 2d unit
Prod asst, 2d unit
Stage facilities provided by
Concert transportation provided by
Glamour Magazine courtesy of
Knives des and handmade by
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on characters created by Rex Weiner.
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Cradle Of Love," written by David Werner and Billy Idol, produced by Keith Forsey, performed by Billy Idol, courtesy of Chrysalis Records
"Glad To Be Alive," written by Leroy Bell and Casey James, produced by Craig Burbidge and Derek Nakamoto, performed by Teddy Pendergrass and Lisa Fisher, courtesy of Elektra Records
"Rock 'N Roll Junkie," written by Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, and Tommy Lee, produced by Bob Rock, performed by Motley Crue, courtesy of Elektra Records
+
SONGS
"Cradle Of Love," written by David Werner and Billy Idol, produced by Keith Forsey, performed by Billy Idol, courtesy of Chrysalis Records
"Glad To Be Alive," written by Leroy Bell and Casey James, produced by Craig Burbidge and Derek Nakamoto, performed by Teddy Pendergrass and Lisa Fisher, courtesy of Elektra Records
"Rock 'N Roll Junkie," written by Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, and Tommy Lee, produced by Bob Rock, performed by Motley Crue, courtesy of Elektra Records
"Sea Cruise," written by Huey P. Smith, produced by Don Was, performed by Dion, courtesy of Arista Records
"Funky Attitude," written by Sheila E. and Peter Michael Escovedo, performed by Sheila E., courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
"Can't Get Enough," written by Tony Smith, Matt Dike, Michael Ross, and Jeffrey Fortson, produced by One Stroke Done, performed by Tone Loc, courtesy of Delicious Vinyl Records
"The Wind Cries Mary," written by Jimi Hendrix, produced and performed by Richie Sambora
"I Ain't Got You," written by Clarence Carter, produced by Don Was, performed by Andrew Dice Clay, courtesy of Def American Records
"Last Time In Paris," written by Chris DeGarmo and Geoff Tate, produced by Peter Collins, performed by Queensryche, courtesy of EMI
"Whatcha' Gonna' Do," written by Sheila E. and Peter Michael Escovedo, performed by Sheila E., courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
"I'm Gonna Be The One," written by Jon Lind and Don Was
"Booty Time," written by Don Was and Tom Mantke
"Purple Haze," written by Jimi Hendrix, courtesy of A.R.M. BV
"Close To You," written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David
"The Love Boat," written by Paul Williams and Charles Fox
"Give Me The Simple Life," written by Harry Ruby and Josef Myrow
"Beyond The Sea," written by Jack Lawrence and Charles Trenet, performed by Bobby Darin, courtesy of Atco Records by arrangement with Warner Special Projects.
+
PERFORMERS
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Ford Fairlane
Release Date:
4 July 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 4 July 1990
New York opening: 11 July 1990
Production Date:
12 June--September 1989 in Los Angeles
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
16 July 1990
Copyright Number:
PA471666
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo® in selected theaters
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
101
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

“Rock ‘n’ roll detective” Ford Fairlane sits on a Malibu, California, beach, recalling how his troubles began five days earlier, with the suspicious onstage death of Bobby Black, lead singer of Black Plague. On the night Bobby died, Ford goes to a rock ‘n’ roll club to find Sam “the sleazebag,” a sex pervert harassing an all-girl group called The Pussycats. Inside, young women throw themselves at Ford, and the bartender fixes his favorite, potent drink and sets it on fire. Apprehending the pervert, Ford locks him in the trunk of his 1950s Ford Fairlane. In the morning, Ford awakens with a set of sexy twins at his Malibu home and drives to his second-floor office at the Crossroads of the World on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Jazz, Ford’s female assistant, introduces him to a Koala bear, received as payment for his services from an Australian rock group. Jazz complains that his clients always pay in compact discs (CDs), “gold” records, and everything else, except real money. When The Pussycats arrive to identify “sleazebag” Sam, Ford lets him escape out the window and fall to the ground below. Jazz plays a telephone message from Ford’s Brooklyn boyhood pal, “shock jock” Johnny Crunch, nee Teitelbaum, who needs to talk to him. At radio station KDRT-FM, Johnny Crunch shows him a photograph of a groupie named Zuzu Petals and promises $4,000 if he finds her. Driving away, Ford hears Johnny being attacked over the radio and returns to the station, only to find that Johnny has been electrocuted. Ford sees a record sleeve with the name “Art Mooney” written on it and hides it under his jacket before he is chased ... +


“Rock ‘n’ roll detective” Ford Fairlane sits on a Malibu, California, beach, recalling how his troubles began five days earlier, with the suspicious onstage death of Bobby Black, lead singer of Black Plague. On the night Bobby died, Ford goes to a rock ‘n’ roll club to find Sam “the sleazebag,” a sex pervert harassing an all-girl group called The Pussycats. Inside, young women throw themselves at Ford, and the bartender fixes his favorite, potent drink and sets it on fire. Apprehending the pervert, Ford locks him in the trunk of his 1950s Ford Fairlane. In the morning, Ford awakens with a set of sexy twins at his Malibu home and drives to his second-floor office at the Crossroads of the World on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Jazz, Ford’s female assistant, introduces him to a Koala bear, received as payment for his services from an Australian rock group. Jazz complains that his clients always pay in compact discs (CDs), “gold” records, and everything else, except real money. When The Pussycats arrive to identify “sleazebag” Sam, Ford lets him escape out the window and fall to the ground below. Jazz plays a telephone message from Ford’s Brooklyn boyhood pal, “shock jock” Johnny Crunch, nee Teitelbaum, who needs to talk to him. At radio station KDRT-FM, Johnny Crunch shows him a photograph of a groupie named Zuzu Petals and promises $4,000 if he finds her. Driving away, Ford hears Johnny being attacked over the radio and returns to the station, only to find that Johnny has been electrocuted. Ford sees a record sleeve with the name “Art Mooney” written on it and hides it under his jacket before he is chased away by police, led by Lt. Amos, who hates Ford for sabotaging his band, Disco Express, many years earlier. That night, on the beach, Ford plays his 1962 Fender Stratocaster guitar as he burns an old publicity photograph of himself and Johnny, when they were “J. J. & Captain John.” “The Kid,” a neighborhood boy who emulates Ford’s extravagant mannerisms, offers the detective $100 to find his long-missing father, who wears a silver ring that matches the one on the boy’s finger. The next morning, Colleen Sutton arrives at Ford’s house and pays him $5,000 to find Zuzu Petals, giving him the same photograph he got from Johnny Crunch. Ford shows the photograph to producer Don Cleveland, who is recording a young singer named Kyle Troy. When Ford calls the singer a “wimp,” Julian Grendel, owner of Grendel Records, takes offense. Ford goes into the studio, pushes Kyle Troy aside, and sings a rhythm and blues song. Before Ford leaves the studio, Don tells him that Johnny lived in a boat at the marina. That night, Ford visits the boat and discovers a videotape in which Colleen is a dominatrix having a session with a submissive Johnny. He also finds an invitation for Colleen’s party on the following night at her estate in Bel-Air. Suddenly, he is jumped by Smiley, a murderous thug, but Ford grabs one of Johnny’s trophy guns and, while chasing off Smiley with a hail of bullets, sinks the boat. At the Bel-Air party, Ford tells Jazz to stay close to Colleen, but Colleen recognizes her as Ford’s assistant and stuffs a copy of Black Plague’s last CD down the back of Jazz’s dress. Nearby, Julien Grendel hires Ford to find out who is “ripping off” his record company. Later, when Jazz puts the Black Plague album on Ford’s CD player, it turns out to be a computer disc, not a CD. Later, as he sits at home with his Koala bear, Ford watches television music channel MTV play the group’s last video and recognizes Zuzu Petals as one of Black Plague’s groupies. That night, when Ford attends Bobby Black’s funeral and shows Zuzu’s photograph to dozens of groupies, he finds Zuzu herself, but Smiley kidnaps her in a limousine. Giving chase in a hearse, Ford runs Smiley’s limousine into an open grave and grabs Zuzu, but Smiley escapes. Jazz calls Ford on his portable telephone to tell him her computer cannot read the disc. However, she learned that Colleen is Julien’s former wife and collects substantial alimony from the record mogul. At that moment, the police arrive at the cemetery, and though Lt. Amos tells Ford that Zuzu is wanted for murdering Johnny Crunch and Bobby Black, he fails to recognize that Ford’s companion is the suspect. When Ford and Zuzu return to his beach house, Ford’s Koala bear has been killed, his Stratocaster stolen, and the digital timer on his microwave is counting down. They escape from the house moments before it blows up. When Ford tries to unlock the doors to his Fairlane, it explodes, too. The Kid tells Ford two young punks wearing long coats were the culprits. Ford and Zuzu hitchhike on Pacific Coast Highway, where Melodi, one of his girlfriends, picks them up and takes them to the Iota Eta Pi sorority house. Scantily clad coeds welcome Ford as an “honorary member.” He calls Jazz, but she has nothing to tell him. Unknown to Ford, Jazz is being held by the two punks. They toss her out a window the moment she hangs up, then drive to the sorority house to kill Ford. The detective thwarts them by pushing a sports car into a group of motorcycles parked in front of a fraternity house and creating a mob of angry young men. Jazz arrives, bloodied from her fall, and gives Ford the computer disc she hid from the punks. Zuzu says that Bobby Black gave her one exactly like it the night he died. Ford and Zuzu drive to Julien’s office in the Capitol Records tower in Hollywood and find Colleen there. When Ford accuses her of stealing from Julien and murdering Johnny and Bobby to cover it up, Julien shoots Colleen. Her dying words to Ford are “Art Mooney.” As Julien demands “all three” CDs, Smiley and the two punks enter the room, and Julien threatens to destroy Ford’s Stratocaster if he does not reveal the location of the discs. Julien tells his minions to go to a party downtown, kill producer Don Cleveland, and frame him for stealing from Grendel Records. When Julien throws Ford’s Stratocaster out a window, Ford short circuits the office electrical system with Zuzu’s chewing gum and plunges the room into darkness. Ford and Zuzu run to the Capitol Records roof and try to climb down its circular wall. Smiley attacks, but Ford finds his Stratocaster on a ledge and throws it at the thug, sending him falling to the sidewalk below. By the time Ford and Zuzu reach the ground, Jazz drives up with two of the CDs and says they need to find the third one, in order to read them. Standing on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Zuzu suddenly sees the sidewalk star of Art Mooney, a 1940s-era bandleader. Ford pushes the golden disc in the middle of the star, and it pops open, revealing the third disc inside. Returning to Julien’s office, they place all three into a computer. A readout of all the Grendel Records artists reveals that Grendel himself bootlegged their records in order to avoid paying royalties. When Ford, Jazz, and Zuzu drive to the party to stop the punks from killing Don Cleveland, they rescue the producer in an alley. Inside, Ford pulls Julien backstage to tell him he found the discs and learned his secret. As Julien admits his crimes, Zuzu sneaks behind him with a microphone, letting everyone hear. Julien pulls a gun, but Ford tosses one of his potent drinks on the mogul, flicks his cigarette, and sets Julien on fire. When Lt. Amos shows up, Don Cleveland recognizes him as the lead singer of Disco Express and wants to record a new album. Ford returns to his burnt-out home, where the bloodied thug, Smiley, awaits him. Seeing a ring on his finger that matches The Kid’s, Ford asks where he got it. Smiley says he took it from a man he murdered a year earlier. Convincing Smiley to put down his gun and fight “mano a mano” with a knife, Ford shoots him to death. The next day, on the beach, Ford wears the ring as he tells the Kid his father is dead, but from now on Ford will be his second father. Jazz arrives, and Ford declares his love for her.
+

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

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