Flashback (1990)

R | 108 mins | Comedy-drama | 12 January 1990

Director:

Franco Amurri

Writer:

David Loughery

Producer:

Marvin Worth

Cinematographer:

Stefan Czapsky

Editor:

Steve Mirkovich

Production Designer:

Vincent Cresciman

Production Company:

60/80 Productions
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HISTORY

       According to studio notes in AMPAS library files, the filmmakers recreated the movie’s only flashback scene by shooting a “16mm home movie” of character “John Buckner’s” fourth birthday on a hippie commune, which production designer Vincent Cresciman and his team built over a period of three weeks in the Cattle Creek Canyon of Glenwood Springs, CO. The home movie was shot before principal photography began on 10 Apr 1989. The Glenwood Springs train station stood in for the station in the fictional “Marsden, OR.” Denver, CO’s Union Pacific Train Station played itself. Train interiors were filmed on sets in a Denver warehouse, and action sequences were filmed in the area of La Veta, CO. Final days of shooting took place in San Francisco, CA. Denver art students painted the commune’s psychedelic school bus, “Further,” which was named after author Ken Kesey’s “Merry Brand of Pranksters’” school bus that toured America between 1964 and 1969 as part of Kesey’s “electric Kool-Aid acid tests.” “Huey Walker’s” speech, which played on the school bus loudspeaker, was written without credit by 1960s satirist Mort Sahl, the 19 Feb 1989 LAT noted.
       Denver’s Ansco Investment Company, owned by billionaire Phillip Anschutz, undertook production of Flashback through 60/80 Productions as “a new business strategy,” according to the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph. Anschutz owned the Denver & Rio Grande Western and Southern Pacific railroads, which supplied many of the film’s locations. 60/80 Productions made no other films.
       During principal photography, 60/80 Productions agreed to unionize the crew with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, in order to avoid labor problems.
       Dennis Hopper’s character, Huey Walker, tells two middle-class ...

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       According to studio notes in AMPAS library files, the filmmakers recreated the movie’s only flashback scene by shooting a “16mm home movie” of character “John Buckner’s” fourth birthday on a hippie commune, which production designer Vincent Cresciman and his team built over a period of three weeks in the Cattle Creek Canyon of Glenwood Springs, CO. The home movie was shot before principal photography began on 10 Apr 1989. The Glenwood Springs train station stood in for the station in the fictional “Marsden, OR.” Denver, CO’s Union Pacific Train Station played itself. Train interiors were filmed on sets in a Denver warehouse, and action sequences were filmed in the area of La Veta, CO. Final days of shooting took place in San Francisco, CA. Denver art students painted the commune’s psychedelic school bus, “Further,” which was named after author Ken Kesey’s “Merry Brand of Pranksters’” school bus that toured America between 1964 and 1969 as part of Kesey’s “electric Kool-Aid acid tests.” “Huey Walker’s” speech, which played on the school bus loudspeaker, was written without credit by 1960s satirist Mort Sahl, the 19 Feb 1989 LAT noted.
       Denver’s Ansco Investment Company, owned by billionaire Phillip Anschutz, undertook production of Flashback through 60/80 Productions as “a new business strategy,” according to the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph. Anschutz owned the Denver & Rio Grande Western and Southern Pacific railroads, which supplied many of the film’s locations. 60/80 Productions made no other films.
       During principal photography, 60/80 Productions agreed to unionize the crew with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, in order to avoid labor problems.
       Dennis Hopper’s character, Huey Walker, tells two middle-class ex-hippies, “It takes more than going down to your local video store and renting Easy Rider to be a rebel.” Hopper co-wrote, directed, and co-starred in Easy Rider (1969, see entry). Abbie Hoffman, a radical 1960s fugitive from the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), inspired the Huey Walker character as written by screenwriter David Loughery, but Hopper told the 28 Jan 1990 Chicago Tribune that as a longtime friend of Hoffman’s, he did not see any similarities. Hoffman committed suicide in PA on 12 Apr 1989, just as filming got underway in CO, the 29 Jan 1990 DV reported.
       The 13 Jan 1990 Toronto Star noted that Flashback opened in Toronto the previous day, a full three weeks before the film opened in Los Angeles, CA, and New York City.
       After four weekends, Flashback grossed only $6.2 million, according to the Apr 1990 Box.
      A title card identifies the place and time as “San Francisco 1989.” Credits conclude with the following information: “The Producers wish to Thank: The Colorado State Motion Picture Commission, The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad Company and Ski Train and The People of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.”

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Apr 1990
---
Chicago Tribune
28 Jan 1990
Arts, p. 6
Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph
22 Apr 1989
Section D, p. 5
Daily Variety
29 Jan 1990
p. 2, 17, 20
Hollywood Reporter
11 Apr 1989
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 1990
p. 8, 20
Los Angeles Times
19 Feb 1989
Section K, p. 27
Los Angeles Times
2 Feb 1990
Section F, p. 8
New York Times
2 Feb 1990
p. 13
Newsday (Long Island, NY)
28 Jan 1990
Section II, p. 12
Toronto Star
13 Jan 1990
Section G, p. 1
Variety
24 May 1989
p. 23
Variety
31 Jan 1990
pp. 30-31
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Marvin Worth Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst photog
2d asst photog
2d asst photog
Panaglide cam op
Still photog
Rear screen projectionist
Rear screen projectionist
Rear screen projectionist
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Chief rigging elec
1st company grip
2d company grip
Dir of photog, 2d unit
Cam op, 2d unit
Cam op, 2d unit
Addl photog, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Asst art dir
Story board artist
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Apprentice film ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Prop master
Asst prop master
Lead person
Prop person
Prop person
Prop person
Prop person
Const coord
Asst const coord
Const foreperson
Const foreperson
COSTUMES
Cost des
Costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus score
Supv mus ed
Asst mus ed
Mus ed
Mus rec consultant
Orch by
Orch by
SOUND
Looper
Looper
Looper
Looper
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Sd prod asst
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
ADR ed
Foley mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Machine room op
Sd eng
ADR group coord
Dolby consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff asst
Miniature crew
Miniature crew
Opt eff by
Title des by
MAKEUP
Make-up artist
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Accounting asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Asst to Mr. Worth
Casting assoc
Extras casting
Extras wrangler
Machine room op
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"The Bottom Line," by Mick Jones, performed by Big Audio Dynamite, courtesy of CBS Records, Music Licensing Department; "All Along The Watchtower," by Bob Dylan, performed by Jimi Hendrix, Courtesy of A.R.M.N.V.; "On The Road Again," by Alan Wilson & Floyd Jones, performed by Canned Heat, courtesy of EMI Records, published by EMI Unart Music, Inc./Fredrick Music Company, by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets; "Fatal Attraction (And It's So Strange...)," by Jody Taylor Worth, performed by The Water Colors, produced by Steve Hunter; "All Down The Line," written by Mick Jagger & Keith Richards, published by ABKCO Music, Inc., performed by The Rolling Stones, courtesy of Promotone B.V.; "The Last Of The Steam Powered Trains," written by Ray Davies, performed by The Kinks, published by ABKCO Music, Inc. and Unichappel Music, Inc., by arrangement with ABKCO Records; "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)," written and performed by Jimi Hendrix, courtesy of A.R.M.N.V.; "White Rabbit," by Grace Slick; "C'mon Every Beatbox," by Mick Jones & Don Letts, performed by Big Audio Dynamite, courtesy of CBS Records, Music Licensing Dept.; "Walk On The Wild Side," by Lou Reed, performed by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, published by Screen Gems/EMI Music, Inc., courtesy of Geffen Records; "Next Time (I'll Dream Of You)," by Derek Greening, performed by Flesh for Lulu, courtesy of Beggars Banquet Records Ltd/Capitol Records, Inc./Hughes Music; "Born To Be Wild," by Mars Bonfire, performed by Steppenwolf, courtesy of MCA Records; "Pig Jam (Opus #2 In E Major)," by Steve Hunter, Bruce Gary & Jim Johnson, performed by Steve Hunter, courtesy of I.R.S. Records; "Black Cat Moan," written and performed by Steve Hunter, courtesy of I.R.S. Records; "Comin' Back To Me," by Marty Balin, performed by Jefferson Airplane, courtesy of RCA Records, Cassettes & CDs; "People Get Ready," by Curtis Mayfield, performed by Bob Dylan, produced by Barry Goldberg, Bob Dylan performs courtesy of CBS Records, Inc.; "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," by William Berry, Peter Buck, Michael Mills & John Stipe, performed by R.E.M., courtesy of I.R.S. Records; "Free" (Theme Song from Flashback) , by Mick Jones and Dan Donovan, performed by Big Audio Dynamite, produced by Mick Jones and Bill Price, Big Audio Dynamite performs courtesy of CBS Records Inc..
SONGWRITERS/COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 January 1990
Premiere Information:
Toronto, Canada opening: 12 Jan 1990; Los Angeles opening: 2 Feb 1990; New York opening: week of 2 Feb 1990
Production Date:
began 10 Apr 1989
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Paramount Pictures Corporation
19 March 1990
PA456608
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® Cameras & Lenses
Duration(in mins):
108
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29661
SYNOPSIS

In San Francisco, California, in 1989, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent John Buckner is assigned by his boss, Stark, to take custody of Huey Walker, an antiwar movement leader who escaped the FBI twenty years earlier and went “underground” until an anonymous telephone caller turned him in. Stark informs John that Huey is being held on a trumped-up charge for “flight from prosecution,” which carries a long sentence, but Huey must pay for making the FBI look foolish. Buckner’s job is to transport Huey from the local jail to Spokane, Washington, where the fugitive was originally charged. John Buckner warns Huey that he is authorized to shoot him if he tries to escape. Because Spokane is “fogged in,” they must take an overnight train. John’s fellow agent, Phil Prager, instructs him that during a two-hour stopover in Marsden, Oregon, he can turn Huey over to the sheriff and take a nap. On the train, the young, uptight John Buckner is contemptuous of the older, free-wheeling Huey Walker, telling him that his father died fighting in Vietnam, while Huey and other “flower children” were “wiping your asses” with the American flag. Huey makes fun of John’s abstinence from liquor and strict diet supplemented with vitamin tablets. While they play chess, Huey convinces John that he slipped the hallucinogen LSD into his glass of mineral water, and the effects will “kick in” any moment. Using sleight of hand, Huey also changes the positions of chess pieces and alters the hands on John’s wristwatch. John knocks Huey to the floor and decides to drink coffee, but Huey explains that only a “downer,” especially tequila with “a beer chaser,” can kill ...

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In San Francisco, California, in 1989, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent John Buckner is assigned by his boss, Stark, to take custody of Huey Walker, an antiwar movement leader who escaped the FBI twenty years earlier and went “underground” until an anonymous telephone caller turned him in. Stark informs John that Huey is being held on a trumped-up charge for “flight from prosecution,” which carries a long sentence, but Huey must pay for making the FBI look foolish. Buckner’s job is to transport Huey from the local jail to Spokane, Washington, where the fugitive was originally charged. John Buckner warns Huey that he is authorized to shoot him if he tries to escape. Because Spokane is “fogged in,” they must take an overnight train. John’s fellow agent, Phil Prager, instructs him that during a two-hour stopover in Marsden, Oregon, he can turn Huey over to the sheriff and take a nap. On the train, the young, uptight John Buckner is contemptuous of the older, free-wheeling Huey Walker, telling him that his father died fighting in Vietnam, while Huey and other “flower children” were “wiping your asses” with the American flag. Huey makes fun of John’s abstinence from liquor and strict diet supplemented with vitamin tablets. While they play chess, Huey convinces John that he slipped the hallucinogen LSD into his glass of mineral water, and the effects will “kick in” any moment. Using sleight of hand, Huey also changes the positions of chess pieces and alters the hands on John’s wristwatch. John knocks Huey to the floor and decides to drink coffee, but Huey explains that only a “downer,” especially tequila with “a beer chaser,” can kill the effects of LSD. John tries a few sips and becomes quickly inebriated. Stealing John’s wallet, Huey pays “Sparkle,” a free-spirited Russian passenger, to seduce the agent, while Huey shaves, trims his hair, and dons John’s clothing. Arriving in Marsden, Huey identifies himself to Sheriff Rand Hightower as Agent Buckner and gives him temporary custody of the drunken “Army deserter.” Entering a nearby nightclub, Huey calls an old friend about publishing his memoirs, but he is told that his arrest only made the back page of the newspapers and nobody cares. Dejected, Huey sits at the bar next to Hal Crescinhan and Barry, two older men who complain how everything has gone downhill since the 1960s. Huey introduces himself as John Buckner and asks if they remember Huey Walker. Both men light up, remembering how Huey uncoupled U.S. Vice President’s Spiro Agnew’s train car during a speech and made him look like a fool in front of thousands of people as the train left without him. Huey is still their hero, and they are outraged by his arrest. Meanwhile, deputies infuriate a prisoner named “Studie” by revealing that his barely conscious cellmate is an Army deserter. After Studie kicks and chokes him, John calls Sheriff Hightower “a disgrace” for allowing him to be brutalized. Hightower punches John in the jaw, and a deputy shoves his face into a toilet. When Agent Prager telephones the sheriff from San Francisco to ask why Agent Buckner has not contacted him, Hightower glances at the FBI paperwork and notices that Huey Walker is supposed to be forty-nine years old, while his prisoner is half that age. Meanwhile, Huey drops John’s wallet and badge on the floor of the club, and after he leaves, Hal and Barry throw a blanket over his head and push him into the trunk of their car. Hightower, who is running for Senator, offers to help John Buckner get Huey back if he forgets the jail beating, but the straight-arrow agent refuses. At that moment, Hightower gets an anonymous telephone call from Hal and Barry, who want to trade their agent hostage for Huey Walker. They agree to meet at both ends of a one-lane country bridge. John asks Sheriff Hightower for a gun and a set of handcuffs, and they drive to the bridge. Hal and Barry arrive at the other end. As they send Huey walking across the bridge, John approaches from the other end. Realizing that John is too young to be Huey, Hal and Barry flee, leaving John to re-arrest the real Huey. When John orders Hightower to drive them straight to Spokane, the sheriff pulls his gun and takes away John’s weapon. Realizing Hightower plans to kill them, John hits the sheriff, pushes Huey into the creek below, and leaps after him. The rapids pull them downstream, and as soon as they get out of the water, John puts handcuffs on his prisoner. Walking through the woods, Huey confesses being the one who telephoned his location to the FBI, because he figured he could escape again and generate notoriety to help him sell his memoir. He admits that he did not put LSD in John’s water, but rather used legerdemain and the power of suggestion to release the wild streak hiding inside the uptight agent. To prove his point, he unlocks the handcuffs with the key he picked from John’s pocket and puts them on John with lightning speed. He says he learned sleight-of-hand while traveling with a Mexican carnival. However, being fearful of the dark forest, Huey stays close to John, who remarks that he grew up in this area. Meanwhile, when agents Stark and Prager arrive in Marsden by helicopter, Hightower informs them that John abetted Huey Walker’s escape. By early dawn, John leads Huey to an old hippie commune called Rainbow Zen, where a foreclosure sign has been posted. The camp is empty except for Maggie, who recognizes John as “Free” and embraces him warmly. John confesses to Huey that he lied about his father dying in Vietnam. His parents were actually hippies, and he grew up in Rainbow Zen, but later ran away, rebelled, changed his named from “Free” to John, and became the opposite of his parents. Maggie also recognizes Huey, and explains how his message of protest changed her life. As proof, she shows them her shrine to the 1960s, which includes a painting of Huey hanging near photographs of Malcolm X, Jimi Hendrix, and other hippie icons. She has also restored the commune’s rainbow-colored bus, “Further,” which they rode to Woodstock in 1969. She informs John that his parents, who now run a health food store in Monterey, California, would be ashamed to hear their son had arrested Huey Walker. When Maggie shows them home movies of John’s fourth birthday party, he fights back tears. Determined to help Huey reach freedom, they ride to the Marsden train station in the commune bus and find the place swarming with deputies, state troopers, and FBI agents. Maggie parks next to the station and plays an old tape of one of Huey’s speeches from a loudspeaker on the roof, while John and Huey slip through a trap door in the floor. Enlisting the aid of Hal and Barry, who create a distraction, John and Huey sneak onto the train. Agent Stark recognizes Huey’s voice on the loudspeaker and raids the bus. Discovering the trap door, he and Prager realize John and Huey are aboard the train and hurry to catch it. In the train’s mail car, Huey tries to dissuade John from becoming a fugitive, because of the loneliness. He confesses that an incompetent railroad employee, not he, unhooked Spiro Agnew’s rail car, but he took credit after the rumor reached “legendary proportions.” Suddenly, Hightower enters the mail car and shoots at them. In the ensuing gun battle, John convinces Huey to jump from the train, but after John is wounded, the fugitive returns, stops Hightower from killing John, and throws the sheriff off the train. Stark and Prager enter and Huey surrenders, but as the train goes into a tunnel, he slips off Stark’s handcuffs and escapes to a flat car loaded with propane tanks. Uncoupling the car, Huey drops away from the rest of the train. When Prager fires his gun, Huey appears to be hit. The flat car derails on a curve and explodes. Stark confesses to John that he is the agent Huey escaped from twenty years earlier, and that nobody needs to know that John was Huey’s hostage. Months later, after Hightower is sent to prison, John leaves the FBI and begins a journey on his new motorcycle. Seeing Huey’s new best-selling book at San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore, he buys a copy, and Huey, in disguise, signs it for him. The book is dedicated to John, “a true rebel.” With his newfound wealth, Huey says he plans to get the commune out of foreclosure and live there with Maggie. He advises John to visit his parents.

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

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