The Moderns (1988)

R | 128 mins | Comedy-drama, Romance | 15 April 1988

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HISTORY

The film concludes with the following dedication: “For Bradshaw.” Co-writer Jon Bradshaw (also producer Carolyn Pfeiffer’s husband) died in Nov 1986, months before the film went into production.
       An article in the 31 May 1987 LAT stated that Carolyn Pfeiffer began developing The Moderns in 1975, with her own money. During the editing of his debut feature film, Welcome to L.A. (1976, see entry), writer-director Alan Rudolph approached that film’s star, Keith Carradine, to play “Nick Hart.” In 1978, with Carradine attached, and Mick Jagger set to play “Bertram Stone,” the film was six weeks away from shooting in Paris, France, when the financial backer demanded a guarantee of a major studio release. The project was subsequently rejected over 100 times, according to Rudolph, and was sometimes referred to as “the most rejected script in Hollywood.” Esquire magazine expressed interest in publishing the script, as “the most rejected” film, but Rudolph and Pfeiffer remained determined to get it made, especially after Jon Bradshaw’s death.
       In 1986, Embassy Home Entertainment (EHE) agreed to finance the $3.7-million picture, as reported in the 20 May 1987 HR. Embassy was subsequently acquired by Nelson Entertainment. In exchange for financing, Pfeiffer’s Alive Films agreed to a deal in which Nelson received foreign theatrical, worldwide video, pay-television, and syndication rights. Alive retained domestic theatrical rights, and was paid a distribution fee. Rudolph and Pfeiffer characterized the arrangement as a bad deal for Alive, but necessary to get the film made.
       Although a 25 Nov 1977 HR item stated that Rudolph’s mentor, writer-director Robert Altman, would present The Moderns ... More Less

The film concludes with the following dedication: “For Bradshaw.” Co-writer Jon Bradshaw (also producer Carolyn Pfeiffer’s husband) died in Nov 1986, months before the film went into production.
       An article in the 31 May 1987 LAT stated that Carolyn Pfeiffer began developing The Moderns in 1975, with her own money. During the editing of his debut feature film, Welcome to L.A. (1976, see entry), writer-director Alan Rudolph approached that film’s star, Keith Carradine, to play “Nick Hart.” In 1978, with Carradine attached, and Mick Jagger set to play “Bertram Stone,” the film was six weeks away from shooting in Paris, France, when the financial backer demanded a guarantee of a major studio release. The project was subsequently rejected over 100 times, according to Rudolph, and was sometimes referred to as “the most rejected script in Hollywood.” Esquire magazine expressed interest in publishing the script, as “the most rejected” film, but Rudolph and Pfeiffer remained determined to get it made, especially after Jon Bradshaw’s death.
       In 1986, Embassy Home Entertainment (EHE) agreed to finance the $3.7-million picture, as reported in the 20 May 1987 HR. Embassy was subsequently acquired by Nelson Entertainment. In exchange for financing, Pfeiffer’s Alive Films agreed to a deal in which Nelson received foreign theatrical, worldwide video, pay-television, and syndication rights. Alive retained domestic theatrical rights, and was paid a distribution fee. Rudolph and Pfeiffer characterized the arrangement as a bad deal for Alive, but necessary to get the film made.
       Although a 25 Nov 1977 HR item stated that Rudolph’s mentor, writer-director Robert Altman, would present The Moderns under his production company banner, Altman’s company is not credited in the final film. However, Altman receives a “Special Thank You.”
       The 20 May 1987 HR noted that principal photography was underway in Montreal, Quebec, chosen over Paris due to financial constraints. The thirty-five-day shooting schedule entailed interior shoots at a Masonic temple, City Hall, and various empty store fronts. Some exteriors were shot on cobblestone streets in the neighborhood of Old Montreal. A 23 Jun 1987 DV brief announced that filming had recently concluded.
       The 31 May 1987 LAT noted that Keith Carradine learned of artist David Stein through his agent at William Morris, who represented Stein and had some of his artwork on his walls. Carradine then recommended Stein, “a professional ‘copyist,’” to art director Steven Legler, who hired Stein to do several paintings for the film, including three “original” works by Paul Cézanne, Amedeo Modigliani, and Henri Matisse, copies of those paintings, and works-in-progress by Nick Hart. Stein, who was born Henri Haddad, waived his usual fee of $5,000-$20,000 per painting, because he took a personal interest in the film. He was also cast as the art critic who incorrectly identifies the original masterworks as fakes.
       Critical reception was mixed. While the 13 Apr 1988 HR described it as a “nostalgic, devilishly stroked portrait of Paris in the ‘20s,” and the 4 Apr 1988 DV deemed it Keith Carradine’s best performance, the 15 Apr 1988 NYT review disparaged the film as one that should never have been made. The film received two Independent Spirit Award nominations, for Best Supporting Male (John Lone), and Best Screenplay.
       End credits include the following: “Special thank you to Robert Altman,” and, “The producers wish to thank: The city of Montreal; Hotel La Citadelle; Lindsley Parsons; Brasserie O’Keefe Ltée.; Jeff Silberman; Ellen Windheim; Shelly Creditor; Produits Montjoie Inc.; Joe Goossen; Interbake; Lefranc & Bourgeois; Cantel Inc.; Les Fourrures McComber Inc.; Rowntree MacKintosh Canada Inc.; Lucas Joalliers Céateurs.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Cue
15 Apr 1977.
---
Daily Variety
23 Jun 1987.
---
Daily Variety
4 Apr 1988
p. 3, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Nov 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 May 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Apr 1988
p. 3, 30.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
31 May 1987
p. 22.
Los Angeles Times
19 May 1988
p. 1.
New York Times
15 Apr 1988
p. 21.
Variety
20 May 1987
p. 21, 33.
Variety
13 Apr 1988
p. 13.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Alive Films Presents
A Pfeiffer/Blocker Production
A Film by Alan Rudolph
In association with Nelson Entertainment
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam trainee
Spec stills
Still photog
Still photog
Key/Dolly grip
1st grip
Best boy
Best boy
Elec
Grip equip
Elec equip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Variations on Matisse, Cezanne and Modigliani by
Art dept coord
Asst art dir
Art dept asst
Hart's paintings
Asst
Hart's sketches
Artist liaison
Nathalie's backdrop
Eiffel Towers
Eiffel Towers
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
Artist
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Set dresser
Asst prop
Prop maker
Prop buyer
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Warehouseman
Scenic painter
Scenic painter
Set painter
Set painter
Head carpenter
Carpenter
COSTUMES
Ms. Bujold's ward
Dresser
Costumer
Asst costumer
Ward asst
MUSIC
Songs performed by
Violin, Orchestre Moderne
Piano, Orchestre Moderne
Acoustic electric & bass, Orchestre Moderne
Violin, mandolin & guitar, Orchestre Moderne
Vibes, marimba & snare drum, Orchestre Moderne
Drum machine, Orchestre Moderne
Piano, Orchestre Moderne
Trumpet, electronics, Orchestre Moderne
SOUND
Prod sd
Prod sd
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Asst prod sd
Mixer [Re-rec]
Rec [Re-rec]
Projectionist [Re-rec]
Rec studio
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff tech
Title des
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hair stylist
Hairdresser
Asst makeup
Asst hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod exec
Prod consultant
Unit mgr
Scr supv
Los Angeles coord
Casting assoc
Prod secy
Prod accountant
Casting - Montreal
Casting asst - Montreal
Casting asst - Montreal
Unit pub
Loc mgr
Transportation coord
Asst unit mgr
Loc scout
Loc scout
Picture car coord
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Craft services
Driver
Driver
Research
Research
Prod research
Select paintings courtesy of
Select paintings courtesy of
Select paintings courtesy of
Select paintings courtesy of
Select paintings courtesy of
Framing and art handling
Completion bond
Tech crew
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stand-in
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Timer [Consolidated Film Industries]
Loc developing & processing
Timer [Sonolab]
SOURCES
SONGS
"Parlez-Moi D'Amour," performed by CharlElie Couture, written by Jean Lenoir, produced by Mark Isham
"Paris La Nuit/Selavy," performed by CharlElie Couture, written by CharlElie Couture
"I Swear I Do," performed by CharlElie Couture, written by CharlElie Couture
+
SONGS
"Parlez-Moi D'Amour," performed by CharlElie Couture, written by Jean Lenoir, produced by Mark Isham
"Paris La Nuit/Selavy," performed by CharlElie Couture, written by CharlElie Couture
"I Swear I Do," performed by CharlElie Couture, written by CharlElie Couture
"Dada Je Suis," performed by CharlElie Couture, written by CharlElie Couture
"Parlez-Moi D'Amour," performed by Lucienne Boyer, written by Jean Lenoir, courtesy of E.M.I. Pathé Marconi/Capitol Records Inc.
"Really The Blues," performed by Sidney Bechet, written by Milton Mezzrow, courtesy of RCA Records
"Dans Les Bouges La Nuit," performed by Mistinguett, courtesy of E.M.I. Pathé Marconi/Capitol Records Inc.
"Love Is A Dreamer," performed by Josephine Baker, written by B. Green & S. H. Stept, courtesy of E.M.I. Pathé Marconi/Capitol Records Inc.
"Sonatina - Allegro," performed by R. Erickson & N. Schwartz, written by George Antheil, courtesy of Orion Records.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 April 1988
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 15 April 1988
Los Angeles opening: 20 May 1988 at the Laemmle's Music Hall
Production Date:
May--June 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Alive Films, Inc., and Nelson Entertainment, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 July 1988
Copyright Number:
PA388538
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Cameras & lenses - JDC of America
Duration(in mins):
128
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Nick Hart is an American expatriate in 1920s Paris, France. Although painting is his passion, he earns a small income drawing cartoons for his friend Oiseau’s gossip column in the Chicago Tribune. One day, at a café popular with expatriates, Nick notices Rachel, a beautiful young woman, with her husband, Bertram Stone. Nick asks Oiseau about Stone, and learns that he is a wealthy entrepreneur who once studied to be an escape artist under Harry Houdini. Oiseau introduces Nick to the couple. When Stone comments on his wife’s beauty, Nick coolly insults her. Later, Rachel finds Nick at a bar. Although they pretended to be strangers at the café, they are actually estranged spouses, who never divorced. Rachel tries to atone for leaving Nick by giving him one of her expensive diamond earrings. Nick claims not to want her money, but takes the earring anyway. Later, Libby Valentin, who represents Nick’s paintings, suggests that he meet Nathalie de Ville, a wealthy woman who plans to avenge her husband’s infidelity by stealing three of his most valuable paintings and fleeing to America. Nathalie wants to pay someone to forge copies of the paintings, so Mr. de Ville will not know they are missing. Although Nick’s father was a master forger, he is morally opposed to painting fakes. He and Oiseau go to a party at the home of fellow expatriate Gertrude Stein. There, Nick chats with morose novelist Ernest Hemingway. Nick sees Rachel, and they argue. When Bertram Stone overhears and ridicules Nick, Rachel laughs, and Nick slaps her. Bertram challenges Nick to a boxing ... +


Nick Hart is an American expatriate in 1920s Paris, France. Although painting is his passion, he earns a small income drawing cartoons for his friend Oiseau’s gossip column in the Chicago Tribune. One day, at a café popular with expatriates, Nick notices Rachel, a beautiful young woman, with her husband, Bertram Stone. Nick asks Oiseau about Stone, and learns that he is a wealthy entrepreneur who once studied to be an escape artist under Harry Houdini. Oiseau introduces Nick to the couple. When Stone comments on his wife’s beauty, Nick coolly insults her. Later, Rachel finds Nick at a bar. Although they pretended to be strangers at the café, they are actually estranged spouses, who never divorced. Rachel tries to atone for leaving Nick by giving him one of her expensive diamond earrings. Nick claims not to want her money, but takes the earring anyway. Later, Libby Valentin, who represents Nick’s paintings, suggests that he meet Nathalie de Ville, a wealthy woman who plans to avenge her husband’s infidelity by stealing three of his most valuable paintings and fleeing to America. Nathalie wants to pay someone to forge copies of the paintings, so Mr. de Ville will not know they are missing. Although Nick’s father was a master forger, he is morally opposed to painting fakes. He and Oiseau go to a party at the home of fellow expatriate Gertrude Stein. There, Nick chats with morose novelist Ernest Hemingway. Nick sees Rachel, and they argue. When Bertram Stone overhears and ridicules Nick, Rachel laughs, and Nick slaps her. Bertram challenges Nick to a boxing match, and the two set a date. When Nick is forced to leave of the party, Nathalie de Ville offers him a ride home, and entices him to forge the three paintings she plans to steal from her husband. Nathalie asks Nick if he has ever been heartbroken, and he tells her yes. They discuss the importance of trust in relationships, and make love. Suffering in her marriage to the controlling and abusive Stone, Rachel goes to Nick’s apartment and tries to explain why she left him back in Chicago, Illinois. At the time, Nick worked constantly, and Rachel needed more out of a relationship. She fled to New York City, where she was unable to take care of herself, but was rescued by Stone. Rachel kisses Nick, but he refuses to rekindle their romance if she will not leave her current husband. Days later, Stone beats Nick in the boxing match. Ernest Hemingway is enthralled by their romantic rivalry, and inspired to write about it. Nathalie de Ville finds Nick and informs him that her husband died unexpectedly. She no longer needs the copies she commissioned, but he has painted all three, and demands the money she owes him. Instead, she sends thugs to raid his apartment. They steal Nick’s copies, but not the originals. Nick devises a scheme to sell the valuable paintings to Stone, through Libby Valentin. Stone buys them for $3,000, and purchases one of Nick’s paintings as well. Meanwhile, Nick seduces Rachel, who admits she is unhappy in her marriage. Stone holds an exhibition of his vast collection of modern art. Critics and socialites, including Nathalie de Ville, attend. When Nathalie sees the Cézanne, Matisse, and Modigliani paintings he bought from Libby, she tells Stone they must be fakes, because she recently donated the originals to an American museum. Stone is humiliated. At first, he argues that the paintings have value simply because he paid money for them, but he throws one of them in the fire, and destroys the other two with a knife. Stone retaliates against Libby by sending thugs to destroy all the artwork in her gallery. Oiseau, who has grown tired of the expatriate scene, urges Nick to come with him to Los Angeles, California, where they will receive higher pay in the movie industry. To break his contract with the Chicago Tribune, Oiseau fakes his own death. Newspapers publish his obituary, and report that he committed suicide. Nick agrees to go with Oiseau to Los Angeles, and persuades Rachel to join them. The night before they plan to leave, Stone finds Nick and Rachel on the street and threatens Rachel at gunpoint. Nick wrestles away the gun, and Rachel throws it in the river. Stone, who cannot swim, jumps into the water, to his death. Nick pulls him out but is unable to revive him, and finds Rachel has disappeared. He sneaks into the funeral parlor where Oiseau’s casket lies, and places Stone’s body in the empty casket. The next day, he and Oiseau, disguised as a woman, observe “Oiseau’s” funeral from afar. Nick imagines Stone emerging from the coffin, in an escape artist trick. Sometime later, Nick and Oiseau arrive in New York City, on their way to Los Angeles. They stop at the newly opened Museum of Modern Art, and see Nick’s copies of the ruined Matisse, Modigliani, and Cézanne paintings on the walls. Rachel surprises Nick at the museum, and joins him and Oiseau as they catch the train to Los Angeles. +

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

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