Pass the Ammo (1988)

R | 91 mins | Comedy, Satire | 4 March 1988

Director:

David Beaird

Cinematographer:

Mark Irwin

Editor:

Bill Yahraus

Production Designer:

Dean Tschetter

Production Company:

Vista Organization Ltd.
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HISTORY

End credits state: “The Producers wish to thank the Arkansas Film Commission and the people of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.”
       Preceding opening credits, Tim Curry’s character, “Reverend Ray Porter,” says the following: “God made it all. He didn’t even make a mistake. He didn’t even think hard. God made this all in seven days. Wrote in pen and ink, didn’t erase a thing. Whoa look it! Now, the next time that you’re walking home in the cool of the night, and you look up into God’s own black velvet sky, and you see one of his stars shooting silvers trails through his ebony heavens, I want you to ask yourself one simple question: Who made this? I’m going to give you the answer … God made it, and He saw that it was good.” Opening credits list actor Leland Crooke’s character as “Sheriff LaBeaux,” while end credits list the character’s name as “Rascal Lebeaux.”
       Production notes in AMPAS library files state that in 1982, writers Neil and Joel Cohen “were struck by” the popularity of televangelists in the U.S. and wanted to write a film to reflect that specific phenomenon, and garnered interest from producers Mort Engelberg and Herb Jaffe.
       Referring to the film by the working title, Pass the Ammunition, the 29 Jan 1987 HR reported pre-production was underway in Arkansas with an anticipated start date of 17 Feb 1987. However, the 10 Mar 1987 HR production chart stated filming began 19 Feb 1987 in Eureka Springs, AR. Production designer Dean Tschetter and a team of fifty took approximately two ... More Less

End credits state: “The Producers wish to thank the Arkansas Film Commission and the people of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.”
       Preceding opening credits, Tim Curry’s character, “Reverend Ray Porter,” says the following: “God made it all. He didn’t even make a mistake. He didn’t even think hard. God made this all in seven days. Wrote in pen and ink, didn’t erase a thing. Whoa look it! Now, the next time that you’re walking home in the cool of the night, and you look up into God’s own black velvet sky, and you see one of his stars shooting silvers trails through his ebony heavens, I want you to ask yourself one simple question: Who made this? I’m going to give you the answer … God made it, and He saw that it was good.” Opening credits list actor Leland Crooke’s character as “Sheriff LaBeaux,” while end credits list the character’s name as “Rascal Lebeaux.”
       Production notes in AMPAS library files state that in 1982, writers Neil and Joel Cohen “were struck by” the popularity of televangelists in the U.S. and wanted to write a film to reflect that specific phenomenon, and garnered interest from producers Mort Engelberg and Herb Jaffe.
       Referring to the film by the working title, Pass the Ammunition, the 29 Jan 1987 HR reported pre-production was underway in Arkansas with an anticipated start date of 17 Feb 1987. However, the 10 Mar 1987 HR production chart stated filming began 19 Feb 1987 in Eureka Springs, AR. Production designer Dean Tschetter and a team of fifty took approximately two months to modify the 100-year-old Eureka Springs City Auditorium into the picture’s opulent television studio, “Tower of Bethlehem.” The 24 Feb 1987 HR stated the film’s budget was $6 million, while an article in the Oct 1987 edition of Opticmusic’s Film & Video Production listed the budget as $5 million. A number of local residents created a group called “The Concerned Citizens of Carroll County,” and protested during filming due to the picture’s unflattering representation of televangelists and “atrocious language.” The filming schedule in Eureka Springs was forty-two days.
       According to the 20 Oct 1987 HR, the picture was scheduled to screen at the MIFED International Film and Multimedia Market 29 Oct 1987 and 1 Nov 1987. As reported in the 28 Oct 1987 Var, Heron Communications filed a lawsuit against Vista Organization Ltd. regarding home video rights to the picture and nine additional Vista-produced films. While Heron claimed Vista was “attempting to renege on its commitment” due to a possible merger with Carolco Pictures, Vista chair Seymour Malamed was reported as saying there was never an agreement between Vista and Heron. At the time of this record, the outcome of this suit could not be determined. The following month, a 25 Nov 1987 LAT news item announced Carolco Pictures’s International Video Entertainment Inc. would purchase Vista Organization Home Video Corp. and the home video rights to ten Vista Organization Partnership L.P. films, including Pass the Ammo, for $38 million.
       Although the May 1987 edition of Box stated the film was planned to open in late 1987, production notes and the 24 Feb 1988 LAT announced the film was to be released in theaters 4 Mar 1988 throughout Los Angeles, CA, and Tucson, AZ.
       The picture opened 4 Mar 1988, as stated in the LAT review published that day. While reviews were mixed, the 7 Mar 1988 HR and 9 Mar 1988 Var noted that the timing of the film’s release was advantageous with regard to scandals associated with popular television evangelists, Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
May 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Feb 1987
p. 3, 9.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Mar 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 1988
p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
25 Nov 1987
Business, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
24 Feb 1988
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
4 Mar 1988
Calendar, p. 12.
Opticmusic’s Film & Video Production
Oct 1987
p. 12, 14.
Variety
28 Oct 1987
p. 40.
Variety
9 Mar 1988
p. 11.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
And
As Ray Porter
Also Starring:
As Sheriff LaBeaux
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
The Vista Organization Presents
A David Beaird Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Addl asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Line prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d unit cam op
2d unit 1st asst
Video coord
Video tech
Video tech
Video cam op
Video asst
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Asst set dec
Lead person
Set dresser
Propmaster
Asst propmaster
Const coord
Const foreman
Head plasterer
Scenic
Scenic
Sculptor
Sculptor
Sculptor
Sculptor
Sculptor
COSTUMES
Cost des
Key costumer
MUSIC
Mus eng
Band/Choir arr
SOUND
Sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Foley supv
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Walla ed
Walla ed
Asst sd ed
Dial rec
Post sd coord
Post sd coord
Post sd coord
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Ultra Stereo consultant
Digital audio post services by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Ray in Space/Main title des
DANCE
Dancer
Dancer
Dancer
Dancer
Dancer
Choreog
MAKEUP
Key make-up
Asst make-up
Key hair stylist
Asst hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Security coord
Prod coord
Accountant
Asst accountant
Post prod accountant
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Asst to Mr. Beaird
Loc mgr
Asst to the prod
Asst to the prod
Casting asst
Arkansas casting
Extra's wrangler
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation secy
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Honeywagon driver
Prod van driver
Craft services
Post prod facilities and equip
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Telecine colorist
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“You’re In Paradise Now,” music by David Newman, lyrics by Nan O`Byrne
“Sampson And Delilah,” music by David Newman, lyrics by Nan O`Byrne
“You’re A Policeman,” music by Jim Cushinery
+
SONGS
“You’re In Paradise Now,” music by David Newman, lyrics by Nan O`Byrne
“Sampson And Delilah,” music by David Newman, lyrics by Nan O`Byrne
“You’re A Policeman,” music by Jim Cushinery
“Lay Your Money Down For Jesus,” music and lyrics by John Cody and Paul Cody.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Pass the Ammunition
Release Date:
4 March 1988
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 4 March 1988
Production Date:
19 February--early to mid April 1987
Copyright Claimant:
The Vista Organization Partnership, L.P.
Copyright Date:
11 January 1988
Copyright Number:
PA0000409449
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Ultra-Stereo®
Color
Duration(in mins):
91
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28782
SYNOPSIS

In Eureka Springs, Arkansas, wealthy television evangelists Reverend Ray Porter and his wife, Darla, host their live satellite television program, “The Tower of Bethlehem,” from local station, KTB. Jesse Wilkes arrives in Eureka Springs to visit his girl friend, Claire. After welcoming Jesse to her farmhouse, Claire suggests they get married soon and become farmers together. Just then, Claire’s cousins, Arnold Limpet and Big Joe Becker, arrive after being released from prison. When Claire asks why they are visiting, Jesse tells her that he plans to break into the Tower of Bethlehem studio during the show, and steal the $50,000 that Porter swindled from Claire’s grandmother before her death. Arriving at the station, they meet their accomplice, studio employee Rickey Marcell, who guides them to the Accounting and Financial rooms. With handguns and rifles aimed at the money counters, Jesse, Big Joe, Arnold, Claire, and Rickey grab $300,000 worth of cash and jewelry. As Rickey opens the back safe, a silent alarm is triggered at the local police station. After insisting that Sheriff “Rascal” LaBeaux needs to be contacted about the robbery, Officer Eddie Depaul arrives at the studio parking lot as Rickey gets into the getaway van. Rickey shoots at Depaul, but misses. As the officers focus on Rickey, Jesse leads Claire and her cousins through the studio to find another way of escape. Finding an unguarded door, Jesse, Claire, Arnold, and Big Joe run onto the set where Porter and Darla are doing their program. Seeing the audience, Jesse takes the program hostage live on the air. Arnold goes to the control booth, and ... +


In Eureka Springs, Arkansas, wealthy television evangelists Reverend Ray Porter and his wife, Darla, host their live satellite television program, “The Tower of Bethlehem,” from local station, KTB. Jesse Wilkes arrives in Eureka Springs to visit his girl friend, Claire. After welcoming Jesse to her farmhouse, Claire suggests they get married soon and become farmers together. Just then, Claire’s cousins, Arnold Limpet and Big Joe Becker, arrive after being released from prison. When Claire asks why they are visiting, Jesse tells her that he plans to break into the Tower of Bethlehem studio during the show, and steal the $50,000 that Porter swindled from Claire’s grandmother before her death. Arriving at the station, they meet their accomplice, studio employee Rickey Marcell, who guides them to the Accounting and Financial rooms. With handguns and rifles aimed at the money counters, Jesse, Big Joe, Arnold, Claire, and Rickey grab $300,000 worth of cash and jewelry. As Rickey opens the back safe, a silent alarm is triggered at the local police station. After insisting that Sheriff “Rascal” LaBeaux needs to be contacted about the robbery, Officer Eddie Depaul arrives at the studio parking lot as Rickey gets into the getaway van. Rickey shoots at Depaul, but misses. As the officers focus on Rickey, Jesse leads Claire and her cousins through the studio to find another way of escape. Finding an unguarded door, Jesse, Claire, Arnold, and Big Joe run onto the set where Porter and Darla are doing their program. Seeing the audience, Jesse takes the program hostage live on the air. Arnold goes to the control booth, and orders technicians Lee and “Stonewall” Jack Myer to keep the cameras rolling. Stonewall readily agrees, as he knows the board of the Tower of Bethlehem ministry takes viewers’ money and lavishes it on themselves. At the police station, Sheriff LaBeaux arrives from a duck-hunting outing, and is updated on the televised hostage situation. Calling the Porters’ onstage telephone, LaBeaux tells Jesse he will continue watching the program if Jesse frees all hostages. However, Jesse hangs up on the sheriff. Claire implores Jesse to listen to LaBeaux and not get in more trouble. LaBeaux calls again and reasons with Jesse that he cannot watch all those people. Liking LaBeaux for keeping his promise of watching the program, Jesse lets the audience members and the women manning the pledge telephones go. Relieved, LaBeaux goes to KTB to get more information on Jesse and his accomplices. As he arrives, news reporters have set up outside, interviewing witnesses and reporting false leads about terrorists. From the makeshift command center in the studio lobby, LaBeaux again calls Jesse, asking him to free more people. After agreeing to let the band and male choral singers go free, Jesse addresses a camera and accuses the Porters of keeping donations for their personal benefit. To placate his followers, Porter places himself in front of a different camera and assures his viewers that he and Darla are doing righteous work. As the televised hostage situation continues, patrons at a local bar become furious with Jesse for hijacking their favorite television show. Forming a vigilante group, they organize themselves to invade the studio. Meanwhile, Jim Bob Collins, a major benefactor and member of the Tower of Bethlehem, arrives with the state Governor. Upset by the program’s takeover, Jim Bob orders the Governor to send in the National Guard, reminding him that it was money from him and his associates that put the Governor in office. The Governor assures Jim Bob he will order LaBeaux to take Jesse and the others by force. On stage, Porter and Darla become annoyed with one another and argue. Seeing the couple bickering, Claire urges a cameraman to zoom in. From the control booth, Stonewall turns up the volume up as Porter states the stolen money from The Tower of Bethlehem was small change compared to what they will make again from their followers’ continuing donations. Realizing his remarks have been broadcast, Porter reiterates to his audience that he and Darla are doing the Lord’s work. During Porter’s speech, Stonewall edits the feed by distorting Ray’s voice and making his head float. Later, the National Guard arrives and awaits the Governor’s directions, but LaBeaux threatens them to stay out of his way as he continues to safely take Jesse into custody. Inside, Jesse instructs Claire to tell viewers how Porter stole her grandmother’s $50,000 insurance policy. However, Porter insists that the policy was willingly signed over to him and the Tower of Bethlehem. He then turns to Jesse and tells him he should marry Claire and honor the sanctity of marriage. However, one of the choir angels, Christy Lynn, announces on air that she and Porter have had an affair. Looking into the camera, Porter states that he, too, is human, and has sinned. Upset over his betrayal, Darla slaps him. In response, Porter tells Darla she is a bad singer. Big Joe, smitten with Darla, asks her to sing a song he wrote about his respect for police officers. As Darla and Big Joe sing, law enforcement officers watch the performance on television, enjoying the tune. As Big Joe and Darla perform, Jesse and Claire plan to escape. Elsewhere, Jim Bob goes to see G. W. Wraith, a leader in The Tower of Bethlehem, and learns that the entire country is watching Jesse’s standoff. Embarrassed by the ordeal, Wraith tells Jim Bob to order the Governor to blow up the studio. As the National Guard prepares to attack, Jesse tells viewers that sending money to any television preacher will not bring peace to their souls. After his speech, Claire suggests they should give themselves up. Instead, Jesse asks Claire to marry him. Finding a wedding gown in the studio, Claire and Jesse ask Porter to conduct the ceremony. Suddenly, LaBeaux arrives. Empathizing with Jesse and his cause, LaBeaux tells everyone the Governor has ordered the National Guard to blow up the station. However, Jesse and Claire want to continue with the wedding. After Porter pronounces them husband and wife, the local bar vigilantes break into the studio through the back door, firing rifles and missiles. Believing the shots are coming from Jesse and Claire, a National Guard tank fires on the building, as the Governor calls for a backup helicopter with a bomb. During the commotion, LaBeaux leads Big Joe, Darla, Arnold, and the angel choir to safety, while Stonewall records Jesse and Claire escaping with a handheld camera. However, Claire’s dress gets caught, and as Jesse tries to free her, they are both shot in the chest and fall to the ground. Just then, the Governor’s helicopter arrives and bombs the studio. In the morning, the injured Arnold and Big Joe are arrested, but officers assure Big Joe they will take care of him after hearing his song. Porter sits in an ambulance as news cameras swarm Darla to hear her hostage story. Reporters also approach Stonewall about his incredible footage of Jesse and Claire’s deaths. While speaking to reporters, Stonewall glances at LaBeaux and nods toward a nearby hill. Through a pair of binoculars, LaBeaux sees Jesse and Claire running into the woods. Realizing they faked their deaths, LaBeaux happily lets them go. Jesse hands Claire $50,000 and promises to become a farmer with her. Overjoyed, Claire kisses her new husband. +

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

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