29th Street (1991)

R | 101 mins | Comedy | 1 November 1991

Director:

George Gallo

Writer:

George Gallo

Producer:

David Permut

Cinematographer:

Steven Fierberg

Editor:

Kaja Fehr

Production Designer:

Robert Ziembicki

Production Company:

Twentieth Century Fox
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HISTORY

End credits include the following statements: "This film is dedicated to the loving memory of Mr. Frank Pesce, Sr., known as "Frankie Fish" on 29th Street, James Franciscus, and my mother Edith Tobias Gallo"; and "Special thanks to: The one and only Frank Pesce; Don Simpson; Rick Foster; The city and people of Wilmington, North Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina Film Commission; The city and people of Charlotte, North Carolina; National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK); The Carolco Studios Inc."
       Over opening credits and into the first scenes of the film, the following voice-over narration is heard from character Frank Pesce, Jr.: “Dear God in Heaven, it’s me, Frankie. Look, I know I probably ain’t one of your favorite people down here, and I done some bad things here and there, and I know I’ve been asking for a lot of favors lately, too, so maybe I’ve used most of mine up. I know you probably tried to help me out with this lottery thing tonight, but the way things are goin’ it doesn’t look as if it’s gonna work out, so I’m askin’ one more favor . . . please, don’t add insult to injury, here God, please, I’m begging you. I don’t want to win the lottery. I don’t want to win the lottery. I don’t want to win the lottery. I don’t want to win the lottery . . .” Voice-over from Frank, Jr. continues intermittently through the film, and the film concludes with this voice-over from Frank, Jr.: “From time to time I think back on [my friend] Rocky Sav’s theory of life, you know, you’re born, you grow old, and you ... More Less

End credits include the following statements: "This film is dedicated to the loving memory of Mr. Frank Pesce, Sr., known as "Frankie Fish" on 29th Street, James Franciscus, and my mother Edith Tobias Gallo"; and "Special thanks to: The one and only Frank Pesce; Don Simpson; Rick Foster; The city and people of Wilmington, North Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina Film Commission; The city and people of Charlotte, North Carolina; National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK); The Carolco Studios Inc."
       Over opening credits and into the first scenes of the film, the following voice-over narration is heard from character Frank Pesce, Jr.: “Dear God in Heaven, it’s me, Frankie. Look, I know I probably ain’t one of your favorite people down here, and I done some bad things here and there, and I know I’ve been asking for a lot of favors lately, too, so maybe I’ve used most of mine up. I know you probably tried to help me out with this lottery thing tonight, but the way things are goin’ it doesn’t look as if it’s gonna work out, so I’m askin’ one more favor . . . please, don’t add insult to injury, here God, please, I’m begging you. I don’t want to win the lottery. I don’t want to win the lottery. I don’t want to win the lottery. I don’t want to win the lottery . . .” Voice-over from Frank, Jr. continues intermittently through the film, and the film concludes with this voice-over from Frank, Jr.: “From time to time I think back on [my friend] Rocky Sav’s theory of life, you know, you’re born, you grow old, and you die. Maybe that’s all there is to it. We just keep making it more complicated than we need to. My father’s gone now, but I remember how years later when we were up at the new house on Glen Cove, overlooking his new lawn of Kentucky blue grass about half the size of a football field, I said to Him, ‘I guess there’s a happy ending for us, after all.’ ‘Happy ending?’ he said, ‘I wouldn’t have it any other way.’”
       29th Street was first pitched to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists (MGM/UA), according to Martin Grove’s 24 Oct 1991 “Hollywood Report" HR column. However, according to Martin Grove’s 25 Oct 1991 column, two substantial glitches arose. Frank Pesce, Jr. had granted actor James Franciscus fifty-one percent of the film rights in return for a loan; and, the project was already under development at Paramount Pictures under producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. Simpson and Bruckheimer had prepared a script “that really didn’t work.” Paramount put the project in “turnaround,” and, according to producer David Permut, “Don [Simpson] did us an enormous favor and helped out on what was essentially a rather high turnaround cost . . . that’s the reason Don Simpson’s name is on the screen when we thanked him at the end of the movie.”
       According to the 22 Oct 1990 DV, production got underway that day in Wilmington, NC. According to studio production notes in AMPAS library files, two weeks were spent shooting on the backlot New York street sets at Carolco Studio lot in that city. Other locations included The Carolina Apartments, the Cape Fear Hotel, the Old Choice Fashion Building, the Dove Meadows Apartments (which doubled as the exterior of the Pesce house), Old Wilmington Airport, and several private residences used to film practical interiors. The Old Coliseum in Charlotte, NC, stood in for New York City’s Madison Square Garden. These scenes of the lottery drawing required over 3,000 extras, and were the final scenes to be shot. The 20 Dec 1990 DV reported the production had wrapped. Production notes state the shooting schedule lasted eight weeks.
       The 23 Oct 1990 HR noted that Twentieth Century Fox would handle domestic distribution, and that Los Angeles, CA-based Filmstar, Inc., a finance and distribution company, would handle foreign distribution for the film.
       The 12 Sep 1991 HR reported that Twentieth Century Fox had filed a $9.4 million dollar suit against Filmstar, Inc., alleging that Filmstar failed to live up to its agreement to jointly finance three films, The Five Heartbeats (1991, see entry), Love Potion # 9 (1992, see entry) and 29th Street. According to Fox, Filmstar was to receive “certain exclusive distribution rights” outside the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States for a term of twenty years in exchange for financing a minimum forty percent of the negative costs on these films. As of the writing of this note in May 2015, the outcome of the suit has not been determined.
       In his 24 Oct 1991 “Hollywood Report" column in HR, Martin Grove reported that the cost of the film was “under $10 million.”
       The 3 Oct 1991 LAT “Morning Report” column mentioned that the film had been selected to open the 27th Chicago (IL) International Film Festival on 11 Oct 1991.
       The film opened on 1 Nov 1991 on approximately 130 screens in eight key cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, PA, and Boston, MA, according to Martin Grove’s 28 Oct 1991 “Hollywood Report” HR column and an item in the 21 Oct 1991 HR. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 Oct 1990.
---
Daily Variety
20 Dec 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Sep 1991
p. 1, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Oct 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Oct 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
3 Oct 1991
Calendar, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
1 Nov 1991
p. 8.
New York Times
1 Nov 1991
p. 14.
Variety
14 Oct 1991
pp. 244-245.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A David Permut Production
A George Gallo Film
Produced and released by Twentieth Century Fox
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Wrt for the screen by
Based on a story by
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
"B" cam op
"B" cam asst
Gaffer
Electric best boy
Elec
Pre-rig gaffer
Pre-rig gaffer
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Rigging grip
Rigging grip
Rigging grip
Grip
Still photog
Cranes and dollies by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst to prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Prop master
Asst to set dec
On-set dresser
Head draftsman
Leadman
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Asst const coord
Shop foreman
Head painter
Foreman
Const laborer
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Const laborer
Const laborer
Const laborer
Const buyer
Paint foreman
Painter
Painter
Painter
Painter
Painter
Painter
Painter
Standby painter
Plasterer
Plasterer
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Women`s cost
Tailor
Seamstress
MUSIC
Mus composed by
Mus ed
Mus contractor
Concert master
Mus scoring mixer
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cableman
Cable wrangler
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
ADR ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Asst eff
Asst eff
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Key makeup
Makeup asst
Makeup asst
Key hairstylist
Ms. Kazan's hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Office prod asst
Asst to Mr. Permut
Asst to Mr. Gallo
Asst to assoc prods
Asst to Mr. LaPaglia
Casting assoc
Events coord
Dial coach
Prod supv
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Key prod asst
Set prod asst
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
"Behind the Scenes of 29th Street" video
Video asst
Extras casting
Extras casting
Asst extras casting
Asst extras casting
Asst extras casting
Anima trainer
Honeywagon driver
Picture cars coord
Prod van driver
Mr. Aiello's driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Craft services
Asst craft services
Asst craft services
Caterer
Catering asst
Catering asst
Catering asst
First aid
STAND INS
Vinnie's stunt double
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on a story by Frank Pesce & James Franciscus.
SONGS
“The Good Life,” written by Sacha Distel and Jack Reardon, performed by Tony Bennett, courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
“I Hear You Knocking,” written by Dave Bartholomew and Pearl King, performed by Smiley Lewis, courtesy of EMI Records USA, a division of Capitol Records, Inc., by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
“In The Summertime,” written by Ray Dorset, performed by Mungo Jerry, courtesy of Castle Communications P.L.C
+
SONGS
“The Good Life,” written by Sacha Distel and Jack Reardon, performed by Tony Bennett, courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
“I Hear You Knocking,” written by Dave Bartholomew and Pearl King, performed by Smiley Lewis, courtesy of EMI Records USA, a division of Capitol Records, Inc., by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
“In The Summertime,” written by Ray Dorset, performed by Mungo Jerry, courtesy of Castle Communications P.L.C
“Little Latin Lupe Lu,” written by Bill Medley, performed by The Righteous Brothers, courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc
“Unforgettable,” written by Irving Gordon, performed by Dinah Washington, courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc
“Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu),” written by Domenico Modugno, Franco Migliacci and Mitchell Parish, performed by Dean Martin, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc., by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
“Stranger In A Strange Land,” written by Leon Russell and Don Preston, performed by Leon Russell, courtesy of DCC Compact Classics, by arrangement with Celebrity Licensing, Inc
“Just In Time,” written by Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Jule Styne, performed by Tony Bennett, courtesy of Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
“O Holy Night,” written by John Sullivan Dwight and Adolphe Adam, performed by Bing Crosby, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc., by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
“The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, George Weiss, Albert Stanton, Solomon Linda and Paul Campbell, performed by The Tokens, courtesy of the RCA Records Label of BMG Music
“(I’ve Got A Gal In Kalamazoo),” written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren, performed by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra
“Money (That’s What I Want),” written by Janie Bradford and Berry Gordy, Jr., performed by Barrett Strong, courtesy of Motown Record Company, L.P
“Italian Concerto,” written by J.S. Bach, performed by Conrad Andriani
“Put On A Happy Face,” written by Lee Adams and Charles Strouse, performed by Tony Bennett, courtesy of Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
1 November 1991
Premiere Information:
Chicago International Film Festival: 11 October 1991
Los Angeles and New York openings: 1 November 1991
Production Date:
22 October--mid December 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
9 October 1991
Copyright Number:
PA537999
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® Cameras & Lenses
Duration(in mins):
101
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31377
SYNOPSIS

At Madison Square Garden in New York City on Christmas Eve, 1976, Frank Pesce, Jr. attends the Empire Stakes, the first New York State Lottery drawing. An usherette, takes him to the six seats reserved for Frank, Jr. and his family, but he is all alone. TV and radio show host, Joe Franklin, Mr. “Memory Lane” himself, is introduced to announce “Mr. Frank Pesce” as winner of the $6.2 million prize. Frank, Jr. removes his nametag and leaves the arena. Outside in the snow, he stops in front of a Catholic church and curses at God for giving him the lottery ticket. When Father Lowery comes out to see what is going on, Frank, Jr. throws snowballs at him and demands the priest go back inside. In his rage, his snowballs target a plastic Manger scene displayed in front of the church, and several of the figures are damaged. Police arrive and take Frank, Jr. into custody. He asks to be released because he does not have much time, and Father Lowery agrees to drop charges. Sergeant Tartaglia has checked up on Frank. His brother is a cop, and Frank has no priors, but he asks, “It’s Christmas Eve, don’t you belong somewhere?” He orders Frank’s handcuffs removed, just as word of his winnings comes over television. Frank asks Tartaglia to turn off the TV. Astonished, Sgt. Tartaglia tells Frank he will remain in custody until he can make some sense out of his story. He relents, and begins to explain from the beginning, “See, I got this curse . . .” He ... +


At Madison Square Garden in New York City on Christmas Eve, 1976, Frank Pesce, Jr. attends the Empire Stakes, the first New York State Lottery drawing. An usherette, takes him to the six seats reserved for Frank, Jr. and his family, but he is all alone. TV and radio show host, Joe Franklin, Mr. “Memory Lane” himself, is introduced to announce “Mr. Frank Pesce” as winner of the $6.2 million prize. Frank, Jr. removes his nametag and leaves the arena. Outside in the snow, he stops in front of a Catholic church and curses at God for giving him the lottery ticket. When Father Lowery comes out to see what is going on, Frank, Jr. throws snowballs at him and demands the priest go back inside. In his rage, his snowballs target a plastic Manger scene displayed in front of the church, and several of the figures are damaged. Police arrive and take Frank, Jr. into custody. He asks to be released because he does not have much time, and Father Lowery agrees to drop charges. Sergeant Tartaglia has checked up on Frank. His brother is a cop, and Frank has no priors, but he asks, “It’s Christmas Eve, don’t you belong somewhere?” He orders Frank’s handcuffs removed, just as word of his winnings comes over television. Frank asks Tartaglia to turn off the TV. Astonished, Sgt. Tartaglia tells Frank he will remain in custody until he can make some sense out of his story. He relents, and begins to explain from the beginning, “See, I got this curse . . .” He has been lucky since the day he was born. He was scheduled to be born in Lincoln Hospital, but his mother went into labor at a pool hall, and she was transported to Bellevue Hospital on 29th Street instead. That very night, Lincoln Hospital almost burned to the ground. As a young boy in 1954 with his family on their way to Radio City Music Hall to see The Student Prince, Frank notices an electric light crawling news banner outside a building. He tells his father, Frank, Sr., that he wants his name to be up there one day. Frank, Sr. tells his son that only very big people get their names in lights. In his neighborhood, there were two ways to get ahead: the right way, and the fast way, and for Frank, Jr., the fast way looked attractive. He notices mobster Louie Tucci, and although his father warns him not to get involved with Tucci, Frank, Jr. admires the gangster’s expensive car. Although his father has warned him off Tucci, the boy observes that Frank, Sr. spends a lot of time with the criminal. Frank, Sr. tells his son it is “business,” and cryptically adds that if he spent less time with Tucci he’d have to spend even more time with him. One day, while playing with his friend Jimmy Vitello, who is the son of another gangster, Frank, Jr. finds an expensive camera. The boys take it to Irv’s Pawnshop and are offered five dollars. Jimmy Vitello bellies up to the pawnbroker and asks, “Do you know who my father is?” and Irv ups his offer to ten dollars. Years later, Vito Pesce, Frank, Jr.’s older brother, graduates from the New York Police Academy. While Frank, Jr. hangs out in the streets with his friends, Frank, Sr. is “busting his ass” as a truck driver after losing his own trucking company. While Frank, Jr. wants to become an astronaut, his father only wants to move the family from their Little Italy tenement to a house in Queens with a lawn out front. He chastises his son for not living in reality, but Frank, Jr. insists his father’s dreams are too small. By the time Frank, Jr. is eighteen, the family had moved to Queens, and the Vietnam War was raging. He and his friends register with Selective Service for the military draft. Although called up for service, Frank, Jr. is discharged as a “calculated risk” because the Army thinks he may be mentally ill. His father is annoyed over the embarrassment to the family, and also because now Frank, Jr. will never be able to qualify for a government job. However, Frank, Jr. does get a city job at the Penn Station information call center. There he meets Maria Rios. But he gets fired for yelling at callers and being too familiar with his co-worker, Maria. Frank, Sr. objects to his son dating Maria because, “historically, Puerto Ricans hate Italians,” and if he goes to Spanish Harlem he will get hurt. That night, after taking Maria home and kissing her goodnight, Frank, Jr. is stabbed by Maria’s brother. But his luck holds. While repairing his wound, the doctor discovers a cancerous tumor on one of Frank, Jr.’s ribs, and he recovers fully because the tumor was caught in time. Narcoleptic gambler “Philly the Nap” tells Frank, Jr. that he has “the luck,” but does not know what to do with it. Frank, Jr. takes a job as a doorman at an illegal gambling joint run by mobsters, and earns enough to go in with his policeman brother on a new car. Vito wants a white Buick with a white vinyl top. Instead, Frank, Jr. returns home with an Ivory Gold Mist colored Thunderbird convertible. Coming home from work, Frank, Jr. receives another lecture from his father about how he is doing nothing with his life. Then, looking at his newspaper, Frank, Sr. mentions that the lottery is coming to New York. In the kitchen, as his mother cooks dinner, Frank, Jr. learns that his father was laid off from his job. Illegally collecting unemployment compensation while working as the gambling joint doorman, Frank, Jr. takes his unemployment check to Irv the pawnbroker for cashing because the banks are closed for the Labor Day holiday. Irv agrees to cash the check, but only if Frank, Jr. buys something for at least ten dollars. When the pair of binoculars he selects only come to nine dollars, Frank. Jr. buys a dollar lottery ticket to make up the difference. That November, while riding the subway, Frank, Jr. reads the newspaper and discovers he is one of fifty finalists in the Lottery. He races home with the good news, only to have his father burst in thinking he is the Lottery finalist. But his father is disappointed when he discovers his son holds the finalist’s ticket. His friends take Frank, Jr. to a gambling house to see if he is also lucky with dice. There he shoots craps against Louie Tucci, and runs afoul of the hoodlum, when he rolls the dice and they land on top of each other—something no one has ever seen before. Tucci threatens to cut off Frank, Jr.’s hands if he does not leave immediately. With Frank, Sr. out of work, the boys and their father decide to collect insurance on the Thunderbird. They smash the windshield and abandon the car, certain it will be stripped by vandals. However, the car is recovered untouched, except for the windshield damage. With a $500 deductible, the Pesces have to shell out $380 for the windshield and forty dollars for the tow, $420 they do not have. Frank, Jr. tries to lose the car again, using wrecking yard owner, Cousin Leo, to dump the car in a lake. The plan almost succeeds, but before they can receive the insurance check, the car is recovered. Later, Frank, Sr. borrows $400 from Frank, Jr. to bet on a fight. He wins, but gambles his whole roll away. When he arrives home, father and son argue, and as Frank, Jr. goes inside, his father has a heart attack on the front lawn. Frank, Sr. recovers, and Frank, Jr. takes a job as a sales rep for a toy company. He buys a new car—the white Buick with the white vinyl roof his brother always wanted. Louie Tucci calls Frank, Jr. to a meeting, and offers to buy the lottery ticket for $10,000. At Philly the Nap’s club to have a drink before the lottery drawing, Frank, Jr. discovers that his father owes Louie Tucci ten thousand dollars when three of Tucci’s men come in and try to collect the debt from him. Frank, Jr. races home and tells his family he feels they should stay home as he intends to go to the drawing alone. In the ensuing argument with his father, Frank, Sr. tells his son he never wanted Frank, Jr. but his mother did. He begged Louie Tucci for a loan, and when he could not pay it back, Tucci took over his trucking company. Frank, Jr. walks out the door, as his father wails, “I am not a loser!” Frank, Jr. races to find Tucci, and is met by someone representing himself as one of Tucci’s men. Frank, Jr. offers the lottery ticket in exchange for what his father owes, and the promise that his father will not be hurt. As Frank, Jr. watches, the man goes to Tucci’s car, says something, and returns to say Tucci accepted the offer. Back at the police station, Frank Jr. finishes his story, and utters, “Lucky me.” He tells Tartaglia he just wants to go home and make sure his father is alright. He enters the house to find a congratulatory party underway. As he goes to tell his father what happened, Tucci and his thugs arrive. Frank, Sr. brags that because his son is a millionaire he will no longer have to borrow money from Tucci. He pulls an envelope from his pocket and hands over the $10,000 he owes Tucci, and over Frank, Jr.'s objection. Tucci takes the envelope and leaves. When Frank, Jr. tells his father that he handed over the lottery ticket to Tucci, Frank, Sr. reveals that he heard what happened at the club and figured out what his son would do. He called a friend, and in fact, Frank, Jr. gave the ticket to the friend, who never turned it over to Tucci. Frank, Sr. got the $10,000 from Jimmy Vitello, who figured he would be good for it with Frank, Jr.’s lottery winnings. As Frank, Jr. goes to the hallway to be alone, he runs into the man to whom he gave the ticket and asks, “What did you say?” The man respond that he merely wished Tucci a Merry Christmas. Frank, Sr. comes to thank him for what he did, and they embrace. Later, Frank Pesce, Jr.’s name shines in lights on a moving news banner. +

GENRE
Genre:
Sub-genre:
Action


Subject

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

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