Tequila Sunrise (1988)

R | 154 mins | Drama, Romance | 2 December 1988

Directors:

Robert Towne, Dave Cass

Writer:

Robert Towne

Producer:

Thom Mount

Cinematographer:

Conrad L. Hall

Editor:

Claire Simpson

Production Designer:

Richard Sylbert

Production Company:

The Mount Company
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HISTORY

A 30 Nov 1981 DV news item announced that writer-director Robert Towne completed Tequila Sunrise, and was set to direct the picture with actor Warren Beatty in the starring role of “McKussic.” Several months later, a 10 Feb 1982 Var column reported the casting of Scott Glenn. At that time, Towne was under contract to Warner Bros., but he filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against the studio, regarding its handling of his directorial debut, Personal Best (1982, see entry), as announced in a 14 Apr 1982 DV article, and the dispute prompted production delays. Towne continued working on the script over the next year, according to an 8 Jun 1983 Var brief, but the project remained in limbo.
       Nearly two years later, the 31 May 1985 DV stated that the Ladd Co. had acquired the picture as a “carryover commitment” from Warner Bros., which had been its parent company until 1984. An 8 Mar 1988 DV article explained that the picture was a Ladd Co. property, but producer Alan Ladd, Jr., left the studio for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1985, and the picture reverted back to Warner Bros., where it was shelved for another few years.
       On 12 Aug 1987, Var announced that Tequila Sunrise was back in production with the recent casting of Mel Gibson and Michelle Pfeiffer, and filming was scheduled to begin in Jan 1988. A 7 Oct 1987 Var article reported that the project was resurrected by producer Thom Mount, whose studio, The Mount Company, ... More Less

A 30 Nov 1981 DV news item announced that writer-director Robert Towne completed Tequila Sunrise, and was set to direct the picture with actor Warren Beatty in the starring role of “McKussic.” Several months later, a 10 Feb 1982 Var column reported the casting of Scott Glenn. At that time, Towne was under contract to Warner Bros., but he filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against the studio, regarding its handling of his directorial debut, Personal Best (1982, see entry), as announced in a 14 Apr 1982 DV article, and the dispute prompted production delays. Towne continued working on the script over the next year, according to an 8 Jun 1983 Var brief, but the project remained in limbo.
       Nearly two years later, the 31 May 1985 DV stated that the Ladd Co. had acquired the picture as a “carryover commitment” from Warner Bros., which had been its parent company until 1984. An 8 Mar 1988 DV article explained that the picture was a Ladd Co. property, but producer Alan Ladd, Jr., left the studio for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1985, and the picture reverted back to Warner Bros., where it was shelved for another few years.
       On 12 Aug 1987, Var announced that Tequila Sunrise was back in production with the recent casting of Mel Gibson and Michelle Pfeiffer, and filming was scheduled to begin in Jan 1988. A 7 Oct 1987 Var article reported that the project was resurrected by producer Thom Mount, whose studio, The Mount Company, was set to co-finance the film with Cinema City Films. According to studio production notes in AMPAS library files, Towne showed Mount a new version of Tequila Sunrise in spring 1987, when he visited the set of Frantic (1988, see entry) to consult with his friend and former collaborator on Chinatown (1974, see entry), director Roman Polanski. Mount was producing Frantic at that time.
       Although Del Zamora and Esai Morales were cast in Mar 1988, as stated in the 2 Mar 1988 Var and the 28 Mar 1988 HR, neither actor appeared in final film. In addition, a 28 Dec 1988 LAT news item noted that Harrison Ford had at one time been offered the role of McKussic, but he had reservations about playing a drug dealer, and Los Angeles Lakers’ coach Pat Riley turned down the role of “Frescia” due to scheduling conflicts with the team.
       Principal photography began one month behind schedule on either 8 Feb 1988, as reported in Var production charts, or 15 Feb 1988, according to HR production charts. Locations included Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Venice, Santa Monica, and San Pedro, CA. Soundstages were constructed in a Santa Monica warehouse, where an exact duplicate of McKussic’s Manhattan Beach home was built, with a courtyard and Jacuzzi. Interiors of “Vallenari’s” Restaurant were also filmed at the warehouse.
       One month into production, screenwriter Peter Payton filed a lawsuit against Towne, claiming that he collaborated with the filmmaker on a treatment of Tequila Sunrise in 1980. As stated in an 18 Mar 1988 HR brief, Payton alleged that he wrote the first twenty-five pages of the script, and was promised onscreen credit as producer in return for waiving his credit as screenwriter. The outcome of the case remains undetermined, and Payton is not credited onscreen as writer or producer.
       According to a 17 Sep 1998 New Times (Phoenix) article, the film was made for $20 million and grossed $100 million worldwide.
       End credits include “Special thanks" to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept., "and of course Jerry and Luisa.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
30 Nov 1981.
---
Daily Variety
14 Apr 1982.
---
Daily Variety
27 May 1988.
---
Daily Variety
31 May 1985.
---
Daily Variety
8 Mar 1988
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Mar 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
2 Dec 1988
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
28 Dec 1988.
---
New Times (Phoenix)
17 Sep 1998.
---
New York Times
2 Dec 1988
p. 7.
Variety
10 Feb 1982.
---
Variety
8 Jun 1983.
---
Variety
12 Aug 1987.
---
Variety
7 Oct 1987.
---
Variety
2 Mar 1988.
---
Variety
30 Nov 1988
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. presents
a Mount Company production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
Dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam op
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Rigging gaffer
Key grip
Dolly grip
Dir of photog, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Set des
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus supervision by
Saxophone solos
Guitar solos
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
ADR mixer
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Prod mixer
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Foley
Foley
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff foreman
Opticals
Title des
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Post prod supv
Scr supv
Prod office coord
Prod controller
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Asst to Mr. Towne
Secy to Mr. Towne
Asst to Mr. Mount
Secy to Mr. Mount
Asst to Mr. Gibson
Prod assoc
Casting asst
Casting asst
Addl casting
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Prod aide
Prod aide
Prod aide
Prod aide
Prod aide
Craft service
Tech adv
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
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 player
Stunt player
Stunt player
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Color by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Surrender To Me (Love Theme from “Tequila Sunrise”)” performed by Ann Wilson & Robin Zander, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc. & Epic Records, produced by Richie Zito written by Richard Marx & Ross Vanelli
“Don’t Worry Baby,” performed by The Everly Bros, with The Beach Boys, courtesy of PolyGram Records, produced by Don & Phil Everly, associate producer Larrie Londin, written by Brian Wilson & Roger Christian
“Do You Believe In Shame?,” performed by Duran Duran, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc. & EMI Records, Ltd. written by John Taylor, Simon LeBon & Nick Rhodes
+
SONGS
“Surrender To Me (Love Theme from “Tequila Sunrise”)” performed by Ann Wilson & Robin Zander, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc. & Epic Records, produced by Richie Zito written by Richard Marx & Ross Vanelli
“Don’t Worry Baby,” performed by The Everly Bros, with The Beach Boys, courtesy of PolyGram Records, produced by Don & Phil Everly, associate producer Larrie Londin, written by Brian Wilson & Roger Christian
“Do You Believe In Shame?,” performed by Duran Duran, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc. & EMI Records, Ltd. written by John Taylor, Simon LeBon & Nick Rhodes
“Dead On The Money,” performed by Andy Taylor, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc., produced by Andy Taylor, written by Steve Diamond & Todd Cerney
“Recurring Dream,” performed by Crowded House, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc., produced by Mitchell Froom, written by Neil Finn, Nick Seymour, Paul Hester & Craig Hooper
“Unsubstantiated,” performed by The Church, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc., written by Steven Kilbey, Peter Koppes, Marty Willson-Piper & Richard Ploog
“Give A Little Love,” performed by Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers, courtesy of EMI-USA, a division of Capitol Records, Inc., written by Albert Hammond & Diane Warren
“Beyond The Sea,” performed by Bobby Darin, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products, written by Jack Lawrence & Charles Trenet
“Las Mañanitas, performed by El Mariachi Vargas, courtesy of BMG Music International.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
2 December 1988
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 2 December 1988
Production Date:
began early-mid February 1988
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
28 February 1989
Copyright Number:
PA409355
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
154
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29471
SYNOPSIS

In the South Bay beach community of Los Angeles County, California, a former cocaine trafficker named Dale “Mac” McKussic agrees to help a lawyer friend with a small-time drug deal, even though he is determined to end his drug career and start a legitimate business. At the hotel room transaction, Mac is surprised by the arrival of his childhood friend, Nick Frescia, who is an undercover police officer. Concealing his disappointment at Mac’s re-entry into the drug trade, Nick refers to Mac as an unwelcome stranger and orders him to leave, to protect him from being arrested. Before Mac steps into the hallway, he secretly retrieves the cocaine he stashed away in the toilet, fearing his lawyer friend will prosecute Nick for planting evidence. The absence of drugs at the scene makes Nick’s bust a failure, and he is enraged that his new colleague, federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Hal Maguire, knew about his friendship with Mac and set up the investigation to test Nick’s loyalty. Nick, who was recently promoted to lieutenant, is displeased by the interference of government agents, and believes Maguire’s pursuit of Mac McKussic is misguided. Meeting Maguire in a van parked outside the upscale Vallenari Restaurant, Nick learns that his nemesis is conducting surveillance of Mac, who frequents the establishment. When Maguire insists Mac is orchestrating drug deals, Nick joins his friend inside and realizes Mac’s only enterprise is the seduction of the restaurant’s owner, Jo Ann Vallenari. Although Nick and Mac promise to stay out of each other’s affairs, Nick remains suspicious of his friend, and intrigued by Jo Ann. Looking for an opportunity ... +


In the South Bay beach community of Los Angeles County, California, a former cocaine trafficker named Dale “Mac” McKussic agrees to help a lawyer friend with a small-time drug deal, even though he is determined to end his drug career and start a legitimate business. At the hotel room transaction, Mac is surprised by the arrival of his childhood friend, Nick Frescia, who is an undercover police officer. Concealing his disappointment at Mac’s re-entry into the drug trade, Nick refers to Mac as an unwelcome stranger and orders him to leave, to protect him from being arrested. Before Mac steps into the hallway, he secretly retrieves the cocaine he stashed away in the toilet, fearing his lawyer friend will prosecute Nick for planting evidence. The absence of drugs at the scene makes Nick’s bust a failure, and he is enraged that his new colleague, federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Hal Maguire, knew about his friendship with Mac and set up the investigation to test Nick’s loyalty. Nick, who was recently promoted to lieutenant, is displeased by the interference of government agents, and believes Maguire’s pursuit of Mac McKussic is misguided. Meeting Maguire in a van parked outside the upscale Vallenari Restaurant, Nick learns that his nemesis is conducting surveillance of Mac, who frequents the establishment. When Maguire insists Mac is orchestrating drug deals, Nick joins his friend inside and realizes Mac’s only enterprise is the seduction of the restaurant’s owner, Jo Ann Vallenari. Although Nick and Mac promise to stay out of each other’s affairs, Nick remains suspicious of his friend, and intrigued by Jo Ann. Looking for an opportunity to see her again, and ask about Mac, Nick secretly orders his officers to detain her Italian chef, Nino, for drunk driving. The next day at the police station, Nick continues to argue with Hal Maguire, and the agent reveals he is on assignment to capture a mysterious Mexican drug lord named Carlos. The outlaw’s identity has remained secret because he has never been seen by his pursuers, but he is known to be one of Mac’s closest associates. Referring to news from an informant, Maguire announces that Carlos is plotting a $15 million cocaine deal, and Mac will host a party for Carlos, catered by Jo Ann’s restaurant. Although Maguire refuses to name his informant, Nick grudgingly agrees to help capture Carlos, on condition Mac is exonerated. Sometime later, Jo Ann arrives at the police station to retrieve her chef, Nino. When Maguire blackmails Jo Ann, threatening to deport Nino if she does not provide information about Mac, Nick comes to her rescue and releases Nino. That evening, Nick visits Vallenari Restaurant for a romantic supper, tells Jo Ann about Mac’s past, and explains that Mac will ask her to cater an event for the enigmatic drug lord, Carlos. When Nick asks Jo Ann to help identify the outlaw, she balks at spying on her clients, but she is enticed by Nick’s charm. Meanwhile, Mac returns home from his construction job to find his wayward cousin, Greg Lindroff, loitering in the beach house with drugs and beautiful women. The young man encourages Mac to reestablish his cocaine empire, but Mac remains resolute and grooms himself for another night at Vallenari Restaurant. When Greg offers to go to the eatery first, so he can deliver Mac’s order for catering services, he sees Nick and Jo Ann together, leaves the document on the bar, and races back to the beach house to tell Mac, who is heartbroken. Back at Vallenari’s, Jo Ann overlooks the order and makes love to Nick. The next day, Jo Ann finally reads the request and tells Nick the date and time of the party, but the event turns out to be a surprise birthday celebration for Mac’s young son, Cody, and Nick is blamed for a fruitless stakeout yet again. As Jo Ann leaves, Mac wonders aloud about the poorly concealed undercover police officers in attendance, and Jo Ann admits that police are using him to capture Carlos. Sometime later, Jo Ann receives an envelope filled with cash from Mac and believes he is overpaying her for the party to buy back her affections. Enraged, she drives to Mac’s beach house and finds him at his son’s surfing competition, where he explains the envelope was mistakenly switched with a payment for Cody’s mother. When Cody is injured, Mac rescues the boy, puts him to bed, and declares his love for Jo Ann, but she is confused by her loyalty to Nick and returns to Vallenari’s. There, Nick guides her to a secret meeting with Mexican police Comandante Javier Escalante, a long-time associate of Agent Hal Maguire, who has come to the South Bay to identify Carlos. As the policemen plan to target Mac’s house the next day, Jo Ann returns to the dining room and is devastated to learn that Nick was behind Chef Nino’s arrest. The following morning, Jo Ann breaks off her romance with Nick and returns to Mac’s house after receiving a telephone call from young Cody, who claims to be left home alone. When she arrives, Jo Ann realizes the boy dismissed his babysitter in hope of reuniting with her and sends him home with his mother. Unaware that Mac’s house is under surveillance, Jo Ann waits for Mac to return and they make love in his Jacuzzi. Stepping inside the house, Mac is displeased by the unexpected arrival of Carlos, who has been deceiving police by pretending to be “Comandante Javier Escalante.” Carlos intends to move ahead with his $15 million drug deal, despite Mac’s protests. Meanwhile, Nick discovers that Mac’s cousin, Greg, is the DEA informant and regains confidence in his friend’s innocence. Pretending to be a Vallenari employee, he telephones Jo Ann to report an emergency and she rushes back to the restaurant, unaware of Carlos’s arrival. There, Nick confesses he lured Jo Ann away from Mac’s house to protect her from the drug bust and orders her to stay at the restaurant, but she returns to Mac’s, finds her lover gone, and witnesses Greg and Carlos’s cocaine deal. Realizing that Carlos has been doubling as “Comandante Javier Escalante,” Jo Ann becomes a liability, but her life is spared when Greg reveals his knowledge of the girl and exposes himself as the DEA’s informant. When Greg’s murdered body is discovered by police, Nick tells Maguire about Escalante’s true identity to protect Mac. Meanwhile, Carlos holds Jo Ann hostage on his yacht, but Mac tracks them down, holds the villain at gunpoint, and gets away on a motorboat that contains Carlos’s $15 million. As Mac navigates Jo Ann to safety, he promises to reunite with Carlos and return the loot. Delivering Jo Ann to police custody, Mac argues with Nick and they hold each other at gun point, but Nick lets his friend go, knowing he will lead him to Carlos. At a pier, Mac secretly cuts the motorboat fuel line so the vessel will explode. However, he takes pity on Carlos and offers to repair the boat. When Mac turns his back, Carlos wields a gun and they struggle over the weapon, causing it to misfire. As Carlos dies, Hal Maguire appears and shoots at Mac, triggering a gas explosion. Nick begs Maguire to spare his friend’s life, but Mac disappears into the water and is presumed dead. Sometime later, Nick telephones Jo Ann and invites her to the beach. There, she sees a rescue boat and realizes Mac is safe. Running into the waves, Jo Ann embraces her lover as Nick watches from afar, delighted by his friend’s recovery. +

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Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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