The Saint of Fort Washington (1993)

R | 103 mins | Drama | 17 November 1993

Director:

Tim Hunter

Writer:

Lyle Kessler

Cinematographer:

Frederick Elmes

Editor:

Howard Smith

Production Designer:

Stuart Wurtzel

Production Companies:

Warner Bros. Pictures , J&M Entertainment, Fort Washington Productions
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HISTORY

End credits include the following acknowledgments: “The producers thank Mr. Robert Hayes, whose work for the homeless everywhere was the inspiration for the story”; “The filmmakers extend their deepest gratitude to the clients of the Fort Washington Mens’ Shelter for their extraordinary cooperation in the making of this motion picture on location at the Armory. Our respect and best wishes to you all”; “For their support and hard work on behalf of the film we wish to thank: the City of New York Human Resources Administration Administrative Support Services; the director and staff of the Fort Washington Mens’ Shelter; Project H.E.L.P.; Emergency Assistance Units of New York; Catherine Street Family Shelter; NYC Police Department Metro North Division; NYC Department of Corrections; Kingsbridge Armory; Goddard Riverside Community Center’s Project Reachout; Federation Empoyment & Guidance Service; NYC Transit Police; Van San Construction Corp.; NYC Housing Development Preservation; New York State Governor’s Film Office; The Rio; NYC Police Department TV/Movie Unit Operations Division; NYC Mayor’s Office of Motion Pictures; Katten, Muchin, Zavis & Weitzman; Keane & Schorn”; “International Distribution through J&M Entertainment”; and the dedication, “for Mark Rosenberg.”
       The film contains opening and closing voice-over narration by Danny Glover as “Jerry.”
       According to a 19 Nov 1993 HR article, producer David V. Picker saw Lyle Kessler’s off-Broadway play, Orphans, and recruited him to write a feature film screenplay about the life of Bob Hayes, a New York City attorney who fought for a citywide increase in homeless shelters. After a month and a half of research, Kessler began developing a story for Warner Bros. Pictures, which included two original characters, “Matthew” and Jerry. Although Warner Bros. passed on ... More Less

End credits include the following acknowledgments: “The producers thank Mr. Robert Hayes, whose work for the homeless everywhere was the inspiration for the story”; “The filmmakers extend their deepest gratitude to the clients of the Fort Washington Mens’ Shelter for their extraordinary cooperation in the making of this motion picture on location at the Armory. Our respect and best wishes to you all”; “For their support and hard work on behalf of the film we wish to thank: the City of New York Human Resources Administration Administrative Support Services; the director and staff of the Fort Washington Mens’ Shelter; Project H.E.L.P.; Emergency Assistance Units of New York; Catherine Street Family Shelter; NYC Police Department Metro North Division; NYC Department of Corrections; Kingsbridge Armory; Goddard Riverside Community Center’s Project Reachout; Federation Empoyment & Guidance Service; NYC Transit Police; Van San Construction Corp.; NYC Housing Development Preservation; New York State Governor’s Film Office; The Rio; NYC Police Department TV/Movie Unit Operations Division; NYC Mayor’s Office of Motion Pictures; Katten, Muchin, Zavis & Weitzman; Keane & Schorn”; “International Distribution through J&M Entertainment”; and the dedication, “for Mark Rosenberg.”
       The film contains opening and closing voice-over narration by Danny Glover as “Jerry.”
       According to a 19 Nov 1993 HR article, producer David V. Picker saw Lyle Kessler’s off-Broadway play, Orphans, and recruited him to write a feature film screenplay about the life of Bob Hayes, a New York City attorney who fought for a citywide increase in homeless shelters. After a month and a half of research, Kessler began developing a story for Warner Bros. Pictures, which included two original characters, “Matthew” and Jerry. Although Warner Bros. passed on the script, Picker pursued the project with David Puttnam and director Bob Fosse when Puttnam became head of Columbia Pictures. Several years passed, during which time Fosse passed away and Puttnam and Picker left Columbia. The two suggested Kessler remove the fifty pages about Bob Hayes, and focus the film entirely on the two homeless characters. The 22 Nov 1993 HR stated that Kessler and Picker brought the new draft to producer Samuel Goldwyn, Jr., who suggested Kessler revise the ending to include more humor. Despite the changes, Goldwyn was still unsure, and the script went back to Warner Bros.
       The $6-$7 million cost was split evenly between Warner Bros. and international sales agent J&M Entertainment. Production materials in AMPAS library files note that The Saint of Fort Washington was the third collaboration of director Tim Hunter and actor Matt Dillon, who previously worked together on Over the Edge (1979, see entry) and Tex (1982, see entry).
       Principal photography began 6 Apr 1992 in New York City, according to a 7 Apr 1992 HR production chart. Filming took place over forty-one days on locations including Harlem, the Fort Washington Armory, the Emergency Assistance Unit in Chinatown, and Potter’s Field on Hart Island.
       The 9 Apr 1993 DV reported that the film was scheduled to premiere mid-Sep 1993 at the Festival of Festivals in Toronto, Canada. Reviews were mixed. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
9 Aug 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Sep 1993
p. 7, 13.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Nov 1993.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Nov 1993
Calendar, p. 1.
New York Times
17 Nov 1993
Section C, p. 19.
Variety
27 Sep 1993
pp. 35-36.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. presents
A David V. Picker Nessa Hyams production
In association with Carrie Productions
A Tim Hunter film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
Chief lighting tech
Key grip
2d asst cam
Cam asst
Cam asst
Steadicam op
Asst chief lighting tech
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
Filmed with
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept asst
Art dept coord
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Post prod supv
Post prod supv
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
Addl asst ed
NYC asst ed
Post prod accountant
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Lead set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Scenic artist
Const coord
Const grip
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Mus clearances by
Mus score rec by
Mus score rec by
Mus score mixed by
Orch cond by
Orchestrations by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Post prod sd services provided by
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Supv ADR ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley rec
Addl NYC backgrounds
ADR rec at
VISUAL EFFECTS
Main titles des by
Spec eff coord
Opticals by
Title opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting assoc
Extras casting
Extras casting
Asst loc mgr
Prod supv
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod assoc
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Extras casting asst
Extras casting asst
Loc coord
Loc asst
Loc asst
Loc asst
Loc asst
Transportation co-capt
Transportation co-capt
Loc parking coord
Asst to David Picker
Asst to Danny Glover
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
DGA trainee
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Crafts services
Crafts services
Accounting by
Insurance provided by
Film financing provided by
Completion guarantee by
STAND INS
Stunt cop
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Co-stunt coord
Co-stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Metal Distraction #35,” composed by Larry Seymour, courtesy of C’Mo Music (ASCAP)
“Minstrel Boy” (traditional), performed by Morning Star, vocal by Rosaleen Linehan
“James Connolly,” performed by Black 47, music & lyrics by Larry Kirwan, courtesy of Starry Plough Music (BMI)
+
SONGS
“Metal Distraction #35,” composed by Larry Seymour, courtesy of C’Mo Music (ASCAP)
“Minstrel Boy” (traditional), performed by Morning Star, vocal by Rosaleen Linehan
“James Connolly,” performed by Black 47, music & lyrics by Larry Kirwan, courtesy of Starry Plough Music (BMI)
“Vamonos Pa’l Monte,” composed by Eddie Palmieri, vocal by Rick Aviles, courtesy of Longitude Music (BMI)
“Lo Que Trae Rumbavana,” performed by Conjunto Rumbavana, music & lyrics by Candido Fabre, courtesy of Egrem Records, published by Editora Musical De Cuba
“Shame,” written & performed by Julia Fordham, courtesy of Virgin Records America, Inc./CIRCA Records Ltd., published by Blue Mountain Music Ltd. (PRS).
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
17 November 1993
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 November 1993
Production Date:
began 6 April 1992
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, a division of Time Warner Entertainment Company, LP
Copyright Date:
26 May 1994
Copyright Number:
PA725625
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Sound
This film was mixed and recorded in a Lucasfilm THX Sound System Theatre
Color
Duration(in mins):
103
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
32150
SYNOPSIS

In the slums of the Bronx, New York City, a quiet and sensitive photographer named Matthew is evicted from his condemned apartment, which is then demolished. Now homeless, Matthew wanders the city streets and ends up at the Fort Washington Armory in northern Manhattan. Outside, he snaps a photograph of a Vietnam War veteran named Jerry, who strongly objects to having his picture taken, but relaxes when Matthew reveals that the camera does not contain any film. Jerry advises Matthew to keep close watch over his belongings, and the two men sleep in adjacent cots. In the morning, Matthew becomes overwhelmed by the deplorable conditions in the shelter and takes the train back to his former neighborhood. Although he hopes to stay with his mother, he learns she has gone to Florida for the winter and changed the locks. Because the welfare office is still sending his public assistance checks to his now nonexistent address, Matthew has no choice but to return to Fort Washington. There, Jerry defends him from the violent threats of a bully known as “Little Leroy." A former produce salesman, Jerry shows Matthew a photograph of the wife and two daughters he lost after an acquaintance gambled his money away. Matthew admits he has spent time in the hospital for schizophrenia, but Jerry assures him it is okay to hear voices, drawing comparisons to saints and holy figures such as Moses and Joan of Arc. Later, Jerry teaches Matthew to earn money washing the windshields of passing cars. Matthew brings in $16.50, and Jerry suggests they pool their resources to rent a railroad-style apartment on the Lower East Side. That night, Matthew and Jerry are ... +


In the slums of the Bronx, New York City, a quiet and sensitive photographer named Matthew is evicted from his condemned apartment, which is then demolished. Now homeless, Matthew wanders the city streets and ends up at the Fort Washington Armory in northern Manhattan. Outside, he snaps a photograph of a Vietnam War veteran named Jerry, who strongly objects to having his picture taken, but relaxes when Matthew reveals that the camera does not contain any film. Jerry advises Matthew to keep close watch over his belongings, and the two men sleep in adjacent cots. In the morning, Matthew becomes overwhelmed by the deplorable conditions in the shelter and takes the train back to his former neighborhood. Although he hopes to stay with his mother, he learns she has gone to Florida for the winter and changed the locks. Because the welfare office is still sending his public assistance checks to his now nonexistent address, Matthew has no choice but to return to Fort Washington. There, Jerry defends him from the violent threats of a bully known as “Little Leroy." A former produce salesman, Jerry shows Matthew a photograph of the wife and two daughters he lost after an acquaintance gambled his money away. Matthew admits he has spent time in the hospital for schizophrenia, but Jerry assures him it is okay to hear voices, drawing comparisons to saints and holy figures such as Moses and Joan of Arc. Later, Jerry teaches Matthew to earn money washing the windshields of passing cars. Matthew brings in $16.50, and Jerry suggests they pool their resources to rent a railroad-style apartment on the Lower East Side. That night, Matthew and Jerry are forced to flee Fort Washington after Jerry attacks Little Leroy for cornering Matthew in the bathroom. They seek refuge in the back of Jerry’s old produce van, and Jerry decides to try reviving his business once they have secured a place to live. As their friendship deepens, Matthew massages a painful war wound in Jerry’s knee, and Jerry buys Matthew a roll of camera film. The produce van is eventually towed away, and the two men accept an invitation to bunk with Jerry’s buddy, Rosario; his pregnant girl friend, Tamsen; and their elderly friend, “Spits.” Matthew massages Spits’s arthritic hands, and his healing touch reinforces Jerry’s belief that he is a saint. Using a handful of rainwater, Jerry christens Matthew as “the saint of all homeless people.” While Matthew and Jerry are out developing Matthew’s first roll of film, Tamsen suddenly begins to bleed and falls down the stairs, resulting in a miscarriage. Distraught over the loss of his unborn child, Rosario lashes out at a rude driver and breaks his windshield. He escapes police, but he and Tamsen ultimately decide to leave the city. One night, Jerry runs out of painkillers for his injured leg and desperately attempts to rob a pharmacy. Matthew stops him, and they spend the long, cold night curled up on a park bench. In the morning, Jerry refuses to get up, but Matthew reminds him not to abandon their goal and forces him to get to work. As they wash windshields, Matthew imagines driving through an orchard with Jerry and selling fruit to smiling customers. When the winter weather worsens, police round up the homeless and force them onto a bus headed for the Fort Washington Armory. Jerry breaks free of the officer’s grasp and runs away, leaving Matthew to return to the shelter alone. Shortly after his arrival, Matthew stands up for a young man Little Leroy has chosen as his latest victim. Although Matthew attempts to sneak out in the middle of the night, Leroy fatally stabs him in the hallway. Meanwhile, Jerry rushes back to the shelter, but discovers he is too late to save his friend. He learns that the corpses of all deceased homeless people are buried in Potter’s Field on Hart Island, and sneaks onto the ferry carrying Matthew’s body. Remaining hidden from the overseers, he watches as dozens of pinewood coffins are stacked inside a giant, trench-like grave. Before the boxes are buried, Jerry sits beside Matthew’s coffin and looks through the packet of developed photographs. He admires his friend’s talent and says goodbye, letting the pictures blow away with the breeze. Back in the city, Jerry resumes his windshield-washing venture and vows to keep working in honor of Matthew’s memory. +

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

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