Falling Down (1993)

R | 112 mins | Drama | 26 February 1993

Director:

Joel Schumacher

Writer:

Ebbe Roe Smith

Cinematographer:

Andrzej Bartkowiak

Editor:

Paul Hirsch

Production Designer:

Barbara Ling

Production Companies:

Warner Bros., Inc., Le Studio Canal +, Regency Enterprises
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HISTORY

The Summary for this entry was completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. The summary was written by participant Adam Tate, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, with Janet Staiger as academic advisor.

The end credits contain a "Special Thanks" to the California Film Commission, an acknowledgement that "Garfield" appeared courtesy of United Media, and the following statement: MacArthur Park Murals commissioned by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission Art for Rail Transit Program.
       According to production notes found in the AMPAS library research files, Ebbe Roe Smith wrote the script in ten weeks after he took inspiration from a news story involving a truck driver who angrily rammed cars on the highway. A 5 Mar 1993 HR article revealed that Falling Down was almost sold to HBO as a telefilm, after “it had been turned down by every studio,” but Bruce Berman, President of Production at Warner Bros., stopped the sale.
       The film was shot on location in Los Angeles. According to production notes, Barbara Ling added a layer of social relevance to the production design by incorporating L.A. artist Michael McNielly’s political posters into the background of several scenes. For the final scene on Venice Pier, filmmakers obtained special permission to shoot, as the pier was in disrepair and had been closed to the public since 1988. A Box Office review noted the coincidence that Falling Down was in production on the day that the 1992 L.A. riots broke out.
       According to a 2 Mar 1993 HR article, several groups protested the film’s portrayal of racism and violence upon its release, including ... More Less

The Summary for this entry was completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. The summary was written by participant Adam Tate, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, with Janet Staiger as academic advisor.

The end credits contain a "Special Thanks" to the California Film Commission, an acknowledgement that "Garfield" appeared courtesy of United Media, and the following statement: MacArthur Park Murals commissioned by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission Art for Rail Transit Program.
       According to production notes found in the AMPAS library research files, Ebbe Roe Smith wrote the script in ten weeks after he took inspiration from a news story involving a truck driver who angrily rammed cars on the highway. A 5 Mar 1993 HR article revealed that Falling Down was almost sold to HBO as a telefilm, after “it had been turned down by every studio,” but Bruce Berman, President of Production at Warner Bros., stopped the sale.
       The film was shot on location in Los Angeles. According to production notes, Barbara Ling added a layer of social relevance to the production design by incorporating L.A. artist Michael McNielly’s political posters into the background of several scenes. For the final scene on Venice Pier, filmmakers obtained special permission to shoot, as the pier was in disrepair and had been closed to the public since 1988. A Box Office review noted the coincidence that Falling Down was in production on the day that the 1992 L.A. riots broke out.
       According to a 2 Mar 1993 HR article, several groups protested the film’s portrayal of racism and violence upon its release, including The Korean-American Grocers of Southern California and the National Center for Career Change, an organization for unemployed former defense workers. LAT published an article on 1 Mar 1993, interviewing recently laid off aerospace workers who took offense over Michael Douglas’ character and believed the film might hurt their job prospects. A year after the film’s U.S. release, a 10 Mar 1994 DV news item announced that Warner Bros. Korea cancelled the mid-March release of the film in South Korea, because Korean movie critics believed it endorsed “racial violence.”
       The film opened to strong box office but polarized critical reception. Vincent Canby’s NYT review lauded Schumacher’s “nervy and exceptionally able” direction, while Var complained of the film’s “uneven tone” and lack of nuance. However, Michael Douglas’ performance garnered consistent praise.
       Falling Down was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Apr 1993.
---
Daily Variety
10 Mar 1994.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1993
p. 7, 26.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 1993
p. 3, 81.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 1993
p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
26 Feb 1993
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
1 Mar 1993
Section D, pp. 1-2.
New York Times
26 Feb 1993
p. 3.
Variety
15 Feb 1993
p. 83.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Also Starring
Also Starring
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Joel Schumacher Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op/Steadicam op
1st cam asst
Steadicam 1st asst
2d cam asst
Still photog
Spec photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Rigging gaffer
Key grip
Best boy grip
Best boy grip
Cranes and dollies by
Cranes and dollies by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Illustrator
Art dept staff asst
Art dept staff asst
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Set des
Prop master
Prop asst
Leadman
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Stand-by painter
Const coord
Const foreman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Cost
MUSIC
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
SOUND
Prod mixer
Boom op
Cable person
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
Processed eff by
Foley artist
Foley artist
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles and opticals by
Title des by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting asst
Scr supv
DGA trainee
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Accountant
Asst accountant
Unit pub
Asst to Mr. Kopelson
Asst to Mr. Schumacher
Asst to Mr. Schumacher
Asst to Mr. Douglas
Asst to Mr. Duvall
Animal trainer
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Prod clerk
Craft service
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts/Stunt coord
Stunts
SOURCES
SONGS
"The Stripper," written by David Rose, performed by David Rose and His Orchestra, courtesy of Polygram Special Markets
"La Schmoove," written by R. Roachford, J. Jones, L. Maturine, M. Taylor and A. Muhammad, performed by Fu-Schnickens, courtesy of Jive Records
"Murio Nuestro Amor de Verano (Sin Por Que)," written and performed by Luisa Maria Guell, courtesy of Kubaney Records
+
SONGS
"The Stripper," written by David Rose, performed by David Rose and His Orchestra, courtesy of Polygram Special Markets
"La Schmoove," written by R. Roachford, J. Jones, L. Maturine, M. Taylor and A. Muhammad, performed by Fu-Schnickens, courtesy of Jive Records
"Murio Nuestro Amor de Verano (Sin Por Que)," written and performed by Luisa Maria Guell, courtesy of Kubaney Records
"Estupida de Mi," written by Angel Anibal Rosado, performed by Arabella, courtesy of Kubaney Records
"Happy Birthday to You," written by Patty S. Hill and Mildred J. Hill
"I Didn't Slip, I Wasn't Pushed, I Fell," written by Eddie Pola and George Wyle.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
26 February 1993
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 26 February 1993
Production Date:
began 25 March 1992
Copyright Claimants:
Warner Brothers Productions, Ltd. Regency Enterprises V.O.F. Studio Canal+
Copyright Dates:
17 May 1993 17 May 1993 17 May 1993
Copyright Numbers:
PA626406 PA626406 PA626406
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Technicolor®
Widescreen/ratio
2.35:1
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®; Kenworthy Snorkel Camera Systems, Inc.
Duration(in mins):
112
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
32146
SYNOPSIS

On a Los Angeles freeway, William Foster sits in stopped traffic in his worn station wagon. Car exhaust and sounds of screaming children from adjacent vehicles create an intolerable atmosphere. Reaching a breaking point, Foster abandons his car, calling out to an annoyed driver that he’s “going home.” Caught in the same traffic, Detective Prendergast notices Foster's abandoned vehicle and gets out of his car to help a highway patrolman move the station wagon. Soon after, Beth Tavino rushes her daughter Adele back to their Venice home after she hears the phone ring from the street. When Beth answers, no one speaks. The pay phone caller, Foster, hangs up. Wanting to call Beth again, Foster realizes he does not have enough change, so he enters a nearby convenience store and asks to change a dollar bill, but the Korean shop owner insists he must buy something. Foster tries to buy a can of Coca-Cola, but the cost is eighty-five cents, which will not give him enough change for another call. Foster argues with the shop owner over the price and insults his English. The argument becomes physical when the shop owner retrieves a bat from below the counter. Foster wrestles the bat away and uses it to destroy overpriced merchandise in the store. The shop owner watches from the ground as Foster pays fifty cents for the soda, takes his change, and leaves with the bat. At a police station, fellow officers play a practical joke on Prendergast on his last day before retirement. Prendergast receives a call from his wife Amanda, an emotionally troubled woman, who pleads with him to come home. He calms her by singing "London ... +


On a Los Angeles freeway, William Foster sits in stopped traffic in his worn station wagon. Car exhaust and sounds of screaming children from adjacent vehicles create an intolerable atmosphere. Reaching a breaking point, Foster abandons his car, calling out to an annoyed driver that he’s “going home.” Caught in the same traffic, Detective Prendergast notices Foster's abandoned vehicle and gets out of his car to help a highway patrolman move the station wagon. Soon after, Beth Tavino rushes her daughter Adele back to their Venice home after she hears the phone ring from the street. When Beth answers, no one speaks. The pay phone caller, Foster, hangs up. Wanting to call Beth again, Foster realizes he does not have enough change, so he enters a nearby convenience store and asks to change a dollar bill, but the Korean shop owner insists he must buy something. Foster tries to buy a can of Coca-Cola, but the cost is eighty-five cents, which will not give him enough change for another call. Foster argues with the shop owner over the price and insults his English. The argument becomes physical when the shop owner retrieves a bat from below the counter. Foster wrestles the bat away and uses it to destroy overpriced merchandise in the store. The shop owner watches from the ground as Foster pays fifty cents for the soda, takes his change, and leaves with the bat. At a police station, fellow officers play a practical joke on Prendergast on his last day before retirement. Prendergast receives a call from his wife Amanda, an emotionally troubled woman, who pleads with him to come home. He calms her by singing "London Bridge Is Falling Down.” Seated on an abandoned lot, Foster fixes a hole in his shoe. Two gang members appear, claiming he is on their "turf." He attempts diplomacy, but fights back after one of the gang members pulls a switchblade knife. Foster beats both with the bat, and steals the switchblade. Later, Prendergast surrenders his gun back to inventory as Mr. Lee, the Korean shop owner, arrives to report Foster's attack. He admits to Prendergast that Foster did not steal anything but his bat, and provides a physical description of Foster as a white man in a shirt and tie. On the streets, the beaten gang members drive around in search of Foster. Angie, a friend, pleads with them to go to the hospital instead of seeking revenge. At a nearby payphone, Foster informs Beth that he is heading home to give Adele a birthday gift. Beth reminds him that her house is no longer his as she is no longer his wife. As Foster hangs up, the gang members spot him and spray gunfire, hitting two people. Their car collides with another as they turn the corner. Unharmed, Foster approaches the wreckage, picks up a gun and shoots one of his assailants in the leg. Foster retrieves a bag full of guns from the car and walks away. Meanwhile, Captain Yardley conducts an exit interview with Prendergast. When Yardley asks about his “kids,” Prendergast informs him that his one daughter died. In Venice, Beth explains to a police officer that she has a restraining order against her ex-husband and is afraid he is headed there. Taking a report, the officer confirms that Foster has never actually been violent toward Beth or Adele. Elsewhere, a homeless man tries to swindle money from Foster in a park, but he gives the beggar his briefcase, which only contains his lunch. Foster's only luggage now is his bag of weapons. At the station, the police interrogate Angie about her friends' drive-by shooting. From behind the mirror, Prendergast observes as Angie describes their target, who matches the “white shirt and tie” description provided by the Korean shop owner. Prendergast tries to intervene, but an officer pushes him away from the interrogation room. At 11:33 AM, Foster enters a Whammyburger restaurant and attempts to order breakfast. The cashier informs him that breakfast is no longer served, as it is three minutes past the cut-off time. After the manager refuses to accommodate him, Foster pulls a gun from the gym bag, terrorizing everyone in the restaurant. He finally orders lunch instead of breakfast, only to express dissatisfaction to the frightened onlookers that his food does not look like the advertised meal. At lunch, Prendergast and a friend from the office, Detective Sandra Torres, discuss his decision to retire early. Officer Lydecker arrives before the food, and asks Sandra to join him in investigating the incident at Whammyburger. Continuing on his trek, Foster sees an angry protestor outside of a bank. The man, who is dressed exactly like him, was denied a loan after he was deemed "not economically viable." Next door, Foster buys a snow globe for Adele as police arrest the protestor. At Beth’s house, the police leave because they suspect no immediate danger. Foster again calls from a payphone but gets a busy signal. After an angry man waiting for the phone complains that he is taking too long, Foster destroys the phone booth with a machine gun. Sandra phones Prendergast from Whammyburger to inform him that the descriptions given by witnesses match his “white shirt and tie” suspect. Foster enters an army surplus store and Nick, the owner, readily helps him while insulting two gay customers. When Foster goes into a dressing room to try on boots, Sandra enters in search of him. Nick denies seeing a man that fits Foster’s description, then locks the door after Sandra has left. Nick escorts Foster to the store's back room to show him his Nazi memorabilia. Disturbed, Foster attempts to leave, but Nick holds him hostage with a gun. After Nick destroys the snow globe, Foster stabs him with the stolen switchblade, then shoots him. At the station, Prendergast explains to Yardley that his suspect is dangerous, but Yardley disregards him. In his office, Prendergast admits to Sandra that he made the choice to retire for his wife’s emotional well-being. Sandra encourages Prendergast to pursue his suspect, despite Yardley, and the two head out together to investigate. From the army surplus store, Foster calls Beth again and threatens that he is “past the point of no return.” Arriving outside Mr. Lee's convenience store, Prendergast notices a billboard he was staring at earlier during the traffic jam. Prendergast climbs a hill to view the highway where Foster’s abandoned car still sits, and he notes the license plate, which simply reads "D-FENS." Now dressed in dark clothes from the army surplus store, Foster walks into another construction site and uses a rocket launcher from Nick's shop to detonate construction machinery. Prendergast and Sandra identify Foster from the license plate and visit his mother's residence. She is despondent, but Prendergast speaks to her gently and discovers that Foster lives there and works for a weapons manufacturer. Nearing Venice, Foster crosses a private golf course and threatens two elderly players with a gun. He then hops over a private fence and discovers a groundskeeper’s family secretly using a swimming pool. While hiding from police sirens, he wields a gun and explains to the frightened family that he lost his job because he was “not economically viable.” After the police leave Beth’s house, unable to help her, Foster calls from a payphone around the corner. She realizes he is nearby and runs out her back door with Adele. After Sandra discovers that Foster lost his job over a month ago, Prendergast surmises from the map that he is headed toward his ex-wife’s house. At Beth’s house, Foster watches old home movies and plays with Adele's water pistol. When his wife phones at the station yet again, Prendergast finally stands up to her nagging. Lydecker and the other officers surprise Prendergast with cake and a stripper, but Prendergast and Sandra are on their way out. The newly empowered Prendergast hears Lydecker make an insulting remark about his wife, and he punches Lydecker in the face. As Prendergast and Sandra arrive at Beth's house, Foster is about to leave for the pier, in search of Beth and Adele. Sandra leads the way, but Prendergast stalls when he realizes he is missing his police pistol. A gunshot rings out, and Prendergast finds Sandra shot in the stomach in the backyard. Sandra gives Prendergast her weapon, and he chases Foster. At the end of the pier, Foster corners Beth and Adele. Prendergast engages Foster in conversation, allowing Beth to grab Foster’s gun and run to safety. As Prendergast holds him at gunpoint, Foster threatens that he has another weapon. Just as he pulls the weapon from his vest, Prendergast shoots. Mortally wounded, Foster reveals he is holding Adele's water pistol. He falls from the pier into the ocean. After Sandra is taken to the hospital, Prendergast sits on Beth’s porch with Adele and hints that he will not retire after all.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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