The Killer Elite (1975)

PG | 122 mins | Drama | 17 December 1975

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HISTORY

The film begins with the following onscreen text: “An interview with Lawrence Weyburn of COMTEG by Norgen Frill Jr. of the San Francisco Times. September 31, 1975.” Following this statement is a transcript of questions and answers between Frill, and Weyburn: “Q. ‘What do you mean by special departments Mr. Weyburn?’”; “A. ‘Some countries have “special” departments for directly or indirectly eliminating defectors and others who carry away secrets which may jeopardize its national security.’”; “Q. ‘Does our country have a similar department?’”; “A. ‘Not to my knowledge.’”; “Q. ‘Would you admit it if we had?’”; “A. ‘No.’” After the interview transcript, the following appears onscreen: “This film is a work of fiction. There is no company called Communications Integrity NOR ComTeg and the thought the C. I. A. might employ such an organization for any purpose is, of course, preposterous.”
       A news item in the 22 Oct 1973 Publishers Weekly reported that author Robert Rostand, pseudonym of Robert S. Hopkins, had sold his book The Killer Elite to Performing Arts Ltd., a subsidiary of Anglo EMI. Arthur Lewis was named as the film’s producer and Rostand was to write the screenplay. However, Rostand’s name does not appear as screenwriter in onscreen credits. The 3 Mar 1975 Box stated that the screenplay was written by Marc Norman, while a 24 Apr 1975 HR listed Stirling Silliphant as the sole screenwriter. Silliphant and Norman share credit in the released film.
       The Killer Elite was actress Tiana’s first theatrical feature, according to promotional materials in AMPAS Library files. Tiana was ... More Less

The film begins with the following onscreen text: “An interview with Lawrence Weyburn of COMTEG by Norgen Frill Jr. of the San Francisco Times. September 31, 1975.” Following this statement is a transcript of questions and answers between Frill, and Weyburn: “Q. ‘What do you mean by special departments Mr. Weyburn?’”; “A. ‘Some countries have “special” departments for directly or indirectly eliminating defectors and others who carry away secrets which may jeopardize its national security.’”; “Q. ‘Does our country have a similar department?’”; “A. ‘Not to my knowledge.’”; “Q. ‘Would you admit it if we had?’”; “A. ‘No.’” After the interview transcript, the following appears onscreen: “This film is a work of fiction. There is no company called Communications Integrity NOR ComTeg and the thought the C. I. A. might employ such an organization for any purpose is, of course, preposterous.”
       A news item in the 22 Oct 1973 Publishers Weekly reported that author Robert Rostand, pseudonym of Robert S. Hopkins, had sold his book The Killer Elite to Performing Arts Ltd., a subsidiary of Anglo EMI. Arthur Lewis was named as the film’s producer and Rostand was to write the screenplay. However, Rostand’s name does not appear as screenwriter in onscreen credits. The 3 Mar 1975 Box stated that the screenplay was written by Marc Norman, while a 24 Apr 1975 HR listed Stirling Silliphant as the sole screenwriter. Silliphant and Norman share credit in the released film.
       The Killer Elite was actress Tiana’s first theatrical feature, according to promotional materials in AMPAS Library files. Tiana was cast after karate expert Hank Hamilton, an advisor on the film, brought her to the producer’s attention. She was a brown belt at that time, and both she and her husband, writer Stirling Silliphant, were students of martial arts master Bruce Lee, according to an article in the 11 May 1975 LAHExam.
       Actor Tom Clancey who plays "O’Leary" is better known as a singer with the group The Clancey Brothers.
       The Killer Elite began principal photography 24 Mar 1974 in San Francisco, CA, as reported in the 3 Mar 1975 Box. However, promotional materials claimed shooting began early Apr 1974. Locations included the San Francisco Yacht Club, Bethlehem Steel’s Pier 70, Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands, San Francisco Airport, Waverly Place in Chinatown, Portsmouth Square, Harkness Memorial Hospital and The United States Navy Suisan Bay “Mothball” Reserve Fleet.
       According to promotional materials, the building that explodes early in the film was an abandoned fire department station located on the Embarcadero. It was demolished by the city for the Embarcadero Center redevelopment project and director, and Sam Peckinpah changed the film’s shooting schedule to take advantage of the event. Shots of the explosion were filmed from the Hyatt-Regency hotel across the street.
       A 2 Jun 1975 HR news brief reported that two months of shooting in San Francisco had been completed and another three weeks of production at the MGM Studios in Los Angeles, CA, had begun that day. Additional location shooting was also done in Los Angeles.
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Mar 1975.
---
Daily Variety
19 Dec 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Apr 1975
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 1975
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Dec 1975
p. 4.
LAHExam
11 May 1975.
---
Los Angeles Times
18 Dec 1975
Section IV, p. 32.
New York Times
18 Dec 1975
p. 62.
Publisher's Weekly
22 Oct 1973.
---
Variety
24 Dec 1975
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
An Arthur Lewis-Baum/Dantine Production
A Sam Peckinpah Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
1st asst dir
2d unit 1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op
Key grip
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Asst art dir
SET DECORATORS
Const coord
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Ward des
Cost
MUSIC
Mus ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Title seq
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod coord
Prod secy
Prod services by
Dial dir
Prod asst to dir
Casting
Casting
Scr supv
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
STAND INS
Stunt supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Killer Elite by Robert Rostand (New York, 1973).
DETAILS
Release Date:
17 December 1975
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 17 December 1975
Los Angeles opening: 18 December 1975
Production Date:
began late March or early April 1974 in San Francisco, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Exeter Associates
Copyright Date:
12 December 1975
Copyright Number:
LP45556
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
color by deluxe®
Lenses/Prints
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
122
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Mike Locken and his partner George Hansen set explosives in a warehouse, then run out with “Mr. Rodney,” a man with a Slavic accent. As they drive away, the building explodes. Mr. Rodney quizzes the partners about their affiliation with any governmental intelligence service, but they only say they are from a private firm called “COMTEG.” The next day, Locken and Hansen drive to a safe house, and take their turn guarding Mr. Rodney. As Locken takes a shower, Hansen takes out a silenced pistol and shoots Mr. Rodney in the head, then goes into the bathroom and shoots Locken in the knee and elbow. Locken is taken to a hospital in San Francisco, California. Although they save his arm and leg, doctors inform him that he may never walk again. Days later, Locken’s superiors, Cap Collis and Lawrence Weyburn visit and tell him he is being retired. Weeks later, Locken is visited by Mac, a company operative, but Locken refuses to see him. After months of painful rehabilitation, Locken wears metal braces, but is able to walk with a cane. Upon being released from the hospital, Locken moves in with his nurse, Amy, to continue his therapy. As months pass, Locken jogs and learns karate. One day, Cap Collis asks Locken to stop dropping by the office as it makes other agents uneasy to see a wounded comrade. However, if he will accept that he is a cripple, Collis will find him a desk job. Locken refuses and vows to kill George Hansen. Days later, Yuen Chung, a Taiwanese politician, his daughter, Tommie, and ... +


Mike Locken and his partner George Hansen set explosives in a warehouse, then run out with “Mr. Rodney,” a man with a Slavic accent. As they drive away, the building explodes. Mr. Rodney quizzes the partners about their affiliation with any governmental intelligence service, but they only say they are from a private firm called “COMTEG.” The next day, Locken and Hansen drive to a safe house, and take their turn guarding Mr. Rodney. As Locken takes a shower, Hansen takes out a silenced pistol and shoots Mr. Rodney in the head, then goes into the bathroom and shoots Locken in the knee and elbow. Locken is taken to a hospital in San Francisco, California. Although they save his arm and leg, doctors inform him that he may never walk again. Days later, Locken’s superiors, Cap Collis and Lawrence Weyburn visit and tell him he is being retired. Weeks later, Locken is visited by Mac, a company operative, but Locken refuses to see him. After months of painful rehabilitation, Locken wears metal braces, but is able to walk with a cane. Upon being released from the hospital, Locken moves in with his nurse, Amy, to continue his therapy. As months pass, Locken jogs and learns karate. One day, Cap Collis asks Locken to stop dropping by the office as it makes other agents uneasy to see a wounded comrade. However, if he will accept that he is a cripple, Collis will find him a desk job. Locken refuses and vows to kill George Hansen. Days later, Yuen Chung, a Taiwanese politician, his daughter, Tommie, and his entourage arrive at a San Francisco airport and are attacked by men dressed as ninjas. After a bloody fight, Chung and Tommie escape with most of their party. Hours later, Danny O’Leary, a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operative, hires Collis and Lawrence Weyburn to protect Chung while he is in the United States. Weyburn initially turns down the assignment until he learns that Hansen is leading a team of assassins to kill Chung. He orders Collis to hire Locken as leader of a team of mercenaries to go after Hansen. After Locken hires Jerome Miller, a manic depressive gun runner, he goes to Mac’s garage to apologize for refusing to see him at the hospital, and convinces him to join his team. Mac takes Locken to look at a taxicab he outfitted with armor, unaware that Sam, a mechanic, has placed a bomb in the undercarriage. After Jerome Miller appears, the three drive the taxi to a phone booth and telephone Collis for instructions. After hanging up, Collis, who is at a strip club, meets with Hansen, his bodyguard, Hank Hamilton, and the leader of the “Ninjas”. Hansen voices discontent over two separate groups hunting the same target, but Collis insists on the arrangement. Later, in Chinatown, Locken leaves Mac and Miller in the car as he goes to meet with Chung. Miller senses danger when a garbage truck parks, partially blocking the street. He runs into the building to tell Locken. Next, Mac radios Locken that a police officer is approaching, then spots Hansen and Hamilton on a nearby roof. As Locken leads Chung’s party downstairs, the police officer demands Locken throw down his gun. Miller notices that the policeman is not carrying the standard issue San Francisco police pistol, and shoots him with his shotgun. Locken provides cover fire as Miller, Chung and his people leap into the cab. Assassins disguised as garbage men open fire, but Mac refuses to leave until Locken gets into the car. As Mac speeds away, Miller guns down the assassins. Police give chase through the streets of San Francisco, until Mac’s driving prowess causes them to crash. Later, Mac pulls over to investigate a rattle in the back of the car and discovers the bomb. As he works to remove it, a motorcycle cop appears and demands that everyone get out of the car. Mac crawls out and hands the bomb to the policeman, who runs to throw it into the bay, while Locken’s group drives off. Locken telephones Collis and informs him that he is sailing Collis’s yacht and arranges for Chung to be picked up in the morning at Pier 70. Before Collis can alert Hansen, Weyburn insists they examine COMTEG’s stock portfolio. Hours later, after Weyburn leaves, Collis calls Hansen and tells him where Locken will be. Meanwhile, Locken orders Chung’s men to secure the perimeter around an old boat shack. Inside, Locken suggests Chung and Tommie go upstairs and turn on the light, but Mac accuses Locken of using them as bait. Soon, Chung and his daughter come downstairs dressed in black and carrying shurikens. Locken is infuriated when Tommie slips outside and asks Chung if it is true that his people do not care about dying. Chung replies that the manner one lives or dies is what gives life relevance, then explains that he is returning to Taiwan to promote democracy. Meanwhile, Hansen and Hamilton appear, and Hamilton rows out to board the yacht. After killing Chung’s bodyguard, he paddles under the pier. Mac hears the rowboat, looks through a crack in the pier and shoots Hamilton. Meanwhile, Hansen gets the drop on Tommie and, using her as a hostage, gets Mac, Locken and Chung to surrender. Hansen explains he is working for Collis and offers to cut Locken into the operation, noting that if he fails to kill Chung, a gang of Ninjas will hunt him down. Locken radios Miller to join them, then drops his cane and walks away, distracting Hansen long enough for Miller to kill him with a sniper rifle. Locken then telephones Weyburn, tells him about Collis, and makes plans to rendezvous the next day. The following day, Locken sails the yacht to the empty ships of the U.S. Naval Reserve Fleet in Suisun Bay, and orders Chung and Tommie to stay aboard. When he, Miller and Mac board a ship, they spot the ninjas crawling overhead. Collis appears and offers Locken a bribe, but Locken shoots him in the arm and kneecap. The Ninjas attack, but Miller mows them down with his machine gun. Tommie and Chung arrive, just as the ninja master arrives wielding a Chinese war sword. Locken wants to shoot, but Chung grabs a sword and after a short battle, stabs the master. Weyburn arrives with reinforcements and the remaining ninjas scatter. Later, Locken turns down Weyburn’s job offer, but keeps Collis’s yacht and the bribe money as payment, then sails away with Mac. +

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

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