Peeper (1975)

PG | 85 mins | Comedy | 3 December 1975

Director:

Peter Hyams

Writer:

W. D. Richter

Cinematographer:

Earl Rath

Editor:

James Mitchell

Production Designer:

Albert Brenner

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

Opening credits are spoken by a Humphrey Bogart impersonator, and according a 3 Dec 1975 LAT article, filmed in a downtown Los Angeles, CA, alley located between Broadway and Spring Street off of 3rd Street.
       The following written statement appears in end credits: “ We wish to thank the Norwegian Caribbean Lines…and the captain and the crew of the M/S Starward…for their cooperation on the production.”
       Peeper is based on a Keith Laumer’s novel Deadfall, first published by Doubleday and Company in 1971. The hero of the novel is named “Joe Shaw,” but was changed to “Leslie C. Tucker” for the film. Actor Michael Caine had already appeared in a move titled Deadfall (1968, see entry). A 12 Feb 1974 DV news item announced that the film’s title was changed from Fat Chance to Peeper. “Peeper” is an American slang term for a private detective.
       A 17 Jun 1974 HR news brief reported actor Victor Bruono was cast as Frank Prendergast, but the role was played by Thayer David.
       According to a 6 Nov 1974 DV news item, Billy Goldberg was hired to compose and conduct the music for the film; however, his name does not appear in the film’s credits.
       A 9 Jul 1974 HR news brief claimed that Peeper was the first time writer Snag Werris appeared in a theatrical feature.
       Although a 10 Jun 1974 DV piece stated that Peeper was shot entirely in the Los Angeles, CA area, a news item in ...

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Opening credits are spoken by a Humphrey Bogart impersonator, and according a 3 Dec 1975 LAT article, filmed in a downtown Los Angeles, CA, alley located between Broadway and Spring Street off of 3rd Street.
       The following written statement appears in end credits: “ We wish to thank the Norwegian Caribbean Lines…and the captain and the crew of the M/S Starward…for their cooperation on the production.”
       Peeper is based on a Keith Laumer’s novel Deadfall, first published by Doubleday and Company in 1971. The hero of the novel is named “Joe Shaw,” but was changed to “Leslie C. Tucker” for the film. Actor Michael Caine had already appeared in a move titled Deadfall (1968, see entry). A 12 Feb 1974 DV news item announced that the film’s title was changed from Fat Chance to Peeper. “Peeper” is an American slang term for a private detective.
       A 17 Jun 1974 HR news brief reported actor Victor Bruono was cast as Frank Prendergast, but the role was played by Thayer David.
       According to a 6 Nov 1974 DV news item, Billy Goldberg was hired to compose and conduct the music for the film; however, his name does not appear in the film’s credits.
       A 9 Jul 1974 HR news brief claimed that Peeper was the first time writer Snag Werris appeared in a theatrical feature.
       Although a 10 Jun 1974 DV piece stated that Peeper was shot entirely in the Los Angeles, CA area, a news item in 1 Aug 1974 HR reported that filming had begun on the M. S. Starward as the cruise ship sailed from Florida to the Bahamas. All interior shots on the ship were filmed on the retired R.M.S. Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA. Other locations included the Harold Lloyd Estate for the Prendergast mansion, and the Jewelry Trades Building and Globe Theater in downtown Los Angeles.
       A 24 Jul 1974 HR news item stated that more than one hundred vintage cars were gathered for the traffic jam scene which was shot on a yet to be opened length of freeway near Glendale, CA.
       Principal photography was scheduled to begin on 1 Jun 1974 according to a 20 Mar 1974 HR. However, the 10 Jun 1974 DV reported filming began on that date. A news item in the 10 Aug 1974 HR announced filming was completed.
       Peeper was scheduled for release in Sep 1975 after "languishing” at 20th Century-Fox for over a year, according to a 26 Aug 1975 DV item. However, it did not premiere in Los Angeles until Dec 1975. According to a 26 Sep 1975 Var news item, the film had not been shown in New York City as of that date.
       Reviews were generally poor, and observed that the film did not work as either a spoof or a mystery. A 3 Dec 1975 LAT movie review stated that the film suffered in comparison to Farewell My Lovely (1975, see entry), another detective film set in the 1940s.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
10 Nov 1975
p. 4822
Daily Variety
12 Feb 1974
---
Daily Variety
10 Jun 1974
---
Daily Variety
6 Nov 1974
---
Daily Variety
26 Aug 1975
---
Daily Variety
26 Sep 1975
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Mar 1974
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 1974
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jul 1974
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jul 1974
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 1974
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 1974
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Aug 1974
p. 17
Hollywood Reporter
26 Sep 1975
p. 39
Los Angeles Times
3 Dec 1975
p. 22
Variety
1 Oct 1975
p. 24, 26
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Key grip
Gaffer
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
Rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Scr supv
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Deadfall by Keith Laumer (Garden City, 1971).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Fat Chance
Release Date:
3 December 1975
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 3 Dec 1975
Production Date:
10 Jun --early Aug 1974 in Los Angeles, CA
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
24 September 1975
LP45096
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Lenses
Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
85
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In 1947, Hollywood, California, Lou Anglich climbs a spiral staircase and realizes he is being followed. Swinging around, he smashes his briefcase over the other man’s head, before throwing him over the railing. The man falls, but grabs a banister, pulls himself up and runs down a hall. Leslie C. Tucker, an English private detective, or “peeper,” hears the commotion and goes into the hallway to have a look. Upon returning to his office, he finds Anglich, who says he put his daughter, Anna, in an orphanage twenty-nine years ago and wants Tucker to find her. Their conversation is interrupted by the sound of men prowling the halls. Anglich kills the lights, locks the door and tells Tucker to be quiet. Once the men move on, Anglich tells Tucker that he made a lot of money in Florida and wants to give it to his daughter before his “business associates” find and kill him. After Tucker takes the case, Anglich shows him a photograph of a young Anna and Fred Conroy, the man who supposedly adopted her, standing by a stone gate displaying a street number. Anglich explains that he recently located Jasper, the former head of the orphanage, but when he went to Jasper’s office, three men attacked him. The next day, Tucker finds a house in Beverly Hills that matches Anglich’s photograph. Tucker enters the house through an open door and finds Franklin “Frank” W. Prendergast in the atrium surrounded by birds. Frank’s sister-in-law, and owner of the home is bedridden and does not receive guests. Posing as a reporter, Tucker shows Frank ...

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In 1947, Hollywood, California, Lou Anglich climbs a spiral staircase and realizes he is being followed. Swinging around, he smashes his briefcase over the other man’s head, before throwing him over the railing. The man falls, but grabs a banister, pulls himself up and runs down a hall. Leslie C. Tucker, an English private detective, or “peeper,” hears the commotion and goes into the hallway to have a look. Upon returning to his office, he finds Anglich, who says he put his daughter, Anna, in an orphanage twenty-nine years ago and wants Tucker to find her. Their conversation is interrupted by the sound of men prowling the halls. Anglich kills the lights, locks the door and tells Tucker to be quiet. Once the men move on, Anglich tells Tucker that he made a lot of money in Florida and wants to give it to his daughter before his “business associates” find and kill him. After Tucker takes the case, Anglich shows him a photograph of a young Anna and Fred Conroy, the man who supposedly adopted her, standing by a stone gate displaying a street number. Anglich explains that he recently located Jasper, the former head of the orphanage, but when he went to Jasper’s office, three men attacked him. The next day, Tucker finds a house in Beverly Hills that matches Anglich’s photograph. Tucker enters the house through an open door and finds Franklin “Frank” W. Prendergast in the atrium surrounded by birds. Frank’s sister-in-law, and owner of the home is bedridden and does not receive guests. Posing as a reporter, Tucker shows Frank the photographs and learns the man in the photo is Frank’s dead brother, Harry. As they talk, Tucker sees Ellen Prendergast, who adjusts her silk robe, giving him an ample view of her body. She gives him a smile, then disappears. Frank orders Tucker to leave when he refuses to explain how he came by a photograph of Harry. As he crosses the courtyard, a snarling Doberman pinscher leaps at Tucker, but is restrained by Ellen’s sister, Mianne Prendergast. As Mianne and Tucker talk, Ellen appears on the balcony and beckons him inside. However, when Tucker finds Ellen, but she claims ignorance of any Fred Conroy and takes him to meet her mother, Margaret Prendergast, who is having breakfast in bed. When Tucker shows Margaret the photographs, she rubs jam on them and spits at Tucker, screaming for him to leave. Before Tucker goes, Ellen makes a date to meet with him the next day. Unaware he is being followed, Tucker returns to his office and receives a telephone call from Anglich claiming to be in trouble. Tucker drives to a pool hall, where a battered Anglich explains that three assailants attacked him at a bar. He killed one and left the other two unconscious. Thinking he may not have long to live, Anglich mailed a package to Tucker which he is to give to Anna. If Tucker is unable to find the girl before Anglich is killed, he can keep it. Tucker decides to talk to Jasper, the orphanage head, but when he gets to the office building he discovers Ellen in the lobby and Jasper’s dead body in the office. As Ellen explains that she received a telephone call asking her to meet Jasper, Rosie and Sid, two of the men who earlier attacked Anglich, appear and beat Tucker. Ellen hits Sid with a milk bottle, allowing Tucker to pull his gun. The two thugs take Ellen hostage, but Tucker gives chase, ending in a burlesque house, where Sid and Rosie abandon Ellen and escape. Before she leaves, Tucker reminds Ellen of their date. Tucker returns to his office and finds Billy Pate, a skinny old man, rummaging through his papers. Pate is Jasper’s lawyer and, if Tucker will give him “the memo,” Pate will help him parlay it into millions of dollars. Tucker throws Pate out after Anglich telephones to say he has found Anna. The next day, Tucker keeps his date, but instead of Ellen, Mianne appears and claims Frank is blackmailing her with information that she is not Margaret’s daughter. According to Frank, Margaret Prendergast had twin girls out of wedlock and placed them in an orphanage. When she later married, Frank Prendergast went to retrieve the twins, but discovered one had already been adopted by a family named Conroy. Frank took Mianne, claiming she was the other lost daughter. Mianne hires Tucker to stop Frank from blackmailing her. Back at the office, Tucker finds Anglich dead. Hearing a noise, he goes to his waiting room to find a mailman delivering Anglich’s package. As Tucker signs for the package, Ellen arrives to explain that Frank is also pressuring her to get her mother to give Frank power of attorney, so he can rob her. The telephone rings, but no one is on the line, prompting Tucker to grab both the package and Ellen, before running run out of the office. Taking the stairs to the basement, they become separated. Rosie, the thug, gets the drop on Ellen, until Tucker arrives and they exchange gunfire. Tucker grabs Ellen and hides in a closet. While Rosie and Sid search for them, Tucker and Ellen embrace. Once they know the coast is clear, Ellen hits Tucker with his own pistol, but cannot wrestle the package from him. Hearing a noise, Ellen runs away, leaving Tucker to open the package and discover a suitcase full of money. That night, Tucker returns to the Prendergast home and catches Billy Pate searching Frank’s room. Although Billy refuses to say why he is there, he discloses that Frank is taking the girls and Margaret out of the country on a cruise ship that leaves in an hour. Tucker drags Pate to his car and notices Sid and Rosie’s automobile blocking the gate. Tucker smashes the other car out of his way and races off with Sid and Rosie in pursuit. A high-speed chase turns into a crawl as both cars get caught in traffic. Pate takes the opportunity to leap out just as Sid leaps in brandishing a gun. Tucker punches Sid unconscious, only to have Rosie pull up beside him and open fire as the two cars weave slowly in and out of traffic. Rosie hits a truck carrying cars. One of the automobiles breaks free and lands on his hood. Rosie climbs out of the wreckage and steals a car. When he gets to the dock, Rosie locates Tucker’s car with Sid stuffed in the trunk. Meanwhile, carrying the suitcase full of money, Tucker boards the ship and spots Pate in a telephone booth. After threatening to strangle Pate, Tucker learns that Frank and Ellen are stealing from Mrs. Prendergast. Pate escapes and as the ship leaves port, Tucker goes to the Prendergast’s state room and finds Frank, Ellen and Mianne, who is dressed in a grey wig and drugged unconscious on the bed. When Tucker announces he has solved the mystery, Pate enters, then runs away. Tucker, Frank and Ellen chase Pate through the ship and into the dining room, and are shocked to find Margaret Prendergast eating dinner. Margaret asks them all to be seated and explains that when Billy Pate learned that Frank was blackmailing her biological daughter, Ellen, into extorting money from her, he offered to work as her double agent. Ellen grabs the suitcase full of money and runs out onto the ship’s deck where she is grabbed by Sid and Rosie. As she struggles, she throws the suitcase into a lifeboat. Tucker appears and all three men leap into the lifeboat, knocking the suitcase back onto the deck. Ellen pulls a lever, sending the boat into the sea. However, Tucker grabs a rope and climbs back aboard. He finds Ellen on the poop deck and takes back the suitcase. He tells her he is giving the money to Mianne after he has a drink. Ellen joins him at the bar as Sid and Rosie row by in the lifeboat.

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

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