Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977)

R | 144 mins | Melodrama, Adventure | 9 February 1977

Director:

Robert Aldrich

Producer:

Merv Adelson

Cinematographer:

Robert Hauser

Production Designer:

Rolf Zehetbauer

Production Companies:

Geria Film GMBH, Lorimar-Baravia
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HISTORY

Principal photography began 24 Feb 1976 in Munich, West Germany, the 17 Feb 1976 and 7 Mar 1976 issues of HR reported, and ended ahead of schedule in mid-May 1976, according to the 24 May 1976 HR. Most filming took place at Munich Bavaria studios and in a field sixteen miles outside of town.
       In an interview in the Mar/Apr 1977 Film Comment, director Robert Aldrich said he filmed two scenes with actress Vera Miles portraying America’s “First Lady,” but neither scene was used in the final cut. Aldrich also stated that West Germany’s Geria Film financed two-thirds of the film’s budget. In the 20 Jan 1977 DV, Aldrich revealed that he helped write the screenplay, but didn’t credit himself onscreen. The final script superseded seven earlier ones.
       According to the 1 Apr 1976 DV, Geria Film GmbH helped finance Twilight’s Last Gleaming to take advantage of Germany’s tax laws. Geria’s contribution to the $6.5-million film was $5.4 million; the production in West Germany cost ten percent less than what it would have cost in the U.S. The 20 Jan 1977 DV further reported that Allied Artists was spending $3.5 million, more than half the film’s budget, on advertising and distributon costs.
       Twilight’s Last Gleaming was set to premiere at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. on 6 Feb 1977, as a benefit for the National Press Foundation, the 27 Dec 1976 LAT reported.
       Theater chains in Boston, MA, and Detroit, MI, sued Allied Artists to regain advances they paid to screen Twilight’s Last Gleaming, because poor attendance required ... More Less

Principal photography began 24 Feb 1976 in Munich, West Germany, the 17 Feb 1976 and 7 Mar 1976 issues of HR reported, and ended ahead of schedule in mid-May 1976, according to the 24 May 1976 HR. Most filming took place at Munich Bavaria studios and in a field sixteen miles outside of town.
       In an interview in the Mar/Apr 1977 Film Comment, director Robert Aldrich said he filmed two scenes with actress Vera Miles portraying America’s “First Lady,” but neither scene was used in the final cut. Aldrich also stated that West Germany’s Geria Film financed two-thirds of the film’s budget. In the 20 Jan 1977 DV, Aldrich revealed that he helped write the screenplay, but didn’t credit himself onscreen. The final script superseded seven earlier ones.
       According to the 1 Apr 1976 DV, Geria Film GmbH helped finance Twilight’s Last Gleaming to take advantage of Germany’s tax laws. Geria’s contribution to the $6.5-million film was $5.4 million; the production in West Germany cost ten percent less than what it would have cost in the U.S. The 20 Jan 1977 DV further reported that Allied Artists was spending $3.5 million, more than half the film’s budget, on advertising and distributon costs.
       Twilight’s Last Gleaming was set to premiere at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. on 6 Feb 1977, as a benefit for the National Press Foundation, the 27 Dec 1976 LAT reported.
       Theater chains in Boston, MA, and Detroit, MI, sued Allied Artists to regain advances they paid to screen Twilight’s Last Gleaming, because poor attendance required early termination, according to the 6 May 1977 DV. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
11 Oct 1976.
---
Box Office
14 Feb 1977.
---
Daily Variety
1 Apr 1976.
---
Daily Variety
20 Jan 1977
p. 10.
Daily Variety
6 May 1977
p. 1.
Film Comment
Mar/Apr 1977
p. 46-52.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jan 1977
p. 3, 20.
Los Angeles Times
27 Dec 1976
Section E, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
10 Feb 1977
Section G, p. 1.
New West
28 Feb 1977.
---
New York Times
10 Feb 1977
p. 48.
Variety
21 Apr 1976.
---
Variety
2 Feb 1977
p. 22.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Sharpshooters:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Lorimar-Bavaria presents a Geria Production
An Allied Artists Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Still photog
Gaffer
Gaffer
Cam op
Cam op
Cam asst
Cam asst
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Editorial liaison
SET DECORATOR
Props
COSTUMES
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus cutter
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff asst
Montages/Split screens
Main title
MAKEUP
Makeup/Hair
Makeup/Hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Geria prod exec
Lorimar prod exec
Prod supv
Prod asst
Tech adv
Dial scr supv
Unit pub
Casting
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Viper Three by Walter Wager (New York, 1971).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"My Country Tis of Thee," performed by Billy Preston, from the album "I Wrote A Simple Song."
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Nuclear Countdown
Das Ultimatum
Silo III
Silo Three
Release Date:
9 February 1977
Premiere Information:
Premiered Washington, D.C: 6 February 1977. Los Angeles and New York openings: 9 February 1977
Production Date:
24 February--mid May 1976 in Munich, West Germany
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
144
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
Germany, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Montana State Prison escapees Lawrence “Larry” Dell, Augie Garvas, Willis Powell, and Hoxey, hijack a truck that contains two U.S. Air Force officers who are being driven to their duty shift in Malmstrom, Montana, an isolated intercontinental ballistic missile base. Hoxey shoots the driver several times, and the others dispose of the officers. Arriving at the base disguised as military men, Dell, Augie, and Hoxey fake a vehicle breakdown inside the gate and, with the help of Willis hiding in the back, overwhelm the guards as the surveillance cameras turn in another direction. Dell leads his men into a fortified underground bunker, where Hoxey kills a guard out of anger. Unable to control Hoxey’s psychopathic tendencies, Dell shoots him. Because Dell has knowledge of military protocols, he bluffs his way into the “launch control center” of Silo 3. As he, Augie, and Powell subdue the Air Force men, Captain Stanford “Sandy” Towne recognizes Dell from their days stationed together, when Dell was an Air Force general. Dell’s men lock the military officers in a separate room and disarm several failsafe “inhibitors” and booby traps. Meanwhile, one of the hijacked officers from the truck is found unconscious and taken to a hospital, where his fingerprints identify him as a captain who reported earlier that day to Silo 3. When Col. Franklin calls the bunker, Dell answers the phone, announces that Silo 3 is in hostile hands, and tells Franklin to inform General Martin McKenzie that Lawrence Dell has “full launch control” over nine nuclear-tipped Titan missiles aimed at the Soviet Union. Dell brings Towne back into the control room because the captain has the combination to a safe holding the ... +


Montana State Prison escapees Lawrence “Larry” Dell, Augie Garvas, Willis Powell, and Hoxey, hijack a truck that contains two U.S. Air Force officers who are being driven to their duty shift in Malmstrom, Montana, an isolated intercontinental ballistic missile base. Hoxey shoots the driver several times, and the others dispose of the officers. Arriving at the base disguised as military men, Dell, Augie, and Hoxey fake a vehicle breakdown inside the gate and, with the help of Willis hiding in the back, overwhelm the guards as the surveillance cameras turn in another direction. Dell leads his men into a fortified underground bunker, where Hoxey kills a guard out of anger. Unable to control Hoxey’s psychopathic tendencies, Dell shoots him. Because Dell has knowledge of military protocols, he bluffs his way into the “launch control center” of Silo 3. As he, Augie, and Powell subdue the Air Force men, Captain Stanford “Sandy” Towne recognizes Dell from their days stationed together, when Dell was an Air Force general. Dell’s men lock the military officers in a separate room and disarm several failsafe “inhibitors” and booby traps. Meanwhile, one of the hijacked officers from the truck is found unconscious and taken to a hospital, where his fingerprints identify him as a captain who reported earlier that day to Silo 3. When Col. Franklin calls the bunker, Dell answers the phone, announces that Silo 3 is in hostile hands, and tells Franklin to inform General Martin McKenzie that Lawrence Dell has “full launch control” over nine nuclear-tipped Titan missiles aimed at the Soviet Union. Dell brings Towne back into the control room because the captain has the combination to a safe holding the two keys needed to launch missiles. When Dell tells Towne he plans to use the threat of a launch to force President David T. Stevens to “get out the message” about the real reason behind the Vietnam War, Towne sympathizes because, like Dell, he was also disgraced by his superiors after the war; however, he refuses to help Dell get the keys. Meanwhile, General MacKenzie thinks that his old nemesis, Dell, is bluffing because he does not have the keys to launch the missiles. Back at the base, however, Augie tricks 1st Lieutenant Louis Cannellis into giving him the safe combination by convincing him that Captain Towne has been partially blinded with a screwdriver. Learning that Dell has the keys, General MacKenzie seals off Malmstrom and calls Silo 3. Dell tells MacKenzie he wants to talk to President Stevens within the hour. Dell notes that this time the general will not be able to put Dell’s complaints to the White House “in the shredder,” the way he did before, when Dell was disgraced and framed for murder. Hanging up on Dell, MacKenzie calls President Stevens on a special yellow telephone. MacKenzie explains to the president that former general Dell holds Silo 3 and that the Air Force cannot “inhibit launch” because Dell, as one of the original designers of the ICBM system, knew how to cripple the failsafe devices. However, MacKenzie still believes Dell is bluffing. President Stevens calls a meeting of his top advisors, including Secretary of Defense Zachariah Guthrie, Secretary of State Arthur Renfrew, Attorney General William Klinger, CIA Director Ralph Whittaker, Air Force General Peter Crane, and Phil Spencer, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Crane gives Dell’s background: He became radicalized after spending time in a North Vietnamese prison camp, embarrassed the Air Force with his anti-war and anti-government complaints, and was probably framed when a fight that resulted in a man’s death was elevated from manslaughter to murder. Dell was sentenced to thirty-years-to-life in prison. Secretary Guthrie says the president must talk with Dell. When Stevens calls Silo 3, Dell demands $10 million, transportation aboard Air Force One to a country of his choice, with the president himself as hostage, and a national broadcast of National Security Commission Document 9759--the minutes of a National Security meeting that will divulge the real reasons behind America’s losing war in Vietnam. Dell gives President Stevens an hour and a half to read the document for himself, since he was not in the White House at the time. Meanwhile, General MacKenzie prepares an attack on the compound by dropping commandos from a helicopter hovering above the moving cameras on top of the bunker. Later, the president calls Dell to tell him he will give him and the other escaped prisoners full pardons, along with $20 million instead of $10 million, but he cannot read the document to the American people, because it would upset the nation’s trust in its government, not to mention America’s delicate relationship with the Soviet Union. When Dell says the document’s revelation is non-negotable, the president hangs up and gives General MacKenzie the go-ahead to destroy the bunker. Two commandos rapelling from a helicopter outwit the surveillance cameras, climb down an elevator shaft with a suitcase-sized nuclear bomb, and arm it outside the launch control center. However, they trigger an alarm, which prompts Dell to set all nine missiles into pre-launch mode. The Titan rockets rise from their silos and wait only for the final blast-off. MacKenzie orders the commandos to withdraw and take their nuclear device with them, and Dell returns the missiles into pre-launch mode. Meanwhile, at the White House, President Stevens reads the document to the men at his table and is angered by its contents, but Secretary Guthrie assures him that by fighting a limited but brutal war in Vietnam, the U.S. showed the Soviets that it was willing to go “all the way.” The various leaders convince the president he must go to Montana and lure Dell and his men out of the bunker, so that snipers can kill them. When President Stevens agrees, he demands that if anything happens to him, the Vice President must then tell the truth to the American people. Secretary Guthrie gives Stevens his word of honor. The president flies to Malmstrom and is let into the launch control center, but when he leads Dell and Powell, Dell’s only surviving accomplice, out of the bunker toward the waiting Air Force One, snipers shoot all three of them. The dying president asks Secretary Guthrie if he will keep his word, and Guthrie pauses for several seconds, until President Stevens dies. Then he walks away. +

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

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