Carbon Copy (1981)

PG | 104 mins | Comedy | 25 September 1981

Director:

Michael Schultz

Writer:

Stanley Shapiro

Cinematographer:

Fred Koenekamp

Editor:

Marion Segal

Production Designer:

Edward S. Haworth

Production Company:

Hemdale-RKO Pictures
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HISTORY

Articles in the 23 Apr 1980 Var and the 9 Jun 1980 LAT reported that twenty-three years after RKO Pictures stopped producing films, the company was getting back into the film business with Carbon Copy. RKO and Hemdale co-financed the $6 million production. RKO’s participation was strictly financial, and the company would not be involved in sales or distribution. According to the 2 Jun 1980 DV, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) also financed more than $3 million of the film’s preproduction expenses for two television airings of the movie.
       An item in the 20 May 1980 DV reported that Max Showalter was cast, but he does not appear in the film. The 17 Jul 1980 LAT noted the film was edited by Marion Segal, the wife of the film’s star, George Segal. As stated in the 22 Jul 1980 HR, Joe Cavalier was promoted from unit production manager to associate producer, and Cavalier’s onscreen credit reflects both positions.
       The 18 Apr 1980 HR reported principal photography for the $6 million production was scheduled to start 19 May 1980. According to an article in the 27 Sep 1981 LAHExam, filming took place on the sound stages at Samuel Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood, CA, and at more than twenty-five locations in Southern California from Malibu, CA, beaches to desert locales in Lancaster, CA.
       Items in the 14 Jul 1980 HR and the 21 Jul 1980 HR reported Carbon Copy had completed its scheduled eight weeks of principal photography in Jul 1980. ... More Less

Articles in the 23 Apr 1980 Var and the 9 Jun 1980 LAT reported that twenty-three years after RKO Pictures stopped producing films, the company was getting back into the film business with Carbon Copy. RKO and Hemdale co-financed the $6 million production. RKO’s participation was strictly financial, and the company would not be involved in sales or distribution. According to the 2 Jun 1980 DV, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) also financed more than $3 million of the film’s preproduction expenses for two television airings of the movie.
       An item in the 20 May 1980 DV reported that Max Showalter was cast, but he does not appear in the film. The 17 Jul 1980 LAT noted the film was edited by Marion Segal, the wife of the film’s star, George Segal. As stated in the 22 Jul 1980 HR, Joe Cavalier was promoted from unit production manager to associate producer, and Cavalier’s onscreen credit reflects both positions.
       The 18 Apr 1980 HR reported principal photography for the $6 million production was scheduled to start 19 May 1980. According to an article in the 27 Sep 1981 LAHExam, filming took place on the sound stages at Samuel Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood, CA, and at more than twenty-five locations in Southern California from Malibu, CA, beaches to desert locales in Lancaster, CA.
       Items in the 14 Jul 1980 HR and the 21 Jul 1980 HR reported Carbon Copy had completed its scheduled eight weeks of principal photography in Jul 1980. An item in the 25 Jul 1980 DV stated that writer-producer Stanley Shapiro gave “net profit points” from his share of the movie to twelve key members of the crew. In Shapiro’s words: “If the film they [the crew] have helped create should go into profit, it seems only fair that a bit of that profit should be reflected onto them too.”
       Carbon Copy initially received an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) Classification and Ratings Administration. However, an article in the 7 Jul 1981 DV reported the rating was changed to PG by an appeals board on 30 Jun 1981.
       As noted in the 6 May 1980 HR and the 31 Jul 1980 DV, Carolco acquired foreign distribution rights to the film. The 11 Mar 1981 HR and 25 Mar 1981 Var reported that Avco Embassy Pictures would handle domestic distribution.
       According to an item in the 3 Sep 1981 DV, former Vice President Walter Mondale and his wife would attend the West Coast premiere of Carbon Copy at the Directors Guild Theater in Los Angeles, CA, on 24 Sep 1981. The Mondales headed the honorary committee of the benefit screening for Hamburger Home, a Hollywood residence for abused adolescent women. The film was released on 25 Sep 1981.
       An article in the 9-15 Dec 1981 Village Voice titled "Fall 1981 Releases" listed Carbon Copy as one of the fall season’s “flops” with an estimated box office of $4 million.
       Denzel Washington made his feature film debut in Carbon Copy.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 May 1980.
---
Daily Variety
2 Jun 1980.
---
Daily Variety
25 Jul 1980.
---
Daily Variety
31 Jul 1980.
---
Daily Variety
7 Jul 1981.
---
Daily Variety
3 Sep 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 May 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jul 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jul 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jul 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Mar 1981.
---
LAHExam
27 Sep 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Jun 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Jul 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Sep 1981
p. 12.
New York Times
25 Sep 1981
p. 13.
Variety
23 Apr 1980.
---
Variety
25 Mar 1981.
---
Variety
2 Sep 1981
p. 18.
Village Voice
9-15 Dec 1981.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A First City Film
Hemdale and RKO Pictures Present
A Carter DeHaven - Stanley Shapiro Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
Gaffer
Key grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Set dec
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men`s cost
Women`s cost
MUSIC
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Re-rec sd mixer
Sd ed
Boom man
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles by
MAKEUP
Mr. Segal's makeup
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Casting
Prod pub
Scr supv
Prod auditor
Loc mgr
Prod coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Craft service
First aid
Extras casting by
COLOR PERSONNEL
SOURCES
SONGS
"I'm Gonna Get Closer To You," music by Bill Conti, lyrics by Paul Williams, sung by England Dan Seals.
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 September 1981
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 25 September 1981
New York opening: week of 25 September 1981
Production Date:
19 May--July 1980 in Southern CA
Copyright Claimant:
Hemdale Leisure Corporation & RKO Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
11 February 1981
Copyright Number:
PA119359
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
104
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26207
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

It is morning in a wealthy enclave of San Marino, California, and Walter Whitney wants to make love to his wife, Vivian. Although she refuses, Walter insists, but is interrupted by the new maid bringing breakfast, followed by his step-daughter, Mary Ann. Nelson Longhurst, Walter’s father-in-law and boss, scolds him after Vivian complains about Walter’s attempted “rape,” and Nelson suggests that Walter look for sexual fulfillment outside the marriage. Walter’s secretary announces that Roger Porter, the son of an old college girlfriend, Lorraine Porter, waits outside. When they meet, Walter does not like Roger, a seventeen-year-old African American teenager, but is sorry to learn that Lorraine has recently died. Walter is shocked to discover that Roger is his son and wants to keep the relationship secret, but Roger wishes to be legally adopted by Walter. Flustered, Walter drives to the office of his best friend and lawyer, Victor Bard, and shares the backstory: Walter lived with Lorraine during college but moved away after graduation to make money at Unielectron. Walter planned to marry Lorraine, but was immediately successful at his job and Nelson took an interest in him. Nelson persuaded Walter that, in order to be successful, he would have to change his last name from Weisenthal to Whitney, and could not marry an African American woman. Walter changed his name, sent a letter of regret to Lorraine and married Nelson’s daughter. Victor suggests that his friend persuade Vivian to charitably “adopt” an orphaned African American teenager for the summer, without telling her Roger is Walter’s son. Walter convinces Vivian to start a trend among her friends, ... +


It is morning in a wealthy enclave of San Marino, California, and Walter Whitney wants to make love to his wife, Vivian. Although she refuses, Walter insists, but is interrupted by the new maid bringing breakfast, followed by his step-daughter, Mary Ann. Nelson Longhurst, Walter’s father-in-law and boss, scolds him after Vivian complains about Walter’s attempted “rape,” and Nelson suggests that Walter look for sexual fulfillment outside the marriage. Walter’s secretary announces that Roger Porter, the son of an old college girlfriend, Lorraine Porter, waits outside. When they meet, Walter does not like Roger, a seventeen-year-old African American teenager, but is sorry to learn that Lorraine has recently died. Walter is shocked to discover that Roger is his son and wants to keep the relationship secret, but Roger wishes to be legally adopted by Walter. Flustered, Walter drives to the office of his best friend and lawyer, Victor Bard, and shares the backstory: Walter lived with Lorraine during college but moved away after graduation to make money at Unielectron. Walter planned to marry Lorraine, but was immediately successful at his job and Nelson took an interest in him. Nelson persuaded Walter that, in order to be successful, he would have to change his last name from Weisenthal to Whitney, and could not marry an African American woman. Walter changed his name, sent a letter of regret to Lorraine and married Nelson’s daughter. Victor suggests that his friend persuade Vivian to charitably “adopt” an orphaned African American teenager for the summer, without telling her Roger is Walter’s son. Walter convinces Vivian to start a trend among her friends, who will be jealous and want to adopt their own underprivileged teenagers. As they drive to the mansion, Walter asks Roger if he is in school, but Roger has not attended high school for nearly a year. When Roger has dinner with the family, Mary Ann asks if he has been arrested and Roger admits he was detained for participating in a protest march. Vivian declares the family will vote to approve Roger’s “adoption” in the morning, but Walter reminds her there was no vote when he adopted Mary Ann. When Vivian insists that was a different situation because Mary Ann is her natural child, Walter wonders aloud if Vivian could accept Roger as his natural son. Vivian thinks Walter is joking, is stunned to learn the truth, and declares that God will never forgive Walter for having a black child. Later, Vivian’s doctor, minister and father arrive to console her. Nelson informs Walter that their world favors “white, not black, and Whitney, not Weisenthal,” then takes Vivian and Mary Ann to his home. When Walter arrives at work the next day, the security guard will not admit him, Walter’s company car and credit cards are confiscated, and he is fired. Calling home, he learns from Roger that his personal possessions are being dumped on the front lawn, and asks his son to put everything in a cab and meet him at Victor’s office. However, Victor is no longer Walter’s lawyer, having chosen to represent Vivian in the divorce. Victor sends him to Bob Garvey, an African American lawyer, who assesses Walter’s dire situation; all his money and property are in Vivian and Mary Ann’s names, leaving Walter with only the $68 in his pocket. Walter and Roger check into an inexpensive motel, and Walter seeks work and a bank loan. However, Vivian told everyone about the situation and no one in their community will help Walter. He sees a white father and son playing basketball, and offers to play a game with them, winner takes $5. Walter assumes Roger will be an excellent player and brings him to the court, but Roger does not play well and they lose the money. Walter learns Roger bought a used car to drive across country to find him, and although it barely runs, it is better than nothing. They are down to 85 cents when Walter remembers there is money in his safe at home. He wakes Vivian as he breaks into his former bedroom. Assuming the masked intruder wants to have sex with her, Vivian insists that he perform, and Walter consents. The next day, Walter joins street laborers waiting for work and a stable manager hires him to shovel manure. At the end of the day, Walter can barely move, but clutches a handful of cash. Roger pawns Walter’s golf clubs for down payment on an apartment and drives his father to their dingy new place in the African American neighborhood, Watts. Roger shows Walter the box of love letters that Lorraine had saved and announces he might take a short-order cook training class. Walter agrees to stay until Roger completes the class and gets a job, then they can go their separate ways. Upset, Roger goes for a walk before Nelson and Vivian unexpectedly arrive. Nelson admires Walter for not breaking under pressure and wants Walter to rejoin their life in San Marino, suggesting that he send Roger into a military career. Vivian admits she knew Walter was the intruder and wants to reconcile. After they leave, Walter hears gunfire and sees Roger chased by police, who mistakenly believe he is a thief. Walter hides Roger in the apartment, screams at the police, leads them away from his son and is arrested. Later, Roger visits Walter in jail, admitting he was surprised that Walter got arrested for him. He reveals that he did not want anything from Walter, except respect for being Lorraine’s son. Roger admits that he became angry when Walter focused only on the color of his skin and argues that his mother deserved a better life. When Walter agrees and admits he loved Lorraine, Roger realizes Walter is not a bad guy and leaves, suggesting that Walter return to his family. The next day, Walter returns to his office, informs Nelson that everyone should be allowed to succeed and disputes Nelson’s racist theories. Walter calmly leaves as Nelson threatens to destroy his son-in-law. Later, Garvey drives Walter to catch up with Roger, who is returning to Northwestern University for his second year on a pre-med scholarship, having graduated from high school early. Walter realizes that he was prejudiced when he first met his son because he automatically assumed Roger was a high school drop-out. They find Roger working on his car by the side of the road. Walter announces that he plans to accept a job near Northwestern so he can get to know his son, and the two decide to make the drive together. +

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

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