Nighthawks (1981)

R | 99 mins | Drama | 10 April 1981

Director:

Bruce Malmuth

Writer:

David Shaber

Producer:

Martin Poll

Cinematographer:

James A. Contner

Production Designer:

Peter Larkin

Production Companies:

The Production Company, Universal Pictures
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HISTORY

End credits include the following statements: “The producers wish to thank the following for their cooperation in the filming of this motion picture: The City of New York: The Mayor’s Office of Motion Pictures and Television, New York City Police Department Street Crime Unit, New York City Police Department Movie and T.V Unit; The State of New York: The Governor’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development; London: Lavender Hill, London Police Department; Paris: Paris Police Department”; “ Nighthawks was filmed in New York City, London and Paris” and “Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument courtesy of International Sound L.A.”
       The first working title for the film, as reported in the 14 Sep 1979 DV, was A.T.A.C. The 24 Oct 1979 DV noted the tentative title for the film was now Attack, although the 24 Oct 1979 Var referred to it as both Attack and The Attack. An article in the 18 Jan 1980 NYT stated the working title was now Hawks. An item in the 24 Jun 1980 LAHEXam announced the working title was changed to Night Hawks, but the release title was Nighthawks.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that eleven weeks of principal photography in New York City began on 21 Jan 1980, and would be followed by filming in London, England, and Paris, France. The 24 Oct 1979 DV reported that Gary Nelson was the film’s director, however, according to an article in the 9 Feb 1980 ... More Less

End credits include the following statements: “The producers wish to thank the following for their cooperation in the filming of this motion picture: The City of New York: The Mayor’s Office of Motion Pictures and Television, New York City Police Department Street Crime Unit, New York City Police Department Movie and T.V Unit; The State of New York: The Governor’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development; London: Lavender Hill, London Police Department; Paris: Paris Police Department”; “ Nighthawks was filmed in New York City, London and Paris” and “Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument courtesy of International Sound L.A.”
       The first working title for the film, as reported in the 14 Sep 1979 DV, was A.T.A.C. The 24 Oct 1979 DV noted the tentative title for the film was now Attack, although the 24 Oct 1979 Var referred to it as both Attack and The Attack. An article in the 18 Jan 1980 NYT stated the working title was now Hawks. An item in the 24 Jun 1980 LAHEXam announced the working title was changed to Night Hawks, but the release title was Nighthawks.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that eleven weeks of principal photography in New York City began on 21 Jan 1980, and would be followed by filming in London, England, and Paris, France. The 24 Oct 1979 DV reported that Gary Nelson was the film’s director, however, according to an article in the 9 Feb 1980 LAT, Nelson was dismissed as director on 30 Jan 1980. The 1 Feb 1980 DV noted that the film’s star, Sylvester Stallone, recommended Bruce Malmuth as a replacement, and the 12 Sep 1980 DV reported that Nighthawks was Malmuth’s feature film directorial debut. As noted in the 9 Feb 1980 LAT article, while Malmuth flew from Los Angeles, CA, to NY, Stallone directed for one day so the production would not lose a day of scheduled filming. According to DGA rules, “anyone signed to work on a movie before the director was engaged cannot replace a fired director, except in an emergency,” and Nighthawk producers claimed the situation was an emergency. Stallone was a member of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and, therefore, the producers felt that it was acceptable for him to direct. The DGA disagreed and took the matter to arbitration. The arbitrator agreed with the DGA and Universal was ordered to pay a fine of $50,000 to the guild. An item in Jun 1980 Playgirl also noted that Stallone received a minor fine, but his status in the DGA was not affected.
       A pivotal sequence in Nighthawks was set on the Roosevelt Island Tramway. An item in the 15 Dec 1979 NYT noted that Theodora K. Sklover, director of NY Governor Carey’s new Office for Motion Picture and Television Development, had difficulty obtaining permission to film on the tramway, but was able to solve the problem. As tracked in articles in the 15 Mar 1980 NYT, 18 Mar 1980 NYT and DV, 19 Mar 1980 Var, 21 Mar 1980 HR, and 26 Mar 1980 Var, Universal Studios planned to donate $20,000 to Roosevelt Island’s youth center, pay for special express buses to the city, and compensate the island’s day care centers for staying open additional hours. Filming was originally planned to coincide with the tram’s scheduled maintenance shut-down, however the shut-down was delayed. Island residents complained about the inconvenience and some were disturbed that the film would contain violence. The filmmakers agreed to alter their schedule and would not film during peak commuting hours. Stallone, producer Martin Poll and representatives from the NY State Film Office attempted to address the situation at a town meeting, but were “shouted away” by angry residents. A group of thirty residents went to court trying to obtain a temporary restraining order against any use of the tram. The 1,350 member Roosevelt Island Residents Association, however, supported the filming. At the hearing, Theodora Sklover spoke on behalf of the state’s film office and Michael Prosica represented all of the NY film industry IATSE locals. NY State Supreme Court Judge Frank Blangiardo determined that “it would be detrimental to the entire film industry in NY, as well as to the city and state economy to halt the shooting,” and ruled that filming should resume on the Roosevelt Island Tramway.
       An item in the 17 Jan 1981 LAHExam reported that producer Poll was in Paris supervising production of the soundtrack score which was composed by Keith Emerson, best known as a member of the band, Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The 10 April 1981 BAM reported that Nighthawks represented Emerson’s feature film soundtrack debut.
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
BAM
10 Apr 1981.
---
Daily Variety
14 Sep 1979.
---
Daily Variety
24 Oct 1979.
---
Daily Variety
1 Feb 1980.
---
Daily Variety
18 Mar 1980.
---
Daily Variety
12 Sep 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 1981
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Apr 1981.
---
LAHExam
24 Jun 1980.
---
LAHExam
17 Jan 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Feb 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Apr 1981
p. 1.
New York Times
15 Dec 1979.
---
New York Times
18 Jan 1980.
---
New York Times
15 Mar 1980.
---
New York Times
18 Mar 1980.
---
New York Times
10 Apr 1981
p. 6.
Playgirl
Jun 1980.
---
Variety
24 Oct 1979.
---
Variety
19 Mar 1980.
---
Variety
26 Mar 1980.
---
Variety
8 Apr 1981
pp. 18-20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Martin Poll Production in association with The Production Company
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
DGA trainee
Prod mgr - London
Prod mgr - Paris
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Prod in association with
By arr with
WRITERS
Story
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Asst cam
2d unit cam
Key grip
Gaffer
Still photog
Spec photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Scenic artist
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost des
Men`s ward
Women's ward
Women's ward
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus score arr
Mus cond
SOUND
Sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Loop dial ed
Sd re-rec
Sd re-rec
Sd re-rec
Boom op
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff - London
Main and end titles prod and des by
MAKEUP
Spec makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod assoc
Asst unit prod mgr
Asst to the prod
Asst to the prod
Asst prod assoc
Scr supv
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Loc auditor
Unit pub
Tech adv NYPD
Transportation capt
European supv
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Getaway," performed by Rossington Collins, courtesy of MCA Records
"Opportunity," performed by Rossington Collins, courtesy of MCA Records
"Road Fever," written by David Peverett and Roderick Price, performed by Foghat, courtesy of Bearsville Records
+
SONGS
"Getaway," performed by Rossington Collins, courtesy of MCA Records
"Opportunity," performed by Rossington Collins, courtesy of MCA Records
"Road Fever," written by David Peverett and Roderick Price, performed by Foghat, courtesy of Bearsville Records
"Slow Ride," written by David Peverett, performed by Foghat, courtesy of Bearsville Records
"Love To Ride," written and performed by Keith Sykes, courtesy of Backstreet Records
"Saoco," performed by Libre, courtesy of Mericano Record Corp.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Attack
Dragons
Hawks
A.T.A.C.
Night Hawks
Release Date:
10 April 1981
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 10 April 1981
Production Date:
began 21 January 1980 in New York City, London, England, and Paris, France
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 April 1981
Copyright Number:
PA100355
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Panaflex® camera and lenses by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
99
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26087
SYNOPSIS

On 31 December in New York City, muggers attack a woman, but discover “she” is Deke DaSilva, a male police officer. His partner, Matthew Fox, hits one mugger while DaSilva chases another to a subway platform, knocks him out and takes him to jail. Meanwhile, in London, England, a terrorist, Wulfgar, bombs a department store and telephones the United Press to claim credit for the explosion. On 4 January, DaSilva and Fox arrest drug dealers, then visit DaSilva’s ex-wife, Irene, at work. DaSilva asks her for a date, but she is not ready to get back together. In London, on 6 January, when Wulfgar’s contact, Kenna, inadvertently leads police to their meeting, Wulfgar shoots the officers, then kills Kenna. Later, at the crime scene, terrorist expert Peter Hartman suggests that Wulfgar may have gone too far by killing one of his own. In Paris, France, on 6 January, Wulfgar meets with fellow terrorist, Shakka, who reveals that Kenna had been carrying Wulfgar’s passport and the police now have his picture. Shakka accompanies Wulfgar to a plastic surgeon’s office to have his face altered. Meanwhile, in New York City, DaSilva and Fox are upset at their reassignment to a counter-terrorism unit led by Hartman. They doubt Wulfgar is in New York, but Hartman claims the city offers the world-wide press coverage Wulfgar needs to re-establish his credibility with terrorist organizations. As Hartman shares news of the plastic surgeon’s murder, DaSilva studies the photograph of the brunette, bearded terrorist. During the briefing, Hartman also displays photographs of Shakka, disparaging her as a heartless killer. Hartman indoctrinates his team ... +


On 31 December in New York City, muggers attack a woman, but discover “she” is Deke DaSilva, a male police officer. His partner, Matthew Fox, hits one mugger while DaSilva chases another to a subway platform, knocks him out and takes him to jail. Meanwhile, in London, England, a terrorist, Wulfgar, bombs a department store and telephones the United Press to claim credit for the explosion. On 4 January, DaSilva and Fox arrest drug dealers, then visit DaSilva’s ex-wife, Irene, at work. DaSilva asks her for a date, but she is not ready to get back together. In London, on 6 January, when Wulfgar’s contact, Kenna, inadvertently leads police to their meeting, Wulfgar shoots the officers, then kills Kenna. Later, at the crime scene, terrorist expert Peter Hartman suggests that Wulfgar may have gone too far by killing one of his own. In Paris, France, on 6 January, Wulfgar meets with fellow terrorist, Shakka, who reveals that Kenna had been carrying Wulfgar’s passport and the police now have his picture. Shakka accompanies Wulfgar to a plastic surgeon’s office to have his face altered. Meanwhile, in New York City, DaSilva and Fox are upset at their reassignment to a counter-terrorism unit led by Hartman. They doubt Wulfgar is in New York, but Hartman claims the city offers the world-wide press coverage Wulfgar needs to re-establish his credibility with terrorist organizations. As Hartman shares news of the plastic surgeon’s murder, DaSilva studies the photograph of the brunette, bearded terrorist. During the briefing, Hartman also displays photographs of Shakka, disparaging her as a heartless killer. Hartman indoctrinates his team in counter-terrorism techniques and reveals that Wulfgar enjoys night life and always finds a woman to provide a safe haven. With a surgically-altered face, blond hair and blue contact lenses, Wulfgar arrives in New York and studies various city locations. He flirts with a stewardess, Pam, at a discotheque, moves into her apartment, and hides a suitcase filled with weapons in her closet. Later, he bombs buildings in the financial district and calls the press to claim credit. DaSilva becomes exasperated that Hartman lectures them in a classroom, instead of allowing the officers to work the streets. Hartman insists that police techniques are not sufficient against terrorists, and warns there might be just one brief opportunity to kill Wulfgar. DaSilva argues that he did not join the police force to become an assassin and that innocent people could get killed in the cross-fire. Hartman attacks DaSilva’s “beat cop” mentality, claiming it destroyed his relationship with Irene. As DaSilva storms out in anger, Hartman tells him that Wulfgar will also know any personal information that can be used as a weapon. Fox convinces his partner to stay on the team, but DaSilva warns Hartman that he cannot shoot Wulfgar if a hostage might be killed. Hartman cites DaSilva’s exemplary military service record and feels he will do what is necessary. At Pam’s apartment, she finds Wulfgar’s suitcase of weapons and he murders her. Later, Wulfgar connects with new contacts at a small shop. When the police discover Pam’s body, they find evidence of Wulfgar’s presence. DaSilva and Fox go to several nightclubs looking for someone who might have seen Pam or Wulfgar. A bouncer recognizes their pictures from a previous visit and the officers check inside the club. Despite Wulfgar’s plastic surgery, DaSilva recognizes him across the room. DaSilva approaches and the men stare at each other. Wulfgar turns to leave but DaSilva yells his name and Wulfgar pulls a gun. DaSilva and Fox duck as Wulfgar shoots into the crowd, then runs away. A chase ensues. Wulfgar reaches a subway station platform, grabs a woman at knife-point and hides behind a pillar until a train arrives. Using the woman as a shield, Wulfgar steps forward to board the train. Fox yells at DaSilva to take the shot but DaSilva, fearful of hitting the woman, does not fire. DaSilva and Fox jump on the train as it speeds off and run through the cars toward Wulfgar. The terrorist lets the woman go, rushes off the train at the next station and heads up a staircase. The officers split up during their pursuit, and Wulfgar slices Fox’s jaw with a knife. As DaSilva runs to his partner’s aid, Wulfgar escapes. At the hospital, Fox chides DaSilva for not shooting Wulfgar when he had the opportunity. Later, Wulfgar meets with Shakka and orders her to get information on United Nations delegates and on police working with Hartman, particularly DaSilva. Meanwhile, DaSilva telephones Irene and asks her to take extra safety precautions. In return, she asks him for a dinner date. At a United Nations gala, Hartman, DaSilva, Fox and their team provide security, but Hartman is shot and killed by Shakka. As police secure the building, DaSilva posits that the gala is not Wulfgar’s target. Elsewhere, several UN delegates board the Roosevelt Island tram. When the tram reaches its midway point, high above the water, Wulfgar and Shakka pull out their weapons and take everyone hostage. As DaSilva’s helicopter arrives at the site, Wulfgar shoots a woman and tosses her body off the tram. Wulfgar offers to release an infant, but demands that DaSilva come onboard to get it. Unarmed, DaSilva harnesses himself to a cable and raises onto the tram. Wulfgar promises to kill DaSilva in due time, but allows him to leave with the child and a written statement for the press. He demands the release of several imprisoned terrorists, wants a jet ready at ten p.m. and demands that DaSilva drive the bus to the airport. DaSilva rushes to police headquarters, grabs a tape recorder with a tape of Hartman’s lecture berating Shakka and straps it to his body. When DaSilva drives the bus to the site, Wulfgar ties the hostages together in a circle surrounding him and Shakka. Fox positions himself on a nearby roof and aims his rifle. At the bus, Wulfgar frisks DaSilva, then steps onto the bus and orders the hostages to follow. At that moment, DaSilva plays the audio tape and Hartman’s words infuriate Shakka. As she rushes to kill DaSilva, Fox shoots her in the head. While DaSilva pushes the hostages to safety, Wulfgar drives off and crashes the bus into the water. The bus sinks, but there is no sign of Wulfgar. An address found on Shakka’s body leads them to the store where DaSilva discovers Wulfgar’s files contain Irene’s address. He telephones her, but there is no answer. Wulfgar watches as Irene enters her home. Looking through the front door glass, Wulfgar sees Irene, dressed in her bathrobe, cooking in the kitchen. He breaks in and sneaks behind the unsuspecting woman. As Wulfgar raises his knife, “she” turns around and Wulfgar is shocked to see DaSilva beneath a blonde wig. Wulfgar moves to stab him and DaSilva shoots. When Wulfgar raises his knife again, DaSilva’s second shot sends the terrorist flying through the front door. DaSilva walks outside and sits next to Wulfgar’s dead body. +

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

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