Going in Style (1979)

PG | 102 mins | Comedy, Comedy-drama | 1979

Director:

Martin Brest

Writer:

Martin Brest

Producers:

Tony Bill, Fred T. Gallo

Cinematographer:

Billy Williams

Production Designer:

Stephen Hendrickson

Production Company:

Warner Bros., Inc.
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HISTORY

End credits include the following written statements: "Filmed at Astoria Motion Picture and Television Center, Astoria, New York; Simulated newscasts produced in cooperation with WNEW Radio and WINS, New York." End credits also include the following acknowledgments: "The producers wish to thank the New York City Mayors Office of Motion Pictures and Television, Nancy Littlefield, Director; The Movie/TV Unit, New York Police Dept., Paul Glanzman, Commanding Officer."
       The original title, Stepping Out, was changed to Going in Style during pre-production, as noted in a 20 April 1979 DV article.
       Although screenwriter and director Martin Brest’s debut feature was Hot Tomorrows, a low budget film made at the American Film Institute’s (AFI) Center for Advanced Film Studies, Going in Style represented his first major studio release, according to production notes in AMPAS library files.
       Articles in the 12 Aug 1979 LAT and the 17 Dec 1979 New West outlined the development of the project, which began when executive producer Leonard Gaines presented Brest with a short story written by Edward Cannon, a carpenter from Queens, NY. Brest bought the screen rights and approached Warner Bros. Inc., who acquired the project and agreed to sign Brest as director based on the merits of Hot Tomorrows, to which the studio had contributed $15,000 in completion funds. Although more experienced screenwriters were discussed, Brest finally convinced Warner executives to let him write the script, which shared the theme of aging with Hot Tomorrows.
       According to New West, Brest initially contemplated unknowns for the starring roles, but with a production ... More Less

End credits include the following written statements: "Filmed at Astoria Motion Picture and Television Center, Astoria, New York; Simulated newscasts produced in cooperation with WNEW Radio and WINS, New York." End credits also include the following acknowledgments: "The producers wish to thank the New York City Mayors Office of Motion Pictures and Television, Nancy Littlefield, Director; The Movie/TV Unit, New York Police Dept., Paul Glanzman, Commanding Officer."
       The original title, Stepping Out, was changed to Going in Style during pre-production, as noted in a 20 April 1979 DV article.
       Although screenwriter and director Martin Brest’s debut feature was Hot Tomorrows, a low budget film made at the American Film Institute’s (AFI) Center for Advanced Film Studies, Going in Style represented his first major studio release, according to production notes in AMPAS library files.
       Articles in the 12 Aug 1979 LAT and the 17 Dec 1979 New West outlined the development of the project, which began when executive producer Leonard Gaines presented Brest with a short story written by Edward Cannon, a carpenter from Queens, NY. Brest bought the screen rights and approached Warner Bros. Inc., who acquired the project and agreed to sign Brest as director based on the merits of Hot Tomorrows, to which the studio had contributed $15,000 in completion funds. Although more experienced screenwriters were discussed, Brest finally convinced Warner executives to let him write the script, which shared the theme of aging with Hot Tomorrows.
       According to New West, Brest initially contemplated unknowns for the starring roles, but with a production budget of $5.5 million, the studio encouraged him to cast familiar names. While Art Carney was Brest’s first choice for the part of “Al,” he originally considered actors Barnard Hughes for “Willie” and Burgess Meredith for “Joe.” The eventual choice of George Burns to play Joe continued a late career revival for the entertainer that began with Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys (1975, see entry). Burns noted in several publicity interviews, including production notes, that Joe’s look was meticulously researched, exemplified by the approximately 150 pairs of eyeglasses he tried on for the character.
       Although Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980, see entry) was planned as Warner Bros.’ major Christmas release for 1979, the film was delayed, so the studio assigned Going in Style the prestigious slot and accelerated the production schedule, as described in the New West article.
       An 18 May 1979 studio press release announced that principal photography was scheduled to begin 21 May 1979 in New York City. As stated in production notes, the filmmakers used Astoria Studios, located in the Queens borough of New York City, to build the primary set of the bachelor apartment. Many of the street exteriors were filmed nearby in the neighborhood of Astoria. The park bench scenes were captured at Monsignor McGolrick Park in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. The interior of the “Union Marine Bank” was shot at the Gould Memorial Library of Bronx Community College, while the exterior was represented by the Manufacturers Hanover Bank in Manhattan’s Herald Square. Additional location sites in the New York City area included Park Avenue and 51st Street for the drum performance, Brooklyn’s Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station and the Trans World Airlines (TWA) terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport. Cast and crew relocated to Las Vegas, NV, and the Aladdin Hotel to film the casino scenes.
       Filming was unexpectedly interrupted twice during the twelve-week shooting schedule. As reported in a 25 Jun 1979 HR article, a two-week delay occurred after Art Carney suffered an eye injury during a mugging incident. A 9 Aug 1979 HR article revealed that West Coast union officials refused to allow the film’s New York camera crew to work in Las Vegas, which was scheduled for nine days beginning 11 Aug 1979. In protest, the camera team convened a work stoppage on the New York set, which temporarily halted production.
       A 26 Nov 1979 LAHExam article explained that the film was originally assigned the R-rating due to an expletive spoken by George Burns’ character when he is arrested. Although the studio and producers appealed based on a “comedic rather than an erotic context,” the Motion Picture Classification and Ratings Board upheld the ruling. Since the film was intended as a PG-Christmas release, the filmmakers removed the controversial line to achieve the more inclusive rating. The LAHExam article indicated that the film was used as an example by the Ratings Board to tighten rules that had become more lenient of late regarding sexually graphic words.
       After opening 25 Dec 1979 in 731 theatres, the picture gradually became a “word-of-mouth” success, as described in a 16 Jan 1980 DV article. By mid-Jan 1980, the domestic gross was $11.8 million and the studio expected to recoup their cost within a few weeks. A 14 Feb 1980 DV brief announced that the film had passed $20 million at the box-office.
       According to a 15 Oct 2012 HR article, New Line Cinema, a subsidiary of Warner Bros., was planning a remake of Going in Style, produced by Donald De Line, executive produced by Tony Bill and written by Ted Melfi. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 Apr 1979
p. 1, 6.
Daily Variety
16 Jan 1980.
---
Daily Variety
14 Feb 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jun 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Dec 1979
p. 3, 26.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Oct 2012.
---
LAHExam
26 Nov 1979.
---
Los Angeles Times
12 Aug 1979
Section S, p. 32.
Los Angeles Times
23 Dec 1979
p. 46.
New West
17 Dec 1979
pp. 115-119.
New York Times
25 Dec 1979
p. 17.
Variety
19 Dec 1979
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
a Tony Bill production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Key grip
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Const coord
Const grip
Scenic artist
COSTUMES
Men`s cost
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus ed
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Asst sd ed
Prod mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title des
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod office coord
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Teamster capt
Unit pub
Film res
Secy to Mr. Brest
Secy to Mr. Gallo
Casting
New York casting
New York casting
STAND INS
Stunt driver
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Stepping Out
Release Date:
1979
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 25 December 1979
Production Date:
21 May--mid August 1979
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
19 February 1980
Copyright Number:
PA60028
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
102
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25888
SYNOPSIS

Retired senior citizens, Joe, Al, and Willie, share a cramped apartment in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, New York, and often pass the time sitting on a local park bench. One day, after depositing their social security checks at the bank, Al and Willie notice that Joe appears unusually preoccupied. During the night, Joe awakens to make some calculations. In the morning, he greets his roommates with enthusiasm and proposes that the three of them, who have never broken the law, should carry out a “stickup.” Bored by their daily routine, Joe argues that the crime is not as risky as they may think. In the unlikely event that they are arrested, room and board will be free in prison and their social security checks will accumulate until they are released; and if they succeed, they will have extra cash to enjoy, instead of sitting on a park bench all day. Al likes the idea, but Willie is more skeptical. As they discuss details, Al offers to investigate the gun collection of his nephew, Pete, while Joe proposes that they scout a bank to rob in New York City. The next day, the three men take the subway into the city and, without much deliberation, decide to hold up the Union Marine Bank at 36th Street and Broadway. As they indulge in a hot dog from a street vendor and participate in a sidewalk drum performance, the men are rejuvenated by the scheme. Al is confident that he can obtain the guns that afternoon, so the ringleader, Joe, suggests robbing the bank the next day. While ... +


Retired senior citizens, Joe, Al, and Willie, share a cramped apartment in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, New York, and often pass the time sitting on a local park bench. One day, after depositing their social security checks at the bank, Al and Willie notice that Joe appears unusually preoccupied. During the night, Joe awakens to make some calculations. In the morning, he greets his roommates with enthusiasm and proposes that the three of them, who have never broken the law, should carry out a “stickup.” Bored by their daily routine, Joe argues that the crime is not as risky as they may think. In the unlikely event that they are arrested, room and board will be free in prison and their social security checks will accumulate until they are released; and if they succeed, they will have extra cash to enjoy, instead of sitting on a park bench all day. Al likes the idea, but Willie is more skeptical. As they discuss details, Al offers to investigate the gun collection of his nephew, Pete, while Joe proposes that they scout a bank to rob in New York City. The next day, the three men take the subway into the city and, without much deliberation, decide to hold up the Union Marine Bank at 36th Street and Broadway. As they indulge in a hot dog from a street vendor and participate in a sidewalk drum performance, the men are rejuvenated by the scheme. Al is confident that he can obtain the guns that afternoon, so the ringleader, Joe, suggests robbing the bank the next day. While Joe and Willie purchase three pairs of Groucho Marx-style glasses as disguises, Al stops by Pete’s house. As soon as his nephew leaves for work, Al sneaks into the basement and takes three pistols from the gun case, as well as an assortment of bullets. The next morning, after finally determining which bullets fit the pistols, the threesome take a bus to another neighborhood in Queens to conceal their point of origin. From there, they hail an unlicensed cab, which does not keep records of fares. For $30, the driver agrees to take them into Manhattan and to wait outside the bank while they “sign a will.” Upon entering the bank in disguise, Al detains the security guard at gunpoint, as Joe orders the teller to hand over the money. When the bank manager does not take the elderly men seriously, Joe fires a bullet at the wall, causing everyone to take cover on the floor. After filling their satchel with cash, the friends dash back to the waiting cab, ask the driver to drop them at a subway station and return to Queens on the train. When they count the money at home, the total amounts to just over $35,000, and Al suggest they hide the loot in his old suitcase, stored at Pete’s house. Later, as the three men sit on their regular park bench and overhear a report on the radio about the crime, Willie suffers a heart attack and dies. Sparing no expense, Joe makes funeral arrangements. During the memorial service, Joe and Al decide to give $25,000 of the heist money to Pete, who tirelessly works two jobs to support his family. Pete is speechless as Joe explains that he and Al inherited a $25,000 life insurance policy from Willie, but they have no need for the money. In exchange for the gift, Joe suggests that Pete give them $20 per week to supplement their fixed income. After the funeral, the two friends decide to spend some of their money on a spontaneous vacation to Las Vegas, Nevada. Without making reservations, they take a cab to Kennedy Airport, buy a ticket, and board their first plane flight. At a casino hotel that evening, they try their luck at the craps table. Al is not familiar with the game, but Joe instructs him to simply roll the dice while he places bets. To their surprise, they accumulate $73,000 in winnings by the end of the evening. However, Joe realizes that their gambling luck will make them a target for thieves, as well as more conspicuous to authorities, so he suggests they collect the cash and fly back to New York that night. Arriving at their apartment exhausted from the whirlwind excursion, they immediately fall asleep. When Joe wakes, he hears a report on the radio that the police anticipate a development in the “amateur” bank robbery case. Joe tries to wake Al with the news, but is distressed to find that his friend has passed away. A few hours later, Joe arrives at Pete’s house, carrying the bag of money, and takes Pete aside to divulge the bank robbery, the Vegas winnings and his uncle’s death. He adds that the police appear to be closing in and asks Pete to help hide the approximately $107,000 in a safety deposit box. Tearful over his uncle’s death, Pete agrees and promises not to inform the authorities. The next day, Joe shaves and dresses for Al’s funeral, but as he leaves the apartment, two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents handcuff him. During questioning, Joe refuses to reveal the location of the money. Sometime later, Pete visits Joe in prison and reminds him that if he does not give back the robbery cash, he will receive a harsher sentence. Joe says he does not mind, adding that Al and Willie would not want him to return the loot. Instead of being ignored on a park bench, Joe says he is “treated like a king” in prison. Before the guard escorts him away, Joe tells Pete not to worry about him and to enjoy his “inheritance.” +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.