On the Edge (1986)

PG-13 | 89 mins | Drama | 2 May 1986

Director:

Rob Nilsson

Cinematographer:

Stefan Czapsky

Editor:

Robert Shoup

Production Designer:

Don DeFina
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HISTORY

According to production notes in AMPAS library files, writer-director Rob Nilsson began collecting ideas in 1975 for his screenplay. When Nilsson formed a partnership with Roy Kissin in 1980, his project gained momentum. While Both men were competitive runners, Kissin had competed internationally as a world-class athlete, and his contacts in the running world gave the partners greater options for financing. A 21 Apr 1986 LADN article reported that the project ran out of money in post-production, and Nilsson attended races to solicit funds from fellow runners. A 1 Apr 1986 LADN article stated that, although the independent picture was shot in 1983, it languished until the end of 1985 when Skouras Pictures agreed to distribute.
       Actor Bruce Dern, an amateur runner, worked for a deferred salary to participate in the film, inspired by the “seventeen-mile Mill Valley Dipsea marathon.” Production notes state that ten Dipsea race winners appeared in the picture. Articles in the 16 Jun 1985 LAT and 23 Apr 1986 Var reported that actress Pam Grier’s role as Dern’s lover was cut from the film. Grier claimed it was done at her request, but Nilsson noted that after feedback from test screenings, he eliminated the romantic subplot so as not to detract from the story action.
       A 22 Jul 1983 LAHExam article stated that filmmakers chose to shoot the $1.6 million movie in the CA towns of Richmond and Sausalito when Mill Valley, their first choice, priced itself out of contention by asking a $900 per day location rate. The other towns were willing to accept a lower daily rate of $50. Production notes ... More Less

According to production notes in AMPAS library files, writer-director Rob Nilsson began collecting ideas in 1975 for his screenplay. When Nilsson formed a partnership with Roy Kissin in 1980, his project gained momentum. While Both men were competitive runners, Kissin had competed internationally as a world-class athlete, and his contacts in the running world gave the partners greater options for financing. A 21 Apr 1986 LADN article reported that the project ran out of money in post-production, and Nilsson attended races to solicit funds from fellow runners. A 1 Apr 1986 LADN article stated that, although the independent picture was shot in 1983, it languished until the end of 1985 when Skouras Pictures agreed to distribute.
       Actor Bruce Dern, an amateur runner, worked for a deferred salary to participate in the film, inspired by the “seventeen-mile Mill Valley Dipsea marathon.” Production notes state that ten Dipsea race winners appeared in the picture. Articles in the 16 Jun 1985 LAT and 23 Apr 1986 Var reported that actress Pam Grier’s role as Dern’s lover was cut from the film. Grier claimed it was done at her request, but Nilsson noted that after feedback from test screenings, he eliminated the romantic subplot so as not to detract from the story action.
       A 22 Jul 1983 LAHExam article stated that filmmakers chose to shoot the $1.6 million movie in the CA towns of Richmond and Sausalito when Mill Valley, their first choice, priced itself out of contention by asking a $900 per day location rate. The other towns were willing to accept a lower daily rate of $50. Production notes state that Nilsson and cinematographer Stefan Czapsky filmed runners using Steadicam operators riding on motorcycles, dollies, and pickup trucks. Cameramen also employed aerial shots and used a chair suspended between two redwood trees by a cable for certain point-of-view shots. Second unit director-camera operator Stephen Lighthill ran with the camera either tucked under his arm or dangling by his knee to capture the immediacy of the race. For a majority of the interiors, filmmakers shot at television station KRON in San Francisco, CA, a National Broadcasting Company (NBC) affiliate.
       End credits state: “This film was inspired by the men, women, and children who have run the Dipsea Race from Mill Valley over the ridges of Mt. Tamalpais to Stinson Beach from 1906 to the present,” “Dedicated to the memory of John Marley and Luigi Alfano,” “All post production and sound mixing was performed at The Saul Zaentz Company Film Center, Berkeley, California.”
       The following acknowledgments appear in end credits: “Thanks to: Albert Rubin and Co.; Alta Marea Productions; Astrocopters; Bufferin; Cinzano; Golden West Meteorology; Health Valley Natural Foods; IT'S-IT; Metropolitan Furniture Corporation; Moving Arts; 3M; National City Bank, Minneapolis; New York Road Runners Club; Norm Marshall and Associates; Pabst Brewery; Pepsi-Cola Company; Perrier; Sako Shoes; Sub-4 Inc.; Tamalpa Runners; Unique Product Placement; Zatachron; The State of California, Department of Parks and Recreation; The Steinhart Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park; The Town of Stinson Beach; American Red Cross, Marin County Chapter; The United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Stinson District; The 2AM Club; Chevron U.S.A., Richmond, CA; Nautilus of Marin, San Rafael, CA; Marin Municipal Water District; KRON TV Channel 4 San Francisco;” “Special Thanks to: Steve Aiken; Peter Archibald; Ann Ashley; Joel Bartlett; Bob Bell; Raymond Cage; Alice Caldwell; Robin Calhoun; Steve Carroll; Richard Chew; Gene Cohn; Luis Colina; Gene Corr; Tom Dahlgren; Lisa Fruchtman; Howard Funsch; Jim Furman; Rick Garza; Harry Gittes; Bruce Grant; Whitney Green; Jerry Hauke; George A. Hirsch; John Honiotes; Penny Hunt; Jazz Buccaneers; Paul Kaufman; William Kennedy; Delores Kvigne; George Larson; Jack Leahy; Fred Lebow; Norman Leong; Ron Levaco; Pete Lewis; Bruce Lindgren; Terrance McDermott; Michael Manheim; Levon Medals; Ron Middag; Michael Pechner; Tom Pickell; Rick Reed; Albirda Rose; Charles Rose; Charlotte Rouda; Roy Segal; Bern Shanks; Bob Shotland; James H. Smith; Alan Splet; Marcia Stout; Hank Tate; Arlean Tessler; Joe Tysl; Jack Wolfe; John Williams; Irwin Young;” “The producers gratefully wish to acknowledge the following who helped make this film possible: Donna Andrews; M. A. Baxter; William Beddor; Shyrl Blauise; Peter Butler; Jack Calderon; Annette J. Campbell-White; Tom & Molly Casey; Robert M. & Moana Chase; James Clapp; Judy Cox; Brian Crawford; Renee S. Crown; John & Mary Kay Dern, Jr.; Donovan A. Erickson; Richard A. Erickson; Ronald A. Erickson; Irving Fisk; Ruth E. Goldberg; Morton S. Grossman; Edward M. Hoban; James H. Hearon Ill; William Janeway; Tom Jordan; Peter Laskier; Laurence C. Leeds; Charles Lempert; Barbara Magid; John F. Murphy; Arno P. Niemand, Jr.; Bert Nelson; Ken Nelson; James E. O'Neil; Thomas J. O'Neil; Richard A. Rohleder; Neil Rosenstein; Exacta, Inc. Roberta Schmidt; Bob & Marilyn Smith; Annie Stiles; Hubbard Stout; John & Marcia Stout; Swirl Partnership/Neele E. Stearns; Oscar L. Tang/Reich & Tang, Inc.; Ellen G. Wald; Stephen L. Wald; James Waldo; Steve Vermut.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
27 Mar 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 May 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 1986
p. 1, 6.
Hollywood Reporter
23 May 1986
p. 3, 25.
LAHExam
22 Jul 1986.
---
Los Angeles Daily News
1 Apr 1986.
---
Los Angeles Daily News
21 Apr 1986.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Jun 1985.
---
Los Angeles Times
2 May 1986
p. 6.
New York Times
16 May 1986
p. 16.
Variety
16 Apr 1986.
---
Variety
23 Apr 1986.
---
Variety
22 May 1985
p. 32.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
New Front Films in association with
International Film Investors presents
an Alliance Films production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl cine
Addl cine
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Key grip
Key grip
Gaffer
Best boy
Still photog
Still photog
Still photog
Addl cam op
Addl cam op
Addl cam op
Addl cam op
Steadicam op
Motorcycle cam specialist
Underwater photog
Underwater photog, Ocean Images, Inc.
Addl cam asst
Addl cam asst
Addl cam asst
Addl cam asst
Addl cam asst
Addl cam asst
Addl cam asst
Addl grip
Addl grip
Addl grip
24 frame video specialist
24 frame video specialist
Tape op
Arriflex cam equip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Ed/Supv ed
Ed/Supv ed
Ed consultant
Ed consultant
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Scene des
Prop master
Prop asst
Set asst
Set asst
Set asst
Set asst
Set asst
Set asst
Const coord
Carpenter
COSTUMES
Ward des
Ward asst
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus rec
Mus asst/Programming
SOUND
Sd supv
Boom
Supv sd ed
Supv re-rec mixer
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Sd eff librarian
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Foley artist
Addl sd rec
Addl sd rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles
Opticals
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup and hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Unit mgr
Unit mgr
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Advance unit mgr
Unit pub
Prod's rep
Prod office coord
Prod secy/Asst to prods
Asst to dir
Prod auditor
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Talent coord
Crowd control
Personal consultant & trainer to Mr. Dern
Asst to Mr. Dern
Asst to Ms. Grier/Mr. Marley
Post prod office coord
Post prod office coord
Post prod office coord
Addl casting
Extras casting dir
Extras casting asst
Okunrin meta
Obinrin meta
Motorhome attendant
Vehicles courtesy
Vehicles courtesy
Vehicles courtesy
New Front Films
New Front Films
New Front Films
New Front Films
New Front Films
New Front Films
New Front prod services
New Front prod services
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Mr. Dern's double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Film processing and prints
SOURCES
SONGS
“Midnight Starship,” Michael Deacon, Mustard Seed, BMI
“Song For Abraham,” Howard Arthur
“Throttle Back,” Rob Nilsson, vocals by Hal Atkinson, Ricky Peterson, Howard Arthur
+
SONGS
“Midnight Starship,” Michael Deacon, Mustard Seed, BMI
“Song For Abraham,” Howard Arthur
“Throttle Back,” Rob Nilsson, vocals by Hal Atkinson, Ricky Peterson, Howard Arthur
“Sports On Four,” written and performed by Mark Adler
“Fixin’ The Crib,” Andy Narell
“Running,” performed by the Andy Narell Band
“Responsible,” Bruce Hauser and the Sawmill Creek Band, courtesy Cowboy Records and Up the Creek Music ASCAP
“Barely Getting By,” Bruce Hauser and the Sawmill Creek Band, courtesy Cowboy Records and Up the Creek Music ASCAP
“Things Could Never Be Right,” Bruce Hauser and the Sawmill Creek Band, courtesy Cowboy Records and Up the Creek Music ASCAP.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
2 May 1986
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 2 May 1986
New York opening: 16 May 1986
Production Date:
1983
Copyright Claimant:
On the Edge Films Limited Partnership
Copyright Date:
31 July 1986
Copyright Number:
PA353066
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
89
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

A disgraced runner named Wes Holman returns to California to observe the Cielo-Sea marathon, a 14.2-mile race over the mountains to the ocean, and take notes on the competition. When he hitches a ride to Mill Valley, California, driver Johnny Lowes recognizes him, and recounts that the forty-four-year-old Wes gave him an autograph in 1964 after winning the Modesto 10,000 and beating runner Matt Singleton to qualify for the Olympic trials. Johnny introduces him to Daryl Beard, a runner sharing the back seat. When another runner named Jenna Mervin mentions the controversy that banned him from competitive running, Wes replies that he no longer races, and asks Johnny to let him out of the car. Donning a running outfit and track shoes, Wes tries out the course. After twenty years away from competitive racing, he is determined to participate in the next Cielo-Sea marathon. He seeks out his old coach, Elmo Glidden, and asks him to be his trainer for the next marathon. When Elmo rejects the request, Wes takes up residence in a broken down houseboat, and begins training on his own. He reconnects with Cora, an old girl friend and aerobics instructor, and they make love. One morning, Elmo joins Wes on the course, and gives him advice. At lunch, Elmo’s wife, Ellie, informs Wes that his father, Flash, is getting older, and needs his son. Wes and his father have been estranged for years, and he is not interested in rekindling their relationship. However, Elmo promises to train Wes if he reconnects with Flash. Wes finds his father welding a windmill in his junkyard. The old man is thrilled to see Wes, and ... +


A disgraced runner named Wes Holman returns to California to observe the Cielo-Sea marathon, a 14.2-mile race over the mountains to the ocean, and take notes on the competition. When he hitches a ride to Mill Valley, California, driver Johnny Lowes recognizes him, and recounts that the forty-four-year-old Wes gave him an autograph in 1964 after winning the Modesto 10,000 and beating runner Matt Singleton to qualify for the Olympic trials. Johnny introduces him to Daryl Beard, a runner sharing the back seat. When another runner named Jenna Mervin mentions the controversy that banned him from competitive running, Wes replies that he no longer races, and asks Johnny to let him out of the car. Donning a running outfit and track shoes, Wes tries out the course. After twenty years away from competitive racing, he is determined to participate in the next Cielo-Sea marathon. He seeks out his old coach, Elmo Glidden, and asks him to be his trainer for the next marathon. When Elmo rejects the request, Wes takes up residence in a broken down houseboat, and begins training on his own. He reconnects with Cora, an old girl friend and aerobics instructor, and they make love. One morning, Elmo joins Wes on the course, and gives him advice. At lunch, Elmo’s wife, Ellie, informs Wes that his father, Flash, is getting older, and needs his son. Wes and his father have been estranged for years, and he is not interested in rekindling their relationship. However, Elmo promises to train Wes if he reconnects with Flash. Wes finds his father welding a windmill in his junkyard. The old man is thrilled to see Wes, and they drink together. Elmo wakes Wes at dawn, and instructs him on technique, and the philosophy of the race, but Wes complains that Elmo’s talking cuts into his practice time. Elmo reminds Wes that at his age his chances of winning are slim. Wes sends a letter requesting reinstatement of his amateur standing for the Cielo-Sea race. At a dinner to celebrate his working windmill, Flash declares that running is a frivolous pursuit, and embarrasses Wes in front of guests. When Wes leaves the table, Elmo criticizes Flash for his skewed values, reminding him that Wes defied the sports establishment at the height of his career, stating that the rich created amateurism as a way for the poor to compete. He forfeited his Olympic career after he was caught accepting financial benefits, even as he fought to put an end to the system. Elmo believes the their father-son conflict is rooted in Flash’s disrespect for running, and his refusal to watch his son compete in a race. Late at night, Wes reads the inscription on a marker on the Cielo-Sea course for the second time, and covers it with dirt. Later, Cora comes to the houseboat, and after they make love, Wes confesses that being a runner was all he ever wanted to do as a boy. He longed to be free, and find a place where no one could tell him that he was wasting his life. The next day, when Wes submits his application for the Cielo-Sea race at an athletic shoe store, owner and race director Owen Reilly says Wes is not eligible because the Amateur Athletic Competition (AAC) has not rescinded his suspension. Wes accuses Reilly of having stolen his contraband airline tickets, and turned them over to ACC officials twenty years ago. At first, Reilly denies the accusation, but then claims things would have worked out if Wes kept quiet. His insistence on telling the truth is what made him a target. He needed to be silenced in order for the system to survive. Wes warns Reilly that he plans to race in his age category, and will not tolerate any interference. Later, Reilly calls to say that the AAC will not consider reinstating Wes until its December convention. Meanwhile, Wes ignores Elmo’s advice to rest, does a timed run, and takes a fall. Cora tells Wes that she loves him in her own way, but she is leaving town for a while. Wes expresses his doubts to Elmo, who shows him a shortcut that will shave time off his race. Elmo’s secret restores Wes’s confidence. Wes tells his father that he has been on the mountain, and Flash remembers how they used to hike there as a family. His wife, Daisy, loved a calypso orchid that bloomed there, and wanted to be buried nearby. Daisy was a tough woman, who once bit the thumb of a “scab” when she and Flash walked a union picket line. Wes is shocked when Flash wishes him good luck, and apologizes that is has taken him so long to understand that Wes is fighting for his own cause. He believes that it is worth crossing a bureaucrat to do it. On race day, sports commentators state that a few “ringers” have entered, including former Olympians Matt Singleton and Gary Bjorklund. Local sports heroes such as Ray Lopes and Darryl Beard are also introduced. Wes waits until his age category is called and sneaks into the race, wearing black with no number. Owen Reilly observes Wes, and orders security to remove him from the competition. As the reporters in the booth scramble to get background on Wes for the broadcast, commentator Marty Licouri explains that Wes tried to organize the runners to demand a legal system of compensation so they would not have to cash in bonuses such as airline tickets to pay their living and training expenses. Wes pulls ahead of the pack and makes his way up the mountain. When Matt Singleton catches up to him, Wes takes a shortcut, and passes Matt. On top of the “Cardiac Hill,” Reilly tells reporters the organization’s position has been clear from the start, and his intention is to stop Wes. When one official knocks Wes down, the other runners help him up and push Reilly and his cronies out of the way. In the process, the station loses transmission when the camera positioned on Cardiac Hill is damaged. As the race progresses, the runners surrounding Wes continue to push officials aside. When several runners appear on the crest of the hill, officials make one last unsuccessful attempt to stop Wes, but fellow runners deter them. As Wes races toward the finish line, his father, Elmo and Ellie cheer him on. Wes waits for the winning female runner, and grabs her hand. When Wes hits the finish line first, six runners follow, and the crowd is ecstatic. All the top runners congratulate Wes. Arm in arm, they celebrate with a swim in the ocean. +

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

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