The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)

R | 131 mins | Drama | 25 January 1985

Director:

John Schlesinger

Writer:

Steven Zaillian

Cinematographer:

Allen Daviau

Editor:

Richard Marden

Production Designer:

James D. Bissell

Production Company:

Hemdale Film Corporation
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HISTORY

       According to the 11 Feb 1980 LAT, film rights for Robert Lindsey’s 1979 best selling book, The Falcon and the Snowman: A True Story of Friendship and Espionage, were purchased by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. and producer Gabriel Katzka for an undisclosed six-figure price. However, filmmakers needed signed releases from the story’s subjects, Christopher Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee, before production could move forward. Lindsey revealed that Fox had set aside $100,000 as payment for Boyce, Lee, and their lawyers for the use of their names in the picture. Boyce reportedly signed the release, but refused his $25,000 award, although his attorneys, William Dougherty and George Celius, received $15,000 each to serve as technical consultants on the picture. However, neither is credited on screen. At the time, Lee refused the deal, as he was unhappy about his portrayal in Lindsey’s book. Although it was uncertain if Lee’s permission was legally required, Fox chose to wait for his signature and avoid an unnecessary legal battle. Lindsey stated he was “very unhappy to be part of paying two guys who betrayed their country,” and LAT added that the $100,000 was more than the $76,000 the men earned for selling secret documents to the Russians. On 21 Jan 1980, nine days after signing the release for filmmakers to use his name, Boyce escaped from the Federal Correctional Institution at Lompoc, CA, where he was serving a forty-year sentence.
       The Sep 1980 South Bay included a letter from Lee’s mother, in response to an article published by Robert Lindsey. She claimed that Daulton and the ... More Less

       According to the 11 Feb 1980 LAT, film rights for Robert Lindsey’s 1979 best selling book, The Falcon and the Snowman: A True Story of Friendship and Espionage, were purchased by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. and producer Gabriel Katzka for an undisclosed six-figure price. However, filmmakers needed signed releases from the story’s subjects, Christopher Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee, before production could move forward. Lindsey revealed that Fox had set aside $100,000 as payment for Boyce, Lee, and their lawyers for the use of their names in the picture. Boyce reportedly signed the release, but refused his $25,000 award, although his attorneys, William Dougherty and George Celius, received $15,000 each to serve as technical consultants on the picture. However, neither is credited on screen. At the time, Lee refused the deal, as he was unhappy about his portrayal in Lindsey’s book. Although it was uncertain if Lee’s permission was legally required, Fox chose to wait for his signature and avoid an unnecessary legal battle. Lindsey stated he was “very unhappy to be part of paying two guys who betrayed their country,” and LAT added that the $100,000 was more than the $76,000 the men earned for selling secret documents to the Russians. On 21 Jan 1980, nine days after signing the release for filmmakers to use his name, Boyce escaped from the Federal Correctional Institution at Lompoc, CA, where he was serving a forty-year sentence.
       The Sep 1980 South Bay included a letter from Lee’s mother, in response to an article published by Robert Lindsey. She claimed that Daulton and the Lee family had not received any funds from Fox. However, Lindsey responded that his original article did not state that Lee had received any money to date, and Lee’s attorney planned to procure a signed release from his client in the near future.
       An 8 Jul 1980 LAHExam news item announced that John Schlesinger was hired to direct. According to the 30 Aug 1981 LAT, Schlesinger was considering actor Martin Hewitt to star as “Christopher Boyce,” and planned to begin filming in early 1982. The article also reported that the real Christopher Boyce had finally been captured after being a fugitive for nineteen months. An 18 May 1982 LAHExam news item announced Timothy Hutton had been cast as Boyce, and the actor suggested Jackie Earle Haley for the role of “Daulton Lee,” although the role was eventually performed by Sean Penn. Hutton later visited Boyce in prison after his capture, and the two men followed up the “very emotional” encounter with telephone calls and letters prior to production, as reported in the 4 Jan 1984 LAT.
       According to the 12 May 1983 HR, Orion Pictures had taken over the $12 million picture, in partnership with The Hemdale Group, while producer Gabriel Katzka remained attached to the project. The 4 Jan 1984 LAT stated that after purchasing film rights, Fox deemed the characters of Boyce and Lee too unsympathetic for American audiences. HR noted filming would begin in Nov 1983. However, a 13 Dec 1983 HR news item announced principal photography began in Mexico City, Mexico, on 5 Dec 1983. The 28 Dec 1983 Var reported additional filming locations in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and at Churubusco Studios.
       The 17 Aug 1984 HR reported that David Bowie and Pat Metheney were hired to write the film’s score.
       Critical reception for The Falcon and the Snowman was mixed. While the acting talents of Hutton and Penn were applauded, the picture, though based on a true story, was deemed implausible by the 21 Jan 1985 HR. The Mar 1985 Box reported the film earned $2.4 million domestically after three days, on 265 screens.
       According to the 4 Jan 1984 LAT, Robert Lindsey wrote a sequel, The Flight of the Falcon, based on Boyce’s nineteen-month prison escape. Director Schlesinger told the 30 Aug 1981 LAT that adding the escape would complicate the story, and planned to end the picture with Boyce’s incarceration. The 3 Apr 1994 Parade reported that Boyce spent his nineteen-months on the run robbing banks, before being apprehended in Seattle, WA. As a result, Boyce was sentenced to twenty-eight additional years in prison beyond his original forty-year sentence. Although Daulton Lee was reportedly a model prisoner, he would never be eligible for parole because of his life sentence.
       A 15 Mar 2003 LAT news item announced that Christopher Boyd was released from federal custody, but would remain on parole until his original release year, 2046.
      End credits include the following: “Production services in Mexico provided by Producciones Patsa, S.A.,” and “Special thanks to: Camino Real Hotel; Burroughs, S.A. de C.B. Mexico; Playboy Enterprises Inc.; Minox U.S.A.,” also listed: “Post production facilities: Twickenham Film Studios Limited, England.” The picture begins with the following prologue: “This film is based on actual events in the lives of Christopher Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee,” and concludes with the epilogue: “Andrew Daulton Lee was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Christopher Boyce was found guilty and sentenced to 40 years imprisonment.” Additionally, end credits note: “This story is based on actual events. However, certain scenes have been created for purposes of dramatic clarity.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Mar 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 May 1983
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 1985
p. 3, 18.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
8 Jul 1980.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
18 May 1982.
---
Los Angeles Times
11 Feb 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
30 Aug 1981
Calendar, p. 27.
Los Angeles Times
4 Jan 1984
p. 1, 3.
Los Angeles Times
25 Jan 1985
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
15 Mar 2003.
---
New York Times
25 Jan 1985
p. 10.
Parade
3 Apr 1994.
---
South Bay
Sep 1980.
---
Variety
28 Dec 1983.
---
Variety
23 Jan 1985
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Gabriel Katzka and Hemdale present
A John Schlesinger film
An Orion Pictures release
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Asst dir, Mexico
Asst dir, Mexico
Prod mgr, Mexico
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Co-prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
2d cam op
1st asst cam
Chief lighting tech
Gaffer, Mexico
Falcon unit cam
Falcon unit cam
Key grip
Dolly grip
Head elec
Stills photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir, Mexico
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set des
Set dec
Leadman
Set dresser
Set dresser
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
Costumer
MUSIC
Orig mus by
Orig mus by
Mus ed
Mus performed by the
Mus performed by
Mus performed by
Mus performed by
Mus performed by
National Philharmonic Orchestra cond by
Mus mixer
Mus prod asst
Mus clearances
SOUND
Sd mixer
Dubbing mixer
Foley ed
A.D.R. ed
Boom man
Asst boom man
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup, Mexico
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Post prod supv
Asst to Edward Teets
Prod coord
Prod coord, Mexico
Asst to Mr. Schlesinger
Prod accountant
Police tech adv
Falconer
Falconer
Loc mgr
Transportation capt
Police traffic control, Mexico
Prod asst
Prod asst
Addl casting
Casting asst
Extras casting
Russian adv
Unit pub
Asst to pub
Laboratory consultant
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book The Falcon and the Snowman: A True Story of Friendship and Espionage by Robert Lindsey (New York, 1979).
SONGS
“This Is Not America,” by David Bowie, Pat Metheny, and Lyle Mays, sung by David Bowie
“Psalm 121,” musical setting by Pat Metheny, and Lyle Mays, sung by The Ambrosian Singers, conducted by John McCarthy
“Midnight At The Oasis,” performed by Maria Muldaur, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc.
+
SONGS
“This Is Not America,” by David Bowie, Pat Metheny, and Lyle Mays, sung by David Bowie
“Psalm 121,” musical setting by Pat Metheny, and Lyle Mays, sung by The Ambrosian Singers, conducted by John McCarthy
“Midnight At The Oasis,” performed by Maria Muldaur, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc.
“Pick Up The Pieces,” performed by Average White Band, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp.
“China Grove,” and “Long Train Runnin’,” performed by Doobie Brothers, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc.
“You’re So Vain,” performed by Carly Simon, courtesy of Elektra Records
“Lookin’ For A Love,” (J. W. Alexander and Z. Samuels), performed by J. Geils Band, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp./ABKCO Music Inc.
Above songs by arrangement with Warner Special Products.” “All Right Now,” performed by Free, courtesy of A & M Records, Inc. and Island Music Inc.
“Whiter Shade Of Pale,” performed by Procol Harum, courtesy of A & M Records, Inc./Westminster Music Ltd and Straight Ahead Productions
“The Bat,” courtesy of ECM Records.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 January 1985
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 25 January 1985
Production Date:
began 5 December 1983 in Mexico City, Cuernavaca, and Churubusco Studios, Mexico
Copyright Claimant:
Orion Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
7 May 1985
Copyright Number:
PA255321
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
131
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27333
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Los Angeles, California, seminary student Christopher “Chris” Boyce visits his friend, Daulton Lee, and announces that he no longer wants to be a priest. Back home, Chris’s father, a retired Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent named Charlie, secures his son a job in the mailroom of a company called “RTX.” Soon, Chris is noticed by upper management, and executive Larry Rogers calls him into his office. Explaining a top secret project at RTX, managing covert surveillance satellites for the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Rogers recruits Chris to oversee the enterprise. He warns Chris not to discuss his new position with anyone. Chris receives a warm reception by his new co-workers, Gene and Laurie, who welcome him with margaritas. Outside work, Chris remains friends with Daulton, who offers him a partnership in a Mexican drug-transporting scheme, but Chris declines. Back at work, Chris receives a message in error, meant directly for the CIA. When he asks Laurie about it, she explains that transmission mistakes happen frequently, and advises Chris to forget what he read. However, Chris is disturbed by information that the CIA is manipulating an impending labor strike in Australia. At home, Chris argues with his overbearing father and moves out. Later, Chris steals one of the CIA transmissions and shows it to Daulton, explaining the CIA’s role in orchestrating insurrections in foreign countries. Daulton suggests he publicize his findings, but Chris decides that the information is valuable, and asks his friend to take the CIA transmissions to Mexico and search for an interested buyer at one of the foreign ... +


In Los Angeles, California, seminary student Christopher “Chris” Boyce visits his friend, Daulton Lee, and announces that he no longer wants to be a priest. Back home, Chris’s father, a retired Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent named Charlie, secures his son a job in the mailroom of a company called “RTX.” Soon, Chris is noticed by upper management, and executive Larry Rogers calls him into his office. Explaining a top secret project at RTX, managing covert surveillance satellites for the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Rogers recruits Chris to oversee the enterprise. He warns Chris not to discuss his new position with anyone. Chris receives a warm reception by his new co-workers, Gene and Laurie, who welcome him with margaritas. Outside work, Chris remains friends with Daulton, who offers him a partnership in a Mexican drug-transporting scheme, but Chris declines. Back at work, Chris receives a message in error, meant directly for the CIA. When he asks Laurie about it, she explains that transmission mistakes happen frequently, and advises Chris to forget what he read. However, Chris is disturbed by information that the CIA is manipulating an impending labor strike in Australia. At home, Chris argues with his overbearing father and moves out. Later, Chris steals one of the CIA transmissions and shows it to Daulton, explaining the CIA’s role in orchestrating insurrections in foreign countries. Daulton suggests he publicize his findings, but Chris decides that the information is valuable, and asks his friend to take the CIA transmissions to Mexico and search for an interested buyer at one of the foreign embassies. However, Daulton sees this action as unpatriotic, and refuses to participate. In time, Daulton is arrested in a drug bust, and asked to wear a wire for the police in lieu of imprisonment. Displeased at being an informant, Daulton later returns to Chris and agrees to be a courier, then takes the CIA transmissions to the Russian Embassy in Mexico City, Mexico. Immediately, he connects with a Russian named Alex, and the two work out a system of exchanging payments and information. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., Chris buys supplies for his pet falcon, “Fox,” and meets a girl named Lana, who eventually becomes his girl friend. Daulton later returns to Los Angeles and tells Chris about the deal he made with the Russians, but Chris warns his friend there is a warrant out for his arrest. Back in Mexico City, Daulton meets with Russian buyers, who make last minute changes in their meeting locale. When Daulton protests, they request photographs of the secret documents instead of Xerox copies. Back in the U.S., Daulton throws a party, and flaunts his new spy camera, but Chris overhears him reveal their secret plan to a girl. When Chris confronts Daulton in the bathroom, he finds his friend snorting heroin. Later, Chris sends a coded message to the Russians that his courier is unreliable, and requests they find another means of exchange. When Daulton’s contacts fail to meet him, he returns to the embassy, defying their warnings that such actions could result in exposure. The Russians quickly usher Daulton out of sight and chastise him for his reckless behavior. Fearing the Russians will back out of the deal, Daulton reveals the first name of his friend, Chris, who has remained anonymous. When Daulton attempts to leave, the Russians wield their armaments. He later telephones Chris, who warns his friend to obey orders. In time, a National Security Administration (NSA) agent makes a surprise inspection, and Chris scrambles to replace the stolen documents. Although the office passes inspection, it is evident that the NSA does not trust them. Later, Chris dismisses Daulton from the project, but Daulton blackmails his friend, claiming to have copies of all the documents. Chris travels to Mexico City to observe Daulton, and the two meet with the Russian connection, Alex. As Daulton’s erratic, drug-induced behavior continues, he destroys the meeting room. After he storms away, Chris reveals he and Daulton were altar boys together, and tells Alex that he is leaving RTX to return to college. When Alex suggests he major in Russian Studies and return to work for the U.S. government, Chris is offended, and claims spying is not a long term career goal. However, Alex warns he cannot drop out so easily. Returning to Los Angeles, Chris ends his relationship with Lana, and resigns from his job, but surreptitiously photographs the last of the secret documents before he leaves. Although Chris plans to return to Mexico for one last hand off, Daulton warns of the danger involved, and offers to make the trade himself. After snorting heroin, Daulton marches to the Russain Embassy, but he is turned away. Outside, Mexican police arrest him, and a U.S. Embassy official sends help to the police station. There, Daulton learns he was wrongly arrested for murdering a police officer; he is blindfolded and sent away in a car. When Chris fails to reach his friend by telephone, he suspects Daulton has been arrested for espionage. Believing his own arrest is imminent, Chris races to the airport to flee the country. Before boarding an airplane bound for Argentina, the first available flight leaving the U.S., Chris becomes suspicious of several men watching him, and decides against leaving. Back in Mexico, Daulton is beaten and claims to be working for the CIA. Believing he is a communist, Mexican officials torture him to sign a confession, but he refuses. Later, Daulton is taken to the U.S. border for deportation, and is met by U.S. police who take him into custody. Meanwhile, Chris visits Lana, professes his love for her, and warns that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) will be questioning her. Anticipating his own arrest, Chris releases his falcon into the wild. There, he is surrounded by several undercover officers and taken into custody, where he confesses everything. After being indicted as traitors, Daulton and Chris are handcuffed and escorted into a jail cell. +

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Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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