Outrageous Fortune (1987)

R | 99 mins | Comedy | 30 January 1987

Director:

Arthur Hiller

Writer:

Leslie Dixon

Cinematographer:

David M. Walsh

Editor:

Tom Rolf

Production Designer:

James D. Vance

Production Companies:

Touchstone Pictures, Silver Screen Partners II, Interscope Communications, Inc.
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HISTORY

Outrageous Fortune was the first film in the “buddy comedy” genre to feature two female protagonists. While the “buddy” film had been around for decades, dating back to the Laurel and Hardy comedies, the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby “Road” films, the Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis comedies, as the 27 Jan 1987 WSJ noted, it always had two men in the lead roles and women as supporting players. This was the first to reverse those roles and put women in the lead and men in supporting roles.
       Outrageous Fortune was also writer Leslie Dixon’s first feature film screenplay to be produced. The 25 Jan 1987 NYT reported that producers Robert W. Cort and Ted Field had hired Dixon to do rewrites on another script, then approached her about writing the female buddy comedy they had been trying to develop for their production company, Interscope Communications, Inc. The 26 Jan 1987 Newsweek stated that several teams of male writers had tried unsuccessfully to write such a comedy for Cort and Field before they offered it to Dixon, who reported that director Arthur Hiller shot her script “almost verbatim.”
       Principal photography began on 14 Apr 1986, according to a 16 Apr 1986 DV production chart. Promotional materials in AMPAS library files indicate the film initially shot in the New York City area. Locations included a tobacconist shop in Midtown Manhattan, a tenement building in the Alphabet City section of the Lower East Side, and at the Newark, NJ, airport. The production next moved to New Mexico, where several locations near Santa Fe were used, including the tiny town of ... More Less

Outrageous Fortune was the first film in the “buddy comedy” genre to feature two female protagonists. While the “buddy” film had been around for decades, dating back to the Laurel and Hardy comedies, the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby “Road” films, the Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis comedies, as the 27 Jan 1987 WSJ noted, it always had two men in the lead roles and women as supporting players. This was the first to reverse those roles and put women in the lead and men in supporting roles.
       Outrageous Fortune was also writer Leslie Dixon’s first feature film screenplay to be produced. The 25 Jan 1987 NYT reported that producers Robert W. Cort and Ted Field had hired Dixon to do rewrites on another script, then approached her about writing the female buddy comedy they had been trying to develop for their production company, Interscope Communications, Inc. The 26 Jan 1987 Newsweek stated that several teams of male writers had tried unsuccessfully to write such a comedy for Cort and Field before they offered it to Dixon, who reported that director Arthur Hiller shot her script “almost verbatim.”
       Principal photography began on 14 Apr 1986, according to a 16 Apr 1986 DV production chart. Promotional materials in AMPAS library files indicate the film initially shot in the New York City area. Locations included a tobacconist shop in Midtown Manhattan, a tenement building in the Alphabet City section of the Lower East Side, and at the Newark, NJ, airport. The production next moved to New Mexico, where several locations near Santa Fe were used, including the tiny town of Los Cerrillos and the Native American villages of Isleta and Laguna Pueblos. The film’s climax was shot at the limestone cliffs known as Plaza Blanca, near Abiquiu. Filming resumed in Los Angeles, CA, where the Embassy Hotel downtown doubled as the drama school, and an old brewery served as “Sandy’s” apartment. The lakefront scenes were shot at Pyramid Lake, near Castaic, CA. The production finished on soundstages in Los Angeles in early Jul 1986, the 16 Jul 1986 Var reported.
       While rumors abounded that stars Bette Midler and Shelley Long did not get along on the set, Long downplayed the notion to the Feb 1987 issue of Vogue magazine, saying they were cast because they had different styles. However, the two stars did battle over top billing. The 23 Nov 1986 LAT noted that Long was the first to sign and her contract guaranteed top billing. However, Long was eager to work with Midler, the 9 Mar 1987 Us magazine reported, and had to agree to share top billing before Midler would sign. The solution their agents worked out was that Midler received top billing on prints of the movie released east of the Mississippi River, while Long received top billing on prints released west of the Mississippi. During production, Midler and Long’s names were alternated on any press releases sent out, the 7 May 1986 HR reported. When Midler’s name appeared first in a release, the next press document sent out had to mention Long first. Once the film was in theaters, distributor Buena Vista Pictures sent out two sets of newspaper advertisements, the 15 Feb 1987 LAT reported. One set had Midler’s name on the left and Long’s name on the right, the other set reversed the order. Newspapers were instructed to alternate the ads on a daily basis. Two sets of movie trailers, posters, and lobby cards were also required to accommodate the top billing issue, the 23 Nov 1986 LAT reported.
       Touchstone Pictures announced a 30 Jan 1987 release, even though late Jan was traditionally not considered a good time to open a movie, the 4 Feb 1987 HR noted. Touchstone had found success releasing the Bette Midler comedy Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986, see entry) on 31 Jan 1986, and hoped to duplicate that winning strategy. To create good word of mouth, nationwide sneak previews were planned for 23 Jan 1987 on 200 screens, the 21 Jan 1987 HR noted. Midler, who got her start performing in gay clubs in the early 1970s and consequently had a large gay fanbase, also planned a benefit screening for AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) on 28 Jan 1987 at the Director’s Guild of America Theater in Hollywood, CA, the 13 Jan 1987 HR announced. That screening, falling during the height of the AIDS epidemic, was one of the first ever to benefit an AIDS-related organization.
       Outrageous Fortune opened on 1,081 screens on 30 Jan 1987, earning $6.4 million in its first three days of release, according to a 3 Feb 1987 DV box-office report. The run was scheduled to expand to more than 1,300 screens on 13 Feb 1987.
       Reviews tended to be positive. The 30 Jan 1987 LAT declared that it was “a very broad comedy-adventure, pure and simple, in which the laughs come with gratifying regularity,” while the 30 Jan 1987 NYT commented that “chase films as antic as this have a way of wearing out their welcome. But Outrageous Fortune consists of one good setup after another, and it turns out to be much more than the sum of its parts.” The 20 Jan 1987 DV observed it was “well-crafted, old-fashioned entertainment that takes some conventional elements, shines them up and repackages them as something new and contemporary.”
       The movie marked a return to the big screen after a ten-year-absence for actor George Carlin, who played the guide, “Frank.”
       Shortly after signing to the film, Bette Midler learned she was pregnant with her first child and considered withdrawing from the project, the 20 Mar 1986 DV reported. The 9 Mar 1987 Us magazine noted that Midler, who was two months pregnant at the start of filming, performed fewer stunts than she normally might have done due to the pregnancy. Her daughter, Sophie von Haselberg, was born on 14 Nov 1986.
       Second assistant cameraman G. Martin Beazell is incorrectly credited as "G. Martin Beazel." More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 Mar 1986.
---
Daily Variety
16 Apr 1986.
---
Daily Variety
20 Jan 1987
p. 3, 8.
Daily Variety
3 Feb 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 May 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jan 1987
p. 3, 56.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 1987.
---
Los Angeles Times
23 Nov 1986.
---
Los Angeles Times
30 Jan 1987
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
15 Feb 1987.
---
New York Times
25 Jan 1987
p. 17, 22.
New York Times
30 Jan 1987
p. 5.
Newsweek
26 Jan 1987
p. 76.
Us
9 Mar 1987
p. 28.
Variety
16 Jul 1986.
---
Variety
28 Jan 1987
p. 20.
Vogue
Feb 1987.
---
WSJ
27 Jan 1987.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
and
as Frank
and (in alphabetical order):
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Touchstone Pictures Presents
in association with Silver Screen Partners II
An Interscope Communications Production
An Arthur Hiller Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Unit prod mgr, New York crew
1st asst dir, New York crew
2d asst dir, New York crew
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Addl cam
2d unit dir of photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly grip
Still photog
Cam op, New York crew
1st asst cam, New York crew
Still photog, New York crew
Gaffer, New York crew
Key grip, New York crew
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Set dressing leadman
Construction coord
Construction coord
Standby painter
Set dec, New York crew
Prop master, New York crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Costumer
MUSIC
Asst mus ed
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Foley by
Foley artist
Foley artist
Sd mixer
Boom op
Dolby Stereo consultant
Sd mixer, New York crew
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Visual eff supv
Visual eff
Visual eff
Visual eff
Main title des by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting, Lynn Stalmaster & Associates
Scr supv
Prod coord
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod auditor
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Asst to Mr. Hiller
Asst to Bette Midler
Extras casting
Transportation coord
Main title des
Loc mgr, New York crew
Prod coord, New York crew
Extras casting, New York crew
Transportation capt, New York crew
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Something Special" (Theme from "Outrageous Fortune"), performed by Patti La Belle, written by Howie Rice and Allan Dennis Rich, courtesy of MCA Records
"Get Out Of Denver" written and performed by Bob Seger, courtesy of Capitol Records
"The Last Time" performed by The Eurythmics, written by Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart, courtesy of RCA Records
+
SONGS
"Something Special" (Theme from "Outrageous Fortune"), performed by Patti La Belle, written by Howie Rice and Allan Dennis Rich, courtesy of MCA Records
"Get Out Of Denver" written and performed by Bob Seger, courtesy of Capitol Records
"The Last Time" performed by The Eurythmics, written by Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart, courtesy of RCA Records
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 January 1987
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 30 January 1987
Production Date:
14 April--early July 1986
Copyright Claimant:
Touchsone Pictures, a.a.d.o the Walt Disney Company
Copyright Date:
13 January 1987
Copyright Number:
PA312201
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
99
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28275
SYNOPSIS

In New York City, Lauren Ames and Sandy Brozinsky take an immediate dislike to each other while auditioning for an acting class under the great Russian acting teacher Stanislav Korzenowski. Sandy, whose last film was Ninja Vixens, is brash and crass and decides to audition on a whim, while the prim and proper, Yale-educated Lauren has practiced for hours on Ophelia’s monologue from Hamlet. Both women are accepted, but Sandy gets in on a scholarship, while Lauren must borrow $5,000 from her well-to-do parents, even though she already owes them $32,000. While working her day job at a costume shop, Lauren meets grammar school teacher Michael Santers who is looking for a pumpkin costume for one of his students. When the shop does not have the costume, Lauren offers to make it for him. Michael accompanies Lauren home and the two have sex. They begin dating, but unknown to Lauren, Michael is also sleeping with Sandy. When Michael picks up Lauren after class, he realizes it is their three-week anniversary and has the taxi stop at a florist shop. Immediately after he enters the shop, a bomb explodes and the building is engulfed in flames. A terrorist group claims responsibility. Presuming Michael dead, Lauren goes to the morgue wanting to see his body, but a moment later, Sandy also arrives. The two women scuffle upon realizing they were sleeping with the same man. When they look at the body, the face is burned beyond recognition, but they ... +


In New York City, Lauren Ames and Sandy Brozinsky take an immediate dislike to each other while auditioning for an acting class under the great Russian acting teacher Stanislav Korzenowski. Sandy, whose last film was Ninja Vixens, is brash and crass and decides to audition on a whim, while the prim and proper, Yale-educated Lauren has practiced for hours on Ophelia’s monologue from Hamlet. Both women are accepted, but Sandy gets in on a scholarship, while Lauren must borrow $5,000 from her well-to-do parents, even though she already owes them $32,000. While working her day job at a costume shop, Lauren meets grammar school teacher Michael Santers who is looking for a pumpkin costume for one of his students. When the shop does not have the costume, Lauren offers to make it for him. Michael accompanies Lauren home and the two have sex. They begin dating, but unknown to Lauren, Michael is also sleeping with Sandy. When Michael picks up Lauren after class, he realizes it is their three-week anniversary and has the taxi stop at a florist shop. Immediately after he enters the shop, a bomb explodes and the building is engulfed in flames. A terrorist group claims responsibility. Presuming Michael dead, Lauren goes to the morgue wanting to see his body, but a moment later, Sandy also arrives. The two women scuffle upon realizing they were sleeping with the same man. When they look at the body, the face is burned beyond recognition, but they realize it cannot be Michael because the penis is far too small. They report this to police, who laugh them out of the office. They go to Lauren’s apartment hoping Michael will be there, but find Russian mobsters searching for evidence that Michael is still alive. Eluding the gangsters, they go to a tobacco shop and learn Michael was in there just a few hours earlier. Following a lead, they pretend to be policewomen and go to drug dealers on the Lower East Side, who report Michael purchased a fake passport under the name “John Strauss.” At the airport, the ladies learn their wayward lover is on a flight to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and purchase tickets to go there. Meanwhile, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent Joe Atkins and his men have been following the pair, hoping they will lead them to Michael. They try to stop them before they can board the airplane, but the women create a diversion and get on the plane safely. Sandy and Lauren land in Albuquerque at the same time that Atkins and his men arrive in a private plane. They elude the CIA and spot Michael getting off his flight. The women steal a motorcycle and follow Michael to a lakefront shack. However, the CIA arrives a moment later and shoot Michael. Sandy and Lauren knock Atkins unconscious and rescue Michael, then demand answers. Reporting that both women were “convenient” and “forgettable,” Michael tries to kill them with a knife, but they run away. Michael chases them across the lakefront and they flag down a passing helicopter. It lands revealing that Atkins is on board along with a man named Weldon, who was in their acting class. Weldon, an intelligence agent himself, explains that Michael was in the CIA, but became a double agent, working with Stanislav Korzenowski, who is an agent for the Russian KGB. Weldon was in the acting class trying to catch Michael making contact with Stanislav. Michael stole the prototype of “Florotoxin,” an experimental airborne virus which can kill vegetation for hundreds of miles. Weldon explains that just a few drops carried by the wind could destroy the nation’s agricultural Wheat Belt. A little later, Michael radios Atkins demanding $20 million for the test tube of Florotoxin. A van picks up Atkins, Weldon, Lauren, and Sandy, unaware that Stanislav and his KGB men are at the wheel. Stanislav uses knockout gas to render Atkins and Weldon unconscious, but Lauren and Sandy escape out the back of the van. When Stanislav shoots his gun in Lauren’s direction, she falls and pretends to be hit. As the KGB agent comes to check on her, Lauren grabs his weapon and holds him at gunpoint, demanding answers. Stanislav explains that Michael targeted both women because they were in his class. He and Michael communicated through the ladies’ class notebooks which Stanislav periodically checked. The women tie up both the CIA and the KGB operatives and leave them in the desert while they hitch a ride on a passing big-rig truck going to Tres Crucas, New Mexico, where they meet a guide named Frank, who takes them to a brothel. There, they find Michael and steal the test tube of Florotoxin. Michael gives chase, but they escape by catching a ride on a truck filled with migrant workers. Later, as they ride for help on horseback, Michael captures Lauren and takes her away. Sandy begs Frank to help her rescue Lauren, explaining that she has become one of her closest friends. Joe Atkins arranges to exchange the $20 million for the test tube at Mesa Azul cliffs. Atkins uses a rope to lower the briefcase of money from a helicopter, but Michael grabs the briefcase, then fires at the helicopter without giving them the Florotoxin. Sandy and Frank arrive with several friends, who shoot Michael with an arrow. Michael drops the test tube, but Lauren catches it and runs away with the Florotoxin and the briefcase full of money. As Lauren and Sandy are reunited, they are pursued up a cliff by Michael. When Sandy helps Lauren, she drops the briefcase, which opens. The money inside is scattered by the wind. As Michael chases Lauren, who still has the test tube, she uses her ballet training to leap from cliff to cliff. Michael is close behind her, but cannot perform the same leaps and falls to his death. Back in New York, Lauren and Sandy star in a production of Hamlet, with Lauren playing the Danish king and Sandy playing Ophelia. +

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

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