Christine (1983)

R | 110 mins | Horror | 9 December 1983

Director:

John Carpenter

Writer:

Bill Phillips

Producer:

Richard Kobritz

Cinematographer:

Donald M. Morgan

Editor:

Marion Rothman

Production Designer:

Daniel Lomino

Production Company:

Polar Film Corporation
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HISTORY

       The 4 Feb 1983 Publishers Weekly announced that the newly-formed Polar Films acquired motion picture rights to writer Stephen King’s 1983 novel, Christine, several months prior to publication. Polar Films was founded by former U.S. Attorney and executive producer Mark Tarlov, and included producer Richard Kobritz, former Warner Bros. production supervisor Marc Greenberg, and writer David Fisher among its associates. Neither Greenberg nor Fisher appear in onscreen credits. A Dec 1983 release date was planned. A news item in the 31 Aug 1982 HR inaccurately described the automobile, “Christine,” as a 1958 Chevrolet whose radio only plays music by singer Buddy Holly. While Holly’s music did appear in the soundtrack, it was placed among several other rock ‘n’ roll songs of the late 1950s. The car itself was a 1958 Plymouth Fury.
       The 24 May 1983 HR production charts stated that principal photography began 25 Apr 1983 in Los Angeles, CA, and the 3 Aug 1983 Var reported that Columbia Pictures would release the film worldwide during the upcoming Christmas season.
       According to production notes from AMPAS library files, the novel was published while the film was in production, reaching #2 on the NYT bestseller list, and #1 in Time. Kobritz is credited with arranging the acquisition, and attributed it to his friendship with King, who gave him the manuscript during the summer of 1981. The novel’s focus on “teenagers, rock music and America’s love affair with the automobile” appealed to the producer, and he urged Tarlov to bid on the property.
       Production ... More Less

       The 4 Feb 1983 Publishers Weekly announced that the newly-formed Polar Films acquired motion picture rights to writer Stephen King’s 1983 novel, Christine, several months prior to publication. Polar Films was founded by former U.S. Attorney and executive producer Mark Tarlov, and included producer Richard Kobritz, former Warner Bros. production supervisor Marc Greenberg, and writer David Fisher among its associates. Neither Greenberg nor Fisher appear in onscreen credits. A Dec 1983 release date was planned. A news item in the 31 Aug 1982 HR inaccurately described the automobile, “Christine,” as a 1958 Chevrolet whose radio only plays music by singer Buddy Holly. While Holly’s music did appear in the soundtrack, it was placed among several other rock ‘n’ roll songs of the late 1950s. The car itself was a 1958 Plymouth Fury.
       The 24 May 1983 HR production charts stated that principal photography began 25 Apr 1983 in Los Angeles, CA, and the 3 Aug 1983 Var reported that Columbia Pictures would release the film worldwide during the upcoming Christmas season.
       According to production notes from AMPAS library files, the novel was published while the film was in production, reaching #2 on the NYT bestseller list, and #1 in Time. Kobritz is credited with arranging the acquisition, and attributed it to his friendship with King, who gave him the manuscript during the summer of 1981. The novel’s focus on “teenagers, rock music and America’s love affair with the automobile” appealed to the producer, and he urged Tarlov to bid on the property.
       Production designer Daniel Lomino and location manager Karlene Gallegly were tasked with finding locations devoid of palm trees, as they were to create the illusion of a “nondescript northern California town” in metropolitan Los Angeles. Lomino and set decorator Cloudia were also required to reproduce an automobile plant to 1950s specifications. After extensive research, they constructed the set in what was once a furniture factory in Sun Valley, CA, and the finished product impressed visiting representatives of General Motors Corporation with its authenticity. The gasoline station explosion was filmed on a lot in Newhall, CA, with the skyline of the nearby city of Valencia, CA, in the background. An entire station was built for the picture, carefully designed so that the explosion successfully transpired on the first take.
       The numerous Plymouth Fury automobiles used in the picture were obtained through advertisements in major U.S. cities, while others were found through the CA Department of Motor Vehicles. Fourteen cars could be on set at any given time, and, according to the 20 Dec 1983 Village Voice, a total of twenty-five were acquired for the production.
       Christine opened 9 Dec 1983 to lukewarm reviews, several of which compared it unfavorably to the original novel, or to other films based on the works of Stephen King. A news item in the 14 Dec 1983 Var stated that a music video of the opening title song, “Bad To The Bone” by George Thorogood, was produced by Mark Robinson of Modern Productions, to promote both the song and the film. On 17 Jan 1984, DV reported that Christine was entered in competition at the Festival du Film Fantastique in Avoriaz, France, to be screened 19 Jan 1984.
       The 8 Apr 1987 Var announced director John Carpenter’s lawsuit against Polar Films, alleging breach of contract for his services on Christine. The suit was filed on Carpenter’s behalf by his company, Hye White Bread Productions, and accused Polar Films of failing to pay the director fifty percent of the picture’s gross receipts, or to supply accounting of payments received by Polar “from the ‘Christine’ account.” Carpenter and his company were seeking in excess of $104,000 in actual damages, and $1 million in punitive damages. The outcome of the case could not be determined as of the writing of this Note.

      End credits include the following statements: "Original soundtrack album available on Motown Records and Tapes"; "Thanks to the Oak Park High School Eagles, Agoura, California"; "Excerpts from CBS Happy New Year America, courtesy of CBS Entertainment"; and "In memory of Bob Dawn.” Dawn, who is credited onscreen as makeup supervisor, died 9 Jul 1983.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
18 May 1983
---
Daily Variety
17 Jan 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Aug 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 1983
p. 3, 6.
Los Angeles Times
9 Dec 1983
p. 19.
New York Times
9 Dec 1983
p. 10.
New York Times
28 Dec 1983.
---
Publishers Weekly
4 Feb 1983.
---
Variety
3 Aug 1983.
---
Variety
7 Dec 1983
p. 14.
Variety
14 Dec 1983.
---
Variety
8 Apr 1987.
---
Village Voice
20 Dec 1983.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures Presents
From Polar Film
A Richard Kobritz Production
From Columbia-Dephi Productions
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
D.G.A. trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Co-prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Panaglide op
Still photog
Gaffer
Gaffer
Elec best boy
Elec best boy
Set elec
Set elec
Set elec
Set elec
Set elec
Set elec
Set elec
Key grip
2d grip
Dolly grip
Grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Set dresser
Set dresser
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Paint foreman
Const foreman
Const first aid
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Women`s cost
MUSIC
In assoc with
Mus coord
Mus clearance
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Dial ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
ADR supv
Foley
Foley
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Moldmaker
Moldmaker
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Transportation and "Christine" coord
Scr supv
Casting asst
Extra casting
Extra casting
Extra casting
Asst to Mr. Kobritz
Asst to Mr. Carpenter
Prod coord
Prod secy
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Office asst
Craft service
First aid
Transportation capt
Transportation co-captain
Driver
Driver mechanic
Custom body work
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Prod van driver
Caterer
Caterer's helper
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Christine by Stephen King (New York, 1983).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Bad To The Bone," performed by George Thorogood and the Destroyers, courtesy of EMI America Records, Delsound Music
"Beast Of Burden," performed by The Rolling Stones, courtesy of Promotone B.V., Cansel Ltd.
"Bony Moronie," performed by Larry Williams, Courtesy of Specialty Records, Inc., Venice Music c/o ATV Music Corp.
+
SONGS
"Bad To The Bone," performed by George Thorogood and the Destroyers, courtesy of EMI America Records, Delsound Music
"Beast Of Burden," performed by The Rolling Stones, courtesy of Promotone B.V., Cansel Ltd.
"Bony Moronie," performed by Larry Williams, Courtesy of Specialty Records, Inc., Venice Music c/o ATV Music Corp.
"Come On, Let's Go," performed by Ritchie Valens, courtesy of Rhino Records/Del Fi Records, Kemo Music Co. and Clockus Music, Inc.
"Harlem Nocturne," performed by The Viscounts, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc., Shapiro Bernstein & Co.
"I Wonder Why," performed by Dion & the Belmonts, courtesy of Laurie Records, Inc., Schwartz Music Co., Inc.
"Keep A-Knockin'," performed by Little Richard, courtesy of Specialty Records, Inc., Music Corporation of America
"Little Bitty Pretty One," performed by Thurston Harris, courtesy of Liberty Records, Recordo Music Publishers
"Not Fade Away," performed by Buddy Holly, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc., MPL Communications, Inc. & Wren Music Co.
"Pledging My Love," performed by Johnny Ace, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc., Duchess Music Corp.
"Not Fade Away," performed by Tanya Tucker, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc., MPL Communications, Inc. & Wren Music Co.
"Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay," performed by Danny & The Juniors, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc., Singular Publishing Co., Inc., & Golden Egg Music, Inc.
"Runaway," performed by Bonnie Raitt, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc., by arrangement with Warner Special Products, Mole Hole Music/Bug Music & Right Song Music, Inc.
"The Name Of The Game," performed by ABBA, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products, Countless Songs, Ltd.--U.S. & Canada, Sole Selling Agent Ivan Mogull Music Corp.
"We Belong Together," performed by Robert & Johnny, courtesy of Old Town Records, Big Seven Music Corp. & Maureen Music, Inc.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
John Carpenter's Christine
Release Date:
9 December 1983
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 9 Dec 1983
Production Date:
began 25 Apr 1983 in Southern CA
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Date:
3 January 1984
Copyright Number:
PA196239
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Metrocolor®
Duration(in mins):
110
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27135
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At an automotive plant in 1957 Detroit, Michigan, a mechanic listens to the radio inside a new red Plymouth Fury and flicks cigar ashes on its passenger seat. Later that day, the man is found dead inside the car. In 1978 Rockbridge, California, high school senior Dennis Guilder picks up his friend, Arnie Cunningham, on the first day of the new school year. Arnie complains that his parents are unhappy with his decision to take a class in automotive repair, while Dennis recommends that his friend focus his attention on losing his virginity. Arnie dismisses the idea, certain of his lack of sex appeal. At lunchtime, Dennis comes to Arnie’s defense when he is bullied by Buddy Repperton, Moochie Wells, and Rich Cholony. Mr. Casey, a teacher, intervenes and sends the bullies to the principal’s office, where Buddy is expelled for carrying a switchblade knife. On the way home from school, Arnie and Dennis stop at the home of an elderly man named George LeBay, who is selling his late brother’s dilapidated 1958 Plymouth Fury, nicknamed “Christine.” Arnie is anxious to buy the car, despite Dennis’s efforts to discourage him. When Arnie brings the car home, his parents scold him for not asking permission. Arnie complains they control every aspect of his life, and believes they should allow him this one concession. His mother, Regina, refuses to allow him to park the car at the house, so he stores it at Darnell’s Auto Wrecking, where he can rent a repair space and purchase used parts. The proprietor, Mr. Darnell, has a low opinion of teenagers and warns ... +


At an automotive plant in 1957 Detroit, Michigan, a mechanic listens to the radio inside a new red Plymouth Fury and flicks cigar ashes on its passenger seat. Later that day, the man is found dead inside the car. In 1978 Rockbridge, California, high school senior Dennis Guilder picks up his friend, Arnie Cunningham, on the first day of the new school year. Arnie complains that his parents are unhappy with his decision to take a class in automotive repair, while Dennis recommends that his friend focus his attention on losing his virginity. Arnie dismisses the idea, certain of his lack of sex appeal. At lunchtime, Dennis comes to Arnie’s defense when he is bullied by Buddy Repperton, Moochie Wells, and Rich Cholony. Mr. Casey, a teacher, intervenes and sends the bullies to the principal’s office, where Buddy is expelled for carrying a switchblade knife. On the way home from school, Arnie and Dennis stop at the home of an elderly man named George LeBay, who is selling his late brother’s dilapidated 1958 Plymouth Fury, nicknamed “Christine.” Arnie is anxious to buy the car, despite Dennis’s efforts to discourage him. When Arnie brings the car home, his parents scold him for not asking permission. Arnie complains they control every aspect of his life, and believes they should allow him this one concession. His mother, Regina, refuses to allow him to park the car at the house, so he stores it at Darnell’s Auto Wrecking, where he can rent a repair space and purchase used parts. The proprietor, Mr. Darnell, has a low opinion of teenagers and warns Arnie that he had better be on his best behavior. A month later, however, Darnell is impressed with Arnie’s skill as a mechanic and gives him a part-time job. At school, Dennis tries in vain to romance Leigh Cabot, a beautiful and intelligent new enrollee, and is puzzled by her lack of interest, based on his past successes with the opposite sex. Later, Dennis arrives at Arnie’s house to discover his friend has cancelled their evening plans because of a work obligation. After Arnie leaves, Regina expresses her concern over her son’s obsession with his car, especially after she learned that the previous owner died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Dennis confronts George LeBay on the car’s history, saying that Arnie would never have bought Christine if he had known someone had died in it. LeBay argues that Arnie had the same look in his eye upon seeing the car as the original owner, and nothing could have dissuaded him. He adds that, until his brother committed suicide the previous summer, his only concern was Christine, even after his daughter choked to death inside the car, and his wife was driven to suicide. He even tried to sell the vehicle, but it returned three weeks later. Out of curiosity, Dennis goes to Darnell’s and finds Christine almost completely restored, but also notices that the odometer has regressed several thousand miles. When he tries to open the doors, they lock spontaneously as the radio plays the song, “You Keep A-Knockin’.” Later, during a football game, Dennis is seriously injured while staring in jealous amazement as Arnie arrives with his new girl friend, Leigh. Afterward, Arnie visits Dennis in the hospital, where the two talk for the first time in weeks. Dennis compliments his friend on his success with the car and with Leigh, although Arnie is somewhat mystified by the latter achievement. Arnie also discusses the escalating tensions in the Cunningham family, and the resentment he feels toward his parents. One rainy night, Arnie and Leigh attend a drive-in theater, where she admits to being jealous of Christine. When Leigh is alone in the car, she nearly chokes to death before being rescued by a man in a neighboring vehicle. Leigh asks Arnie to sell Christine, but he ignores her request, bringing the romance to an end. Later that night, Buddy, Moochie, Rich, and their friend, Don Vandenberg, sneak into Darnell’s and vandalize Christine. Arnie is devastated at first, but then realizes the car is magically able to restore itself to mint condition. One night, when Moochie returns to the garage, he is severed in half by the unmanned car. The following day, state police Detective Rudolph Junkins questions Arnie about the killing, but the boy is evasive and flippant. Sometime later, Buddy and Rich discover Christine in pursuit as they drive to a service station where Don is employed. Christine rams Buddy’s car, causing a fuel leak that catches fire and engulfs the station in flames, killing Rich and Don. The vehicle then chases Buddy onto the road and runs him over. When Christine returns to the garage, Darnell opens the car door to find no one inside, then sits in the driver’s seat, where he is crushed to death against the steering wheel. The garage is surrounded by police when Arnie returns the next morning, and Junkins questions the youth on his alibi, then informs him of the four killings the previous night. Arnie is unnerved and excuses himself, explaining that he is late for school. On New Year’s Eve, Leigh telephones Dennis, admitting that she still cares for Arnie but is fearful of Christine. Dennis offers to discuss the matter with his friend, hoping to convince him that Christine is a menace. When Arnie demonstrates that his obsession has driven him to insanity, Dennis decides to destroy the car. Several days later, in the school parking lot, Dennis etches the phrase, “Darnell’s tonight,” into Christine’s hood. That evening, he mans a bulldozer and lies in wait for the car inside the garage, as Leigh takes cover in the office. Christine appears, with Arnie at the wheel, and attempts to kill Leigh, but the collision fatally injures Arnie instead. As the car backs Leigh against a wall, Dennis crushes it with the bulldozer. Later, Dennis, Leigh, and Junkins watch as Christine is loaded into compactor at a junkyard. Though the detective congratulates the youths on their heroism, Dennis still regrets his inability to save Arnie. None of the three notice a slight movement in the metal cube that was once Christine. +

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

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