Vigilante (1983)

R | 90 mins | Drama | 4 March 1983

Director:

William Lustig

Writer:

Richard Vetere

Cinematographer:

James Lemmo

Production Designer:

Mischa Petrow

Production Company:

Magnum Motion Pictures
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HISTORY

End credits include the following statements: “Promotional considerations furnished by: Jack Daniels, J & B, Jordache, Miller Brewing Company, Phillip Morris, Sloans Supermarket, San Miguel Beer, White Rock Products, Corp.”; "Special thanks to: Hallen Steel; Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center; St. Stanislaus Memorial Post 1771; 7-12 Club; Essex Limousines, Ltd.; El Mundo Realty, Ralph Rivera; Styro Factory; W. H. Silver's Hardware"; "The Producers wish to thank the following for their cooperation in the filming of this Motion Picture. The City of New York; The Mayor's Office of Motion Pictures and Television; The State of New York; The Governor's Office of Motion Picture and Television Development; The New York City Department of Parks; The New York City Department of Corrections”; "This picture is dedicated with love and respect to the memory of Peter Savage." Savage appeared in the film as "Mr. T," but died shortly after production on 29 Dec 1981.
       The 22 Jul 1981 Var and the 8 Aug 1981 Screen International announced that filmmakers William Lustig and Andrew Garroni of Magnum Motion Pictures, Inc. (MMP) “completed their adaption” of Vigilante, based on the story by playwright Richard Vetere. Principal photography was scheduled to begin early Sep 1981, and a spring 1982 release was planned. A news item in the 24 Sep 1981 HR identified director of photography James Lemmo by his pseudonym, “James Momel.” The 8 Oct 1981 HR estimated the budget at $2 million, and anticipated an eight-week production schedule. Filming would take place in the vicinity of Long Island City, NY. According to the 9 Oct 1981 DV, ...

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End credits include the following statements: “Promotional considerations furnished by: Jack Daniels, J & B, Jordache, Miller Brewing Company, Phillip Morris, Sloans Supermarket, San Miguel Beer, White Rock Products, Corp.”; "Special thanks to: Hallen Steel; Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center; St. Stanislaus Memorial Post 1771; 7-12 Club; Essex Limousines, Ltd.; El Mundo Realty, Ralph Rivera; Styro Factory; W. H. Silver's Hardware"; "The Producers wish to thank the following for their cooperation in the filming of this Motion Picture. The City of New York; The Mayor's Office of Motion Pictures and Television; The State of New York; The Governor's Office of Motion Picture and Television Development; The New York City Department of Parks; The New York City Department of Corrections”; "This picture is dedicated with love and respect to the memory of Peter Savage." Savage appeared in the film as "Mr. T," but died shortly after production on 29 Dec 1981.
       The 22 Jul 1981 Var and the 8 Aug 1981 Screen International announced that filmmakers William Lustig and Andrew Garroni of Magnum Motion Pictures, Inc. (MMP) “completed their adaption” of Vigilante, based on the story by playwright Richard Vetere. Principal photography was scheduled to begin early Sep 1981, and a spring 1982 release was planned. A news item in the 24 Sep 1981 HR identified director of photography James Lemmo by his pseudonym, “James Momel.” The 8 Oct 1981 HR estimated the budget at $2 million, and anticipated an eight-week production schedule. Filming would take place in the vicinity of Long Island City, NY. According to the 9 Oct 1981 DV, principal photography began 16 Oct 1981.
       A full-page advertisement in the 24 Mar 1982 Var announced the completion of principal photography, and the film’s “invitational premiere” at the Cannes Film Festival 17 May 1982. Artists Releasing Corporation (ARC) later acquired domestic distribution rights, as reported in the 8 Dec 1982 Var and the 20 Dec 1982 HR. The 2 Mar 1983 HR stated that the film was scheduled to open 4 Mar 1983 at Flagship Cinemas in New York City, Los Angeles, CA, and Washington, D.C. Reviews were generally negative, with the 26 Jan 1983 Var describing the picture as “too grim and nihilistic to justify its existence as entertainment.” However, the May 1983 Box reported earnings of $183,000 at twenty-three Los Angeles theaters, and $1 million at eighty-three New York City theaters during its opening weekend.
       On 29 Jan 1985, DV reported that MMP obtained a restraining order on 18 Jan 1985, the day upon which Film Ventures International (FVI), a subsidiary of ARC, planned a New York City re-release of Vigilante under its new title, Street Gang. FVI did not contest the restraining order as the expense “was not worth the effort.” ARC’s distribution agreement was terminated in Jul 1984 after the company defaulted on its payments to MMP for theatrical rentals and video sales. However, William Lustig was considering a re-release “to reflect the recent Bernhard Goetz situation that has become so prominent in the news.” Goetz gained notoriety after shooting four alleged attackers on a New York City subway train in 1984.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
May 1983
---
Daily Variety
9 Oct 1981
---
Daily Variety
29 Jan 1985
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 1981
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Oct 1981
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Dec 1982
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 1983
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Mar 1983
p. 13
Los Angeles Times
9 Mar 1983
p. 4
Screen International
8 Aug 1981
---
Variety
22 Jul 1981
---
Variety
30 Sep 1981
---
Variety
24 Mar 1982
p. 66
Variety
8 Dec 1982
---
Variety
26 Jan 1983
p. 16
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Magnum Motion Pictures Presents
A William Lustig Andrew Garroni Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Unit mgr
2d 2d asst dir
Asst unit mgr
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
Addl asst cam
Addl asst cam
Addl asst cam
Addl asst cam
Addl asst cam
Still photog
Gaffer
Key grip
Dolly grip
Best boy
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Scenic artist
Props
Carpenter
COSTUMES
Asst ward
Asst ward
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus comp, arr and prod by
Electronic mus realizations
Electronic mus realizations
Saxophone solos
Guitar
Mus eng
Mus coord
Mus rec at
New York City
Mus rec at
E. Norwalk, Conn.
Mus mixed at
White Plains, N.Y.
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Re-rec eng
Trans/Audio, Inc.
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Bill Hudson
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Loop dial ed
Post prod supv
Post prod facilities
Loop dial rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff admin
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Addl spec eff
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Spec make-up eff
Make-up/Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod assoc
Prod consultant
Scr supv
Transportation capt
Driver
Utility man
Asst casting
Loc asst
Loc asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prop cars
Catering
Weapons
Loc buses
Payroll services
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Spec car stunts
High fall
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
SOURCES
SONGS
"Vigilante," (Willie Colon), arranged by Hector Garrido; "Triste Y Vacia," (Jose Luis Cuban), arranged by Hector Garrido, sung by Hector Levoe; "Pase La Noche Fumado," (Willie Colon/Curet Alonso), arranged by Luis Cruz, sung by Willie Colon; "Juanito Alimana," (Curet Alonso), arranged by Luis Cruz, sung by Hector Levoe; Produced by Willie Colon, Music available on Fania Records, published by FAF Publ./BMI; "I Can't Laugh," (Jimmy Wisner), sung by Cristy Martin, courtesy of Trajames Music/ASCAP; "Smokin," (Larry Rollins/Warren Thomas), performed by N.B.T. (Nothin But The Truth), engineered by Bob Yesbeck, Omega Studios, Washington, D.C.
PERFORMED BY
+
SONGWRITERS/COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Street Gang
Release Date:
4 March 1983
Premiere Information:
Cannes Film Festival premiere: 17 May 1983; Los Angeles and New York openings: 4 Mar 1983
Production Date:
16 Oct--mid Dec 1981
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
The Vigilante Company
13 December 1982
PA157051
[Music] copyright (P) © the Vigilante Company/Wayward Music, Inc./ASCAP
1982
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
90
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26681
SYNOPSIS

In Queens, New York, a young woman is raped and murdered in her apartment building. Rubin, the attacker, is seen by an elderly woman, but she declines to inform the police. Instead, she notifies a vigilante team comprised of local residents Nick, Ramon, and Burke. They find Rubin on a street corner, bragging to friends about how he evaded prosecution for his crime, and drag him to their van. The next day, housewife Vickie Marino comes to the defense of a gas station attendant who is being bullied by Frederico “Rico” Melendez, leader of the Headhunters gang. When she returns home with her toddler son, Scott, she notices Rico and several gang members parked outside, and calls police for help. Within seconds, the gang enters and assaults her. Scott hides in the bathtub, but gang member Prago kills him with a shotgun. Vickie runs to the backyard, screaming for help, and is brutally beaten by Rico. Meanwhile, her husband, Eddie, lunches at a saloon with coworkers Nick, Ramon, and Burke. Patrolman Gibbons enters and informs the group that Rubin was found dead with every bone in his body broken. Nick takes no credit for the murder, but reminds the officer that his neighbors need protection that police and the courts no longer provide. Later, as Eddie leaves work, he asks about the exchange with Patrolman Gibbons. Burke recalls his frustrating career as a police officer, and recommends vigilantism as a more effective form of law enforcement. Eddie returns home to find his house surrounded by police cars. Detective Russo assures Eddie that police know ...

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In Queens, New York, a young woman is raped and murdered in her apartment building. Rubin, the attacker, is seen by an elderly woman, but she declines to inform the police. Instead, she notifies a vigilante team comprised of local residents Nick, Ramon, and Burke. They find Rubin on a street corner, bragging to friends about how he evaded prosecution for his crime, and drag him to their van. The next day, housewife Vickie Marino comes to the defense of a gas station attendant who is being bullied by Frederico “Rico” Melendez, leader of the Headhunters gang. When she returns home with her toddler son, Scott, she notices Rico and several gang members parked outside, and calls police for help. Within seconds, the gang enters and assaults her. Scott hides in the bathtub, but gang member Prago kills him with a shotgun. Vickie runs to the backyard, screaming for help, and is brutally beaten by Rico. Meanwhile, her husband, Eddie, lunches at a saloon with coworkers Nick, Ramon, and Burke. Patrolman Gibbons enters and informs the group that Rubin was found dead with every bone in his body broken. Nick takes no credit for the murder, but reminds the officer that his neighbors need protection that police and the courts no longer provide. Later, as Eddie leaves work, he asks about the exchange with Patrolman Gibbons. Burke recalls his frustrating career as a police officer, and recommends vigilantism as a more effective form of law enforcement. Eddie returns home to find his house surrounded by police cars. Detective Russo assures Eddie that police know the identity of the guilty parties and advises him to file a complaint with District Attorney Mary Fletcher. Eddie meets with Fletcher, who informs him that Rico has been arrested. Afterward, Nick recounts a similar tragedy that befell his family, and advises Eddie to carry a gun, rather than allow himself to be victimized. Eddie disagrees, believing an escalation of violence can only lead to anarchy. He attends Rico’s arraignment, as does Prago, who pays defense attorney Eisenberg a large amount of cash to assure Rico’s freedom. Eisenberg motions to drop the murder charge, in return for a guilty plea for assault. Mary Fletcher agrees, but demands a fifteen-year sentence. Judge Sinclair notes that Rico has no prior convictions, despite his twenty-two arrests, and offers two-year suspended sentence. Eddie is unable to contain his outrage, and the judge sentences him to prison for contempt of court. That evening, Nick, Ramon, and Burke trace the illegal narcotics trade in their community to Thomas “Mr. T” Stokes, a prominent businessman with known connections to organized crime, and ambush him outside his office. Meanwhile, at the prison, Eddie is attacked in the shower by prison bully, Leon, and his sycophant, Felix, before an older inmate named Rake comes to Eddie’s defense and subdues them. Upon Eddie’s release, he joins the vigilantes. They burst into Rico’s apartment as he makes love to his girl friend, Rosie, and accuse him of killing Scott. Rico blames the murder on Prago, but he and Rosie are both shot to death. Outside, a member of the Headhunters witnesses the group’s departure and informs Prago. As police investigate the crime scene, Detective Russo advises Patrolman Gibbons not to discuss the killings, believing the media will portray the vigilantes as heroes. The next day, Vickie is released from the hospital, but refuses to return home, as the trauma left her with no feelings for her husband. When Eddie expresses his intent to leave the city in hope of finding a safer place to live, Nick convinces him to stay and fight for his home. Later, Eddie sees Prago on the street and pursues him to a construction site. Prago tries to escape, but Eddie throws him from a tall structure onto the pavement below. That night, Eddie eliminates the last of his enemies by placing a bomb in Judge Sinclair’s car.

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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.