The Mean Season (1985)

R | 104 mins | Drama | 15 February 1985

Director:

Phillip Borsos

Writer:

Leon Piedmont

Cinematographer:

Frank Tidy , B.S.C.

Editor:

Duwayne Dunham

Production Designer:

Philip Jefferies

Production Company:

Turman-Foster Company
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HISTORY

       A 19 May 1982 HR column announced that Turman-Foster Company had “snapped up” movie rights to John Katzenbach’s recently published novel, In the Heat of the Summer, and stated that Robert Wise would direct. An article in the 9 Jul 1982 Publishers Weekly reported that Universal Pictures had optioned the novel for $15,000 in May 1982, suggesting it was Universal who bankrolled Turman-Foster’s acquisition. A 19 May 1982 DV item stated that the script would be written by Christopher Crowe, and Army Archerd’s 26 Aug 1982 DV column cited a budget of $6 million. Robert Wise reportedly wanted to shoot the film in black & white.
       Universal put the script in turnaround, and CBS Theatrical Films acquired the rights in late summer 1983, as announced in the 8 Aug 1983 DV. In the meantime, a 6 Apr 1983 LAHExam news brief reported that Phillip Borsos would direct, and the film, now budgeted at $9 million, would shoot on location in Miami, FL, from May to Jul 1983. Production was delayed until the following year.
       In an article for the Mar 1985 issue of Horizon magazine, Samir Hachem wrote that Orion Pictures ultimately financed the $10-million film. Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that the project marked the “American directorial debut” for Borsos, who had won acclaim for his 1982 Canadian picture, The Grey Fox .
       Critical reaction to The Mean Season was generally positive, with Duane Byrge suggesting in his 13 Feb 1985 HR review that “this boiling-over murder thriller should heat up ... More Less

       A 19 May 1982 HR column announced that Turman-Foster Company had “snapped up” movie rights to John Katzenbach’s recently published novel, In the Heat of the Summer, and stated that Robert Wise would direct. An article in the 9 Jul 1982 Publishers Weekly reported that Universal Pictures had optioned the novel for $15,000 in May 1982, suggesting it was Universal who bankrolled Turman-Foster’s acquisition. A 19 May 1982 DV item stated that the script would be written by Christopher Crowe, and Army Archerd’s 26 Aug 1982 DV column cited a budget of $6 million. Robert Wise reportedly wanted to shoot the film in black & white.
       Universal put the script in turnaround, and CBS Theatrical Films acquired the rights in late summer 1983, as announced in the 8 Aug 1983 DV. In the meantime, a 6 Apr 1983 LAHExam news brief reported that Phillip Borsos would direct, and the film, now budgeted at $9 million, would shoot on location in Miami, FL, from May to Jul 1983. Production was delayed until the following year.
       In an article for the Mar 1985 issue of Horizon magazine, Samir Hachem wrote that Orion Pictures ultimately financed the $10-million film. Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that the project marked the “American directorial debut” for Borsos, who had won acclaim for his 1982 Canadian picture, The Grey Fox .
       Critical reaction to The Mean Season was generally positive, with Duane Byrge suggesting in his 13 Feb 1985 HR review that “this boiling-over murder thriller should heat up some box-office numbers for Orion.” However, a 25 Nov 1985 article in DV stated that the film “got so-so reviews and did virtually no business at the box-office.”
       In the scene in which “Malcolm Anderson” opens a copy of Time magazine to page 103, as instructed by his editor, one of the printed photographs on the folded-back page 102 is a 1920s vintage portrait of director D. W. Griffith.
      End credits contain the following statement: "The producers gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of the following for their help in the making of this film: members of the South Florida Press Corps; Gov. Bob Graham and the Florida Film Commission, Don A. Singletary, Development Representative; the citizens of Dade County, Florida; Metro-Dade County Film Office, Marylee Lander, Director; the police departments of Miami, Miami Beach, North Miami Beach, Coral Gables and Coconut Grove; Televideo Personal Computers; the Florida Air Boat Association; University of Miami, School of Continuing Education, Ruben Fuentes, Director."
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
19 May 1982
---
Daily Variety
26 Aug 1982
---
Daily Variety
8 Aug 1983
---
Daily Variety
25 Nov 1985
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 May 1982
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 1985
p. 3, 25.
Horizon Magazine
Mar 1985
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
6 Apr 1983
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Feb 1985
p. 1, 4.
New York Times
15 Feb 1985
p. 10.
Publishers Weekly
9 Jul 1982
---
Variety
13 Feb 1985
p. 19.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Turman-Foster Company Production
An Orion Pictures Release
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Key grip
Dolly grip
Best boy grip
Company grip
Best boy elec
Elec
Video playback op
Unit still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
1st asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Const coord
Const foreman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Scenic artist
COSTUMES
Miss Hemingway's cost by
Costumer
Asst costumer
MUSIC
Supv mus ed
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Cableman
Sd supv/Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv dial ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Rec tech
Rec tech
Rec tech
Foley artist
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Make-up des
Hair des
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Prod assoc/Post-prod coord
Post prod services by
A Division of Lucasfilm, Ltd.
Transportation coord
Transportation capt, Los Angeles
Transportation co-capt, Miami
Prod coord
Loc mgr
Casting asst, Los Angeles
Miami casting
Asst to Mr. Foster
Asst to Mr. Turman
Research asst
Research asst
Prod controller
Controller's asst
Unit pub
Publicity
Tech adv
Tech adv
Prod asst
Catering
Craft services
AFI observer
University of Miami prod intern
Prod office asst
Tech adv for Televideo Computers
Tech adv for Televideo Computers
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
COLOR PERSONNEL
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel In the Heat of the Summer by John Katzenbach (New York, 1982).
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 February 1985
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 15 February 1985
New York opening: week of 15 February 1985
Production Date:
began 21 May 1984
Copyright Claimant:
Orion Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
14 May 1985
Copyright Number:
PA252491
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Lenses
Lenses and Cameras by Panavision
Prints
Release prints by deluxe
Duration(in mins):
104
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27614
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

A young woman named Sarah Hooks is shot, execution-style, on the beach in Miami, Florida. Reporter Malcolm Anderson wants to quit his job at the Miami Journal, but is assigned by his editor, Bill Nolan, to cover the murder. Anderson goes to the scene of the crime with press photographer Andy Porter, then to the Hooks residence. Mrs. Hooks shows him the family photo album. Anderson contemplates taking Sarah’s picture, but puts it back before leaving. However, Andy grabs it and follows Anderson out. Back at the Miami Journal, Nolan is upset when he discovers that Anderson did not filch a photo of the victim, but is mollified when Andy hands him the stolen snapshot. That night, Anderson’s girl friend, a schoolteacher named Christine Connelly, asks if he definitely wants to give up the life of a big-city reporter to take the job he has been offered at the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colorado. He assures her yes, and promises to give his resignation in the morning. The following day, Nolan tells Anderson he has not worked long enough to have burned out, and asks what the reporter wants. Anderson alludes to his desire to be a celebrated star reporter, then adds, “I just don’t want to see my name next to pictures of dead bodies anymore.” Later, Anderson advises Christine to give notice at her school, since they are definitely moving to Colorado. At his office the next morning, ... +


A young woman named Sarah Hooks is shot, execution-style, on the beach in Miami, Florida. Reporter Malcolm Anderson wants to quit his job at the Miami Journal, but is assigned by his editor, Bill Nolan, to cover the murder. Anderson goes to the scene of the crime with press photographer Andy Porter, then to the Hooks residence. Mrs. Hooks shows him the family photo album. Anderson contemplates taking Sarah’s picture, but puts it back before leaving. However, Andy grabs it and follows Anderson out. Back at the Miami Journal, Nolan is upset when he discovers that Anderson did not filch a photo of the victim, but is mollified when Andy hands him the stolen snapshot. That night, Anderson’s girl friend, a schoolteacher named Christine Connelly, asks if he definitely wants to give up the life of a big-city reporter to take the job he has been offered at the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colorado. He assures her yes, and promises to give his resignation in the morning. The following day, Nolan tells Anderson he has not worked long enough to have burned out, and asks what the reporter wants. Anderson alludes to his desire to be a celebrated star reporter, then adds, “I just don’t want to see my name next to pictures of dead bodies anymore.” Later, Anderson advises Christine to give notice at her school, since they are definitely moving to Colorado. At his office the next morning, he receives a call from a man who claims to be Sarah’s killer. To prove it, the man mentions there was something in Sarah’s left rear pocket when she died. He asks Anderson to be by his phone at 3:00 p.m., and hangs up. Anderson speaks with police detective Ray Martinez, asking if something was found in the victim’s right back pocket. When prompted, he admits that he spoke to a man claiming to be the killer and offers a trade: if the police tell him what was in Sarah’s pocket, he will tell them when the killer will call again. Reluctantly, Ray admits there was a note, which read “Number 1.” At the newspaper office, shortly after 3:00 p.m., with Anderson’s phone wired to record the conversation, the killer calls. He says there will be five more victims, three women and two men, but he has not yet chosen them. Afterward, at a meeting with the newspaper’s executives and publisher, Anderson and Nolan discuss the pros and cons of printing the story. Anderson argues they have an obligation to warn the public of the killer’s intentions. A cooperative agreement with the police is worked out: the paper will not turn over Anderson’s notes, but they will turn over recordings of his conversations with the alleged killer; in turn, the police will give the paper “an exclusive” on developments related to the case. Ray Martinez plays a tape recording of the killer’s call for a psychiatrist, hoping to secure a profile of the suspect, but the doctor cannot tell much from one recording, and suggests that Anderson be patient and non-judgmental in dealing with the killer. When the story of the killer’s conversations with Anderson breaks, the reporter is sought after by other journalists, but he avoids answering their questions. Soon, the killer calls and directs Anderson to 651 Nautilus, where two murder victims are found. When questioned by reporters, Anderson tells them he is on deadline and that everything he knows will be in tomorrow’s Miami Journal . The killer calls Anderson’s unlisted home number, and admits to stealing his mail. When Anderson asks if he has any friends, the killer replies that he had one before the automobile plant closed, but the man lost his hand in an accident. Anderson inquires whether or not they are still in touch, and the killer accuses him of trying to suss out his identity. He would rather talk about his latest victims, whom he murdered because they were alone and unattached. After killing them, he says he walked the streets covered in blood, and nobody noticed or cared. Anderson continues writing stories about the murderer, and his coverage makes national news. One night, Anderson and Christine argue over dinner. He tells her he cannot quit his job before the assignment is finished, and she wonders if he is reporting or participating in the news. In the morning, the phone rings at Anderson’s home, and Christine picks up. Realizing it is the killer, she tries to stop Anderson from taking the phone, but he wrests it from her. The killer tells him of a fourth victim. When he hangs up, Christine accuses Anderson of collaborating with a murderer. Anderson and the police arrive at the scene, where they find a mother slain, but her young daughter spared. Anderson is interviewed on television. Afterward, the killer calls to complain that he is doing all the work, but Anderson is getting the attention. When he plays a tape recording of the conversation for police, Ray Martinez tells him they have checked all the major automobile assembly plants in the country, and there is no record of an accident like the killer described. Anderson arrives home to find his door wide open and thinks he sees a stalker in the garden. He nearly smashes the man in the head with a baseball bat, but it is a newspaper deliveryman. At the police station, Anderson says he is tired of being the contact man. Later, he and his photographer go through letters from readers. One says that the description of the killer as an autoworker reminds the writer of someone he met in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Anderson goes to the trailer park address of the letter writer, who tells him about Albert O’Shaughnessy, an American Motors auto assembly line worker who was depressed because he lost his mother, father, wife, sister-in-law and teenaged daughter, all of whom were supposedly shot by O’Shaughnessy’s brother. The letter writer identifies himself as Michael Wilson, and says he was discharged from the Army on April 1, 1971. Anderson’s latest story goes to press before Nolan discovers that American Motors never employed an Albert O’Shaughnessy, and no one named Wilson was discharged from the Army on April 1, 1971. Anderson realizes that Wilson’s story was an April Fools joke. When he and the cops arrive at Wilson’s trailer, they find a tape recording in which the informant reveals himself to be the killer. Back at the paper, another call arrives. Anderson tells the killer he wants no more part in the story, but is told that no one is safe. The killer alludes to Christine and hangs up. Anderson races out of the office. Meanwhile, Christine’s car will not start in the school parking lot. Posing as a substitute teacher, the killer offers help. Anderson arrives to find Christine’s car parked, and empty. In the Everglades, the killer explains his motives to the captive Christine. He feels invisible and believes if someone lives a good life, no one will take note. At the Miami Journal office, a new informant arrives, identifying himself as the real Albert O’Shaughnessy. The man saw his name in Anderson’s story and was reminded of a similar series of murders in Chicago, Illinois. There, a man named Alan Delour came to the halfway house where O’Shaughnessy worked and confessed to the murders, but the cops dismissed it as a false confession by someone who just wanted attention. A police SWAT team surrounds Delour’s residence, but no one is home. However, the killer has left another tape recording, apologizing for harming Christine, but arguing that Anderson must have realized there would be a price to pay. Later, Anderson receives another call from the killer, who offers to take him in exchange for Christine. He directs the reporter to a spot in the Everglades, but warns him not to bring police. Anderson arrives by propeller boat with Ray and the SWAT team. The killer shoots, cursing Anderson for ruining everything. Anderson chases him into the brush, hears a gunshot, and finds the body of a man with his face shot off. The cops catch up and inform Anderson that Christine is safe. Back at home, Anderson and Christine attempt to forget recent events, when a storm hits. The killer breaks in, and accuses Anderson of “becoming the story.” The lights go out, and Anderson attempts to calm the killer by saying he will videotape his story for television. He finds a flashlight and shines it in the killer’s face, and in the ensuing fight, the murderer drops his gun. Anderson points it at the killer, who observes that Anderson will not dare pull the trigger because they need each other. At Christine’s urging, Anderson shoots him. Sometime later, as he writes his final story for the Miami Journal , Christine points out that he has not signed his name. He types in: “Malcolm Anderson, Managing Editor, Greeley Tribune. +

GENRE
Genre:
Sub-genre:
Crime


Subject

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

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