Spies Like Us (1985)

PG | 109 mins | Adventure, Comedy | 6 December 1985

Director:

John Landis

Cinematographer:

Robert Paynter

Production Designer:

Peter Murton

Production Company:

Warner Bros., Inc.
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HISTORY

       According to the 1 Mar 1982 DV, comedians John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd planned to work together on Spies Like Us. However, John Belushi died of a drug overdose on 5 Mar 1982, and the 13 May 1982 Rolling Stone announced that the film, co-written by Dave Thomas and Dan Aykroyd, would feature Thomas and Rick Moranis in the lead roles.
       The 24 Feb 1983 DV reconfirmed that John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd had planned to star in the feature, and announced that Carl Gottleib would contribute to rewriting the script, although Gottleib is not listed in onscreen credits.
       Principal photography began in the U.S. on 8 Feb 1985, according to the 5 Mar 1985 HR. Production was scheduled to relocate to Pinewood Studios in London, England, and continue until 10 Mar 1985, followed by four-weeks in Norway. The company returned to London from 4--25 Apr 1985, and production was scheduled for two-weeks on location in Morocco, before concluding at Pinewood Studios on 24 May 1985.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files list U.S. locations as Palmdale, CA, and Washington, D.C., and report that sub-zero temperatures in Norway made filming difficult for cast and crew.
       The 25 Oct 1985 DV announced a world premiere benefit would be held on 3 Dec 1985 at the Bruin Westwood theater, with proceeds going to the Variety Club of Southern California and the Will Rogers Institute.
       According to the 4 Dec 1985 DV, actress Donna Dixon was reluctant to audition for the role of “Karen Boyer,” as she was Dan ... More Less

       According to the 1 Mar 1982 DV, comedians John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd planned to work together on Spies Like Us. However, John Belushi died of a drug overdose on 5 Mar 1982, and the 13 May 1982 Rolling Stone announced that the film, co-written by Dave Thomas and Dan Aykroyd, would feature Thomas and Rick Moranis in the lead roles.
       The 24 Feb 1983 DV reconfirmed that John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd had planned to star in the feature, and announced that Carl Gottleib would contribute to rewriting the script, although Gottleib is not listed in onscreen credits.
       Principal photography began in the U.S. on 8 Feb 1985, according to the 5 Mar 1985 HR. Production was scheduled to relocate to Pinewood Studios in London, England, and continue until 10 Mar 1985, followed by four-weeks in Norway. The company returned to London from 4--25 Apr 1985, and production was scheduled for two-weeks on location in Morocco, before concluding at Pinewood Studios on 24 May 1985.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files list U.S. locations as Palmdale, CA, and Washington, D.C., and report that sub-zero temperatures in Norway made filming difficult for cast and crew.
       The 25 Oct 1985 DV announced a world premiere benefit would be held on 3 Dec 1985 at the Bruin Westwood theater, with proceeds going to the Variety Club of Southern California and the Will Rogers Institute.
       According to the 4 Dec 1985 DV, actress Donna Dixon was reluctant to audition for the role of “Karen Boyer,” as she was Dan Aykroyd’s wife. Dixon reportedly turned down the female lead in Ghostbusters (1984, see entry), following her marriage, as her new husband would have been her co-star.
       The Feb 1986 Box reported earnings of $8.6 million after the first weekend of release, and the Jan 1986 Film Journal announced $33.5 million in box office receipts after twenty-four days in release.
      End credits include the following acknowledgement: “MTV Music Television® used by permission.” Also acknowledged: “The Filmmakers wish to thank: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II; King Olav V of Norway; His Majesty, the King, Hassan II of Morocco; Eddie Bauer; Redman, Washington; Project Masters Inc., Miami, Florida; Rachel Landis; Max Landis,” and “Made at Pinewood Studios, London, England, and on location in the United States, Norway, and Morocco.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Feb 1986.
---
Daily Variety
1 Mar 1982.
---
Daily Variety
24 Feb 1983.
---
Daily Variety
25 Oct 1985.
---
Daily Variety
4 Dec 1985.
---
Film Journal
Jan 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Dec 1985
p. 3, 26.
Los Angeles Times
6 Dec 1985
p. 8.
New York Times
6 Dec 1985
p. 14.
Rolling Stone
13 May 1982.
---
Variety
4 Dec 1985
p. 26.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Landis/Folsey Film
An AAR--Bernie Brillstein--Brian Grazer Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
Prod mgr
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
2d unit dir
Unit prod mgr, United States crew
1st asst dir, United States crew
2d asst dir, United States crew
Prod mgr, Moroccan crew
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op
Cam op
Focus puller
Focus puller
Clapper loader
Clapper loader
2d unit dir of photog
Video supv
Stills photog
Gaffer
Best boy
Elec
Elec
Aerial photog
Aerial photog
Cams & lighting
Model unit cams
Chapman crane
2d unit cam (Washington D.C.), United States crew
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Supv art dir
Asst art dir
Art dir, United States crew
FILM EDITORS
Stand-by ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dressing
Matte painter
Prop buyer
Const mgr
Props
Armourer
Set dec, United States crew
COSTUMES
Ward supv
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward driver
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd asst
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
Foley by
Re-rec
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Visual eff supv
Visual eff asst dir
Visual eff photog
Visual eff cam op
Visual eff focus puller
Model maker supv
Motion control op
Titles & opticals (U.K.)
Titles & opticals (U.S.)
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairdresser
Hairdresser
Makeup, United States crew
Makeup, United States crew
Hairstylist, United States crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Casting (Europe)
Casting (U.S.)
Supv accountant
Prod coord
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Scr supv
Prod accountant
Prod asst
Secy to Mr. Landis
Wrangler
Payroll services by
Exec consultant
Soviet patches
Loc mgr (Washington, D.C.), United States crew
Prod coord, United States crew
Prod accountant, United States crew
Transport mgr, Norwegian crew
Russian language adv, Norwegian crew
Prod exec, Moroccan crew
Prod exec, Moroccan crew
Pashtu language adv, Moroccan crew
Prod secy, Moroccan crew
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Spies Like Us," written & performed by Paul McCartney, produced by Paul McCartney, Phil Ramone, and Hugh Padgham
"I'll Be Loving You," written by Sammy Cahn and Vernon Duke
"Rock The House Down," written by Peter Aykroyd & Jon Tiven, performed by Peter Aykroyd
+
SONGS
"Spies Like Us," written & performed by Paul McCartney, produced by Paul McCartney, Phil Ramone, and Hugh Padgham
"I'll Be Loving You," written by Sammy Cahn and Vernon Duke
"Rock The House Down," written by Peter Aykroyd & Jon Tiven, performed by Peter Aykroyd
"Soul Finger," written by Jimmy King, Ben Cauley, Carl Cunningham, James Alexander, & Ronnie Caldwell, performed by the Bar-Kays, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
6 December 1985
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 6 December 1985
Production Date:
8 February--24 May 1985
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 March 1986
Copyright Number:
PA283004
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Prints
Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
109
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27966
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

U.S. satellites in outer space photograph the snowy woods in Russia. The top-secret images are printed in Washington, D.C., and placed in a briefcase handcuffed to a courier. The courier leaves The Ace Tomato, Co., a NATSEC (National Security) front operation, and takes the photos to military personnel, who decide to move forward with their covert mission, employing four operatives, two of whom will serve as decoys, and two others who are viewed as “disposable.” Elsewhere, at the Department of State, Information Officer Emmet Fitz-Hume prepares to take the “Foreign Service” exam. At the Pentagon, civilian Austin Millbarge works as a Repair Supervisor in the Code Breaking Department. His superior waits until the night before the exam to tell Austin about the Foreign Service exam. Austin, who knows how to speak Russian and has natural code-breaking abilities, has only one night to prepare. When Emmet and Austin are caught cheating on the exam, they are handpicked to be “patsies” for the covert mission. With little preparation, Emmet and Austin are thrown from an airplane, and land in the middle of a forest, where they are surrounded by a band of sword-wielding ninjas. The Head of Special Training, Colonel Rhombus, arrives, and welcomes the men to the U.S. Army Tactical Training Center. After weeks of training, Emmet and Austin are sent to Pakistan. They are dropped into a desert village in a shipping container, and surrounded by angry, gun-toting locals, but are soon greeted by their American contacts, Bud Schnelker and Rob Hodges. As they drive in Schnelker’s jeep, Austin sees Hodges's Russian wristwatch and realizes the ... +


U.S. satellites in outer space photograph the snowy woods in Russia. The top-secret images are printed in Washington, D.C., and placed in a briefcase handcuffed to a courier. The courier leaves The Ace Tomato, Co., a NATSEC (National Security) front operation, and takes the photos to military personnel, who decide to move forward with their covert mission, employing four operatives, two of whom will serve as decoys, and two others who are viewed as “disposable.” Elsewhere, at the Department of State, Information Officer Emmet Fitz-Hume prepares to take the “Foreign Service” exam. At the Pentagon, civilian Austin Millbarge works as a Repair Supervisor in the Code Breaking Department. His superior waits until the night before the exam to tell Austin about the Foreign Service exam. Austin, who knows how to speak Russian and has natural code-breaking abilities, has only one night to prepare. When Emmet and Austin are caught cheating on the exam, they are handpicked to be “patsies” for the covert mission. With little preparation, Emmet and Austin are thrown from an airplane, and land in the middle of a forest, where they are surrounded by a band of sword-wielding ninjas. The Head of Special Training, Colonel Rhombus, arrives, and welcomes the men to the U.S. Army Tactical Training Center. After weeks of training, Emmet and Austin are sent to Pakistan. They are dropped into a desert village in a shipping container, and surrounded by angry, gun-toting locals, but are soon greeted by their American contacts, Bud Schnelker and Rob Hodges. As they drive in Schnelker’s jeep, Austin sees Hodges's Russian wristwatch and realizes the men are KGB spies. Austin alerts Emmet, and they create a diversion and escape in the jeep as the KGB operatives shoot at them. Austin and Emmet commandeer the jeep and drive through the desert. Soon they are surrounded by Afghani freedom fighters, but Austin identifies them as American allies. However, they are taken prisoner and strung up by their feet. British medical relief worker Jerry Hadley demands their release, believing them to be doctors. Emmet and Austin pretend to be surgeons, and are taken to a tent to meet a team of international medical professionals. Austin wants to flee, but Emmet is attracted to a beautiful American, Karen Boyer, and wants to stay. Emmet is forced to perform an appendectomy on a high-ranking Afghani man, and Austin helps him fake his way through the surgery. Before they can begin, the man dies on the operating table, which incites a riot by the locals. Austin and Emmet flee in an ambulance, as bullets fly past. Elsewhere, in Nevada, members of the covert operation, Mr. Ruby and Mr. Keyes, arrive at an abandoned drive-in movie theater and are led to a secret underground military base where they are greeted by the head officers and shown the operations room. They are shocked to receive a collect telephone call from Emmet in Pakistan, who speaks about their mission over a public phone. Keyes wants to keep the men in place as a decoy from the real mission, and Ruby tells Emmet and Austin to travel to the Soviet Union where they will be met by a contact along the road. Emmet and Austin disguise themselves as Pakistanis and board a bus to cross the border. Emmet sees Jerry Hadley and Karen Boyer drive past them on the road, and meets up with Karen at a checkpoint. She refuses to speak to Emmet after his deception. Austin notices a code-breaking machine in her possession. He tells Emmet she is a spy, but he is unsure whose side she is on. Karen and Jerry mount horses and set out across the desert, and Emmet convinces Austin that they should follow. They travel on foot along a mountain ridge, encountering snow and frigid temperatures, and lose track of Karen and Jerry. When they arrive at their meeting point in the Soviet Union, they are arrested by Russian police. Austin escapes, but Emmet is taken into custody, and interrogated by Bud Schnelker and Rob Hodges. Under threat of having his fingers cut off, he makes up a reason for their mission. Meanwhile, Karen Boyer and Jerry Hadley engage in a gunfight with Russian military, and Jerry is killed. Austin hears the battle and runs from danger, but he falls down the mountainside and lands at Karen’s feet. The two secret agents realize they are working for the same side, and Karen explains that Austin and Emmet are decoys, much to Austin’s dismay. Karen suggests they work together. As Emmet is being transferred, Austin rides in on horseback and showers the Russians with gunfire. The bumbling spies make their escape, and rejoin Karen in the woods. From the mountainside, they spy a long-range rocket launcher, and Karen explains that their true mission is to take possession of the missile. Austin and Emmet are afraid, but Karen gives them tranquilizer guns to use on the small Russian missile crew. At nightfall, Emmet and Austin disguise themselves in strange costumes, posing as aliens, and approach the Russians. They are shot at, and Emmet and Austin pretend to be dead, but they soon rise and shoot their enemies with tranquilizers. Karen receives printed instructions from the U.S. military, and enters the coordinates into the rocket launcher, unaware she is engaging the missile. When the missile launches, the spies are confused. The Russians awaken, and ask what they have done, explaining that the rocket will hit the U.S. in twenty-eight minutes. Austin asserts that a counter-attack will occur within forty-five minutes and they will all be dead. Facing certain death, Emmet suggests he and Karen have sex, while Austin pairs off with a beautiful Russian. Elsewhere, the U.S. military launches an anti-defense pulse to destroy the Russian missile in outer space, but the pulse misses its target. Keyes and Ruby demand the President be alerted to the mishap before he launches a counter-attack, but the head of the mission orders his silence, thinking it best for the U.S. to exert its dominance and attack the Soviets. Meanwhile, tech-wizard Austin has an idea to divert the Russian missile, and enlists the others to help him change the rocket’s course. Using the satellite communicator, he successfully changes the missile’s direction, and it explodes in outer space. At the command center in Nevada, the members of the covert military group are arrested. Sometime later, Emmet returns to his role as Chief State Department Negotiator, and he and Austin travel to Geneva, Switzerland, to meet with the Russians and discuss disarmament. While the media waits outside, they play a friendly board game with the Russians. Emmet kisses Karen Boyer, and Austin kisses his Russian lover. +

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

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