The Kill-Off (1989)

90 mins | Melodrama | 19 October 1989

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HISTORY

According to studio notes in AMPAS library files, filming took place during a twenty-one-day schedule in Jan 1989, on a budget of less than $1 million. Exteriors were filmed in the seaside resort town of Keansburg, NJ, often with the Keansburg Amusement Park at 275 Beachway Avenue in the background. The sets for “Luane Devore’s” bedroom, “Pete Pavlov’s” office, and “Danny Lee’s” dressing room were built in an abandoned New York City, NY, police station. Pete’s bar, “The Pavilion,” was a redressed Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) hall on Staten Island, NY. Director Maggie Greenwald limited the use of exteriors to “heighten the tale’s sense of claustrophobia.” Though Jim Thompson’s original novel was told from the viewpoints of twelve different characters, Greenwald trimmed the number of roles to make the film less unwieldy. She also identified the murderer of “Luane Devore,” who remained a mystery in the novel.
       The Kill-Off was actress Jorja Fox’s debut film. At the time, she used the name Jorjan, a contraction of her birth name, Jorja-An.
       The Kill-Off was screened at the Cannes Film Festival Market on May 17, 1989, running 95 minutes, the 31 May 1989 Var reported. The 15 May 1990 HR noted that, after appearing at festivals in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Munich, West Germany, in 1989, the film was commercially released in the United Kingdom in early 1990. Cabriolet Films later picked up The Kill-Off for U.S. distribution after seeing it at the U.S. Film Festival, according to the 19 Dec 1990 DV. Cabriolet held the film’s post-premiere party on 19 Oct 1989 at a New York City club ... More Less

According to studio notes in AMPAS library files, filming took place during a twenty-one-day schedule in Jan 1989, on a budget of less than $1 million. Exteriors were filmed in the seaside resort town of Keansburg, NJ, often with the Keansburg Amusement Park at 275 Beachway Avenue in the background. The sets for “Luane Devore’s” bedroom, “Pete Pavlov’s” office, and “Danny Lee’s” dressing room were built in an abandoned New York City, NY, police station. Pete’s bar, “The Pavilion,” was a redressed Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) hall on Staten Island, NY. Director Maggie Greenwald limited the use of exteriors to “heighten the tale’s sense of claustrophobia.” Though Jim Thompson’s original novel was told from the viewpoints of twelve different characters, Greenwald trimmed the number of roles to make the film less unwieldy. She also identified the murderer of “Luane Devore,” who remained a mystery in the novel.
       The Kill-Off was actress Jorja Fox’s debut film. At the time, she used the name Jorjan, a contraction of her birth name, Jorja-An.
       The Kill-Off was screened at the Cannes Film Festival Market on May 17, 1989, running 95 minutes, the 31 May 1989 Var reported. The 15 May 1990 HR noted that, after appearing at festivals in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Munich, West Germany, in 1989, the film was commercially released in the United Kingdom in early 1990. Cabriolet Films later picked up The Kill-Off for U.S. distribution after seeing it at the U.S. Film Festival, according to the 19 Dec 1990 DV. Cabriolet held the film’s post-premiere party on 19 Oct 1989 at a New York City club featuring topless dancers, as stated in the 15 Oct 1990 Var. The 29 Oct 1990 Var reported that ticket sales were not “promising.” The Kill-Off opened in Los Angeles, CA, for a week, beginning 14 Dec 1990 to qualify for Academy Award consideration, the 15 Dec 1990 and 16 Dec 1990 editions of the LAT noted, but the film was not submitted to the Motion Picture Association of America for a rating. The Kill-Off was one of three film adaptations of Jim Thompson novels—along with The Grifters (see entry) and After Dark My Sweet (see entry)—released in 1990.
       End credits contain the following acknowledgments: “Special Thanks: Doro Bachrach; Blue Cow Antiques; Ron Boohar; S. S. Classics; Roberta Edelman; Andy Day; Rick Gioia; Shirley & William Greenwald; Bernie Hajdenberg & Sound Dimensions Editorial, Inc.; Holly Heinzman; Steve Kazmurski; Skip Lievsay; New York City Mayor’s Office for Motion Pictures; Simon Nuchtern; Megan Ratner; Tom Razzano; John Rosenmiller; Tim Schnacke; VFW Post 248-Staten Island, New York.” Credits also note: “Filmed on location in Keansburg, New Jersey & Staten Island, New York.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Chicago Tribune
13 Jan 1988
p. 3
Daily Variety
8 Jun 1989
p. 8
Daily Variety
15 Oct 1990
p. 336
Daily Variety
19 Dec 1990
p. 5
Daily Variety
29 Oct 1990
p. 16
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jul 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 1989
p. 9, 18
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 1990
p. 8, 20
Hollywood Reporter
15 May 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Dec 1990
Calendar, p. 6
Los Angeles Times
15 Dec 1990
Calendar, p. 7
Los Angeles Times
16 Dec 1990
Calendar, p. 37
Rolling Stone
19 Oct 1990.
---
Variety
31 May 1989
p. 34
Variety
29 Oct 1990
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Filmworld International Productions, Inc. presents
A Lydia Dean Pilcher Production of
A Maggie Greenwald Movie
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
Asst dir
Addl A.D.
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Key grip
2d grip
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam
Gaffer
Best boy
3rd elec
3rd elec
Addl elec
Addl elec
Cam PA
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Post prod supv
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Swing
Set dec
Prop master
Set dresser
Scenic artist
COSTUMES
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus coord
Musician, Piano
Musician, Bandoneon
Musician, Saxophone
Musician, Guitar
Musician, Drums
SOUND
Sd ed
Sd mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Opticals & Titles by
Opticals & Titles by
DANCE
Asst choreog
MAKEUP
Hair & make-up
Addl make-up
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod coord
Asst coord
Prod consultant
Scr supv
Driver
Scr consultant
Loc scout
Loc scout
Loc scout
Key prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
STAND INS
Lily's stunt double
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Kill-Off by Jim Thompson (1957).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Hard Work," written by Kim Field, produced by Louis X. Erlanger, performed by The Slamhound Hunters © 1984, courtesy of Satin Records
"The Slamhound Hunter," written by Louis X. Erlanger and Eric Feiring © 1984, produced by Louis X. Erlanger, performed by The Slamhound Hunters, courtesy of Satin Records.
DETAILS
Release Date:
19 October 1989
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 19 October 1989
Los Angeles opening: 14 December 1990
Production Date:
January - February 1989
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Widescreen/ratio
1.85
Duration(in mins):
90
Length(in feet):
8,754
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a wintery New Jersey beach town, Luane Devore, a bedridden invalid, gossips on the telephone. Lily Williams telephones Luane’s much younger, slow-witted husband, Ralph Devore, begging him to make Luane stop spreading the rumor that Lily is carrying the child of her brother, Henry Williams. After shooting Henry to death, Lily hangs herself. Luane complains to Ralph that Doctor Ashton claims she is faking her illness. At a local bar, called the Pavilion, bartender Rags informs the doctor’s son, Bobbie Ashton, that Luane is spreading rumors that he sells illegal drugs out of the bar. Rags warns that it is only a matter of time before owner Pete Pavlov hears about it. Bobbie goes into the Pavilion basement, where he keeps packets of heroin. He enters the owner’s backroom office, and Pete draws a gun, ordering Bobbie to stop selling drugs. Later, Bobbie drinks in his car with Pete’s daughter, Myra Pavlov. She hates her father because he once raped her when he was drunk, and Bobbie hates Dr. Ashton for telling Luane Devore about his drug dealing. At the bar, Pete tells Rags he needs $10,000 and has considered burning the place down for insurance. He remembers when the Pavilion was crowded every night, and decides the bar needs a topless dancer. In her bedroom, Luane hears a noise and thinks someone is coming to get her, but it is only Ralph, carrying a bottle of liquor. As Ralph bathes and tickles Luane, he describes how he had sex with an out-of-town teenager he met at the amusement park arcade, and Luane plays along with his lie. Meanwhile, Pete propositions street-corner prostitute Danny Lee, offering her the ... +


In a wintery New Jersey beach town, Luane Devore, a bedridden invalid, gossips on the telephone. Lily Williams telephones Luane’s much younger, slow-witted husband, Ralph Devore, begging him to make Luane stop spreading the rumor that Lily is carrying the child of her brother, Henry Williams. After shooting Henry to death, Lily hangs herself. Luane complains to Ralph that Doctor Ashton claims she is faking her illness. At a local bar, called the Pavilion, bartender Rags informs the doctor’s son, Bobbie Ashton, that Luane is spreading rumors that he sells illegal drugs out of the bar. Rags warns that it is only a matter of time before owner Pete Pavlov hears about it. Bobbie goes into the Pavilion basement, where he keeps packets of heroin. He enters the owner’s backroom office, and Pete draws a gun, ordering Bobbie to stop selling drugs. Later, Bobbie drinks in his car with Pete’s daughter, Myra Pavlov. She hates her father because he once raped her when he was drunk, and Bobbie hates Dr. Ashton for telling Luane Devore about his drug dealing. At the bar, Pete tells Rags he needs $10,000 and has considered burning the place down for insurance. He remembers when the Pavilion was crowded every night, and decides the bar needs a topless dancer. In her bedroom, Luane hears a noise and thinks someone is coming to get her, but it is only Ralph, carrying a bottle of liquor. As Ralph bathes and tickles Luane, he describes how he had sex with an out-of-town teenager he met at the amusement park arcade, and Luane plays along with his lie. Meanwhile, Pete propositions street-corner prostitute Danny Lee, offering her the opportunity to dance topless at his bar. Elsewhere, Bobbie browbeats his father into using his influence to get Mr. Brockton, the arcade owner, to give him Ralph Devore’s off-season maintenance job. When Ralph loses his job, he complains to Bobbie, but the younger man only laughs at him. He complains to Pete at the Pavilion, where Ralph is the part-time janitor, but the barkeeper is unsympathetic because he once loaned $10,000 to Luane’s late father and was never repaid. Though Pete claims he can get Ralph a job in “the city,” Ralph says he gets lost in strange places and does not want to leave town. Later, Danny Lee practices dancing and stripping for Rags and Pete in the empty bar. When Bobbie enters, Pete pulls him outside, warning him to stop selling drugs at the Pavilion and stay away from Myra. Meanwhile, Luane receives a telephone call about Myra being a drug addict. When Ralph arrives home and tells Luane that Bobbie took his job at the arcade, she assures him that she has some money stashed away. Ralph’s father told him to marry Luane, despite her being seventeen years older, because she would always take care of him. Ralph later informs Pete that he will not have to leave town because Luane has some savings. Bobbie telephones the bar and tells Myra to meet him in the basement. She sneaks downstairs while Bobbie gets his drugs, and plans to meet him in the alley later. The Pavilion is full when Danny Lee begins dancing, and the evening turns out to be a moneymaker for Pete. At closing time, Ralph walks Danny Lee home and shares his liquor with her. They talk about themselves and kiss. Myra goes for a ride in Bobbie’s car, during which he shows her his gun and injects a shot of heroin into her arm. Pete visits Luane’s place and tells her he wants the money she inherited from her father. When Pete claims he loaned it to her father just before he died, Luane counters that she earned the money for not telling people that Pete raped his daughter. Luane lies in bed worrying because Ralph is late, and in the morning she questions him about the new stripper. His reluctance to talk suggests that Ralph is having an affair with Danny Lee. After Ralph leaves, Luane telephones the Pavilion and asks Rags if her husband is there with “that tramp,” then reminds the bartender that she knows he killed his family in a drunken car accident before he moved to town. When Ralph arrives to clean the Pavilion, Danny Lee greets him with a kiss. Pete compliments Ralph for having a young, good-looking woman like Danny Lee instead of a hag like Luane. Meanwhile, Bobbie taunts Luane about Ralph losing his job, adding that her husband is spending time with a stripper. In days ahead, Danny Lee continues to bring business into the Pavilion. Bobbie maintains Myra’s drug habit and physically abuses her. Luane telephones Bobbie, offering him money to “do something” about Danny Lee, but he will have to give Ralph back his job. After having sex, Ralph tells Danny Lee that Luane was nearly twice his age when they married. They declare their mutual love, then discuss how to get rid of Luane. When Ralph returns home, Luane asks why he is not being paid extra for spending more time at the Pavilion. He asks why she never told him about her savings, in case something happened to her. After Ralph leaves the house, Luane telephones Rags, saying that Ralph is going to kill her, and reveals what is going on between Bobbie and Myra. When Myra arrives at the bar, Rags warns that her father is going to find out what Bobbie has done to her. That night, Ralph promises Danny Lee he will get rid of Luane. Pete pockets a gun, goes to Luane’s, and demands $10,000. She reveals that Bobbie has been giving Myra drugs as revenge for the beating Pete gave him. Luane threatens to tell everyone that Pete raped his daughter, and he shoots her. Police gather Rags, Danny Lee, Bobbie, Ralph and Pete at the Pavilion, and interrogate each one individually. As Ralph is being questioned, Danny Lee tells the others he was with Luane when she was killed. Pete accuses Bobbie, but Bobbie thinks Pete is the murderer. Bobbie whispers to Myra that he going to sneak away because police think he is the killer. Myra promises to get money from her father’s safe and meet him later. At Ralph’s house, Danny Lee tries on Luane’s jewelry and hat, and tells Ralph he should empty the place of his wife’s possessions. At the bar, Myra robs the safe while her father is passed out, but he awakens and catches her. After a brief struggle, Myra runs to Bobbie’s car without the money. Refusing to leave empty-handed, Bobbie walks toward the bar and Pete shoots him. Myra gets Bobbie’s gun from the glove compartment, and as Pete smashes the car window, she kills him. +

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

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