Men at Work (1990)

PG-13 | 98 mins | Comedy-drama | 24 August 1990

Writer:

Emilio Estevez

Producer:

Cassian Elwes

Cinematographer:

Tim Suhrstedt

Editor:

Craig Bassett

Production Designer:

Dins Danielsen
Full page view
HISTORY

Director-writer Emilio Estevez told the 1 Aug 1990 Orange County Register and 23 Aug 1990 Newsday that he conceived the idea of a film about trash collectors in 1984 or 1985, while working on story ideas late one night in his Santa Monica, CA, kitchen. “All of a sudden, this trash truck came roaring down the alley under my window.” The idea struck him that there were no movies about “trashmen.” The screenplay went through fifteen drafts and at least two title changes, Clear Intent and Pop. 65, according to the 28 Apr 1986 DV and 5 Feb 1989 LAT.
       Principal photography was set to begin 20 Mar 1989, according to the 14 Feb 1989 HR. The 4 Apr 1989 DV reported that filming in Redondo Beach, CA, was drawing “hundreds of fans.” The 22 Jun 1989 DV noted that the film wrapped in Jun 1989, but six months later, according to the 30 Dec 1989 LAT, actor John Getz was finishing up his scenes that week. Two months later, the 5 Feb 1990 DV announced that producer Cassian Elwes had “just wound Men at Work." The discrepancy suggests that retakes were made after the original footage was completed. The 19 May 1989 LA Weekly reported on a club scene being shot both in Redondo Beach (exteriors) and at the Club Lingerie in Hollywood (interiors), featuring the owner and doormen of a popular Los Angeles nightclub, along with popular KROQ radio disc jockey “The Poorman,” but the scene was not included in ... More Less

Director-writer Emilio Estevez told the 1 Aug 1990 Orange County Register and 23 Aug 1990 Newsday that he conceived the idea of a film about trash collectors in 1984 or 1985, while working on story ideas late one night in his Santa Monica, CA, kitchen. “All of a sudden, this trash truck came roaring down the alley under my window.” The idea struck him that there were no movies about “trashmen.” The screenplay went through fifteen drafts and at least two title changes, Clear Intent and Pop. 65, according to the 28 Apr 1986 DV and 5 Feb 1989 LAT.
       Principal photography was set to begin 20 Mar 1989, according to the 14 Feb 1989 HR. The 4 Apr 1989 DV reported that filming in Redondo Beach, CA, was drawing “hundreds of fans.” The 22 Jun 1989 DV noted that the film wrapped in Jun 1989, but six months later, according to the 30 Dec 1989 LAT, actor John Getz was finishing up his scenes that week. Two months later, the 5 Feb 1990 DV announced that producer Cassian Elwes had “just wound Men at Work." The discrepancy suggests that retakes were made after the original footage was completed. The 19 May 1989 LA Weekly reported on a club scene being shot both in Redondo Beach (exteriors) and at the Club Lingerie in Hollywood (interiors), featuring the owner and doormen of a popular Los Angeles nightclub, along with popular KROQ radio disc jockey “The Poorman,” but the scene was not included in the final cut. However, the voice of the Poorman, Jim Trenton, was used in other scenes. During early filming, the 28 Apr 1989 and 5 May 1989 editions of DV named Emerel Film as the Men at Work production company, but Emerel is not credited in the final film.
       The film’s premiere in New York City on 22 Aug 1990, was attended by many of the city’s sanitation workers, according to Newsday. The 27 Aug 1990 LAT reported that Triumph Releasing did not preview Men at Work for the press before opening it “cold.” Despite poor reviews, Men at Work grossed an “impressive” $350,571 on forty-one screens nationwide in its first ten days of release, the 9 Oct 1990 HR noted.
       End credits contain the following: “Special acknowledgments of thanks to: Chief Ray Moulton; Lt. Ken Kaufman; Capt. Roger Bass and the entire Redondo Beach Police Department. Special thanks to: Kitchenaid, Inc.; Artemide, Inc.; Fumagalli’s of America; Shang-Hai (suits provided for Biff and Mario); Nabrud (for providing Max Potterdam and Jack Berger’s suits); Out West; Leonmax; Jolt; LeRun; Mark Rosenthal; Lary Konner; Judy Hofflund; Bill Block"; "Product placement arranged and supplied by: Associate Film Promotions, Danny Glickstein"; and, "Special thanks to Credit Lyonnais Bank Nederland, N.V. for their financing and assistance.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Nov 1990.
---
Daily Variety
28 Apr 1986
p. 3.
Daily Variety
11 Sep 1987
p. 3.
Daily Variety
4 Apr 1989
p. 2.
Daily Variety
28 Apr 1989
p. 14.
Daily Variety
5 May 1989
p. 12.
Daily Variety
5 Feb 1990
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Jun 1989
p. 3.
Daily Variety
27 Aug 1990
p. 2, 23.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Aug 1990
p. 6, 19.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Oct 1990.
---
LA Weekly
19 May 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Feb 1989
Calendar, p. 31.
Los Angeles Times
30 Dec 1989
Calendar, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
27 Aug 1990
Calendar, p. 10.
New York Times
25 Aug 1990
p. 15.
Newsday (Long Island, NY)
23 Aug 1990
p. 11.
Orange County Register
1 Aug 1990
Section L, p. 1.
Variety
3 Sep 1990
p. 79.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Epic Productions and Sarlui/Diamant Present
An Epic/Elwes/Euphoria Films Production
Of an Emilio Estevez Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
Unit prod mgr, Addl photog
1st asst dir, Addl photog
2d asst dir, Addl photog
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Addl photog by
1st asst
Steadicam op
Steadicam op
Video assist
Still photog
Best boy elec
Elec
Key dolly grip
Best boy grip
Grip
Chapman crane op
Underwater photog
Underwater asst cam
Dir of photog, Addl photog
1st cam asst, Addl photog
Cam asst, Addl photog
2d cam, Addl photog
2d cam asst, Addl photog
Elec, Addl photog
Elec, Addl photog
Elec, Addl photog
Grip, Addl photog
Grip, Addl photog
Grip, Addl photog
Grip, Addl photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
Storyboards
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Negative cutter
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Set des
Lead scenic artist
On set dresser
On set dresser
On set dresser
Prop master
Asst props
Const coord
Const foreman
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic painter
Set painter
Propmaker/Set const
Leadman, Addl photog
Swing gang, Addl photog
Swing gang, Addl photog
On set dresser, Addl photog
Prop master, Addl photog
Asst props, Addl photog
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Costumer
Ward, Addl photog
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus score eng and co-prod by
Addl mus by
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
ADR mixers
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Voice looping
Prod sd mixer, Addl photog
Boom op, Addl photog
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff consultant
Pyrotech
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Title des by
Opticals and titles by
MAKEUP
Key make-up artist
Key hairdresser
Make-up artist asst
Make-up artist asst
Hair extensions des by
Dreadlock extensions des by
Spec hair des by
Hairdresser, Addl photog
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Loc mgr
Prod coord
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Exec in charge of prod
Auditor
Asst auditor
Asst prod coord
Casting asst
Extra casting
Asst loc mgr
Asst to exec prod
Asst to prod
Asst to prod
Asst to Mr. Sheen
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Craft service supv
Craft service
Set nurse
Caterer
Caterer
Animals provided by
Animal trainer
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Cam car driver
Cam car driver
Cam car driver
Chapman crane driver
Underwater coord
Fitness trainer
Fitness trainer
Exec in charge of post prod
Prod coord, Addl photog
Prod coord, Addl photog
Scr supv, Addl photog
Auditor, Addl photog
Prod secy, Addl photog
Prod asst-Office, Addl photog
Prod asst, Addl photog
Set nurse, Addl photog
Transportation coord, Addl photog
Transportation capt, Addl photog
Driver, Addl photog
Driver, Addl photog
Driver, Addl photog
Driver, Addl photog
Driver, Addl photog
Driver, Addl photog
Caterer, Addl photog
Caterer, Addl photog
Craft service, Addl photog
Extra casting, Addl photog
Loc equip by
Completion guarantor
Insurance provided by
STAND INS
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt coord
Diver
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Addl stunts, Addl photog
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Wear You To The Ball," performed by UB40, written by John Holt, publisher: The Sparta Florida Music Group, courtesy of Virgin Records
"Super Cool," performed by Sly and Robbie, written by Sly Dunbar and Robbie Lynn, publisher: Island Music, Inc./IXAT Music, courtesy of RAS Records
"Big Pink House," performed by Tyrants in Therapy, written by Michael Jay and Terry Shaddick, publisher: Terry Shaddick Music, Tyranny Ink Music and Van Gogh's Ear Music, courtesy of TSR Records
+
SONGS
"Wear You To The Ball," performed by UB40, written by John Holt, publisher: The Sparta Florida Music Group, courtesy of Virgin Records
"Super Cool," performed by Sly and Robbie, written by Sly Dunbar and Robbie Lynn, publisher: Island Music, Inc./IXAT Music, courtesy of RAS Records
"Big Pink House," performed by Tyrants in Therapy, written by Michael Jay and Terry Shaddick, publisher: Terry Shaddick Music, Tyranny Ink Music and Van Gogh's Ear Music, courtesy of TSR Records
"Feeling Good," performed by Pressure Drop, written by Justin Langlands, Michael Puxley and Gareth Casker, publisher: Big World Music and Warner/Chappell, courtesy of Big World Records
"Move Something," performed by 2 Live Crew, written by Luther Campbell, Mark Ross, David Hobbs and Chris Wong Won, publisher: Pac Jam Publishing, courtesy of Skyywalker Records
"Back To Back," performed by Blood Brothers, written by Justin Langlands and David Henley, publisher: Big World Music and Warner/Chappell, courtesy of Big World Records
"RPG Blues," performed by Kent Richards, Tymm Rocco and Bobby Gabriele, written by Kent Richards and Tymm Rocco, publisher: LA Musicworks
"Pump Up The Jam," performed by Technotronics, written by Thomas De Quincey and Manuella Kamosi, publisher: ColGems/EMI Music Publishing, Inc., courtesy of SBK Records
"Take Heed," performed by Black Uhuru, written by Euvin Spencer, publisher: Warner/Chappell, courtesy of Mesa/Blue Moon Recordings
"Here And Beyond," performed by Sly and Robbie, written by Sly Dunbar and Robbie Lynn, publisher: Island Music, Inc./IXAT Music, courtesy of RAS Records
"Truthful," performed by Blood Brothers, written by Justin Langlands and David Henley, publisher: Big World Music and Warner/Chappell, courtesy of Big World Records
"Reggae Ambassador," performed by Third World, written by W. Clarke, M. Cooper, S. Coore, R. Daley and W. Stewart, publisher: Wosler's Music/PRI Music, Inc., courtesy of Polygram Records
"Give A Little Love," performed by Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers, written by Diane Warren and Albert Hammond, publisher: Warner/Chappell, Realsongs and BMG Songs, courtesy of EMI Records.
+
COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Pop. 65
Clear Intent
Release Date:
24 August 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 24 August 1990
Production Date:
20 March 1989--February 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Epic Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
25 February 1991
Copyright Number:
PA513653
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex Camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
98
Length(in feet):
8,845
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29928
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Standing on the beach in Las Playas, California, Maxwell “Max” Potterdam III watches through night goggles as workers from Chemlife, his paint-thinner manufacturing company, dump barrels filled with toxic material into the ocean. City councilman Jack Berger tells Potterdam he cannot support this activity because the barrels are leaking, and he threatens to expose the operation. As Councilman Berger drives away, he checks his portable recorder to make sure he has the conversation on tape. Potterdam orders his minions, Mario and Biff, to take care of “the problem.” The next morning, James St. James awakens on the beach and goes to his job as a trash collector for Shoreline Waste. Meanwhile, his partner, Carl Taylor, fires an air rifle at a Jack Berger election poster and spies on Susan Wilkins, an attractive stranger in a nearby apartment building. Later, Carl and James begin their rounds as trash collectors and feud with Luzinski and Frost, two fellow workers in another truck. When Carl opens the glove compartment, an air bag inflates, filling the cab. Meanwhile, Jack Berger looks out the window of his campaign office, sees Biff and Mario sitting in a car, and fears they want his incriminating audiotape. Susan Wilkins, Berger’s assistant, enters his office to discuss a reggae band hired to play at his campaign fundraiser and lays their music demo cassette on his desk. When Berger tells Susan he trusts her taste in music, she grabs her materials and leaves. Meanwhile, as Carl and James pick up trashcans, they throw garbage at each other, roll a bowling ball down an alley, and play Frisbee with can lids. Mike and Jeff, two Las Playas beach cops, stop ... +


Standing on the beach in Las Playas, California, Maxwell “Max” Potterdam III watches through night goggles as workers from Chemlife, his paint-thinner manufacturing company, dump barrels filled with toxic material into the ocean. City councilman Jack Berger tells Potterdam he cannot support this activity because the barrels are leaking, and he threatens to expose the operation. As Councilman Berger drives away, he checks his portable recorder to make sure he has the conversation on tape. Potterdam orders his minions, Mario and Biff, to take care of “the problem.” The next morning, James St. James awakens on the beach and goes to his job as a trash collector for Shoreline Waste. Meanwhile, his partner, Carl Taylor, fires an air rifle at a Jack Berger election poster and spies on Susan Wilkins, an attractive stranger in a nearby apartment building. Later, Carl and James begin their rounds as trash collectors and feud with Luzinski and Frost, two fellow workers in another truck. When Carl opens the glove compartment, an air bag inflates, filling the cab. Meanwhile, Jack Berger looks out the window of his campaign office, sees Biff and Mario sitting in a car, and fears they want his incriminating audiotape. Susan Wilkins, Berger’s assistant, enters his office to discuss a reggae band hired to play at his campaign fundraiser and lays their music demo cassette on his desk. When Berger tells Susan he trusts her taste in music, she grabs her materials and leaves. Meanwhile, as Carl and James pick up trashcans, they throw garbage at each other, roll a bowling ball down an alley, and play Frisbee with can lids. Mike and Jeff, two Las Playas beach cops, stop and harass them. During lunch, Carl and James drink beer at a beach cafe, dream about opening a surf shop, then strip off their overalls and go surfing. Councilman Jack Berger goes to Las Playas Police Captain Leo Dalton’s office to report that Potterdam is dumping toxic waste into the bay. He gives Dalton the audiocassette, but when Dalton puts it in his player, he hears reggae music. Berger realizes Susan took the wrong tape and hurries out. Capt. Dalton telephones Potterdam to inform him about Jack’s tape. Carl and James drive to the city dump and empty their truck. When they return to the office and shower, they plant an exploding bag of excrement in Luzinski’s locker. Their boss, Walt Richardson, puts them on probation for making too much noise and assigns his brother-in-law, Louis Fedders, to accompany them for two weeks. That night, Carl and James hear Councilman Berger yelling at Susan Wilkins across the courtyard from Carl’s apartment. Assuming the man is harassing the attractive woman, Carl gets his air rifle, and when Susan leaves to retrieve the cassette from her car, Carl shoots Berger in the leg with a pellet. The two trash men duck below the windowsill and laugh. They do not see Mario and Biff enter Susan’s apartment, strangle Berger, and grab the tape cassette. They carry Berger’s body into the garage and place it in a Chemlife barrel in the trunk of Biff’s car. Driving away, they hit a bump, sending the barrel into the street. Susan returns with the tape and finds Berger gone. Next morning, Carl and James meet their overseer, Louis Fedders, an angry and paranoid Vietnam War veteran. When James smarts off in the truck, Louis Fedders throws a punch, but hits Carl instead. At lunch, Fedders makes threats when James takes several of his French fries. Back at work, Carl investigates a barrel next to trashcans and finds Berger’s corpse inside. Louis Fedders recognizes him from a nearby “Elect Councilman Jack Berger” poster, and Carl recognizes him as the man he shot with his pellet gun. Carl believes he killed Berger, but Louis lifts the body out of the barrel and sees that Berger was strangled, not shot. At that moment, beach cops Mike and Jeff drive up. Carl and James put a hat on Berger and hold him up, pretending he is drunk. The officers order the dead man to sober up in the truck, and tell James and Carl the police department is watching them. Carl tells James and Louis that Berger’s death must remain a secret, or else they will be blamed. Meanwhile, Biff and Mario find the barrel on the street, with nothing inside but a tape cassette. They deliver it to Max Potterdam, along with the news that Berger’s body is missing. When Potterdam plays the tape, he hears only music. In the Shoreline locker room, Carl tells James that the woman must have strangled Berger. The three carry the body to Carl’s apartment, sit him in a chair, and place a Richard Nixon mask over his face. After ordering pizza, they watch Susan's window. Carl goes to her building to “snoop around.” As he approaches Susan’s apartment, Susan opens the door and startles him. He falls down and feigns a twisted ankle. Convincing Susan he lives in the building, Carl charms her into putting an icepack on his ankle, and tells her he is a doctor of phrenology. Seeing Carl in what he thinks is the killer’s apartment, James wants to telephone police, but Louis stops him because he hates cops. When a man delivers the pizza they ordered, he sees James moving Jack’s body. Louis Fedders pulls the delivery man into the apartment, then gags and binds him. Potterdam tells Biff and Mario they delivered the wrong cassette, and sends them to Susan’s apartment. Louis has a Vietnam flashback and thinks the pizza man is a Viet Cong hostage. To convince Susan he is a phrenologist, Carl feels the contours of her head and surprises her with personal facts he learned from watching her apartment. Susan suggests she and Carl go out, and when they leave, James and Louis follow, taking the pizza man and Berger’s body with them. Outside, Biff and Mario see them leaving and recognize Berger’s body. Luzinski and Frost park nearby, ready to avenge Carl and James’s booby traps. All three vehicles follow Susan’s Corvette. Policemen Mike and Jeff see James speeding through a red light and stop him, but Louis puts the pellet gun to the pizza man’s head and makes the policemen drop their guns. Louis orders them to disrobe and ties them together on a playground ride. As Susan and Carl walk on the beach, Luzinski tampers with the brakes of her Corvette, and unknowingly leaves a match burning on the carpet. Potterdam’s henchmen take Susan and Carl prisoner, but when Biff and Mario get into an argument, Susan and Carl escape. As they race toward her Corvette, it explodes, so they keep running. Carl reveals how he saw Jack Berger in her apartment, and later found him dead. They try to steal Mike and Jeff’s cruiser, but Biff puts a gun to Carl’s head. Max Potterdam arrives in his limousine, grabs the cassette tape, and tells his minions to take Carl and Susan to Chemlife. Louis and James, with the pizza man and Berger’s body, follow them to the factory. To crash into the facility, James steals his trash truck from the sanitation yard. Elsewhere, Biff and Mario place Susan and Carl into barrels. Potterdam tells a dozen employees he wants all the waste barrels dumped before sunrise, and the workers fill the transport trucks. When Carl’s barrel is placed on a truck bed, he rocks until it falls and hits the ground, knocking off the lid. James joins him, and they leap onto the back gate of the truck. Meanwhile, police arrive and arrest Louis, but he disarms them, ties them up, and steals their cruiser. When the trucks reach the dump, James and Carl jump off and hide, watching workers roll the barrels down a hill into shallow water. Louis arrives in the police car, and James and Carl try to take several workers prisoner, but the Chemlife employees rush them. While James, Louis, and the pizza man fight off the workers, Carl finds Susan on a truck and frees her. They kiss, but Max Potterdam attacks them with a bulldozer. Carl and Susan leap before the truck tumbles town the hill. The bulldozer becomes stuck, and as Potterdam climbs out, Susan spray paints his face, and puts him in his limousine, where Berger’s body sits. He tries to run, but Carl shoots him with a pellet. Potterdam falls into a drainpipe and lands in toxic water. Carl, Susan, James, Louis, and the pizza man declare victory. In the morning, a dog finds Mike and Jeff tied up and urinates on them. A woman telephones a morning radio show to report that her boyfriend has not come home from his pizza delivery job.
+

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

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.