Medicine Man (1992)

PG-13 | 105 mins | Drama | 7 February 1992

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HISTORY

Screenwriter Tom Schulman’s script, originally titled The Stand, was sold in a bidding war to producer Andrew G. Vajna, who had recently departed from Carolco Pictures and established his own Cinergi Productions. The 7 Feb 1992 DV review noted that the sale took place on “the crest of Hollywood’s big-spending spree for original scripts,” with Vajna paying Schulman roughly $3 million, and spending an additional $1 million on rewrites by Sally Robinson and an uncredited Tom Stoppard. According to a later article in the 7 Aug 1992 DV, the script sold for the lesser amount of $2.5 million. Additionally, it stated that Cinergi paid “as much as $20 million” for the combined services of Schulman, director John McTiernan, and lead actor Sean Connery. A production budget of $40 million was cited in the 26 Apr 1991 DV. Vajna funded development before Walt Disney subsidiary Hollywood Pictures came on board to produce, with Buena Vista Pictures Distribution set to release the film in the U.S. Worldwide rights were retained by Cinergi.
       The title was changed to The Last Days of Eden, as noted in a 15 Feb 1991 DV production chart. Filming was initially set to begin 25 Feb 1991, but was slightly delayed to early Mar 1991. By 18 Apr 1991, the picture was listed as "untitled." A 26 Aug 1991 DV brief referred to the film by its final title, Medicine Man.
       Although a 15 Mar 1991 DV production chart listed Tom Rolf as editor, he did not remain with the project.
       On 4 Mar 1991, principal photography began ... More Less

Screenwriter Tom Schulman’s script, originally titled The Stand, was sold in a bidding war to producer Andrew G. Vajna, who had recently departed from Carolco Pictures and established his own Cinergi Productions. The 7 Feb 1992 DV review noted that the sale took place on “the crest of Hollywood’s big-spending spree for original scripts,” with Vajna paying Schulman roughly $3 million, and spending an additional $1 million on rewrites by Sally Robinson and an uncredited Tom Stoppard. According to a later article in the 7 Aug 1992 DV, the script sold for the lesser amount of $2.5 million. Additionally, it stated that Cinergi paid “as much as $20 million” for the combined services of Schulman, director John McTiernan, and lead actor Sean Connery. A production budget of $40 million was cited in the 26 Apr 1991 DV. Vajna funded development before Walt Disney subsidiary Hollywood Pictures came on board to produce, with Buena Vista Pictures Distribution set to release the film in the U.S. Worldwide rights were retained by Cinergi.
       The title was changed to The Last Days of Eden, as noted in a 15 Feb 1991 DV production chart. Filming was initially set to begin 25 Feb 1991, but was slightly delayed to early Mar 1991. By 18 Apr 1991, the picture was listed as "untitled." A 26 Aug 1991 DV brief referred to the film by its final title, Medicine Man.
       Although a 15 Mar 1991 DV production chart listed Tom Rolf as editor, he did not remain with the project.
       On 4 Mar 1991, principal photography began in a 125-acre section of the jungle in Catemaco, Mexico, 100 miles south of Veracruz. According to a 16 Feb 1992 LAT article, John McTiernan had originally planned to shoot in Palenque, Mexico, where he had filmed Predator (1987, see entry), but upon returning, the director had found the jungle depleted by a hotel development and other tourist attractions. After Palenque, potential filming locations had also been scouted in Central America, Venezuela, and Borneo. Although the story takes place in the Amazon, McTiernan avoided filming there due to the rampant cases of yellow fever and jaundice that had afflicted crewmembers on the Brazilian set of At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1991, see entry). Filmmakers imported fifty-seven non-English speaking Brazilian Indians to appear as background actors, as noted in the 26 Apr 1991 DV. Principal photography was completed by 1 Jul 1991, according to a DV article published that day. Later that month, a second unit was scheduled to film exteriors in Brazil, “during the season when the [rain] forests are burned.” The 5 May 1991 Orlando Sentinel stated that several scenes called for Sean Connery and co-star Lorraine Bracco to be filmed in treetops, 70--125 feet in the air.
       Sean Connery gave a controversial interview to Premiere magazine, in which he claimed to have been extremely uncomfortable during filming, as stated in the 22 Jan 1992 Las Vegas Review-Journal. Connery described the food as “appalling,” complained that everybody but himself got sick, and lamented that there was nowhere to go near the set except for a tennis court, which he likened to “the beach at Dunkirk.” The actor also expressed disdain for the “noise of the insects and wildlife,” and reportedly abandoned set three days early, leaving filmmakers to finish without him. In a 15 Feb 1992 Orlando Sentinel article, McTiernan defended the conditions on set, arguing that, unlike the ill-fated productions of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo and At Play in the Fields of the Lord, no crewmembers had been lost to serious illnesses. By the end of production, McTiernan claimed that only about six people had endured stomach viruses. The director refused to comment on Connery’s accusations that he had failed to properly guide Lorraine Bracco’s performance.
       While the 5 May 1991 Orlando Sentinel stated that the film would be a Christmas 1991 release, a later item in the 13 Sep 1991 USA Today stated that domestic release had been tentatively scheduled for the fall, before being delayed until the next year.
       The Los Angeles, CA, premiere took place on 5 Feb 1992 at the El Capitan Theatre, as noted in a DV item of the same date. The event benefitted environmental conservation groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Rainforest Alliance, and the Nature Conservancy.
       Medicine Man was routinely panned by critics, as was Lorraine Bracco’s performance. In a 23 Feb 1992 LAT article, Bracco responded to negative reviews by arguing that McTiernan had directed her against her instincts. Bracco also responded to rumors that she had been difficult on set by stating, “[the production] was a horrific creative experience for me and I did the best I could under the circumstances.” In its opening weekend, the film ranked number one at U.S. box office, taking in $8.5 million, as reported in the 14 Feb 1992 Austin American Statesman. However, a 7 Aug 1992 DV article noted that Medicine Man ultimately was a commercial failure, costing a reported $55 million, and grossing only $45.5 million, leading Andrew Vajna to reconsider and potentially “refocus” the core business model of Cinergi Productions, which had only produced Medicine Man in its first three years of existence.
       On 18 Apr 1991, DV announced that actress Charlene Dallas sued Tom Schulman, Cinergi Productions, Creative Artists Agency, and Hollywood Pictures for $10 million, claiming copyright infringement on a screenplay she had written, Endangered Heart, about “a strong-willed woman who travels alone to Amazon rain forest to find an eccentric, philosophically bent biochemist, who seems to have found a cure for a human ailment in the petals of a nightblooming flower – an epiphyte growing high in the rain forest canopy.” Schulman’s attorney vehemently denied that his client stole from Dallas’s script. The outcome of the lawsuit could not be determined as of the writing of this Note.
       End credits include the following statements: “The producers wish to gratefully thank the Credit Lyonnais Bank Nederland, N.V., for its assistance… and the government and people of Veracruz, Mexico, for their help and support”; “Special thanks to: rigging equipment supplied by – Pigeon Mountain Industries, Inc./PETZL, Grip, Safety & Rescue Systems/ROLLGLISS, Troll Safety Equipment, Ltd., Latchways Limited, Miller Equipment and Rock Solid Manufacturing; Corning Incorporated; Cemex Lumber Export, Santarem, Brazil; Volkswagen De Mexico S.A. de C.V.; Kawasaki Mule 4x4 furnished by Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA; LucasArts Editing Systems – editDROID™; NoNoise Processing by John Polito, Audio Mechanics, Inc.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Austin American Statesman
14 Feb 1992
p. 4.
Chicago Tribune
7 Feb 1992
p. 3.
Daily Variety
15 Feb 1991.
---
Daily Variety
28 Feb 1991.
---
Daily Variety
15 Mar 1991.
---
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1991
p. 3, 16.
Daily Variety
26 Apr 1991
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Jul 1991.
---
Daily Variety
26 Aug 1991.
---
Daily Variety
5 Feb 1992.
---
Daily Variety
7 Feb 1992
p. 2, 50.
Daily Variety
30 Jun 1992.
---
Daily Variety
7 Aug 1992
p. 1, 43.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Feb 1992
p. 5, 16.
Las Vegas Review-Journal
22 Jan 1992
p. 4a.
Los Angeles Times
7 Feb 1992
p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
16 Feb 1992
p. 25.
Los Angeles Times
23 Feb 1992
Calendar, p. 3.
New York Times
7 Feb 1992
p. 13.
Orlando Sentinel
5 May 1991
Section F, p. 15.
Orlando Sentinel
15 Feb 1992
Section E, p. 4.
USA Today
13 Sep 1991
Section D, p. 1.
Variety
10 Feb 1992
p. 79.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Andrew G. Vajna Presents
A John McTiernan Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr (Mexico)
Unit prod mgr (L.A.)
1st asst dir
Key 2d asst dir
1st asst dir (Mexico)
2d asst dir (Mexico)
Prod mgr, 2d unit
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept asst
Art dept buyer
Story board artist
Art dir, Brazilian Indian crew
FILM EDITORS
Post prod supv
Film ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Post prod asst
Post prod asst
Post prod asst
editDROID op
editDROID asst
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Lead man
Asst set dec
Prop master
Prop master
Asst props
Asst props
Asst props
Asst props
Asst props
Asst props
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const group chief, Victory group
Paint foreman
Stand-by painter
Greensman
Greensman
Greensman
Scaffolder
Fiber glass artist
Fiber glass asst
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Set costumer
Asst costumer
Costumer to Mr. Connery
Costumer to Ms. Bracco
Cost des, Brazilian Indian crew
Costumer, Brazilian Indian crew
Costumer, Brazilian Indian crew
MUSIC
Orig mus comp and cond by
Local mus supv, Brazilian Indian crew
Authentic ritual music used by Xavante Nation
Mus ed
Scoring mixer
(London)
SOUND
Boom op
Cable op
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Foley by
Foley mixer
Foley rec
Post sync dial
Post sync dial
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
ADR asst
ADR asst
ADR mixer (Italy)
ADR mixer (New York)
ADR rec (Italy)
ADR rec (New York)
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Recordist
Machine op
Maintenance eng
Maintenance eng
Dubbing projectionist
Dolby Stereo consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff supv
"Chovy"
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff tree climber
Visual eff consultant
Addl opt eff
Titles and opticals
DANCE
Brazilian Indian choreog
MAKEUP
Make-up supv
Make-up artist
Make-up to Ms. Bracco
Hair stylist
Hair stylist to Mr. Connery
Hair stylist to Ms. Bracco
Make-up artist, Brazilian Indian crew
Asst make-up, Brazilian Indian crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Line prod
Prod supv
Prod coord
Prod coord
Scr supv
Brazilian Production Services, Brazilian Indian cr
Brazilian casting, Brazilian Indian crew
Indian coord, Brazilian Indian crew
Funai representative, Brazilian Indian crew
Funai representative
Asst Indian actor coord, Brazilian Indian crew
Loc projectionist
Asst to Mr. Bakker, 2d unit
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Transportation dispatch
Transportation dispatch
Driver/Cook to Mr. Connery
Caterer
Casting assoc
Asst to Ms. Timmermann
Casting-Mexico
Extra's coord
Actor's delegate
Asst loc mgr
Local loc scout
Asst coord - U.S.A.
Prod secy
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst to Mr. McTiernan
Asst to Mr. McTiernan
Asst to Mr. McTiernan
Asst to Ms. Dubrow
Asst to Mr. Connery
Asst to Ms. Bracco
Prod asst
Prod asst
Legal Mexican work permits
Animal handler
Animal handler
Animal handler
Animal handler
Mexican government supv
Insurance provided by
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"That Old Black Magic," written by John H. Mercer & Harold Arlen, Famous Music Corp. (ASCAP).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Stand
The Last Days of Eden
Release Date:
7 February 1992
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 5 February 1992
Los Angeles and New York openings: 7 February 1992
Production Date:
began 4 March 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Cinergi Productions, Inc. and Cinergi Productions, N.V.
Copyright Date:
6 May 1992
Copyright Number:
PA575413
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
105
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31415
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Biochemist Dr. Rae Crane is assigned to work with Dr. Robert Campbell, a wayward botanist who has spent the past three years deep in the Amazonian jungle, and has only recently made his whereabouts known to Aston, the organization that supports him. After an arduous journey, Dr. Crane arrives with the chromatograph Campbell requested, and finds him taking part in a religious ceremony held by Indian villagers. Campbell accepts the new equipment, but tells Crane he has no use for her, as she is not one of the three male scientists he requested. Indignant, Crane lists her impressive credentials and reveals that she was sent by Aston to decide if Campbell’s funding should be cut off. She cites his many transgressions, including failure to submit progress reports, or accounting for his expenditures, and comments on his heavy drinking. Campbell defends his work, indicating that he recently developed a cure for cancer, in the form of a serum derived from “sky flower,” a bromeliad that grows in treetops. Crane explains that the indigenous Indians have a zero percent cancer rate, but Kalana, a woman from an outside tribe, recently developed lymphoma. Campbell was able to cure Kalana’s cancer with the serum, which is modeled after a substance frequently ingested by the locals, created by their “medicine man.” Campbell laments that the medicine man fled the village after witnessing him cure a boy’s stomachache with Alka-Seltzer. Furthermore, since developing the first batch of the serum, Campbell has been unable to replicate it. He invites Crane to test the serum on a guinea pig he infected with lymphoma. The rodent is cured overnight, convincing her of his claims. Crane recommends they set ... +


Biochemist Dr. Rae Crane is assigned to work with Dr. Robert Campbell, a wayward botanist who has spent the past three years deep in the Amazonian jungle, and has only recently made his whereabouts known to Aston, the organization that supports him. After an arduous journey, Dr. Crane arrives with the chromatograph Campbell requested, and finds him taking part in a religious ceremony held by Indian villagers. Campbell accepts the new equipment, but tells Crane he has no use for her, as she is not one of the three male scientists he requested. Indignant, Crane lists her impressive credentials and reveals that she was sent by Aston to decide if Campbell’s funding should be cut off. She cites his many transgressions, including failure to submit progress reports, or accounting for his expenditures, and comments on his heavy drinking. Campbell defends his work, indicating that he recently developed a cure for cancer, in the form of a serum derived from “sky flower,” a bromeliad that grows in treetops. Crane explains that the indigenous Indians have a zero percent cancer rate, but Kalana, a woman from an outside tribe, recently developed lymphoma. Campbell was able to cure Kalana’s cancer with the serum, which is modeled after a substance frequently ingested by the locals, created by their “medicine man.” Campbell laments that the medicine man fled the village after witnessing him cure a boy’s stomachache with Alka-Seltzer. Furthermore, since developing the first batch of the serum, Campbell has been unable to replicate it. He invites Crane to test the serum on a guinea pig he infected with lymphoma. The rodent is cured overnight, convincing her of his claims. Crane recommends they set up a well-equipped laboratory with several assistants, but Campbell rejects the idea of bringing in more people. He reminds her of an incident that occurred in the village of Mocara, when an eager young scientist discovered a cheap painkiller derived from a jungle plant, and Aston funded a large-scale operation that sent more employees into the area. The new recruits brought swine influenza, and the foreign virus killed all of Mocara’s villagers. Crane does not believe the village can be protected for long. She reminds Campbell that lumber companies are clearing a road into the area, and suggests Aston could help stop the road if they decided his work was valuable enough. He counters that Aston would endorse the road if it made jungle access easier, and remains determined to work on a smaller scale. Having warmed to the newcomer, Campbell nicknames her “Bronx” after the neighborhood in which she grew up. She joins him on an excursion to collect more bromeliads. Strapping into harnesses, they ascend 100 feet into the canopy, and Crane marvels at the view. She also notices smoke, where lumber companies are using fire to clear a road. With a new store of bromeliads, Campbell recruits villagers to help prepare the flowers for extraction. Crane notices large ants on one of them, and uses water to rinse them away. When two male villagers teasingly inquire if she is single, Crane reveals that she is engaged to Tom Fallon, whose name Campbell recognizes as a wealthy philanthropist. He learns that the wedding has been delayed, and warns her against a long engagement, also reminding her that breeding is no substitute for intelligence. Later, Campbell admits he is the “eager beaver” scientist who caused the swine flue epidemic in Mocara. Crane finds his journals from the time he spent there, and studies the drawings he made of the villagers. Kalana’s son, Imana, becomes ill. Campbell determines the boy has lymphoma, and wants to use the remaining serum to cure him. Crane urges him to wait until they test their new batches, reminding him that the cure is more important than one boy’s life. Using a villager named Palala as their guide, they seek the medicine man, who has relocated to an unpopulated area by a river gorge. On the way, Crane slips and nearly falls to her death, but Campbell rescues her. While camping overnight, Crane dreams of the medicine man visiting her. She wakes up to discover a blue tattoo the shaman painted on her forehead. The medicine man challenges Campbell to a stick fight. Campbell explains the ritual to Crane, informing her that he must lose to show deference. During the fight, Campbell asks for the “juju” in the sky flower. The medicine man answers that the flower is only a “house for bugs,” and offers no more information. Defeated, the three return to the village to find Imana near death. Campbell believes the boy will perish overnight, but Crane reminds him they will have their test results for the new batches of serum in the morning. He withholds the remaining medicine, and admits that his ex-wife, who once worked as his research partner, left him because he would not allow her to forgive him for the Mocara incident. While everyone else is asleep, Crane changes her mind and gives Imana the cure. In the morning, the boy has regained his health, but tragedy has struck as the road crew approaches the village, burning and bulldozing everything in its path. Crane and Campbell rush to complete their work. By accident, they discover the ingredient they are searching for is in the ants often found on bromeliads, not in the flowers themselves – as the medicine man suggested, when he described the sky flower as a “house for bugs.” As night falls, Crane and Campbell try to stop the road crew from advancing, but the village is destroyed. In the smoldering wreckage, they learn that the medicine man has invited Campbell to join him and the displaced villagers in an area upriver. Crane assures her colleague that Aston will continue to support his work. She is about to leave when he requests that she stay on as his assistant. He teases her that Tom Fallon might not approve of her tribal forehead tattoo. Crane embraces her partner, and they kiss. Sometime later, she writes to Tom, explaining that she is not ready to get married. She comments that life is strange but very precious in the jungle.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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