Night on Earth (1992)

R | 127 mins | Comedy | 1 May 1992

Director:

Jim Jarmusch

Writer:

Jim Jarmusch

Producer:

Jim Jarmusch

Cinematographer:

Frederick Elmes

Editor:

Jay Rabinowitz

Production Companies:

JVC, Locus Solus
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HISTORY


       Night on Earth was set in five different taxis, although the 7 Jun 1992 NYT noted that director Jim Jarmusch rejected the customary practice of shooting on sound stages or placing the cars on flatbed trailers. Instead, filmmakers used two identical taxis in each city, keeping one of the vehicles intact for exterior shots, and removing the engine and hood from the other so that the camera used by director of photography Frederick Elmes could be mounted at the front of the car, with Elmes and an assistant riding in the empty engine compartment. The motorless taxis were then towed by a pickup truck, from which Jarmusch directed the action and other technicians controlled dimmers connected to lights on the roof of the taxi, and a rotating mirror “that periodically intercepted a beam of light from the roof of the car...creat[ing], in effect, an adjustable row of street lamps.” As long as the lighting rig was in place, actors were stuck inside the cars.
       The world premiere took place 4 Oct 1991 at the New York Film Festival. One month later, the 4 Nov 1991 DV announced that Fine Line Features acquired domestic distribution rights.
       The film was generally well received, with the 4 Oct 1991 NYT review deeming it Jarmusch’s “most effervescent work to date,” and the 8 May 1992 LAT pointing to Rosie Perez’s turn as “Angela” as the standout performance while dismissing the Los Angeles episode with Winona Ryder and Gena Rowlands, who, according to LAT, were “too actorish for Jarmusch’s methods.” A 4 May 1992 DV brief reported ... More Less


       Night on Earth was set in five different taxis, although the 7 Jun 1992 NYT noted that director Jim Jarmusch rejected the customary practice of shooting on sound stages or placing the cars on flatbed trailers. Instead, filmmakers used two identical taxis in each city, keeping one of the vehicles intact for exterior shots, and removing the engine and hood from the other so that the camera used by director of photography Frederick Elmes could be mounted at the front of the car, with Elmes and an assistant riding in the empty engine compartment. The motorless taxis were then towed by a pickup truck, from which Jarmusch directed the action and other technicians controlled dimmers connected to lights on the roof of the taxi, and a rotating mirror “that periodically intercepted a beam of light from the roof of the car...creat[ing], in effect, an adjustable row of street lamps.” As long as the lighting rig was in place, actors were stuck inside the cars.
       The world premiere took place 4 Oct 1991 at the New York Film Festival. One month later, the 4 Nov 1991 DV announced that Fine Line Features acquired domestic distribution rights.
       The film was generally well received, with the 4 Oct 1991 NYT review deeming it Jarmusch’s “most effervescent work to date,” and the 8 May 1992 LAT pointing to Rosie Perez’s turn as “Angela” as the standout performance while dismissing the Los Angeles episode with Winona Ryder and Gena Rowlands, who, according to LAT, were “too actorish for Jarmusch’s methods.” A 4 May 1992 DV brief reported that Night on Earth won the grand jury prize at Worldfest, the Houston [TX] International Film Festival. Frederick Elmes also won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography.

      End credits include the following statements: “Special Thanks: Masaaki Hisamatsu, Hideaki Suda, Seiichiro Niwa, Francis Boespflug, Fabienne Vonier, Karl Baumgartner, Reinhard Brundig, Mairi MacDonald, Morag Naylor, Colin Leventhal, Hayao Shibata, Kazuko Kawakita, Villealfa Filmproductions OY, Lilo Films, Casa Films, Institut National Des Jeunes Aveugles, Pizza Exotique, Sandra Schulberg, Frederic Bourboulon, Marie Christine Malbert, Charles McDonald, Gianni Rosi, Armando Zappi, Dott, Francesco Romanelli, Enzo Sisti, N. Filmaudit, sre., Guendalina Ponti, Elisa Resegotti & Ellepi Films, Maurizio Fedel & Radiotaxi 4517, Ira Spiegel, Barbara Lucey, Leonard Marcel & Jim Gilliam of RST Music & Effects, Jules Labat of Duggal Labs, Margaret Flemming & Bill Ryan, Tom Surgal, Joe Santi, Prescilla Guastavino, Robert Kriwicki, New York City Mayor’s Office for Film, Theatre & Broadcasting, Alice Young and Rose Mary Castileo of EAB, G. Bryan Unger, Bob Rodriguez, Finn Wintersen, Carol and Alice Fries, Positive Eye Ons, Pam Brockie, Stella Theodoulou, Alex Matchan”; “Personal thanks: John Lurie, Joe Hirata, Alex Descas, Didier Flamande, Otto, Mika, Aki, Paula, Robby Müller, Anna, Steven Wright, Luc Sante, Louis Sarno, Tom J., June & Robert, Nicoletta, Spike, Kathleen, Nancy & Andrea, Wim, Ellen Smith, Tommy Rothman, Fia, Josh & Caroline, Joe & Gabby, Seymour Cassel, Xan & Zoe & Nick & Doe, Alex & Jenny, Enrico Ghezzi & “Blob,” Marco Melani, Dick Rude, Flea, Davie Allen, The Leningrad Cowboys, Sun Ra, Doc Gooden, Technoslut Industries, Richie Edson, Joie, Cinqué, Batman, Lindzee, Rockets Redglare, Matthias, Phil Kline, Chuck Silver, Steve Vermilye & crew, Mona’s, The Cleveland Indians, The Funny Farm, & the cities of New York, Paris, Rome, Los Angeles and Helsinki”; “In Memory of Catherine Demesmaeker”; and, “Filmed entirely on location in Los Angeles, New York City, Paris, Rome and Helsinki.” In end credits, musician Davie Allan’s name is spelled correctly in song listings and incorrectly in the “Personal Thanks” section.

              As stated in end credits and a 7 Jun 1992 NYT article, the film was shot on location in Los Angeles, CA; New York City; Paris, France; Rome, Italy; and Helsinki, Finland. Two-thirds of the $3.5 million budget was financed by Japanese video label JVC, with the other third coming from European pre-sale distribution agreements, according to a 3 May 1992 Chicago Tribune article. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Chicago Tribune
3 May 1992
p. 8.
Daily Variety
4 Nov 1991.
---
Daily Variety
4 May 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Oct 1991
p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
8 May 1992
p. 8.
New York Times
4 Oct 1991
p. 1.
New York Times
1 May 1992
p. 10.
New York Times
22 May 1992
Section C, p. 26.
New York Times
7 Jun 1992
Section A, p. 13.
Variety
7 Oct 1991
pp. 197-198.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXTS
JVC Presents
In Association with Victor Company of Japan, Ltd., Victor Musical Industries, Inc.,
Pyramide/Le Studio Canal Plus, Pandora Film and Channel 4
A Locus Solus Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr, Los Angeles
1st asst dir, Los Angeles
2d asst dir, Los Angeles
Prod mgr, New York
1st asst dir, New York
2d asst dir, New York
2d asst dir, New York
1st asst dir, Paris
2d asst dir, Paris
Prod mgr, Paris
Prod mgr, Rome
Asst dir, Rome
Asst dir, Helsinki
Prod mgr, Helsinki
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Co-exec prod
Co-exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Lighting gaffer
Key grip
1st asst cam, Los Angeles
2d asst cam, Los Angeles
Steadicam op, Los Angeles
Still photog, Los Angeles
Best boy elec, Los Angeles
Best boy grip, Los Angeles
Grip, Los Angeles
Asst still photog, Los Angeles
1st asst cam, New York
2d asst cam, New York
Still photog, New York
Addl still photog, New York
Gaffer, New York
Best boy elec, New York
Elec, New York
Key grip, New York
Best boy grip, New York
2d unit gaffer, New York
2d unit key grip, New York
1st asst cam, Paris
2d asst cam, Paris
Still photog, Paris
Chief elec, Paris
Key grip, Paris
Cam op, Rome
Asst cam, Rome
Still photog, Rome
Elec, Rome
Generator op, Rome
Grip, Rome
1st asst cam, Helsinki
2d asst cam, Helsinki
Still photog, Helsinki
Gaffer, Helsinki
Elec, Helsinki
Best boy grip, Helsinki
Processing and prints
With special thanks to, Processing and prints
With special thanks to, Processing and prints
With special thanks to, Processing and prints
With special thanks to, Processing and prints
Spec lighting equip
Spec lighting equip
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir, Rome
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Negative matcher
SET DECORATORS
Prop master, Los Angeles
Set dec, Los Angeles
Set mechanic, Los Angeles
Set mechanic, Los Angeles
Set carpenter, Los Angeles
Props master, New York
2d unit props master, New York
Props, Paris
Prop master, Rome
Set dec, Helsinki
COSTUMES
Cost des, Los Angeles
Ward asst, Los Angeles
Cost des, New York
Cost, Paris
Cost, Rome
Cost, Helsinki
Accessories for Gena Rowlands
MUSIC
Mus
Orig songs wrt
Orig songs wrt
Musicians on song and score:
Horns
Guitar
Accordion
Percussion
[and]
Keyboards
Mus adv
SOUND
Loc sd mixer
Boom, Los Angeles
Boom, Los Angeles
Boom op, New York
2d unit loc sd mixer, New York
Boom op, Paris
Boom op, Rome
Sd, Helsinki
Dial ed
Sd eff ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley eng
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Main and end titles des and prod by
Logo des
MAKEUP
Makeup, Los Angeles
Hair and makeup, Los Angeles
Makeup and hair, New York
Makeup, Paris
Makeup, Rome
Makeup, Helsinki
PRODUCTION MISC
Line prod
Prod coord
Prod auditor
Prod coord, Los Angeles
Loc mgr, Los Angeles
Scr supv, Los Angeles
Cam car driver, Los Angeles
Asst coord, Los Angeles
Asst coord, Los Angeles
Key set PA, Los Angeles
Prod asst, Los Angeles
Prod asst, Los Angeles
Prod asst, Los Angeles
Prod asst, Los Angeles
Prod asst, Los Angeles
Prod asst, Los Angeles
Unit mgr, New York
Loc mgr, New York
Scr supv, New York
Transportation capt, New York
Driver, New York
Driver, New York
Driver, New York
2d unit loc mgr, New York
2d unit scr supv, New York
Extras casting, New York
Loc asst, New York
Prod asst, New York
Prod asst, New York
Prod asst, New York
Prod asst, New York
Prod asst, New York
Prod asst, New York
Prod asst, New York
Prod asst, New York
Line prod, Paris
Prod secy, Paris
Script, Paris
Transportation, Paris
Action Movies
Car mechanic, Paris
Intern, Paris
Intern, Paris
Intern, Paris
Intern, Paris
Intern, Paris
Scr supv, Rome
Driver, Rome
Driver, Rome
Driver, Rome
Driver, Rome
Driver, Rome
Prod secy, Rome
Prod secy, Rome
Asst prod secy, Rome
Asst prod secy, Rome
Prod coord, Helsinki
Loc mgr, Helsinki
Prod secy, Helsinki
Prod secy, Helsinki
Cont, Helsinki
Cam car/Prod asst, Helsinki
Prod asst, Helsinki
Dailies troubleshooter
Prod consultant
Office PA
Translator - French
Translator - French
Translator - French
Translator - Italian
Translator - Italian
Translator - Italian
Translator - Finnish
Translator - Finnish
Post prod facilities
With special thanks to, Post prod facilities
Travel arrangements
of Hoffman Travel Service, Inc.
Picture cabs
Picture cabs
Picture cabs
Picture cabs
Villealfa Filmproductions, AAN-779 Volvo 144, Helsinki
Catering
Legal services
of Frankfurt, Garbus, Klein and Selz
Immigration legal services
of Ingber and Ingber
Prod insurance
of Albert G. Ruben, Inc.
Prod insurance
of Albert G. Ruben, Inc.
World sales
World sales
Imperial world globe
Advice and inspiration
STAND INS
Stunt coord, Rome
Stunts, Rome
COLOR PERSONNEL
Timing
SOURCES
SONGS
"Back In The Good Old World," written by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, produced by Tom Waits, arranged by Tom Waits and Francis Thumm, Jalma Music, Inc., administered by Ackee Music, Inc. (ASCAP), Tom Waits performs courtesy of Island Records, Inc.
"Good Old World," written by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, produced by Tom Waits, arranged by Tom Waits and Francis Thumm, Jalma Music, Inc., administered by Ackee Music, Inc. (ASCAP), Tom Waits performs courtesy of Island Records, Inc.
"Cycle-Delic," performed by Davie Allan & The Arrows, written by Davie Allan, courtesy of Capital Records, Inc., by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets and Curb Records, a California Corporation, Mike Curb Music (BMI)
+
SONGS
"Back In The Good Old World," written by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, produced by Tom Waits, arranged by Tom Waits and Francis Thumm, Jalma Music, Inc., administered by Ackee Music, Inc. (ASCAP), Tom Waits performs courtesy of Island Records, Inc.
"Good Old World," written by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, produced by Tom Waits, arranged by Tom Waits and Francis Thumm, Jalma Music, Inc., administered by Ackee Music, Inc. (ASCAP), Tom Waits performs courtesy of Island Records, Inc.
"Cycle-Delic," performed by Davie Allan & The Arrows, written by Davie Allan, courtesy of Capital Records, Inc., by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets and Curb Records, a California Corporation, Mike Curb Music (BMI)
"Summertime Blues," performed by Blue Cheer, written by Eddie Cochran and Jerry Capehart, courtesy of Polygram Special Products.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
1 May 1992
Premiere Information:
New York Film Festival screening: 4 October 1991
New York opening: 1 May 1992
Los Angeles opening: 8 May 1992
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
gauge
35mm
Lenses/Prints
Arriflex Cameras and Zeiss Lenses provided by Otto Nemenz International, Inc.; Prints by Du Art
Duration(in mins):
127
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On the same night, at the same time, five taxi drivers in different cities around the world work the night shift. In Los Angeles, California, at 7:07 p.m., a petite female cabbie named Corky goes to the airport to drop off a couple of rock musicians. Meanwhile, Hollywood casting director Victoria Snelling arrives on a private plane and runs into Corky outside the terminal. Surprised that the girl drives a taxi, Victoria reluctantly allows Corky to pick up her designer luggage and toss it into the back of the cab. On the way to Victoria’s home in Beverly Hills, Corky chain-smokes and chews gum while Victoria makes business calls on her cellular phone, discussing the young “unknowns” she has been scouting for an upcoming film project. Victoria lights one of her own cigarettes while warning Corky that she smokes too much. They begin to chat, and Corky reveals her ambition to become a mechanic like her older brothers. She also admits to wanting a family but says it will take a particular kind of guy to accept her for who she is. When she angrily yells at another driver, Victoria takes notice and tells a colleague over the phone that she has just had a great idea. Arriving at Victoria’s Beverly Hills mansion, Victoria tips Corky generously, then suggests that Corky might be the perfect girl for the film she is casting. Corky demurs, saying she would not want to derail from her current path, but Victoria cannot believe that anyone would not want to be a movie star. The cabbie insists that she is following her dream of becoming a mechanic and would dislike being an actress, and ... +


On the same night, at the same time, five taxi drivers in different cities around the world work the night shift. In Los Angeles, California, at 7:07 p.m., a petite female cabbie named Corky goes to the airport to drop off a couple of rock musicians. Meanwhile, Hollywood casting director Victoria Snelling arrives on a private plane and runs into Corky outside the terminal. Surprised that the girl drives a taxi, Victoria reluctantly allows Corky to pick up her designer luggage and toss it into the back of the cab. On the way to Victoria’s home in Beverly Hills, Corky chain-smokes and chews gum while Victoria makes business calls on her cellular phone, discussing the young “unknowns” she has been scouting for an upcoming film project. Victoria lights one of her own cigarettes while warning Corky that she smokes too much. They begin to chat, and Corky reveals her ambition to become a mechanic like her older brothers. She also admits to wanting a family but says it will take a particular kind of guy to accept her for who she is. When she angrily yells at another driver, Victoria takes notice and tells a colleague over the phone that she has just had a great idea. Arriving at Victoria’s Beverly Hills mansion, Victoria tips Corky generously, then suggests that Corky might be the perfect girl for the film she is casting. Corky demurs, saying she would not want to derail from her current path, but Victoria cannot believe that anyone would not want to be a movie star. The cabbie insists that she is following her dream of becoming a mechanic and would dislike being an actress, and the two amiably part ways. At 10:07 p.m. in New York City, an African American man named YoYo tries to hail a cab as several taxi drivers pass by. Finally, a German driver named Helmut Grokenberger picks him up and reveals that it is his first day on the job. Helmut agrees to drive YoYo to Brooklyn but needs help with directions. However, YoYo demands to be let out of the car when he realizes how badly Helmut drives. The rookie cab driver begs YoYo to stay, and compromises by allowing the passenger to take the wheel. YoYo gives driving tips and reprimands Helmut for failing to turn on the meter. As they head to Brooklyn, Helmut reveals he used to work as a clown in his native East Germany. Next, YoYo spots his sister-in-law, Angela, walking down the street and pulls over, dragging her into the car against her will. As the two fight, Helmut ogles Angela and declares that she is beautiful. Angela points out that Helmut and YoYo are wearing similar winter hats and asks her brother-in-law why he is driving the cab, accusing him of being a “control freak.” Arriving at his apartment building, YoYo pays Helmut one dollar less than he is owed to teach him a lesson about counting his fares. Helmut claims money is not important to him because he is a clown, then immediately loses his way as he drives off with a red ball on his nose. At 4:07 a.m. in Paris, France, a cab driver from the Ivory Coast drives two well-to-do African men who boast about their connections to the Cameroon ambassador and make guesses about where the driver was born. Ejecting the men from his car, the driver later curses himself for forgetting to collect the fare. He picks up a young blind woman who insults his driving and puts on makeup while the driver watches her in the rearview mirror. Intrigued by the exposed whites of her eyeballs, which appear to have rolled back in her head, he asks why she does not wear dark glasses like other blind people, and she becomes defensive, explaining that she experiences the world by touch, something he would never understand. She impresses the driver by correctly guessing he is from the Ivory Coast, and he, in turn, asks about her sex life. The woman responds that she makes love with every centimeter of her body. When they arrive at her destination, the driver lowers the fare by nine francs; however, the woman refuses to accept his charity, correctly surmising that she owes more. As she walks away, she hears the taxi crash into another car and smiles as an angry driver asks if the cabbie is blind. Also at 4:07 a.m., in Rome, Italy, cab driver Gino amuses himself with a witty monologue and complains about the poorly lit streets even though he is wearing sunglasses. Answering a call from his dispatcher, Gino picks up a priest and incorrectly guesses the man is a bishop on his way to the Vatican. The priest asks to be driven to Tiburino and requests that Gino remove his sunglasses. Shocked that he is still wearing them, Gino takes off the glasses and marvels that he can now see. The priest begins clutching at his heart, and Gino asks if he is okay, then carelessly lights up a cigarette. Although the priest points to a “No Smoking” sign in the the cab, Gino throws the sign out the window. He then asks to confess, ignoring the priest’s refusal to hear him as he begins a detailed account of his sexual transgressions, explaining that, as a young man, he used pumpkins to masturbate before initiating a sexual relationship with a sheep. The priest attempts to take some pills but loses them. As he groans in pain, Gino goes on to describe a sexual tryst with his sister-in-law. At the end of his story, he turns around to find the priest has died. Fretting that the information he shared was shocking enough to kill a man, Gino drives to a random spot in the city and deposits the priest’s dead body onto a bench. When he cannot shut the priest’s eyes, he places his sunglasses on the man’s face and speeds away. At 5:07 a.m. in Helsinki, Finland, Mika fights off sleep as he drives his taxi through the snow-covered streets. He answers a call from the dispatcher and picks up three drunken men who are leaning against each other in a huddle. Two of the men deposit their passed-out friend, Aki, into the back seat, explaining that he just lost his job. Mika follows the drunken passengers’ vague directions and listens as they explain Aki’s horrible luck: not only was he fired that day, his new car was destroyed, he discovered his sixteen-year-old daughter is pregnant, and his wife announced plans to divorce him before running him out of the house with a butcher knife. Mika finally suggests that things could be worse and offers his tale of woe. Although he and his hard-working wife spent years saving money to have a child, she finally got pregnant only to give birth prematurely at six months. The baby was not expected to live past a week, and Mika resolved to not caring about the child to avoid heartbreak. Alas, the baby lived to three weeks old, and Mika decided the baby needed his love to survive. Just as he decided to open his heart, the child died. Aki’s friends sob upon hearing Mika’s story and decide that Aki is not worthy of their sympathy. Arriving on their street, the men remind Mika what a good man he is and wish him the best, forgetting about Aki in the backseat as they head home. Mika wakes Aki and demands he pay what is due on the meter. The despondent man uses his severance money to pay the fare. As Mika drives away, Aki sits down in the snow as two neighbors greet him on their way to work. +

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

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