Wild at Heart (1990)

R | 125 mins | Drama, Romance | 18 August 1990

Director:

David Lynch

Writer:

David Lynch

Cinematographer:

Frederick Elmes

Editor:

Duwayne Dunham

Production Designer:

Patricia Norris

Production Companies:

Polygram, Propaganda Films
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HISTORY

       A 28 May 1989 LAT brief announced that writer-director David Lynch would adapt Barry Gifford’s as yet unpublished novel, Wild at Heart: The Story of Sailor and Lula. According to a 12 Aug 1990 NYT article, Lynch altered the ending, inserted themes of pyromania, ritualistic murder, and references to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Chicago, 1900), added the characters “Mr. Reindeer” and “Girl in accident,” and killed off two characters who survive in the novel.
       Principal photography began 9 Aug 1989 in Los Angeles, CA, as reported in a 2 Aug 1989 Var news item and 15 Aug 1989 HR production charts. Filming also took place in New Orleans, LA, and El Paso, TX. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, desert scenes were shot an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles, and New Orleans locations included Cafe Du Monde and the French Quarter. Lead actors Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern, who had explored their characters prior to the shoot by taking a road trip together from Las Vegas, NV, to Los Angeles, were encouraged to improvise and filmed some sequences that were entirely unscripted, as noted in the 15 Aug 1990 Chicago Tribune. Having long wanted to wear it in onscreen, Cage provided his own snakeskin jacket, which Lynch approved for the character and subsequently referenced in rewritten lines of dialogue. Filming was completed late Oct 1989.
       Wild at Heart won the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize, the Palme D’Or, as announced in a 22 May 1990 DV article. According to Lynch, the version shown ... More Less

       A 28 May 1989 LAT brief announced that writer-director David Lynch would adapt Barry Gifford’s as yet unpublished novel, Wild at Heart: The Story of Sailor and Lula. According to a 12 Aug 1990 NYT article, Lynch altered the ending, inserted themes of pyromania, ritualistic murder, and references to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Chicago, 1900), added the characters “Mr. Reindeer” and “Girl in accident,” and killed off two characters who survive in the novel.
       Principal photography began 9 Aug 1989 in Los Angeles, CA, as reported in a 2 Aug 1989 Var news item and 15 Aug 1989 HR production charts. Filming also took place in New Orleans, LA, and El Paso, TX. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, desert scenes were shot an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles, and New Orleans locations included Cafe Du Monde and the French Quarter. Lead actors Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern, who had explored their characters prior to the shoot by taking a road trip together from Las Vegas, NV, to Los Angeles, were encouraged to improvise and filmed some sequences that were entirely unscripted, as noted in the 15 Aug 1990 Chicago Tribune. Having long wanted to wear it in onscreen, Cage provided his own snakeskin jacket, which Lynch approved for the character and subsequently referenced in rewritten lines of dialogue. Filming was completed late Oct 1989.
       Wild at Heart won the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize, the Palme D’Or, as announced in a 22 May 1990 DV article. According to Lynch, the version shown at Cannes would be released in Europe, but more edits would have to be made for the U.S. release to avoid an ‘X’ rating. As noted in a 28 Apr 1990 Screen International item, the film had already been rated ‘X’ by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). However, Meyer Gottlieb, president of the Samuel Goldwyn Company, argued that it had not been submitted for a rating but for “informational purposes...and guidance from the board,” despite the MPAA’s insistence that no such arrangement existed. The film was re-rated ‘R’ before its 18 Aug 1990 U.S. release.
       Although critical reception was mixed, consistent praise went to the performances of Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern, in reviews including the 21 May 1990 HR, 23 May 1990 Var, 17 Aug 1990 NYT, and 12 Aug 1990 LAT. An article in the 17 Aug 1990 LAT addressed the tepid reaction of American critics who were, overall, much less impressed than European audiences. Comparing Wild at Heart unfavorably to Lynch’s previous films and television series Twin Peaks (ABC, 8 Apr 1990--10 Jun 1991), David Denby of New York magazine stated, “Lynch works better with constraints like network standards and practices that require him to be sly and inventive. Given complete freedom, he gives way to his obsessions.”
       For her role as “Marietta Fortune,” Diane Ladd was nominated for an Academy Award for Actress in a Supporting Role, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture.
       David Lynch filmed a music video for Chris Isaak’s song, “Wicked Game,” which was also featured in the film, as noted in a 19 Aug 1990 LAT brief. A total of three songs by Isaak were included in the film, two of which appeared on the soundtrack album released by PolyGram Records. As a tie-in promotion, Warner Records placed a sticker on Isaak’s latest album stating that it featured music from the film.
       Wild at Heart marked the first time actress Laura Dern and her mother Diane Ladd starred together as mother and daughter characters. The two had previously appeared together in 1973’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (see entry); however, Dern’s role as “Girl eating ice cream in diner” was not credited.

      End credits include “Special Thanks” to the following organizations and individuals: New Orleans Mayor Sidney J. Barthelemy; Will Evans; The City of New Orleans Film Committee; John Turtle; Kimberly M. Carbo, Liaison; Kurt Woolner; Tom McDermott, Chairman; Wingols Mielke; The People of New Orleans; Sheila Metzner; The Texas Film Commission; Rick Dinome; Malcolm Ritchie; Working Title Films; Nigel Sinclair.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Chicago Tribune
15 Aug 1990
p. 1.
Daily Variety
22 May 1990
p. 1, 27.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 May 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 1990
p. 9, 15.
Los Angeles Times
28 May 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
21 May 1990
Section F, p. 1, 6.
Los Angeles Times
12 Aug 1990
p. 29.
Los Angeles Times
17 Aug 1990
Section F, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
19 Aug 1990.
---
New York Times
6 Oct 1989.
---
New York Times
12 Aug 1990
Section A, p. 1.
New York Times
17 Aug 1990
p. 1.
Screen International
28 Apr 1990
p. 1, 4.
Variety
2 Aug 1989.
---
Variety
23 May 1990
p. 32, 68.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Polygram/Propaganda Films production of
A film by David Lynch
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Steadicam op
1st cam asst
2d cam asst
Best boy
Elec, El Paso crew
Rigging gaffer
Rigging gaffer
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly grip
Grip
Grip/Elec, New Orleans crew
Grip/Elec, New Orleans crew
Grip/Elec, New Orleans crew
Grip/Elec, New Orleans crew
Grip/Elec, New Orleans crew
Grip, El Paso crew
Grip, El Paso crew
Still photog
Special photog
Processing
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dept coord
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
FILM EDITORS
1st asst film ed
1st asst film ed
2d asst film ed
2d asst film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec asst
Prop master
Props asst
Const coord
Const foreman
Carpenter
Carpenter
Chief scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
COSTUMES
Cost des
On set dresser
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus supv
Mus consultant
Mus consultant
SOUND
Sd des
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd eff rec
Supv sd ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley rec
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rec
Sd services provided by
a Division of LucasArts Entertainment Company
This film recorded in
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec makeup eff
Spec makeup eff
Makeup eff asst
Mechanical eff
Spec eff
Spec eff/Pyrotechnics
Visual eff
Titles and opticals
DANCE
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hair stylist
Hair and makeup asst
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting asst
Extras casting
Extras casting
Scr supv
Prod coord
Prod coord, New Orleans crew
Prod coord, El Paso crew
Asst prod coord
Loc asst, New Orleans crew
Loc asst, El Paso crew
Unit pub
Voice consultant
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Post prod accountant
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt, New Orleans crew
Transportation capt, El Paso crew
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver, New Orleans crew
Driver, New Orleans crew
Driver, New Orleans crew
Driver, New Orleans crew
Driver, El Paso crew
Art dept driver
Post prod coord
Post prod coord
Asst to Mr. Lynch
Asst to prods
Asst to prods
Liaison
Asst liaison
Police liaison, New Orleans crew
Set medic services
Set medic services, Rescues Unlimited
Nurse/First aid, New Orleans crew
First aid, El Paso crew
Catering
Craft service
Craft service, New Orleans crew
Craft service, El Paso crew
Set security
Key prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst, New Orleans crew
Set prod asst, New Orleans crew
Set prod asst, New Orleans crew
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst, New Orleans crew
Office prod asst, El Paso crew
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod legal services
Completion bond company
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Fire advisor
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Wild at Heart: The Story of Sailor and Lula by Barry Gifford (New York, 1990).
AUTHOR
MUSIC
"In the Mood," written by Joe Garland, performed by Glenn Miller, published by Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., Inc. (ASCAP), courtesy of MCA Records
"First Movement," written and performed by Duke Ellington and Ray Brown, published by Pablito Publishing Co. (ASCAP), courtesy of Pablo Records
"Streamline," written by John Ewing, Charles Thomas, Charles Lane, Jesse Sailes, Russell Weathers, Herbert Permillion, performed by John Ewing and the Allstars
+
MUSIC
"In the Mood," written by Joe Garland, performed by Glenn Miller, published by Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., Inc. (ASCAP), courtesy of MCA Records
"First Movement," written and performed by Duke Ellington and Ray Brown, published by Pablito Publishing Co. (ASCAP), courtesy of Pablo Records
"Streamline," written by John Ewing, Charles Thomas, Charles Lane, Jesse Sailes, Russell Weathers, Herbert Permillion, performed by John Ewing and the Allstars
"Chrysanthemum," performed and arranged by Shony Alex Braun, courtesy of Impromtu Records
"Smoke Rings," written by Ned Washington and H. E. Gifford, performed by Glen Grey and The Casa Loma Orchestra, published by Music Sales Corp./Film Tracks Copyright Holding Inc. (ASCAP), courtesy of CBS Records Music Licensing Department
"Avant Du Mourir," written and arrangement by Shony Alex Braun, courtesy of Impromtu Records. Capitol Recordings: "Boomada," written and performed by Les Baxter, published by Bax Music (ASCAP), courtesy of Capitol Records, by arrangement with Cema Special Markets
"Wrinkles," written by Lafayette Leake, performed by The Big Three Trio, published by Hoochie Coochie Music, administered by Bug (BMI), courtesy of MCA Records.
+
SONGS
"Slaughter House," written by Joel DuBay, Jeffrey Litke & Adiran Liberty, performed by Powermad, published by Cosmic Lug Publishing (ASCAP), courtesy of Reprise Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Love Me," written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, performed by Nicolas Cage, published by Jerry Leiber Music and Mike Stoller Music (ASCAP)
"Up in Flames," written by David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, performed by Koko Taylor, published by O. K. Paul Music (BMI)/Anlon Music Company (ASCAP)
+
SONGS
"Slaughter House," written by Joel DuBay, Jeffrey Litke & Adiran Liberty, performed by Powermad, published by Cosmic Lug Publishing (ASCAP), courtesy of Reprise Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Love Me," written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, performed by Nicolas Cage, published by Jerry Leiber Music and Mike Stoller Music (ASCAP)
"Up in Flames," written by David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, performed by Koko Taylor, published by O. K. Paul Music (BMI)/Anlon Music Company (ASCAP)
"Buried Alive," written and performed by Billy Swan, published by Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. (BMI)
"Love Me Tender," written by Elvis Presley and Vera Matson, performed by Nicolas Cage, published by Elvis Presley Music, administered by Unichappell Music, Inc. (BMI)
"Far Away Chant," written by A. Maxwell, M. William, performed by African Head Charge, published by On-U Sound Music, courtesy of On-U Sound Records LTD
"Baby Please Don't Go," written by Joe Williams, performed by Them, published by MCA Music Publishing, a Division of MCA Inc. (ASCAP), courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a Division of PolyGram, Inc.
"Im Abendrot," music composed by Richard Strauss, with lyrics by Joseph Von Eichendorff, performed by Jessye Norman, Gewandhausorchester Leizpig, conducted by Kurt Mazur, published by Boosey & Co., LTD., courtesy of Philips. Capitol Recordings: "Be-Bop-A-Lu-La," written by Gene Vincent & Tex Davis, performed by Gene Vincent and The Blue Caps, published by Lowery Music Company, Incorporated (BMI), courtesy of Capitol Records, by arrangement with Cema Special Markets
"Kosmogonia," written by Krzysztof Penderecki, performed by Chorus and Symphony Orchestra of the National Philharmonic, Warsaw, published by European American Music Distribution Corporation - Sole U.S. and Canadian Agent for B. Schott's Soehen (ASCAP), courtesy of Philips
"Wicked Game," written and performed by Chris Isaak, published by Isaak Music Publishing Co. (ASCAP), courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Blue Spanish Sky," written and performed by Chris Isaak, published by Isaak Music Publishing Co. (ASCAP), courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"In the Heat of the Jungle," written and performed by Chris Isaak, published by Isaak Music Publishing Co. (ASCAP), courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc., by arrangement with Warner Special Products.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
18 August 1990
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 17 August 1990
Los Angeles opening: 18 August 1990
Production Date:
9 August--late October 1989 in Los Angeles, CA
New Orleans, LA
and El Paso, TX
Physical Properties:
Sound
Lucasfilm Ltd THX Sound Sytem; Spectral Recording Dolby Stereo SR in selected theatres
Color
Lenses/Prints
Filmed with Panavision cameras & lenses
Duration(in mins):
125
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30558
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Cape Fear, somewhere near the border between North and South Carolina, Sailor Ripley meets his girl friend Lula Fortune at a dance. As they head to the dance floor, Sailor is stopped by Bob Ray Lemon, who accuses him of propositioning Lula’s mother, Marietta, in the bathroom. Pulling a knife, Lemon says Marietta paid him to kill Sailor, but Sailor stops his attacker and violently bashes his head against the floor until he dies. Twenty-two months and eighteen days later, Sailor is released from the Pee Dee Correctional Institution after serving time for manslaughter. Despite Marietta’s disapproval, Lula picks him up from prison and they drive to Cape Fear, where she has rented a hotel room. That evening, after making love, Lula recalls when she was raped at age thirteen by her father’s business partner, “Uncle Pooch.” Although she claims her mother never knew, she silently recalls the moment Marietta discovered them together and attacked the man. Lula reveals that Pooch died in a car crash three months later, then suffers another flashback, seeing a fire and hearing a woman cackle. Although Marietta wants to hire Marcelles Santos, an assassin, to kill Sailor, her private investigator boyfriend, Johnnie Farragut, warns against it and defends Sailor when she calls him a murderer. Marietta recalls the night of Bob Ray Lemon’s death, when she followed Sailor into the bathroom in a drunken attempt to seduce him and Sailor rejected her. In Cape Fear, Lula warns Sailor that Marietta will likely send Farragut to follow them. Sailor suggests Marietta wants to them apart for reasons Lula does not know, remembering the time Marietta trapped him in the bathroom at ... +


In Cape Fear, somewhere near the border between North and South Carolina, Sailor Ripley meets his girl friend Lula Fortune at a dance. As they head to the dance floor, Sailor is stopped by Bob Ray Lemon, who accuses him of propositioning Lula’s mother, Marietta, in the bathroom. Pulling a knife, Lemon says Marietta paid him to kill Sailor, but Sailor stops his attacker and violently bashes his head against the floor until he dies. Twenty-two months and eighteen days later, Sailor is released from the Pee Dee Correctional Institution after serving time for manslaughter. Despite Marietta’s disapproval, Lula picks him up from prison and they drive to Cape Fear, where she has rented a hotel room. That evening, after making love, Lula recalls when she was raped at age thirteen by her father’s business partner, “Uncle Pooch.” Although she claims her mother never knew, she silently recalls the moment Marietta discovered them together and attacked the man. Lula reveals that Pooch died in a car crash three months later, then suffers another flashback, seeing a fire and hearing a woman cackle. Although Marietta wants to hire Marcelles Santos, an assassin, to kill Sailor, her private investigator boyfriend, Johnnie Farragut, warns against it and defends Sailor when she calls him a murderer. Marietta recalls the night of Bob Ray Lemon’s death, when she followed Sailor into the bathroom in a drunken attempt to seduce him and Sailor rejected her. In Cape Fear, Lula warns Sailor that Marietta will likely send Farragut to follow them. Sailor suggests Marietta wants to them apart for reasons Lula does not know, remembering the time Marietta trapped him in the bathroom at the dance, asking about his history as a driver for Marcelles Santos, and threatening to have him killed. Sailor announces plans to break parole and drive to California, and Lula rejoices. They go dancing at a nightclub, where Sailor fights a man who tries to dance with Lula, then commandeers the microphone and serenades Lula with the Elvis Presley song, “Love Me.” Later, as they make love, Lula asks why he didn’t sing his favorite Elvis song, “Love Me Tender,” and Sailor replies that he will only sing that song to his wife. Lula says Sailor reminds her of her father, who, according to Marietta, died in a fire after pouring kerosene over himself and lighting a match. The next day, they drive to New Orleans, Louisiana, where Farragut is already searching for them. Meanwhile, Marietta hires Santos to kill Sailor, but Santos says he must also kill Farragut to prevent him from discovering their arrangement with “Mr. Reindeer.” Although she begs him to leave the detective alone, Santos delivers two silver dollars to Mr. Reindeer to arrange for the murders of Sailor and Farragut. Marietta calls Santos back to retract her request, but he claims his mind is set on killing. After rubbing red lipstick all over her face and hands, Marietta calls Farragut to confess that she has done something horrible, but insists on telling him in person. She meets him the following night at a New Orleans restaurant and suggests they leave immediately to follow Lula and Sailor, who have since left town. Driving in the dark of night, Sailor confesses to Lula that he knew about her father, Clyde, when he worked as a driver for Santos years ago. On the night of Clyde’s death, he waited for Santos outside her house. Lula hallucinates a witch on a broomstick and realizes it is her mother. As Marietta and Farragut return to their respective hotel rooms after dinner, Farragut is attacked. Meanwhile, Sailor stops at the site of a car accident where two people lie dead. A wounded girl wanders around looking for her purse, unaware that her head is bleeding. Sailor and Lula try to get her in their car, but the girl collapses and dies. Waiting for Farragut in the hotel lobby, Marietta panics when he does not arrive. Santos appears and informs her that Lula was seen moving through Texas. Elsewhere, three of Santos’s henchmen, led by a handicapped woman named Juana, tie Farragut to a chair and shoot him dead. Sailor and Lula drive to Big Tuna, Texas, a small town where Sailor’s old acquaintance, Perdita, lives. Leaving Lula behind at a motel, Sailor goes to Perdita’s house to ask if there is a contract on his life. Although she claims she has heard nothing, Perdita suggests Sailor is stupid for dating Lula, since he knows Marietta and Santos killed Clyde. He replies that he saw nothing, but Perdita, who was also there, saw Santos dump kerosene on Clyde and heard Marietta cackle as her husband burned. Sailor returns to the motel and discovers Lula has vomited on the floor. Asking to stay and recuperate for a couple of days, Lula worries that the dying girl at the car accident jinxed them. That night, the couple meets Bobby Peru, a former Marine who is also staying at the motel. Back in their room, Lula recalls an abortion she once had and tells Sailor she is pregnant, but is unsure about keeping the baby. The next day, as Sailor changes the oil in their car, Bobby Peru accosts Lula in her room and fondles her until she seems genuinely aroused. After he leaves, she cries and knocks her red high heeled shoes together, recalling “Dorothy’s” action in The Wizard of Oz. Bobby Peru finds Sailor and offers to buy him a beer. At a bar, he suggests Sailor help him rob a feed store. Although Sailor initially refuses, he agrees when Peru mentions the $2500 he stands to gain, saying the money will help them “down the Yellow Brick Road.” As he makes the comment, someone views the scene through a crystal ball. When Sailor returns to the motel, Lula guesses he has been with Peru and warns him that Peru is a “black angel.” She cries, telling Sailor that the world is “wild at heart,” and wishes that she was over the rainbow. Peru goes to Perdita’s house, where a picture of her with Juana, the handicapped assassin, and her accomplice, Reggie, hangs on the wall. Perdita admits she lied to Sailor about the contract on his life, and Peru laughs as he produces a silver dollar from Mr. Reindeer. In the morning, Sailor is surprised when Peru arrives with Perdita, who is acting as their getaway driver. In a neighboring town, Sailor and Peru rob the feed store as Perdita waits outside. A local policeman arrives and questions her as Peru kills one of the feed store workers, then points his gun at Sailor, announcing he is next. Sailor runs outside as Peru chases after him. However, the policeman shoots Peru. As he is arrested, Sailor laments that he has disappointed Lula. Sometime later, in his jail cell, Sailor reads a letter from Lula, in which she promises to keep their baby and name it “Pace.” Five years, ten months, and twenty-one days later, Marietta drunkenly frets about Sailor’s release from jail. She calls Lula to forbid her from seeing him, but Lula insists she is going to pick him up. With her son, Pace, Lula greets Sailor at the train depot. He shakes his son’s hand and gives him a stuffed animal, and the three drive away. However, Lula stops the car, overwhelmed by tears. Sailor suggests it was a mistake to reunite and references “The Cisco Kid” and “Pancho” in his parting advice to his son. Although she begs him to stay, Sailor heads back to the train depot on foot. As a gang of men stalks him, Sailor lights a cigarette and insults them. They beat him unconscious, and Sailor hallucinates a “Good Witch” who tells him that Lula loves him. Sailor argues that he is “wild at heart,” but the witch instructs him not to turn away from love. When he regains consciousness, Sailor apologizes to the gang and thanks them for teaching him a lesson. Calling out Lula’s name, he runs back in her direction and catches up to her in traffic. His nose broken and swollen from the beating, Sailor jumps on the hood of Lula’s car and she joins him there. Explaining that he just met the Good Witch, Sailor serenades Lula with Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender.” +

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

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