So once again we have survived.

Deadfall

tn_deadfallI honestly never knew about this Nic Cage-featuring neo-noir until some of you recommended it to me in the comments. So thanks for that. Since I’d never heard of it and the cover looks like the type of photoshop they do on an uncopyrighted double feature DVD you’d buy for 99 cents at Safeway I assumed this was an early Cage performance. I was shocked when I realized it was 1993, same year he did the much more polished RED ROCK WEST. It’s kind of hilarious that a crime movie this clunky came out after RESERVOIR DOGS.

mp_deadfallMichael Biehn plays a second generation con man whose world falls apart when he accidentally shoots his dad (James Coburn) during a con. Looking through his dad’s things he finds out his dad had a brother (James Coburn) so he goes and starts working for him. It’s a typical convoluted con story but for some reason they decided they needed Biehn reading lots of stiff narration explaining everything and pretending to be in-the-know. And let’s just say Ricky Jay doesn’t show up in this one. In other words the dialogue is not written by David Mamet, in my opinion.

Cage plays Eddie, the uncle’s drugged out, dangerously crazy henchman, or bad lieutenant if you will. It’s possibly his most ridiculous performance ever. He has a wig like Anton Chighur, mustache and shades like Tony Clifton, and mumbles in some weird Spanish-esque accent. He’s maybe not as funny as in VAMPIRE’S KISS, but he has several hilarious moments:

1. His introduction, sitting casually behind Biehn and making his presence known by loudly shuffling cards for a magic trick.

2. When his car won’t start until he yells “FUCK!” and twirls one finger in the air as if winding it.

mega-acting_deadfall3. When he’s doing a con involving his girlfriend supposedly losing a bracelet, and he takes off his glasses – his eyes are red like he’s been crying (or coked out of his mind). Just completely overdoing it for the con.

4. When he comes home and announces someone’s trying to kill him while doing Mick Jagger poses.

Eddie’s not the only weird touch in the movie. There’s also Charlie Sheen as a hotshot pool shark, giving a really showy high roller performance, but not quite convincing due to his sloppy facial hair and jacket that looks like a Hugh Hefner Halloween costume. (An unofficial one, so it would be called “Mansion Playboy” or “Grotto Guy.”) Not strange enough for you? How ’bout Mickey Dolenz as a pretzel seller/bookie? He and Clarence Williams III are on the con man elite team, but unfortunately neither of them do much in the movie.

Oh, I got one: Angus Scrimm (you know, the Tall Man from PHANTASM) as a diamond appraiser/crime boss with a Guillermo Del Toro-esque pair of scissors in place of one of his hands – he’s in there. And Peter Fonda. And Talia Shire.

Also, I gotta give credit to the guy who tails people wearing the most obvious fake beard of all time (see end of below clip).

But the whole thing is so low rent and forced and the dialogue is terrible, and sometimes when they’re not spouting cliches I don’t know what the hell they’re talking about (for example, why does Cage start yelling about Sam Peckinpah at the bar?)

Here’s an example of how awkward the movie is: When Coburn got shot at the beginning I thought damn, so it’s only a cameo. Then Biehn finds out he has an uncle and goes looking for him. When he first sees the uncle it’s from behind, and if you don’t recognize the back of his head of course you still know it’s James Coburn because of the distinct voice. But when he turns around it’s sudden, like the movie thinks it’s a big, shocking reveal. Oh my God, he also has James Coburn’s face, not just his voice! Then, to make matters worse, they have a flashback of the dad dying. Like you forgot Coburn played his dad too. Man, we’re not that far into the movie yet. You really thought I would forget? Is my bad memory really that notorious?

The director is Christopher Coppola, who is coincidentally Nic Cage’s brother. I’m sure Nic still had to audition. This movie really shows you the mixed blessings of being a Coppola. On one hand, I’m not sure if he was just Christopher Whateverson that he would’ve been able to make a movie. On the other hand he has to live with your uncle directed THE GODFATHER, one of the greatest movies of all time, and you’re making this shit? I don’t want to be an asshole like that, it’s not fair to put that on him. Not everybody can be Francis Ford. Some people gotta be Christopher. At least he gave us the magic of his brother playing Eddie. So he comes out ahead.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Friday, January 15th, 2010 at 1:22 am and is filed under Crime, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

92 Responses to “Deadfall”

  1. YES!

    I’m so glad you’ve discovered the joys of this great, great piece of cinema, Vern. Or piece of something.

    And mine is the first comment. I’m so proud. VIVA LA FUCKIN’ FRANCE!!!

    Hey you think Nic saw Blue Velvet? Just maybe?

  2. Its great when you come across a film like this and take a look at the cast list and go “damn!”. Best example
    for me has to be Silverado – so many people in that film were juuust about to be bigger names.

    My favourite Nic Cage performance is as Junior in Kiss of Death.

  3. “It’s kind of hilarious that a crime movie this clunky came out after RESERVOIR DOGS.”
    Well, LOTS of bad and/or at least weird gangster movies came out after Reservoir Dogs (and especially after Pulp Fiction), so no surprise or amusement from my side. May I recommend you two of the more interesting failures (unfortunately without Nic Cage)?

    – The Last Days Of Frankie The Fly; with Dennis Hopper, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah and Kiefer Sutherland

    – Love & A .45; with Renee Zellweger, Gil Bellows, Jeffrey Combs and Peter Fonda

    I’m not saying they are good, so no need to hurry (or even to review them at all), but to me these two represent the epitome of the Tarantino-cash-in-subgenre from the middle to late 90’s. Man, am I happy that these times are over.

  4. This looks awesomely bad. I wish Nic Cage had not burned his one twin movie with “Adaptation” (I think it is a rule that you are only allowed one movie on your resume that you play a pair of twins in). As much as I enjoy “Adaptation” it would be great to see Cage in a “Double Impact” type twin action movie. Actually I will go one further and say that the ultimate Nic Cage movie would be a hybrid of “Double Impact” mixed with “Face Off”. Nic could play two twins separated at birth. One is a ruff cop from the streets who plays by his own rules but he has a good heart, and the other is wealthy, sophisticated, greedy, evil, and has a British accent. At some point during the movie for some convoluted and ridiculous reason the twins would have to try and assume the others identity, so Nic Cage could then play two different twins pretending to be the other twin.

    If my ramblings are too hard to follow allow me to explain in the form of an equation. It would be: Cage x 2 + Cage playing Cage x 2 = Awesome!

  5. I read yesterday they greenlit Ghost Rider 2. Maybe Nic could have a twin
    that somehow?

  6. i also never heard of this movie until people were recommending it on the other talkbalk (BAD LIEUTENANT i guess), and i have been seeking it out in the video shops ever since, to no avail.

    incidentally, PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED just played on japanese tv yesterday, and i hadn’t seen it in its entirety in a while. i know i harp on about this movie ad nauseum, but jeezus nic cage’s performance is a sight to behold. it really is truly wonderful. it’ds such a bizarre performance, but it’s so meticulously detailed. i swear to god there is a scene where nic cage is at peggy sue’s house, sitting on the sofa talking to her dad waiting for her to get ready to go out, and the shot is set up so that peggy sue’s dad is the focal point as he is speaking, but nic cage is slightly out of focus in the foreground, and he is eating some kind of snack, and he is so fully committed to his character that he is intensely eating this snack in this goofball way, even though he is out of focus! i just realized that, as par for the course when dealing with nic cage performances, describing it does it no justice whatsoever. i guess i am just hoping that someone else will chime in to back me up on the odd beauty or beautiful oddness of nic cage in PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED, and then i will shut up about it. also, i would love to hear vern’s thoughts on the matter.

    mega acting?

  7. p.s. i can’t stop watching that last youtube montage of nic cage in DEADFALL. i have watched it about six times in the past 10 minutes. i find it hard to believe that the movie could possibly live up to the promise of that montage.

  8. The highlight of the movie is when Cage (off-camera) tells his girlfriend to “SHUT UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP DUDE!”

  9. I’m glad Vern decided to check this one out. Watching The Cage montage from this movie on YouTube is my moment of zen.

    I also really like Sofia Copolla’s filmmaking. She’s definately got her own style and bag of themes. I don’t think anybody thinks she’s riding dad’s coat tails.

  10. “Here’s to SAM FUCKIN’ PECKINPAH!!!”

  11. Mega-Cage , Michael Biehn , Charlie Sheen , Peter Fonda , Angus Scrimm and 2 James Coburns ! This movie has the best cast ever . Damn you Vern , now I’ve got to find this and Vampire’s Kiss. When I first saw Scrimm in Phantasm , I was thinking , I don’t know why , “that actor will never play another kind of character” , he was just giving me that feeling . Like , you know , when you first see an henchman in an action movie and he’s so perfect for the role that you know you will see him again in another movie playing the same character . Instead , recently , I see him in a lot of stuff , the last time in an episode of Alias playing some kind of agent . And now this. Good work , Angus .

  12. I’ll go ahead and see you on PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED, Virgin Gary. Between him touching that photo of Fabian taped to his car’s visor and whispering “Charge me!” and yelling out “Oh, you don’t know ZIP!”, I wonder how casting director Pennie Du Pont managed to justify her “I’ve got the PERFECT Charlie!” to the director, let alone work again in Hollywood.

    Oh, wait, that’s right. The director was Francis Fo…never mind.

  13. yeah i think i mentioned this on the other thread, but cage almost got fired from the movie even despite the fact that his uncle was directing. obviously he got the job cuz of the family thing (and a young sofia coppola is in it too, in a small role as peggy sue’s 12-ish year old sister, giving a typically bland performance), but when he showed up to set with his take on the character, everyone, including kathleen turner AND even francis coppola, were like, “WHAT. THE. FUCK.” so his uncle almost fired him, but he begged and convinced him to let him keep the job. if he had been fired and replaced with someone else (say, matt dillon), the movie would have been a forgettable 80’s crapfest. i like both moments you mentioned, in fact, every moment he is onscreen he is doing something interesting/bizarre/baffling/amazing, though sometimes quite subtle. he does this amazing thing in the speech where he is confronting peggy about cheating on him with the beatnik guy. you kind of have to see it to understand, but part way trhough the speech he gets so worked up that he gets the words caught in his throat in this high, throaty squeal, and he has to go backand correct himself: “when the monotones sang ‘book of love’ they said ‘in chapter 4 you break up but you give it just one more chance,’ and i’m thinking to myself did we BROKE UP-!?! did we break up?? cuz i don’t even know about it!” i’m pretty sure it was a conscious decision on cage’s part and meticulously planned out beforehand. man, i know i said i would shut up about this, but i just can’t help myself.

    as for sofia coppola as director, i am not a fan, though i agree she has her own style and is not simply riding coattals. i thought MARIE ANTOINETTE was tedious and pretentious, and i kind of hated LOST IN TRANSLATION, well at least i hated almost everything in it that wasn’t called bill murray. i always thought i would have much rather that murray’s character had not bumped into the mopey, whiny, spoiled scarlett johannsen character at the bar, but instead bumped into giovanni ribisi, and the rest of the movie was the two of them running around tokyo, sleeping with starlets, and snorting coke of strippers, etc.

    roman coppola’s movie CQ was kinda interesting, though pretty sloppy. and he and jason schwartzman (another talented coppola) co-wrote THE DARJEELING LIMITED which i liked a lot (though it’s probably number 4 for me in wes anderson’s oeuvre, after RUSHMORE, BOTTLE ROCKET, and THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS – haven’t seen FANTASTIC MR. FOX yet).

    and francis makes some good wine…

  14. i figured since i am on this internet thingy i may as well link to a clip to show you what i’m talking about. if you jump to about 6:40 on this clip you will see cage do the throat thingy i was talking about above. watch the beginning of the clip to see an example of the bizarre voice he uses for most of the movie.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbaBBejE9Js&feature=related

  15. Deadfall just gives me a headache. It’s my least favorite film of mine. A nightmare to make. Started with Val Kilmer as the lead. He left the film the day before shooting, broke his contract, to do the film with Kim Bassinger (can’t remember name) and equally crummy movie. Entire Crew felt like someone died. Deadfall went from an 8 million budget to a 2.5 million budget but the cast took most of that money which means I actually made it for 300 grand in 16 days. I should have never continued with project. I felt my brother held the film hostage, refused to take off his sunglasses, definitely made it a performance piece for himself and no one else. He was paid well to do that. I deferred everything and never got a dime. Having said that, he’s the only reason I watch the film now–though I like Sheen and all the Coburn scenes in it and they were friendly collaborators. I am honored that punk rock band SNOT has a song called on Deadfall based on my Deadfall. That’s sorta my Academy Award. In the end, my advice to fellow low-budget filmmakers is to never make a low budget B-Movie with big name movie star actors. I’m the Coppola who likes drive-in movies with a message. I just thought I’d give you all my perspective and thank you for your thoughts.

  16. Also, if you care to make a little movie with a puppet with a voice that everyone thinks sounds like Nic Cage though he actually sounds like me go to http://theneverendingmovie.com. You can beat the crap out of me.

  17. Hey Christopher, what are your feelings about Gunslinger? I keep seeing it on the shelf and thinking about checking it out.

    Also, I saw your picture on IMDB and you are definitely the toughest-looking Coppola. If you couldn’t get Nic to behave on the set through pure directorial authority you should have resorted to wedgies. It don’t matter if he’s a movie star, he’s still your little brother.

  18. Thanks for the context Christopher. The movie makes alot more sense knowing that Val Kilmer backstory.

    I hope I didn’t come across as too harsh. I know it sucks to have something you were unhappy with still hanging around, especially when it reminds you of a bad experience. But I hope you know we got alot of enjoyment out of it even if it seems like a miss overall. We’re “drive in movies with a message” people too, alot of us here enjoy watching B-movies and DTV action and even if they turn out not to be very good we really appreciate the weird, unexpected touches that make them unique. In DEADFALL’s case there’s lots of it even apart from your brother’s performance. For example, Angus Scrimm with a scissorhand! And I agree, Charlie Sheen was really good in that scene.

    Thanks Christopher.

  19. Mr. Coppola, regardless of our qualms (or not) with DEADFALL, you must admit you are a lucky man all things considered.

    (1) You made a movie. Most of us, ok none of us, will ever get to do that. Vern maybe, but not for the rest of us.

    (2) I respect anyone, regardless what we think of said product, who comes down here and is willing to talk with the rest of us, face to face even after some hostility and not so nice kind words expressed. Albert Pyun and Joe Kahn did that, and now you. We’re moving on up!

    Hell if the devil himself Michael Bay posted at Vern’s, we would all welcome him. So yeah, thanks Christopher.

    (3) I mean its not like you’re $13 million in the hole with the IRS like a certain dude with the sunglasses (allegedly.)

  20. Hey Christopher I’m curious how you found this? Does Nicolas read outlawvern.com? Anyway if you like drive-in movies with a message you should stick around. Also anyone seen TETRO? Speaking of Coppola related movies about trying to be a creative genius in a family full of creative geniuses? Personally I think it’s a new Francis Ford masterpiece but it played for less than a week and made thirty seven cents at the box office. Also completely unrelated except in passing reference to THE GODFATHER the best movie of 09 is UNE PROPHETE, hands down.

  21. Gwai Lo – Yeah I want to see TETRO too.

    And as for box-office, well Francis has enough money at this rate (hopefully) to which he can make any sort of movie he wants without worrying about if people will go see it.

    Which maybe is why I kinda admire YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH, even if I have no clear idea what the fuck was going on. Not only is it something no studio would touch with their cash, its also so mainstream alienating.

    So yeah Francis, you go man. Do your thing, as you always have done.

  22. Hi Christopher, How much of Cage’s character was actually scripted in your film? I really can’t imagine some of the stuff he comes out working in script form. INT. DAY: Eddie enters room, roars loudly, strikes Elvis pose, bellows, etc. Thanks for taking the time to give us the story.

  23. I’ve been meaning to see YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH but haven’t yet so I can’t comment on what the fuck was going on, but TETRO has a very straightforward story, not hard to follow at all. Walter Murch edited it and it has the feel of the classic FFC/Murch films. It definitely seemed more like a Criterion Collection type of deal than anything a studio would touch, but I don’t know why that should make it box office poison. Similarly to why THE BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS should be the lowest grossing Nicolas Cage movie since, well, DEADFALL.

    It’s just weird that the guy who directed THE GODFATHER makes a movie I think is a masterpiece and it’s ignored by the critics and the public. When it played at the film festival I volunteer at this year we couldn’t even fill the theater. People would ask what they should see and I’d recommend it, sometimes even have to explain that the director also did stuff like THE GODFATHER and APOCALYPSE NOW and THE CONVERSATION, hell even RUMBLE FISH, and they still went and saw a figure skating documentary or something instead. You wouldn’t believe some of the weird niche stuff that fills a 700 seat auditorium at this film festival, but TETRO was half empty. And some of my friends just dismissed it as pretentious. I can’t understand why, aside from Vincent Gallo’s character being pretentious? Is it because the cinematography is too gorgeous and every frame looks like something you’d hang on your wall? Yeah, geez, that really sucked. Or maybe stories about living in the shadow of genius, and complicated father/son/brother relationships are not really the 2009 moviegoing audience’s general cup of tea? I don’t know. Anyway. I loved it.

  24. Gwai Lo – You want my theory why?

    How old are your pals? For many moviephiles, there is a time in our youths where we despise everything mainstream, i.e. “Hollywood,” even those supposed “classics” are deconstructed as overrated cop-out bullshit. And well, Coppola is “Hollywood” with probably the greatest American movie ever produced. Thus he’s an asshole.

    Or your friends are the stereotypical elitist moviephiles who loves everything that isn’t “Hollywood” and hate mainstream. Which means is said documentary about skating had won the Oscar, they would have called it pretentious and cop out bullshit.

    Alternatives to mainstream in cinema is cool, but dammit its not a ends to a mean. Its a means to an end, for good awesome shit has come from counter-cultural (REPO MAN) and mainstream (DIE HARD).

  25. Also am I an asshole if I say I really don’t like to watch documentaries in theatres?

    I mean I like to view them on DVD or Netflix Instant, but shit for some reason I feel like I’m paying too much to watch a documentary on the big screen. I don’t know why.

    BTW I saw DAYBREAKERS. Holy shit that was surprisingly good. Like a good John Carpenter movie that Carpenter never got around to making.

  26. Well the people asking what to see were just random people walking up to the theater and finding the nearest volunteer for advice (there’s usually 8 movies playing at once, for two weeks, so it’s a bit confusing for people who just want to come see a movie or two. Instead of taking two weeks off work and seeing 50 like I do.) The specific friend who said it was pretentious is actually on online film critic who sees basically every single movie that passes through theaters. We don’t always see eye to eye, I believe I remember him calling SYNECDOCHE NEW YORK pretentious last year as well, but despite calling masterpieces pretentious he’s decent enough guy and loves all sorts of stuff. I have other friends that liked TETRO as much as I did, so that counts for something. The thing that bothers me is that it’s barely even part of the discussion either way, it didn’t get the love befitting a Hollywood picture or an indie art film, when I thought it was good enough to eschew the baggage that usually comes with either of these labels. Maybe that was problem. Too good for it’s own good.

  27. “I believe I remember him calling SYNECDOCHE NEW YORK pretentious last year as well”

    No offense mate, but that sentiment alone warries me of any future possible meeting between me and him.

  28. Haha, no offense taken, no accounting for taste either I guess.

  29. No its just I hate when the “pretentious” label is thrown around. Its such a fucking easy critical slap.

    The term means self-important, but…how many dramas in general believe that their story matters, or should at least?

    With that logic, THE GODFATHER is pretentious. CITIZEN KANE is pretentious. THE DARK KNIGHT is pretentious. SCHINDLER’S LIST is pretentious, etc.

    So yeah if SYNDOCHE whatever didn’t work for your buddy, fine. Not everything works for everybody.

    I’m sure he thought YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH was pretentious too because he wouldn’t want to admit (like I did) that he didn’t know what the fuck was going on.

  30. This place is amazing.

  31. I have a google news search account and things pop up like this blog. I enjoy talking directly to the people. One came up on a vampire blog, my first film was Dracula’s Widow. This was a cool EC Comic/film noir type of film, but was recut and is no longer cool. A lot of Dracula fans wanted to get their fangs in me. I get a lot of bad reviews and don’t take it personally. I enjoy reading the bad reviews over the good ones, especially when they are well written and funny. Have any of you seen G-Men From Hell? Robert Goulet as the devil and Gary Busey as the gay leather master detective are B movie ground breaking performances. I recommend it.

  32. hey christopher coppola, thanks a lot for steering the conversation away from PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED. just kidding! thanks for taking the time to stop by, i really wanna check out your movie if i can get ahold of it.

  33. RRA – definitely agree that “pretentious” gets used too often, especially as a way to just casually write off a film that’s smarter than the critic. Makes it hard to use for films that deserve it, like a Tsai Ming-Liang film.

    Christopher – I haven’t seen any of your movies but I think you just sold me on G-MEN FROM HELL.

  34. went back to Elko, Nevada where I shot the flick so I could project the film off a DVD to all my cowboy actors who were still there. They were happy. Later, I went to the Jiggs bar where I used to hang out with everybody while making the film and saw my signed dollar bill on the wall underneath the jackalope. Nothing changes in the old west. The made me happy. So, if you want to see the film, go for it.

  35. I don’t know what happened to my last comment about GUnfighter, but I am too tired to retype it. Basically, if you like innocent “Aw Shucks” 30 style serial westerns with real cowboys trying to be real actors you might enjoy it. It’s also beautifully shot in Techniscope.

  36. Just for reference, the “crappy” movie Val Kilmer instead made was THE REAL MCCOY. Which I’ve never seen, but it does sound like shit.

  37. Christopher, I thought ‘Gunfighter’ was nuts. My friend and I watched it in confusion after I purchased it at Big Lots for 3 bucks. It was like Hopalong Cassidy stepped into a Spaghetti Western (and am I wrong in remembering the main character’s name being Hopalong Cassidy? Did you have to get the rights to the character?) And then the ending with Robert Carradine looking at himself dressed up like a singing cowboy? What was that? Am I even remembering this right? Anyway, it was probably weirder than you intended. Or maybe not.

  38. definitely want to watch G-MEN FROM HELL and GUNFIGHTER now!

    i have to admit that for a large-portion of my movie going life i was really biased againstB and genre movies and even for a while (roughly ages 15 through 20) pretty much anything hollywood. i had fairly pretentious take and would only watch foreign films, old classics, or indepent films that were overtly “artistic.” but at a certain point i began to love big hollywood movies (i think watching STARSHIP TROOPERS with a college audience when it first came out was kind of a turning point), and now i believe mainstream and genre movies can often teach you more about art, society, life, etc., sometimes by accident, and they can often contain MORE subversive elements than you find in more consciously artistic flicks. it’s been a real joy in the past decade or so to have only just started to get into the whole area of genre movies (the internet has played a large part in this) because there is this massive amount of movies that i have never seen, like a whole world has been opened up to me (i didn’t see alot of the big genre movies even when i was a kid). i still love a lot of avant-garde, independent, experimental movies, and i especially love hollywood classics, but i derive satisfaction from few things like i do from a crazy B or genre movie that has sneaky or unexpected things sort fo smuggled into it.

  39. “pretentious take” = “pretentious taste”

  40. If the cowboy’s liked GUNSLINGER, Christopher, then I’m sure I will, too. I’ll trust a cowboy to act quicker than I’ll trust an actor to cowboy.

  41. P.S. I’m gonna pretend that extra apostrophe was an homage to VERN TELL’S IT LIKE IT IS.

  42. for some interesting insight into the mega-acting arts, check out nicolas cage’s appearance on “inside the actor’s studio” on youtube. here’s part one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgkSal0i_qU

    he gives some clue as to what motivates a lot of his choices. i especially like the part where he talks about how he tries to take characters to an extreme but then try to make them believable or find some reality or truth in them. i think that in part crystallize his appeal. he always seems committed to the character he is playing no matter how out there he gets. even in some of his more extreme roles, like PEGGY SUE, despite how over the top and funny his performance is, it doesn’t seem like it’s a joke performance – the character of charlie seems totally sincere. cage always seems like he’s in the moment with is characters, so it doesn’t seem as mannered or distanced as when some other actor’s give ridiculous performances.

  43. I don’t want to come off as just drive-in geek. I have a healthy appetite for classic films, art films, etc. Actually, these days I only really enjoy screening silent movies. It’s amazing how modern the women are. Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, Lousie Brooks…these women come off more fresh, grown up then anything I see today. Luckily, the only silent movie theater in the world still exists in my hood.

  44. Mr. Lambert, that film was made so long ago…over 20 years ago. I shot in it in Techniscope (poor man’s wide screen)…2 perf pull down, 35mm split in half basically, so 100 ft is actually 200ft. All the Spaghetti Westerns were shot this way. I used the camiflex cameras which were very old. The problem is when I made this movie there wasn’t any way to transfer 2 perf pull down to video. FFC wanted me to cut on the Montage. What that meant was I would have to cut with only seeing every other frame doubled. I didn’t think it would sync, which was crucial because the cameras were so loud and clunky that every sound would have to be recreated in post. FFC disagreed. So, I did it his way. I understood why, he wanted to wait until the very last minute to do the techniscope blowup off the negative. The only place that could still do that from a 2 perf was Technicolor Rome. My editor knew the experiment wasn’t going to work, but we were prepared to go into post hell with him. When the print was finally made, nothing sunk up. FFC shelved it, not just for this but for legal reasons (Hopalong Cassidy)…this was based on Mulford books which were public domain not the William Boyd movies. But, it was a legal hassle he didn’t want to deal with. It stayed on the shelf for 10 years. I had a lot of unhappy cowboys whose dreams where to be in a western. I was also unhappy because I don’t like unfinished business. I nearly died on the film as well. So, I got the film back from FFC through some bait and switch tactics, raised money to do the book end scenes and finished the fucker. The same people who went after him came after me. They said, “What makes you think if we couldn’t put the legal squeeze on FFC that we can’t take a punk like you down?” I basically told them you don’t know me. Anyhow, they went away and I was able to distribute a DVD which made my cowboys happy.

  45. I’ve made 8 features. Each one has been a mini Apocalypse Now for me. I’ve plenty of cool and funny war stories. Some have said the making of my flicks are more entertaining than the actual flicks. Who knows. All I know is I finish everything, no matter what. The idea of shelving hard work isn’t in my vocabulary.

  46. I hope you guys don’t mind me reminiscing…I haven’t been talking film much lately.

  47. Reminisce away, Christopher. I think everyone here knows how hard it is to finish what you start so it’s always inspiring to hear from someone who didn’t let anything stop him.

  48. Yeah actually, go nuts with these stories if you want. I think most of us probably just figured having Francis Ford Coppola for an uncle means that your path is paved in celluloid, but didn’t really stop to consider that he’d try to conduct his artistic experiments through you by proxy and get your movies shelved and stuff. Which makes total sense.

  49. Hey Christopher, have you thought about writing a book about your film experiences? I love a good film war story and I’m sure I’m not the only one. From the sound of things you could probably write a whole book on Deadfall. Even if that’s not in the cards, by all means tell us a couple here.

  50. I totally forgot about G-Men From Hell. I heard about it when it came out over here, but unfortunately it got only a VERY limited release (1 theatre in Berlin played it and that was it for the whole country!) and I got no idea if it ever came out on VHS or DVD. I have to check it out. Thanks for reminding me and even more for the interesting stories. I hope some more will follow. :)

  51. That was some good insight , thanks Mr. Coppola . I always love to read stories about movie making straight from the source. And if you feel like sharing some more memories , please keep going . You worked with some legendary actors , and I would like to know , if you have the time , of your time with William Forsythe and Gary Busey on the set of G-Men from Hell . I always like to see them in movies , especially as gay leather master detectives or crazy madmen .

  52. when is the last time Gary Busey NOT played a madman and/or villain?

    No really, when? I’m curious.

  53. RRA : In the now classic Bulletproof ! In that movie he is the Hero , not the villain ! And , if you consider the “crazy” part , he is not even a crazy hero . Well , speaking of Busey , he is at least not as crazy as , say , Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon , in that movie .

  54. Speaking of Mel, I kinda want to see EDGE OF DARKNESS.

    I miss angry pissy Mel, not aiming those energies at the Jews.

  55. In some pictures of Edge of Darkness , Mel looks really pissed and kickass . I think that , in the photos , his badass persona has improved with age .Like he’s gone through a lot. His image is perfect for a thriller , and for a , hum.. , post-apocalyptic movie ?

  56. Yeah, I’d be happy to hear more inside stories about the making of Christopher Coppola’s films. Especially inside Cage stories. I think The Cage is the most fascinating actor working today. Jenna Jameson’s autobiography has a pretty funny story about him and a not so nice story about Bruce Willis.

    I haven’t seen any of your films other than Deadfall, which I enjoyed for the same reasons Vern articulated in his review.

    Speaking of production stories being more interesting than the actual movie, I heard about this movie called FAILURE where a guy read about dudes like Kevin Smith and Robert Rodriguez and figured he’d be able to get his friends to act in his movie and then he’d take it Cannes and become a bigshot director only the whole fucking thing exploded in his face and so he made some sort of movie/documentary about his failure and called it FAILURE. Did anybody here see it?

  57. You guys all forgot Zandalee!

    http://www.avclub.com/articles/nicolas-cagetastic-case-file-143-zandalee,31280/

    Like R. Kelly, even when Cage is terrible, he’s pretty terrific. You could even argue that when he’s terrible, Cage is especially awesome, on multiple levels. He’s a legitimately great actor. He’s also a great bad actor, a great crazy actor, and a great over-actor.

  58. aww man sorry for interrupting the conversation
    Christopher, thanks for sharing your stories

  59. Christopher Coppola, I salute you!

    Deadfall has brought pleasure to me and many others, so your agony was not in vain. Maybe my reaction to the film wasn’t exactly what you originally intended, but life can be like that. But I was entertained! However, you should still punch your brother — and then tell him thanks for Bad Lieutenant from Frank.

  60. I made a low budget road movie entitled PALMER’S PICK-UP:An American Roadhshow Odyssey which is my favorite movie of mine. A lot of people don’t get it, but there is definitely a lot there if you’re willing to let the film just be what it is. It’s the sacred and the profane on the road. I thru my script out the window and let the road adventure dictate the film. When Grace Jones called me and said she wanted to be in the movie I quickly made a part for her..part of Siamese Twin act of low rent traveling circus in New Orleans with lead event being a diving pig…that pretty much somes up me, especially when the diving pig is intercut with a religious scene it which a naive boy calls on his dead girlfriend to give him guidance. This film was my baby, but the entire negative was destroyed when a super 16 negative cutter recommended by Spielberg left his wife for a younger woman to live under a new age pyrimad in Sodona. Two Filipino tried to finish his job but ended up smearing glue all over the base. If it wasn’t for hi-def and the Spirit, there would be no movie. It took an additional 4 months to remove all the glue stains digitally then come back on film. Insurance had to pay for it because I had final cut…it was the most expensive part of the movie. I remember running into a Chinese director who made a film for Chrome Dragon (another FFC enterprise) at a Hollywood bullshit party, he told me they were recutting his move and he planned to shoot himself in the head. I laughed and told him what happen to me and told him he was a pussy for complaining. Anyhow, I finished the film and I like. There are many amazing stories on this production. I was made a real Sheriff Deputy by Harry Lee, a very heavy Chinese southern man who appreciated the fact that I helped to catch a few so-called criminals via America’s Most Wanted. He even wanted to give me a gun with the badge. I took the badge and the uniform but skipped the gun. It was an ultra low budget movie. But, the IA assumed it was a more robust movie because Coppola, Carradine, Arquette and Jones were involved with it. Like typical terrorists they tried to shut me down in Baton Rouge…I warned them it was a bad idea, but they didn’t listen. When they came to cause a ruckus, I stood up on a grip truck and called my fellow Sheriff Deputies. They came down with sirens blaring and chased all the dumb fucks away. The whole time I am screaming through my megaphone, “You don’t fuck with me! No one shuts me down!” It was a beautiful moment. Sorry for my rambling, I am famous for drinking multiple martinis.

  61. Christopher, that’s a beautiful story made even more beautiful by my knowledge that Harry Lee is the same guy who deputized Steven Seagal. I’m gonna have to track down your other movies, that’s for sure.

  62. Chris Coppola – Wait the same Harry Lee as mentioned repeatedly on STEVEN SEAGAL: LAWMAN?

    “I laughed and told him what happen to me and told him he was a pussy for complaining.”

    That’s awesome.

  63. The very same. Segal came later and he is completely full of crap.

  64. Damn , this guy is awesome ! Thank you very much , that last story was amazing .

  65. This may now be officially the Best. Thread. Ever. {g!}

  66. Christopher, who is this IA of which you speak? You don’t mean the Iraqi Army was trying to shut down your movie, do you? Or was it Intact America, a non-profit organization against routine infant circumcision? (I haven’t seen the movie yet so I don’t know what kind of crazy shit you were getting up to out there.)

  67. Hey Christopher –if your hangover isn’t too bad and you have a minute to talk to some anonymous dude from a blog, I’d like to ask you something.

    lumberton_2000@yahoo.com

  68. Mr. Majestyk – IA = Iowa.

    Really Iowa, with exception of maybe Captain Kirk, are a real evil bunch.

  69. This is all very well and good but what about Cover Up? Two years after taking down the cold-blooded Lady Tanaka and her deadly Japanese Yakuza, Dolph Lundgren and Louis Gossett, Jr. star in another adventure! We’re in! So sayeth, The Ancient Romans.

  70. That Palmer’s Pick Up movie sounds AMAZING. Is there any way to see it?

  71. I think you can stream it on-line. I’m off to New York with a festering zit on my nose to pitch some projects to mega corps. THe use of the words “Cover Up” above made me have to share that. I’ll be checking in every once in awhile. I like this place, good people, I can tell.

  72. UPDATE: i still can’t stop watching the DEADFALL montage. i am down to about 3 or 4 viewings a day, but i don’t forsee a total end to this compulsion in the near future.

  73. WELL IT’S ABOUT FUCKING TIME!

    i’ve been showing this flick to everyone. it is fucking mind blowing.
    Vern, you impress once again.

  74. glad you’re aware of the Snot song Christopher. i’d listened to them a lot in high school and had no goddamn clue what he was singing about in that song. then i saw your movie and my mind was quite thoroughly blown.

  75. well this was a hell of a thread. Christopher, your stories are remarkable, and like the rest of these guys i’ll be checking out your other films too. Hope to hear more from ya once Vern reviews some more of your stuff, and i’m sure he will.

    by the way, can anyone tell me what Cage is saying after “SOMEONE’s TRYIN’ TO KILL ME MAAAAAN”?
    what i hear is “THE FUCKING EGGERS!!”, but i think he’s putting a shirt, or something, away at the time, so he could be saying “THESE FUCKING HANGERS!!!”.

  76. I second what Brendan said- this place is amazing. I think this is the third time I’ve seen a director show up and join in the discussion of his film, and I guarantee every time that at least a half of the regular readers here ended up deciding to rent one or more of their flicks. Vern is like some sort of filmic Pied Piper. Netflixing DeadFall & that G-Men one right now. Thanks for stopping by, Christopher! But Vern, don’t ever fret about being too harsh again, sir- you have a duty to tell it like it is, after all.

  77. He says, “Fuckin’ hangers” A Little homage to Joan Crawford. And yes, we should be honest with how we feel about things.

  78. I love this movie, in fact I was the one who introduced it to some of the guys who recommended the movie to you, its a fun neo noir and Cage is on another planet.

    Christopher Coppola; thank you.
    and heres to sam-fuckin-packin-paw!

  79. for shits and giggles; I’ve wanted to see G men since I heard about it, but I thought it was made by Mike Allred. hes cool.

  80. Oh my God, this is amazing. Followed this title from other Nic Cage threads. First of all, so nice to find a place that appreciates my favorite actor. I went to college with people who said he sold out by doing action movies. There may be a discussion of The Rock somewhere on this board but that’s one of my favorite movies that still holds up, thanks to the character work of Cage, Harris and Connery (That one made me think Bay was one to watch for, but anyway…) I love Cage’s work even in bad movies (Guarding Tess, Trapped in Paradise anyone?) but when I discovered Vampire’s Kiss it was truly amazing.

    Now to see Christopher Coppola’s stories too! And I’m going to have to put as many of those as I can on my Netflix, starting with Deadfall of course. :)

    So again, great community and amazing stories from CC.

  81. BTW: Gunfighter available on Netflix instant streaming

  82. I think the existential despair of being nothing but a ghost trapped in a machine is finally getting to the spambots.

  83. Majestyk – don’t knock them, I know some people who I’d less rather have a conversation with than these spambots.

    And unfortunately no, that’s not an exaggeration. As the old quote says: “There’s a mass conspiracy to spread stupidity around the world. And it’s too late for most of us.”

  84. I watched Gunfighter on Netflix. It’s got some good ideas for gunfights and narrow escapes. I think it’s the story of DTV that strives for something we appreciate, even if it can’t always convey it.

    The streaming version is definitley not widescreen, and it’s not even properly full frame. The top is cut off. The gunfights are mostly done with shot-reverse shot in closeups. You don’t get the visceral thrill of seeing action happen before you, but I understand Christopher Coppola didn’t have the squib team to set up timed gunshots, and certainly no CGI.

    The acting is earnest and the whole film feels like a family affair, maybe not polished but clearly well meaning. I’d love to hear if other readers here watch it, and certainly to hear more Christopher Coppola stories.

  85. Great comments and responses from christopher. I would like to add that nic cage, in some of his performances, seems to be inhabited by the spirit of jerry lewis. I kind of dig it even if I may be wrong.

  86. What is your opinion of the production designing in this film? Disregarding the script, acting and directing, don’t you think the design for it holds it’s own for a very low budget project? You would never be able to get through the film if the backgrounds looked terrible, not to mention the cinematography. The Director of Photography and the Production Designer are highly talented industry professionals.

  87. […] over at vern’s review of this movie, director christopher coppola actually commented on the movie. it’s an interesting read. he didn’t say it outright but he mentioned that this is the least favorite of his films and that val kilmer quitted this movie to do the real mccoy instead. i don’t know if val kilmer was supposed to play nicolas cage’s part, but i can’t imagine him giving the movie what cage did. as hard as it was for christopher coppola to make this movie with cage, he did say that it’s the only reason he watches this again. […]

  88. Wow… this talkback thread was a goldmine!!!

  89. How did i never hear about this movie (or this thread) until the other day? Anyways, caught Deadfall via Netflix Instant (love the entirely misleading cover image where Nicolas Cage looks nothing like he does in the movie) and yeah, it’s borderline unwatchable. It’s definitely up there with The Room, but not quite as entertaining. There’s some good ideas in the script and I actually did enjoy the final twist, but the filmatism is really, really bad, (so many shots are awkwardly framed, so many scenes drag on for no reason), the narration is awful, and I think a word needs to be said about the sets – so many scenes (the strip club, the supposedly outdoor(?) farmer’s market) seem to be shot in warehouses with just the bare minimum of props. It really reminded me of Dogville, like it might be a conscious choice. I mean, there’s a scale in the farmer’s market that doesn’t even have the scale part attached! And it’s the center of the shot!

    But kudos for getting Sarah Trigger naked, i’m sure Bill and Ted fans like myself appreciated it. Oh yeah – Nicolas Cage. There isn’t much to say. His performance is probably the Holy Grail of Mega-Acting (easily surpassing Vampire’s Kiss) but it actually seemed like too much of a good thing and I was honestly a little numb to it by his last scene. I think what makes his performance in Peggy Sue Got Married still my favorite is that EVERYBODY ELSE plays it straight and doesn’t acknowledge there’s a crazy person in the room. He plays a popular high school guy for crying out loud, when his voice and mannerisms are about 10x more off-putting than the “nerd” character. It’s mindboggling.

  90. FYI: this is playing on Encore channels this week if you need to dvr it.

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