Starring Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Julianne Moore, Sela Ward. Directed by Andrew Davis.
Harrison Ford is making a career of stepping into roles once earmarked for Alec Baldwin. After replacing Baldwin in last summer’s Patriot Games, he’ll be on the run this summer as The Fugitive, a role Baldwin dropped.
Of course, the title character of Dr. Richard Kimble-unjustly convicted of murdering his wife, relentlessly tailed by Lieut. Girard, and relentlessly in pursuit of the one-armed man-was practically mythologized by David Janssen in the ABC drama that ran from 1963 to ’67. ”We’re not religiously following the series,” says producer Arnold Kopelson. ”We take approximately two thirds of the story and then depart from it for some twists and turns.”
One plot alteration comes early: Kimble’s pursuer is now a federal agent (Jones). As in the original, the chase begins when Kimble is freed after a spectacular train wreck-achieved when director Davis sends a locomotive hurtling off its track at 35 mph. But the biggest stunt may be pulled off in postproduction: Principal photography finished May 16, which means four editors and six assistants will be racing the clock to assemble the $40 million movie in time for its release.
Buzz: Industry odds makers peg it as this summer’s final sure smash, although in the wake of Sly, Clint, and Arnold in action vehicles, moviegoers may not be so eager to cut to the chase again.
HEART AND SOULS
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Charles Grodin, Kyra Sedgwick, Tom Sizemore, Alfre Woodard. Directed by Ron Underwood.
The pitch must have been delicious: ”It’s a cross between Ghost and Herman’s Head, and we’ve got a Chances Are vet interested.” More being better in Hollywood, Heart and Souls attaches four souls (Grodin, Sedgwick, Sizemore, and Woodard) to a baby born the night they died. The baby, now grown into Robert Downey Jr., must complete their unfinished business on earth.
Heart and Souls was written mainly as a drama until Universal chief Tom Pollock persuaded deadpan Grodin (Beethoven) to play a dead history teacher whose frustration in life was that he never became an opera singer. ”I play the character like a talk-show guest who isn’t on camera,” Grodin says. ”He’s sitting further down on the couch and occasionally throwing in lines.” (Aug. 6)
Buzz: Not a peep but we like the cast.
THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE
Starring Mel Gibson, Nick Stahl, Margaret Whitton, Richard Masur. Directed by Mel Gibson.
In what looks like a blatant attempt to be dropped from People‘s annual list of Most Beautiful People, Gibson endured a daily 21 2-hour makeup job to transform his photogenic mug into that of a badly scarred burn victim. Playing a Maine recluse who befriends a lonely 12-year-old boy (Stahl), Gibson is making his directorial debut with this adaptation of a novel by Isabelle Holland. (Aug. 6)
Buzz: The last time Gibson slathered on facial latex, the film, Forever Young, made $55 million. There’s no reason to think it won’t happen again.
Starring Ed Harris, Bonnie Bedelia, Max Von Sydow, Amanda Plummer. Directed by Fraser Heston.
Another season, another Stephen King movie. Von Sydow plays a Maine shopkeeper who runs a sort of den of antiquities for the greedy, offering rare items to locals in an insidious scheme that soon has chaos reigning and sheriff Harris squirming.
The feature-directing debut of Heston (Charlton’s son), Things was shot in Gibsons, British Columbia, where costs were lower than in the Northeast and the natives more willing to go Hollywood: They allowed a church, complete with a 75-foot steeple, and a Victorian antique shop to be constructed in the center of town. While King was pleased the hamlet looked so much like his fictional village, residents were even happier. “People said, ‘Gee, we wish it could stay like this,'” Heston recalls. “Unfortunately, it was all facades.” (Aug. 13)
Buzz: If you want to see something really scary, look at the tiny box office returns for the recent King flick The Dark Half. Boo who?
THE METEOR MAN
Starring Robert Townsend, Robert Guillaume, Marla Gibbs, Eddie Griffin. Directed by Robert Townsend.
Townsend made his name with 1987’s movie-industry parody, Hollywood Shuffle, then faltered with The Five Heartbeats, his 1991 saga of an R&B group. Here he tries returning to his satirical roots, playing a school teacher who acquires semi-super powers when hit by a meteor. Reluctant hero of the inner city, Meteor Man flies just four feet off the ground, wearing costumes his proud mother (Gibbs) insists on making herself.
A slew of cameo appearances includes Bill Cosby, James Earl Jones, and Naughty By Nature. Assembling such stars didn’t take much effort, says Townsend. “Every time I’d go to an awards show or a movie premiere, someone would say, ‘I want to work with you.’ So I’d write their name down on a little piece of paper. I called every one of them.” (Aug.6)
Buzz: It has been delayed and delayed and delayed—hey, we can take a hint. Video stores are already clearing shelf space.
MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY
Starring Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Anjelica Huston, Alan Alda. Directed by Woody Allen.
The title and premise may sound menacing—Allen and Keaton play a couple who turn sleuths when a neighbor mysteriously dies—but the film is Allen’s first broad comedy since 1984’s Broadway Danny Rose. Which is lucky for Allen, since production started last summer, just weeks after the Soon-Yi scandal broke. “I think it was stressful (for him) just to be working at all when you have this major s— hitting the fan in other aspects of your life,” says Robert Greenhut, Allen’s longtime producer. “I think doing a comedy perhaps made it more palatable.” Shooting around Manhattan’s Gramercy Park, Allen let off steam by joking with ex-girlfriend Keaton (who replaced ex-girlfriend Mia Farrow at the last minute). “They love to constantly throw zingers at each other,” says Greenhut. “If one of them screwed up during a scene, they’d make fun of each other in a nasty, affectionate way.” The film’s distributors and producers are depending on the old Keaton-Allen chemistry; Annie Hall and Love and Death remain among Allen’s best and most successful works. (Aug. 20)
INTO THE WEST
Starring Gabriel Byrne, David Kelly, Ciaran Fitzgerald, Rory Conroy, Ellen Barkin. Directed by Mike Newell.
Set in his native Ireland, the film is a family affair for star-executive producer Byrne: Wife Barkin has a small role as a gypsy, and their 3-year-old son, Jack, makes an appearance. Written by Jim Sheridan (the director of My Left Foot) and directed by Newell (Enchanted April), the movie is a modern fable about two motherless children who—fleeing a life with their drunken father—follow the path of a runaway horse. Byrne, who helped develop the script, says the plot was conceived five years ago, when “(producer) Tim Palmer was walking through the projects in Dublin, looked up, and saw a white horse standing on a balcony about 16 stories high.” Despite its tone and depictions of alcoholism and death, the film has hit No. 1 at the box office in Ireland. “I don’t think it’s melancholy,” Byrne says. “It’s a poetic fairy tale.” Grimm as it may be. (Aug. 6)
Buzz: Moody, striking, a little off-putting—in other words, a film for the kiddie cultural elite.
THE SECRET GARDEN
Starring Maggie Smith, Kate Maberly, Haydon Prowse, Andrew Knott. Directed by Agnieszka Holland.
When the producers asked Polish director Holland (Europa, Europa) to direct a film version of the 1911 children’s story, they were in for a happy surprise. “It turned out The Secret Garden was one of her favorite books from childhood,” says Fred Roos, who with Tom Luddy had spent more than a dozen years trying to bring the classic to the screen.
The 1991 Broadway musical version had rekindled interest in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s tale of three lonely children who nurse a dormant Victorian garden back to health. Roos, who wanted to beat any competitors to the screen, called in Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands) to write the script, and Stuart Craig designed the garden on the grounds of Britain’s Pinewood Studios. “There are beautiful forests that are part of the studio,” says Roos. “We created walls and designed a great garden. It was only 300 yards from my office, but you feel as if you’re in the middle of a forest.” (Aug. 13)
Buzz: Little girls are lining up now—but wild horses couldn’t drag their brothers.