THE DEER HUNTER
DIRECTED & PRODUCED BY MICHAEL CIMINO
DIRECTED & PRODUCED BY MICHAEL CIMINO
Information from IMDb
Michael, Steven and Nick are young factory workers from Pennsylvania who enlist into the Army
to fight in Vietnam.
Before they go, Steven marries the pregnant Angela and their wedding-party
is also the men's farewell party.
After some time and many horrors the three friends fall in the hands of the Vietcong
and are brought to a prison camp in which they are forced to play Russian roulette
against each other.
Michael makes it possible for them to escape, but they soon get separated again.
Written by Leon Wolters
Robert De Niro ... Michael
John Cazale ... Stan
John Savage ... Steven
Christopher Walken ... Nick
Meryl Streep ... Linda
George Dzundza ... John
Chuck Aspegren ... Axel
Shirley Stoler ... Steven's Mother
Rutanya Alda ... Angela
Pierre Segui ... Julien
Mady Kaplan ... Axel's Girl
Amy Wright ... Bridesmaid
Mary Ann Haenel ... Stan's Girl
Richard Kuss ... Linda's Father
Joe Grifasi ... Bandleader
Christopher Colombi Jr. ... Wedding Man
Victoria Karnafel ... Sad Looking Girl
Jack Scardino ... Cold Old Man
Joe Strnad ... Bingo Caller
Helen Tomko ... Helen
Paul D'Amato ... Sergeant
Dennis Watlington ... Cab Driver
Charlene Darrow ... Red Head
Jane-Colette Disko ... Girl Checker
Michael Wollet ... Stock Boy
Robert Beard ... World War Veteran
Joe Dzizmba ... World War Veteran
Stephen Kopestonsky ... Priest (as Father Stephen Kopestonsky)
John F. Buchmelter III ... Bar Patron
Frank Devore ... Barman
Tom Becker ... Doctor
Lynn Kongkham ... Nurse
Nongnuj Timruang ... Bar Girl
Po Pao Pee ... Chinese Referee
Dale Burroughs ... Embassy Guard
Parris Hicks ... Sergeant
Samui Muang-Intata ... Chinese Bodyguard
Sapox Colisium ... Chinese Man
Vitoon Winwitoon ... NVA Officer
Somsak Sengvilai ... V.C. Referee
Charan Nusvanon ... Chinese Boss
Jiam Gongtongsmoot ... Chinese Man At Door
Chai Peyawan ... South Vietnamese Prisoner
Mana Hansa ... South Vietnamese Prisoner
Sombot Jumpanoi ... South Vietnamese Prisoner
Phip Manee ... Woman In Village
Ding Santos ... V.C. Guard
Krieng Chaiyapuk ... V.C. Guard
Ot Palapoo ... V.C. Guard
Chok Chai Mahasoke ... V.C. Guard
Hilary Brown ... Herself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Joe Cummings ... US Embassy Guard (uncredited)
James Kall ... Altar Boy (uncredited)
Tom Madden ... Steelworker (uncredited)
Kurtwood Smith ... POW in River Cage (uncredited) (unconfirmed)
Joel Thingvall ... Steel Worker (uncredited)
Joann Carelli .... associate producer
Michael Cimino .... producer
Michael Deeley .... producer
John Peverall .... producer
Marion Rosenberg .... associate producer
Barry Spikings .... producer
Michael Cimino (story) &
Deric Washburn (story) and
Louis Garfinkle (story) &
Quinn K. Redeker (story)
Deric Washburn (screenplay)
During the helicopter stunt, the runners caught on the ropes and as the helicopter rose, it threatened to seriously injure John Savage and Robert De Niro. The actors gestured and yelled furiously to the crew in the helicopter to warn them. Footage of this is included in the film.
Director Michael Cimino convinced Christopher Walken to spit in Michael's face. When Walken actually did it, Robert De Niro was completely shocked, as evidenced by his reaction. In fact, De Niro was so furious about it he nearly left the set. Cimino later said of Walken, "He's got courage!"
Robert De Niro claims this was his most physically exhausting film.
Chuck Aspegren was not an actor when he was cast in the movie. He was the foreman at a steel works visited early in pre-production by Robert De Niro and Michael Cimino. They were so impressed with Aspergen that they decided to offer him the role. He was in fact the second person to be cast in the film, after De Niro himself.
Robert De Niro, who prepared for his role by socializing with actual steelworkers, was introduced by his hosts and new friends as Bob, and no one recognized him.
The bar was specially constructed in an empty storefront in Mingo Junction, Ohio for $25,000; it later became an actual saloon for local steel mill workers. Robert De Niro visited the homes of steelworkers and went to local bars to prepare for the film. U.S. Steel allowed filming inside its Cleveland mill, including placing the actors around the furnace floor, only after securing a $5 million insurance policy.
Robert De Niro and John Savage performed their own stunts in the fall into the river, filming the 30ft drop 15 times in two days.
Meryl Streep improvised many of her lines.
Jan Scruggs, a Vietnam veteran who became a counselor with the U.S. Department of Labor, thought of the idea of building a National Memorial for Vietnam Veterans after seeing a screening of the film in spring 1979, and he established and operated the memorial fund which paid for it.
The cast and crew viewed large amounts of news footage from the war to ensure authenticity.
Rutanya Alda actually struck her head quite hard on the doorway during the first take while being carried out of the reception hall; this is why the scene includes John Savage warning her in the take which was used.
The deer which Michael allows to get away was actually an elk - the same one often used on commercials for Hartford Insurance. The crew had a very difficult time trying to get the elk to look at them, as it was apparently used to various noises; it finally looked at them when someone in the crew yawned.
John Cazale was very weak when filming began, and for this reason, his scenes were filmed first. Michael Cimino knew from the start that Cazale was dying from cancer, but the studio did not. When they found out, they wanted to replace Cazale. When Meryl Streep learned of their intentions, she threatened to quit if they did. Cazale died shortly after filming was completed.
John Cazale's last film.
Christopher Walken achieved the withdrawn, hollow look of his character by eating nothing but rice and bananas.
During some of the Russian Roulette scenes, a live round was put into the gun to heighten the actors' tension. This was Robert De Niro's suggestion. It was checked, however, to make sure the bullet was not in the chamber before the trigger was pulled.
The wedding scene at the church took five days to film. An actual priest was cast as the priest.
Roy Scheider was originally cast as Steven but withdrew from the production two weeks before the start of filming due to 'creative differences'.
The church used in the wedding sequence was the Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral located in Cleveland, Ohio. One can clearly see the name plaque in one scene.
All scenes were shot on location (no sound stages).
CBS paid $5 million for the exclusive network television broadcast rights for the film. The network (along with NBC and ABC) later backed out when the content was deemed inappropriate. The film made its television debut on election night, 1980, but not on any major network.
The choir featured in the wedding scenes was the actual choir at the church used during filming. They had to sing the hymns more than 50 times.
Christopher Walken was originally supposed to receive $17,000 for his role as Nick, but his salary was raised to $25,000 because filming took longer than was originally planned.
The cast and crew slept on the floor of the warehouse where the Saigon Russian roulette sequences were shot.
Scouts for the film traveled over 100,000 miles by plane, bus, and car to find locations for filming.
The slapping in the Russian roulette sequences was 100% authentic. The actors grew very agitated by the constant slapping, which, naturally, added to the realism of the scenes.
George Dzundza completely blows the toast line when the group arrives in the mountains the first time. His reaction is legitimate, and a few of the other actors can be seen laughing in response.
When movie was being planned during the mid-1970s, Vietnam was still a taboo subject with all major Hollywood studios. It was the English Company EMI (headed by Sir Bernard Delfont) who initially arranged financing. Universal got involved with the picture at a much later stage.
Robert De Niro recently explained that the scene where Michael visits Steve in the hospital for the first time was the most emotional scene that he was ever involved with. He broke down in tears while discussing the scene in AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Robert De Niro.
Pierre Segui, who plays Julien, lost a friend in real life to a game of Russian Roulette.
The deaths of approximately twenty-eight people who died playing Russian roulette were reported as having been influenced by scenes in the movie.
The wedding sequences were filmed in the summer, but were set in the fall. To accomplish a look of fall, leaves were removed from trees and painted orange. They were then reattached to the trees.
In the USA, theatrical posters contained the following warning at the bottom: "Warning: Due to the mature nature of this film, under 17 requires accompanying Parent or Adult guardian. (There will be strict adherence to this policy)"
When the guys are leaving the factory and heading to Welch's Bar, Nick encourages Michael to drive faster. In real life, Christopher Walken has a phobia of going too fast in cars.
The scene where Savage is yelling, "Michael, there's rats in here, Michael" as he is stuck in the river is actually Savage yelling at the director Michael Cimino because of his fear of rats which were infesting the river area. He was yelling for the director to pull him out of the water because of the rats... it looked real and they kept it in.
Michael Cimino spent six months shooting his film, and a further five months mixing the soundtrack. Since this was his first Dolby film, he was eager to exploit the technology to its fullest potential. A short battle sequence, for example, (200 feet of film) took five days to dub. For the re-creation of the American evacuation of Saigon, he accompanied composer Stanley Myers to the location and had him listen to the sounds of vehicles, tanks, and jeep horns as the sequence was being filmed. Myers then composed music for the sequence in the same key as the horns, so that it would blend with the images creating one truly bleak experience.
In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #53 Greatest Movie of All Time.
When the film was first shown at the Berlin festival in 1979, one of the biggest incidents of its history resulted when the Soviet delegation walked out in protest against the way the film portrayed the people of Vietnam. The ensuing domino effect led to the walk-outs of the Cubans, East Germans, Bulgarians, Poles and Czechoslovakians, and two members of the jury resigned in sympathy.
The film's screenplay, by Michael Cimino and Deric Washburn, was based, in part, on the script "The Man Who Came to Play", a 1975 screenplay by Louis Garfinkle and Quinn K. Redeker about men who travel to Las Vegas to play Russian Roulette. A pre-release arbitration dispute secured Garfinkle and Redeker a co-"story by" credit on the film, although the two writers had nothing to do with its making. They also later shared an Oscar nomination with Cimino and Washburn.
In the commentary for the Special Edition DVD release (as of 2005, only available in the UK, region 2 encoded), director Michael Cimino reveals that Nick is the father of Angela's baby. This was a highly debated issue by fans of the film that was - until now - a mystery.
Various critics objected to the Russian roulette sequences, suggesting that such activity never took place in the Vietnam War. Director Michael Cimino was planning on the scenes to cause controversy and simply stated that no one could be certain of the accuracy. Robert De Niro and Cimino reportedly argued as to the realism of the scenes.
Each of the six principal male characters in the movie carried a photo in their back pocket of them all together as children so as to enhance the sense of camaraderie amongst them. As well as this, director Michael Cimino had the props department fashion complete Pennsylvania IDs for each of them, complete with driver's licenses, medical cards and various other pieces of paraphernalia, so as to enhance each actor's sense of their character.
According to the film's cinematographer - Vilmos Zsigmond - the scene where the deer is shot [by Michael (DeNiro)] was filmed by giving the trained deer a sedative; it took half an hour for the drug to take effect; they had fenced off an area limiting the deer's range and two cameras were used.
Michael Cimino originally wanted Brad Dourif to play the role of Steven.
During the filming of the wedding sequence, director Michael Cimino encouraged the many extras to treat the festivities as a real wedding, so as to increase the authenticity of the scenes. Prior to filming the wedding reception, Cimino instructed the extras to take empty boxes from home and wrap them as if they were wrapping real wedding gifts and bring them to the set the next day. The fake gifts would then be used as props for the wedding reception. The extras did as they were told, however, when Cimino inspected the "props" he noticed that the "gifts" were a lot heavier than empty boxes otherwise would be. Cimino tore the wrapping paper off a few of the packages, only to find that the extras had in fact wrapped real gifts for the "wedding".
John Wayne's final public appearance was to present the Best Picture Oscar to The Deer Hunter at The 51st Annual Academy Awards (1979) (TV). It was not a film Wayne was fond of, since it presented a very different view of the Vietnam War than his own movie, The Green Berets, had a decade earlier.
First feature film depicting the U.S. involvement in Vietnam to be filmed on location in Thailand.
The deer hunting scene was actually shot in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. The mountain shown in the background is Mount Shuksan.
The studio wanted to replace John Cazale when he was ruled un-insurable. Robert De Niro put up the money for the insurance. Cazale died shortly after filming was completed.
One of very few films whose 70mm prints kept the film in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio (letterboxed within the 70mm 2.20:1 frame), instead of simply being cropped to 2.20:1, as was done with most widescreen films blown up to 70mm.
Composer Stanley Myers originally wrote Cavatina, which became the theme music for The Deer Hunter, as a much shorter piece for the piano. Classical guitarist John Williams persuaded him to to expand it and rewrite it for the guitar. Williams' recording of the piece was later used for the film. Cleo Laine has also recorded a vocal version, "He Was Beautiful", accompanied by Williams.
In the original script, the roles of Mike and Nick were reversed in the last half of the film. Nick returns home to Linda, while Mike remains in Vietnam, sends money home to help Steven, and meets his tragic fate at the Russian roulette table.
When returning to the bar after the hunting trip, they are singing "Drop Kick Me Jesus (Through The Goalposts Of Life))" a Bobby Bare song released in 1976, long after the Vietnam War had ended.
In the wedding dance, we hear the Catsatchok, composed by Russian musician and opera singer Boris Rubaschkin, who was just 13 years old by the end of the war and had not yet composed that song.
Christopher Walken's character's Russian name Nikanor is misspelled as Nikonar in the movie.
The level of Michael's beer while he is leaning against the post at the wedding reception goes up after he drinks.
In the scene at the VFW hall where they are playing bingo, the guy calling out the numbers on the winning card calls B-15, but when the board comes into view showing the numbers that had been called, B-15 is not lit up.
After escaping the from the VC after the Russian Roulette scene, Michael is initially carrying a rifle in his right hand and helping an injured Nicholas with his left hand. In the next shot, he no longer has the rifle in hand and it is not present in the remainder of the escape scene.
In the first hunting scene as they're changing their clothes, Michael and Stan are arguing about Mike's boots. Nicky is seen putting on a sweater and had both arms in when it cuts back to Mike who delivers his "This is this" lines. When it cuts back to Stan and Nicky, Nicky is once again putting the sweater on as if it was never on in the first place.
Near the end of the movie, right before Nick's funeral, the scene shows the Eagle Super Market with the exact same sale signs in the window as at the beginning of the movie, which were different when Michael had returned home from Vietnam, some year-and-a-half later.
The deer that Michael kills in the hunting scene is not the same species as the one that is strapped to the hood of the Cadillac when the hunting party arrives back into town.
In the bar before Nick, Steve and Michael are going off to Vietnam, Nick opens up a can of beer that he shook up, spraying its contents. In the next scene, Nick is opening the same can of beer a second time.
Crew or equipment visible
During a brief moment, the whole camera crew becomes visible in a shop window.
When Angela looks at herself in the mirror wearing her wedding gown, a mic hanging over her head is also reflected in the mirror.
Errors in geography
The hunting scenes supposedly taking place in the Appalachian Range are obviously filmed elsewhere: The Appalachians are a smooth rolling range, but the scenes show towering, jagged peaks. The scenes were filmed in the Cascade Range, clear across the country.
The credits list John D. Rockefeller III as the Governor of West Virginia, when in fact it was his son, Jay Rockefeller, or John D. Rockefeller IV.
When Michael comes back from Vietnam he has a full beard while in uniform. He would not have been able to leave Vietnam in uniform until haircut and facial hair complies with uniform regulation AR 670-1.
Mike wears the green beret of the U.S. Army Special Forces operator. He is dressed in SF tigerstripe camouflage in Vietnam. However, in full dress uniform his left shoulder sports the 101st Airborne Division badge.
When Linda goes to Mike and Nick's trailer for the first time, the trailers hitch as well as the tail lights can be seen. The wires from the tail lights are seen running into the windows above the hitch. The tail lights should be on the rear while the hitch is on the front.
In the hunting sequences Michael (Robert De Niro) carries a left handed Winchester Model 70 rifle, with the bolt handle on the left side. However in one shot during the second hunting scene, the bolt handle is suddenly on the right hand side. His wristwatch is also on the opposite wrist. The editors apparently flipped the negative so that he would be facing the right direction to match the other shots in the sequence.
In the bar scene at the beginning of the film, a supposedly live football game on the TV is obviously film, complete with many scratches on the image.
993 N. 7th Street, Steubenville, Ohio, USA (scene outside Central Blast Furnance)
Bangkok, Thailand (Saigon, Vietnam)
Bowladrome Lanes - 56 State Street, Struthers, Ohio, USA (bowling alley)
Clairton, Pennsylvania, USA (Steel Town of Clairton)
Cleveland, Ohio, USA (hospital, the Eagle Supermarket, steel works factory)
Commercial Street, Mingo Junction, Ohio, USA (Welsh's bar)
Don Mueang International Airport, Bangkok, Thailand (US airfield)
Duquesne Heights, Pennsylvania, USA
Follansbee, West Virginia, USA (Steel Town of Clairton)
Heather Meadows, Mount Baker, Washington, USA (Allegheny Mountains deer hunt)
Katchanburi, Thailand (Saigon, Vietnam)
Lake Chelan, Washington, USA
Lemko Hall - 2335 W. Eleventh Street, Cleveland, Ohio, USA (wedding reception)
Louis Stokes VA Medical Center - 10701 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio, USA (hospital)
McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery - 1608 Fifth Avenue, McKeesport, Pennsylvania, USA (funeral)
McKeesport, Pennsylvania, USA (Steel Town of Clairton) (funeral)
Mill Creek Park, Youngstown, Ohio, USA
Mingo Junction, Ohio, USA (Steel Town of Clairton, Welsh's Bar)
Mount Baker, Washington, USA (Allegheny Mountains deer hunt)
Nooksack Falls, Mount Baker, Washington, USA (Michael releases the deer)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA (Steel Town of Clairton)
River Kwai, Thailand (prison camp - russian roulette)
St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Church - 733 Starkweather Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, USA (wedding)
St.Gabriel's College - 565 Samsen Road, Bangkok, Thailand (U.S. Embassy, Saigon)
Starkweather Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, USA (Linda's work - the Eagle Supermarket)
Steubenville, Ohio, USA (Steel Town of Clairton)
Struthers, Ohio, USA (Steel Town of Clairton, bowling alley)
Throng Wad Road, Bangkok, Thailand (1973 Saigon evacuation)
US Steel Widowmaker Central Blast Furnace, Cleveland, Ohio, USA (opening sequence - steel works factory)
Weirton, West Virginia, USA (Steel Town of Clairton)
West Virginia, USA
Whatcom County, Washington, USA
Youngstown, Ohio, USA (near)
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