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Badlands (1973) Poster

(1973)

Trivia

Charles Starkweather had been executed by the time the film started production, but Caril Fugate was still alive and facing parole. The filmmakers changed the principal characters' names to avoid a lawsuit.
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The actor originally cast as the architect that rings at the rich man's door did not show up, so Terrence Malick played the part himself. Malick later wanted to re-shoot the scene with another actor, but Martin Sheen refused to re-do the sequence with another person.
Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez's (Martin Sheen's sons) feature film debut. Uncredited, both play boys under a lamppost.
Sissy Spacek met her future husband, art director Jack Fisk, on the set of this movie. As of November 2015, they have collaborated on eight feature films.
The film's tag line ("In 1959 a lot of people were killing time. Kit and Holly were killing people") inspired the Zodiac Killer, who had been lying low for years, to write a letter to a newspaper denouncing their flippant attitude to violence in society by running such an ad.
The film's plot and lead characters are based on Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate. In 1958, they embarked on a murder spree that horrified the country.
The article "Absence of Malick" written by David Handelman and published in California Magazine stated that Terrence Malick filmed this picture " . . . in Eastern Colorado between August and October of 1972. He, reportedly, gave investors no guarantee of completion or distribution, paid himself no salary and his actors and crew not much more. The costumer, mechanic and Malick himself all ended up acting in the film. As not only director, but producer, Malick suddenly found himself dealing with insurance costs, auto maintenance, unionizers, shotgun-wielding landowners and a mutinous crew. His first cinematographer, Brian Probyn, wouldn't shoot what Malick wanted, claiming the scenes wouldn't cut together. Probyn's assistant, Tak Fujimoto, then took over, but also left. Some equipment was damaged by the film's fire sequence. When a special-effects man suffered severe burns, Malick, unable to afford a helicopter, sent him to the distant hospital by car, and many crew members quit in protest. For the last two weeks of the shoot, the entire crew consisted of the director, the director's wife and a local high school student. Then Malick ran out of money whilst editing and had to take a rewrite job to finish his movie. When shown to the New York Film Festival selection board months later, the print broke, the sound was muddy, the picture was out of focus. Yet Badlands (1973) landed the prestigious closing-night slot and drew raves. Warner's paid $950,000 for the distribution rights".
Both this and Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973) debuted at the New York Film Festival 1973. Warner Brothers picked up both films.
Terrence Malick was the film's director, chief producer, screenwriter, and uncredited editor. He also had an uncredited cameo.
In 1993, in the picture's 20th Anniversary year, the film was selected for preservation by the American Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
The movie was made and released about ten years after The Sadist (1963) which is believed to be the first feature film based on real life serial killers Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate' who were the real-life story sources for this motion picture. Mainstream Hollywood would not distribute films inspired by the pair until around a decade after The Sadist (1963) with Badlands (1973) considered to be the first of these. A number of films were inspired by the duo (some very loosely) and included such major examples as Terrence Malick's Badlands (1973), Guncrazy (1992) starring Drew Barrymore, Tony Scott's True Romance (1993), and Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers (1994), with the latter two movies both being filmed from stories by Quentin Tarantino.
Some movie posters for the film featured a long text preamble that read: "He was 25 years old - He combed his hair like James Dean - He was very fastidious - People who littered bothered him - She was 15 - She took music lessons and could twirl a baton - She wasn't very popular at school - For awhile they lived together in a tree house. In 1959, she watched while he killed a lot of people".
Of the film's two lead stars, actress Sissy Spacek was cast first before actor Martin Sheen' came on board, with Sheen first perceived as being too old for the character he would portray.
Writer-producer-director Terrence Malick has said of raising the finance for this picture: "I developed a kind of sales kit with slides and videotapes of actors, all with a view to presenting investors with something that would look ready to shoot. To my surprise, they didn't pay too much attention to it. They invested on faith".
The Carl Orff composed theme song ("Gassenhauer," sometimes called the "Street Song," from Orff's Musica Poetica) was later adapted by composer Hans Zimmer for the 1995 Tony Scott film "True Romance" (written by Quentin Tarantino). The later film has many other similarities and allusions to "Badlands."
Martin Sheen was 32 when he played 25-year-old Kit. Sissy Spacek, who played 15-year-old Holly, was 22.
Debut theatrical feature film as both a director and a producer for Terrence Malick. Malick also debuted as an uncredited editor on the picture.
Martin Sheen still believes this is his finest film.
Don Johnson auditioned for the lead role of Kit.
Terrence Malick started writing the screenplay when he was 27, whilst traveling on a road trip.
Kit was originally supposed to be 19, but his age was changed to 25 as Martin Sheen was 32.
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The Turner Classics Movies article on this film written by Jeff Stafford states: "Badlands (1973) was [Terrence] Malick's feature film debut. Although he had previously worked as a screenwriter (Pocket Money (1972)), he decided to direct his own scripts after Paramount made a complete mess of his Deadhead Miles (1973) screenplay, transforming it into a film so bad it couldn't even be released. With his brother, Chris, Malick managed to raise $300,000 for Badlands (1973)'s pre-production costs. The additional money was raised by independent producer Edward R. Pressman from personal friends like former Xerox chief Max Palevsky".
Sissy Spacek later said that working with Terrence Malick completely changed her whole attitude to film-making. She reckons she would have had a much different career if she and Malick hadn't crossed paths.
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Shot over a period of 16 weeks. This however meant that there was a noticeable shift in the seasons so art director Jack Fisk found himself taping leaves to trees and painting them green.
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Jack Fisk, the film's Art Director, said of this movie in 1982: "Whatever you see in Badlands (1973) is Terry's [Terrence Malick's] style, not mine. He's very strong visually. He was always willing, eager to change to things. He'd see something in the yard and say, 'Let's put that in the bedroom'. That's one thing I learned from him: spontaneity."
Badlands (1973) received a place in the film reference book "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die".
The film opened in the USA within a short-time span of two other outlaw-couple Bonnie and Clyde (1967)-type road movies. The three movies were Terrence Malick's Badlands (1973), Robert Altman's Thieves Like Us (1974), and Steven Spielberg's The Sugarland Express (1974)
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The movie's Badlands (1973) title is actually really a geographical term, but has a double meaning for the movie because of the murders that are committed. The Wikipedia website defines the badlands geography meaning as "a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water. They are characterized by steep slopes, minimal vegetation, lack of a substantial regolith, and high drainage density. They can resemble malpaís, a terrain of volcanic rock. Canyons, ravines, gullies, buttes, mesas, hoodoos and other such geological forms are common in badlands. They are often difficult to navigate by foot. Badlands often have a spectacular color display that alternates from dark black/blue coal stria to bright clays to red scoria".
Billy Weber and Terrence Malick replaced Robert Estrin editing the film, though the latter still remained credited for the picture as the movie's editor.
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About half of the financing for the movie was raised by writer-producer-director Terrence Malick and about half by the film's executive producer Edward R. Pressman. Reportedly, Malick contributed and put forward US 25,000 of his own money towards the picture.
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First theatrical feature film that Terrence Malick wrote the screenplay for himself intentionally to then direct the picture.
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Warner Brothers picked up the film for $1,000,000 and released it in a double bill with Blazing Saddles (1974), an ill-advised move that did neither film any favors.
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The film had three cinematographers. Stevan Larner replaced Tak Fujimoto who had replaced Brian Probyn.
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During principal photography, a number of crew members left the shoot.
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The film was a critical success, but a commercial failure at the box-office upon its debut theatrical release.
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The picture was the Closing Night Film of the 11th New York Film Festival in 1973.
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The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
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This motion picture production employed a non-union crew to make the movie.
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Final theatrical feature film for around five years for the film's writer-producer-director Terrence Malick until Days of Heaven (1978).
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The film's original budget was $300,000.
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Despite its current well-regarded reputation, initial reviews for the film by the mainstream critics were lukewarm at best.
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Closing credits: This motion picture is fictional and is not intended to depict real events or persons, living or dead.
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Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
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Cameo 

Emilio Estevez: Uncredited, as a boy under a lamp-post.
Charlie Sheen: Uncredited, as a boy under a lamp-post.

Director Cameo 

Terrence Malick: Uncredited, as an architect calling at a rich man's house in a scene with Kit (Martin Sheen).

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