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The Formula (1980)

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A detective uncovers a formula that was devised by the Nazis in WW II to make gasoline from synthetic products, thereby eliminating the necessity for oil--and oil companies. A major oil ... See full summary »

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Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Lt. Barney Caine LAPD
...
Adam Steiffel, Chairman Titan Oil
...
Lisa Spangler
...
Dr. Abraham Esau, Director Reich Energy
...
Arthur Clements
...
Kay Neeley
...
General Helmut Kladen / Frank Tedesco
John Van Dreelen ...
Hans Lehman, Prefect of Police Berlin
Robin Clarke ...
Major Tom Neeley
...
Tony
...
Geologist #1
Dieter Schidor ...
Assassin
Werner Kreindl ...
Schellenberg
...
Gestapo Captain
...
Franz Tauber, Swiss businessman
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Storyline

A detective uncovers a formula that was devised by the Nazis in WW II to make gasoline from synthetic products, thereby eliminating the necessity for oil--and oil companies. A major oil company finds out about it and tries to destroy the formula and anyone who knows about it. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Big Oil. Big Money. Big Mystery. Everyone's out to make a killing. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

| |

Release Date:

19 December 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La fórmula  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Reportedy, Marlon Brando was paid US $ 2.75 million dollars for this movie. Brando worked eleven days and appears in only three scenes. Brando once said that he did this movie for the money as he had been broke at the time. See more »

Goofs

When Barney and John leave a room, close the door and enter the corridor, we can read the shadow of the text on the door window on the opposite wall, "453 PRECINCT COORDINATES". However, the text should be mirrored since the door is illuminated from the inside of the room. See more »

Quotes

Hans Lehman, Prefect of Police Berlin: I must advise you, we may require some more questions at a later date.
Lisa Spangler: You may require questions? You bring me here at a time of sorrow asking questions. Stupid questions. While my uncle is murdered in a public place. I have only contempt for you and your so-called profession.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Big Box: The Body Shop (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Eerie believability based in historical fact...
16 March 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I went out and rented this film after thirty-odd years to simply see it again and to revisit my first impressions; and after thirty-five years in oil.

I was actually in petrochemical engineering and construction---a builder, not a driller---but the drillers were my clients and I learned from both. Everything revolving around the basic premise of this film, the situations, the dialogue, the revelation of world economic truths, the actual history behind the modern-day, post-war plot line, the intrigue, and the superb conflict-acting by both George C. Scott and Marlon Brando made this cinematic foray into a little-known history of my former business all the more believable---and here's why:

During the war, the Third Reich, and out of sheer necessity from its failed campaigns in both North Africa and the Caucasus Mountains, actually DID develop synthetic petroleum extracted from coal (called "coal hydrogenation", or "Kohleveredelung") in the Ruhr Basin for everything from lubricants to fuels to other synthetic by-products. The principal synthetic refineries at Merseburg, Magdeburg, and Gelsenkirchen, Germany, and Ploesti, Romania (11 facilities all-told), and a number of related others, were raided by both the US Army Air Forces and RAF Bomber Command as "maximum-effort" targets to be destroyed at all costs. The Wehrmacht had it and we didn't and we wanted it, and after the war, we got it and kept it, and kept it a secret, so the movie really is a loose form of cinéma vérité. This was more than alluded to in George C. Scott's final scene of excoriation of Marlon Brando's character, which was eerily similar to Ned Beatty's soliloquy and not-dissimilar treatment of Peter Finch in the earlier 1976 feature film, "Network", however, much shorter.

The one tag line that brought it all into focus by Scott at the end was, "You're not in the oil business; you're in the oil SHORTAGE business!"

Although panned by a number of reviewers (including The New York Times, amongst others) for everything from goofs (all movies have them), acting, and art direction, I gave it five stars, simply for the combination of a familiar hypothesis and idea, and with the raw dynamic acting talent of those two splendid late giants of the film industry, Scott and Brando.

To someone as me who cut his teeth in the oil business out of college, and whose father actually bombed some of these plants from a B-17 during the war, it was once again mesmerizing to see this both rumored and storied mystery come to life.


9 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
Totally Underrated..... concord_trimming
Strip Club Scene nygfan
Formula no secret SeldonRL
Technical first? tcliffton
Brando's teeth... kegan-3
If you liked 'The Formula', see '3 Days of the Condor'. tcliffton
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