The Formula (1980)

R  |   |  Crime, Thriller  |  19 December 1980 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 1,833 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 15 critic

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 »



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



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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
Geologist #1
Dieter Schidor ...
Werner Kreindl ...
Gestapo Captain
Franz Tauber, Swiss businessman


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


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


Crime | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






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Release Date:

19 December 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La fórmula  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film cast includes four Oscar winners: George C. Scott, Marlon Brando, Beatrice Straight and John Gielgud. See more »


Just as Barney is about to board his plane to leave Germany. His German counterpart has to explain to a woman (in German) at the gate, about his trip and his needs. But after they find out the formula he was carrying is a fraud. Barney begins talking a rapid and agitated manner to the same woman. And now the woman not only seems to understand English very well. But she speaks it as well. See more »


Barney Caine: [Barney Caine to Sgt. Yosuta] Check the car.
Barney Caine: [Sgt. Yosuta] Lieutenant Caine, I gotta talk to you. You know, we're supposed to be working this case together, so let's get some ground rules straight-up front. I have a name and I'd like you to use it-understood?
Barney Caine: You're absolutely right. I should have said, "Check the cars, Louis", or, "Would you be good enough to check the cars, Sergeant Yosuta?" but it's Sunday and I'm not with my son and it bothers me, so you'll forgive my sudden lack of charm, ...
See more »


Featured in The Rise of Two Legends (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

I actually liked this movie
19 July 2005 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

The reviews for this movie have been rather consistently poor--both when it was released and on IMDb. For some reason, I actually liked this film--maybe I have bad taste, but I found it to be a very pleasant surprise! Maybe some of my positive regard for this is because I like George C. Scott so much and because I like paranoid and depressing movies (and this one has all these elements). In fact, I am guessing that the depressing nature of the film is much of the reason why others dislike it (there are a lot of murders in the movie). But I liked it for the odd plot--about the evil oil producers trying to suppress a secret for a cheaper fuel through murders and payoffs. But, if you do decide to watch this film, please try to remember that it's only a film. This is not a piece of non-fiction!

UPDATE--8/08. I re-watched this film (something I rarely do) and was surprised how dull I found it a second time. While I still liked the paranoid plot involving a worldwide oil conspiracy, this time I noticed that the film was a bit too talky and the plot a bit too convoluted. Plus, and I know Brando fans will hate me for saying this, but his acting seemed a tad over-done. Still, it's a decent film even if I did knock my original score from 8 to 6.

14 of 17 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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