IMDb > The Formula (1980)
The Formula
Quicklinks
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
Overview
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guidemessage board
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
Promotional
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

The Formula (1980) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 4 | slideshow) Videos (see all 2)
The Formula -- While investigating the murder of a friend, a cop discovers a secret plot related to a formula to make gasoline without using oil.
The Formula -- Trailer for this mystery starring George C. Scott and Marlon Brando

Overview

User Rating:
5.6/10   1,848 votes »
Your Rating:
Saving vote...
Deleting vote...
/10   (delete | history)
Sorry, there was a problem
Popularity: ?
Down 4% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Steve Shagan (novel)
Steve Shagan (screenplay)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Formula on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
19 December 1980 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Big Oil. Big Money. Big Mystery. Everyone's out to make a killing. See more »
Plot:
A detective uncovers a formula that was devised by the Nazis in WW II to make gasoline from synthetic products... See more » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 6 nominations See more »
NewsDesk:
(6 articles)
User Reviews:
Odd, but worthwhile See more (30 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

George C. Scott ... Lt. Barney Caine LAPD

Marlon Brando ... Adam Steiffel, Chairman Titan Oil

Marthe Keller ... Lisa Spangler

John Gielgud ... Dr. Abraham Esau, Director Reich Energy

G.D. Spradlin ... Arthur Clements

Beatrice Straight ... Kay Neeley

Richard Lynch ... General Helmut Kladen / Frank Tedesco
John Van Dreelen ... Hans Lehman, Prefect of Police Berlin
Robin Clarke ... Major Tom Neeley

Ike Eisenmann ... Tony

Marshall Thompson ... Geologist #1
Dieter Schidor ... Assassin
Werner Kreindl ... Schellenberg

Jan Niklas ... Gestapo Captain

Wolfgang Preiss ... Franz Tauber, Swiss businessman
Calvin Jung ... Sergeant Louis Yosuta LAPD Tactical Squad
Alan North ... John Nolan, Chief of Tactical Squad LAPD
David Byrd ... Paul Obermann, Chief Engineer Berlin Power & Light Co.

Ferdy Mayne ... Professor Siebold
Gerard Murphy ... Herbert Glenn, Clement's Chauffeur (as Gerry Murphy)
Francisco Prado ... Mendosa
Louis Basile ... Sgt. Vince Rizzo - LAPD Metro Homicide
Ric Mancini ... Printman
Weston Gavin ... U.S. Army Captain

Craig T. Nelson ... Geologist #2

Herb Voland ... Geologist #3
Diane Tyler ... Telex Operator
Jim Brewer ... Security Guard

Lavelle Roby ... Secretary
Albert Carrier ... Butler
Ernie Fuentes ... Pool Man
Stephanie Edwards ... Reporter
Nathan Roberts ... Reporter
Tom Hall ... Reporter
Reinhard Vom Bauer ... Dr. Esau (young)
János Gönczöl ... Dr. Karl Saur, Director Reich Armaments (as Janos Genczol)
Heinz Kammer ... Dr. Hans Luschen, Director of Reich Research
Reinhard Kolldehoff ... Reimeck (as Rene Kolldehoff)
Martin Brandt ... Concierge (German)
Paul Glawion ... Concierge (Swiss)
Emil Steinberger ... Postal Clerk
Emily Jensen ... Dancer
Sandie Lawrence ... Dancer
Ursula Warel ... Dancer
Jane Faithe ... Dancer
Wendy Baldock ... Dancer
Ursula Hamann ... Pan-Am Lady
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Kavi Raz ... Arab Assassin (uncredited)
Hammam Shafie ... Assassin (uncredited)

Directed by
John G. Avildsen 
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Steve Shagan  novel
Steve Shagan  screenplay

Produced by
Steve Shagan .... producer
Ken Swor .... associate producer
 
Original Music by
Bill Conti 
 
Cinematography by
James Crabe (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
John Carter 
 
Casting by
Caro Jones 
 
Production Design by
Herman A. Blumenthal (production designer: US)
 
Set Decoration by
Lee Poll 
 
Costume Design by
Bill Thomas 
 
Makeup Department
Del Acevedo .... makeup artist
Evelyn Döhring .... hair stylist: Marthe Keller: Europe
Evelyn Döhring .... makeup artist: Marthe Keller: Europe
Jo McCarthy .... hair stylist
Hasso von Hugo .... makeup artist: Europe
 
Production Management
Patrick Gordon .... unit manager: additional photography
Dieter Meyer .... production manager: Europe
Karl W. Schaper .... production manager: Europe
Ken Swor .... unit production manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Candace Allen .... second assistant director
Don French .... first assistant director: Europe
Dan Malmuth .... assistant director
Eva-Maria Schönecker .... second assistant director: Europe (as Eva Marie Schönecker)
Dwight Williams .... first assistant director
 
Art Department
Herman A. Blumenthal .... production designer: USA
Russell Goble .... property master
Hans Jürgen Kiebach .... art director: Europe (as Hans-Jürgen Kiebach)
Tom Jung .... poster artist (uncredited)
Tom Jung .... poster designer (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Charles Grenzbach .... sound re-recording mixer (as Bud Grenzbach)
Jay M. Harding .... sound re-recording mixer
Michael J. Kohut .... sound re-recording mixer
Al Overton .... sound
John Riordan .... sound editor
 
Special Effects by
Richard Richtsfeld .... special effects department: Europe
 
Visual Effects by
Theo Nischwitz .... optical effects consultant: Europe
 
Stunts
Charlie Picerni .... stunts
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Mike Benson .... camera operator (as Michael A. Benson)
David E. Diano .... first assistant camera: "a" camera (as David Diano)
Ted Harrison .... key grip
Donald L. Hartley .... dolly grip
Ross A. Maehl .... gaffer (as Ross Maehl)
Elliott Marks .... still photographer: USA
Bob Whitaker .... still photographer: Europe
George Whitear .... still photographer: Europe
Garrett Brown .... Steadicam operator (uncredited)
Adam Glick .... set lighting technician (uncredited)
 
Casting Department
Renate Arbes .... casting: Europe
Shirley Rich .... casting consultant
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Frédéric Castet .... designer: Christian Dior furs (as Frederic Castet)
Uta Freiwald .... costume assistant: Europe
Catherine Leterrier .... wardrobe coordinator: Miss Keller
Catherine Leterrier .... wardrobe designer: Miss Keller
Helmut Preuss .... wardrobe: Europe
G. Tony Scarano .... wardrobe (as Tony Scarano)
 
Editorial Department
David Bretherton .... supervising editor
Don Dittmar .... color timer
Jane Kurson .... associate editor
Richard Lane .... assistant editor: Los Angeles (as Dick Lane)
Bob Ramae .... assistant editor: Los Angeles
Joe Zaidman .... assistant editor: New York
 
Music Department
Harry V. Lojewski .... music supervisor
Joe Tuley .... music editor
Dan Wallin .... score mixer
 
Transportation Department
Randy Peters .... transportation co-captain
 
Other crew
Willy Egger .... production executive: Germany
Norbert Finck .... location manager: Berlin
Sandy Lawrence .... production secretary: USA
William Milié .... choreographer: Europe (as Bill Millie)
Don Morgan .... unit publicist
Ana Maria Quintana .... script supervisor
Ursula Schlieper .... production accountant: Europe (as Uschi Schlieper)
Ilse Schwarzwald .... production assistant: Europe
Stefan Zürcher .... location manager: Switzerland
 

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
117 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Metrocolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Argentina:13 | Australia:PG | Finland:K-16 | Iceland:L | Norway:16 | Peru:14 | Sweden:15 | UK:AA (original rating) | UK:15 (video) | USA:R (DVD Rating) | USA:TV-MA (TV Rating) | USA:R (certificate #25887)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
In interviews, Steve Shagan said that Marthe Keller's character was an operative working on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), but in both the book and the film she says that her main reason for helping George C. Scott's character is guilt over having a Nazi uncle who was a mass murderer of Jews during World War II.See more »
Goofs:
Revealing mistakes: 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:
Paul Obermann, Chief Engineer Berlin Power & Light Co.:At the end of the war they had developed a truly remarkable catalyst. The catalyst lasted for over one million tons of coal.
Barney Caine:Then the formula for that catalyst would still be considered secret?
Paul Obermann, Chief Engineer Berlin Power & Light Co.:Without question. Whoever possessed the formula would need only coal and a basic chemical technology to be self-sufficient in energy.
Barney Caine:Then it would follow that certain interests wouldn't exactly be thrilled with the introduction of mass-produced synthetic fuel made from coal.
Paul Obermann, Chief Engineer Berlin Power & Light Co.:Obviously not. They would no longer enjoy huge profits from the scarcity of natural crude. The entire power structure in the world would shift from the Arabs and OPEC back to the United States. After all, Mr. Caine, America has the largest deposits of coal on this planet. The forces involved are colossal.
See more »
Movie Connections:

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
Odd, but worthwhile, 14 February 2013
Author: Wuchak from Ohio/PA border

Released in 1980, "The Formula" is a star-studded crime/thriller about a Los Angeles detective (George C. Scott) who investigates the murder of his friend, a retired cop, which leads to Germany and a Nazi formula for synthetic fuel that big oil naturally wants to suppress at all costs. Marlon Brando plays a shady oil tycoon but only appears for roughly 15 minutes of the almost 2-hour runtime.

The film is top-of-the-line as far as cast, location and cinematography go. It starts off like a Dirty Harry flick substituting Scott for Eastwood with his Asian sidekick, but the plot's complicated and there's not enough action for Dirty Harry fans. The rest of the film seems like an episode of Columbo mixed with Scott's "Hardcore" (1979) where he goes undercover in Southern California investigating his daughter's disappearance.

The highlights include the WWII and Nazi elements, acting giants Scott and Brando, the lovely Marthe Keller, the rest of the cast, the great locations (California, Germany and Switzerland) and the emphasis on dialogue above thrills, which may be a detriment to some. Regarding the Nazi elements, there's a brief strip club scene in Europe where Nazi imagery is used as a backdrop for the dancers, fittingly showing how yesterday's unspeakable horrors are forgotten by the next generation and utilized for entertainment or recreation.

Brando has proved time and again that he has a knack for playing weird, quirky characters ("The Missouri Breaks", "Apocalypse Now", "The Godfather" and "The Island of Dr. Moreau") and he tries to do this here with his portrayal of an oil executive, but with so-so results. I didn't buy it; the character comes off as more of a performance rather than a real person. Still, you've gotta give him credit for trying and Brando is always entertaining, even when he fumbles.

The main problem here is the convoluted plot. There are so many names it's hard to keep up (I recommend using the subtitles as it helps you keep track). The conclusion is both thought-provoking and unsatisfactory; a strange mix.

So "The Formula" is a mixed bag, but its strengths outweigh it's weaknesses. It's worthwhile if you're a fan of the stars and if you're in the mood for a thought-provoking and globetrotting crime/thriller that's heavy on talk and light on thrills.

This movie surprised me; after hearing all the criticisms I was ready for a dull experience, but this wasn't the case at all.

GRADE: B-

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (30 total) »

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for The Formula (1980)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Strip Club Scene nygfan
Totally Underrated..... concord_trimming
Brando's teeth... kegan-3
Technical first? tcliffton
Formula no secret SeldonRL
Confused about Lisa Spangler (Full of Spoilers) jvaughan2
See more »

Recommendations

If you enjoyed this title, our database also recommends:
- - - - -
The Name of the Rose Three Days of the Condor Death Wish B. Monkey Eye See You
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
Show more recommendations

Related Links

Full cast and crew Company credits External reviews
News articles IMDb Crime section IMDb West Germany section

You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.