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The Formula
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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


User Rating:
5.6/10   1,832 votes »
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Up 45% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Steve Shagan (novel)
Steve Shagan (screenplay)
View company contact information for The Formula on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
19 December 1980 (USA) See more »
Big Oil. Big Money. Big Mystery. Everyone's out to make a killing. See more »
A detective uncovers a formula that was devised by the Nazis in WW II to make gasoline from synthetic products... See more » | Add synopsis »
Nominated for Oscar. Another 6 nominations See more »
(6 articles)
User Reviews:
I actually liked this movie See more (30 total) »


  (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
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:
117 min
Color (Metrocolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
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?

Marlon Brando told Lawrence Grobel ("Conversations with Brando") that this film, which he only made for the money as he was broke, was ruined in the editing room, with the humor of his scenes cut out.See more »
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 »
Adam Steiffel, Chairman Titan Oil:Human beings, my friend, are a very complex paradox. Very, very dangerous. They don't wanna' be leaders, they wanna' be followers. I mean, they... they can't wait to find some nut, who they think is just wonderful, to tell them what to do. And they all wanna' be brought under control. And some of that awesome burden has fallen on my sagging shoulders. I didn't ask for it, and I don't enjoy it, but I accept it... because I have a strong sense of duty.See more »
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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful.
I actually liked this movie, 19 July 2005
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida

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.

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
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