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The Formula
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The Formula (1980) More at IMDbPro »

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The Formula -- Trailer for this mystery starring George C. Scott and Marlon Brando

Overview

User Rating:
5.6/10   1,643 votes »
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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 4 nominations See more »
NewsDesk:
(6 articles)
User Reviews:
Eerie believability based in historical fact... See more (31 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:
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
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 .... assistant 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
 

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
117 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Metrocolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Marlon Brando insisted that he be paid for this movie on a daily basis. As such, for his eleven days work, his US $ 2.75 million dollars total had to be broken down into parts and a check drawn for US $250,000 each day.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: When Barney and Lisa travel by train through Switzerland, the train, as seen from the outside, changes between shots.See more »
Quotes:
Barney Caine:You're not in the oil business; you're in the oil shortage business!See more »
Movie Connections:

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
5 out of 6 people found the following review useful.
Eerie believability based in historical fact..., 16 March 2011
Author: artistsnwriters from United States

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.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (31 total) »

Message Boards

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

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