5.6/10
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33 user 17 critic

The Formula (1980)

Trailer
2:29 | Trailer
The synthetic fuel production formula, invented by the Nazis at the end of World War II, is sought after by some who aim to sell it, and by others who wish to destroy it.

Director:

John G. Avildsen

Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
George C. Scott ... Barney Caine
Marlon Brando ... Adam Steiffel
Marthe Keller ... Lisa
John Gielgud ... Dr. Esau
G.D. Spradlin ... Clements
Beatrice Straight ... Kay Neeley
Richard Lynch ... Kladen / Tedesco
John Van Dreelen ... Hans Lehman
Robin Clarke Robin Clarke ... Major Neeley
Ike Eisenmann ... Tony
Marshall Thompson ... Geologist #1
Dieter Schidor Dieter Schidor ... Assassin
Werner Kreindl Werner Kreindl ... Schellenberg
Jan Niklas ... Gestapo Captain
Wolfgang Preiss ... Franz Tauber
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Storyline

A detective uncovers a formula that was devised by the Nazis in World War II to make fuel 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.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In a world starved for energy, no secret is more valuable. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Reportedly, Marlon Brando did not want to have to be bothered learning lines for this movie, and had them radioed to him via a hearing aid. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning of The Formula, a Nazi General is given the task of driving a truck to the Swiss border. In the next scene the truck has been captured by the US Army. The scene is shot in the snow. This is supposed to take place in the first week of May 1945. There is nowhere that would be covered in snow between Berlin and the Swiss border in May, even if he went the long way i.e. via Austria. 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 ...
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Connections

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

User Reviews

 
Needs to be more thrilling
23 June 2014 | by SnoopyStyleSee all my reviews

Near the end of WWII, the Nazis hope to trade a truck load of secret documents for amnesty with the Americans. General Helmut Kladen (Richard Lynch) is tasked to bring the truck to the Americans at the Swiss borders. Years later, LAPD Barney Caine (George C. Scott) is investigating the murder of Tom Neeley. Neeley was the Major who intercepted the Nazi truck. With his last effort, he writes 'Gene' with his blood. Titan Oil chairman Adam Steiffel (Marlon Brando) becomes part of the investigation but he has powerful influences. Caine goes to Germany to investigate an old secret operation codenamed Genesis which he suspects is connected to the case. He uncovers a Nazis formula for making gasoline from coal which oil interests are willing to kill to bury.

This thing is slower than molasses. Director John G. Avildsen is very hit and miss. This is definitely a miss. The investigation is a grind. It reminds me of TV police procedurals of that era. George C. Scott is the only driving force in the movie. He is pushing this through only by his will power. Marlon Brando looks old and fat. He's fine as a villain and it's nice to see him. The movie isn't asking much from him.

The premise is compelling and would make a good thriller. The movie is just too slow for too long. It desperately needs more action and much better pace. It's good to see two acting icons but I wish they had a better movie to act in. I have to comment on the Nazi strip club. I don't like it not because it's controversial, but because it looks so cheesy. Like the movie, it needed better style to make something more compelling.


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Details

Country:

West Germany | USA

Language:

English | Spanish | German

Release Date:

19 December 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Formula See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$13,200,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$842,985, 21 December 1980

Gross USA:

$8,894,289

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$8,894,289
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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