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The Formula (1980)

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The synthetic fuel production formula, invented by the Nazis at the end of WW2, 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)
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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 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

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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Details

Country:

West Germany | USA

Language:

English | Spanish | German

Release Date:

19 December 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La fórmula See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$13,200,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$842,985, 21 December 1980, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$8,894,289, 31 December 1981
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Marthe Keller replaced Dominique Sanda on this picture. George C. Scott allegedly stated during rehearsal readings that Sanda's French accent was too thick for him to understand. Sanda was reportedly paid out of her contract, which amounted to approximately US $350,000. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Paul Obermann, Chief Engineer Berlin Power & Light Co.: [Meeting at the Berlin Zoo, second floor aquarium, near closing time] Keep your voice down, Mr. Caine. We have only a few minutes. Now ask your questions.
Barney Caine: Did you see Tom Neeley early in January?
Paul Obermann, Chief Engineer Berlin Power & Light Co.: Yes. We met several times.
Barney Caine: Was Kay Neeley with him?
Paul Obermann, Chief Engineer Berlin Power & Light Co.: On one occasion. We had dinner.
Barney Caine: How did you come to know Tom?
Paul Obermann, Chief Engineer Berlin Power & Light Co.: We met many years ago in Hamburg.
Barney Caine: Under what circumstance?
Paul Obermann, Chief Engineer Berlin Power & Light Co.: In the late spring of 1945,I was captured by the British and taken to their Intelligence Headquarters in Hamburg. Major Neeley was ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Synthetic fuel, anyone?
1 September 2008 | by mike deweySee all my reviews

This film may have even more relevance today than in 1980, when it was released. Most in this country would love to be left to their own devices by marketing/consuming fuel based on American coal derivatives like those delineated in the "Genesis" formula instead of depending upon foreign petroleum. The parallels outlined here are close to today's, especially the popular theories these days that big oil is suppressing valid fuel alternative projects that would undercut their energy dominance, hence, their financial status.

Unlke some other reviewers, I thought the film moved along at a nicely orchestrated pace, making it, perhaps, a more analytical movie than a Hollywood flash-and-dash melodrama. The film follows a logical progression of events that lets the viewer absorb the contents in easy to swallow doses, that is, as long as he/she pays attention to the plot development.

I was impressed by mostly all the actors, especially Marthe Keller, who acquitted herself very well in her portrayal by staying well within her character and by her impeccable timing and fluid delivery. Mr. Brando's rather short stint in the film was punctuated by terse, cynical and penetrating dialog, playing the enterprising villain who continually cuts to the chase with large doses of street-wise metaphors. George C., as usual, is a no-nonsense good cop who only wants to see justice prevail, regardless of who gets burnt. Yet inside him, demons from the past lurk and can't help but surface from time to time: you can see it in the non-verbal communication that Mr. Scott so characteristically exudes.

Thanks to TCM for showing these kinds of films that are usually omitted on other movie channels.


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