Midnight Run

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  • Midnight Run

    So I stepped away from here for a while, and I now find myself wanting to talk about a film, but with nowhere else to talk about it, so here goes.

    I was just watching MIDNIGHT RUN the other night, which is a film I remember enjoying tremendously and hadn't seen in a while, and two things struck me:

    -The opening sequence, where De Niro is trying to jimmy the lock of the guy he's after as a bounty hunter: he drops his pin, bends down to pick it up, and... BAM! A huge blast of gunfire blows an enormous hole through the door, right where his head would have been. Almost a duplicate of the scene in KILL BILL. Oh wait, MR came before KB.

    -The entire chase sequence in the desert... the scenery, the chopper, the endless line of cop cars in pursuit, the same cop cars turning onto a dirt road and smashing into each other and the terrain in very acrobatic ways... It seemed lifted directly from the THELMA AND LOUISE playbook. Oh wait, except that TAL came AFTER MR.

    So I'm curious: was everybody stealing from similar previous sources, or did MR inspire those two movies, and if so, is this common knowledge? It should be. The film is awesome. I bet it inspired more filmmakers than we will ever know with its mixture of humor, action, heart, witty dialogue and deadpan performance.

    Seems sadly *fitting* that there is actually a very recent RIP thread here about Charles Grodin... Such a great performance in this movie.

  • #2
    T. S. Eliot’s dictum: “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn.”

    Pablo Picasso: “Lesser artists borrow; great artists steal."
    From UVU School of the Arts

    I'd like to be able to say I recall this film—even though I may have seen it—but I'm afraid I do not remember it if I did see it. It is available for viewing on the IMDb channel, though, and now I'll watch it thanks to this thread's prompting.
    Last edited by Clint Hill; 07-16-2021, 11:28 PM.
    "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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    • #3
      "I'm Mosely!"

      Midnight Run is one of those films where everyone involved did their job very, very well and it all comes together to make a great film. It is my favorite DeNiro film and Grodin was born to play his role. Without that Grodin/DeNiro dynamic chemistry, the whole film would have been forgotten long ago.

      From a writing standpoint it hits all the boxes...ticking clock, midpoint, dark hour of despair and all the other catchy terms.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by RogerOThornhill View Post
        From a writing standpoint it hits all the boxes...ticking clock, midpoint, dark hour of despair and all the other catchy terms.
        Agreed. Watching it now. It's a good lesson in economy of Dialogue and Action balance. Swinging back and forth between those two elements the way it does keeps the pace steady, even through (what I call) the "emotional islands," the main character's revelations and epiphanies about his family. The set-ups are smooth and all of them pay off at the most opportune moments.
        "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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        • #5
          I forgot to mention the music. The part in the desert also seemed taken right out of THELMA AND LOUISE, with its ominous, twangy sound, but it's two different composers.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Rantanplan View Post
            I forgot to mention the music. The part in the desert also seemed taken right out of THELMA AND LOUISE, with its ominous, twangy sound, but it's two different composers.
            Danny Elfman music magic. The score's tone changes for the various locations and/or action sequences.

            Also, real pyrotechnics versus CGI, DeNiro and Grodin actually in a moving biplane chase sequence, and limited communication technology in the form of pay-phones. Ha!
            "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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            • #7
              Close calls are a part of action films. The bending down behind a closed door and just missing your head getting blown has been done in films I assume since guns were invented. I also think MR is a great, great movie. One of the most underrated DeNiro films on his resume, another is This Boy's Life with a young Leo DiCaprio. Thelma and Louise can't be the first characters to dive head first imto death rather than face consequences to their actions. Fiction is way tooo old. What makes MR great is the constant pressure on Jack. He's got the FBI, the Mafia, and a rival bounty hunter down his throat at every step, and then he has to deal with this intelligent but sarcastic accountant who won't STFU. Of course Grodin and DeNiro gave great performances and Dennis Farina was funny as the mob boss., "Who's this? Moron number one? Put moron number two on the phone." The two idiot mobsters were also funny. Jack had a touching backstory with his ex wife and daughter he doesn't really see. Great ending too, after all that, he lets him go but the accountant gives him a "gift" not a pay-off. And the whole pay-off backstory is set up through the mobster that is after him and the accountant. Stories tie everything together, there's no loose ends ever.

              Genres have familiar tropes. They just do. Good writers can take the tropes and make them feel fresh, amateurs borrow tropes to get their story to fit together.

              Having a character duck a gunshot through a door is negligible in terms of "being too familiar" to your reader. It's a split second moment, and it usually means trouble has entered the scene which actually might perk your reader up.

              One of the biggest differences I see when reading scripts by name pros and amateur scripts is that with the pro scripts you are in moment, after moment, after moment. There is no showing of any mundane life. The scenes are moments. I was reading the second draft to The Incredible Hulk Movie, I think it was the Ed Norton one but I'm not sure. The story opens in a nightmare and David Banner wakes up in bed out and breath and what have you. Next to him is a woman and she wants to know why he wakes up out of breath and in a panic. He uses sarcasm and avoidance and she is tired of it, he looks at the clock and realizes he is late for a big presentation on Gamma Rays at the lab. This was a simple opening scene that started with a nightmare(well trodden trope) and then a simple conversation in bed between a man and a woman(also well trodden trope), but you felt like you were in the moment with the characters. I could tell that his inability to rust was deeper than the facts of the nightmare. It was there but was unsaid. Their convo lasts from the bedroom to the kitchen, maybe 2 pages 2.5 tops. The next scene is that Banner can't get his car out because he's being blocked in by a neighbor's car. So, he knocks on the guys door and we can tell this is not he first time the guy did it to him. The guy is a trader and tells him that he can buy 20 of Banner's cars in the time he's spent listening to Banner complain and the neighbor slams the door on him.

              Then Banner decides to pull the car up onto the street and he f's up his car but he is off, then he's getting honked at and cursed at by passing cars as now he can only drive slow as his car is about to break down which it finally does.

              Then he shows up at work and the all important presentation he was supposed to give a senator and his team has started without him...

              It's moment after moment after moment. I read the first ACT essentially and that's what it was. Amateur scripts always include mundane life. You're not in a moment, you're just observing the boring stuff. Scene after Scene.

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              • #8
                I didn't mean the plunging to their death scene in THELMA AND LOUISE. I meant the chase scene in MIDNIGHT RUN, first on the highway, then on a dirt road, with the chopper looming and all the cop cars crashing into each other-- it seemed almost interchangeable with the whole sequence in TAL. Anyway, it was just interesting to me to see this movie years later and to observe how those that scene and the bending down-hole in door immediately reminded me of scenes in movies that came after. Also the podunk town in the middle of nowhere, but I guess that's a fairly familiar situation in that kind of landscape.

                MD is so good and so much fun to watch, I think I might just watch it again this week.

                Here's the sequence from MR (I've become addicted to screenshots). Like I said very remindful of TAL--but also probably every Dukes of Hazard ever made LOL.

                R. Scott did a better job with the chopper though.


                Screen Shot 2021-07-19 at 3.41.31 PM.png

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