AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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Director: Barbet Schroeder (Dir)
Release Date:   16 Oct 1987
Premiere Information:   New York Film Festival screening: 30 Sep 1987; New York opening: 16 Oct 1987; Los Angeles opening: 6 Nov 1987
Production Date:   2 Feb--mid-Mar 1987
Duration (in mins):   100
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Cast:   Mickey Rourke (Henry [Chinaski])  
    Faye Dunaway (Wanda Wilcox) in A Golan-Globus Production
  Starring: Alice Krige (Tully [Sorenson])  
    J. C. Quinn (Jim)  
  [and] Frank Stallone (Eddie)  
    Jack Nance (Detective)  
    Sandy Martin (Janice)  
    Roberta Bassin (Lilly)  
    Gloria LeRoy (Grandma Moses)  
    Joe Unger (Ben)  
    Harry Cohn (Rick)  
    Pruitt Taylor-Vince (Joe)  
    Joe Rice (Old man in bar)  
    Julie "Sunny" Pearson (Hooker in bar)  
    Donald L. Norden (Man in alley)  
    Wil Albert (Carl)  
    Hal Shafer (Mike)  
    Zeek Manners (Roger)  
    Pearl Shear (Helen)  
    Rik Colitti (Jack, the window washer)  
    Michael Collins ("Elbow Inn" bartender)  
    Ron Joseph (Liquor store clerk)  
    Damon Hines (Black kid)  
    Lahmard J. Tate (Black kid)  
    Carlos Cervantes (Cop)  
    Peter Conti (Cop)  
    Vance Colvig (Alcoholic man)  
    Stacey Pickren (Lady manager)  
    Leonard Termo (Harry)  
    Gary Cox (Lenny)  
    Fritz Feld (Bum)  
    Albert Henderson (Louie)  
    Sandy Rose (Louie's woman)  
    Madalyn Carol (Young girl hooker)  
    George Marshall Ruge (Lovebird man)  
    Debbie Lynn Ross (Lovebird woman)  

Summary: In Los Angeles, California, writer Henry Chinaski is a destitute man in his mid-thirties of above average intelligence who spends a majority of his time drinking alcohol and hanging out in bars. Henry rarely pays for his own drinks, either charming patrons into buying or running errands for them in exchange for drinks. However, Henry irritates Eddie, a bartender at The Golden Horn, the dive bar in downtown Los Angeles where Henry spends most of his time. Henry and Eddie have gotten into fistfights in the back alley several times, with Eddie winning each time. At the run-down hotel where Henry rents a room, when a neighbor goes down the hall to use the bathroom, Henry breaks into his room to steal a bottle of cheap wine and some food. While Henry is in the bathroom, another man goes into his unlocked room and takes photographs of his writing. Later, the same man follows Henry to the Golden Horn and telephones someone to report he is the person they are looking for. Henry orders a beer, but doesn’t have the money to pay for it. When Eddie refuses to serve him, Henry makes disparaging remarks about Eddie’s mother. Angry, Eddie demands to fight Henry. While the patrons flock to the back alley, Henry jumps over the bar, drinks beer directly from the tap, then goes outside for the fight. Eddie is so confident he will win, he offers three-to-one odds on the outcome. The patrons take the bet and to their amazement Henry wins, knocking Eddie unconscious. Back inside, Henry orders a beer, but Eddie orders Jim, the other bartender, not to serve him. As Henry leaves, Jim gives him a cut of the winnings from the bets. Henry takes only enough money to buy a few drinks, giving the rest to Jim. Henry goes to the Kenmore, another run-down bar in downtown Los Angeles, where he spies a woman in her late forties named Wanda Wilcox drinking alone. He comments that she looks like “some kind of distressed goddess,” but the bartender says she is crazy. When Henry sits beside her, Wanda says that she cannot stand people, but Henry stays nonetheless. When he asks what she does, Wanda replies, “I drink.” Henry uses the money he got from Jim to buy some drinks and soon after he and Wanda leave together, stopping at a store to buy liquor, beer and cigarettes. When Wanda tells the clerk to charge it to Wilber Evans, the clerk must telephone Wilber for approval of the $23.80 charge. She explains that Wilber is an “old guy” who takes care of her. They go to Wanda’s place at the Royal Palm Apartment building in the decaying MacArthur Park section of town, where Wanda pours drinks as she tells Henry she does not want to fall in love, that she cannot go through something like that. Henry replies, “Don’t worry. Nobody’s ever loved me, yet.” Wanda boils some water to cook the green ears of corn she stole from a neighbor’s garden, but once cooked, she is distressed the corn is not edible and becomes distraught over the fact that her life is not working the way she wants it to. Wanda goes to bed while Henry sleeps on the sofa, but he later joins her in bed. The next morning, she gives him a key to her apartment, explaining two can make the rent better than one. When Wilber telephones, Wanda apologizes for not coming over the night before. Henry grabs the phone, telling Wilber to leave Wanda alone. Wanda takes the phone back, telling him that Henry is a wrestler and Wilber should be careful. Wilber hangs up, and Wanda laments they just cut off a good source of supply. Noting that Henry carries himself like he is royalty, Wanda comments that he is the “damnedest barfly” she has ever seen. She also warns Henry that if a man offered her a fifth of whiskey, she would go home with him. Henry promises to supply the booze, but Wanda suggests he get a job. Henry checks out of his hotel and leaves a few boxes of his belongings with Jim, the bartender at the Golden Horn, for safe keeping. He also asks Jim to cash his income tax refund check. Jim is surprised to hear he worked last year. Henry says he worked at a toy factory for six months, then gives part of the money to Wanda for rent. Henry goes on a job interview, but is not hired. When he returns to the Golden Horn, Jim reports that Eddie, who has the night off, came in with a fifth of bourbon and Wanda left with him. Henry goes back to the apartment alone and writes during the night. When Wanda returns the next morning, Henry confronts her about leaving with Eddie. She says she made a mistake and blames it on the booze. Henry wants to argue, but Wanda hits him repeatedly with her purse until he starts bleeding. Wanda leaves and Henry throws her clothes out the window. He passes out from drinking, but when Wanda telephones to say she is coming home, Henry rushes out to get her clothes off the lawn. She returns with a bottle of liquor, saying it is from Wilber, but that it is probably the last time they will get booze from him. As she takes a bath, Wanda asks Henry what they are going to do about “us.” Henry replies, “Us is going to drink.” While Wanda sleeps, Henry writes through the night. However, she wakes up announcing that she saw an angel coming for her and that she is going to die. Henry calls an ambulance, but when the medics arrive, they declare that Wanda is just drunk and leave. The next morning, Henry walks Wanda to the bus stop, wishing her well on her job interview. When he returns to the apartment, he finds a young lady named Tully Sorenson waiting for him. Tully is the owner of the Contemporary Review of Art, a magazine to which Henry has submitted dozens of short stories in the past. Tully says they have finally decided to publish one of his stories, announcing she has discovered Henry. He comments he always thought he would be discovered after his death. Tully explains she had to hire a private detective to track him down since he moves so frequently. She also comments on Henry’s drinking, to which he replies that it takes endurance to be a drunk and “endurance is more important than the truth.” Tully gives him a check for $500, but he says he cannot cash a check that large. Tully drives Henry to a bank on the Sunset Strip where she cashes it for him. Tully takes Henry to an estate in the Hollywood Hills where she lives and offers to let him stay in her guest house and write in peace. The two have drinks and later have sex. Afterward, Henry leaves, explaining he cannot deal with the class differences between the two of them. He returns to Wanda’s where she is miffed to smell Tully’s perfume on him. Henry presents her with a bouquet of roses and a wad of cash. Wanda and Henry go to the Golden Horn, where he shows Eddie the cash and buys drinks for everyone in the bar. Soon, bums off the street come in to get free drinks. Tully also comes to the bar, trying to change Henry’s mind. Wanda and Tully exchange catty remarks and Wanda pulls Tully’s hair so hard, she falls off the barstool. The two begin fighting on the floor. Wanda slugs Tully, then Tully bites Wanda. Finally, Henry separates the two and Tully leaves, realizing she cannot win Henry. Henry pours drinks for everyone in the bar, saying, “to all my friends.” Henry pays for the drinks, but Eddie wants a rematch. So the two go out back to fight, and the other bar patrons follow.

Production Company: Cannon Films, Inc.  
Production Text: The Cannon Group, Inc.
Francis Ford Coppola Presents
a Golan-Globus Production
of a Barbet Schroeder Film
in association with Zoetrope Studios
Distribution Company: Cannon Releasing Corporation  
Director: Barbet Schroeder (Dir)
  Christopher Pearce (Unit prod mgr)
  Jack Baran (1st asst dir)
  Nilo Otero (2d asst dir)
Producer: Barbet Schroeder (Prod)
  Fred Roos (Prod)
  Tom Luddy (Prod)
  Jack Baran (Assoc prod )
  Menahem Golan (Exec prod)
  Yoram Globus (Exec prod)
Writer: Charles Bukowski (Wrt)
Photography: Robby Muller (Dir of photog)
  Cris Lombardi (1st asst cam)
  Rob Sweeney (2d asst cam)
  Peter Jensen (Steadicam op)
  Frieder Hochheim (Gaffer)
  Gary Swink (Best boy elec)
  Jim Grce (Elec)
  Peter Pearce (Elec)
  Paul Ferrara (Key grip)
  Michael Hodges (Best boy grip)
  Bill Bumby (Dolly grip)
  David Sireika (Grip)
  John Overacker (Equip tech)
  Andrew Cooper (Still photog)
Art Direction: Milena Canonero (Visual consultant)
  Bob Ziembicki (Prod des)
  Ron Wilson (Draftsman)
Film Editor: Eva Gardos (Ed)
  Denise De Casabianca (Ed consultant)
  Wendy Plump (Asst ed)
  Wende Phifer Mate (Asst ed)
  Xavier Landon (Apprentice ed )
  Robyn Hutman (Apprentice ed)
  Ron Vitello (Negative cutting)
  Anne-Marie Vitello (Negative cutting)
Set Decoration: Lisa Dean (Set dec)
  Jonathan Smart (Set dresser)
  Lori Jedeikin (Set dresser)
  Sosie Hublitz (Set dresser)
  Robert McGraw (Leadman)
  William Zullo (Leadman)
  Frank Viviano (Const coord)
  Amanda Flick (Scenic artist)
  Kelly Deco (Scenic artist)
  Kevin Hughes (Prop master)
  Jonathan R. Hodges (Asst prop master)
Costumes: Milena Canonero (Cost des)
  Eileen Kennedy (Cost supv)
  Ricki Fournier (Costumer)
  Dayna Cussler (Ward asst)
Music: Jack Baran (Source mus)
  Paula Erickson (Mus supv)
  Stephanie Lee (Mus coord)
  Jack Baran (Mus ed)
  Dana Desselle (Asst mus ed )
Sound: Petur Hliddal (Sd mixer)
  Doug Axtell (Boom op)
  Hari Ryatt (Sd supv)
  Robert A Fitzgerald, Jr (Sd supv)
  Robert Ulrich (Dial ed)
  Barbara Barnaby (Dial ed)
  Baird Bryant (Dial ed )
  Zak Davis (Eff ed)
  Hamilton Sterling (Eff ed)
  Marian Wilde (Foley ed)
  Joel Valentine (Eff rec )
  Vanessa Ament (Foley artist)
  Robin Harlan (Foley artist)
  Christine Danelski (Asst sd ed)
  Doug Brumer (Asst sd ed)
  Jeff Burman (Apprentice sd ed)
  Terry Porter (Re-rec mixer)
  Dave Hudson (Re-rec mixer)
  Mel Metcalf (Re-rec mixer)
  David Gertz (Rec)
  Disney Sound Facility (Re-rec by)
Special Effects: Wenden K Baldwin (Title design)
  Kyle Seidenbaum (Title design)
  Pacific Title (Main titles and opticals)
Make Up: Ken Diaz (Makeup supv)
  Gary Liddiard (Ms. Dunaway's makeup)
  William Snyder (Makeup artist)
  Genice Jarvis (Hair stylist for Mr. Rourke)
  Jane Carvell (Hair stylist for Ms. Dunaway)
  Leslie Anne Anderson (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Rony Yacov (Exec in charge of prod)
  Robert MacDonald (Casting)
  Pat Orseth (Casting)
  Nancy Lara (Casting)
  Michelle Solotar (Prod supv)
  Marc S. Fischer (Prod controller)
  Cindy Hochman (Supv prod coord)
  Lesli J. Lehr (Prod coord)
  Ross Fanger (Loc mgr)
  George Sweney (Prod accountant)
  Michele McGuire (Asst accountant)
  Myron Meisel (Artistic consultant)
  Leslie Park (Scr supv)
  Anne Wright (Unit pub)
  Tracy Galloway (Asst to the prod)
  Claudia Ruspoli (Asst to Mr. Schroeder)
  Davia Nelson (Extras casting)
  Steven Brown (Prod asst)
  Stuart Hagen (Prod asst)
  Jerome Goldberg (Prod asst)
  Gary Preisler (Prod asst)
  Michael Alden (Post prod supv)
  Alain Jakubowicz (Post prod supv)
  Omneya "Nini" Mazen (Post prod coord )
  Jimmy Jones (Transportation coord)
  Joel Renfro (Transportation coord)
  Joseph Killian (Transportation capt)
  Gil Talamantes (Transportation co-capt)
  Samuel Sims White (Transportation co-capt)
  Birds & Animals Unlimited (Animal handler)
  The Arrangement (Catering)
  Kris Hockemeyer (Craft services)
  Keylite Production Services, Inc. (Prod services and equip provided by )
  Paul Arnold & Associates, Inc (Insurance provided by )
Stand In: Webster Whinery (Stunt coord)
  Michael Adams (Stunt player)
  Steven Lambert (Stunt player)
  Steve Kelso (Stunt player)
  Buddy Van Horn (Stunt player)
  George Marshall Ruge (Stunt player)
  Debbie Lynn Ross (Stunt player)
  Diane Hetfield (Stunt player)
  Diane Peterson (Stunt player)
Color Personnel: Angelo Russo (Col timer)
  TVC (Col by)
MPAA Rating: R
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: “Hip Hug-Her,” by Steve Crooper, Booker T. Jones, Al Jackson, Jr. and Donald Dunn, published by Irving Music, Inc. (BMI), performed by Booker T. and the MGs, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp, by arrangement with Warner Special Projects; “Nine Below Zero,” by Sonny Boy Williamson, published by Arc Music Corp. (BMI), performed by the Nighthawks, courtesy of Adelphi Records; “Silver Threads Among The Gold,” arranged by Lou Ukelson, published by Jimmy Skinner Music (BMI), performed by Shot Jackson and Friends, courtesy of Vetco Records; “Hair Street,” by John Lurie, published by Barking Lady Music (BMI), performed by The Lounge Lizards, courtesy of Island Records; “25th Piano Concert In C, K503,” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, courtesy of Supraphon Records, Prague; “Poem Of Ecstasy,” by Alexander Scriabin, courtesy of Supraphon Records, Prague; “Exsultate, Jubilate, K165,” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, courtesy of Regent Recorded Music; “Piano Concerto No. 4,” by Ludwig van Beethoven, courtesy of Supraphon Records, Prague; “Born Under A Bad Sign,” by Booker T. Jones and William Bell, published by Irving Music, Inc., performed by Albert King, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products; “The Sermon,” by Jimmy Smith, published by Edmy Music Publishing Company (BMI), performed by Jimmy Smith, courtesy of Blue Note Records, under license from Manhattan Records, a division of Capitol Records, Inc.; “Theme for Ernie,” by Fred Lacey, published by Prestige Music (BMI), performed by John Coltrane, courtesy of Fantasy, Inc.; “Reed Shuffle,” by Stefan Grossman and Paul Jones, published by KPM/APM (ASCAP), courtesy of Associated Production Music; “That Man Is Forward,” by Rico Rodriguez, published by Anglo Rock, Inc. (BMI)/Rock Music Co. Ltd. (PRS), performed by Rico Rodriguez, courtesy of Chrysalis Records, Ltd.; “Leroy’s Blues,” by Stefan Grossman and Paul Jones, published by KPM/APM (ASCAP), courtesy of Associated Production Music; “Shaker Loops,” by John Adams, used by arrangement with Associated Music Publishers, Inc. (BMI), performed by The Ridge Quartet, courtesy of New Albion Records, Inc.; “Sixth Symphony (The Tragic),” by Gustav Mahler, courtesy of Supraphon Records, Prague; “Trio in B Flat, Op. 97 (The Archduke),” by Ludwig van Beethoven, courtesy of Supraphon Records, Prague; “Symphonie Concertante for 2 Violins and Orchestra,” by Karl Stamitz, performed by Chamber Orchestra of the Sarre, courtesy of Musidisc; “Concerti Grossi Op. 6/4 in A Minor,” by George Frederick Handel, courtesy of Supraphon Music, Prague; “The New Albion Chorale,” by Terry Riley, published by Ancient Word Music (BMI), performed by Terry Riley, courtesy of Celestial Harmonies; “The Hunter," by Booker T. Jones, Carl Wells, Al Jackson, Jr., Steve Cropper and Donald Dunn, published by Irving Music, Inc. (BMI), performed by Albert King, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products.
Composer: John Adams
  Ludwig van Beethoven
  William Bell
  Steve Cropper
  Donald Dunn
  Stefan Grossman
  George Frederick Handel
  Al Jackson
  Booker T. Jones
  Paul Jones
  Fred Lacey
  John Lurie
  Gustav Mahler
  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  Terry Riley
  Rico Rodriguez
  Alexander Scriabin
  Jimmy Smith
  Karl Stamitz
  Carl Wells
  Sonny Boy Williamson
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Cannon Films, Inc., & Cannon International 10/6/1988 dd/mm/yyyy PA371959

PCA NO: 28589
Physical Properties: Sd:
  col: Color by TVC

Genre: Comedy-drama
Subjects (Major): Alcoholism
Subjects (Minor): Ambulances
  Los Angeles (CA)
  Private Investigators
  Publishers and publishing

Note: Barfly marked the first American film for Swiss-German director Barbet Schroeder, who was acclaimed in Europe for films such as More (1969), La Vallée (1972) and Maîtresse (1975). Barfly was also the debut screenplay for writer Charles Bukowski, who had published five books of short stories, four novels, and thirty-two books of poetry.
       According to promotional material in AMPAS library files, Schroeder had long admired Bukowski’s writing, calling him “the greatest living American writer.” Schroeder searched for one of Bukowski’s works to turn into a film, ultimately offering him $20,000 to create an original screenplay. The result was the largely autobiographical Barfly which Bukowski said was an “account of several nights of my life, long ago, ninety-three percent of which really happened.”
       The “Golden Horn” bar which serves as the film’s primary setting was based on two bars, both now closed, which Bukowski frequented, one in Philadelphia, PA, on 16th Street and Fairmount Avenue, the other in Los Angeles, CA, on 6th and Alvarado streets, according to an interview Bukowski did in the 11 Sep 1987 Movieline. A bar called Big Ed’s in Culver City, CA, was used for filming scenes that took place in the Golden Horn bar.
       While Bukowski completed the screenplay in 1979, it took seven years for Schroeder to convince an American film studio to make the picture. The Cannon Group only agreed to finance the $5 million budget once actor Mickey Rourke was signed to the film, according to the 29 Jun 1987 W magazine.
       Schroeder gave Bukowski final say over the screenplay. Any changes to dialogue had to be approved by Bukowski, who was on set during most of the shooting, seen occasionally as a background extra in the scenes at the Golden Horn.
       Principal photography began on 2 Feb 1987, according to the 5 Feb 1987 HR. The shooting schedule was thirty-two days long.
       The film competed in the Cannes International Film Festival in May 1987, according to the 13 May 1987 DV review. Barfly also played at the New York Film Festival in Sep 1987, as noted in the 23 Sep 1987 Var, before opening for a theatrical run at the Regency in New York City on 16 Oct 1987, as reported in the 7 Oct 1987 DV. Reviews tended to be positive. The film opened in Los Angeles, CA, on 6 Nov 1987.

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   13 May 1987   p. 8, 11.
Daily Variety   7 Oct 1987.   
Hollywood Reporter   5 Feb 1987   p. 4, 8.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Sep 1987   p. 3, 89.
Los Angeles Times   5 Nov 1987   p. 1.
Movieline   11 Sep 1987   pp. 48-50.
New York Times   30 Sep 1987   p. 18.
Variety   13 May 1987   p. 23.
Variety   23 Sep 1987.   
W   29 Jun 1987   p. 19.

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