MIDNIGHT CROSSING begins in 1959, off the coast of Cuba, where two young Navy officers perform a double-cross, involving murder, in an effort to recover a large amount of money. Knowing that they cannot take the cash back to the base, they hide it and vow to return in the future to claim their fortune. Years later, a young couple, “Jeff and Alexa Schubb” (John Laughlin and Kim Cattrall), who have recently inherited a large sailboat, are approached by one of the sailors (Daniel J. Travanti) and his blind wife (Faye Dunaway), who ask the young couple to charter them to the same location for their twentieth wedding anniversary. Soon everyone is involved in a quest for the money, and it is unsure just what everyone knows. Ned Beatty plays “Ellis,” a local sailor.
Roger Holzberg directed the1988 thriller, which was shot primarily in Florida. The film had an unreleased score by Paul Buckmaster and Al Gorgoni. The $5 million production was a dud at the box office, grossing just $1.3 million.
PURPLE PEOPLE EATER is based on the novelty song of the same name by Sheb Wooley, which reached the top of the Billboard music charts in the summer of 1958. Writer-director Linda Shayne adapted the song’s story into a feature-length film with the help of filmmaker Jim Wynorski, who is only credited onscreen as “creative consultant.”
The film finds the creature actually appearing to 12-year-old “Billy Johnson” (Neil Patrick Harris) after he plays the song incessantly. The two then proceed to form a band. Later they use this band to help out one of the friends of Billy’s “Grandpa” (Ned Beatty), a sickly old woman named “Rita” (Shelley Winters) who is being evicted from her apartment along with everyone else at the complex by a mean crook named…“Mr. Noodle” (John Brumfield).
Neil Patrick Harris and Ned Beatty in PURPLE PEOPLE EATER
Shortly after filming ended, the producers showed an early cut to executives at Walt Disney Company, who were intrigued, but wanted to see the final cut before agreeing to a distribution deal. In the meantime, Jim Wynorski showed the film to his boss, producer Roger Corman, who agreed to distribute it nationwide for release at Christmas 1988. When Corman’s Concorde Pictures was able book the film in the absolute best theaters for Christmas on such short notice, producer Brad Krevoy quickly agreed to the deal. The company spent $2.5 million on prints and another $2 million on advertising.
PURPLE PEOPLE EATER opened on 150 screens in California and the southern United States on 16 December 1988, with plans to expand a week later to New York City and the northern U.S. However, the film fared poorly at the box office during its opening weekend, with the 20 December 1988 Daily Variety reporting that it was “eaten alive.”
The film’s soundtrack was loaded with pop songs, and Dennis Dreith provided an unreleased score.
After FUZZ and SWITCHING CHANNELS, producer Martin Ransohoff worked with Burt Reynolds for the third and last time in the 1989 thriller PHYSICAL EVIDENCE. In this film, Reynolds plays “Joe Paris,” a police officer suspended and now accused of murder who must join forces with his court-appointed attorney (Theresa Russell) to assemble the pieces of a deadly puzzle before time runs out. Ned Beatty, in his seventh and last film with Burt Reynolds, plays prosecuting attorney “James Nicks.”
Ned Beatty and Theresa Russell in PHYSICAL EVIDENCE
Budgeted between $11-12 million, the picture was the second of a three-project deal to be produced by Martin Ransohoff, with partners Rank Film Distributors Ltd., Vestron Video, and Columbia Pictures. A ten-week shoot was expected to take place in Canada and Seattle, WA.
The picture was originally conceived as a sequel to 1985’s JAGGED EDGE to be titled, “Jagged Edge II,” with lead roles intended for Robert Loggia and Glenn Close. However, while in development, Columbia Pictures' new studio chief, David Puttnam, was reportedly uninterested in producing sequels, so the script was rewritten with different characters. When Puttnam later changed his mind about creating a sequel to JAGGED EDGE, Ransohoff hired writers to develop a screenplay, but the sequel was never made.
In searching for a female co-star for Reynolds, after considering all the possibilities, producer Ransohoff went outside Hollywood's mainstream to select the highly regarded London-based film actress Theresa Russell, who was best known for her performance in BLACK WIDOW (1987), and for her roles in pictures made by director Nicolas Roeg.
Michael Crichton directed the film, his last as a credited director. Henry Mancini scored the picture, his fifth for a Martin Ransohoff production. The score has not had a release. Box-office receipts for the film totaled $3.3 million after three weeks in release, according to the April 1989 issue of Boxoffice. But in total, the film eked out only $12 million at the box office.
In 1955 Florida, Korean War vet “Emmett Foley” (Gary Oldman) has a breakdown and is incarcerated in the "maximum security" state hospital for the criminally insane in CHATTAHOOCHEE, where patients are abused. Ned Beatty makes a “Special Appearance” in the film as “Dr. Harwood.”
Mick Jackson (THE BODYGUARD) made his feature film directorial debut with the 1990 release. The film has an unreleased score by John M. Keane. The film generated minimal box office of $269,000.
Jimmy Dean's popular 1961 song BIG BAD JOHN was translated into a feature-length movie in 1990. In the film, “Alvin Mahoney” (Jeff Osterhage) runs off with the step-daughter (Romy Windsor) of evil “Charlie Mitchelle” (Ned Beatty). In pursuit are “Cletus Morgan” (Jimmy Dean) and his friend “Jake Calhoun” (Jack Elam). They are being followed by “Lester” (Bo Hopkins), who Charlie has hired to bring home the fleeing step-daughter.
Famed western director Burt Kennedy helmed this film, which received scant theatrical distribution. Ken Sutherland provided the unreleased score.
REPOSSESSED was a parody of THE EXORCIST, in which Linda Blair (as “Nancy Aglet”) was once again possessed by the Devil. Leslie Nielsen played exorcist “Father Jebedaiah Mayii.” Ned Beatty (“Ernest Weller”) and Lana Schwab (“Fanny Ray Weller”) parodied the television evangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.
Ned Beatty and Lana Schwab in REPOSSESSED
Bob Logan wrote and directed the 1990 comedy, which had an unreleased score by Charles Fox. The film was a dud at the box office, grossing just $1.4 million.
Matt Salinger (the late J.D. Salinger's son) is the sincere “Steve Rogers,” a polio-infected volunteer for an Army experiment where he is injected with a serum to become a super soldier known as CAPTAIN AMERICA. His purpose: help fight WWII and defeat the powerful “Red Skull” (Scott Paulin), who has plans to destroy half if not all of Europe (and become President of the U.S.). Later, the story shifts to 1993 where Steve is looking for his future bride-to-be of the past. There is a curious Washington reporter, “ Sam Kolawetz” (Ned Beatty); an even more curious and idealistic President of the U.S. (Ronny Cox), who first witnessed Captain America when he was a kid; conniving, corrupt “General Fleming” (Darren McGavin); and the Red Skull himself, (an Italian in this adaptation rather than German) who is the head of an "international cartel."
Matt Salinger and Ned Beatty in CAPTAIN AMERICA
Albert Pyun directed the film, which had its roots at Cannon Films and eventually followed co-owner of that company, Menahem Golan, to 21st Century Films. The license for the character was soon to lapse unless the film went into production, so the greenlight was given and the film was rushed through production. It was planned for a worldwide theatrical release in the Spring of 1990. For reasons that are not entirely clear, the film ended up getting a theatrical release outside the U.S., but only a video release in America in 1992. In an online interview with the Planet Origo website, Pyun talked about his experience with this film. He said that "it wasn't the movie the studio wanted, plus the producing studio was undergoing financial issues." Barry Goldberg’s score has not had a release.
FREDERIC REMINGTON: THE TRUTH OF OTHER DAYS was a documentary on the life, work and times of Frederic Remington, a 19th Century American painter, sculptor and author who was best known for his scenes of Western life. The film was narrated by Gregory Peck and featured Ned Beatty as the voice of Frederic Remington.
Thomas L. Neff directed the film, which aired as part of PBS’s “American Masters” series on 5 August 1991. John Rosasco scored the film.
In the semi-factual HEAR MY SONG, Ned Beatty co-stars as infamous Irish singer Josef Locke, who is hiding in Ireland from the law, in the person of Detective Constable Jim Abbott (David McCallum), who wants him for tax evasion. But Micky O’Neill (Adrian Dunbar), the owner of a failing rundown theater club (Heartley’s) in Liverpool, wants him to top the bill after a Locke impersonator (William Hootkins) flops.
Shirley Anne Field plays Cathleen Doyle, the Fifties beauty contest winner Locke abandoned years ago, who just happens to be the mother of O’Neill’s girlfriend, Nancy Doyle (Tara Fitzgerald). English tenor Vernon Midgley was the singing voice of Locke.
Ned Beatty in HEAR MY SONG
First-time director and co-writer Peter Chelsom took the film to the Cannes Film Festival in search of a buyer. There, Harvey Weinstein snapped up the American distribution rights for Miramax, thus ensuring the film a high degree of visibility. This duly paid off with its success at the UK and American box office (where the film grossed $4.3 million), and a Golden Globe nomination for Ned Beatty as “Best Supporting Actor.” Beatty lost the award to Jack Palance for CITY SLICKERS. John Altman’s score was nominated for a BAFTA award and was released by Big Screen Music.
The film led to a brief revival in Josef Locke's career. A compilation CD was released, and he appeared on “This Is Your Life” in March 1992. At age 75, he performed in front of the Prince and Princess of Wales at the 1992 Royal Variety Show, singing "Goodbye", the final song performed by his character in the film. He had announced prior to the song that it would be his final public appearance.
In 1992's PRELUDE TO A KISS, Meg Ryan plays free-willed liberal bartender "Rita Boyle." Ned Beatty and Patty Duke play her parents, “Dr. Marshall Boyle and “Mrs. Mary Boyle.” Norman René directed this comedy-drama-fantasy. Howard Shore's score was issued by RCA & Milan. The film did modest business, with a $23 million worldwide gross.
Based upon a true story, RUDY told the tale of Daniel E. 'Rudy' Ruettiger (Sean Astin), who had always been told that he was too small to play college football. But he was determined to overcome the odds and fulfill his dream of playing for Notre Dame. Ned Beatty played Rudy’s father, Daniel, Sr., a gruff steel mill foreman who is afraid that Rudy will get hurt chasing after an unrealistic, unattainable goal.
Ned Beatty and Sean Astin in RUDY
David Anspaugh directed the 1993 film, which ranked #54 on AFI’s 2006 “100 Years…100 Cheers” list of the most inspiring films of all time. Jerry Goldsmith’s score was released by Varese Sarabande, who re-issued the disc in 2016. Goldsmith had worked previously with director David Anspaugh and writer Angelo Pizzo on HOOSIERS. The $13 million production made a small profit, with a $23 million domestic gross.
Ned Beatty tried his hand at network television again with the sitcom “The Boys”. The series involved horror novelist “Doug” (Chris Meloni) who moves into a house in a small country town to write the follow-up to his recent best-selling book, and starts hanging out with the friends of the man who recently died there. The friends are “Bert” (Beatty), “Al” (Richard Venture), and “Harlan” (John Harkins). CBS gave the series a late summer tryout, premiering it on Friday, 20 August 1993 at 9:00 PM. The network pulled the plug after five episodes, leaving one unaired.
RADIOLAND MURDERS is set in 1939 at WBN of Chicago, which is about to hit the airwaves as a fourth radio network. As the clock ticks off the final seconds before broadcast, the station undergoes the usual fits of first night jitters. The unpaid staff writers (Bobcat Goldthwait, Robert Klein, Harvey Korman and Anne De Salvo) are ready to revolt. The sponsor (Brion James) is threatening to pull the plug. The network's head writer “Roger Henderson” (Brian Benben) is being divorced by his wife “Penny” (Mary Stuart Masterson), who just happens to be the executive secretary to the network's owner “General Walt Whalen” (Ned Beatty).
Everything is in a state of confusion as script rewrites are handed to the performers while they're on the air, and commercial breaks starring a dancing cigarette girl are stretched past the five-minute mark to cover the dead air space. Air space isn't the only thing dying around WBN – so are some of the performers. A murderer strikes repeatedly throughout the broadcast.
Ned Beatty in RADIOLAND MURDERS
The film marked the final feature film appearances of George Burns and Rosemary Clooney. Mel Smith directed this 1994 crime comedy. Joel McNeely’s score was released by MCA. McNeely also provided the music for all the advertising jingles heard in the film, with lyrics by Jonathan Hales. A number of these appear on the soundtrack CD. The $15 million production was also murdered at the box office, with a $1.3 million gross.
I never had a fix on Beatty. Remembered him only as the silly clown in SUPERMAN. Testament to my inattention and also to Beatty's skills and versatility.
But I certainly did notice one episode involving the Broadway stage. In 2003 Beatty played Big Daddy to Ashley Judd's Maggie the Cat and Jason Patric's Brick in a revival of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. The show was a success, and Beatty got the best reviews. Some months into the run he was interviewed, over lunch, by a New York Times reporter. He was quoted as saying that while he liked his costars, "Broadway has come to rely too heavily on celebrities, thrusting them into challenging roles they do not have the acting chops to handle." Also, "Judd . . . doesn't have a lot of tools." Beatty intended his remarks as a plea for Broadway to give more chances to better trained, but less famous, theatrical actors. But, needless to say, a lot of resentment was voiced about his arguably unprofessional put-down.
Mickey Rooney wrote the screenplay and played the title character in OUTLAWS: THE LEGEND OF O.B. TAGGART. The film found changed robber Taggart, after many years in prison, coming home to see his sons again (Randy Travis, Larry Gatlin), one of them brain-damaged (Nicholas Guest). Due to many unfortunate events and terrible tragic misunderstandings, they go on the run, leaving a bloody trail wherever they go. Ned Beatty co-starred as “Sam Lawrence,” a father whose daughter has been violated by Guest.
Rupert Hitzig directed the 1995 film, which may have had a few theatrical playdates before landing on video. Country music stars Randy Travis and Larry Gatlin collaborated with David Mansfield on the film’s score.
Sean Connery plays an anti-capital-punishment Harvard law professor who begrudgingly agrees to take up a JUST CAUSE by investigating the case of a man on death row (Blair Underwood) who was coerced into a murder confession. Laurence Fishburne is the menacing small-town lawman who held the suspect at gunpoint during interrogation; Ned Beatty is “McNair,” Underwood’s first attorney; and Ed Harris plays a snarlingly evil convicted serial killer who seems likely to have really committed the murder.
Ned Beatty in JUST CAUSE
Although Norman Jewison was originally attached to direct, Arne Glimcher took over the directing duties as a favor to Sean Connery. Connery was a close friend, and insisted that Glimcher direct this movie. JUST CAUSE broke into the top 50 films at the 1995 box office, with a $36.9 million domestic take. James Newton Howard’s score was released by Varese Sarabande.
Ned Beatty portrayed “Detective Stanley 'Stan' Bolander,” a recurring character in the first three seasons of the crime drama / police procedural “Homicide: Life on the Street”. Throughout his time on the show, he is partnered with “Det. John Munch” (Richard Belzar). It is generally agreed that Bolander is based on Donald Worden, one of the Baltimore Homicide Department detectives featured in the non-fiction book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, on which the series was based.
The other members of the squad affectionately refer to Bolander as "The Big Man", a name also used by Worden's colleagues to refer to him in the book. In the fourth-season episode "Scene of the Crime", Munch explains to “Mike Kellerman” (Reed Diamond) that the nickname has to do with aspects other than Bolander's weight: "He is in all senses a man of magnitude - enormously fair, tremendously honest, and a whale of a detective."
Ned Beatty and Richard Belzar in “Homicide: Life on the Street”
Bolander has been a homicide detective since 1968, and is the most experienced (and almost certainly, the oldest) officer in “Lt. Al Giardello's” (Yaphet Kotto’s) homicide squad. He is a gruff and taciturn man, quick to irritation and not particularly fond of expressing his feelings. This masks a certain degree of insecurity and vulnerability, however; at the beginning of the show, he had recently divorced from his wife and was still coming to terms with this change in his life, especially as his wife asked for the divorce on the advice of a therapist they were seeing, neither having consulted with him first.
Ned Beatty and Yaphet Kotto in “Homicide: Life on the Street”
In Season 3, Bolander and fellow detectives “Kay Howard” (Melissa Leo) and “Beau Felton” (Daniel Baldwin) were shot while trying to serve an arrest warrant on a suspect. Bolander was the most critically injured, taking a bullet to the head. Once he returned to work, he became even more withdrawn and melancholy than before, and wore a hat at all times to cover the long surgical scar on his scalp. While attending a police conference in New York, he and Felton caused an embarrassing disturbance and were suspended for 22 weeks; the start of this punishment coincided with the start of Season 4, marking both characters' departure from the show. When Bolander's suspension ended, he chose not to return to work and instead retired with his pension - a decision that greatly upset Munch, who was looking forward to meeting him at the Waterfront Bar.
In all, Ned Beatty appeared in 33 episodes of the show, from 1993 to 1995. He would reprise his Bolander character in HOMICIDE: THE MOVIE, a made-for-television reunion film. Beatty originally refused to do the picture. However, his agent convinced him to join the cast of the film, which brought back 16 characters from the old series, including some (in flashbacks) who had died or were killed off. In the film, Al Giardello is shot and the detectives of the Baltimore Homicide Unit return to work to solve the case, including Howard, Munch, Bayliss, Meldrick, Bolander and Kellerman.
Ned Beatty in HOMICIDE: THE MOVIE
Jean de Segonzac directed the film, which aired on NBC on 13 February 2000. Douglas J. Cuomo provided the unreleased score.
In the 1995 miniseries STREETS OF LAREDO, “Captain Woodrow Call” (James Garner), now retired from the Texas Rangers, is a bounty hunter. He is hired by an eastern rail baron to track down “Joey Garza” (Alexis Cruz), a new kind of killer, only a boy, who kills from a distance with a rifle. Joined by his old compadre “Pea Eye Parker” (Sam Shepard), it is a long ride to south Texas and the Mexican side of the border, where the past, in the form of “Maria Garza” (Sonia Braga), Joey's mother, haunts Call. Ned Beatty played Judge Roy Bean in the series.
Ned Beatty in STREETS OF LAREDO
Joseph Sargent directed the three-episode series, which aired on CBS. David Shire’s score has not had a release.
Ted Danson had the title role in the 1996 television version of GULLIVER'S TRAVELS. Omar Sharif and Peter O'Toole appeared in their fourth film together. The two old friends had small roles, with O’Toole as the "Emperor of Lilliput" and Sharif as "The Sorcerer."
Gulliver’s second voyage begins with the traveler’s arrival in the land of giants, Brobdingnag, where “Farmer Grultrud” (Ned Beatty) and his daughter, “Glumdalclitch” (Kate Maberly), turn him into a novelty attraction, “The Wee Wonder.”
Ned Beatty and Kate Maberly in GULLIVER’S TRAVELS
Charles Sturridge directed the film, and Trevor Jones' score was released by RCA.
In HE GOT GAME, “Jake Shuttlesworth” (Denzel Washington) has 15 more years to serve in prison. But “Warden Wyatt” (Ned Beatty) has an offer for him. The governor wants Jake's son “Jesus Shuttlesworth” (Ray Allen) to sign with his alma mater Big State. Jesus is arguably the highest-rated high school athlete, and there is only one week before the signing deadline. Jake fakes an illness, and the warden sneaks him out with parole officers “Spivey” (Jim Brown) and “Crudup” (Joseph Lyle Taylor). Jesus faces pressures from all sides. His girlfriend “Lala Bonilla” (Rosario Dawson) wants him to meet illegally with a 'family friend' agent. His coach has been lending him money and wants advance word on his choice. Jake goes to live with his daughter “Mary” (Zelda Harris), but Jesus quickly kicks him out for the killing of their mother. So, Jake rents a room next to hooker “Dakota Burns” (Milla Jovovich) and her pimp “Sweetness.” (Thomas Jefferson Byrd).
Ned Beatty in HE GOT GAME
Spike Lee wrote and directed this 1998 film. The soundtrack for HE GOT GAME was comprised of numerous orchestral pieces by Aaron Copland along with new hip hop songs created by Public Enemy. The latter’s music was released by Def Jam Records. Copeland’s music was drawn mainly from his own recordings for Columbia Records with the London Symphony. Sony Classical released a CD of the selections. Although the $25 million production was Spike Lee's first film to open at number one at the U.S. box office, it ultimately didn’t break even, grossing just $21.6 million.