Over the Edge


1h 35m 1979
Over the Edge

Brief Synopsis

Neglected suburban teens turn to crime as an outlet.

Film Details

Also Known As
En el abismo
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Release Date
1979
Production Company
Orion Pictures; Pacific Title & Art Studio
Distribution Company
Mainline Entertainment; Orion Pictures; Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group; Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)

Synopsis

"Tomorrow's city...today" is how the planned suburban paradise of New Granada promotes itself, but something has been left out of the plans. No one is paying attention to the town's teenswho are left to discover their own values and coming up with enough drugs, booze and discontent to push everyone over the edge.

Film Details

Also Known As
En el abismo
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Release Date
1979
Production Company
Orion Pictures; Pacific Title & Art Studio
Distribution Company
Mainline Entertainment; Orion Pictures; Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group; Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)

Articles

Over the Edge -


Jonathan Kaplan began directing with exploitation films for Roger Corman (Night Call Nurses, 1972) but earned mainstream praise with the ambitious Over the Edge (1979), a revelatory look at a new generation of lawless middle class latchkey kids. The planned community 'New Granada' is not a shining city on a hill but a sterile rural suburb that provides few, if any, recreation activities for children and teenagers. The local cop is pressured to close the teen center so as not to scare away potential investors. With nothing to do and no place to go, the neglected teens roam empty lots, steal liquor from their parents and break into cars. Screenwriters Charlie Haas and Tim Hunter were praised for their insights into the baby-faced kids with bad attitudes and advanced drug habits. The pouting face of little Carl (Michael Eric Kramer) tells us that he's already soured on life: his parents don't give a damn about him, nothing's worthwhile, and the world stinks. Inspired by the antisocial Mark (Vincent Spano), Carl meets a girl named Cory (Pamela Ludwig) who shoplifts and burglarizes houses. The gun she steals goes right into the hands of the bitter, irresponsible Richie (Matt Dillon, in his first movie). Their adolescent rage escalates into an orgy of vandalism. Director Kaplan's no-nonsense approach makes the liberal-issue classic Rebel Without a Cause (1955) seem naïve by comparison. The film was meant to be the second release from the newly founded Orion Pictures, but it was shelved after exhibitors became nervous about troubled screenings of other teen gang movies. Edge found its audience much later on cable television, when its teen star discovery Matt Dillon had already made his name in other films. Co-screenwriter Tim Hunter moved on to an even bleaker film about teen alienation, The River's Edge (1986). Tellingly, the tragic town of Columbine is a planned Colorado community, just like this film's mythical New Granada.

By Glenn Erickson
Over The Edge -

Over the Edge -

Jonathan Kaplan began directing with exploitation films for Roger Corman (Night Call Nurses, 1972) but earned mainstream praise with the ambitious Over the Edge (1979), a revelatory look at a new generation of lawless middle class latchkey kids. The planned community 'New Granada' is not a shining city on a hill but a sterile rural suburb that provides few, if any, recreation activities for children and teenagers. The local cop is pressured to close the teen center so as not to scare away potential investors. With nothing to do and no place to go, the neglected teens roam empty lots, steal liquor from their parents and break into cars. Screenwriters Charlie Haas and Tim Hunter were praised for their insights into the baby-faced kids with bad attitudes and advanced drug habits. The pouting face of little Carl (Michael Eric Kramer) tells us that he's already soured on life: his parents don't give a damn about him, nothing's worthwhile, and the world stinks. Inspired by the antisocial Mark (Vincent Spano), Carl meets a girl named Cory (Pamela Ludwig) who shoplifts and burglarizes houses. The gun she steals goes right into the hands of the bitter, irresponsible Richie (Matt Dillon, in his first movie). Their adolescent rage escalates into an orgy of vandalism. Director Kaplan's no-nonsense approach makes the liberal-issue classic Rebel Without a Cause (1955) seem naïve by comparison. The film was meant to be the second release from the newly founded Orion Pictures, but it was shelved after exhibitors became nervous about troubled screenings of other teen gang movies. Edge found its audience much later on cable television, when its teen star discovery Matt Dillon had already made his name in other films. Co-screenwriter Tim Hunter moved on to an even bleaker film about teen alienation, The River's Edge (1986). Tellingly, the tragic town of Columbine is a planned Colorado community, just like this film's mythical New Granada. By Glenn Erickson

Over the Edge


When nationally-publicized gang fights erupted at theatrical screenings of Boulevard Nights and The Warriors in 1979, they created a public relations climate that got Jonathan Kaplan's excellent, non-exploitative teen problem movie Over the Edge shelved shortly after its completion. After showing only in some isolated bookings, it made its national appearance much later on cable television, when its teen star discovery Matt Dillon had already made his name in other films.

That's is a real shame, for Over the Edge is easily the most intelligent movie about the problem of children in America's new housing developments, suburban deserts lacking entertainments or gathering places for bored, neglected kids. The teens for once look their age. They're barely pubescent, baby-faced longhairs with bad attitudes and highly developed drug habits. All they know of the world is what they see on television. Their parents have no time for them.

Synopsis: The adults of the planned community New Granada seem happy in their new houses and cars, even if the township is experiencing a slight business slump. But the master plan has ignored a quarter of the population, kids under 18. With their parents more or less absent, the bored kids resent being treated like trespassers wherever they go. Juvenile crime, drug use and contempt for authority have become cultural givens. After the particularly antisocial kid Mark (Vincent Spano) shoots the windshield of Officer Doberman (Harry Northup) with an air rifle, young Carl and Richie (Michael Eric Kramer and Matt Dillon) are taken to police headquarters and threatened. Conditions get worse. Doberman is told to close the teen center for a day to keep the 'unsightly' kids away from out of town investors, but he fumbles the assignment when the social worker Julia (Julia Pomeroy) refuses to send the kids home. Becoming more alienated, Carl meets a girl named Cory (Pamela Ludwig) who shoplifts and burglarizes houses -- and the gun she steals goes right into Richie's irresponsible hands.

New Granada needs outside investment, and dormant plans for a skating rink and movie theater are being shelved in favor of a more profitable industrial park. Carl's mother has her group activities and his father has to hustle to keep selling Cadillacs. That leaves no time for Carl. Even when he's hauled downtown by the harassed local cop, Dad is eager to forget the whole problem. His only instruction for Carl is to stop associating with Richie, a local troublemaker who has already been arrested a number of times. At the impersonal, inexpensively built Junior High the teachers lecture the kids about recent crimes but can't even get them to stop talking during class time. They show an old educational film to harangue the students about traffic safety, and it only provokes shouted derision and defiance.

The only haven is the teen center, one tiny Quonset hut on an un-landscaped lot, where Julia gives the restless kids a place to let off steam. She's young, single and doesn't interfere with their alarming posturing and talk of drugs. She stops Richie from drinking a beer but doesn't kick him out or enforce stricter rules. Julia knows that the damage is done. All that is left is to give the kids understanding and try to keep them out of worse problems.

Beaten and humiliated by punks in a sequence effectively de-sensationalized by using soft music for the only soundtrack, Carl is delighted when the really cool Cory takes an interest in him. They use an incomplete construction site as a meeting place.

Things get dicey when the kids start playing with the stolen pistol. Everyone wants to shoot it and it gets waved in every direction. Guns are on TV, guns are fun -- Cory playfully shoots at Carl as a joke. The gun is loaded and the shot is a near miss. With no experience in such things the kids are oblivious to the danger. "I'm sorry. It was empty a minute ago, honest."

New Granada's parents demand that 'somebody else' needs to do something about the growing crime rate. The head of the PTA is only a couple of sentences into his speech before he expresses his only real concern: To keep a lid on the problem so as to not affect local investment conditions. Officer Doberman is furious that his authority is being challenged and takes the kids' constant abuse personally. Frustrated teachers say they can barely teach classes.

Over the Edge builds to a kids vs. parents situation that eventually ignites an orgy of vandalism. The kids lock the adults into the school's multipurpose 'cafetorium', set their cars on fire and steal weapons from the police cruiser. It's a holocaust comparable to the end of Lindsay Anderson's If..., without the high body count but just as violent in tone.

The young cast is directed with expert care - some dialogue is a bit stilted but the teen behaviors are completely convincing. A kid who comes to school on drugs every day freaks out in a test because he accidentally dropped acid instead of speed. Our hero Carl is awkward and too small to really assert himself, but his little pouting face tells us he's already decided on the major issues in life: Nothing's worthwhile, the world stinks and his parents don't give a damn about him. From his point of view, openly defying Officer Doberman and bombing the car of the Texas investors make perfect sense.

Matt Dillon's first movie finds him doing exceptionally well as a young hood with spirit but an insufficient grasp of reality. Running away in a stolen car is a guaranteed way to get caught, and brandishing a gun at a policeman has only one possible outcome, even if the gun isn't loaded. The adults are fine in their peripheral roles. By the time Andy Romano and Ellen Geer's confused parents take Carl's problem seriously, it's far too late.

Warners DVD of Over the Edge is presented at its correct 1:85 aspect ratio. The enhanced image looks fine, and the expertly chosen rock source soundtrack illustrates what the kids listen to (Van Halen, Hendrix, The Cars, Cheap Trick) without turning the movie into a pop jukebox.

The chief extra is an exceptionally good audio commentary by director Jonathan Kaplan, producer George Litto and screenwriters Charlie Haas and Tim Hunter. We're given full details on the film's unfortunate release history and how the great kid cast was assembled -- young actor Dillon was quite a nervy young punk. Kaplan and his team got their sociology right -- Over the Edge has the still-unacknowledged answers behind social disasters like the Columbine killings. Columbine is a 'planned community' in Colorado, the same state as the mythical New Granada.

There is also an original theatrical trailer.

For more information about Over the Edge, visit Warner Video. To order Over the Edge, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson

Over the Edge

When nationally-publicized gang fights erupted at theatrical screenings of Boulevard Nights and The Warriors in 1979, they created a public relations climate that got Jonathan Kaplan's excellent, non-exploitative teen problem movie Over the Edge shelved shortly after its completion. After showing only in some isolated bookings, it made its national appearance much later on cable television, when its teen star discovery Matt Dillon had already made his name in other films. That's is a real shame, for Over the Edge is easily the most intelligent movie about the problem of children in America's new housing developments, suburban deserts lacking entertainments or gathering places for bored, neglected kids. The teens for once look their age. They're barely pubescent, baby-faced longhairs with bad attitudes and highly developed drug habits. All they know of the world is what they see on television. Their parents have no time for them. Synopsis: The adults of the planned community New Granada seem happy in their new houses and cars, even if the township is experiencing a slight business slump. But the master plan has ignored a quarter of the population, kids under 18. With their parents more or less absent, the bored kids resent being treated like trespassers wherever they go. Juvenile crime, drug use and contempt for authority have become cultural givens. After the particularly antisocial kid Mark (Vincent Spano) shoots the windshield of Officer Doberman (Harry Northup) with an air rifle, young Carl and Richie (Michael Eric Kramer and Matt Dillon) are taken to police headquarters and threatened. Conditions get worse. Doberman is told to close the teen center for a day to keep the 'unsightly' kids away from out of town investors, but he fumbles the assignment when the social worker Julia (Julia Pomeroy) refuses to send the kids home. Becoming more alienated, Carl meets a girl named Cory (Pamela Ludwig) who shoplifts and burglarizes houses -- and the gun she steals goes right into Richie's irresponsible hands. New Granada needs outside investment, and dormant plans for a skating rink and movie theater are being shelved in favor of a more profitable industrial park. Carl's mother has her group activities and his father has to hustle to keep selling Cadillacs. That leaves no time for Carl. Even when he's hauled downtown by the harassed local cop, Dad is eager to forget the whole problem. His only instruction for Carl is to stop associating with Richie, a local troublemaker who has already been arrested a number of times. At the impersonal, inexpensively built Junior High the teachers lecture the kids about recent crimes but can't even get them to stop talking during class time. They show an old educational film to harangue the students about traffic safety, and it only provokes shouted derision and defiance. The only haven is the teen center, one tiny Quonset hut on an un-landscaped lot, where Julia gives the restless kids a place to let off steam. She's young, single and doesn't interfere with their alarming posturing and talk of drugs. She stops Richie from drinking a beer but doesn't kick him out or enforce stricter rules. Julia knows that the damage is done. All that is left is to give the kids understanding and try to keep them out of worse problems. Beaten and humiliated by punks in a sequence effectively de-sensationalized by using soft music for the only soundtrack, Carl is delighted when the really cool Cory takes an interest in him. They use an incomplete construction site as a meeting place. Things get dicey when the kids start playing with the stolen pistol. Everyone wants to shoot it and it gets waved in every direction. Guns are on TV, guns are fun -- Cory playfully shoots at Carl as a joke. The gun is loaded and the shot is a near miss. With no experience in such things the kids are oblivious to the danger. "I'm sorry. It was empty a minute ago, honest." New Granada's parents demand that 'somebody else' needs to do something about the growing crime rate. The head of the PTA is only a couple of sentences into his speech before he expresses his only real concern: To keep a lid on the problem so as to not affect local investment conditions. Officer Doberman is furious that his authority is being challenged and takes the kids' constant abuse personally. Frustrated teachers say they can barely teach classes. Over the Edge builds to a kids vs. parents situation that eventually ignites an orgy of vandalism. The kids lock the adults into the school's multipurpose 'cafetorium', set their cars on fire and steal weapons from the police cruiser. It's a holocaust comparable to the end of Lindsay Anderson's If..., without the high body count but just as violent in tone. The young cast is directed with expert care - some dialogue is a bit stilted but the teen behaviors are completely convincing. A kid who comes to school on drugs every day freaks out in a test because he accidentally dropped acid instead of speed. Our hero Carl is awkward and too small to really assert himself, but his little pouting face tells us he's already decided on the major issues in life: Nothing's worthwhile, the world stinks and his parents don't give a damn about him. From his point of view, openly defying Officer Doberman and bombing the car of the Texas investors make perfect sense. Matt Dillon's first movie finds him doing exceptionally well as a young hood with spirit but an insufficient grasp of reality. Running away in a stolen car is a guaranteed way to get caught, and brandishing a gun at a policeman has only one possible outcome, even if the gun isn't loaded. The adults are fine in their peripheral roles. By the time Andy Romano and Ellen Geer's confused parents take Carl's problem seriously, it's far too late. Warners DVD of Over the Edge is presented at its correct 1:85 aspect ratio. The enhanced image looks fine, and the expertly chosen rock source soundtrack illustrates what the kids listen to (Van Halen, Hendrix, The Cars, Cheap Trick) without turning the movie into a pop jukebox. The chief extra is an exceptionally good audio commentary by director Jonathan Kaplan, producer George Litto and screenwriters Charlie Haas and Tim Hunter. We're given full details on the film's unfortunate release history and how the great kid cast was assembled -- young actor Dillon was quite a nervy young punk. Kaplan and his team got their sociology right -- Over the Edge has the still-unacknowledged answers behind social disasters like the Columbine killings. Columbine is a 'planned community' in Colorado, the same state as the mythical New Granada. There is also an original theatrical trailer. For more information about Over the Edge, visit Warner Video. To order Over the Edge, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

Lane Smith (1936-2005)


Lane Smith, a veteran character actor of stage, screen and television, and who was best known to modern viewers as Perry White on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, died on June 13 at his Los Angeles home of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is more commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 69.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee on April 29, 1936, Smith had a desire to act from a very young age. After a brief stint in the Army, he moved to New York to study at the Actors Studio and made his debut on off-Broadway debut in 1959. For the next 20 years, Smith was a staple of the New York stage before sinking his teeth into television: Kojak, The Rockford Files, Dallas; and small parts in big films: Rooster Cogburn (1975), Network (1976).

In 1978, he moved to Los Angeles to focus on better film roles, and his toothy grin and southern drawl found him a niche in backwoods dramas: Resurrection (1980), Honeysuckle Rose (1980); and a prominent role as the feisty Mayor in the dated Cold War political yarn Red Dawn (1984).

Smith returned to New York in 1984 and scored a hit on Broadway when he received a starring role in David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross and earned a drama desk award in the process. His breakthrough role for many critics and colleagues was his powerful turn as Richard Nixon in The Final Days (1989); a docudrama based on the book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. He earned a Golden Globe nomination for his spot-on portrayal of the fallen President, and his career picked up from there as parts in prominent Hollywood films came his way: Air America (1990), My Cousin Vinny, The Mighty Ducks (both 1992), and the Pauly Shore comedy Son in Law (1993).

For all his dependable performances over the years, Smith wasn't a familiar presence to millions of viewers until he landed the plump role of Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet in Superman: Lois and Clark which co-starred Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher (1993-1997). After that run, he gave a scorching performance as Reverend Jeremiah Brown in the teleplay Inherit the Wind (1999); and he appeared last in the miniseries Out of Order (2003). He is survived by his wife Debbie; and son, Rob.

by Michael T. Toole

Lane Smith (1936-2005)

Lane Smith, a veteran character actor of stage, screen and television, and who was best known to modern viewers as Perry White on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, died on June 13 at his Los Angeles home of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is more commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 69. Born in Memphis, Tennessee on April 29, 1936, Smith had a desire to act from a very young age. After a brief stint in the Army, he moved to New York to study at the Actors Studio and made his debut on off-Broadway debut in 1959. For the next 20 years, Smith was a staple of the New York stage before sinking his teeth into television: Kojak, The Rockford Files, Dallas; and small parts in big films: Rooster Cogburn (1975), Network (1976). In 1978, he moved to Los Angeles to focus on better film roles, and his toothy grin and southern drawl found him a niche in backwoods dramas: Resurrection (1980), Honeysuckle Rose (1980); and a prominent role as the feisty Mayor in the dated Cold War political yarn Red Dawn (1984). Smith returned to New York in 1984 and scored a hit on Broadway when he received a starring role in David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross and earned a drama desk award in the process. His breakthrough role for many critics and colleagues was his powerful turn as Richard Nixon in The Final Days (1989); a docudrama based on the book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. He earned a Golden Globe nomination for his spot-on portrayal of the fallen President, and his career picked up from there as parts in prominent Hollywood films came his way: Air America (1990), My Cousin Vinny, The Mighty Ducks (both 1992), and the Pauly Shore comedy Son in Law (1993). For all his dependable performances over the years, Smith wasn't a familiar presence to millions of viewers until he landed the plump role of Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet in Superman: Lois and Clark which co-starred Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher (1993-1997). After that run, he gave a scorching performance as Reverend Jeremiah Brown in the teleplay Inherit the Wind (1999); and he appeared last in the miniseries Out of Order (2003). He is survived by his wife Debbie; and son, Rob. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

A kid who tells on another kid is a dead kid!
- Richie
Fireworks? What am I gonna do with these?
- Carl
Give 'em to Claude. Let him smoke 'em.
- Richie
You boys got any special reason to be hiding behind there?
- Doberman
Yea, we heard you were horny.
- Richie
Seems to me like you all were in such a hopped-up hurry to get out of the city that you turned your kids into exactly what you were trying to get away from.
- Sloan

Trivia

Charles S. Haas based his story on true events which occurred in the planned community of Foster City, California in the early 1970s. In fact, a California headline about the incident, "Mouse Packs: Kids On A Crime Spree", was authored by Haas when he was a reporter with the San Francisco Examiner.

Originally completed in 1979, the movie was not released until two years later when it was run on HBO. At the time, the studio thought the movie was too controversial and feared that it would spark violence, which apparently occurred with the film Warriors, The (1979).

The geometric patterns that Claude and Johnny are watching on TV are synchronized to music. These channels were very popular in the early days of cable TV when there was no such thing as MTV.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States on Video September 20, 2005

Released in United States Spring May 1, 1979

Feature debut for actor Matt Dillon.

Released in United States Spring May 1, 1979

Released in United States on Video September 20, 2005