Scorpio


1h 54m 1973
Scorpio

Brief Synopsis

A CIA hit man is stalked by a former partner when the agency turns on him.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Suspense/Mystery
Action
Spy
Thriller
Release Date
Jan 1973
Premiere Information
not available
Country
United States
Location
Paris, France; Vienna, Austria; Washington, DC, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 54m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

A foreign affairs CIA man, Cross, ia accused by the agency of being a traitor. The agency then hires Cross' friend, and one of the best assassins in business, Laurier, to kill him.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Suspense/Mystery
Action
Spy
Thriller
Release Date
Jan 1973
Premiere Information
not available
Country
United States
Location
Paris, France; Vienna, Austria; Washington, DC, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 54m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

Scorpio (1973) - Scorpio


Burt Lancaster was for a considerable stretch of his long and diverse career one of those Hollywood stars as famous for the movies he did not make as the ones he did. Lancaster had notoriously turned down Ben-Hur (1959) and the $1,000,000 that came with it, had bailed on Carol Reed's The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) to make The Leopard (1963) in Italy with Luchino Visconti and had forfeited the lead in Basil Dearden's Khartoum (1966) due to time lost in litigation with United Artists. (All of these professional caprices wound up benefiting the same actor - Charlton Heston.) Despite his Oscar® win for Elmer Gantry (1960), the Sixties were for Lancaster a decade of diminishing returns, which found his star wattage dimmed by expensive personal projects like John Frankenheimer's The Train (1964), Frank Perry's The Swimmer (1968) and Sydney Pollack's Castle Keep (1969). As the Sixties yielded to the Seventies, the aging Lancaster made few concessions to his box office popularity, turning down potentially lucrative lead roles in Don Siegel's Dirty Harry (1971) and in Michael Winner's The Mechanic (1972) and Death Wish (1974) to make a trio of westerns that he capped with Robert Aldrich's intensely violent and downbeat Ulzana's Raid (1972).

It was in Europe that Lancaster would find greater career opportunities as he approached the age of sixty. For British director Michael Winner, Lancaster signed on to play a world-weary CIA operative in Scorpio (1973). The narrative was similar in its broad strokes to Winner's The Mechanic, with Lancaster's old pro training protégé Alain Delon in the fine art of political assassination. Delon had been Lancaster's costar in The Leopard a decade earlier and the project, which filmed in and around Paris and Vienna, also reunited him with Paul Scofield, his costar in The Train. The property had come to Winner and producer Walter Mirisch in the form of a script titled Dangerfield by David Rintels. When Winner discovered that title had already been registered, he cast about for a new one, choosing Scorpio because it was the sign of the zodiac he shared with Lancaster, Delon and Mirisch, and assigning Gerald Wilson to craft a quick rewrite. (Interestingly, Scorpio was also the name of the serial killer in Dirty Harry.) Creative differences behind the scenes resulted in an authoritative tug-of-war between director and producer, prompting Winner to resign early on. Intervention from David Picker at United Artists restored Winner to the director's chair while reducing Mirisch to figurehead status throughout principal photography.

A portion of Scorpio was filmed at the Langley, Virginia headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency, across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. Obtaining permission to breach the restricted interior of the CIA had been a diplomatic coup for Winner and Lancaster (who used his pull with Democratic Senator John V. Tunney) but made the executives at United Artists extremely nervous, given the script's unheroic treatment of the Agency and the fact that rewrite man Wilson was both a Canadian and a suspected Communist. Nevertheless, CIA director Richard Helms approved the clearance of Winner and his 200-man crew, for whom he allotted CIA identity badges that were nearly identical to the real thing.

During location shooting in Washington in June 1972, Winner billeted at the Watergate Hotel and was a guest there when Republican Party thugs broke into Democratic Headquarters on the premises, sparking the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon during his second term in office. Beltway onlookers mobbed Lancaster for autographs between setups, prompting costar Delon to remark "When we go to Vienna, it will be different." In Austria, the situation was exactly the same, with crowds mobbing Lancaster and leaving Delon to cool his heels, unnoticed. When Winner reminded him of his boast that he was the bigger star in Vienna, Delon wryly allowed "Not in this quarter."

Producer: Walter Mirisch
Director: Michael Winner
Screenplay: David W. Rintels (screenplay and story); Gerald Wilson (screenplay)
Cinematography: Robert Paynter
Art Direction: Herbert Westbrook
Music: Jerry Fielding
Film Editing: Michael Winner (uncredited)
Cast: Burt Lancaster (Cross), Alain Delon (Jean Laurier, a.k.a. Scorpio), Paul Scofield (Zharkov), John Colicos (McLeod), Gayle Hunnicutt (Susan), J.D. Cannon (Filchock), Joanne Linville (Sarah), Melvin Stewart (Pick), Vladek Sheybal (Zemetkin), Mary Maude (Anne).
C-187m.

by Richard Harland Smith

Sources:
Burt Lancaster: An American Life by Kate Buford (Da Capo Press, 2001)
Winner Takes All: A Life of Sorts by Michael Winner (Anova Books, 2005)
Scorpio (1973) - Scorpio

Scorpio (1973) - Scorpio

Burt Lancaster was for a considerable stretch of his long and diverse career one of those Hollywood stars as famous for the movies he did not make as the ones he did. Lancaster had notoriously turned down Ben-Hur (1959) and the $1,000,000 that came with it, had bailed on Carol Reed's The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) to make The Leopard (1963) in Italy with Luchino Visconti and had forfeited the lead in Basil Dearden's Khartoum (1966) due to time lost in litigation with United Artists. (All of these professional caprices wound up benefiting the same actor - Charlton Heston.) Despite his Oscar® win for Elmer Gantry (1960), the Sixties were for Lancaster a decade of diminishing returns, which found his star wattage dimmed by expensive personal projects like John Frankenheimer's The Train (1964), Frank Perry's The Swimmer (1968) and Sydney Pollack's Castle Keep (1969). As the Sixties yielded to the Seventies, the aging Lancaster made few concessions to his box office popularity, turning down potentially lucrative lead roles in Don Siegel's Dirty Harry (1971) and in Michael Winner's The Mechanic (1972) and Death Wish (1974) to make a trio of westerns that he capped with Robert Aldrich's intensely violent and downbeat Ulzana's Raid (1972). It was in Europe that Lancaster would find greater career opportunities as he approached the age of sixty. For British director Michael Winner, Lancaster signed on to play a world-weary CIA operative in Scorpio (1973). The narrative was similar in its broad strokes to Winner's The Mechanic, with Lancaster's old pro training protégé Alain Delon in the fine art of political assassination. Delon had been Lancaster's costar in The Leopard a decade earlier and the project, which filmed in and around Paris and Vienna, also reunited him with Paul Scofield, his costar in The Train. The property had come to Winner and producer Walter Mirisch in the form of a script titled Dangerfield by David Rintels. When Winner discovered that title had already been registered, he cast about for a new one, choosing Scorpio because it was the sign of the zodiac he shared with Lancaster, Delon and Mirisch, and assigning Gerald Wilson to craft a quick rewrite. (Interestingly, Scorpio was also the name of the serial killer in Dirty Harry.) Creative differences behind the scenes resulted in an authoritative tug-of-war between director and producer, prompting Winner to resign early on. Intervention from David Picker at United Artists restored Winner to the director's chair while reducing Mirisch to figurehead status throughout principal photography. A portion of Scorpio was filmed at the Langley, Virginia headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency, across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. Obtaining permission to breach the restricted interior of the CIA had been a diplomatic coup for Winner and Lancaster (who used his pull with Democratic Senator John V. Tunney) but made the executives at United Artists extremely nervous, given the script's unheroic treatment of the Agency and the fact that rewrite man Wilson was both a Canadian and a suspected Communist. Nevertheless, CIA director Richard Helms approved the clearance of Winner and his 200-man crew, for whom he allotted CIA identity badges that were nearly identical to the real thing. During location shooting in Washington in June 1972, Winner billeted at the Watergate Hotel and was a guest there when Republican Party thugs broke into Democratic Headquarters on the premises, sparking the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon during his second term in office. Beltway onlookers mobbed Lancaster for autographs between setups, prompting costar Delon to remark "When we go to Vienna, it will be different." In Austria, the situation was exactly the same, with crowds mobbing Lancaster and leaving Delon to cool his heels, unnoticed. When Winner reminded him of his boast that he was the bigger star in Vienna, Delon wryly allowed "Not in this quarter." Producer: Walter Mirisch Director: Michael Winner Screenplay: David W. Rintels (screenplay and story); Gerald Wilson (screenplay) Cinematography: Robert Paynter Art Direction: Herbert Westbrook Music: Jerry Fielding Film Editing: Michael Winner (uncredited) Cast: Burt Lancaster (Cross), Alain Delon (Jean Laurier, a.k.a. Scorpio), Paul Scofield (Zharkov), John Colicos (McLeod), Gayle Hunnicutt (Susan), J.D. Cannon (Filchock), Joanne Linville (Sarah), Melvin Stewart (Pick), Vladek Sheybal (Zemetkin), Mary Maude (Anne). C-187m. by Richard Harland Smith Sources: Burt Lancaster: An American Life by Kate Buford (Da Capo Press, 2001) Winner Takes All: A Life of Sorts by Michael Winner (Anova Books, 2005)

Quotes

There is no, good there is no bad, but not to win and the only rule is to stay in the game.
- Cross

Trivia

Burt Lancaster, who was a circus acrobat, performed his stunts in the film during the chase scene.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1973

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1973