With Criminal Intent Production Notes
Yes, that’s a short synopsis, but pretty much says it all, except if you see the film, you’ll find that the wife doesn’t get raped. One of the producers said, in maybe the single most disturbing comment I’ve heard working in films, “We have to have a rape in this film so there will be something commercial to sell it with.” So I took the rape out of the film and they sold it back in.
I took over the role of director on With Criminal Intent as it was getting close to filming. I rewrote the script and for the first time dealt with truly inexperienced producers who were their own and everybody else’s worst enemy. There was enough money involved to have some car stunts and high falls and body burns and gunplay. I learned how to deal with all those elements and to deal with actors who I did not have much say in casting. Jorge Rivera had worked with Howard Hawks and Lucio Fulci and getting to know Jorge and his wife was a pleasure. I also enjoyed working with Joe Estevez, a fellow Ohioan.
I reworked as much as possible the basic revenge story to show the rise and fall of a young gang banger. He manages to steal the drugs and kill off all the “big” mobsters and become Mr. Big himself, only to have the father of a son he killed accidentally at the start of the film trip him up. I wanted it to be a gritty action film in the 1970’s style of action films I love.
Ultimately the postproduction soundman, who was also the composer on the film, felt he could tell the distributor when he was done and take his time. He was, of course wrong. The law all films big or small ultimately are slave to, are the release dates for markets that had already bought the film. This was no exception. The version he was forced to deliver had all the sound editing and mixing done in one 24-hour workday. He assumed it would only be temporary but it was final and I think severely limited the viability of the finished film.