The Player

The Player

Infobox Film
name = The Player

caption= original film poster
director = Robert Altman
music = Thomas Newman
producer = David Brown
Michael Tolkin
Nick Wechsler
writer = Michael Tolkin (screenplay and novel)
starring = Tim Robbins
Greta Scacchi
Fred Ward
Whoopi Goldberg
Peter Gallagher
Brion James
Cynthia Stevenson
editing = Geraldine Peroni
distributor = Fine Line Features
released = flagicon|United States 3 April, 1992 (premiere)
flagicon|United States 10 April, 1992 (theatrical release)
runtime = 124 min.
language = English
budget = USD$8,000,000 (estimated)
imdb_id = 0105151

"The Player" is a 1992 film that tells the story of Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins), a Hollywood studio executive who is being sent death threats. He believes the threats are sent by a screenwriter whose script he once rejected. It was directed by Robert Altman using a screenplay by Michael Tolkin based on his own novel of the same name. One of the more notable features of the film is the inclusion of over 60 cameo appearances by major Hollywood actors, producers and directors—all playing themselves—intertwined throughout the story.

The film, loaded with movie references and Hollywood insider jokes, is a critique of the Hollywood movie business, which treats artists poorly and sacrifices quality for commercial success. It might seem surprising that so many big Hollywood names agreed to play themselves in the film, but Altman himself admits that "it is a very mild satire" and it offended no one.DVD commentary on "The Player".]

Altman had trouble with the Hollywood studio system in the '70s after a number of studio films lost money or had trouble finding audiences. "The Player" was his comeback to making films in Hollywood. The film, and its cast and crew, won a number of awards and nominations. A TV spin-off was created and a pilot shot in 1997. However, the pilot was never picked up.fact|date=July 2008.


Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) is a Hollywood producer with a studio executive girlfriend Bonnie Sherow (Cynthia Stevenson). Mill's job is to hear story pitches from screenwriters and decide which films have the potential to get made and which films get rejected. His job is suddenly in danger, though, when up-and-comer Larry Levi (Peter Gallagher) begins work at the studio. Rumors swirl that Griffin may be replaced soon by Levi. Griffin has also been receiving threatening postcards, presumably from a disgruntled writer whose pitch he rejected.

Griffin delves through records and surmises that the disgruntled writer is David Kahane (Vincent D’Onofrio), who had previously pitched a script to him. Griffin calls Kahane's home and is told by a woman, June (Greta Scacchi), that Kahane is at a movie theatre. Griffin goes to the theatre in Pasadena and offers Kahane a scriptwriting deal, hoping this will stop the threats. However, Kahane gets intoxicated and rebuffs Griffin’s offer. He denies that he sent Griffin any postcards. Kahane pushes Griffin in the parking lot and the two men scuffle. In a rage, Griffin accidentally kills Kahane. Thinking fast, Griffin makes the death look like a robbery gone wrong.

The next day at work, he receives another postcard, confirming that his stalking writer is still at large. Griffin attends Kahane’s funeral and connects with Kahane’s girlfriend, June. Studio chief of security Walter Stuckel (Fred Ward) confronts Griffin about the murder and says that Pasadena Police know Griffin was the last one to see Kahane alive. Pasadena detectives Susan Avery (Whoopi Goldberg) and DeLongpre (Lyle Lovett) suspect that Griffin is guilty of murder. They question him and DeLongpre starts to keep an eye on Griffin. The stalking writer leaves a rattlesnake in Griffin’s car, causing a near-death experience that makes Griffin realize how he has sudden and deep feelings for June. With his girlfriend Bonnie out of town, Griffin takes June to a Hollywood awards banquet and their relationship grows.

Meanwhile, with Levi ever encroaching on his job, Griffin sees an opportunity to save his position. He hears a pitch idea from two writers about a film called "Habeas Corpus" and instantly recognizes huge problems with the downbeat story. However, he manages to convince Levi that the pitch is golden and the movie will be a guaranteed Oscar contender. Griffin plans to let Levi shepherd the film through production and have it flop miserably. Then Griffin will step in at the last moment and suggest some basic changes to salvage the film’s box office potential, letting him reclaim his position at the studio. The Pasadena detectives call Griffin in for a lineup after a witness to Kahane’s death comes forward. Griffin catches a big break when the witness identifies the wrong man, Detective DeLongpre, who was placed in the lineup with the other suspects.

One year later, studio power players are watching the end of "Habeas Corpus" with its tacked-on upbeat ending. Griffin’s plan to "save" the movie worked like a charm and he is now a studio executive. While driving home, he gets a pitch over the phone from a man who reveals himself as the postcard writer. The man pitches an idea about a studio executive who kills a writer and gets away with murder. Griffin recognizes the pitch as blackmail and immediately agrees to give the writer a deal. The writer’s title for the film is "The Player". The movie ends by showing that June is now Griffin's wife and pregnant with his child.


Altman had troubles with the Hollywood studio system in the '70s after a number of studio films ("McCabe & Mrs. Miller", "The Long Goodbye") lost money or had trouble finding audiences despite the critical praise and cult adulation they received. Altman continued to work outside the studios in the late '70s and throughout the '80s, often doing small-budget projects or filmed plays to keep his career alive. "The Player" was a comeback to making films in Hollywood, although it was distributed by Fine Line Features rather than a major studio (though FLF in itself was a division of New Line Cinema, Fine Line was reorganized into Picturehouse in 2005). It ushered in a new period of filmmaking for Altman, who continued on to an epic adaptation of Raymond Carver's short stories, "Short Cuts" (1993).


Few of the cameos were planned in advance. Because the movie was shot in several Hollywood locations that film industry figures frequent, most of the cameos were just coincidences and the actors improvised their lines fact|date=July 2008. Most of the actors received no payment for their cameo appearances.

The DVD edition of the film includes several deleted scenes, with more cameos from people such as Tim Curry. It also includes a director and writer audio commentary where they talk about the production of a television series, based on the film.

This is a list of the Hollywood people who play themselves in the movie:

Cultural references

The opening tracking shot lasts 7 minutes and 47 seconds without a single camera break. Fifteen takes were required to shoot this scene, which pays homage to Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil" and Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope" (which are both mentioned during the scene).


Altman won a number of European best-director awards (the BAFTA, best director at the Cannes Film Festival) and he was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe as best director (the film won the Golden Globe for best "comedy or musical"). Tolkin was nominated for a Screenwriting Academy Award, and he received an Edgar Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay. Geraldine Peroni was nominated for the Academy Award for Film Editing. Tim Robbins also won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival.


External links

*imdb title|id=0105151|title=The Player
*rotten-tomatoes|id=player|title=The Player
*mojo title|id=player|title=The Player
*amg movie|id=1:38437|title=The Player

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