nice 80s film
First major Hollywood studio picture directed by Ron Howard.
Early screen roles for Kevin Costner and Shannen Doherty. Costner as a frat boy in the morgue party scene (a non-speaking bit part), and Doherty plays a “Blue Bell” (liken to a “Girl Scout”) in an elevator scene (with one line).
Breakthrough and first starring role of Michael Keaton.
The annoying saxophone player on the subway is director Ron Howard.
The spreadsheet program that Chuck is using on the computer is VisiCalc, the original “killer app” responsible for the personal computer boom.
The fraternity having the party in the morgue is Delta Tau Chi (seen on the wall) which is the same fraternity as in National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978).
This film contains the first recorded version of the song “That’s What Friends Are For” written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. It was first recorded in 1982 by Rod Stewart for this soundtrack, and then made globally famous three years later by Dionne Warwick and Friends; a collective of known vocalists, including Gladys Knight, Sir Elton John, and Stevie Wonder. Their version of the song went to number one for three weeks on Billboard’s charts in 1986, and was recorded as a benefit for American Foundation for A.I.D.S. Research. Sales of the record raised over $3 million U.S. for that cause.
Henry Winkler took the role of the wimpy morgue director to play a character opposite of the macho Fonzie character. “I thought I’d play Richie Cunningham for once,” he said on Twitter.
One of the call girls was played by Drew Barrymore’s mother Jaid Barrymore, who has appeared in several of Drew’s movies. Billed as Ildiko Jaid, this was Jaid’s debut film as an actress.
In a 2019 interview with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford, when queried about who his “most annoying co-star” was, Henry Winkler admitted that it was Shelley Long. That’s pretty much what all the Cheers people said as well.
Henry Winkler was scheduled to begin principal photography for this movie in New York City during his holiday hiatus from Happy Days (1974), and would resume the following year, following production of the ninth season of Happy Days (1974). Winkler worked a total of nine days on-location in New York City before filming picked up again that day in California. Winkler worked on this movie Mondays through Wednesdays while concurrently shooting Happy Days (1974) on Thursdays and Fridays.
To get into the character of Bill Blazejowski, Michael Keaton would loudly blast the music of Bruce Springsteen, specifically the song “10th Avenue Freeze-Out” from 1975’s “Born To Run” record.
Kevin Costner played Frat Boy #1 in his second film role. Costner is seen at the frat party, holding a cup, wearing a college cardigan around his waist, wearing a checkered shirt with a collar. This is when Michael Keaton balances a bottle on his head, as Costner is behind him.
The very first of the many collaborations of producer Brian Grazer and director Ron Howard.
John Belushi was offered the role of Bill, but turned it down. He later died while Night Shift was in production.
Kurt Russell and Mickey Rourke auditioned for the role of Bill Blazejowski.
All inventions by Bill Blazejowski do exist. For example, Edible Paper and Thermal Clothing for snow regions.
Appearing in the film as he does in many of his brother Ron’s films, was Clint Howard (Jefferey).
Ron Howard and Brian Grazer discovered Shelley Long in Caveman (1981), but she was in Calexico, California, filming Losin’ It (1982). Later, during a two-day furlough to Hollywood, Long read for the lead female part of “Belinda Keaton” and was asked to return the next day to meet with Winkler. Although initially hesitant about portraying a prostitute, Long conducted independent research, and accepted the role.
Ron Howard reportedly approached his friend and Happy Days (1974) co-star Henry Winkler with the script during Winkler’s lunch hour on the Paramount Pictures lot. Although Howard gave him the choice of either of the film’s two lead roles, Winkler chose the part of “Chuck Lumley”. Winkler welcomed the departure from his Happy Days (1974) character, Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli, and promotional materials claimed that he shed fifteen pounds for the film.
Richard Belzer, who plays one of the thugs, is Henry Winkler’s cousin.
Ron Howard, Michael Keaton and screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel re-teamed to make Gung Ho (1986).
Brian Grazer conceived the story after finding a New York Times news story about a prostitution ring run from a city morgue. Grazer was exclusively contracted to Paramount Pictures, but the studio passed on the project. Grazer approached Ron Howard in summer 1980 after the pair had become acquainted on the Paramount Pictures studio lot, and began searching for a project together. They hired Happy Days (1974) writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel to draft the screenplay, which was approved for a $6.4 million budget within a few days by The Ladd Company’s Alan Ladd Jr…
Ola Ray, who plays one of Chuck’s girls is Michael Jackson’s date in the video of Thriller
The most successful movie at the box office in constant dollars of Henry Winkler, in a film where he played the leading top first billed starring role.
The hotel shown where Chuck and Blaze’s “girls” go is the Parker Meridien Hotel on 57th Street in Manhattan.
One of a few pictures in an early 1980s mini Hollywood cycle of clean cut guy becomes pimp movies. The films include Night Shift (1982), Risky Business (1983), and Doctor Detroit (1983).
Henry Winkler was still being seen in new episodes of Happy Days (1974) as his famed character Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli when this movie debuted in cinemas.
The billing for the supporting call girl characters in the closing credits were grouped under the heading “Our Ladies of the Night”.
The movie’s production notes stated that Ron Howard tested forty of two hundred possible actors for the role of Bill Blazejowski, eight of whom read scenes with Henry Winkler. Potential co-stars auditioned during the week, with semi-finalists returning on Saturdays to screentest, which was Winkler’s day off from Happy Days (1974).
This movie was a Happy Days (1974) reunion for Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, Lowell Ganz, and Babaloo Mandel. Publicity for the picture referenced the Happy Days (1974) connections to this movie.
In Cincinnati, Ohio, there is a real-life limousine company called “Night Shift Limousine”.
This was the breakout film for both Ron Howard as a features director, and Michael Keaton as a movie star. Ron had only done one B-picture for Roger Corman, and Michael had only done a B-comedy and some television.
The morgue was built on a specially constructed interior set in Hollywood, California.
Ron Howard and Henry Winkler were well-known from appearing on Happy Days (1974). They worked together on this movie, but Howard directs and does not appear except for a brief cameo as a saxophone player and a man making out with his wife in front of Chuck’s (Henry Winkler’s) apartment. Ironically Ron, as Richie, played saxophone on Happy Days regularly too.
The name of the pimp who was murdered at the beginning of the film, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jones, is also the name of a song written by Harold Rome in the late 1930s, recorded by Judy Garland among many others, which celebrated the arrival of a new baby of that name in the Jones household. The movie character is probably a little too young to be the same person as the one in the song, since he would have to be over forty.
Kevin Costner played Frat Boy #1 in his second-ever role. At the frat party. Holding a cup, wearing college cardigan round his waist, checkered shirt with collar when Michael Keaten balances a bottle on his head Costner is behind him.
Jaid Barrymore’s debut.
Near the end of the movie, when Bill becomes a towel boy in the exclusive gentleman’s club, there is an exchange between Bill and Mr. Manetti (Joe Spinell) in which Bill calls him a “Jagoff” under his breath. The term “Jagoff” is a derogatory slang expression native to Pittsburgh and surrounding western Pennsylvania, and is a derivative of “jack-off”. A nod to the fact that Michael Keaton is from Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh. Keaton might be from PA, but jagoff was used by everyone in the 80s, not just natives of PA.
Included among the American Film Institute’s 2000 list of the 500 movies nominated for the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
This was part of the short cycle of brothel movies in the 80s that included Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; Night Shift, Risky Business, Bachelor Party and Porky’s Revenge. Risky Business is considered the best of the bunch.
Ron Howard and his Happy Days castmate Henry Winkler would collaborate on this, as well as on Arrested Development years later. He and Michael Keaton would collaborate on Gung Ho a few years later as well.
Michael Keaton and Vincent Schiavelli would later be in Batman Returns.
Monique Gabrielle’s debut.
Ron Howard and Henry Winkler were still playing Richie and Fonzie on ABCs “Fonz and the Happy Days Gang” cartoon when they made this movie. (And as a matter of fact Henry Winkler was also playing the Fonz on Happy Days, ABCs live action sitcom).
Shannen Doherty’s debut.
One of the production-design elements that help portray Chuck’s timid nature is the fact that he keeps both a picture of his fiancee on his desk, and one of his mother.
Chuck’s girlfriend’s name is Charlotte Koogle. This is a play on the well-known Ashkenazie Jewish dish, Kugle, which is typically a noodle casserole.
Indiana Connection: in the film, Charlott’s parents are from Indiana. In the Frat party scene, Van Halen’s “Girl, You Really Got Me” is playing - sung by David Lee Roth… from Bloomington, Indiana
First of two early 1980s American comedy movies featuring prostitution starring actress Shelley Long. The films are [in order]: ‘Night Shift’ (1982) and ‘Losin’ It’ (1983).
Ron Howard: Howard and his real-life wife Cheryl appear as the couple making out in front of Chuck’s (Henry Winkler’s) apartment building.
Ron Howard: Uncredited, as an annoying Sax Player/Boy Making out with Girlfriend in Front of Chuck’s Apartment.
learned a bit there
Losin’ It, lol. Great movie. “Why are you laughing? Did I say a joke?” was quoted with angry mexican voice many times after seeing that movie.
I will never not bust out laughing at Keaton screaming into the window “LOOOOOOOVE BROKERS!!!”
VTFU O.P and Mr Bunyip…
One of my favourite old school 80s movies
Great movie. Underrated. That first post was longer than the movie though
Was always weird seeing The Fonz playing weak, uncool, common guy roles. Credit to him I guess, he played a character that was the epitome of “cool”, then didn’t try to milk it. I remember seeing some movie on cable where he played a pro wrestler (?). Then at one point he came out with a gay gimmick dressed in pink and wearing a blond wig. Tough to see as a kid who watched Happy Days, lol.
I felt the opposite.
I always found Henry Winkler’s portrayal of the ‘The Fonz’ to be laughable. He’s a tiny little guy and is incapable of projecting menace. It was obvious that pretty much anyone on the set could whip his ass. Carmine ‘the Big Ragu’ Raguso as the second toughest man in town was another silly bit of casting. At 5’3", he was even smaller than Winkler, and was a singing and dancing fruit to boot.
Winkler is clearly more suited to roles like Chuck Lumley than he is to playing tough guys.
He was a joke
Yeah we all knew Fonz really being badass was a joke, but he pulled it off with attitude. Carmine… Not so much. Lol.
Awesome details thanks for sharing.
Losin it was a gret film watching as a kid.
I watched the trailer. Guess the narrator. LOL
Night Shift was awesome! I think I might try to find it for a rewatching. Especially with all those details
came in to quote this
Jackie Earl Haley was one of the all time funniest 80’s movie characters in Losin’ It. Showing early signs of his Rorsharch rage in this scene. The scene where he’s strung up and the mexican guy has a blow torch to his dick for giving his sister spanish fly was great.
He will always be Bad News Bears to me…