Sometimes it is a wonder that a film every got made.
Such is the case with Arrow Video’s new 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray edition of director Brian De Palma’s 1993 film adaptation of Edwin Torres’ 1975 novel, Carlito’s Way. It will street on Sept. 26, with MVD Entertainment Group handling the domestic sales and distribution efforts.
Consider this — way back in 1980 — Barry Hanson had just produced The Long Good Friday (featuring a knockout performance by Bob Hoskins), with direction by John Mackenzie, and was looking for his next project. To that end, sometime in the spring of 1981 he made a packaged deal for writer Edwin Torres two novels, “Carlito’s Way” and “After Hours.”
It gets a little murky, but Hanson couldn’t get the film into production and somehow legendary Hollywood agent, studio head and producer, Freddie Fields, ended up with the rights. He had just come off his involvement with both American Gigolo and The Year of Living Dangerously, so Carlito’s Way looked to be the perfect fit (this is now the summer of 1983).
He couldn’t get it done, so he dealt the rights to Gene Kirkwood and the aforementioned filmmaker, John Mackenzie of The Long Good Friday fame, would be directing. It’s now the summer of 1985 and the project fell apart.
For the next three years Carlito’s Way was in some sort of turn-around limbo, until the mid-summer of 1988 and news surfaced that the Angel Heart producer, Elliott Kastner, had plans for the film.
If you are keeping track, we are now eight years into this film’s journey with four different producers having been involved — Hanson, Fields, Kirkwood and now Kastner. Didn’t happen.
Enter film producer number five, Martin Bregman, who was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar (with Martin Elfand) for his production of Dog Day Afternoon in 1975, starring Al Pacino. It’s now the spring of 1989 and Bregman had none other than Sydney Pollack, the winner of both Best Director and Best Picture for Out of Africa in 1985, attached to the film. He had not done any feature films since Out of Africa, so this great news.
Stop a second, this is early 1989, Carlito’s Way doesn’t hit theatres until November of 1993 … what took so long? Can you say “lawsuit” without cracking a smile at this point?
Producer number four, Kastner, filed a lawsuit against Al Pacino — who had signed on to play the role of Carlito (aka: Charlie Brigante) — accusing him of blowing up his production of the film. With this, Pollack exits.
Finally, in the fall of 1992, the director of Scarface (1983), Brian De Palma, will reunite with Al Pacino and the film will start shooting. Didn’t happen.
This time the delays have to do with some pre-production issues in New York City and troubles with the script — a whole bunch of people worked with Torres on adapting his film, but only David Koepp would get credit (1993 would be a banner year for him, scripts for both Carlito’s Way and Jurassic Park).
Despite production headaches (shooting on location in New York City), the film finished its four-month shooting schedule in mid-July of 1993 and opened theatrically during the Thanksgiving run-up later that year.
Only 13 years, five producers and numerous writers and directors involved at one point or another to get Carlito’s Way to the screen. That’s Hollywood!
As for bonus goodies, Arrow Video has prepared two new commentary tracks. The first features author Dr. Douglas Keesey (“Brian De Palma’s Split-Screen: A Life in Film,” “Twenty First Century Horror Films,” “Neo-Noir: Contemporary Film Noir,” etc.), while the second is with Matt Zoller Seitz (“The Wes Anderson Collection,” “The Soprano Sessions”).
The companion Blu-ray disc (with feature film and commentaries) has the additional bonus materials. This includes deleted scenes, documentary filmmaker Laurent Bouzereau’s 2003 short film, The Making of Carlito’s Way, an archival interview with De Palma and four newly-produced featurettes — “Carlito and the Judge,” “Cutting Carlito’s Way” “De Palma’s Way” and “All the Stitches in the World: The Locations of Carlito’s Way.”