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The Player (film)

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Title: The Player (film)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of film director and actor collaborations, 46th British Academy Film Awards, 1992 in film, Cher, Robert Altman
Collection: 1990S Comedy Films, 1992 Films, American Comedy Films, American Films, American Satirical Films, Best Musical or Comedy Picture Golden Globe Winners, Edgar Award Winning Works, English-Language Films, Film Scores by Thomas Newman, Films About Film Directors and Producers, Films About Filmmaking, Films Based on Novels, Films Directed by Robert Altman, Films Featuring a Best Musical or Comedy Actor Golden Globe Winning Performance, Films Produced by David Brown, Films Set in Los Angeles, California, Films Shot in California, Films Shot in Los Angeles, California, Films Whose Director Won the Best Direction Bafta Award, Films Whose Writer Won the Best Adapted Screenplay Bafta Award, Hollywood in Fiction, Independent Spirit Award for Best Film Winners, New Line Cinema Films, Pathé Films, Self-Reflexive Films
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Player (film)

The Player
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Altman
Produced by David Brown
Michael Tolkin
Nick Wechsler
Screenplay by Michael Tolkin
Based on The Player 
by Michael Tolkin
Starring Tim Robbins
Greta Scacchi
Fred Ward
Whoopi Goldberg
Peter Gallagher
Brion James
Cynthia Stevenson
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography Jean Lepine
Edited by Geraldine Peroni
Avenue Pictures
Spelling Entertainment
David Brown Productions
Distributed by Fine Line Features
Release dates
  • April 3, 1992 (1992-04-03) (Cleveland)
  • April 10, 1992 (1992-04-10)
Running time
124 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $8 million
Box office $21,706,100

The Player is a 1992 American satirical film directed by Robert Altman from a screenplay by Michael Tolkin based on his own 1988 novel of the same name.[1] It is the story of Hollywood studio executive Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) who murders an aspiring screenwriter he believes is sending him death threats.

The Player has many film references and Hollywood insider jokes, with around sixty Hollywood celebrities agreeing to make cameo appearances in the film. Altman stated, "It is a very mild satire," offending no one.[2]


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Opening sequence shot 3.1
    • Intimate scene 3.2
  • Reception 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) is a Hollywood studio executive dating story editor Bonnie Sherow (Cynthia Stevenson). He hears story pitches from screenwriters and decides which have the potential to be made into films, green-lighting only 12 out of 50,000 submissions every year. His job is threatened when up-and-coming story executive Larry Levy (Peter Gallagher) begins working at the studio. Mill has also been receiving death threat postcards, assumed to be from a screenwriter whose pitch he rejected.

Mill surmises that the disgruntled writer is David Kahane (Vincent D'Onofrio). Mill is told by Kahane's girlfriend, June Gudmundsdottir (Greta Scacchi) that Kahane is at a theater in Pasadena. Mill pretends to recognize Kahane in the lobby, and offers him a scriptwriting deal, hoping this will stop the threats. The two go to a nearby bar where Kahane gets intoxicated and rebuffs Mill’s offer; he calls Mill a liar and continues goading him about his job security at the studio. In the bar's parking lot, the two men fight. Mill goes too far and accidentally drowns Kahane in a shallow pool of water, then stages the crime to make it look like a botched robbery.

The next day, after Mill is late for and distracted at a meeting, Studio chief of security Walter Stuckel (Fred Ward) confronts Mill about the murder and says that the police know Mill was the last one to see Kahane alive. At the end of their conversation Mill receives a fax from his stalker. Thus, Mill has killed the wrong man, and the stalker apparently knows this. Mill attends Kahane’s funeral and gets into conversation with June. Detectives Avery (Whoopi Goldberg) and DeLongpre (Lyle Lovett) suspect Mill is guilty of murder. Mill receives a postcard from the writer suggesting they meet at a hotel bar. While Mill is waiting, he is cornered by two screenwriters, Tom Oakley (Richard E. Grant) and Andy Sivella (Dean Stockwell), who pitch Habeas Corpus, a legal drama featuring no major stars and with a depressing ending. Because Mill is not alone, his stalker does not appear. After leaving the club, Mill receives a fax in his car, advising him to look under his raincoat. He discovers a live rattlesnake in a box, which a terrified Mill bludgeons with his umbrella.

Mill tells June that his near-death experience made him realize he has feelings for her. Having persuaded Bonnie to leave for New York on studio business, Mill takes June to a Hollywood awards banquet and their relationship blossoms. Apprehensive that Larry Levy continues encroaching on his job, Mill invites the two writers to pitch Habeas Corpus to him, convincing Levy that the movie will be an Oscar contender. Mill's plan is to let Levy shepherd the film through production and have it flop. Mill will step in at the last moment, suggesting some changes to salvage the film’s box office, letting him reclaim his position at the studio.

Mill takes June to an isolated Desert Hot Springs resort and spa where they consummate their relationship. Mill confesses his role in Kahane's murder to her, but far from condemning him, June says she loves him. Mill's attorney (Sydney Pollack) informs him that studio head Joel Levison (Brion James) has been fired, and that the Pasadena police want Mill to participate in a lineup. An eyewitness has come forward, but she fails to identify Mill.

One year later, studio power players are watching the end of Habeas Corpus with a new, tacked-on, upbeat Hollywood ending and famous actors in the lead roles. Mill's plan to save the movie has worked and he is head of the studio. June is now Mill's wife and pregnant with his child. Bonnie objects to the film's new ending and is fired by Levy. Mill rebuffs her when she appeals her termination to him. Mill receives a pitch over the phone from Levy and 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. Mill gives the writer a deal if he can guarantee the executive a happy ending. The writer’s title for the film is The Player.



Altman had troubles with the Hollywood studio system in the 1970s 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 1970s and throughout the 1980s, 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 (FLF was a division of New Line Cinema). It ushered in a new period of filmmaking for Altman, who continued on to an adaptation of Raymond Carver's short stories, Short Cuts (1993).

Opening sequence shot

The opening sequence shot lasts 7 minutes and 47 seconds without an edit. Fifteen takes were required to shoot this scene,[3] but, according to the slate at the beginning of the shot, the tenth take was used in the final edit.

Intimate scene

Altman was praised for the sex scene in which Robbins and Scacchi were filmed from the neck up. Scacchi later claimed that Altman had wanted a nude scene, but that it was her refusal which led to the final form.[4]


The film received critical acclaim; Altman won a number of European best-director awards (the BAFTA, Best Director at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival)[5] and he was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for best director (the film won the Golden Globe for Best Picture - 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 the Golden Globe for Best Actor - Comedy or Musical and the Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival.[5]

American Film Institute recognition:

In 2015, Entertainment Weekly's 25th anniversary year, it named The Player in its list of the 25 best movies since the magazine's beginnings.[7]


  1. ^ Tolkin, Michael, "The Player", 1st ed., New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, 1988. ISBN 0-87113-228-1
  2. ^ DVD commentary on The Player.
  3. ^ J.C. Maçek III (2012-11-09). "The Pragmatic Anarchy of the Long Take".  
  4. ^ "'"Greta Scacchi: 'I'm done with taking off my clothes on screen. Daily Telegraph. 25 July 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Festival de Cannes: The Player". Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  6. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees
  7. ^ "EW's 25 Best Movies in 25 Years".  

External links

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