The Great Imaginary Film Blogathon: THE WIZARD
This post is for the Silver Scenes GREAT IMAGINARY FILM BLOGATHON. The idea for this project was to come up with a film that never existed and create a story and press materials for it. My fantasy film was made in the 1970s…
CREDITS: The Wizard (1974) Starring Peter Boyle, Al Lettieri, Karen Black, Harry Northup, Arnold Stang and Antonio Fargas. Screenplay by Paul Schrader. Music by David Shire. Directed by Roy Green. Studio: Columbia Pictures. Color/Runtime: 120 Min.
History: Many film fans don’t know that Martin Scorsese’s classic film Taxi Driver was actually based on the second half of an original story written by Paul Schrader in the early 70s. In 1974, Columbia Pictures produced The Wizard starring a new actor Peter Boyle in the lead role. Boyle had just appeared in Crazy Joe (based on real life mobster Joe Gallo) and had gained some notice. The Wizard was originally slated to arrive in theaters the same week as The Godfather Part II but due to it also being set around the mafia, Columbia’s producers decided to push it back it at the last minute. Unfortunately, because of various red tape and troubles with the negative, it was never released. A year later the second part of Schrader’s story (a collection of vignettes about cabbies in NYC) was adapted into a new script which focused on Wizard’s co-worker/friend Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro) a mentally unstable Vietnam vet. SYNOPSIS: “Wizard” (Boyle) an affable, talkative cabbie on the mean streets of New York suddenly gets pulled into the seedy underworld when during a shift he’s forced to act as an accomplice/getaway driver in the robbery of a mob run poker game. Wizard got his nickname because to his friends and family he’s always been known as “the one with the answers” but in this dire situation he must use all his intuition as a quick thinker/strategist to find a way out of both the robbers and Mob’s deadly grip and not get himself killed or arrested. The supporting cast featured Al Lettieri as mob boss Don Angelo Giordano, Harry Northup as “Doughboy”, Arnold Stang as “Bugs”, Karen Black as Susan and Antonio Fargas as Slim. The Wizard followed in the same tradition as gritty crime films of the time like Across 110th Street (1971), The Friends Of Eddie Coyle (1973) (also featuring Peter Boyle) Charley Varrick (1973) and Death Wish (1974). It also had a plot element that would later be reworked into the crime action/thriller Point Break (1991). The unreleased score by David Shire (The Taking of Pelham One Two Three) featured a funky main theme along with several overtly jazzy cues that foreshadowed some of the sounds that would be heard in Bernard Herrmann’s music for Taxi Driver.