Leap of Faith (film)
|Leap of Faith|
Leap of Faith original theatrical poster
|Directed by||Richard Pearce|
|Produced by||Michael Manheim
David V. Picker
|Written by||Janus Cercone|
|Music by||Cliff Eidelman|
|Cinematography||Matthew F. Leonetti|
|Editing by||John F. Burnett
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release date(s)||December 18, 1992|
|Running time||108 minutes|
Leap of Faith is a 1992 American dramedy film, directed by Richard Pearce and starring Steve Martin, Debra Winger, Lolita Davidovich, Liam Neeson and Lukas Haas. The film is about Jonas Nightingale, a fraudulent Christian faith healer who uses his revival meetings, in Rustwater, Kansas, to bilk believers out of their money.
Jonas Nightingale is a faith healer, loosely based on televangelist Peter Popoff, who makes a living traveling across America holding revival meetings and conducting 'miracles.' He is helped by his friend and manager Jane and an entourage of fellow con artists.
One of their trucks breaks down in Rustwater, Kansas, a town with a 27 percent unemployment rate that is also suffering a drought and in desperate need of rain to save its crops. While waiting for spare parts, Jonas decides to hold revival meetings just outside of town in an effort to make some money while the truck is being repaired.
Local sheriff Will Braverman is skeptical and tries to prevent his townspeople from being conned out of what little money they do have. After seeing the 'smoke and noise' counting money on Jonas' tour bus, he decides to investigate his past. He learns that Jonas, claiming to have been born in a humble log cabin in the Appalacian Mountains, is in fact Jack Newton, a native of New York City who was abandoned in a department store by his mother at the age of five and raised in an orphanage for ten years. Between the age of 15 and 18 he lived a life of crime, mostly petty theft. He publicly shares this information with the townspeople who have gathered for another tent revival. Jonas walks off the stage at first, but then returns and successfully spins it, leaving the crowd more energized than ever, much to Braverman's dismay.
Jonas also gives back the money he collected earlier, plus secretly another $20, leaving believers to describe it as a miracle.
Throughout all of this is a subplot involving Jane and Braverman, who find themselves falling for each other. She becomes enchanted by Braverman's simplistic farm life and his penchant for butterflies. However, after Braverman's disclosure of Jonas' past, she breaks off their budding relationship.
Meanwhile, a huge crucifix used as a prop during the revival, is found to have its eyes opened, despite being guarded all night. A shocked Jonas, in front of all the television cameras, proclaims it to be a miracle.
Jonas' charisma and the subsequent media attention also attracts the attention of Boyd, a disabled teenage boy raised by his sister Marva, following the death of their parents in a drunk driving accident. He believes that Jonas could make him walk again and even goes far as to implore Jonas to heal him at a revival. Jonas finishes the show while pretending not to notice the boy, but is compelled to return to the stage after the crowd begins to chant "one more".
Jonas spins any risk of failure by putting it on the back of Braverman, who is present, saying that any failure on his part is due to Braverman's skepticism. Boyd walks to the open-eyed crucifix and touches the feet of Jesus Christ. He drops his crutches and begins to walk unassisted. The awed crowd sweeps the stage, but after the show, an enraged Jonas rails to Jane that he was conned and that Boyd upstaged him.
Addressing the sigil after the revival, Jonas mocks the teachings of Christ, with Boyd walking in a short time later. Jonas refutes Boyd's claims of healing him, calling himself nothing but a fake. Boyd counters by saying even as a fake, he still got the job at hand done. He adds that he wants to join Jonas on the road as an example of what Jonas' work can do. Jonas agrees to meet Boyd the following morning, but when Marva arrives looking for Boyd, Jonas tells her that he plans to leave town and will not keep the meeting time. However, he tells her to tell Boyd that because he's not keeping the meeting time, it doesn't mean he doesn't care. Marva accepts and agrees to let her brother down easy.
Jonas leaves the tent and sees the crowd that has gathered outside of his tent, many of them praying, others sleeping in groups, and others feeding the crowd that has gathered. He packs a bag and leaves alone under a cover of darkness, leaving behind his silver-sequined jacket with an envelope containing a ring that Jane had treasured on the bed in his motel room.
Braverman, having accepted Boyd's healing as a true miracle, seeks out Jane and makes up with her. They drive to Jonas' hotel room and find him gone.
Jonas hitches a ride with a truck driver bound for Pensacola, Florida. When asked by the driver if he's running away from something, Jonas denies it, but as they continue to ride along, a third miracle happens. The long-awaited rain that the townspeople have prayed for has finally come.
Amid joyous laughter, Jonas's final words as he rides into the sunrise---"Thank you Jesus"---for the first time indicate that he has come to terms with the Christianity he had only pretended to preach. However, it's unclear if Jonas returned to the town or continues on his journey to Florida.
- Steve Martin — Jonas Nightingale
- Debra Winger — Jane Larson
- Lolita Davidovich — Marva
- Liam Neeson — Sheriff Will Braverman
- Lukas Haas — Boyd
- Albertina Walker - Lucille
- Meat Loaf — Hoover
- Philip Seymour Hoffman — Matt
- M.C. Gainey — Tiny
- La Chanze — Georgette
- Delores Hall — Ornella
- Troy Evans - Officer Lowell Dade
The movie was filmed in Groom, Texas, and Tulia, Texas, though parts of the movie were filmed in Plainview, Texas, where the town water tower still has the fictional town mascot painted on the side. Martin became the film's leading actor after Michael Keaton quit the production.
On April 11, 2006, Taylor Hackford announced that he would be making his directorial debut on Broadway by bringing the film to the stage as a musical. The score was written by Alan Menken with lyrics by Glenn Slater. Hackford chose Leap of Faith even though he had previously been offered the opportunity to bring his film Ray to the stage. "What got me here was Alan Menken's score and how it so beautifully fit the book," Hackford said. According to an article in the January 20, 2010 New York Post, Hackford is no longer the director of this project.
The Center Theatre Group presented the musical at the Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, with Rob Ashford as director and choreographer. Performances began on September 11, 2010, with an official opening on October 3, 2010, running through October 24, 2010. Raul Esparza played the role of Jonas Nightingale (originated by Steve Martin in the film) and Brooke Shields played the role of Marva (originated by Lolita Davidovich in the film. The musical began previews on Broadway at the St. James Theatre on April 3, 2012, and will open on April 26, 2012. Direction is by Christopher Ashley, choreography by Sergio Trujillo, a revised book by Warren Leight, with a cast featuring Raúl Esparza as Jonas Nightingale, and Jessica Phillips as Marla.
- "Internet Movie Database: Leap of Faith Trivia". Internet Movie Database. 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-23.
- Peace Corps Online | 2006.04.12: April 12, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Bolivia: Movies: Hollywood: Musicals: Broadway: UPI: "Taylor Hackford plans to make his Broadway debut in the 2007-8 season as the director of "Leap of Faith," a new musical" peacecorpsonline.org
- Riedel, Michael."A look before 'Leap' "New York Post, January 20, 2010
- Jones, Kenneth."Leap of Faith, Menken's Gospel-Filled Musical Comedy, Will Premiere in L.A." playbill.com, January 28, 2010
- Gans, Andrew."Raúl Esparza and Brooke Shields To Star in Leap of Faith at the Ahmanson" playbill.com, June 21, 2010
- Jones, Kenneth (January 12, 2012). "Leap of Faith's Broadway Launch Will Be April 3; Jessica Phillips, Raul Esparza, Kendra Kassebaum Star". Playbill. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
- Leap of Faith at the Internet Movie Database
- Leap of Faith at AllRovi
- Review/Film; Steve Martin as a Healer With Faith Only in Lies December 18, 1992
- Leap Of Faith by Roger Ebert
- Faith Healers deal in phony shows and false hopes The Observer
- Randi and Popoff BBC 9 Dec 06
- Listing notes for The Faith Healers, by James Randi, which formed the basis for this film.
- On Entering the Third Decade by Paul Kurtz
- The third eye by Pat Reeder