City in Fear

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City in Fear
City in Fear.jpg
Written byPeter Masterson (story)
Albert Ruben
Directed byJud Taylor
StarringDavid Janssen
Robert Vaughn
Perry King
Mickey Rourke
Theme music composerLeonard Rosenman
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Peter Masterson
Producer(s)Ronald Lyon
Steve Nicolaides (associate producer)
CinematographyJohn Bailey
Editor(s)Fred A. Chulack
Running time150 minutes
Production company(s)Trans World International
Original networkABC
Original releaseMarch 30, 1980

City in Fear is a 1980 Edgar Allan Poe Awarded television drama film. It was directed by Jud Taylor, under the pseudonym Alan Smithee, and written by Peter Masterson and Albert Ruben. The film score was composed by Leonard Rosenman.

The film stars David Janssen (his last film), Robert Vaughn, Mickey Rourke, Perry King, William Prince and Susan Sullivan. It is about a newspaper's attempts to sensationalize the killing spree of a psychopath. It premiered in the US on March 30, 1980.[1]



The film was inspired by a conversation between two friends, William Goldman and Pete Masterson.Goldman got the idea when he came home one afternoon to find that his daughter,then about twelve, had tried to dye her hair because the real life serial killer, Son Of Sam, was said to be killing dark-haired women. Goldman was horrified that exploitive press accounts had reached into his home and frightened his daughter and saw a story in the interplay of killer and press. "That's how pervasive women's fear became," said director Jud Taylor. Goldman told Masterson "this would make a terrific TV movie" and they hired Albert Rubin to write a script and novelist and friend Linda Stewart to write a novel based on the idea. The novel was published by Delacorte under the title "Panic on Page One" to solid reviews in the New York Times (October 28, 1979)[3] and the L.A. Times (September 16, 1979) among others. For the ABC-TV movie, Taylor cast Mickey Rourke as the killer. "It was one of Mickey's first big parts, and he was extraordinary, and conveyed just the sense of casual menace -- he was a bag boy in a Los Angeles supermarket, for God's sake -- that we wanted."[2]

Director Jud Taylor later made Out of the Darkness based on the policeman who investigated the Son of Sam case.

Taylor had his name removed from the film. "After I left, the producers filmed four more point-blank murders without asking me, and I was offended," he said.[2] Stewart, called in to do a rewrite of the script " to make it closer to the novel" also removed her name when her changes were changed.


  1. ^ IMDb release dates
  2. ^ a b Kelley, Bill (11 Oct 1985). "SON OF SAM MOVIE TRAILS DETECTIVE". Sun Sentinel. p. 1.E.

3.New York Times review of Panic on Page One

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