Cloak & Dagger (1984 film)
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|Cloak & Dagger|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Richard Franklin|
|Produced by||Allan Carr|
|Screenplay by||Tom Holland|
|Based on||"The Boy Cried Murder"
by Cornell Woolrich
|Music by||Brian May|
|Cinematography||Victor J. Kemper|
|Edited by||Andrew London|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$9.7 million (US)|
Cloak & Dagger is a 1984 American spy adventure film directed by Richard Franklin, and starring Henry Thomas, Dabney Coleman and Michael Murphy. It was written by Tom Holland and based on a Cornell Woolrich short story "The Boy Cried Murder", which was initially filmed as The Window. It was originally released in a double feature with The Last Starfighter on July 13, 1984, and was released separately on August 10, 1984. The film grossed $9.7 million in the United States. It was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor for Coleman and Thomas was nominated for the Young Artist Award for Best Actor.
Davey Osborne is an 11-year-old boy living in San Antonio, Texas. His father, Hal, becomes a military air traffic controller, who has problems relating to his son. Davey imagines the fantasy world of Cloak & Dagger, an espionage role-playing video game existing between fiction and reality. Davey befriends Kim, a girl living nearby with her single mother. Davey recruits Jack Flack, the game's main character. He wants to live an action-packed life like Jack, and he carries around a water pistol as his "gun" and a softball as his "grenade". Davey spends much time playing the game and spending time with Jack as an imaginary friend.
One day, Davey's friend, Morris, who owns a game shop in the local mall, sends Davey and Kim on an errand, where Davey witnesses a murder. Right before the victim dies, he gives Davey a Cloak & Dagger video-game cartridge and says that it contains important military secrets, and that he must get it to the FBI. Davey seeks help from the authorities but they simply believe him to be engaging in fantasy play.
Heavily armed but inattentive spies, led by Dr. Rice, chase Davey relentlessly as he flees across the city. The action moves from Davey's house, to a series of tour boats, to the Alamo. Along the way, Jack helps Davey evade the pursuers. However, their relationship becomes more strained, as his own sense of morality and concern for his friend Kim collide with Jack's harsh methods and cavalier attitude. This comes to a head when Davey is cornered by Rice along the River Walk.
During the fight, Jack urges Davey to set up the two spies into the "Crossfire Gambit", causing one to kill the other. Jack convinces Davey to pick up the gun of the dead spy, but rather than shoot Rice, Davey panics and runs away down a dead-end path. Rice arrives and corners Davey. Assuming the gun Davey holds is the same red ink-filled water pistol from earlier, Rice taunts him by threatening to shoot both his kneecaps and stomach and allowing him to die in agony. When Davey proves unwilling to shoot first, Jack tries to get Rice's attention. Standing in front of a blank wall (and holding his Agent-X bulletproof beret in front of him for protection), Jack dares Rice to shoot him. Davey looks to Jack, warning him not to do anything, and Rice instinctively turns and fires a burst at the wall, thinking "Jack" is a hidden ally. An enraged Davey fires his pistol, killing Rice and causing his lifeless body to fall into the river.
Realizing that Jack had tricked him into shooting the spy, Davey discards the pistol, pulls the miniature of Jack out of his pocket and breaks the miniature on the concrete. Jack tells Davey his father behaved the same way at his age, growing tired of playing "Cowboys and Indians". As he speaks, blood begins to pour from the bullet holes that now riddle his body, and Jack abruptly collapses. While expressing regret about the rule, "...leaving when they stop believing," Jack confesses Davey was always his favorite playmate. Distracting Davey by asking for a smoke, Jack fades away into nothing. When Davey calls to Jack, saying he can't do it alone, Jack's voice reassures him that he always could, and tells him to save Kim.
Earlier in a scene at the Alamo, Davey had been befriended by a kind elderly couple. Seemingly the only adults to believe him, or at least the only ones who are willing to humor his adventures, the couple turn out to be enforcers allied with the spies. Davey manages to escape their clutches, but without the game cartridge, and he chases the couple to the airport where they are attempting to flee the country. At the airport, Davey forces the couple's hand by pretending that they are his parents and that they are abandoning him. When security attempts to intervene, Davey tells the guard the proof is the game cartridge he knows they have. Cornered, the couple kidnaps Davey at gunpoint and commandeers a plane, unaware that Davey has brought with him a bomb which the spies had intended to use to kill Kim. Unwilling to listen to Davey about the bomb, the couple requests a pilot. Meanwhile, Hal has arrived at the airport with Kim's mother, and after being informed of the hostage situation, he volunteers to be the pilot. As the plane moves to the runway, Davey tries to summon Jack for help; his father hears him and identifies himself as "Jack Flack" and calls Davey to the cockpit. When the female enforcer shows up to bring him, she discovers the bomb and panics, calling for her husband. As the two enforcers try to disable the bomb, Hal succeeds in getting Davey out of the plane through the cockpit window. Davey runs after the plane as it continues down the runway, calling for his father, until the plane explodes, incinerating the cartridge and apparently everyone on board. As a tearful Davey stares at the flaming wreckage, a figure appears and approaches him, looking at first like the silhouette of Jack Flack before revealing that it is in fact his father. As the two embrace Davey asks how he was able to escape, to which Hal replies, "Jack Flack always escapes." The film ends with the two reunited and Davey realizing that his father is a hero like Jack.
- Henry Thomas as Davey Osborne
- Dabney Coleman as Hal Osborne and Jack Flack
- Michael Murphy as Dr. Rice
- Christina Nigra as Kim Gardener
- William Forsythe as Morris
- Tim Rossovich as Haverman
- Eloy Casados as Alvarez
- John McIntire as George MacCready
- Jeanette Nolan as Eunice MacCready
- Shelby Leverington as Marilyn Gardener
- Robert DoQui as Lt. Fleming
- Robert Curtin as Murdoch
"It's pretty exciting," said Thomas of the film. "It's got some violence in it. I get to fire a gun."
Principle photography went from August 8 to October 7, 1983. Filming took place in San Antonio, Texas, chosen because it was Thomas' hometown. The scenes depicting the exterior of the Alamo were filmed on location, however the interior had to be recreated because they were not allowed to film inside the Alamo.
Dabney Coleman later recalled:
I thought it was a great idea. I didn’t get along with the director [Richard Franklin]. He's since passed on, but he was… Well, I won’t say that. But it was great working with that little kid. Henry Thomas. What a great kid. And a great actor. I’ll tell you, though, it's amazing how many people have come up to me and said something to me about that film, including Timothy Bottoms... So Timothy came up to my table at Dan Tana's, where I was, uh, kind of a regular... Timothy says, "You don’t know me from veal parmesan, but I just want to thank you for playing Jack Flack. You don’t know what that movie means to my son and me." That happens to me two or three times a year. It's always either a father saying, "I saw that movie with my son," or a son saying, "I saw it with my dad." But then they say, "Seeing that movie was very important in my life." And that's always very nice to hear.
Video game tie-in
Critical to the movie's plot is an Atari video game called Cloak & Dagger made for the Atari 5200 (The arcade version appears in the movie; the 5200 was started but never completed). The game was under development using the title Agent X when the movie producers and Atari learned of each other's projects and decided to cooperate. This collaboration was part of a larger phenomenon at the time of films featuring video games as critical plot elements (as with Tron and The Last Starfighter) and of video game tie-ins to the same films (as with the Tron games for the Intellivision and other platforms).
The film was released during the Los Angeles Olympics. Universal felt that the target audience of younger children would not be as interested in Olympics and the film would have less competition. The film grossed $9.7 million in the United States, $2.8 million of which came from its opening weekend.
Cloak & Dagger received a 64% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 11 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. On her review, Janet Maslin of The New York Times praised Franklin's direction, as well as the performances of Thomas and Coleman.
- "Cloak & Dagger (1984)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
- "Cloak and Dagger". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
- Vander Kaay, Chris; Fernandez-Vander Kaay, Kathleen (2014). The Anatomy of Fear: Conversations with Cult Horror and Science-Fiction Filmmakers. NorLightsPress. p. 22. ISBN 978-1935254973.
- At the Movies Maslin, Janet. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 23 Mar 1984: C6.
- Interview with Dabney Coleman
- Cloak and Dagger at US Gamer
- Pollock, Dale (August 4, 1984). "THEATERS TAKE 2ND TO OLYMPICS: THEATERS: OLYMPICS LEAD". Los Angeles Times.
- "Cloak and Dagger (1984)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
- Maslin, Janet (August 10, 1984). "THE SCREEN: 'DAGGER', SPY GAMES". The New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
- Mayer, Geoff (September 13, 2012). Historical Dictionary of Crime Films. Scarecrow Press. p. 405. ISBN 9780810879003. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
- DeGiglio-Bellemare, Mario; Ellbé, Charlie; Woofter, Kristopher (December 11, 2014). Recovering 1940s Horror Cinema: Traces of a Lost Decade. Lexington Books. p. 123. ISBN 9781498503808. Retrieved 28 September 2017.