Fever Pitch (1985 film)

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For other uses, see Fever Pitch (disambiguation).
Fever Pitch
Fever Pitch 1985 poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Richard Brooks
Produced by Freddie Fields
Written by Richard Brooks
Starring Ryan O'Neal
Catherine Hicks
Giancarlo Giannini
Bridgette Andersen
Chad Everett
John Saxon
Hank Greenspun
William Smith
Music by Thomas Dolby
Cinematography William A. Fraker
Edited by Jeff Jones
Distributed by MGM/UA Entertainment Co.
Release dates
  • November 22, 1985 (1985-11-22)
Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $618,847 (United States)

Fever Pitch is a 1985 American film starring Ryan O'Neal, and written and directed by Richard Brooks. This turned out to be the final film for Brooks, director of such acclaimed pictures as Blackboard Jungle, Elmer Gantry, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and In Cold Blood. Co-starring in the film were Giancarlo Giannini, Chad Everett, John Saxon and Catherine Hicks. The original music score was composed by Thomas Dolby.

The film failed at the box-office after it grossed only a little more than $600,000. Fever Pitch was nominated for four Razzie Awards, including Worst Picture, as well as contributing to O'Neal's later Razzie nomination for Worst Actor of the Decade. The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of the 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.[1]


Steve Taggart is a Los Angeles sports writer who becomes obsessed with gambling. He volunteers to do a series of articles for the daily newspaper Los Angeles Herald Examiner about a compulsive gambler he calls "Mr. Green," who is, in fact, himself.

Reporter Taggart gets deeper and deeper into debt, compounding his money problems with associated loan sharks, including the dangerous bookmaker known as The Dutchman (Chad Everett). He soon learns the pro quarterback he covers in Los Angeles is also on the take to the Dutchman, paying off his own gambling debts. Taggart then journeys to Las Vegas to do a field report on his gambling series, where he meets a sexy casino hostess, Flo. (Catherine Hicks) In Las Vegas Taggart also checks out bookmakers, including the Leroy's in downtown Las Vegas. He meets local Vegas gambling and business figures, including Las Vegas Sun publisher Hank Greenspun for insight into the gambling world.

The money complications spill over into Taggart's personal life, as when he brings his daughter (Bridgette Andersen) to Hollywood Park racetrack, where he goes to the pressbox, where real life reporters Jim Murray and Alan Malamud play themselves. Taggart later is physically assaulted by a trackgoer to whom he owes money. Taggart's newspaper editor (John Saxon) loves the series the newspaper has been running, and he has been advancing the writer considerable story money, still unaware that Taggart is actually the gambling risk-addicted and perennial loser "Mr. Green."

Taggart also goes to Gamblers Anonymous to try to get and straight, also becoming more acquainted with Las Vegas high-roller Charley Peru (Giancarlo Giannini) to try to get even, and possibly get the Dutchman and his thug, Panama Hat played by William Smith off his back.

To celebrate almost kicking his gambling habit, in an improbable ending, Taggart goes back to the dice tables, where his solution to getting out of gambling debt turns out to be continuing to gamble until he can win all the money he needs.



Richard Brooks became interested in the problem of gambling in America while recovering from a heart attack in 1983. He began researching the topic and wrote the script over two years. It was originally to be produced by Dino de Laurentiis under the title The Fever and Brooks wanted Sam Shepard to play the lead. De Laurentiis dropped out and Ryan O'Neal was cast instead. Filming took place from October 1984 to January 1985 and Brooks spent nine months editing it.[2]

The newspaper editorial office scenes were all filmed at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, which always had a popular horse racing page, and solid sports gambling coverage. Many Herald Examiner and Los Angeles Times staffers had bit parts in the movie. The Herald Examiner newspaper closed in 1989.


  1. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0. 
  2. ^ Nat Segaloff, Final Cuts: The Last Films of 50 Great Directors, Bear Manor Media 2013 p 48-49

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