Playing for Keeps (1986 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Playing for Keeps
Playing for keeps.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBob Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
Produced byAlan Brewer
Bob Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
Written byBob Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
Music byGeorge Acogny
Daniel Bechet
CinematographyEric Van Haren Noman
Edited byGary Karr
Sharyn L. Ross
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
October 3, 1986[1]
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box officeUS$2.669 million[1]

Playing for Keeps is a 1986 comedy film written and directed by brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein. It stars Daniel Jordano, Matthew Penn and Leon W. Grant as a trio of inner-city teenagers attempting to strike it rich by turning a hotel into a rock 'n' roll resort. A then little-known Marisa Tomei has a supporting role.


18-year-old Danny d'Angelo, an alumnus of Benjamin Franklin High School in New York City, lives in an apartment with his mother and a charitable sister named Marie. One day in July, he discovers they have inherited the Hotel Majestic, a long-closed facility in Bethany, Pennsylvania — and along with it, $8,000 in unpaid taxes (equal to $18,659 today).[2] Danny's great-aunt Theresa once owned the place, but died before she could pay them off. Unknown to them, a firm called Pritchard Chemicals is willing to acquire the property for its Fox River project, and turn it into a chemical waste dump.

Danny discusses the scenario with two friends: a would-be entertainer named Silk Davis, and an athletic type named Spikes McClanahan. To earn enough money for keeping the Majestic, Danny attempts to open a bank account, while Silk and Spikes become suburban salespeople—but to no avail. Afterward, the three disguise themselves as members of the Boy Scouts, and successfully sell a lot of mint cookies to office workers.

Danny eventually makes Marie proud, not only with his earnings, but with a bundle of food supplies for a few needy neighbors. Soon, he and his friends travel to Hawley on a decorated van, but the worn-down state of the Majestic catches them off-guard. Rockefeller G. Harding, a residing hermit, gives them a tour that leaves the newcomers more appalled. They begin to renovate the building and transform it into "The New Hotel Majestic...For Kids Only", promising "MTV in every room" once it re-opens. But several of the townsfolk express their displeasure over what could happen to their town, and even take measures to keep Danny and friends out of their lives.

Meanwhile, Rockefeller suggests that Danny recruit stockholders to manage the hotel. In doing so, Danny scouts the New York streets and hires many of his friends for that purpose. Arriving in Hawley, the stockholders of Majestic Enterprises are as dismayed as Danny, Spikes and Silk previously were; the luxury they expected of the Majestic is nowhere in sight. Instead, they are put to the task of fixing up the place within a month, after which inspection will take place.


Name Character Source
Daniel Jordano Danny d'Angelo [3]
Matthew Penn Spikes McClanahan
Leon W. Grant Silk Davis
Mary B. Ward Chloe Hatcher
Marisa Tomei Tracy
Jimmy Baio Steinberg
Harold Gould Robert Kennica, a.k.a. Rockefeller G. Harding
Kim Hauser Marie
William Newman Joshua
Robert Milli Henry Cromwell
John Randolph Jones Sheriff Billy Sullivan
Raymond Barry Mr. Hatcher (Chloe's Father)
Hildy Brooks Danny's Mom
Timothy Carhart Emmett
Philip Kraus Art Lewis
David Lipman Bank Buddy
Bruce Kluger Gene Epstein [3]
Anthony Marciona Ronnie Long
Glen Robert Robillard Joel
Frank Scasso Van Go Go
Lisa Schultz Jill
Doug Warhit Larry Diamond


Playing for Keeps was inspired by the boyhood experiences of Harvey and Bob Weinstein, the founders of independent distributor Miramax Films;[4] they served as its directors, co-writers and co-producers. It was partly based on Harvey's stint at the Century Theater in Buffalo, New York; in 1974, he purchased the facility with a friend named Horace "Corky" Burger, and ran it as a rock and roll venue until its 1978 demolition.[5][6] Playing for Keeps was the Weinsteins' first effort as directors;[7][8][nb 1] their mother Miriam is mentioned in the "special thanks" section of the credits.[3] The film was shot in New York City,[3] along with several locations in Pennsylvania: Scranton, Bethany, Honesdale and Hawley.[3][10] At one point in production, the brothers lacked money to continue it, and had to depend on their partner Frank McGuire to supply financing.[11]


The film's soundtrack, released by Atlantic Records in 1986,[12] features music by a decidedly higher-profile roster: Phil Collins, Peter Frampton, Pete Townshend, and Duran Duran splintergroup Arcadia.[13] A music video for one of the tracks, Sister Sledge's "Here to Stay", was produced by Alan Brewer (the film's musical director),[14] and directed by Harvey Weinstein and NFL Films' Phil Tuckett.[12] Players from the Chicago Bears football team appeared in the video along with the band.[12]

Several of the tracks in addition to "Here to Stay" were released as singles and/or became well-known. Pete Townshend's opening track, "Life to Life" reached number 39 on the Mainstream Rock charts.[15] Chris Thompson's "It's Not Over" appeared later the same year, with a slightly longer fade-out, on Thompson's High Cost of Living album and was also released as a single.[16] The tune would be covered by Starship the following year, becoming a top-ten hit for the group in the States. Music videos were also created for Arcadia's "Say the Word" and Julian Lennon's live take on "Stand by Me." Though not officially released as a single, Phil Collins' "We Said Hello, Goodbye" (which is actually a remixed version of a B-side for two of Collins' singles from No Jacket Required) received significant radio airplay at the time and became one of his more recognizable tunes. This remixed version is rarely heard today, while the original B-side version is sometimes heard on radio stations with "variety" formats.

Track listing
  1. "Life to Life" - Pete Townshend
  2. "It's Not Over" - Chris Thompson
  3. "Distant Drums" - Peter Frampton
  4. "It's Gettin' Hot" - Eugene Wilde
  5. "Think We're Gonna Make It" - Hinton Battle
  6. "We Said Hello, Goodbye (Don't Look Back)" - Phil Collins (The mix of this version of the song is different than the version that appears on the CD version of Phil Collins' album No Jacket Required.)
  7. "Here to Stay" - Sister Sledge
  8. "Say the Word" - Arcadia
  9. "Make a Wish" - Joe Cruz
  10. "Stand by Me" - Julian Lennon


Playing for Keeps was made at a time when much of Miramax's output consisted of arthouse, foreign and documentary fare.[17] It was produced by Miramax, and acquired by Universal Pictures for North American distribution.[18] The MTV cable network aired a 22-minute making-of documentary, Playing for Keeps: The Team Behind a Dream, as part of the promotional efforts.[19] Opening on October 3, 1986, the film made US$1.4 million from 1,148 theaters during opening weekend, and went on to earn US$2.663 million domestically.[1]

Home media[edit]

It was released on VHS in July 1987,[20] and on Region 1 DVD in August 2003.[21]


Playing for Keeps did not fare well among critics. Patrick Golstein of the Los Angeles Times criticized many of its writing and technical aspects in his review, and deemed it "a hapless, dimwitted film which—like Flashdance and dozens of other feeble imitations—follows the dreary adventures of a band of teens fighting to achieve a cherished dream."[22] Caryn James of The New York Times wrote, "[The film] is so low-budget innocuous that it resembles a below-average episode of the television series Fame. It probably should have bypassed theaters altogether and gone directly to videotape or television, where its staleness might have been less conspicuous."[23] The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Marylynn Uricchio concurred with James: "While never exactly boring, Playing for Keeps is painful and mindless viewing nonetheless."[2] Bill Kaufman of Newsday found the soundtrack "noisy, if nothing else."[13] Dave Kehr of the Chicago Tribune gave it one star out of four.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In 2004, Harvey Weinstein tried his hand at directing once again; his planned project never materialized.[9]


  1. ^ a b c "Box office information for Playing for Keeps". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Uricchio, Marylynn (October 4, 1986). "'Playing for Keeps' is lacking in content". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 16. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e Weinstein, Bob; Weinstein, Harvey (directors) (1986). Playing for Keeps (Motion picture). Universal Pictures (distributor) / Miramax Films. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  4. ^ "No title available". Films and Filming. Hansom Books (388–399). 1987.
  5. ^ Simon, Jeff (February 19, 1997). "Local Film Lovers Sup on Crumbs from Hollywood's Table". Buffalo News. p. D1. To understand exactly how he [Harvey Weinstein] feels about the city, I've always felt that you should look at his and Bob's only film, 'Playing for Keeps,' a lightly fictionalized account to excuse how they gutted and ruined the venerable old Century theater.
  6. ^ Staff (March 23, 1997). "The Journey from Local Hustler to Hollywood Player". Buffalo News. p. E1.
  7. ^ "Harvey Weinstein". IMDb. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  8. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2008). "Playing for Keeps". Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide 2009. Signet Books. p. 1079. ISBN 978-0-452-28978-9.
  9. ^ Hoffmann, Bill (February 2, 2004). "Harvey Weinstein to Direct". New York Post. p. 5.
  10. ^ McConnell, Steve (April 13, 2009). "Hundreds line up for bit of stardom". Wayne Independent. GateHouse Media. Archived from the original on March 24, 2012. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
  11. ^ Kwiatkowski, Jane (October 24, 2000). "Mega Mogul Weinstein on His Buffalo Days". Buffalo News. p. C1. ...[O]n an earlier movie that I directed, 'Playing for Keeps,' we didn't have enough money to make the payroll. And my partner was saying to Frank [McGuire]: 'My God, we don't have enough money.' Frank was in Greece at the time, and it was like 4 o'clock in the morning over the phone. Frank said he'd be back in the morning, and he would make the payroll.
  12. ^ a b c "Video Track: Other Cities". Billboard. VNU/Nielsen Business Media. 98 (36): 59. September 6, 1986. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
  13. ^ a b Kaufman, Bill (October 6, 1986). "Lightweight, Even For Teen Genre". Newsday. p. 10 (Part II). Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  14. ^ Biskind, Peter (2004). Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film. Simon & Schuster. p. 485.
  15. ^ Playing for Keeps Soundtrack- Chart placements Retrieved 1-26-2013.
  16. ^ Chris Thompson- "It's Not Over" single Retrieved 1-26-2013.
  17. ^ Schatz, Thomas (2004). "The New Hollywood". Hollywood: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies. Taylor & Francis. p. 382. ISBN 0-415-28132-6. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  18. ^ "No title available". The Film Journal. Pubsun Corp. 89 (1–6): 106. 1986. Retrieved September 3, 2011. Universal Pictures acquired North American rights to Playing for Keeps, a youth-oriented rags-to-riches story featuring music by Phil Collins, Peter Townshend and Julian Lennon.
  19. ^ Bessman, Jim (October 11, 1986). "Short Is More Than A Promo Tool For 'Keeps': Documentary Spots Film's Music". Billboard. VNU/Nielsen Business Media. 98 (41): 56. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  20. ^ Bowker's Complete Video Directory 2002: Entertainment: Titles A-S., Book 1. R.R. Bowker. 2002. p. 1120. ISBN 0-8352-4478-4.
  21. ^ "New on DVD". Newsday. August 7, 2003. p. D10 (Fanfare).
  22. ^ Goldstein, Partick (October 6, 1986). "'Playing For Keeps' And Losing It All". Los Angeles Times. p. G4. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
  23. ^ James, Caryn (October 4, 1986). "Film: 'Playing for Keeps,' A Rock-and-Roll Resort". The New York Times. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  24. ^ Kehr, Dave (October 6, 1986). "'Playing For Keeps': Ears Open, Eyes Shut". Chicago Tribune. p. 5 (Tempo). Retrieved September 15, 2011.

External links[edit]