The Flamingo Kid

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The Flamingo Kid
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGarry Marshall
Produced byMichael Phillips
Written byNeal Marshall
Garry Marshall
Bo Goldman (uncredited)
Music byCurt Sobel
CinematographyJames A. Contner
Edited byPriscilla Nedd-Friendly
ABC Motion Pictures
Mercury Productions
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • December 21, 1984 (1984-12-21)
Running time
100 min.
CountryUnited States
Box office$31.6 million

The Flamingo Kid is a 1984 American romantic comedy film directed by Garry Marshall and produced by Michael Phillips. It stars Matt Dillon, Richard Crenna, Héctor Elizondo and Jessica Walter. The film tells the story of a working class boy who takes a summer job at a beach resort and learns valuable life lessons.

It was the first film to receive a PG-13 rating, although it was the fifth to be released with that rating (after Red Dawn, The Woman in Red, Dreamscape and Dune). Crenna received a Golden Globe Award nomination for his supporting role and Marisa Tomei made her big screen debut with a minor role in the film.


In the summer of 1963, Jeffrey Willis (Matt Dillon) joins some friends for a day of gin rummy at the El Flamingo Club, a private beach resort. There, he meets the girl of his dreams Carla Sampson (Janet Jones). After the gin game and being told of the club's strict policy regarding guests, Jeffrey is upset, but not for long, since he immediately lands a job as a car valet and eventually, cabana steward. Jeffrey is a kid from a middle class Brooklyn family and his father (Elizondo) does not approve of him working at the private club.

His hero and mentor at the resort is the reigning Gin rummy card game champ, Phil Brody (Crenna).[1]

Jeffrey, a winning gin rummy player himself, and his friends admire Brody and how his wins at the Gin rummy table make him seem "psychic," knowing which cards to give up. Brody also takes a liking to Jeffrey, eventually showing him his car business, and gives him hopes that car sales are where he belongs as a career.

Jeffrey gets further immersed in the "easy buck," defying his father's guidance. During dinner, Jeffrey notably says he "will not be needing college" and plans to pursue being a car salesman instead. Jeffrey and his co-workers at the El Flamingo also venture to Yonkers Raceway together, risking cash on a horse tip but coming up short when the trotter breaks stride.

Eventually, Jeffrey leaves home to pursue the sales job. However, Brody, angry that Jeffrey disturbed him during a dance class, reveals to Jeffrey that the job opening at the car dealership is for a stock boy, not as a salesman as Jeffrey had been led to believe was his when he asked for it. Brody encourages Jeffrey to take the stock boy position so he can work his way up. Jeffrey becomes shocked at his mentor's actions and reconsiders college. Near summer's end, Jeffrey observes that a regular onlooker, "Big Sid", is feeding signals to Brody, the true cause of Brody's winning ways. When Big Sid and a member of the gin team playing against Brody's team are overcome by the heat, Jeffrey fills in, opposing Brody, and seeking to help win back the unfair profits Brody won from his friends over the course of the summer. Jeffrey and his team eventually win back what was unfairly lost, including a good profit besides. Realizing the mistakes he made in rejecting his father's good advice, Jeffrey makes up with his dad in a touching scene at Larry's Fish House ("Any Fish You Wish"), where his family is dining.



Cass Elliot, of The Mamas & The Papas fame, told producer and friend Michael Phillips about Neil Marshall's script, which took over ten years to finally get made into a film. [2]


The principal location for the movie was the Silver Gull Beach Club in Breezy Point in New York City's Rockaways, inside the Gateway National Recreation Area.


Box Office[edit]

The movie grossed a total of $31,684,321 worldwide.[citation needed]

Critical reception[edit]

As of January 2018, the movie held an 83% at Rotten Tomatoes based on 18 reviews, with an average score of 6.8/10.[3][4]


A soundtrack to the film was released by Motown.[5]

  1. Jesse Frederick – Breakaway
  2. Martha and the Vandellas(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave
  3. The ChiffonsHe's So Fine
  4. Acker BilkStranger on the Shore
  5. DionRunaround Sue
  6. Little RichardGood Golly, Miss Molly
  7. Barrett StrongMoney (That's What I Want)
  8. The ImpressionsIt's All Right
  9. Hank Ballard & The MidnightersFinger Poppin' Time
  10. The ChiffonsOne Fine Day
  11. The SilhouettesGet a Job
  12. Maureen Steele – Boys Will Be Boys

Stage musical[edit]

A stage musical based on The Flamingo Kid is currently in development for a future Broadway production. The musical features a book and lyrics by Tony Award winner Robert L. Freedman, music by Tony Award nominee Scott Frankel, and direction by Tony Award winner Darko Tresnjak.[6]

Following in the footsteps of Tresnjak and Freedman's Tony Award-winning A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, The Flamingo Kid premiered at Hartford Stage in Hartford, CT from May 9-June 15, 2019. The cast included Jimmy Brewer as Jeffrey, Samantha Massell as Karla, Adam Heller as Arthur, Marc Kudisch as Phil Brody, Lesli Margherita as Phyllis Brody, Liz Larsen as Ruth, Lindsey Brett Carothers as Joyce, Ben Fankhauser as Steve, and Alex Wyse as Hawk. The creative team also included Denis Jones (choreographer), Bruce Coughlin (orchestrations), Alexander Dodge (scenic design), Linda Cho (costume design), Philip Rosenberg (lighting design), and Peter Hylenski (sound design).[7]


Deadline Hollywood announced in September 2012 that Walt Disney Pictures was developing a remake of The Flamingo Kid. Brett Ratner and Michael Phillips were to act as producers on the film, while music video director Nzingha Stewart was working on the script.[8] Then in 2015, it was reported that ABC Studios was contemplating a half-hour TV comedy series based on The Flamingo Kid,[9] but nothing came of that either.


  1. ^ Blank, Ed. Traditional values put to the test in an effective 'Flamingo Kid', Pittsburgh Press, December 28, 1984
  2. ^ New York Daily News, "[1]". Accessed December 3, 2018.
  3. ^ Rotten Tomatoes, "The Flamingo Kid (1984)". Accessed October 1, 2017.
  4. ^ Kilgannon, Corey (13 March 2013). "At a Beach Club, a Battle to Rebuild After the Storm". New York Times. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  5. ^ "Various - The Flamingo Kid (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)".
  6. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Lesli Margherita, Marc Kudisch, More Will Join Jimmy Brewer in Hartford Stage’s 'The Flamingo Kid'" Playbill, April 2, 2019
  7. ^ The Flamingo Kid, retrieved May 27, 2019
  8. ^ Jr, Mike Fleming (19 September 2012). "Brett Ratner Backing 'Flamingo Kid' Remake At Disney". Deadline Hollywood.
  9. ^ Nick Harley (2015-08-14). "Disney's The Flamingo Kid Coming to TV". DenOfGeek. Retrieved 2018-06-25.

External links[edit]