Granted, "Rambo III" survived its script problems and location problems and numerous delays, and now it's actually in production. But that doesn't mean things are smooth sailing on the Tel Aviv set.
Last week, the film's director of photography, Ric Waite, either quit his job or was fired by director Russell Mulcahy, depending on whom you believe. What everyone agrees on is that Waite thought the movie should look one way, Mulcahy and star Sylvester Stallone thought it should look another, and Waite was out. P. David Gurfinkel, the movie's new director of photography, has a track record that will hardly endear him to refined cinemagoers: He shot Stallone's arm-wrestling flop "Over the Top," Brooke Shields' "Sahara" (the second biggest recent failure to be set in the desert) and Chuck Norris' "Delta Force."
To 'Rambo,' the Russian Response Speaking of Rambo, the semiofficial Soviet response to that movie is opening in Europe next month. Shot under the title "Lone Navigation," the action-adventure movie concerns a Red Army paratrooper who single-handedly uncovers an evil American plot (there's this group of Vietnam veterans, see, that plans to sink a U.S. cruise ship, blame it on the Russians and start a war) and uses derring-do and firepower to save the day.
When the film was finished, its makers saw the obvious tie-in to "Rambo III" and renamed it "The Soviet Reply." Directed by Mijail Tumanichvili (the son of Supreme Soviet President Andrei Gromyko), "The Soviet Reply" opens in Spain and France in October; no word yet on an American release.
Sergio Leone's Soviet Saga One Soviet-made film that definitely will show in the United States is "The Siege" -- that is, if the epic Sergio Leone film ever gets made. Director Leone is now at work planning what has been his pet project for 15 years, and the current contracts call for it to be both a Russian-Italian-American coproduction and the most expensive movie ever made.
The film concerns the three-year German siege of Leningrad in World War II, though it will focus on a love story between an American reporter and a Russian woman. The budget calls for the movie to cost more than $100 million, half of which will be contributed by the Soviet state-run Sovinfilm company -- which also will cowrite the screenplay and furnish the sets and locations -- and half by Leone's production company. It's scheduled to start shooting at the end of 1988, and the top contenders for the leading roles are reportedly Robert De Niro and Czech model Paulina Porizkova.
And here's the last mention of the Soviet Union today: Paul Maslansky, producer of the "Police Academy" series of films, says he's in the planning stages on "Police Academy 6 -- Operation Glasnost." Maslansky told Daily Variety that Warner Bros. hasn't given the go-ahead for a Russian shoot -- but given the $371 million earned by the first four installments and the anticipated success of soon-to-shoot "Police Academy 5 -- Assignment Miami," he's confident.
Film Clips Roy Scheider will star in "White Train," a film about the U.S. Department of Energy train that carries nuclear warheads from the Amarillo, Tex., base where they're assembled ... Dennis Hopper will direct and star in "Backtrack," a political thriller ... Fresh from the new-found visibility he's gotten from "The Big Easy" (which hasn't been a blockbuster hit but has gotten him in just about every entertainment magazine in the country), Dennis Quaid will costar in "Everybody's All American," a Taylor Hackford-directed film that also features Jessica Lange ... And author William Gibson ("Neuromancer," "Burning Chrome"), who won acclaim as the leader of science fiction's daring "cyberpunk" movement, has been signed to write the screenplay to "Aliens III."
The collection is finally complete. Last week, just before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was to unveil the 60th-anniversary collection of Academy Award statuettes, it received the final Oscar needed to complete the set. The academy had rounded up an award from every year except 1929-30, when only eight Oscars were given out; the last one was supplied by Richard G. Thomson of Washington, whose mother Frances Marion won it for the screenplay of "The Big House." The full collection went on display Wednesday in Beverly Hills.