The Man Who Fell to Earth 1976

An alien must pose as a human to save his dying planet, but a woman and greed of other men create complications.

The Cast

David Bowie-Thomas Jerome Newton
Rip Torn-Nathan Bryce
Candy Clark-Mary-Lou
Buck Henry-Oliver Farnsworth
Bernie Casey-Peters
Jackson D. Kane-Professor Canutti
Rick Riccardo-Trevor
Tony Mascia-Arthur

The Director: Nicolas Roeg
The Writers: Paul Mayersberg, Walter Tevis
Music by: John Phillips,Stomu Yamashta
Certificate : X

Film Trivia

According to costume designer May Routh, David Bowie was so thin that some of his outfits were boys' clothes.
Between takes and when not filming, lead actor David Bowie composed songs, sketched drawings, wrote short stories, planned an autobiography to be titled "The Return of the Thin White Duke", filmed on a 16mm newsreel camera that director Nicolas Roeg had given him, and read books, including a biography of silent film comedian Buster Keaton. This was in preparation for a biopic of Keaton, whom Bowie was to play.
Toward the end of the film, in the record store, Bryce walks past a display for David Bowie's "Young Americans" album.
Candy Clark, with a large black hat strategically pulled low over her face, played Thomas Jerome Newton in one scene while David Bowie was ill and unavailable to work the day it was shot.
Candy Clark also played the wife on the other planet.
David Bowie said of this film in Kurt Loder's article "Straight Time" published in the 12th May 1983 edition of 'Rolling Stone' magazine: "I'm so pleased I made that [movie], but I didn't really know what was being made at all". Further, in the article "Bowie at the Bijou" published in the April 1982 edition of 'Movieline' magazine, Bowie said: "I just threw my real self into that movie as I was at that time. It was the first thing I'd ever done. I was virtually ignorant of the established procedure [of making movies], so I was going a lot on instinct, and my instinct was pretty dissipated. I just learned the lines for that day and did them the way I was feeling. It wasn't that far off. I actually was feeling as alienated as that character was. It was a pretty natural performance. ... a good exhibition of somebody literally falling apart in front of you. I was totally insecure with about 10 grams [of cocaine] a day in me. I was stoned out of my mind from beginning to end". Moreover, in the same article, Bowie said of his relationship with director Nicolas Roeg: " . . . we got on rather well. I think I was fulfilling what he needed from me for that role. I wasn't disrupting . . . I wasn't disrupted. In fact, I was very eager to please. And amazingly enough, I was able to carry out everything I was asked to do. I was quite willing to stay up as long as anybody".
While filming at an old Aztec burial ground in the New Mexico desert, the production had to deal with a boisterous "Hells' Angels" motorcycle gang camping nearby.
One of a number of films that director Nicolas Roeg made with a lead star from the music business. The movies include Performance (1970) [Mick Jagger], Bad Timing (1980) [Art Garfunkel] and The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) [David Bowie].
Still shots from the production were used as the cover art for two David Bowie albums - 1976's 'Station to Station' and 1977's 'Low'.
Apparently, David Bowie was unable to work on the movie for two days because he had drunk some "bad milk". Bowie saw "some gold liquid swimming around in shiny swirls inside the glass". According to the 'Bowie Golden Years' website, Bowie is "still to this day unsure of what actually happened. No trace of any foreign element was detected in tests though there were six witnesses who said they had seen the strange matter in the bottom of the glass. Already in an extremely fragile state, Bowie felt the whole location had 'very bad Karma'".
The film is referenced in Philip K Dick's book "Valis".
Director Nicolas Roeg cast David Bowie after seeing Bowie in the 1975 documentary "Cracked Actor" [See: Omnibus: Cracked Actor (1975)]. According to Roeg, the singer turned actor threw himself into the film, was always on time and delivered a performance that everyone was very happy with including Bowie himself.
The film spent roughly 9 months in the editing suite.
First starring film role in a dramatic major motion picture for singer David Bowie.
The picture was temporarily scored with music from Pink Floyd's album "The Dark Side of the Moon".
David Bowie worked on a soundtrack for the film that was rejected. Many of the ideas he had for the soundtrack would later be utilized in his 1977 album 'Low'.
The music that Oliver Farnsworth is listening to in the first scene we see him in and in one of the last is Gustav Holst's "The Planets".
Although never mentioned in the film itself, we learn in the novel that Newton's home planet is called "Anthea". It is hinted that it may be Mars, but this is by no means certain.
Candy Clark was not really carrying David Bowie in their first scene together when Bowie's character collapses at her hotel. Instead, a rig involving a skateboard and a bicycle seat was devised that enabled the actress to look like she was carrying Bowie.
Novelist Walter Tevis described this story as very disguised autobiography. Three features of Tevis' life influence this film: his long periods of sickness during his childhood which confined him to bed, his battle with alcoholism, and his family's move from urban San Francisco to rural Kentucky.
Nicolas Roeg originally wanted to cast the 6-foot-10 author Michael Crichton as Thomas Jerome Newton.
In total, Candy Clark spent 96 and a half hours in the make-up chair during the extent of the film's shoot.
This picture is the only David Bowie film that Bowie "would go out of his way to promote" according to the 'Bowie Golden Years' website.
Candy Clark was romantically involved with director Nicolas Roeg at the time she starred in this film.
Mick Jagger was also considered for the part of the alien.
Oliver Farnsworth is named after Philo Taylor Farnsworth, one of the most important pioneers of television. As may be seen in the film, Thomas Newton has an obsession with television, which is how his people learned about Earth.
The film's backers wanted Robert Redford for the part of Newton.
The film was shot around June, July, and August 1975.
The Latin phrase in the film, "Per ardua ad astra", is mentioned as being the motto of the Royal Air Force. It is defined in the movie as meaning "Through difficulties to the stars" though it is more commonly translated as "Through adversity to the stars".
James Sallis, writing in the The Boston Globe, describes "The Man Who Fell To Earth" as a Christian parable, not only about the corruption of an innocent being, but as being highly critical of the 1950s conventionalism which Tevis grew up with, along with environmental destruction and the Cold War.
Originally intended as a vehicle for Peter O'Toole.
Thomas Jerome Newton is named for (Isaac) Newton, the English discoverer of gravity, one of many leitmotifs related to falling in the film.
For no explainable reason, film cameras frequently jammed during principal photography.
Reportedly, according to the DVD doc Watching the Alien (2003), David Bowie's fee for the soundtrack was US $250,000.
James Mason was originally considered for the part later taken by Buck Henry.
James Coburn was approached about playing Bryce but ultimately the production simply couldn't afford such a name actor.
Candy Clark was the first actor to be cast.
First of two filmed versions of "The Man Who Fell To Earth" novel by Walter Tevis. This movie was made and released about eleven years before the remake, The Man Who Fell to Earth (1987), which was made for television.
Actress Candy Clark received the film's script several months before David Bowie was cast.
In Chapter 13, at 1hr 38mins 42secs David Bowie is joined on film by Apollo 13 astronaut Captain Jim Lovell.
One of two 1970s movies where David Bowie plays an alien / an extraterrestrial. The other picture was as Ziggy Stardust in the concert film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1973).
A documentary about the making of this movie, Watching the Alien (2003), was made around 2003 and is included on the DVD along with the film's press kit.
Received its first UK TV screening on BBC2 (albeit in a highly edited version due to the sex scenes) in 1981. It has since been broadcast on BBC TV completely uncut.
The opening credits reveal that Bowie's costumes were designed by someone named "Ola Hudson." Hudson is the mother of rock guitarist Saul Hudson, better known to the world as Slash, of Guns N Roses fame.
Paramount Pictures paid US $1.5 million for the American region distribution rights for the USA. This guarantee enable the film's producer Michael Deeley to finance the picture.
Second of four films produced together by producers Michael Deeley and Barry Spikings. The other pictures are Convoy (1978), Conduct Unbecoming (1975), and the multi-Academy Award winning The Deer Hunter (1978).
At the beginning of the film, the audience is shown a mysterious man in a suit who investigates Newton's original landing on Earth. Who this man is or what agency he works for is never explained, although it is hinted that the U.S. government knew all along that Newton was an alien.
The 39th screenplay Paul Mayersberg had written, and the first of his to be physically produced.
Wikipedia states, according to the book "Michael Deeley, Blade Runners, Deer Hunters and Blowing the Bloody Doors Off: My Life in Cult Movies" (2009), "...when Barry Diller of Paramount Pictures saw the finished film he refused to pay for it, claiming it was different from the movie the studio wanted. British Lion sued Paramount and received a small settlement. The film obtained a small release in the US through Cinema V in exchange for $850,000 and due to foreign sales the film's budget was just recouped".
Nicolas Roeg wanted to get rid of any sense of time in the movie, because it's surprising how often people mention it in their lives. However, one reference almost got past him until the cutting stage, when he suddenly noticed the line "I've been hear three months already", and he had to overdub it.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
The name of the record album that Thomas Jerome Newton (David Bowie) recorded and is seen at the end of the movie was "The Visitor".
The production shoot for this picture was scheduled to run eleven weeks.
The number of basic patents that Thomas Jerome Newton (David Bowie) had was nine. The amount of money that he was tipped to be able to earn in three years was US $300 million.
The film was made and released about thirteen years after its source novel of the same name by Walter Tevis had been first published in 1963.
The movie is considered to be a cult film.
The picture's American distributor was Paramount Pictures who had previously distributed Nicolas Roeg's previous film Don't Look Now (1973) about three years earlier.
This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #304.
Terry Southern: Uncredited, the writer as a reporter at the space launch.
The painting that appears in the film is Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. It was long thought to be by Pieter Brueghel, but this has been questioned recently. In Greek mythology, Icarus succeeded in flying, with wings made by his father Daedalus, using feathers secured with wax. Ignoring his father's warnings, Icarus flew too close to the sun, melting the wax, fell into the sea, and drowned. His legs can be seen in the water just below the ship. It's another metaphor for Newton's predicament, as Icarus falls into water too. A cruel irony given how little water there is on his own planet.
The name of the multi-national technology conglomerate was the "World Enterprises Corporation".