The Chocolate War (film)
|The Chocolate War|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Keith Gordon|
|Produced by||Saul Zaentz |
Jonathan D. Krane
|Written by||Novel |
|Starring||John Glover |
|Editing by||Jeff Wishengrad|
|Distributed by||MCEG Sterling (theatrical), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (2007, DVD)|
|Release date(s)||November 18, 1988|
|Running time||104 min.|
The Chocolate War is a 1988 American drama film based on Robert Cormier's novel of the same name, about a young man who rebels against the ingrained hierarchy of an elite Catholic school. It was the directorial debut of Keith Gordon, and stars John Glover, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Wallace Langham, and Doug Hutchison. Jonathan D. Krane produced it after seeing Static, a short film Gordon wrote.
The film offers a portrait of the hierarchical structure of a Catholic school, both formal and informal. New student Jerry Renault (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) must submit to the bizarre rituals of his peers and the expectations of the school's administration by selling chocolates as a fundraiser. A secret student society, The Vigils, assigns Jerry the task of refusing to sell chocolates, drawing the ire of the school's interim headmaster, Brother Leon. However, after Jerry's assignment is over, he continues to refuse, resulting in torment, bullying, and alienation from his peers.
- John Glover as Brother Leon
- Ilan Mitchell-Smith as Jerry Renault
- Doug Hutchison as Obie Jameson
- Wallace Langham as Archie Costello
- Corey Gunnestad as Roland "Goober" Goubert
- Brent Fraser as Emile Janza
- Robert Davenport as Brian Cochran
- Jenny Wright as Lisa
- Bud Cort as Brother Jacques
- Adam Baldwin as Bill Carter
- Ethan Sandler as David Caroni
- Doug Hutchison, who portrayed 18-year-old Obie Jameson, was 27 when this movie was filming.
- The film had a paltry music budget of about $15,000. Most of the artists featured on the soundtrack allowed the filmmakers to use their songs inexpensively. David Bowie, however, asked for $100,000 to utilize his song "Heroes" during the final scene and credits, so Kate Bush's "Running Up that Hill" was substituted.
Differences from the Novel 
While the film generally adheres to the plot of the novel, the ending of the film contains significant changes that diverge from the novel's plot and themes. These changes have commonly been seen as negative, and have been strongly criticized for compromising the messages of the novel and attempting to force a more uplifting "Hollywood ending" to the story.
- In the novel, Jerry Renault must box Emile Janza, the school bully. In the film, Janza's place is taken by Archie after he draws a black marble, as opposed to the book, where he draws two white marbles.
- Jerry wins the boxing match in the film, pummeling Archie and winning the praise of his classmates, much to his own chagrin, as he has now played into the Vigils' manipulations. In the novel, Jerry is beaten to semi-consciousness by Janza, and taken to the hospital, having lost the war.
- Archie maintains his control of the Vigils in the novel, whereas in the film, he is physically beaten by Jerry and ultimately replaced by Obie, who, as Assigner, creates less thoughtful, more simplistic assignments.
On a $500,000 budget, the film grossed a mere $303,624 and is considered a box office flop.
The film was released on DVD on April 17, 2007. The special features consist of: