About The Production
The screenplay for Ronin grew out of screenwriter J
The screenplay for Ronin grew out of screenwriter J.D.
Zeik's fascination with the masterless samurai. "I became
fascinated with the whole notion of the masterless samurais after
reading Shogun when I was fifteen," Zeik remembers.
"I wanted to use the concept and the title for a contemporary
story. Many years later in Nice, the location of one of the key
set pieces of the story, I stared into the sun and saw the silhouettes
of five heavily armed Gendarmes crossing the Promenade des Anglais.
That image made me realize that I wanted to set the film in France."
John Frankenheimer, who has a history of filmmaking in France
that dates back to The Train in 1963 (other films shot
there include Grand Prix, The Impossible Object and French
Connection 2), relished the opportunity to plot the production's
course through this familiar and beloved terrain.
The director assembled a key crew with whom he had often collaborated.
Production designer Michael Z. Hanan worked on Frankenheimer's
last five projects, including The Burning Season and George
Wallace. Costume designer May Routh was nominated for an Emmy
Award for her work on the Frankenheimer telefilm Andersonville.
She also did George Wallace for the director. And editor
Tony Gibbs first worked with the director on George Wallace.
"John is a wonderful stylist and has a knack for making even
the most banal scene good-looking and intriguing," notes
Gibbs, echoing the enthusiasm of all of Frankenheimer's department
heads on Ron in. "And on a more personal level, I
particularly like his loyalty. On this film, John surrounded himself
with people who had worked with him for 30 years or more.
The one prominent addition to Frankenheimer's creative team was
director of photography Robert Fraisse, whose work he had admired
in Jean-Jacques Annaud's The Lover and in the highly acclaimed
HBO telefilm Citizen X
Producer Frank Mancuso, Jr. collaborated closely with John Frankenheimer
in bringing Ronin to the screen. Mancuso was on the set
every day during production, bringing his unique skills as a hands-on
filmmaker. "If we are faced with a difficulty, there is not
just one person to solve the problem, but two people," notes
the accomplished producer.
"Frank Mancuso, Jr. was on the set every day, carefully watching
the process, making suggestions and making sure certain things
were done," recalls Robert DeNiro. "He was like a second
pair of eyes for the director. When a producer is as qualified
as Frank, it's an advantage to have him on the set."
"Usually, I try to get rid of the producer, which isn't very
hard because they're never there!" says John Frankenheimer.
"But Frank was extraordinary and I loved working with him.
He's bright, he was amazingly supportive and we had the best working
relationship I could have ever hoped for. There was never a problem
of authority. As a matter of fact, I couldn't tell you where Frank
began and where I ended, or vice versa."
A key component to Frankenheimer' s vision for the film was to
accomplish the exciting and complex stunt sequences the old-fashioned
way, without the benefit of digital compositing which is currently
most prevalent in action pictures. "We shot the stunts in
a way that puts the audience right in the middle of the action,"
notes Mancuso. "The tension that results totally engages
you without being one of those stupendous-but-totally-unrealistic
effects you se
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