Last shot of the day on a film set, also the last name of the author of this blog. Martin - Latin singular, those soldiers who work for Mars, God of War. A smith. In this lifetime of words, music and film. AKA "The Afterlife Expert" (Coast to Coast AM) If you want to reach me, I can be found on FB, LinkedIn, or Gmail under MartiniProds (my youtube channel)
I made this film in 1989. The other day, a technician at a lab and I were chatting about it, and he asked to see it. He's 26, African American, grew up in the projects and made his way to LA. I gave him a copy and he raved about it; he wants to show it to his church, he wants to show it to his pastor father in law; he wants everyone in his life to see it. Needless to say, I was moved. Twenty years ago, a group of people came together to make a little fable about capitalism, about how hard it was for a woman to become a soybean trader at the Chicago board of trade, about racism. The cast includes the amazing Danitra Vance (Colored Girls on Broadway in the 70's), who plays the guardian angel of Nancy Allen. Ray Charles plays God. It's a paean to Chicago, an homage to the soybean pit where my brother toiled for many years. The original cast was Daymon Wayans and Sharon Stone, but the producer wouldn't let me cast them. Either way, it's a PG13 family flick, Brad Hall, Ron Howard's dad Rance are hilarious - Dean Stockwell, Nancy Allen are a hoot - "cornball" as Ebert puts it, but hey, something to be said for the only film ever made about soybean trading.. I still have no idea why anyone would hate this film. Entertainment Weekly gave it a B+ - but sadly, it's disappeared into the great cinema vault in the sky.
Here's a clip I put on youtube of Danitra and Ray in the final scene, sadly, both not on the planet anymore:
Who would have thought that someone could make a feature film about a subject as unsexy as soybeans and it could turn out to be as charming as this.
Limit Up stars cherubic Nancy Allen (who shifted from sexpot to Kewpie doll somewhere between Dressed to Kill and Robocop) as Casey Falls, a ''runner'' on the floor of Chicago's Midwest Grain Exchange, where traders, in a wild jitterbug of coded hand signals and general pandemonium, control the output of America's No. 1 cash export: soybeans.
In a facetious bending of the Faust tale, Casey sells her soul to a delegate from the devil (Danitra Vance, in a role undoubtedly written for Whoopi Goldberg), and soon is rolling in high-protein dough.
If you're thinking of stopping here because you've heard this before, don't. Limit Up may have an oddly misleading title (''limit up'' is commodity-trader jargon indicating prices are frozen and trading has stopped), but it's really a splendid comedy with just enough corkscrew turns and wry jokes to make thisfaux Faust pretty sprightly.
All the elements are here: good cast, good script, tidy direction, and an ending that's sunny but not so much that it will make skeptics gag. And Allen is particularly delightful as the ambitious trader forced to make a tough decision when her marker comes due. Also, look for Ray Charles in a small but significant role and a cameo by Sally Kellerman.