Action, Drama, War | 100 mins | Released: 1987
Director: Nathanael Gutman
Starring: Christopher Walken, Hywel Bennett, Marita Marschall, Arnon Zadok, Amos Lavi, Etti Ankri, Martin Umbach
Our Rating: 5
In Deadline, Ace Reporter Don Stevens (Christopher Walken) is an American journalist who goes to Beirut, Lebanon during the civil war. He stays in a hotel with English journalist Mike Jessop. He is promised an interview with a top PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) leader Palestinian Yassin Abu-Riadd (Amos Lavi). However, this proves to be a set-up and he is duped into interviewing an imposter who claims the PLO are prepared to negotiate peacefully. Outraged by this deception, Stevens becomes determined to find out the truth. In this quest, he is helped by a Scandinavian doctor, Linda, who it emerges is Yassin’s estranged girlfriend. Along the way, Stevens is hindered by everyone around him: The PLO threaten him, the Phalangists arrest him and the Israelis ignore him. Tricked and beaten, he gradually uncovers a murder plot, double agents, the bombing of the Phalangists headquarters and, most terrifying of all, a plan to massacre hundreds of civilians. In a story that takes the lid off events in Lebanon, Don Stevens becomes a reluctant hero, and in doing so, gets the scoop of a lifetime.
Deadline is a 1987 war/drama film about a journalist amidst the Lebanese civil war who is set up and fed false information. The film was directed by Nathaniel Gutman. Christopher Walken stars as main role, “ace reporter” Don Stevens. It was shot in Israel and Christopher Walken won the Magnolia Award for “Best Actor” in Shanghai International TV Festival. It was released in some countries under the title Witness in the War Zone.
Deadline was part of a cycle of pictures made during the 1980s that featured journalists covering war. The movies include Salvador (1986), Under Fire (1983), Circle of Deceit [Circle of Deceit (1981)], Witness in the War Zone (1987), Cry Freedom (1987), The Killing Fields (1984) and The Year of Living Dangerously (1982).
Nathaniel Gutman’s Deadline. An end to terror by way of fair and balanced journalism
Author: Jamal Duval ……… from Los Angeles – 22 October 2004
“It’s probably fair to say that who ever reviewed this film in the first place was just being irresponsible. Deadline is in no way, shape or form a documentary. If it were, maybe that would have made it a little more interesting.
The basic premise is, Walken, a journalist amidst a war is set up and fed false information. The information then ends up making national headlines. As the result, ‘ace reporter” Don Stevens’ reputation is on the line. Stationed in Beirut he has only till the end of the movie to save his reputation and present “good” news.
It’s kind of confusing, and not much else happens. I found it interesting in that the Palestinians were not portrayed as savage terrorists, like most films from this era, but that’s about all. Deadline is no “Endless Night” or “Murder Elite” but then again, nothing ever is.
Pair Deadline up with Salvador and you might have a hot double feature, maybe just don’t play Salvador first.”
War Zone (1987) – Film: ‘Deadline,’ on Beirut in 1983
By Vincent Canby, NYTimes Review, Published: September 11, 1987
‘DEADLINE’… is a singularly inept attempt to make dramatic and political sense of the war in Beirut. Set in the Lebanese capital in 1983, ”Deadline” stars Christopher Walken as Don Stevens, who’s a supposedly hot-shot American television journalist, though he’s not above borrowing material from other reporters.
Nathaniel Gutman, the director, and Hanan Peled, who wrote the screenplay, see the war as a confrontation between the extremist factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Christian Phalangists, with the moderate Israelis caught in between. The film was shot in Jaffa, Israel, and concludes with the massacre of civilians in the Palestinian refugee camps by the Phalangists.
According to the screenplay, Don Stevens, who’s learned of the coming massacre, warns the Israelis, but too late for them to stop the terrible events, though they try. The way the movie presents the Israeli forces -they look like a rather large body of concerned archeologists – they wouldn’t have been able to alter the course of history anyway.
The film is a mess..”