EXCLUSIVE: Director Who Worked With Wagner, Walken Finalizing Release Deal

Last week, we told you about Life’s a Beach, the only film to have co-starred Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken. Today, we were able to connect with the movie’s writer-director Tony Vitale, who explains that big things are about to happen with his never-released, beach resort-set R-rated comedy.

“The Canadian rights were recently sold first, but after further review of the film, someone wants to buy worldwide rights,” Vitale tells FishbowlLA via telephone from Los Angeles, where he has been based for the past 15 years. “So it’s a matter of us reacquiring the Canadian rights and then doing this new deal. I’m hoping it will be done by the end of the year.”

In the film, Walken plays Roy Callahan, the father of a bride (Rebecca, Christine Lakin) who stands up husband-to-be Darren (Darren Geare) at the altar. Distraught, the passed-over groom heads down to a Club Med type resort with a friend to try and recover. Among the more prominent guests at the vacation spot are a married swinger couple, Tom and Felicia Wald (Wagner, Morgan Fairchild).

Wagner and Walken have no scenes together in the film, although they each worked on the project for about two weeks. That is not entirely by accident. “We were sensitive to that [their real-life connection] going in,” Vitale explains. “In the movie, Fairchild’s character eventually seduces Darren; she and Wagner have both been married multiple times. There’s also a big twist involving Wagner’s character.”

Vitale (pictured) says he has been following news reports about the re-opening of the investigation into the drowning death of Natalie Wood and understands that the renewed attention paid to his film comes in part from these developments. At the same time, he is skeptical about the claims being made in a 2009 book by Splendour captain Dennis Davern.

“Having worked with both Wagner and Walken, and getting a sense of them, I do feel that whatever happened was an accident,” he says. “I think this captain is trying to take advantage of an anniversary moment and is stirring up a lot of crap… Just looking for an angle.”

“We shot this movie down on the [Turks and Caicos] island, and there was that sense of being around water again,” he continues. “Moving a lot people on and off boats, which happens in the movies, it’s very easy to see how someone can slip off a boat. Especially if they did have too much to drink, and the panic that ensues. From the accounts that I have read online, I believe it was an unfortunate accident.”

About halfway through Life’s a Beach, the bride has a change of heart and decides to head down to the resort with dad (Walken) in tow. Vitale was once a staff member at a Club Med and says he based the antics in the 94-minute comedy on his two years of job experience. He wound up shooting the film on a main island that houses a resort where he once worked as a Club Med G.O.

Vitale also commends Wagner for being the kind of collaborator who actually meant it when he suggested the two get together after filming was completed. After Life’s a Beach wrapped, Vitale eventually had dinner with Wagner, Jill St. John and another person connected to the project.

He says he’s not sure if the film will remain titled Life’s a Beach. Once the distribution deal is done, it will be up to the partner company to make that decision.

[Photo courtesy: TonyVitale.com]
Previously on FishbowlLA:
The Comedy That Co-Starred Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken