Havana (1990)

Havana (1990)Havana is a drama released in 1990 by Universal Pictures. The film stars Robert Redford, Raul Julia, and Lena Olin. Havana follows the story of Jack Weil, a professional American gambler who visits Havana, Cuba intending to gamble. He meets Bobby Duran, the wife of Arturo, a revolutionary, on the boat to Cuba. The film centers on their trials and tribulations as Bobby is captured by secret police and rescued by Jack Weil.

The film was marketed with the tagline "A gambler who trusted no one. A woman who risked everything. And a passion that brought them together in the most dangerous city in the world."

Cast and Crew of Havana

Havana stars Robert Redford as Jack Weil, Lena Olin as Bobby Duran, Raul Julia as Arturo, and Alan Arkin as Joe Volpi. Other cast members include Tomas Milian, Daniel Davis, Tony Plana, Betsy Brantley, Lise Cutter, Richard Farnsworth, Mark Rydell, Vasek Simek, Fred Asparagus, Richard Portnow, and Dion Anderson.

Havana was directed and produced by Sydney Pollack, with Richard Roth also serving as producer. The film was written by Judith Rascoe and David Rayfiel. Dave Grusin composed the score for Havana. Cinematography was handled by Owen Roizman. Fredric and William Steinkamp edited the picture.

Havana was released on December 12, 1990, and features a running length of 140 minutes.

Plot Synopsis of Havana

Havana begins just before the Cuban Revolution victory, on January 1 of 1959. Jack Weil is traveling by boat from Miami, Florida to Havana, Cuba. Along the way, he meets Roberta Duran. Roberta asks for his help in smuggling army radios to the Cuban revolutionaries. Jack quickly becomes romantically involved with Roberta, and as such, he agrees to help with the smuggling job. Soon, it is revealed that Roberta is married, crushing Jack’s hopes of a romantic engagement.

After arriving in Havana, jack meets up with Julio Ramos, his friend and Cuban journalist. During a night out, the pair meet Roberta and her husband Arturo. It is quickly revealed that Arturo is leading the revolution. Arturo explains the desperate situation that the Cuban people are involved in, and asks Jack for his help. Jack turns him down.

The following morning, Jack reads in the newspaper that many revolutionaries have been captured by secret police, and that Arturo has been killed. Jack attends a poker game where he meets the chief of the secret police. The chief informs him that Roberta has been arrested along with the other revolutionaries, and that she is being tortured. Jack gets ahead in the poker game, and uses the debt owed to him by one of the other players (another secret police member) to bargain for Roberta’s release. Jack takes Roberta back to his apartment, but disappears the following afternoon. At this point, Jack has fallen in love with Roberta, and decides to head further into Cuba to find Roberta, who is hiding at Arturo’s former estate. Jack persuades Roberta to return to Havana and leave Cuba for America. He reveals that he has a diamond sewn into his arm as an insurance policy.

When Jack arrives at his apartment, he is accosted by a pair of Cubans who tell him that Arturo has asked the Jack remove Roberta from Cuba. Surprised to find that Arturo is still alive, he initially tries to act to Roberta as if nothing has changed. During this time, he confirms the story of Arturo’s survival with a CIA operative who he meets. Jack pretends to be a CIA agent himself and goes to meet with Arturo, who is being held by the secret police chief. He offers $50,000 to the chief in exchange for Arturo’s release, saying that the United States government has demanded it. Jack brings his diamond to a jeweler to raise the $50,000 necessary for Arturo’s release.

Finally, Jack informs Roberta that her husband is still alive. Roberta leaves on her own accord to find him, and Jack loses in a poker game with local high rollers. Alan Arkin, playing the role of the casino manager, understands his loss, knowing that rescuing Roberta is his top priority. Meanwhile, the revolutionaries win the insurrection, forcing the government and secret police to flee the country.

The following morning, Jack is dining in a restaurant getting ready to leave Havana when Roberta arrives. She is amazed to find that, based on his bandaged arm, he paid for her husband’s release. The two part ways, and Jack drives to the Florida Keys every year thereafter to look across the water toward Havana and imagine the life he could’ve had with Roberta.

Additional Notes on Havana

Interesting, Raul Julia’s name does not appear in the movie’s credits, despite his major role as Arturo Duran. Supposedly, this was Julia’s choice after producers refused to bill his name alongside Robert Redford’s.

Havana was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score, and a Golden Globe for Best Original Score in a Motion Picture. Havana was also nominated for Grammy award for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture of for Television. Dave Grusin was the recipient of all three nominations.

Although Havana is obviously set in Cuba, it was primarily filmed in the Dominican Republic, where many of the sets were built in an air force base.

Havana was initially deemed a failure at the box office, especially compared to previous Pollack-Redford collaborations such as The Way We Were, Jeremiah Johnson, Out of Africa, and Three Days of the Condor. However, Havana has since earned a reputation as a cult classic.