Skip to main content

Gary Devore and Norman Wexler’s Raw Deal is a typically ridiculous macho action comedy set in the world of covert operations.  Typical for Gary and Norman, that is, and somewhat for Arnold Schwarzenegger given that it was sandwiched between Commando and Predator.  The script for Raw Deal was reviewed by the Marine Corps entertainment liaison office because the producers wanted to film at Camp Lejeune, but the movie never qualified for DOD support.

At the time the script was known as Triple Identity, and it wasn’t Devore or Wexler who approached the Marine office on Wilshire Blvd.  Production supervisor Michael Stroud wrote to Lt Col Fred Peck following a phone conversation where they discussed potential cooperation.  Stroud included three copies of the script, and the file contains a hand-written draft of a response from Peck, with extensive script notes and suggested dialogue, also hand-written.

Hand written script notes for Raw Deal

Lt Col Peck’s hand written response to the Raw Deal script

Having re-watched Raw Deal the proposed Marine Corps support never materialised, but some changes were made to the script in response to Peck’s notes.  The film did employ a law enforcement technical advisor, the legendary Chicago mob cop Don Herion, who also consulted on and/or appeared in Backdraft, Public Enemies and U.S. Marshals.  He joined the police in 1955 and for a time ran the Vice Detection Unit for the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, before pursuing his dream career as an actor and advisor in Hollywood.  In the absence of military support, he helped fill in a few blanks on Raw Deal.

So, what were the problems with the script?

The Military’s Script Notes on Raw Deal

In Raw Deal Arnold plays a small town sheriff, having been kicked out of the FBI for being too violent.  Viewers of Devore’s masterpiece, Traxx, will notice the similarities in character and plot.  And just like Traxx, Mark Kaminski is drawn back into the action, when a senior FBI agent (‘Harry Ryan’ in the script but ‘Harry Shannon’ in the film) hires him to do an off-the-books infiltration into a Chicago crime family.  The mobsters are responsible for murdering the agent’s son while he was part of a Bureau team guarding a federal witness against the family.  Mark is offered the chance to get back into the FBI if he takes the job of getting inside the family and taking them down.

As written, this covert meeting where the two first discuss the secret operation takes place in a bunker at the firing range at Camp Lejeune, during a Marine Corps training exercise with military personnel and weapons firing in the background.

Excerpt from screenplay for Triple Identity

Exterior bunker scene from the draft for Triple Identity/Raw Deal

Peck found this highly implausible, writing:

Why would two civilians who are trying to meet inconspicuously go to a Marine Corps base and meet in a bunker in the midst of a Marine training exercise?

It’s a fair point, and Peck offered a potential solution.  The FBI training academy is based at the Marine Corps Development and Education Command in Quantico, Virginia, and Peck suggested filming the scene at Lejeune and using signage to indicate it was taking place at the FBI academy in Virginia.  He commented:

After all, pine trees are pine trees and bunkers are bunkers.

This scene was never filmed at Camp Lejeune or at the FBI academy, and in the finished film the meeting takes place at a community centre, in a room marked ‘Marriage Counselling’.  However, it is in the portrait of the Bureau themselves that Peck managed to exert some influence.  His written letter says:

The next area of concern is the script’s depiction of the FBI.  I am certain the Department of Defense will consult with the Justice Department before giving approval for support.

His major concern was that the script needed to make it clear that this is an entirely unsanctioned operation, run and financed privately by Ryan/Shannon, with the motive being vengeance and retribution rather than law enforcement.  He suggested dialogue, having Ryan say he has $45,000 in savings, is financing the op himself and it has nothing to do with the FBI.  While other suggested lines didn’t make it into this scene, these lines appear almost word for word and, as Peck requested, ‘make it clear that Ryan is acting alone, out of grief and rage’.

Other suggested changes, including to a scene where Ryan/Shannon talks to the corrupt DA and drops several hints that he’s running his own op against the family, were ignored and remained as they were in Wexler and Devore’s script.  Other questionable elements not flagged up by Peck include a reference to $10 million in cocaine disappearing from a police station being ‘inside work’ and the DA turning out to be the leak to the crime family that keeps getting FBI undercovers killed.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Raw Deal

Hey hey hey, That’s what I say

The film culminates with Arnold driving a bright white convertible around a huge gravel pit, gunning down bad guys while listening to the Rolling Stones’ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.  He is reinstated by the FBI and goes home to find his alcoholic wife, with whom he has a big argument at the start of the story, is now pregnant and very pleased to see him.

While there is no formal denial in the file the lack of any military support is evident from watching the final cut of Raw Deal, and the military are not credited in any way.  It seems Devore and Wexler only made the suggested changes that they chose to make, because they felt it enhanced the script, rather than to curry favour with the Corps, and their film was made without government assistance.  Obviously, I’m not saying the Marines killed Gary because he refused to make all their requested changes, that would be just as ridiculous as Raw Deal.

It was the CIA who killed him.

US Marine Corps Documents on Raw Deal

US Marine Corps file on Triple Identity/Raw Deal (1986)