Behind the Screen

Updated June 12

The following features interesting trivia and stories about the productions and actors of older and current films. Titles are chosen arbitrarily. This page will be updated every other Tuesday.
Note: As always..Spoiler Alerts



Identity (2003)

R (1 hr, 30 min) Director - James Mangold


Identity is a 2003 psychological thriller film directed by James Mangold from a screenplay written by Michael Cooney. The film stars John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Alfred Molina, Clea DuVall and Rebecca De Mornay.



Basic Plot:

Stranded at a desolate Nevada motel during a nasty rainstorm, ten strangers become acquainted with each other when they realize that they're being killed off one by one.



While it is not a direct adaptation of the 1939 Agatha Christie whodunit novel And Then There Were None, which was adapted for feature films in 1945, 1965, 1974, 1987 and 1989, the plot draws from the structure the novel first popularized in which 10 strangers arrive at an isolated location which becomes temporarily cut off from the rest of the world, and are mysteriously killed off one by one. Several events which take place in the hours before the characters arrived at the hotel are introduced at key moments during the film using a reverse chronology structure. A Hindi movie of Bollywood named Khamoshh... Khauff Ki Raat was made in 2005 following the storyline of Identity.



There was some location shooting in Lancaster and other places in Los Angeles County, but the majority of the movie was shot on an enormous sound stage at Sony Studios in Culver City (the same studio that once housed the set for the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz (1939). Angelo Badalamenti was originally signed to score the film, but his music was replaced with a new score by Alan Silvestri (Silvestri had previously replaced Badalamenti on 1991's Shattered).

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 62%, based on 171 reviews. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote upon the film's release, "Altogether, there are 10 guests. One by one, they die. Agatha Christie fans will assume that one of them is the murderer, or maybe it's the clerk... I think it is possible that some audience members, employing [my] Law of Economy of Characters, might be able to arrive at the solution slightly before the movie does."



Identity opened on April 25, 2003 in the United States and Canada in 2,733 theaters. The film ranked at #1 on its opening weekend, accumulating $16,225,263. Identity went on to gross $52.1 million in the United States and Canada and $38.1 million overseas. In total, the film has grossed over $90 million worldwide, making it a box office success against its $28 million budget.

The film was nominated for Best Action, Adventure or Thriller Film and Best DVD Special Edition Release at 30th Saturn Awards, but lost to Kill Bill Volume 1 and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, respectively.


Saturn awards

The poem "As I was going up the stair / I met a man who wasn't there. / He wasn't there again today / I wish, I wish he'd go away" which one of the characters claims to have written when young, is really a poem named Antigonish by William Hughes Mearns. This poem was also turned into a popular song, giving it widespread attention.



Bret Loehr gets only one line of dialogue in the whole film. And even then, some of it is spoken first by Pruitt Taylor Vince.

This was Frederick Coffin's final acting role before his death on July 31, 2003 at the age of 60.



The song the prisoner starts to sing as he is lead to the bathroom is I Got Stripes a prison song by Johnny Cash who died the year after the films release.

John Cusack and Amanda Peet would later go on to play the lead roles in 2012 (2009), where they play a recently divorced couple. Also, Cusack played a limousine driver in 2012, while his character in Identity is a driver.



When Ed (John Cusack) shoots Rhodes (Ray Liotta) at the end of the movie, you can see Rhodes mouth the words "I didn't do this" and Ed replies "I know". Neither of these lines are audible. They were muted because the director felt that would make it obvious that Rhodes was not the killer, thus making the true climax (finding that Timmy is the killer) less surprising.

A life-size dummy was created to depict the murdered character played by Jake Busey, with a baseball bat lodged in his throat. One of the studio executives asked to keep the dummy as a souvenir, and stored it in his office closet. One night a cleaning woman opened the closet and was frightened out of her wits. The dummy was removed from the offices immediately after that incident.

The killer can be seen at Caroline Suzanne's motel room window through a muslin drape in a reflection while she is standing at the mirror. The killer is also briefly seen in the background, passing the laundry room window, after Ed Dakota enters, opens the second dryer door and glances toward the third dryer.

Several endings were filmed in order to shroud the real conclusion in secrecy.



The odds of all ten characters having the same birthday are approximately 1 in 115,694,315,636,972,669,502,854 (that's about 1 in 115 sextillion).

The motel manager corpse that was hidden in the freezer by Larry is played by Stuart M. Besser, the executive producer and production manager for the movie.



Body count: 14. This does not count the girl Ed didn't save or the 6 people Malcolm killed in the past.



While explaining Malcolm Rivers' multiple personality disorder to the "Ed" personality, Dr. Malick says "Malcolm is in the midst of..." But it's clear from reading his lips that the line has been dubbed and he actually says "Malcolm is in the middle of..." Presumably this line was post-synced to avoid confusion with (and an unexpected reference to) the TV series Malcolm in the Middle (2000).

The first few opening credits leave behind a letter to the word "IDENTITY" as they fade away.



When Ms. Suzanne is first given a room, the manager says "Number 8 is cozy." and hands her the keys. When she comes out of the room to check for service on her phone, the number on the door is 9.

The car used by the Nevada Department of Prisons had a blue license plate with white letters. These are actually personalized plates issued by the Nevada DMV. In Nevada, all state government owned vehicles have the standard license plate and they all have "EX" as the first two letters.

When Ed is driving just before hitting Alice, the camera is looking over his shoulder. You can clearly see that the digital speedometer reads 0.

When Ginny is in the locked bathroom, and Lou is being killed outside of the door, the door is shaken and the slide lock falls apart, yet the door remains locked.


John Cusack as Edward "Ed" Dakota, a limousine driver and a former Los Angeles police officer.
Ray Liotta as Samuel Rhodes, an escaped convict masquerading as the correctional officer who was transporting him and Maine.
Amanda Peet as Paris Nevada, a prostitute leaving Las Vegas to buy a citrus grove in Florida.
Clea DuVall as Ginny Virginia, a superstitious newlywed.
William Lee Scott as Lou Isiana, Ginny's husband.
Rebecca De Mornay as Caroline Suzanne, an '80s Hollywood TV actress chauffeured by Ed.
John Hawkes as Larry Washington, the motel manager.
Leila Kenzle as Alice York, a wife and mother who is injured in a car accident.
John C. McGinley as George York, Alice's husband and Timmy's stepfather.
Bret Loehr as Timothy "Timmy" York, Alice's son and George's stepson.
Jake Busey as Robert Maine, Rhodes' fellow inmate still in his prison jumpsuit
Pruitt Taylor Vince as Malcolm Rivers, a convicted mass murderer.
Holmes Osborne as Judge Taylor
Frederick Coffin as Detective Varole
Carmen Argenziano as Defense Lawyer
Matt Letscher as Assistant District Attorney
Marshall Bell as District Attorney
Alfred Molina as Dr. Malick, a psychiatrist.