Arguably Robert De Niro’s best screen roles were in Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Godfather: Part II and The Deer Hunter.
The Deer Hunter was based in part on an unproduced screenplay called ‘The Man Who Came to Play’, by Louis Garfinkle and Quinn K. Redeker about Las Vegas and Russian Roulette. Producer Michael Deeley bought the script and hired writer/director Michael Cimino and Deric Washburn to rewrite it.
He suggested taking the Russian roulette aspect out of America and placing it in the Vietnam War. Along with Washburn and Cimino, credit for the story was given to Louis Garfinkle and Quinn K. Redeker. This was Camino’s second film after the successful Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.
The production team was headed by director of photography Vilmos Zsigmond, musical director Stanley Myers and Editor Peter Zinner. A strong cast was assembled, headed by Robert De Niro as Michael, John Cazale as Stan, John Savage as Steven, Christopher Walken as Nick, Meryl Streep as Linda and George Dzundza as John.