Before They Were Stars: Robert De Niro in “The Swap”

The Swap was released in 1979, well after Robert De Niro was established as one of the top actors in the world, so how does this qualify as a “Before They Were Stars”, you ask? Well, because all the footage featuring Mr. De Niro was originally shot way back in 1969! It seemed to be a popular trend in the late 1970s to uncover never-before-seen footage featuring a big-name star and try to build an entire movie around it (see also Bruce Lee in Game of Death). All the footage featuring De Niro was from one of his very first acting roles in a 1969 film called Sam’s Song, which was never completed because the production ran out of money. After the geniuses at Cannon Films came into possession of the footage, they decided to shoot some brand new scenes and edit them together with the footage from Sam’s Song and the result was a terrible movie called The Swap. Of course, it was released into theatres with De Niro’s name all over it, even though all the footage of him was ten years old, and he was so pissed off that legal action was nearly taken. De Niro’s character is killed off at the beginning of The Swap and as you can see from this clip, the whole structure of the movie involves other people having flashbacks about him, which is where all the old Sam’s Song footage is edited in.

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