With George C. Scott and Marlon Brando heading the cast, The Formula should have been far better than it is. Adapted by Steve Shagan from his own best-selling novel, the film is predicated on the concept that a formula for synthetic fuel had been developed by the Nazis during WW II. In the intervening 35 years since the war's end, the formula has disappeared and several people connected with it have died under mysterious circumstances. Also during this period, oil magnate Adam Steiffel (Marlon Brando) had commiserated with one of the decedents. Police officer Barney Caine (George C. Scott), a friend of the dead man, hopes to solve the mystery, and in so doing gets mixed up in a wide-ranging conspiracy to manipulate worldwide fuel prices. Reportedly, The Formula underwent a great deal of editing-room surgery before its release. If so, the editors certainly erred in retaining so many of the film's interminable "steadicam" sequences.
by Hal Erickson synopsis