Avalon (1990)

PG | 126 mins | Drama | 5 October 1990

Director:

Barry Levinson

Writer:

Barry Levinson

Cinematographer:

Allen Daviau

Editor:

Stewart Linder

Production Designer:

Norman Reynolds

Production Companies:

Tri-Star Pictures , Baltimore Pictures
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HISTORY

       The 25 Aug 1989 DV noted that Dustin Hoffman was originally set to play “Jules Kaye,” before Aiden Quinn took the role. Actor Daniel Stern, who co-starred as “Shrevie” in filmmaker Barry Levinson’s Diner (1982, see entry), told the 16 Jan 1990 Philadelphia Daily News that he was scheduled to appear as “Shrevie” in a cameo, but the Thanksgiving Day shoot conflicted with his own family’s holiday dinner.
       Several sources, including the 3 Jan 1990 Orange County Register, noted that Levinson’s original title for Avalon was The Family.
       Baltimore, MD-based casting agents Greg Mason and Pat Moran advertised the need for 5,000 extras with “Baltimore faces,” searching for “just the right look,” the 3 Sep 1989 Long Beach Press-Telegram reported.
       Principal photography began 6 Sep 1989 and ended 22 Nov 1989, according to the 29 Nov 1989 DV, documents in AMPAS library files, and the 24 Oct 1989 HR, which referred to the film as, Untitled Baltimore Project. Levinson told the 15 Sep 1989 NYT he based Avalon on “a lot of stories I used to hear” when growing up with his Eastern European-Jewish immigrant grandparents, aunts, and uncles; the Krichinskys in real life were modeled on his mother’s family. He also used locations where actual events occurred. The 11 Mar 1990 NYT Magazine reported that on the first days of production, Levinson filmed at what had once been his mother’s brick row home at 1725 Appleton Street in Southwest Baltimore. However, his maternal grandparents’ first neighborhood after they arrived had been ... More Less

       The 25 Aug 1989 DV noted that Dustin Hoffman was originally set to play “Jules Kaye,” before Aiden Quinn took the role. Actor Daniel Stern, who co-starred as “Shrevie” in filmmaker Barry Levinson’s Diner (1982, see entry), told the 16 Jan 1990 Philadelphia Daily News that he was scheduled to appear as “Shrevie” in a cameo, but the Thanksgiving Day shoot conflicted with his own family’s holiday dinner.
       Several sources, including the 3 Jan 1990 Orange County Register, noted that Levinson’s original title for Avalon was The Family.
       Baltimore, MD-based casting agents Greg Mason and Pat Moran advertised the need for 5,000 extras with “Baltimore faces,” searching for “just the right look,” the 3 Sep 1989 Long Beach Press-Telegram reported.
       Principal photography began 6 Sep 1989 and ended 22 Nov 1989, according to the 29 Nov 1989 DV, documents in AMPAS library files, and the 24 Oct 1989 HR, which referred to the film as, Untitled Baltimore Project. Levinson told the 15 Sep 1989 NYT he based Avalon on “a lot of stories I used to hear” when growing up with his Eastern European-Jewish immigrant grandparents, aunts, and uncles; the Krichinskys in real life were modeled on his mother’s family. He also used locations where actual events occurred. The 11 Mar 1990 NYT Magazine reported that on the first days of production, Levinson filmed at what had once been his mother’s brick row home at 1725 Appleton Street in Southwest Baltimore. However, his maternal grandparents’ first neighborhood after they arrived had been torn down and replaced by an industrial district. He also found a prospective location house as it was being torn down. The film’s interior sets were built at Baltimore’s Flite 3 Studios.
       The 30 Sep 1990 Baltimore Sun estimated the film’s budget to be $20 million.
       Though Avalon was about a Jewish family and Yiddish was spoken in several scenes, the characters never referred to their ethnicity. Also, the only holidays they observed in the film were Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July.
       Avalon was Levinson’s third “Baltimore” film, after Diner and Tin Men (1987, see entry). For these films, he shot in the Forest Park neighborhood where he grew up, and even used his childhood home in Tin Men, as well as Avalon.
       The film premiered at the Metropolitan Art Museum of Art in New York City on 27 Sep 1990, the 1 Oct 1990 LAT noted.
      Final credits list the following television shows and movies used in the film: "Howdy Doody ; Colgate Comedy Hour ; Your Hit Parade ; You Bet Your Life ; Texaco Star Theater ; The Aldrich Family ; The Jack Paar Show, courtesy of National Broadcasting Company, Inc.; King of the Rocket Men ; Radar Patrol Vs. Spy King ; Manhunt in the African Jungle, courtesy of Republic Pictures Corporation; Captain Video, courtesy of Fox Television Stations Inc.; Studio One ; Thanksgiving Day Parade, courtesy of CBS Entertainment; Truth or Consequences, courtesy of Ralph Edwards Productions.” Credits also give “Special Thanks to Emerson Radio Corporation, North Bergen, New Jersey; and The 19th Century Bookshop, Baltimore, Maryland.” Final credits also contain the following: “The filmmakers gratefully acknowledge the support and assistance of Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer, Mayor Kurt L. Sehmoke and the wonderful people of the City of Baltimore.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
25 Aug 1989.
---
Daily Variety
29 Nov 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 1990
p. 10, 19.
Long Beach Press-Telegram
3 Sep 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
1 Oct 1990
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
5 Oct 1990
p. 1.
New York Times
15 Sep 1989.
---
New York Times
5 Oct 1990
p. 1.
NYT Magazine
11 Mar 1990
pp. 48-49, 64.
Orange County Register
3 Jan 1990
Section L, p. 4.
Philadelphia Daily News
16 Jan 1990
p. 40.
The Sun (Baltimore)
30 Sep 1990
p. 1C.
Variety
8 Oct 1990
p. 59.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Miscellaneous family members:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Tri-Star Pictures Presents
A Baltimore Pictures Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Film loader
Still photog
Video playback
Chief lighting tech
Elec best boy
Rigging gaffer
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Film processing by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Draftsman
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Drapery foreman
Const coord
Gen foreman
Gen foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Plaster foreman
Paint foreman
Paint foreman
Stand by painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men's cost supv
Women's cost supv
Men's costumer
Men's costumer
Men's costumer
Women's costumer
Women's costumer
Women's costumer
MUSIC
Orch
Scoring mixer
Mus contractor
Mus supv
SOUND
Sd des
Supv sd ed
Asst sd des
Dial ed
ADR ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
ADR rec
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd mixer
Boom op
ADR group coord
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff foreman
Opticals and Titles
Matte painting eff prod by
Dir of matte photog
Matte artist supv
Matte artist
Matte artist
Matte artist
Matte cameraman
Matte cam asst
MAKEUP
Key hairstylist
Key hairstylist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Special makeup eff
Special makeup eft
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Addl casting
Addl casting
Addl casting
Project consultant
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Scr supv
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Post prod supv
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Picture cars
Picture cars
Asst to Mr. Levinson and Mr. Johnson
Asst to Mr. Levinson
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Casting asst
Addl casting
Addl casting
Studio teacher
Dialect coach
First aid
Exec in charge of prod
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"Anniversary Song," written by Al Jolson & Saul Chaplin, performed by Al Jolson, courtesy of MCA Records
"Besame Mucho (Kiss Me Much)," written by Consuelo Velazquez & Sunny Skylar
"Broadway," written by Henri Woode, Teddy McRae & Bill Byrd
+
SONGS
"Anniversary Song," written by Al Jolson & Saul Chaplin, performed by Al Jolson, courtesy of MCA Records
"Besame Mucho (Kiss Me Much)," written by Consuelo Velazquez & Sunny Skylar
"Broadway," written by Henri Woode, Teddy McRae & Bill Byrd
"Dance Ballerina Dance," written by Carl Sigman & Bob Russell
"Down On Pennsylvania Avenue," written by Tom Delaney
"I Can't Get Started," written by Ira Gershwin & Vernon Duke
"If I Only Had A Match," written by Lee Morris, Arthur Johnston & George W. Meyer, performed by Al Jolson, courtesy of MCA Records
"I'll Dance At Your Wedding," written by Ben Oakland & Herb Magidson, performed by Ray Noble and His Orchestra with Buddy Clark, courtesy of CBS Records, Music Licensing Department
"It's A Big Wide Wonderful World," written by John Rox
"Racing With The Moon," written by Vaughn Monroe, Pauline Pope & Johnny Watson, performed by Vaughn Monroe, courtesy of RCA Records
"Silver Bells," written by Jay Livingston & Ray Evans, performed by Bing Crosby & Carol Richards, courtesy of MCA Records
"You Go To My Head," written by Haven Gillespie & J. Fred Coots.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Family
Untitled Baltimore Project
Release Date:
5 October 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 5 October 1990
Production Date:
6 September--22 November 1989 in Baltimore, MD
Copyright Claimant:
ORIX Film Enterprises No. 3
Copyright Date:
21 November 1990
Copyright Number:
PA490127
Physical Properties:
Sound
Spectral Recording Dolby Stereo® SR™ in selected theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
126
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30342
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On the Fourth of July, 1914, Polish Jewish immigrant Sam Krichinsky arrives in Baltimore, Maryland, dazzled by fireworks, parades, and patriotic displays. When he shows up at his four brothers’ last known address, a man whose job is “breaking in” new shoes walks him to their new row house in the Avalon neighborhood. Now, on Thanksgiving Day, sixty years later, Sam tells his grandchildren about that day, and how all five Krichinsky brothers became wallpaper hangers, played violins in a band on weekends, and collected money among themselves to bring more Krichinskys to America. One night in a ballroom, Sam is entranced by a girl named Eva, and marries her. One of the five brothers, William, dies of influenza. Around the large Thanksgiving table each year, Sam retells his stories, but his brothers Nathan, Hymie, and especially Gabriel dispute many of the details. Gabriel argues over whether they brought their father to America in 1925 or 1926, and Sam’s grown son, Jules Kaye, remembers only that the Krichinsky patriarch, whom he expected to be a giant, was tiny: “He’s shorter than me, and I’m only six.” Besides the four surviving brothers and their wives at the table, there are Jules and his wife Ann; Gabriel’s son, Izzy Kirk, and his wife Dottie; and several children, including Michael Kaye. Cousins Jules and Izzy, who changed their surnames to Kaye and Kirk, discuss going into business together. A month later, before Christmas, Jules takes his son, Michael, on his rounds as a salesman. He explains that he became a salesman because work is always available, and it is more dignified than paperhanging. That evening, however, Michael watches his father being mugged ... +


On the Fourth of July, 1914, Polish Jewish immigrant Sam Krichinsky arrives in Baltimore, Maryland, dazzled by fireworks, parades, and patriotic displays. When he shows up at his four brothers’ last known address, a man whose job is “breaking in” new shoes walks him to their new row house in the Avalon neighborhood. Now, on Thanksgiving Day, sixty years later, Sam tells his grandchildren about that day, and how all five Krichinsky brothers became wallpaper hangers, played violins in a band on weekends, and collected money among themselves to bring more Krichinskys to America. One night in a ballroom, Sam is entranced by a girl named Eva, and marries her. One of the five brothers, William, dies of influenza. Around the large Thanksgiving table each year, Sam retells his stories, but his brothers Nathan, Hymie, and especially Gabriel dispute many of the details. Gabriel argues over whether they brought their father to America in 1925 or 1926, and Sam’s grown son, Jules Kaye, remembers only that the Krichinsky patriarch, whom he expected to be a giant, was tiny: “He’s shorter than me, and I’m only six.” Besides the four surviving brothers and their wives at the table, there are Jules and his wife Ann; Gabriel’s son, Izzy Kirk, and his wife Dottie; and several children, including Michael Kaye. Cousins Jules and Izzy, who changed their surnames to Kaye and Kirk, discuss going into business together. A month later, before Christmas, Jules takes his son, Michael, on his rounds as a salesman. He explains that he became a salesman because work is always available, and it is more dignified than paperhanging. That evening, however, Michael watches his father being mugged and stabbed on the street. As Jules recuperates at home, the family brings him a new television set, and everyone expectantly watches a test pattern on the screen. Sam declares that television lacks “what radio has.” In the kitchen, Izzy and Jules discuss selling household goods out of a store, instead of on the street. At school, when Michael is sent to the principal’s office over his confusion between the meaning of “may” and “can,” Sam hurries to the school and argues about the intricacies of the English language. Jules has a revelation: He and Izzy will sell only televisions at their new store. They open Kirk & Kaye’s, with wall-to-wall TV sets, and as soon as the test patterns give way to programs like The Howdy Doody Show, television grows popular and the cousins thrive. Izzy and Jules move their own families, as well as Sam and Eva, from Avalon to the suburb of Forest Park, Maryland, where their houses are on opposite sides of the street. Now the dinner table is smaller, with only Jules’s family and Sam and Eva, and they leave their meals half finished to watch skit comedian Milton Berle on the living room television. Jules says that he and Izzy will be absent more, because they must keep the store open during evenings to stay competitive. Sam’s three brothers, still living in Avalon, rarely visit because the suburbs are too far away. At bedtime, Ann, tired of Eva’s overbearing personality, asks Jules to help his parents move to their own house. One day, the Red Cross telephones Eva to inform her that Simka, her long-lost brother who survived a German concentration camp, has been looking for her. At the Krichinskys’ periodic “family circle” in the old neighborhood, the two older generations discuss family business, including which charities to support, and decide to bring Simka to America. One hot summer night, when Sam takes the children to a park to watch fireworks, he retells his old story about arriving in 1914. Sensing their disinterest, he tells about owning a nightclub and bartending on the night Jules and Izzy came in with their new brides to tell him they had gotten married. Demanding to see their marriage certificates, Sam becomes angry when he sees they have changed their names from Krichinsky to Kaye and Kirk. However, as the married couples join the club’s party atmosphere, Sam gives his blessing by embracing the brides. When Sam finishes the story, the children are asleep and the fireworks have ended. At the new, expanded K & K Store, Jules and Izzy decide on a slogan: “Guaranteed lowest prices in town.” They promise to match any cheaper prices the customers find elsewhere, but their Uncle Nathan does not understand how the concept could be profitable. Ann offers to drive Eva home, but Eva insists that a streetcar would be safer. However, after Ann stops at a gas station, a streetcar runs off the tracks and hits her car, prompting Eva to tell her later that streetcars cannot be trusted. When Jules tells his father he printed fliers to advertise the new store, Sam insists nobody will pay attention to something they get for free. However, the next morning, Jules and Izzy find a line of people waiting at the store. Sam and Eva go to the train station to meet Simka, his wife, Gittle, and their child, Elka, who speak only Yiddish. At the next Thanksgiving family dinner, which stretches from room to room at Jules’s house, the older generation speaks Yiddish with the newcomers, confusing Ann, Dottie, and the children. After waiting for Gabriel and his wife to arrive, they finally carve the turkey. When Gabriel arrives, he is outraged they started without him and storms out, refusing to return to the suburbs. Later, Jules and Izzy open a “discount warehouse,” with “no frills.” Sam tells Simka the family will help him get his own house, but when Sam discusses Simka at the next family circle, several members complain that he is not a Krichinsky, and Gabriel rants about the family not waiting to carve the turkey. Izzy and Jules end the discussion by volunteering to get Simka on his feet. As Sam resigns from the family circle and walks out, Gabriel admonishes him for having no respect, even though his brothers brought him to America in 1914. With Ann expecting a new baby, Sam decides it is time he and Eva move out. As Sam wallpapers the new baby room, he shows Michael how to do it, but emphasizes that he should never paper walls for a living. When Simka moves to New Jersey to manage a farm, the Krichinskys criticize his choice to leave the family so soon. Michael and cousin Teddy Kirk drive with their fathers to the Fourth of July warehouse opening, and during the sales frenzy, the kids blow up a paper airplane with fireworks in the basement. Sparks set straw on fire, but the boys hastily stamp out the flames. That night, the warehouse burns down. The boys swear silence, but Michael takes the streetcar to his grandfather Sam’s house and confesses. At Sam’s insistence, Michael admits to his father what he did. Admiring his son’s honesty, Jules tells him the fire marshal pinpointed the fire’s origin on the fourth floor. Izzy later tells Jules they do not have insurance, because he cancelled the policy in order to pay for television ads. Izzy plans to declare bankruptcy and start from scratch, but Jules decides to become a salesman again and gets a job selling television commercials to retailers. Later, Eva collapses and is taken to the hospital. Rather than go to Thanksgiving dinner at Jules’s house, Sam stays with Eva. Jules, Ann, Michael, and the new baby, David, eat in the living room as they watch a TV show about a family having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. At Eva’s funeral, Gabriel and Nathan do not attend, and Simka is unable to come. Sam wonders what happened to the family. He moves back in with Jules, and as time slips away, Sam calls his younger grandson Michael instead of David. Michael has gone to college. Jules laments to Ann that his father wets the bed. An adult Michael Kaye and his son, also named Sam, visit the ailing grandfather at a convalescent home, where he tells Michael that he is not supposed to name a child after a living grandparent. As Sam slips into memories of old days, young Sam watches television. The old man says, “I came to America in 1914.” Later, young Sam tells his father, “That man talks funny.” Michael describes how his grandfather came to America, which he describes as “the most beautiful place he’d ever seen.” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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