Postcards from the Edge (1990)

R | 97 mins | Comedy-drama | 12 September 1990

Director:

Mike Nichols

Writer:

Carrie Fisher

Cinematographer:

Michael Ballhaus

Editor:

Sam O'Steen

Production Designer:

Patrizia Von Brandenstein

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures
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HISTORY

       Mike Nichols was announced as director in a 10 Apr 1987 Publishers Weekly brief, and a 25 Nov 1987 HR item stated Debra Winger was in talks for the role of Suzanne Vale. However, rumors of Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine’s involvement were reported in a 6 Feb 1989 HR item, and confirmed in the 25 Apr 1989 HR, which cited the budget as $17 million and named Columbia Pictures as the distributor. No further mention of MGM was found in AMPAS library files.
       According to a 20 Sep 1989 LAHExam brief, actor Richard Dreyfuss, who was cast in the role of “Dr. Frankenthal,” helped Carrie Fisher with rewrites. A 27 Aug 1990 DV brief noted that Gene Hackman reportedly based his character, “Lowell Kolchek,” a film director “with integrity and generosity,” on Dick Donner. Although items in the 27 Nov 1989 HR and 18 Aug 1989 DV announced the casting of Réal Andrews and Jerry Orbach, who was set to play Suzanne Vale’s father, neither of the actors appeared in the film.
       Two weeks of rehearsals preceded principal photography, as stated in production notes. Filming began 14 Aug 1989 on a Burbank Studios soundstage in Burbank, CA. Los Angeles, CA, locations included the grounds of Marineland, a former oceanarium in Palos Verdes, which stood in for the seaside movie set depicted in the film’s opening sequence; a Holmby Hills mansion that doubled as the home of “Doris Mann”; and an office on Hollywood Boulevard, with views of Mann’s Chinese Theater, standing in for “Marty Wiener’s” office. Filming also took place ... More Less

       Mike Nichols was announced as director in a 10 Apr 1987 Publishers Weekly brief, and a 25 Nov 1987 HR item stated Debra Winger was in talks for the role of Suzanne Vale. However, rumors of Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine’s involvement were reported in a 6 Feb 1989 HR item, and confirmed in the 25 Apr 1989 HR, which cited the budget as $17 million and named Columbia Pictures as the distributor. No further mention of MGM was found in AMPAS library files.
       According to a 20 Sep 1989 LAHExam brief, actor Richard Dreyfuss, who was cast in the role of “Dr. Frankenthal,” helped Carrie Fisher with rewrites. A 27 Aug 1990 DV brief noted that Gene Hackman reportedly based his character, “Lowell Kolchek,” a film director “with integrity and generosity,” on Dick Donner. Although items in the 27 Nov 1989 HR and 18 Aug 1989 DV announced the casting of Réal Andrews and Jerry Orbach, who was set to play Suzanne Vale’s father, neither of the actors appeared in the film.
       Two weeks of rehearsals preceded principal photography, as stated in production notes. Filming began 14 Aug 1989 on a Burbank Studios soundstage in Burbank, CA. Los Angeles, CA, locations included the grounds of Marineland, a former oceanarium in Palos Verdes, which stood in for the seaside movie set depicted in the film’s opening sequence; a Holmby Hills mansion that doubled as the home of “Doris Mann”; and an office on Hollywood Boulevard, with views of Mann’s Chinese Theater, standing in for “Marty Wiener’s” office. Filming also took place on the set of The Pat Sajak Show (CBS, 9 Jan 1989--13 Apr 1990), as stated in an 11 Aug 1989 DV brief. There, a scene was shot in which television host Pat Sajak interviewed Suzanne Vale about her first marriage. However, it does not appear in the final film.
       Procter & Gamble loaned two crystal “People’s Choice” award trophies to filmmakers, to be used as props in the homes of “Jack Falkner” and Doris Mann, as noted in a 16 Aug 1989 DV news item. The Robert La Roche sunglasses worn by Suzanne Vale were provided by Los Angeles-based Starry Eyes, a company founded by optical designer Cheryl Shuman, according to a 24 Sep 1990 People brief.
       At the request of Mike Nichols, Stephen Sondheim re-wrote lyrics to “I’m Still Here,” a song from his 1971 musical Follies, to fit Doris Mann’s character, as noted in a 9 Sep 1990 LAT brief.
       According to a 23 Aug 1990 DV brief, Postcards from the Edge was set to premiere 6 Sep 1990, as the opening night screening at Cinetex ’90, a festival held at Bally’s Casino Resort in Las Vegas, NV.
       The film took in $7.9 million on 1,013 screens in its opening weekend, as noted in a 19 Sep 1990 HR “Hollywood Report” column. An expansion to another 300 screens was set to take place 21 Sep 1990. By 6 Nov 1990, a DV box-office chart of the same date reported the film had grossed $35.5 million.
       Reviews were generally positive, with consistent praise going to the performances of Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine. The film was nominated for Academy Awards in the following categories: Actress in a Leading Role (Streep), and Music – Original Song (“I’m Checkin’ Out” by Shel Silverstein). Golden Globe Award nominations went to Streep for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy, MacLaine for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, and Best Original Song – Motion Picture (“I’m Checkin’ Out”).
       End credits include the following statements: “Photographs of Garland and Belushi by Curtis Management Group; Allan Grant, LIFE Magazine © Time, Inc.; Gjon Mili, LIFE Magazine © Time, Inc.”
      A 16 Apr 1987 LAT brief announced actress-turned-novelist, Carrie Fisher, sold film rights to her debut novel, Postcards from the Edge, to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) for an undisclosed six-figure sum. The “at-least-semi-autobiographical book,” as described in a 2 Sep 1990 NYT article, was set to be released by Simon and Schuster in Aug 1987. The story was partly inspired by Carrie Fisher’s upbringing as the daughter of divorced entertainers, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, her drug addiction and subsequent rehabilitation. MGM also contracted Fisher to adapt the screenplay, which focused on the tumultuous relationship between “Suzanne Vale” and her mother, “Doris Mann,” a “theme that was virtually nonexistent in the novel,” according to NYT. Fisher acknowledged that Doris Mann was unlike her mother, Debbie Reynolds, whom she described as a “fantastic character” and “eccentric.” In a 12 Sep 1990 DV “Just for Variety” column, Reynolds denied having ever argued with her children or being an alcoholic.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 Aug 1989.
---
Daily Variety
16 Aug 1989.
---
Daily Variety
18 Aug 1989.
---
Daily Variety
23 Aug 1990.
---
Daily Variety
27 Aug 1990.
---
Daily Variety
12 Sep 1990.
---
Daily Variety
18 Sep 1990.
---
Daily Variety
6 Nov 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Nov 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Feb 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Nov 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Sep 1990
p. 5, 12.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 1990.
---
LAHExam
20 Sep 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Apr 1987
Calendar, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
9 Sep 1990
Calendar, p. 21.
Los Angeles Times
12 Sep 1990
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
12 Sep 1990
Section E, p. 2.
New York Times
2 Sep 1990
Section A, p. 15.
New York Times
12 Sep 1990
p. 13.
People
24 Sep 1990.
---
Publishers Weekly
10 Apr 1987.
---
Variety
10 Sep 1990
p. 58.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Co-Starring:
Featuring:
Special Appearance by:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Columbia Pictures Presents
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
Scr
Based on her novel
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Key grip
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Asst cost des
MUSIC
Mus numbers supv by
Mus ed
Mus coaching for Ms. MacLaine
Mus prod by
Mus prod by
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Prod sd mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Process projection
MAKEUP
Hair and make-up by
Make-up artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Prod coord
Prod accountant
Scr supv
Asst to Mr. Greenhut
Asst to Mr. Nichols
Transportation coord
Catering by
Extras casting by
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher (New York, 1987).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"I'm Checkin' Out," written by Shel Silverstein, performed by Meryl Streep and Blue Rodeo, Blue Rodeo appears courtesy of Risque Disque, Inc., WEA Music of Canada, Ltd.
"I'm Still Here," written by Stephen Sondheim, performed by Shirley MacLaine
"You Don't Know Me," written by C. Walker and E. Arnold, performed by Meryl Streep
+
SONGS
"I'm Checkin' Out," written by Shel Silverstein, performed by Meryl Streep and Blue Rodeo, Blue Rodeo appears courtesy of Risque Disque, Inc., WEA Music of Canada, Ltd.
"I'm Still Here," written by Stephen Sondheim, performed by Shirley MacLaine
"You Don't Know Me," written by C. Walker and E. Arnold, performed by Meryl Streep
"From This Moment On," written by Cole Porter
"I Love To Be Unhappy," written by Gilda Radner & Paul Shaffer.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 September 1990
Premiere Information:
Las Vegas premiere: 6 September 1990 at Cinetex '90
Los Angeles and New York openings: 12 September 1990
Production Date:
began 14 August 1989
Copyright Claimant:
Halley Film Enterprises
Copyright Date:
21 November 1990
Copyright Number:
PA487958
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo® in selected theatres
Color
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
97
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30214
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Los Angeles, California, actress Suzanne Vale botches her lines while filming a scene in a movie. The director, Lowell Kolchek, suspects Suzanne of snorting cocaine between takes and warns her not to ruin his film. After a night of partying, Jack Falkner wakes up next to Suzanne and finds her unconscious. He drops her off at the emergency room, refuses to give his name, and speeds away. Dr. Frankenthal pumps Suzanne’s stomach, and she wakes up hours later at a rehabilitation center, where she has been sent by her mother, actress Doris Mann. Suzanne is told that she almost died from an overdose, but she vehemently denies being suicidal. Later, Doris Mann shows up late for a friends and family meeting at the rehabilitation center and attracts the attention of a homosexual patient named Bart, who rushes over to introduce himself. Suzanne drags her mother away, as Doris comments on her adoring homosexual fan base. In Suzanne’s room, Doris launches into a conversation about work. She asks if Suzanne has spoken to her business manager, Marty Wiener, then disparages the low-budget project Marty has lined up for her. Suzanne begins to speak, but Doris’s mood shifts and she starts to cry. She says she has always worried that Suzanne would be taken away from her. Agitated by her mother’s histrionics, Suzanne complains that talking to Doris is like talking to her drama coach. On her way out, Doris makes a flippant remark about the blandness of Suzanne’s room and promises to have some provisions sent over. Dr. Frankenthal sends flowers to Suzanne at the rehabilitation center, and she jokes to her roommate, Aretha, about the prospect of going ... +


In Los Angeles, California, actress Suzanne Vale botches her lines while filming a scene in a movie. The director, Lowell Kolchek, suspects Suzanne of snorting cocaine between takes and warns her not to ruin his film. After a night of partying, Jack Falkner wakes up next to Suzanne and finds her unconscious. He drops her off at the emergency room, refuses to give his name, and speeds away. Dr. Frankenthal pumps Suzanne’s stomach, and she wakes up hours later at a rehabilitation center, where she has been sent by her mother, actress Doris Mann. Suzanne is told that she almost died from an overdose, but she vehemently denies being suicidal. Later, Doris Mann shows up late for a friends and family meeting at the rehabilitation center and attracts the attention of a homosexual patient named Bart, who rushes over to introduce himself. Suzanne drags her mother away, as Doris comments on her adoring homosexual fan base. In Suzanne’s room, Doris launches into a conversation about work. She asks if Suzanne has spoken to her business manager, Marty Wiener, then disparages the low-budget project Marty has lined up for her. Suzanne begins to speak, but Doris’s mood shifts and she starts to cry. She says she has always worried that Suzanne would be taken away from her. Agitated by her mother’s histrionics, Suzanne complains that talking to Doris is like talking to her drama coach. On her way out, Doris makes a flippant remark about the blandness of Suzanne’s room and promises to have some provisions sent over. Dr. Frankenthal sends flowers to Suzanne at the rehabilitation center, and she jokes to her roommate, Aretha, about the prospect of going on a date with the man who pumped her stomach. When she completes the rehabilitation program, Suzanne goes with her mother to meet Marty Wiener, who says the producers of Suzanne’s next film will only insure her if she agrees to live with one of her parents during production. Doris, who is divorced from Suzanne’s father, remarks that he is even worse than Suzanne. Eager to get back to work, Suzanne grudgingly agrees to move in with Doris. She shows up for her first day of work on the new movie and meets producer Joe Pierce, who asks for a urine sample by the end of the day. Despite taking offense at the request, she agrees to the drug test. Suzanne dresses for her role as a policewoman and shows up on set, where she is shocked to discover there will be no rehearsals. Flustered, she takes her place against a prop cactus and introduces herself to her co-star, Robert Munch, just before the cameras roll. At the end of the day, Doris chauffeurs Suzanne home to an extravagant surprise party. There, Suzanne nervously snacks on chips and chats with her boisterous grandmother in the backyard, before being called inside to cut the cake. Partygoers urge Suzanne to sing a song. She relents and sings “You Don’t Know Me.” Doris embraces her when the song is over, then feigns surprise when the crowd begs her for a song. Doris instructs the piano player to play “I’m Still Here,” and delivers a choreographed performance that elicits wild applause from everyone, including her daughter. The next day at work, Suzanne is hounded by the director, Simon Asquith, associate producer Neil Bleene, and executive producer George Lazan about her lackluster performance the day before. Outside the costume trailer, she overhears Simon Asquith and the costume designer commiserating over Suzanne’s fat thighs and sagging breasts, and Simon wishes aloud that Suzanne would cope with sobriety by smoking cigarettes instead of snacking. At the end of the day, Suzanne stares longingly at a bottle of prescription pills in someone else’s bag. On the way to her car, she runs into Jack Falkner, the producer who dropped her off at the emergency room, but she cannot remember how she knows him. Jack reminds her they spent the night together and apologizes for not leaving his information at the hospital. She asks if they slept together, but he assures her no. When she asks if they kissed, Jack kisses her to pique her memory. Later, Jack arrives at Doris’s house to pick up Suzanne for a date. Doris banters with him as her taciturn husband, Sid Roth, hurries past them on his way to watch television. Suzanne finds Doris flirting with Jack and pulls her into another room to ask why Doris must always upstage her. At his Malibu ranch, Suzanne tells Jack she does not get involved in casual affairs. However, Jack claims he is falling in love with her and has been bewitched since he first saw her onscreen. Early the next morning, Suzanne returns home to find Doris waiting up with a bottle of wine. Doris accuses her daughter of behaving irresponsibly as she fills up her own wine glass. Doris recalls having a nervous breakdown years ago, and blames their recent estrangement on Suzanne’s inability to move past her rocky adolescence. At work, Suzanne discovers one of her co-stars, Evelyn Ames, has been sleeping with Jack Falkner. In her policewoman costume, Suzanne goes to Jack’s ranch, reproaches him for lying, and shoots him with blanks from her prop handgun as she drives away. Back home, she steals pills from Doris’s medicine cabinet. Doris finds Suzanne eating spaghetti out of the refrigerator and informs her that Marty Wiener has disappeared with all of his clients’ money. Doris pours vodka into her breakfast shake and urges her daughter to record an album to increase her popularity. Suzanne begs Doris to stop telling her how to live her life, and recalls the many times Doris drunkenly embarrassed her as a teenager. Doris blames the incidents on her divorce and subsequent nervous breakdown, and claims her drinking is now under control. She suggests Suzanne is jealous because she cannot control her own drug habit, to which Suzanne responds that Doris was responsible for introducing her to sleeping pills at age nine. Outside, Suzanne swallows the pills she stole. However, minutes later, she pulls over on the side of the road and forces herself to vomit. She shows up for a post-synch recording session with Lowell Kolchek, to fix the lines she flubbed while high on cocaine. Lowell notices Suzanne crying and comforts her. He congratulates her on her sobriety and promises to cast her in his next movie, which begins filming in two months. On the way home, Suzanne sees Doris’s car, crashed into a tree. A police officer relays that Doris was driving drunk and taken to the emergency room with a head injury. At the hospital, Suzanne finds her grandmother chastising Doris and pushes the old woman out of the room. She helps Doris apply her makeup so she can face the paparazzi in the hospital waiting room. Doris admits to being jealous of Suzanne, because it is “her turn” to be a star. She encourages her daughter to enjoy her youth, lamenting that she never enjoyed her own. In the hall, Dr. Frankenthal reintroduces himself to Suzanne, who does not remember him pumping her stomach. He asks her on a date, and she agrees but admits she is not quite ready. He promises to wait. Soon after, on the set of Lowell Kolchek’s latest film, Doris proudly watches from backstage as Suzanne performs a country song. After Lowell calls cut, Suzanne continues to sing along with the band and gleefully dances onstage. +

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

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