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HISTORY

According to production notes in AMPAS library files and the 31 Dec 1989 NYT, White Palace was filmed during eight weeks in St. Louis, MO, with three added days of exteriors shot in New York City. The home of “Nora Baker” was located in a section of St. Louis called “Dogtown.” Principal photography began 16 Oct 1989, the 5 Jan 1990 DV noted.
       The title White Palace was based on the original novel’s hamburger restaurant called “White Palace,” a fictionalized version of the White Castle hamburger franchise.
       The 31 Dec 1989 NYT reported that Susan Sarandon was originally unavailable because she was pregnant. However, an actors’ strike and the production’s delay in finding the male lead pushed the start date back from Mar 1989 to Oct 1989. By then, Sarandon had delivered her baby and was ready to play “Nora Baker.” The producers asked her to retain ten pounds of her pregnancy weight for the role, according to the 3 Oct 1989 USA Today. When James Spader first read for the part of “Max Baron,” producers did not think he was “Jewish enough.” Shortly afterward, however, Spader won the “best actor” award at the Cannes Film Festival for sex, lies, and videotape (1989, see entry), and was offered the part. Kevin Bacon and Rob Lowe were also considered for the role.
       According to the 23 Jan 1990 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dierbergs grocery store near Olive Boulevard and Ross Avenue in Creve Coeur, St. Louis County, MO, was the location of a crucial scene with James Spader, Susan Sarandon, and Rachel Levin. Two local ... More Less

According to production notes in AMPAS library files and the 31 Dec 1989 NYT, White Palace was filmed during eight weeks in St. Louis, MO, with three added days of exteriors shot in New York City. The home of “Nora Baker” was located in a section of St. Louis called “Dogtown.” Principal photography began 16 Oct 1989, the 5 Jan 1990 DV noted.
       The title White Palace was based on the original novel’s hamburger restaurant called “White Palace,” a fictionalized version of the White Castle hamburger franchise.
       The 31 Dec 1989 NYT reported that Susan Sarandon was originally unavailable because she was pregnant. However, an actors’ strike and the production’s delay in finding the male lead pushed the start date back from Mar 1989 to Oct 1989. By then, Sarandon had delivered her baby and was ready to play “Nora Baker.” The producers asked her to retain ten pounds of her pregnancy weight for the role, according to the 3 Oct 1989 USA Today. When James Spader first read for the part of “Max Baron,” producers did not think he was “Jewish enough.” Shortly afterward, however, Spader won the “best actor” award at the Cannes Film Festival for sex, lies, and videotape (1989, see entry), and was offered the part. Kevin Bacon and Rob Lowe were also considered for the role.
       According to the 23 Jan 1990 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dierbergs grocery store near Olive Boulevard and Ross Avenue in Creve Coeur, St. Louis County, MO, was the location of a crucial scene with James Spader, Susan Sarandon, and Rachel Levin. Two local women, Sally Breck and Jackie Ehlin, along with their three-year-old daughters, Julianne Breck and Whitney Ehlin, were used as background actors.
       The 21 Sep 1990 DV, 21 Oct 1990 LAT, and 29 Oct 1990 New York magazine noted that the principal actors were called back for reshoots at the Café Figaro in New York City after test audiences responded unfavorably to the original, less happy ending. Producer Amy Robinson told Var, “There was never a substantially different ending, but the first version had length problems.” Sarandon was so angered by the change that she reportedly refused to do press interviews. The changes were made so late in the production that final credits include cast members whose scenes were cut and an actress who was recast. Also, novelist Glenn Savan was disappointed at how his Nora Baker character was softened for the film. In the book, she was overweight, coarse, alcoholic, racist, and anti-Semitic.
       Reviews were mixed, but many critics found the main characters and their romance unrealistic. Early box office sales were good.
       End credits contain the following acknowledgments: “The producers gratefully acknowledge the help and support of the following: The St. Louis Film Partnership; the Missouri Film Office; George Barris, photos: world copyright, World Rights Reserved; Simon Kohn Kosher Catering; Gold Herringbone Productions; Wehmueller Jewelers, Inc.; the Jewish Community Centers; the University of Missouri Athletic Department; Downtown Imprints; Louise Shapleigh and Towne & Country Stables; Mitsubishi Electric Sales America, Inc.; Premier Film, Video and Recording; Alvaro Lopez-Waterman, Ph. D.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
5 Jan 1990
p. 26
Daily Variety
21 Sep 1990
p. 2
Daily Variety
17 Oct 1990
p. 2, 16
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 1990
p. 5, 22
Los Angeles Times
19 Oct 1990
Calendar, p. 1
Los Angeles Times
21 Oct 1990
Calendar, p. 38
New York
5 May 1990.
---
New York
29 Oct 1990
p. 13
New York Times
31 Dec 1989.
---
New York Times
19 Oct 1990
p. 10
Screen International
3 Nov 1990.
---
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
23 Jan 1990
p. 1
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
28 Jan 1990
Section D, p. 2
USA Today
3 Oct 1989.
Section D, p. 2
Variety
22 Oct 1990
p. 95
Village Voice
23 Oct 1990
p. 70, 71
Wall Street Journal
18 Oct 1990
Section A, p. 14
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Universal Pictures Presents
A Mirage/Double Play Production
A Luis Mandoki Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Co-prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam loader
Gaffer
Elec best boy
Elec
Elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
2d unit dir of photog, New York crew
Gaffer, New York crew
Key grip, New York crew
Panther dolly supplied by
Cam equip supplied by
ART DIRECTORS
Graphic des
Draftsman
Art dept coord
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Post prod supv
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Const coord
Leadman
Greensman
Swing gang
Swing gang
Prop master
Asst prop master
Prop asst
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Const asst
Painter
Painter
Standby painter
Asst prop master, New York crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Costumer
Seamstress
MUSIC
Exec mus prod
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Scoring mixer
Mus contractor
Soloist
Soloist
Soloist
Mus clearance
Mus clearance
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cableman
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd ed
Foley artist
Sd asst
Sd apprentice
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec
ADR mixer
Foley mixer
Sd mixer, New York crew
Boom op, New York crew
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff asst
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Asst makeup/Hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod coord (L.A.)
Scr supv
Asst to Mr. Mandoki
Loc supv
Loc mgr
Loc coord
Loc scout
Casting assoc
Casting asst
Loc casting
Extras casting
Asst extras casting
Voice casting
Craft service
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod secy
Secy to the prods
Secy to the prods
Secy to the prods
Secy to the prods
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Prod accountant
Prod controller
Asst prod accountant
Post prod accountant
Payroll
Loc mgr, New York crew
Helicopter pilot, New York crew
Transportation capt, New York crew
Prod services provided by
Prod equip provided by
Legal services provided by
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Addl voice
Addl voice
Addl voice
Addl voice
Addl voice
Addl voice
Addl voice
Addl voice
Addl voice
Addl voice
Addl voice
Addl voice
Addl voice
Addl voice
Addl voice
Addl voice
Addl voice
Addl voice
Addl voice
Ms. Sarandon's stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel White Palace by Glenn Savan (Toronto, 1987).
AUTHOR
SONGS
“Love Or Money,” performed by Slater Sealove Band, courtesy of Reata, written by James Slater & Carl Sealove
“What Would It Take,” performed by The Centurian Players, written by David Lee
“Guardian Angel,” performed by The Centurian Players, written by David Lee
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SONGS
“Love Or Money,” performed by Slater Sealove Band, courtesy of Reata, written by James Slater & Carl Sealove
“What Would It Take,” performed by The Centurian Players, written by David Lee
“Guardian Angel,” performed by The Centurian Players, written by David Lee
“Boogie Woogie Baby,” performed by The Centurian Players, written by Ken Wesley & J. Remington Wilde
“Tulsa Time,” performed by The Centurian Players, written by Daniel Flowers
“Good Hearted Woman,” performed by The Centurian Players, written by Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings
“O Mio Babbino Caro,” aria from the opera Gianni Schicchi, performed by The Munchner Rundfunkorchester, conducted by Karl Eichhom, soprano by Lucia Popp, courtesy of Acanta Records/ Sounds of Film, Ltd., written by Giacomo Puccini
“Wie Nahte Mir Der Schlummer,” aria from the opera Der Freischutz, performed by The Munchner Rundfunkorchester, conducted by Karl Eichhom, soprano by Lucia Popp, courtesy of Acanta Records/Sounds of Film, Ltd., written by Carl Maria von Weber
“Younger Men,” performed by K. T. Oslin, courtesy of RCA Records, written by K. T. Oslin
“For All We Know,” performed by The Bottom Line, written by Robb Wilson, James Griffin & Fred Karlin
“Your Reputation,” performed by Shona Laing, courtesy of Virgin Records Australia Pty Ltd., written by Shona Laing
“Highway Warriors,” performed by Shona Laing, courtesy of Virgin Records Australia Pty Ltd., written by Shona Laing.
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DETAILS
Release Date:
19 October 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 19 Oct 1990; New York opening: week of 19 Oct 1990
Production Date:
began 16 Oct 1989
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
9 January 1991
Copyright Number:
PA496403
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
103
Length(in feet):
9,266
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30582
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In St. Louis, Missouri, Max Baron arrives in a tuxedo at Neil Horowitz’s bachelor party with a bag of fifty mini-hamburgers from the White Palace fast-food restaurant, but discovers that six of the boxes are empty. When he drives to the White Palace to complain, cashier Nora Baker grudgingly gives him a refund. Max returns to the party in time for a slide show, and when a high school photograph of his late wife, Janey Roth, comes on the screen, Max becomes morose. Neil chides him for still grieving. Driving home, Max stops at a tavern, where Nora Baker is sitting at the bar. She buys Max a drink, and suspects that he feels sorry for himself because he lost his girl friend. When Nora asks what happened, Max tells her his wife died in a car accident. Nora’s burst of laughter shocks him, but she explains that she lost her son, Charlie, to leukemia. Intoxicated, Max stumbles outside, and Nora follows. She asks for a ride home and he drives her to her apartment in the working-class “Dogtown” neighborhood. As Max smashes into her mailbox and knocks out a headlight, Nora giggles and helps him inside. There, he notices that one wall is covered with photographs of Marilyn Monroe, and she explains that her name is Nora Baker and Marilyn’s real name was Norma Jean Baker. She also admires the late actress’s constant struggle for respect. Nora invites Max to spend the night, since he cannot drive home in his condition, and he falls asleep on the couch. Awakened at daybreak, Max imagines seeing his wife, Janey, but realizes that Nora is giving him oral sex. When Nora ... +


In St. Louis, Missouri, Max Baron arrives in a tuxedo at Neil Horowitz’s bachelor party with a bag of fifty mini-hamburgers from the White Palace fast-food restaurant, but discovers that six of the boxes are empty. When he drives to the White Palace to complain, cashier Nora Baker grudgingly gives him a refund. Max returns to the party in time for a slide show, and when a high school photograph of his late wife, Janey Roth, comes on the screen, Max becomes morose. Neil chides him for still grieving. Driving home, Max stops at a tavern, where Nora Baker is sitting at the bar. She buys Max a drink, and suspects that he feels sorry for himself because he lost his girl friend. When Nora asks what happened, Max tells her his wife died in a car accident. Nora’s burst of laughter shocks him, but she explains that she lost her son, Charlie, to leukemia. Intoxicated, Max stumbles outside, and Nora follows. She asks for a ride home and he drives her to her apartment in the working-class “Dogtown” neighborhood. As Max smashes into her mailbox and knocks out a headlight, Nora giggles and helps him inside. There, he notices that one wall is covered with photographs of Marilyn Monroe, and she explains that her name is Nora Baker and Marilyn’s real name was Norma Jean Baker. She also admires the late actress’s constant struggle for respect. Nora invites Max to spend the night, since he cannot drive home in his condition, and he falls asleep on the couch. Awakened at daybreak, Max imagines seeing his wife, Janey, but realizes that Nora is giving him oral sex. When Nora falls asleep, Max straightens her apartment. He finds a photograph of a young boy, with the name “Charlie” written on the back. Returning to his modern apartment on the other side of town, Max listens to telephone messages from his mother, Neil Horowitz, and Heidi Solomon, a young woman who offers to take him to the symphony that night. Max drives his mother to the cemetery, where they leave stones on Janey’s grave. As his mother cries, Max remembers his sexual encounter with Nora. That night, he drives to her house and presents her with a new mailbox. Nora warns Max that she is almost forty-four years old, and he admits to being twenty-seven. They make love, and Max begins to visit her regularly. At the advertising agency where he works, Max’s boss, Rosemary, asks about his lapse in productivity and assigns him a new account, insisting that he keep his new love life on his own time. One night, Max presents Nora with a hand-held vacuum cleaner, but she becomes angry and orders him out of the house. Returning the next night with flowers and groceries, Max fixes her dinner with wine, and Nora thanks him for making her feel beautiful. The next day, Nora cleans her apartment. When Max receives a wedding invitation from Neil Horowitz and Rachel Rosen, he lies to Nora that he will be with his mother on Saturday. Aware that something is bothering him, Nora acknowledges that the difference in their social backgrounds is a serious impediment. She asks if Max wants to end their relationship, but he refuses. When Max attends the wedding alone, Rachel tries to set him up with one of her friends, but Neil explains that Max already has a “mysterious” girl friend. Afterward, Max carries flowers to Nora’s house, but she is angry because she learned about the wedding when she telephoned his mother. Nora demands to know why he lied to her, and Max explains that she would have been uncomfortable at a Jewish wedding. Nora accuses him of being ashamed to show her to his friends, and begs him to never lie to her again. One day, Nora’s older sister, Judy, stops at the apartment on her way to New York City while Nora is at work. Introducing herself as a tarot card reader and psychic, Judy takes Max’s hands in hers and describes her perception of his deep sadness. She can tell he is trying to make a place for Nora, but another woman is in the way. When she adds that the woman has a broken neck, Max pulls away, frightened. That evening, Nora joins them for dinner. As the couple discuss how they met in a bar, Judy tells Nora that Max truly loves her. Before leaving the next morning, Judy privately informs Max that she once gave Charlie a “reading” when he was a baby, and knew then how he would end up fourteen years later, dead on a river bank from alcohol or drugs. Later, Max runs into Rachel Horowitz at a supermarket. Nora sees them talking, but does not approach. When Max rejoins Nora, he identifies Rachel offhandedly as an old friend. He takes Nora to his apartment for the first time. Looking at his books, she expresses her admiration for the playwright Arthur Miller, because he was good to Marilyn Monroe in her time of need. When Nora asks why he put his jacket over his message machine, he plays the messages to show he has nothing to hide. The voices of Max’s mother, Rachel Horowitz, and Heidi Solomon reveal a side of Max she has never seen. When Rachel’s voice tells Max she is dying to see his “mystery woman” at her Thanksgiving dinner, Max is forced to invite Nora. On Thanksgiving, Max and Nora pick up his mother, Edith Baron, who demands to sit in the front seat. At the dinner, Max’s best friend, Larry Klugman, fixes Nora a drink, but his wife, Sherri, pulls him away. Feeling out of place, Nora goes into the ladies’ room and smokes a cigarette. When Sherri enters and asks where she works, Nora admits she is a waitress at the White Palace. Resentful of Sherri’s smug attitude, Nora insults her. At dinner, she gets into a political argument with Neil’s father, reveals her own working-class background, and challenges his liberal pretensions. When Nora leaves, Max follows. She is angry because she recognized Rachel from the supermarket, and knows Max was trapped into taking her to the dinner. Although he admits his own dishonesty, Max accuses Nora of lying about her son’s death. She asks him to leave. Desperate to see Nora again, Max goes to the White Palace, but another waitress informs him that Nora quit. He finds her apartment empty except for a letter, in which she explains that she left town because it was wrong for them to be together, even though she loves him. When Max attends a party at Heidi Solomon’s, Neil and Rachel insist that Heidi is perfect for him, but Max wonders how anybody knows who is right for each other, since none of their married friends seem to be in love. Using a business card that Judy gave him, Max leaves St. Louis and drives to her tarot reading shop in New York City. Judy sends him to a restaurant across the street, where Nora works as a waitress. Max apologizes, and explains that he now realizes that he, not her, was the stranger in his life. He has moved to an apartment in New York, plans to return to teaching, and wants to be with her. Nora takes his order, and they embrace on the table as customers applaud.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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