Hairspray (1988)

PG | 93 mins | Comedy | 26 February 1988

Director:

John Waters

Writer:

John Waters

Producer:

Rachel Talalay

Cinematographer:

David Insley

Editor:

Janice Hampton

Production Designer:

Vincent Peranio

Production Company:

New Line Cinema
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HISTORY

       According to a 14 May 1988 Screen International article, co-producer Stanley F. Buchthal funded the development of writer-director John Waters’s screenplay, and New Line Cinema bought the rights from Buchthal. Waters stated in a 1 Jan 1988 NYT article that the story was inspired by 1960s music and novelty dances like “The Roach” and “The Bug,” which he performed in pitch meetings. While Screen International cited the production budget as $5.6 million, a 20 May 1987 Var article reported it as $3.5 million, and Waters recalled in a 12 Jul 2007 DV news item that he made the film for $2.8 million, noting it was “the biggest budget [he had] ever had.” Citing an even lower number, a 31 May 1987 LAT item quoted Waters as saying the budget was “under $2 million.” A 21 Feb 1988 NYT article noted that Waters spent seven months obtaining song rights, which cost $400,000.
       According to 23 Jun 1987 HR production charts, principal photography began 1 Jun 1987 in Baltimore, MD, although news items in the 18 May 1987 HR and 20 May 1987 Var listed 15 Jun 1987 as the start date.
       Waters wrote the part of “Franklin Von Tussle” for Sonny Bono because Waters needed an internationally known rock and roll star in the film, as stated in a 28 Jun 1987 LAT news brief. The writer-director cast himself in the cameo role, “Dr. Frederickson,” for which he joined the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), according to a 4 Mar 1988 LAT item. Because another ... More Less

       According to a 14 May 1988 Screen International article, co-producer Stanley F. Buchthal funded the development of writer-director John Waters’s screenplay, and New Line Cinema bought the rights from Buchthal. Waters stated in a 1 Jan 1988 NYT article that the story was inspired by 1960s music and novelty dances like “The Roach” and “The Bug,” which he performed in pitch meetings. While Screen International cited the production budget as $5.6 million, a 20 May 1987 Var article reported it as $3.5 million, and Waters recalled in a 12 Jul 2007 DV news item that he made the film for $2.8 million, noting it was “the biggest budget [he had] ever had.” Citing an even lower number, a 31 May 1987 LAT item quoted Waters as saying the budget was “under $2 million.” A 21 Feb 1988 NYT article noted that Waters spent seven months obtaining song rights, which cost $400,000.
       According to 23 Jun 1987 HR production charts, principal photography began 1 Jun 1987 in Baltimore, MD, although news items in the 18 May 1987 HR and 20 May 1987 Var listed 15 Jun 1987 as the start date.
       Waters wrote the part of “Franklin Von Tussle” for Sonny Bono because Waters needed an internationally known rock and roll star in the film, as stated in a 28 Jun 1987 LAT news brief. The writer-director cast himself in the cameo role, “Dr. Frederickson,” for which he joined the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), according to a 4 Mar 1988 LAT item. Because another actor named John Waters already existed, SAG asked Waters to add his middle initial to the credit, but Waters appealed on the basis that he was “firmly established on a national basis as John Waters.”
       The film premiered 16 Feb 1988 in Baltimore at the Senator Theater, with a Hairhopper Ball following at the Baltimore Museum of Art. 900 attendees paid $25 for the screening, and the event raised roughly $15,000 to benefit the charity AIDS Action Baltimore. As stated in the 14 May 1988 Screen International, Hairspray was considered “a ‘special’ film with break-out potential”; thus, seventy-four prints were initially struck, with the number of prints in circulation increased to more than 200 after the film performed well in “upscale” markets. An 11 Mar 1988 DV news item stated that the film had taken in $1.5 million in ten days of release at less than eighty theaters and was expanding to 228 screens on 12 Mar 1988. Although Waters’s muse, transvestite actor Divine (“Arvin Hodgepile/Edna Turnblad”) had died earlier that week on 7 Mar 1988, New Line made clear that the widened release had no relation to the publicity surrounding the actor’s demise. A 4 May 1988 HR item reported the cumulative box-office gross, to date, as $5,706,866.
       Critical reception was generally positive. Praise went to Waters’s transition from campier material such as 1981’s Polyester and 1973’s Pink Flamingos (see entries) into mainstream storytelling and to his depiction of the early 1960s, which the 26 Feb 1988 NYT review described as a “wildly colorful celebration of this bygone era.” The 25 Feb 1988 LAT deemed the film “deliriously fast and funny,” and both the 27 Jan 1988 Var and 21 Jan 1988 HR reviews singled out the soundtrack as a highlight. As reported in a 24 Jan 1989 LAT item, Hairspray received six Independent Spirit Award nominations, including Best Feature, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress (Ricki Lake).
       A musical of the same name, based on the film, opened on 14 Jun 2002 at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, WA, and on 15 Aug 2002 at the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway in New York City. An announcement in the 5 Mar 2004 DV reported that a feature film adaptation of the musical was in development, with New Line Cinema producing. John Waters served as a consultant on both the musical and the film, which was also titled Hairspray (2007, see entry).
      End credits note that amusement park scenes were filmed on location at Dorney Park and Wild Water Kingdom in Allentown, PA, and include a “Special Thanks” to: City of Baltimore; Bob Adams; Maryland Port Authority; Tim Potee; Colonial Dodge, Rockville, Maryland; Bruce Hen and Larry Paradis – Channel 2; Hullabaloo; The Zone; Dwight Weems – Channel 45; Cas Faulkenhan – Audio Visual Services; Pepsi Cola; El Dorado Beauty Academy; Just Wonderful; Woman’s World; Tootsie Roll; Alan Lee – Roadhouse Oldies; Necco Wafers; Margie Coffy – Ferndale Oldies; Dentine; Barbara Thompson and the art students of Mergenthaler Vocational Tech.; Keds; Converse; Ralph Shaw of Shaw Brothers Amusements; Ray Ban; Flite 3 Studios, Baltimore; Levi Strauss. End credits also include the statement: “Filmed on location in Baltimore, Maryland.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 Mar 1988.
---
Daily Variety
17 Jun 2002
p. 28, 36.
Daily Variety
5 Mar 2004
p. 1, 46.
Daily Variety
12 Jul 2007.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 May 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 1988
p. 3, 50.
Hollywood Reporter
4 May 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
31 May 1987.
---
Los Angeles Times
28 Jun 1987.
---
Los Angeles Times
18 Feb 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Feb 1988
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
4 Mar 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
24 Jan 1989
Section E, p. 8.
New York Times
1 Jan 1988
p. 1, 18.
New York Times
21 Feb 1988
Section A, p. 23.
New York Times
26 Feb 1988
p. 17.
Screen International
14 May 1988.
---
Variety
20 May 1987
p. 9, 41.
Variety
27 Jan 1988
p. 11.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
special appearances:
Council members:
Josh A. Charles
Governor's mansion pickets:
Von Tussle pickets:
[and]
Amusement park patrons:
[and]
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
New Line Cinema Presents
in association with Stanley F. Buchthal
a Robert Shaye Production
a John Waters Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d cam op
Cam intern
Best boy elec
Key grip
Dolly grip
Best boy grip
Crane op
Addl 1st asst cam
Video assist op
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Picture car coord
Prop master
Set dresser
Set dresser
Scenic carpenter
Scenic carpenter
Scenic des
Carpenter
COSTUMES
Cost
Ward supv
Ward supv
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward graphics
Ward intern
MUSIC
Mus supv
Orig mus
Mus consultant
Asst mus ed
Addl mus courtesy of
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Re-rec at
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
ADR mixer
Foley mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Asst sd ed
Addl voices
Addl voices
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Title des
DANCE
Choreog
Asst choreog
Dance consultant
MAKEUP
Makeup des
Hair des
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup asst
Hairstylist
Barber/Stylist
Hair asst
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting dir
Casting dir - Baltimore
Line prod
Unit mgr
Prod supv
Scr supv
Unit mgr/Allentown
Prod consultant
Legal affairs
Prod accountant
Prod coord
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst unit mgr
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Casting/Allentown
Casting asst
Casting asst
Casting intern
Craft services
Asst craft services
Asst craft services
Post prod supv
Development
Unit pub
Catering
24 frame video playback
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"Hairspray," performed by Rachel Sweet, produced by Kenny Vance, written by Rachel Sweet, Anthony Battaglia and Willa Bassen, courtesy of Studio 900 Music, Sweet Rebel Music and New Line Music
"You'll Lose A Good Thing," performed by Barbara Lynn, courtesy of Jamie Record Co., written by Barbara Lynn Ozen, courtesy of Dandelion Music Co. and Crazy Cajun Music
"Mama Didn't Lie," performed by Jan Bradley, courtesy of MCA Records, written by Curtis Mayfield, courtesy of Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.
+
SONGS
"Hairspray," performed by Rachel Sweet, produced by Kenny Vance, written by Rachel Sweet, Anthony Battaglia and Willa Bassen, courtesy of Studio 900 Music, Sweet Rebel Music and New Line Music
"You'll Lose A Good Thing," performed by Barbara Lynn, courtesy of Jamie Record Co., written by Barbara Lynn Ozen, courtesy of Dandelion Music Co. and Crazy Cajun Music
"Mama Didn't Lie," performed by Jan Bradley, courtesy of MCA Records, written by Curtis Mayfield, courtesy of Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.
"Mashed Potato Time," performed by Dee Dee Sharp, courtesy of ABKCO Records, a Div. of ABKCO Music & Records, Inc., written by William Garrett, Robert Bateman, Georgia Dobbins, Brian Holland and Freddie Gorman, courtesy of Jobete Music Co., Inc., Stone Agate Music Division and Rice Mill Publishing
"Let's Twist Again," performed by Chubby Checker, courtesy of ABKCO Records, a Div. of ABKCO Music & Records, Inc., written by Kal Mann and Dave Appell, courtesy of Kalmann Music Inc.
"Hide And Go Seek, Part I," performed by Bunker Hill, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc., written by Bunker Hill, courtesy of Edward B. Marks Music Co.
"Gravy," performed by Dee Dee Sharp, courtesy of ABKCO Records, a Div. of ABKCO Music & Records, Inc., written by Kal Mann and Dave Appell, courtesy of Kalmann Music Inc.
"The Fly," performed by Chubby Checker, courtesy of Dominion Entertainment, Inc., written by John Madera and David White, courtesy of Woodcrest Music and Mured Publishing Co.
"Shake A Tail Feather," performed by The Five Du-Tones, courtesy of Onederful Records, written by Verlie Rice, Otis Hayes and Andre Williams, courtesy of Vapac Music Publishing Company
"Life's Too Short," performed by The Lafayettes, courtesy of RCA Records, a Bertelsmann Music Group company, written by Lee Bonner and Phil Huth, courtesy of Duchess Music Corp. (MCA)
"I Wish I Were A Princess," performed by Little Peggy March, courtesy of RCA Records, a Bertelsmann Music Group Company, written by George David Weiss, Hugo and Luigi, courtesy of Boca Music Company and Planetary Music Publishing Corp.
"You Don't Own Me," performed by Leslie Gore, courtesy of Polygram Special Projects, a Division of Polygram Records, Inc., written by Davie White and John Madera, courtesy of Unchappell Music, Inc.
"Dancin Party," performed by Chubby Checker, courtesy of ABKCO Records, a Div. of ABKCO Music & Records, Inc., written by Kal Mann and Dave Appell, courtesy of Kalmann Music Inc.
"I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)," performed by The Ikettes, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Projects, written by Ike Turner, courtesy of Unichappell Music, Inc. and Placid Music Corp.
"The Madison Time," performed by The Ray Bryant Combo, courtesy of CBS Records, written by Eddie Morrison and Ray Bryant, courtesy of Tro-Ludlow Music, Inc.
"Nothing Takes The Place Of You," performed by Toussaint McCall, courtesy of Ronn Records, written by Toussaint McCall, courtesy of Suma Publishing Inc.
"Pony Time," performed by Chubby Checker, courtesy of ABKCO Records, a Div. of ABKCO Music & Records, Inc., written by Don Covay and John Berry, courtesy of Harvard Music Inc., sole agents Ivan Mogull Music Corp.
"Limbo Rock," performed by Chubby Checker, courtesy of Dominion Entertainment, Inc., written by Jon Sheldon and Billy Strange, courtesy of Acoff-Rose/Opryland Music, Inc.
"Town Without Pity," performed by Gene Pitney, courtesy of Gusto Records, under license from CBS Special Products, written by Ned Washington and Dimitri Tiomkin, courtesy of SBK-U-Catalog, Inc.
"Waddle, Waddle," performed by The Bracelettes, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc., written by Rudy Clark, courtesy of Carbert Music, Inc.
"Train To Nowhere," performed by The Champs, courtesy of All-Star Masters, Inc.-Challenge Records, written by Dave Burgess, courtesy of Golden West Melodies, Inc.
"The Roach Dance," performed by Gene and Wendell, courtesy of Original Sound Entertainment, written by Alonzo B. Willis and Kathy Vanetoulis, courtesy of Bloor-Hoffman House Publishers
"The Bird," performed by The Two Dutones, courtesy of CBS Records, written by Richard Parker and Leo Austell, courtesy of Lamaja Music
"The Bug," performed by Jerry Dallman and The Knightcaps, courtesy of Punch Records, written by Jerry Dallman and Milton Grant, courtesy of Andval Music
"Do The New Continental," performed by The Dovells, courtesy of ABKCO Records, a Div. of ABKCO Music & Records, Inc., written by Kal Mann and Dave Appell, courtesy of Kalmann Music Inc.
"Foot Stompin,'" performed by The Flares, courtesy of Antler Records, written by Aaron Collins, courtesy of Symbol Music Inc. and Velvet Touch Music
"Duke Of Earl," performed by Gene Chandler, courtesy of Veejay International Inc., written by Earl Edwards, Eugene Dixon and Bernice Williams, courtesy of Conrad music, a Division of ARC Music Corp.
"Day-O," written by Irving Burgie and William Attaway, courtesy of Lord Burgess Music Publishing Co., Cherry Lane Music Publishing Co., Inc.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
26 February 1988
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 26 February 1988
Production Date:
began early June 1987 in Baltimore, MD
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Ultra-Stereo®
Color
Duration(in mins):
93
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28864
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1963 Baltimore, Maryland, overweight teenager Tracy Turnblad dreams of dancing on The Corny Collins Show, a local television program featuring a “council” of teenagers dancing to popular songs. One night, Tracy and her best friend, Penny Pingleton, sneak out to a record “hop” hosted by Corny Collins. Disappointed to find the event is segregated, they go in anyway and Tracy impresses the guest judge, Motormouth Maybelle, a local African American celebrity who co-hosts the The Corny Collins Show’s once-monthly “Negro Day.” Tracy and her dancing partner, Fender, win that night’s dance contest, narrowly beating council dancers Amber Von Tussle and her boyfriend, Link Larkin. Corny invites Tracy to audition for his show at the WZZT television studio the next day. There, Penny and an African American dancer, Nadine Carver, try out alongside Tracy, but Tracy outshines them during a mock interview and is elected to join the council, starting with that afternoon’s taping. A disapproving Amber teases Tracy about her weight, prompting Corny to suspend Amber for the day. Penny rushes to the Turnblad home to show Tracy’s parents, Edna and Franklin, their daughter’s television debut. As Tracy dances before the cameras, a fan sends a telegram requesting that Tracy lead the “Lady’s Choice” dance. Meanwhile, at the Von Tussle home, the suspended Amber seethes in front of the television as Tracy selects Link for the slow dance. Although Edna Turnblad previously disapproved of Tracy’s hairstyle and incessant dancing, she now revels in her daughter’s newfound fame and takes her shopping at Hefty Hideaway, a store for plus-sized women. When the ... +


In 1963 Baltimore, Maryland, overweight teenager Tracy Turnblad dreams of dancing on The Corny Collins Show, a local television program featuring a “council” of teenagers dancing to popular songs. One night, Tracy and her best friend, Penny Pingleton, sneak out to a record “hop” hosted by Corny Collins. Disappointed to find the event is segregated, they go in anyway and Tracy impresses the guest judge, Motormouth Maybelle, a local African American celebrity who co-hosts the The Corny Collins Show’s once-monthly “Negro Day.” Tracy and her dancing partner, Fender, win that night’s dance contest, narrowly beating council dancers Amber Von Tussle and her boyfriend, Link Larkin. Corny invites Tracy to audition for his show at the WZZT television studio the next day. There, Penny and an African American dancer, Nadine Carver, try out alongside Tracy, but Tracy outshines them during a mock interview and is elected to join the council, starting with that afternoon’s taping. A disapproving Amber teases Tracy about her weight, prompting Corny to suspend Amber for the day. Penny rushes to the Turnblad home to show Tracy’s parents, Edna and Franklin, their daughter’s television debut. As Tracy dances before the cameras, a fan sends a telegram requesting that Tracy lead the “Lady’s Choice” dance. Meanwhile, at the Von Tussle home, the suspended Amber seethes in front of the television as Tracy selects Link for the slow dance. Although Edna Turnblad previously disapproved of Tracy’s hairstyle and incessant dancing, she now revels in her daughter’s newfound fame and takes her shopping at Hefty Hideaway, a store for plus-sized women. When the owner, Mr. Pinky, recognizes Tracy from the show, he offers to sponsor her with free clothes in exchange for modeling services. At school, Tracy is called to the principal’s office for violating the student hairstyle policy. The principal, Mr. Davidson, reprimands her for abusing hairspray and assigns her to a special education classroom. During physical education class, Amber refuses to talk to Link, angry that he danced with Tracy in her absence. When their group is pitted against Tracy in a game of dodgeball, Amber attacks Tracy with the ball, sending the heavyset girl to the ground. Link comes to Tracy’s aid as she regains consciousness and asks her to go steady with him. At the next taping of The Corny Collins Show, Tracy waves her promise ring before the cameras as she and Link dance together. Since Hefty Hideaway has become the show’s new sponsor, Tracy performs the extra task of modeling clothes during a paid advertising segment. Later, Tracy, Link, and Penny take the bus to an African American neighborhood to meet Tracy’s classmate, Seaweed, who happens to be the son of Motormouth Maybelle. The group arrives at Maybelle’s record store, where Seaweed’s younger sister, L’il Inez, tells Tracy she is her favorite dancer on the show. Penny’s overbearing mother, Prudence Pingleton, appears outside the store, having followed Penny there. Startled to see her daughter dancing with Seaweed, she busts into the store wielding a knife and smuggles Penny out against her will. On “Pre-teen Day” at the show, Penny is stopped at the door with Seaweed and L’il Inez, who are not allowed in because they are black. Penny leads her friends in an impromptu protest, chanting “Segregation never, integration now!” Inside, Corny tells the guard to let L'il Inez and her brother in, but the WZZT station manager, Arvin Hodgepile, refuses to desegregate. Hoping to deter their daughter from interracial dating, Penny’s parents hire a hypnotist and trap her in her bedroom. Meanwhile, Motormouth Maybelle organizes a protest at the opening of Tilted Acres, a segregated amusement park, as Corny Collins hosts a special taping. There, Amber introduces a new dance, “The Limbo Rock,” which requires dancers to bend backward and pass under a horizontal stick. Hoping to humiliate Tracy and garner more votes for the upcoming Miss Auto Show contest, Amber shows off her limbo skills while Tracy struggles to pass under the stick. Next, Tracy introduces a dance called “The Waddle,” but Amber steals the microphone to shout that Tracy has roaches in her hair. Protestors storm the park, inciting a riot that interrupts the dancers. Police arrest Tracy and beat Link to the ground. Later that night, Seaweed, who was also wounded during the riot, sneaks into Penny’s bedroom and they escape her screaming parents together. Corny Collins hosts another special taping at the Auto Show, but Tracy is stuck in reform school and unable to attend, and Link is confined to a wheelchair from being assaulted at Tilted Acres. Amber’s father, Franklin Von Tussle, builds a bomb and hides it in a large wig. His wife, Velma, dons the wig, with plans to throw the bomb if Tracy wins Miss Auto Show instead of Amber. Meanwhile, Motormouth Maybelle and L’il Inez handcuff themselves to the governor, refusing to leave until he frees Tracy. When Miss Auto Show is announced, Arvin Hodgepile reveals that although Tracy is the winner, she is ineligible and therefore Amber will be crowned. As the new Miss Auto Show, Amber introduces a dance called “The Roach” and dedicates it to Tracy. At the same time, the governor exonerates Tracy, and she dances her way to the Auto Show. Disregarding his boss’s mandate, Corny announces the show is now integrated, while Tracy changes into a Hefty Hideaway dress embroidered with roaches. She introduces a dance called “The Bug,” and Link stands up from his wheelchair to join her on the dance floor. As L’il Inez steals Amber’s crown, the bomb in Velma’s wig spontaneously detonates and the burning hairpiece lands on Amber’s head. Tracy finally receives her Miss Auto Show crown and cries out, “Let’s dance!” +

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

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