Curly Sue (1991)

PG | 102 mins | Comedy | 25 October 1991

Director:

John Hughes

Writer:

John Hughes

Producer:

John Hughes

Cinematographer:

Jeffrey L. Kimball

Production Designer:

Doug Kraner

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures
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HISTORY

The 4 Aug 1990 Screen International announced the upcoming film, Curly Sue, to be produced in Chicago, IL, by Ron Schwary, and starring James Belushi. Ron Schwary was replaced by writer-director John Hughes, and is not credited onscreen. The 7 Oct 1990 LAT reported that production would begin 15 Oct 1990, while Belushi was appearing in another Hughes production, Only the Lonely (1991, see entry), which was also filming in Chicago. However, principal photography was delayed until 13 Nov 1990, as stated in the 17 Oct 1990 HR.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, casting director Janet Hirshenson was impressed with the “confidence and maturity” of child actress Alisan Porter, and recommended her to John Hughes for the title role. Filming continued during the 1990 Christmas season in Chicago’s downtown district, known as “the Loop.” Interior photography took place at New Trier West High School in Winnetka, IL, which Hughes also utilized in several previous productions. Sets were housed in the school’s three gymnasiums, and the former nurse’s office served as the main production office, with other departments located in empty classrooms. The 21 Jan 1991 Time noted that most of the homeless people cast as background actors were not sufficiently dirty to satisfy casting requirements. Some, such as James Moffatt, agreed to wear costumes covered in dirt for the opportunity to earn as much as $90 per day. Moffatt later complained that it took two days to remove the dirt from under his fingernails.
       Curly Sue opened in 1,634 theaters ... More Less

The 4 Aug 1990 Screen International announced the upcoming film, Curly Sue, to be produced in Chicago, IL, by Ron Schwary, and starring James Belushi. Ron Schwary was replaced by writer-director John Hughes, and is not credited onscreen. The 7 Oct 1990 LAT reported that production would begin 15 Oct 1990, while Belushi was appearing in another Hughes production, Only the Lonely (1991, see entry), which was also filming in Chicago. However, principal photography was delayed until 13 Nov 1990, as stated in the 17 Oct 1990 HR.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, casting director Janet Hirshenson was impressed with the “confidence and maturity” of child actress Alisan Porter, and recommended her to John Hughes for the title role. Filming continued during the 1990 Christmas season in Chicago’s downtown district, known as “the Loop.” Interior photography took place at New Trier West High School in Winnetka, IL, which Hughes also utilized in several previous productions. Sets were housed in the school’s three gymnasiums, and the former nurse’s office served as the main production office, with other departments located in empty classrooms. The 21 Jan 1991 Time noted that most of the homeless people cast as background actors were not sufficiently dirty to satisfy casting requirements. Some, such as James Moffatt, agreed to wear costumes covered in dirt for the opportunity to earn as much as $90 per day. Moffatt later complained that it took two days to remove the dirt from under his fingernails.
       Curly Sue opened in 1,634 theaters on 25 Oct 1991, receiving lukewarm to negative notices. The Dec 1991 Box, among others, dismissed the picture as an attempt to revive the sort of sentimental family entertainment popular in the 1930s. Regardless, the film earned $18.5 million in its first three weekends, according to the 18 Nov 1991 Var. After opening weekend receipts demonstrated a steady rise in attendance, distributor Warner Bros. Pictures increased television advertising in the ten largest urban markets. The studio was further convinced of the film’s commercial potential by “exit interviews” with audience members, and the lack of competing family-oriented entertainment in release at the time. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Dec 1991.
---
Daily Variety
6 Aug 1990
p. 1, 14.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Oct 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 1991
p. 6, 18.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Oct 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Oct 1991
Calendar, p. 12.
New York Times
25 Oct 1991
Section C, p. 15.
Screen International
4 Aug 1990.
---
Time
21 Jan 1991.
---
Variety
28 Oct 1991
p. 43.
Variety
18 Nov 1991
p. 3, 5.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. Presents
A John Hughes Film
Hughes
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d unit 1st asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam op
Aerial photog
Gyrosphere cam asst
Video playback
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Rigging gaffer
Chicago key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
2d unit dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept coord, Hong Kong tech crew
FILM EDITORS
Addl film ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Chicago leadman
Chicago leadman
Set des
Set des
Set des
Prop master
Prop master
Asst props
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Stand-by painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Men's costumer
Women's costumer
Women's costumer
MUSIC
Orig mus score by
Supv mus ed
Mus ed
Scoring mixer
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Supv ADR ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff
Spec eff
Opticals by
Main and end titles des and prod by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Prod secy
Asst prod secy
Asst to Mr. Hughes
Asst to Mr. Hughes
Asst to Mr. Gotch
Asst to Mr. Belushi
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Unit pub
Unit pub
Casting asst
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Craft service
First aid
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“You Never Know,” written by Steve Dorff and John Bettis, produced by Steve Dorff, performed by Ringo Starr, courtesy of Private Music
“Innocent Believer,” written by John Hughes III and Matt Deakin, produced by John Hughes III and Femi Jiya, performed by 2YZ featuring Terry Wood
“Git Down,” written by John Hughes III and Matt Deakin, produced by John Hughes III, Matt Deakin and Femi Jiya, performed by 2YZ featuring Andrea Salazar and Kenyatta Vaughn
+
SONGS
“You Never Know,” written by Steve Dorff and John Bettis, produced by Steve Dorff, performed by Ringo Starr, courtesy of Private Music
“Innocent Believer,” written by John Hughes III and Matt Deakin, produced by John Hughes III and Femi Jiya, performed by 2YZ featuring Terry Wood
“Git Down,” written by John Hughes III and Matt Deakin, produced by John Hughes III, Matt Deakin and Femi Jiya, performed by 2YZ featuring Andrea Salazar and Kenyatta Vaughn
“Yacht Club Swing,” written by James C. Johnson, Thomas “Fats” Waller and Herman Autrey, produced by Femi Jiya and John Hughes III
“Thirty-Five-Thirty,” written by Paul Williams, produced by Femi Jiya
“You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You,” written by Russ Morgan, Larry Stock, and James Cavanaugh
“Dudley Do-Right,” written by Fred Steiner, courtesy of Jay Ward Productions, Inc.
“Merrily We Roll Along,” written by Charlie Tobias, Murray Mencher and Eddie Cantor.”
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 October 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 25 October 1991
Production Date:
began 13 November 1990--early 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
28 February 1992
Copyright Number:
PA559453
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® cameras and lenses
Duration(in mins):
102
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31431
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Drifter Bill Dancer travels to Chicago, Illinois, with his eight-year-old ward, Curly Sue, whom he raised from infancy. In a high-rise office building, divorce lawyer Grey Ellison advises her client, Mrs. Arnold, to be ruthless in prosecuting her philandering politician husband, Frank Arnold. Mrs. Arnold is shocked by Grey’s callous attitude, and complains to her boss, Bernard Oxbar. Bill Dancer and Curly Sue enter an elegant restaurant, hoping to swindle a meal, but the maitre d’ orders his muscular chef, Albert, to remove them. Desperate for food and lodging, Bill instructs Curly Sue to strike him on the forehead with a board, causing a lump to appear. They enter the garage below Grey Ellison’s office, and as the attorney backs out of her parking space, Bill pretends to be struck by her car. Fearing legal action, Grey buys Bill and Curly Sue an inexpensive meal, then telephones her boyfriend, Walker McCormack, explaining why she is late for dinner. Walker escorts Grey from the diner, certain that the drifters are exploiting her. Despite Walker’s cynicism, the childless Grey is haunted by the memory of Curly Sue. Meanwhile, Bill and his ward find shelter in a mission, and during the night, an elderly tramp steals a ring left to the child by her late mother. Bill offers to replace the ring, but Curly Sue declines, believing the memento is an omen of Bill’s departure. While they share a sandwich, Bill considers settling in Chicago and enrolling Curly Sue in school. However, the child believes the plan impractical, because Bill is not her legal guardian. She admonishes him for ... +


Drifter Bill Dancer travels to Chicago, Illinois, with his eight-year-old ward, Curly Sue, whom he raised from infancy. In a high-rise office building, divorce lawyer Grey Ellison advises her client, Mrs. Arnold, to be ruthless in prosecuting her philandering politician husband, Frank Arnold. Mrs. Arnold is shocked by Grey’s callous attitude, and complains to her boss, Bernard Oxbar. Bill Dancer and Curly Sue enter an elegant restaurant, hoping to swindle a meal, but the maitre d’ orders his muscular chef, Albert, to remove them. Desperate for food and lodging, Bill instructs Curly Sue to strike him on the forehead with a board, causing a lump to appear. They enter the garage below Grey Ellison’s office, and as the attorney backs out of her parking space, Bill pretends to be struck by her car. Fearing legal action, Grey buys Bill and Curly Sue an inexpensive meal, then telephones her boyfriend, Walker McCormack, explaining why she is late for dinner. Walker escorts Grey from the diner, certain that the drifters are exploiting her. Despite Walker’s cynicism, the childless Grey is haunted by the memory of Curly Sue. Meanwhile, Bill and his ward find shelter in a mission, and during the night, an elderly tramp steals a ring left to the child by her late mother. Bill offers to replace the ring, but Curly Sue declines, believing the memento is an omen of Bill’s departure. While they share a sandwich, Bill considers settling in Chicago and enrolling Curly Sue in school. However, the child believes the plan impractical, because Bill is not her legal guardian. She admonishes him for allowing himself to be disarmed by Grey’s beauty. They return to the garage that evening, hoping for another encounter with the attorney, and Bill is struck by her car as she speeds through the exit. She takes the two vagabonds back to her townhouse and summons a doctor to treat Bill’s injuries. Overcome with maternal feelings, Grey gives Curly Sue a bath and buys her a pizza. When she assumes that the child is named for her curly hair, Curly Sue explains that a fellow drifter named her after Curly Howard of the Three Stooges. Grey assigns rooms to each of her guests, then locks herself in her own bedroom. Walker McCormick comes in late in the evening, and upon finding Grey’s door locked, he retires to a guest room, unaware of Curly Sue’s presence. The child screams and punches Walker, who runs into the hallway and strikes Bill before being struck by Grey. Once Walker is aware of the situation, he criticizes Grey for allowing “derelicts” into her home, and she responds by forcing him to sleep on the sofa. The next day, Trina, the maid, joins Bill and Curly Sue in a game of poker and loses her paycheck. When Grey discovers that Curly Sue is illiterate, she accuses Bill of being a negative influence on the girl and insists on adopting her. Bill explains that he raised Curly Sue from infancy following the death of her mother, with whom he had a brief affair. Because he has no legal claim on the child, she would become a ward of the state, reviled by others as a “charity case.” Grey sympathizes and allows the guests to stay indefinitely. The next day, Grey revises her approach to the Arnold divorce case, and recommends that her client seek reconcilation. Bill returns home that evening with news that he has found employment. To celebrate, Grey buys her guests new clothes and takes them to the same restaurant that refused them service only days earlier. Bill reminds the maitre d’ of the incident and repays him with a punch in the nose. Walker McCormick enters, harassing Grey and her guests until they leave the restaurant. Bill saves the evening by sneaking the group into a wedding reception, during which Bill and Grey toast the newlyweds. Afterward, they go to the movies. Returning home, Grey and Bill discover their mutual attraction and spend the night together. Meanwhile, Walker McCormick reports Bill to the Department of Children and Family Services, accusing him of “abuse and neglect.” Grey returns to work, where Bernard Oxbar questions her frequent absences and expresses his disappointment in her prosecution of the Arnolds’ divorce, noting that Frank Arnold refuses to reconcile. That afternoon, Curly Sue is placed in an orphanage and Bill is arrested. He discovers that one of his cellmates stole Curly Sue’s ring and forces him to reveal its location. Grey intervenes by presenting Frank Arnold with photographs of his extramarital affairs, promising to destroy them only if he reconciles with his wife and arranges Curly Sue’s release from the orphanage. Afterward, Grey sells her partnership in the law firm back to Bernard Oxbar, preferring to devote herself to family life. She encounters Walker McCormick in the parking garage, and when he admits to her having guests incarcerated, she backs into him with her car and throws him against a pillar. Bill is freed from jail and retrieves Curly Sue’s ring, but on his way to the apartment, he looks longingly at a passing freight train. Grey brings Curly Sue home, where they find an envelope containing the ring and a note. The child worries that Bill has left town, but when they discover him in the living room, they all embrace. Sometime later, Bill and Grey take Curly Sue to her first day of school. +

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

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