Little Man Tate (1991)

PG | 99 mins | Drama | 9 October 1991

Director:

Jodie Foster

Writer:

Scott Frank

Cinematographer:

Mike Southon

Editor:

Lynzee Klingman

Production Designer:

Jon Hutman

Production Company:

Orion Pictures Corporation
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HISTORY

The film begins with voice-over narration by actor Adam Hann-Byrd in the role of “Fred Tate.” He claims to remember being born, and expresses awareness about how his intellect makes him different from other children his age. At the end of the film, Fred’s narration returns, informing the viewer of his success as a student at the Grierson Institute, where, surrounded by people who are “different,” he finally feels a sense of belonging.
       Screenwriter Scott Frank wrote Little Man Tate in 1983, according to a 10 Aug 1990 HR news item. In a 23 Aug 1987 LAT article, aspiring producer Melissa Bachrach recalled reading the script in 1985. She noted that, although the property was initially controlled by Warner Bros., the studio did not proceed with production, and the project was picked up by Twentieth Century Fox. On 17 Jan 1989, the LAT announced that director Joe Dante would begin production on Little Man Tate in March. Atlanta, GA, and New York, NY, were selected as locations, though casting was not yet finalized. A 26 Mar 1990 DV article recounted that Dante ran into “casting differences” with Twentieth Century Fox, which stalled production on the film. The option to produce the script expired, and the property reverted to screenwriter, Scott Frank. In Aug 1989, Frank approached producer Scott Rudin, who convinced Orion Pictures to make the movie.
       On 6 Aug 1989, an LAT news brief announced that actress Jodie Foster would make her directing debut with Little Man Tate. The Oscar-winner also planned to star in the picture.
       DV reported ... More Less

The film begins with voice-over narration by actor Adam Hann-Byrd in the role of “Fred Tate.” He claims to remember being born, and expresses awareness about how his intellect makes him different from other children his age. At the end of the film, Fred’s narration returns, informing the viewer of his success as a student at the Grierson Institute, where, surrounded by people who are “different,” he finally feels a sense of belonging.
       Screenwriter Scott Frank wrote Little Man Tate in 1983, according to a 10 Aug 1990 HR news item. In a 23 Aug 1987 LAT article, aspiring producer Melissa Bachrach recalled reading the script in 1985. She noted that, although the property was initially controlled by Warner Bros., the studio did not proceed with production, and the project was picked up by Twentieth Century Fox. On 17 Jan 1989, the LAT announced that director Joe Dante would begin production on Little Man Tate in March. Atlanta, GA, and New York, NY, were selected as locations, though casting was not yet finalized. A 26 Mar 1990 DV article recounted that Dante ran into “casting differences” with Twentieth Century Fox, which stalled production on the film. The option to produce the script expired, and the property reverted to screenwriter, Scott Frank. In Aug 1989, Frank approached producer Scott Rudin, who convinced Orion Pictures to make the movie.
       On 6 Aug 1989, an LAT news brief announced that actress Jodie Foster would make her directing debut with Little Man Tate. The Oscar-winner also planned to star in the picture.
       DV reported that the $9 million film would begin production during the summer of 1990, “somewhere on the east coast.” Various contemporary sources later confirmed that principal photography began on 11 Jul 1990 in Cincinnati and Columbus, OH. However, these locations are never mentioned in the movie. One sequence features Fred and his mother, “Dede,” on a public bus crossing a blue bridge. The distinctive structure is visually identifiable as the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, which spans the Ohio River between Cincinnati, OH and Covington, KY.
       The Jan 1991 issue of Film Comment reported on Foster’s production from a warehouse in Newport, KY. The warehouse had been transformed into a soundstage featuring two interior sets: the bohemian apartment belonging to Dede Tate, and the stately home of “Jane Grierson.” A 10 Aug 1990 HR news item predicted that filming would conclude in mid-Sep.
       Little Man Tate screened at the Telluride Film Festival on 31 Aug 1991. As noted in a 20 Sep 1991 Screen International news item, the film also played at the Toronto International and Boston Film Festivals. On 23 Sep 1991, DV announced that a benefit premiere of Little Man Tate would be held on 6 Oct 1991 at Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. The film opened in three U.S. cities on 9 Oct 1991, earning $32,297 on its first day, according to an 11 Oct 1991 DV news item. The picture was scheduled for wider release in the ensuing weeks.
       Although a 3 Sep 1990 Var article indicated that Jodie Foster had signed a deal with Orion Pictures to “star in, produce and direct” films over the next two years, no specific projects were ever announced. In Dec 1991, two months after the release of Little Man Tate, Orion Pictures filed for bankruptcy.
       End credits include the following acknowledgments: “The producers would like to thank the following: Apple Computer, Inc. – Rain Burns; Giorgio Armani; Cellular One – Francis Aiken; Cincinnati Country Day School – Joe Hofmeister, Joyce Rudowski, Chris Hayward, Frank Laurence; Clarity Systems – Ward Johnson; Greater Cincinnati Film Commission – Lorie Holladay, Bonnie Paul; Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion; Hunter College Elementary School; Miami University, Oxford, Ohio – Rich Little, Holly Wissing; Odyssey of the Mind – Sam Micklus; Ohio Film Bureau – Eve Lapolla; Pontiac Motors; Tandberg Educational, Inc.; The University of Cincinnati; Washington Park Demonstration School; The Ohio State University Wexner Center for the Arts; Wolfram Research, Inc. – Dara Eisenberg; The Yale Glee Club – Feno Heath, Director; and The People of Cincinnati, Ohio.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
26 Mar 1990
p. 1, 18.
Daily Variety
3 Sep 1991
p. 2, 26.
Daily Variety
23 Sep 1991.
---
Daily Variety
11 Oct 1991.
---
Film Comment
Jan 1991
pp. 38-39.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 1991
p. 10, 14.
Los Angeles Times
23 Aug 1987
Section G, p. 18, 90.
Los Angeles Times
17 Jan 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
6 Aug 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Oct 1991
p. 1.
New York Times
9 Oct 1991
Section C, p. 17.
Screen International
20 Sep 1991.
---
Variety
3 Sep 1990.
---
Variety
16 Sep 1991
p. 87.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
An Orion® Pictures release
A Scott Rudin/Peggy Rajski production
A Jodie Foster film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
3d asst dir
2d unit dir
1st asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Steadicam op
Steadicam op
Video asst
Cam loader
Dir of photog, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
Video playback
Dailies projectionist
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
Art dept intern
Storyboard artist
Fred's art by
Joey X's paintings by
Cherry Reynolds' artwork by
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Post prod supv
Post prod asst
Addl film ed
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Lead set dresser
On set dresser
Buyer
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Prop master
Asst prop master
3d asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
2d const foreman
Draftsman
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Ward asst
Seamstress
Ward P.A.
MUSIC
Mus/Trumpet, Original score performed by
Original score rec eng
Mus ed
Classical mus consultant
Mus clearance
Mus clearance, Gay DiFusco for
Piano, Original score performed by
Trombone, Original score performed by
Violin, Original score performed by
Sax, Original score performed by
Bass, Original score performed by
Drums, Original score performed by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Co-supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Audio des
Post prod sd rec
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
ADR mixer
Foley mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
Utility sd
Post prod facilities
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title and eff des
Titles and opticals
Miniature shot
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup asst
Hairstylist
Hair asst
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Prod auditor
Scr supv
Loc asst
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod secretary
Loc auditor
Financial representative
New York casting asst
Extras casting
Extras casting asst
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Asst to Ms. Foster
Teacher
Catering asst
Craft service
Animal handler
Insurance
Completion bond
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Fred's riding double
Damon's riding double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Film processing
Col timing
SOURCES
SONGS
"I Get A Kick Out Of You," words and music by Cole Porter, performed by Ella Fitzgerald, courtesy of Polygram Special Products, a division of Polygram Group Distribution, Inc.
"What The World Needs Now Is Love," lyrics by Hal David, music by Burt Bacharach
Mozart's String Quartet No. 21, D Major, KV575, performed by Alban Berg Quartet, courtesy of Teldec Classics International GmbH, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
+
SONGS
"I Get A Kick Out Of You," words and music by Cole Porter, performed by Ella Fitzgerald, courtesy of Polygram Special Products, a division of Polygram Group Distribution, Inc.
"What The World Needs Now Is Love," lyrics by Hal David, music by Burt Bacharach
Mozart's String Quartet No. 21, D Major, KV575, performed by Alban Berg Quartet, courtesy of Teldec Classics International GmbH, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
Brahms' Liebesliederwalzer, performed by Ensemble Vocal Michel Piquemal with Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, conductor: Armin Jordan, courtesy of Erato Disques, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
Mozart's Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, KV493, performed by Jaques Rouvier/Mozart String Trio, courtesy of Denon/Nippon Columbia Co., Ltd., by arrangement with Warner Special Products.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
9 October 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 6 October 1991
Los Angeles opening: 9 October 1991
New York opening: week of 9 October 1991
Production Date:
11 July--mid September 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Orion Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
13 January 1992
Copyright Number:
PA548664
Physical Properties:
Sound
This film recorded in a Lucasfilm Ltd THX® Sound System Theatre
Color
Duration(in mins):
99
Length(in reels):
6
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30988
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Dede Tate, a free-spirited single woman, gives birth to a son, Fred, who exhibits remarkable intelligence, even as a toddler. Though they live on meager resources in a rundown inner-city neighborhood, Fred’s imagination flourishes. By the time he is seven years old, he writes poetry, excels at mathematics, and draws pictures in the style of Leonardo da Vinci. However, Fred’s greatest wish is to be as popular and happy as other second-grade boys. Dede, a cocktail waitress, is concerned about her son’s nervous disposition. She considers taking a summer job in Florida, where sun and fresh air might alleviate Fred’s stomach ulcers. Meanwhile, Fred’s intelligence draws the attention of Dr. Jane Grierson, a psychologist, and her assistant, Garth. They want Fred to attend the Grierson Institute, a school for gifted children, and are frustrated by Dede’s lack of response. One day, Fred intercepts the mail and reads about the Institute. He tells his mother he would like to visit the school, and she humors him by taking him for an interview. Fred meets Jane Grierson, and the two discuss Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings. Later, Fred plays a classical piano piece for the psychologist. She invites Fred to participate in the “Odyssey of the Mind,” a three-week program for exceptional children held in Orlando, Florida. If Fred enjoys the experience, he would be welcome to attend the Grierson Institute in the fall. The bohemian Dede is put off by the school’s posh formality and declines Dr. Grierson’s invitation. Fred returns to the second grade and invites his classmates to his upcoming birthday party. However, no one attends, and that night, Dede calls Jane Grierson to ask if Fred could participate ... +


Dede Tate, a free-spirited single woman, gives birth to a son, Fred, who exhibits remarkable intelligence, even as a toddler. Though they live on meager resources in a rundown inner-city neighborhood, Fred’s imagination flourishes. By the time he is seven years old, he writes poetry, excels at mathematics, and draws pictures in the style of Leonardo da Vinci. However, Fred’s greatest wish is to be as popular and happy as other second-grade boys. Dede, a cocktail waitress, is concerned about her son’s nervous disposition. She considers taking a summer job in Florida, where sun and fresh air might alleviate Fred’s stomach ulcers. Meanwhile, Fred’s intelligence draws the attention of Dr. Jane Grierson, a psychologist, and her assistant, Garth. They want Fred to attend the Grierson Institute, a school for gifted children, and are frustrated by Dede’s lack of response. One day, Fred intercepts the mail and reads about the Institute. He tells his mother he would like to visit the school, and she humors him by taking him for an interview. Fred meets Jane Grierson, and the two discuss Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings. Later, Fred plays a classical piano piece for the psychologist. She invites Fred to participate in the “Odyssey of the Mind,” a three-week program for exceptional children held in Orlando, Florida. If Fred enjoys the experience, he would be welcome to attend the Grierson Institute in the fall. The bohemian Dede is put off by the school’s posh formality and declines Dr. Grierson’s invitation. Fred returns to the second grade and invites his classmates to his upcoming birthday party. However, no one attends, and that night, Dede calls Jane Grierson to ask if Fred could participate in the Odyssey of the Mind. The next day, Fred joins Dr. Grierson, her assistant Garth, and four other gifted children en route to the convention. During the trip, Fred tries to befriend the other children. He is especially impressed with Damon Wells, an arrogant math prodigy. At the Odyssey of the Mind, Fred witnesses brilliant young people competing in mental contests and creativity games. He is overwhelmed, but Jane encourages him to overcome his shyness. At a math contest, when Damon is given a challenging question, Fred blurts out the answer. Later, Damon accosts the youngster for upstaging him. At the end of the convention, the Grierson Institute students travel to Jane’s ranch in Virginia. There, Fred finds the psychologist alone in her study, and asks about her upbringing. Jane, unnerved by the Fred’s mature questions, sends him to bed. Later, she finds a white iris on her pillow, a gift from the young boy. In the morning, Fred goes to the horse stables, where Damon grooms a horse. He asks the older boy why he has such an attitude. Damon softens at Fred’s naiveté and invites him to go riding. The two commiserate about being “different,” and form a tentative friendship. Damon playfully slaps Fred’s horse, and the two race back to the house. However, Damon gets knocked from the galloping animal, suffering a concussion. A few days later, Jane returns Fred to his mother. Dede, eager to hear about Fred’s experience, is surprised at the flippant attitude her son has adopted. A bored Fred finishes the final weeks of school with his second grade class. In the meantime, Jane Grierson expresses a desire to write a book about Fred. She proposes boarding the boy for the summer and enrolling him in a college course. She also offers to waive his tuition at the Grierson Institute if Dede agrees to the project. Having made plans to work as a dancer over the summer in Florida, Dede is not interested. The two women argue about what is best for Fred. Later, Fred convinces Dede that he would enjoy attending college while she goes to Florida with her girlfriend. Dede takes her son to Jane’s house and kisses him goodbye for the summer. On his first day of college, Fred is knocked unconscious when Eddie, a rambunctious student, throws a globe in the air. Eddie later apologizes to Fred, and the two become friends. After cruising around campus on a scooter and playing jazz piano in the concert hall, Fred and Eddie conclude their day at a billiards bar, where Fred loses track of time. He arrives home past curfew, upsetting Jane. Meanwhile, in Florida, Dede is disappointed when the dance position turns out to be a job as a cocktail waitress. She calls Fred to ask about his Fourth of July plans, and Fred regales her with stories of college life. Dede hangs up the phone, dispirited. A few days later, Fred goes to Eddie’s house, where he discovers his new friend in bed with a young woman. Eddie tries to explain, but Fred feels rejected. Later that day, he walks out of his midterm exam. On the morning before appearing on live television with Jane, Fred expresses frustration with the psychologist, who only talks about academic subjects and has no friends of her own. Jane dismisses his comments, focusing instead on the importance of the broadcast. In Florida, Dede watches the television program in her hotel room. She is stunned to see her son acting like a simpleton, and astonished when he declares, “my mother is dead.” Just then, Dede realizes her girlfriend’s child is floating unconscious in the pool. She rushes to resuscitate the boy and misses seeing Fred walk off the television show. Shaken by the day’s events, Dede leaves Florida. She returns to her apartment in the city and discovers Fred there, alone. Reunited, mother and son comfort each other. One year later, Jane Grierson, holding a birthday cake, knocks on the Tate’s apartment door. Dede answers, also holding a cake. The lively party is attended by Fred’s new friends from the Grierson Institute, as well as his former elementary school classmates. Dede and Jane don party hats and share a dance, while “little man” Fred Tate proclaims his happiness. +

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

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