Rambling Rose (1991)

R | 112 mins | Comedy-drama | 20 September 1991

Director:

Martha Coolidge

Producer:

Renny Harlin

Cinematographer:

Johnny E. Jensen

Editor:

Steven Cohen

Production Designer:

John Vallone

Production Company:

Carolco Pictures
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HISTORY

Production notes in AMPAS library files state that Rambling Rose is set in 1935, although the year is not specified in the film.
       As noted in a 3 Sep 1991 HR column, Calder Willingham based his 1972 novel, Rambling Rose, on his childhood in the South. Autobiographical details in the novel and film include the scene in which thirteen-year-old “Buddy Hillyer” has his first sexual experience with “Rose,” which was taken directly from Willingham’s life. Also, like the fictional “Hillyers,” Willingham’s family owned a hotel in Rome, GA. Although Willingham adapted the novel into a screenplay in 1974, executive producer Edgar J. Scherick encountered difficulty finding financiers. The project was announced in a 24 Aug 1976 DV article, as part of Scherick’s $10-million feature film slate to be produced over the next two years. The production budget was set at $3.5 million. However, the project lagged until director Martha Coolidge signed on in 1985. Coolidge took the script to actress Laura Dern, who shared it with filmmaker Renny Harlin. With Dern attached to play "Rose," Harlin came on board as producer and obtained financing from Mario Kassar at Carolco Pictures. According to production notes, the film marked the inaugural project under Harlin’s newly formed Midnight Sun Pictures, although the company is not credited onscreen.
       The 18 Sep 1990 HR production chart listed the start of principal photography as 17 Sep 1990. Seven weeks of filming took place in and around Wilmington, NC, which doubled as Glenville, GA. A 150-year-old Victorian clapboard farmhouse provided exteriors of the Hillyer home in Ivanhoe, NC, a small town twenty miles outside Wilmington. ... More Less

Production notes in AMPAS library files state that Rambling Rose is set in 1935, although the year is not specified in the film.
       As noted in a 3 Sep 1991 HR column, Calder Willingham based his 1972 novel, Rambling Rose, on his childhood in the South. Autobiographical details in the novel and film include the scene in which thirteen-year-old “Buddy Hillyer” has his first sexual experience with “Rose,” which was taken directly from Willingham’s life. Also, like the fictional “Hillyers,” Willingham’s family owned a hotel in Rome, GA. Although Willingham adapted the novel into a screenplay in 1974, executive producer Edgar J. Scherick encountered difficulty finding financiers. The project was announced in a 24 Aug 1976 DV article, as part of Scherick’s $10-million feature film slate to be produced over the next two years. The production budget was set at $3.5 million. However, the project lagged until director Martha Coolidge signed on in 1985. Coolidge took the script to actress Laura Dern, who shared it with filmmaker Renny Harlin. With Dern attached to play "Rose," Harlin came on board as producer and obtained financing from Mario Kassar at Carolco Pictures. According to production notes, the film marked the inaugural project under Harlin’s newly formed Midnight Sun Pictures, although the company is not credited onscreen.
       The 18 Sep 1990 HR production chart listed the start of principal photography as 17 Sep 1990. Seven weeks of filming took place in and around Wilmington, NC, which doubled as Glenville, GA. A 150-year-old Victorian clapboard farmhouse provided exteriors of the Hillyer home in Ivanhoe, NC, a small town twenty miles outside Wilmington. Interiors of the house were filmed on a soundstage at Carolco Studios in Wilmington. Exteriors of the Hillyer Hotel were shot at the historical Bellamy House, and the Graystone Inn doubled as the hotel’s interior. Rose’s wedding was shot at the Black River Presbyterian Church in Ivanhoe, and an old army barracks in Wilmington was converted into a hospital.
       According to a 2 Dec 1990 NYT article, Calder Willingham wrote a “beseeching…very flattering letter” to Robert Duvall asking him to play the role of “Father.” Duvall agreed, despite plans not to film another project that year. However, when Willingham’s set visits proved distracting, the actor requested that the author leave. Duvall was quoted as saying, “At some point, the writer’s got to give it up, and the actor’s got to play the part.”
       The film screened 25 Aug 1991, on the opening night of the Montreal World Film Festival. A Los Angeles, CA, benefit premiere followed on 19 Sep 1991 at the Mann National Theatre in Westwood. The event raised $75,000 for AFI, as stated in a 23 Sep 1991 LAT item.
       Rambling Rose was one of the first films to be released by Seven Arts, a “low-budget distribution co-venture” between Carolco Pictures and New Line Cinema, as stated in a 5 Jan 1992 LAT item. The platform release was initially scheduled to open wider, but plans were thwarted when Carolco encountered financial troubles. According to a 4 Mar 1992 HR article, the movie played in no more than 200 theaters, and was only in forty-three theaters at that time.
       Despite positive critical reception and highly lauded performances, Carolco’s Academy Award campaign was aborted after booklets had been developed and two advertisements appeared in Var and HR. Edgar Scherick, Renny Harlin, Martha Coolidge, Laura Dern, and Dern’s onscreen and real-life mother, Diane Ladd, began a “grass roots” Academy Awards campaign with the help of several talent agencies and organizations, including Women in Film. After their Academy Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress were announced, Dern and Ladd personally paid for advertisements, and New Line Cinema absorbed the costs of an 11 Mar 1992 rerelease in Los Angles theaters, as noted in the 5 Mar 1992 HR, so that AMPAS members could see the film.
       The simultaneous Academy Award nominations for Dern and Ladd marked the first time a mother and daughter were nominated for awards at the same time. The actresses were also simultaneously nominated for Golden Globe Awards in the categories of Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (Dern) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Ladd). Ladd won Best Supporting Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards, where Rambling Rose was named “Best Feature,” and Martha Coolidge “Best Director.” As noted in a 2 Jun 1992 LAT brief, Coolidge also won a Women in Film Crystal Award for helping “expand the role of women in the movie industry.”
       End credits include the following statements: “Some bird sounds provided by: Library of Natural Sounds, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, © Ⓟ 1990. All rights reserved”; “Filmed on location in Ivanhoe, North Carolina and at Carolco Studios Inc., Wilmington, North Carolina.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
24 Aug 1976
p. 1, 7.
Daily Variety
23 Aug 1991
p. 3, 18.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Aug 1991
p. 10, 16.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 1991
p. 87.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 1992
p. 4, 104.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Mar 1992
p. 3, 6.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 1992.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Sep 1991
p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
23 Sep 1991
Section E, p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
5 Jan 1992
Calendar, p. 24.
Los Angeles Times
16 Mar 1992
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
2 Jun 1992
Calendar, p. 2.
New York Times
2 Dec 1990
Section A, p. 19.
New York Times
20 Sep 1991
p. 12.
Variety
26 Aug 1991
pp. 88-89.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Mario Kassar presents
A Renny Harlin production
A Martha Coolidge film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Art dept asst
Storyboard artist
FILM EDITORS
Post prod supv
Post prod coord
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Asst set dec
Lead person
Key set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Prop master
Asst props
Props intern
Const coord
Const foreman
Const accountant
Standby painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Set costumer
Set costumer
Tailor
MUSIC
Mus ed
Addl orchestrations
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Utility sd prod asst
Supv sd ed
Dial/ADR ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Dial coach
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff tech
Spec eff asst
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Ms. Dern's hair color
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Scr supv
Prod coord
Asst coord
Loc mgr
Loc asst
Extras casting
Extras casting
Extras casting
Lukas Haas' guardian
Lukas Haas' tutor
Exec asst to Mr. Harlin
Asst to Mr. Harlin
Asst to Mr. Harlin
Asst to Ms. Coolidge
Asst to Mr. Duvall
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
AFI Academy intern
Unit pub
Transportation coord
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Caterer
Craft service
First aid
Financial services
Completion bond services provided by
Prod insurance provided by
STAND INS
Stand-in
Stand-in
ADR performer
ADR performer
ADR performer
ADR performer
ADR performer
ADR performer
ADR performer
ADR performer
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Rambling Rose by Calder Willingham (New York, 1972).
SONGS
“Dixie,” performed by Louis Armstrong and The Dukes of Dixieland, courtesy of MAJ Music, Inc., published by MAJ Music, Inc. (ASCAP), administered by Larry Spier, Inc.
“If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight,” words & music by Henry Creamer and Jimmy Johnson, published by Warner Bros. Inc. (ASCAP), performed by Ruth Etting, courtesy of ASV Records
“Collegiate Rhythm,” Keith Nicholls
+
SONGS
“Dixie,” performed by Louis Armstrong and The Dukes of Dixieland, courtesy of MAJ Music, Inc., published by MAJ Music, Inc. (ASCAP), administered by Larry Spier, Inc.
“If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight,” words & music by Henry Creamer and Jimmy Johnson, published by Warner Bros. Inc. (ASCAP), performed by Ruth Etting, courtesy of ASV Records
“Collegiate Rhythm,” Keith Nicholls
“Blue Moan,” Keith Nicholls
“Lover’s Serenade,” Alan Moorhouse
“Sidewalk Stomp Rag,” Richard Myhill. Courtesy of Associate Production Music.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 September 1991
Premiere Information:
Montreal World Film Festival screening: 25 August 1991
Los Angeles premiere: 19 September 1991
Los Angeles and New York openings: 20 September 1991
Production Date:
began 17 September 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Carolco Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
26 September 1991
Copyright Number:
PA540898
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and camera by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Prints
Prints by Eastman Print Film
Duration(in mins):
112
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31159
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1971, Buddy Hillyer returns to his childhood home in Glenville, Georgia. Before he goes inside to greet his father, who goes by the nickname “Daddy,” Buddy reminisces on the front porch, remembering his first love, a beautiful young woman named Rose who came to work for the Hillyers when he was thirteen years old. Many years earlier, a young Buddy sees Rose approach the house. He runs inside to tell his mother she has arrived, and informs her that Rose is tall but very feminine. “Mother” Hillyer, a progressive thinker who believes in the positive energy of the universe, gives the statuesque Rose a warm welcome and introduces her to her children: Buddy, the oldest and most brilliant; Frances, who goes by the nickname “Doll”; and “Waski,” the youngest boy. Daddy Hillyer arrives home from work, and charms Rose with his gentlemanly manners. He says Mother does not believe in hiring people to do housework, so she will stay with them as a friend and guest. He acknowledges that Rose, who grew up on a dirt farm, had trouble in Birmingham, Alabama, where she most recently lived, and hopes the Hillyer home will be a safe haven. Rose quickly bonds with the younger children, while Buddy observes her from afar. One day, Rose learns that Mrs. Hillyer was orphaned at the age of seven, and reveals that she lost her mother at the same age. She also discovers that Mrs. Hillyer is completing a Master’s degree in American History, and is impressed by her intelligence. Soon, Rose develops an infatuation with Daddy. Although Mother is oblivious to it, Buddy and Doll take notice. They spy on Rose and ... +


In 1971, Buddy Hillyer returns to his childhood home in Glenville, Georgia. Before he goes inside to greet his father, who goes by the nickname “Daddy,” Buddy reminisces on the front porch, remembering his first love, a beautiful young woman named Rose who came to work for the Hillyers when he was thirteen years old. Many years earlier, a young Buddy sees Rose approach the house. He runs inside to tell his mother she has arrived, and informs her that Rose is tall but very feminine. “Mother” Hillyer, a progressive thinker who believes in the positive energy of the universe, gives the statuesque Rose a warm welcome and introduces her to her children: Buddy, the oldest and most brilliant; Frances, who goes by the nickname “Doll”; and “Waski,” the youngest boy. Daddy Hillyer arrives home from work, and charms Rose with his gentlemanly manners. He says Mother does not believe in hiring people to do housework, so she will stay with them as a friend and guest. He acknowledges that Rose, who grew up on a dirt farm, had trouble in Birmingham, Alabama, where she most recently lived, and hopes the Hillyer home will be a safe haven. Rose quickly bonds with the younger children, while Buddy observes her from afar. One day, Rose learns that Mrs. Hillyer was orphaned at the age of seven, and reveals that she lost her mother at the same age. She also discovers that Mrs. Hillyer is completing a Master’s degree in American History, and is impressed by her intelligence. Soon, Rose develops an infatuation with Daddy. Although Mother is oblivious to it, Buddy and Doll take notice. They spy on Rose and Daddy one night when Mother goes out. Rose kisses him, and Daddy at first reciprocates before pushing her away. He reprimands Rose for lacking control over her sexual impulses. She apologizes and cries that she loves him. Daddy reminds Rose what a good friend Mother has been to her, and asks if this is how she wants to repay her. That night, a heartbroken Rose wanders into Buddy’s bedroom and climbs into bed with him. Although she is seeking a shoulder to cry on, Buddy is sexually curious and insists on touching her breasts and reaching under her nightgown. Rose reluctantly allows him to explore her body, becoming aroused and eventually reaching orgasm. Immediately afterward, she is guilt-stricken and apologizes, then swears Buddy to secrecy. He asks her about the trouble that made her leave Birmingham, and she admits some men tried to force her into prostitution. The next morning, Rose dons a revealing dress and announces she is spending her day off in town. Daddy forbids her from leaving the house dressed so provocatively, but Mother defends Rose’s right to wear whatever she wants. Daddy and Buddy give Rose a ride into town and observe from afar as she introduces herself to a salesman. Daddy comments that her swiftness is impressive. That night, in bed with Mother, Daddy complains that Rose is tedious. Mother stands up for her again, insisting that Rose wants love and the only way she knows how to get it is through her beauty. Daddy laments that Rose loves everyone she meets, but Mother argues that is a wonderful quality. As Rose continues to venture out on her own, strange men begin appearing around the house. One night, two rival suitors fight each other in the front yard. Wielding a shotgun, Daddy drives them away. In the morning, he threatens to fire Rose, but Mother will not allow it. When Rose finds herself at the center of another brawl, she is arrested for biting police officer Dave Wilkie, and Daddy is called to pick her up from jail. He announces that Rose is officially fired, but before she can leave, she is hospitalized with a bad case of pneumonia. At the hospital, Dr. Martinson asks why Rose’s illness went untreated. The Hillyers believe she hid it because, like many poor people, she is afraid of doctors. Martinson cannot believe Rose grew up poor, given her stature and lung capacity, and insists she was fed protein as a child. When Rose is released from the hospital, her promiscuous behavior continues, and Daddy fires her again. He arranges for her to work at a dairy farm, but Rose weeps when she hears the news. She tells the Hillyers she does not want to raise her unborn child on a farm. They are shocked to hear she is pregnant, but Daddy does not believe her. Dr. Martinson examines Rose and discovers her abdomen is distended due to an ovarian cyst, not pregnancy, and that she is actually sterile from contracting gonorrhea at age fifteen. He meets with the Hillyers in private, to suggest that when the cyst is removed, a hysterectomy should be performed. The purpose of the procedure would be to eliminate Rose’s “problematic” libido. Daddy agrees with the doctor’s opinion, but Mother reacts with disgust. The procedure, she asserts, would destroy Rose, whose womanhood is all she has. Daddy immediately changes his mind and admits he was wrong. After her cyst is removed, Rose goes back to work for the family. One day, however, she tells Buddy it’s time for her to leave. She recalls that her father raised rabbits to sell for meat, but nobody bought them, so Rose’s family had to eat all 500 of them. She says her father was a bad man, and after her mother died, she ran away from home. Buddy repeats Mother’s opinion that it is a miracle Rose’s environment did not drag her down. Despite her plans to leave, Rose begins dating police officer Dave Wilkie. After a whirlwind courtship, they are married. The Hillyers attend Rose’s wedding, and afterward, Buddy weeps. Years later, older Buddy recalls Rose married three more times, and finally found happiness with her fourth husband. He goes inside to greet Daddy, who gives Buddy the bad news that Rose has died. Daddy commiserates with Buddy, acknowledging that they both loved her, but assures him Rose is at rest with Mother and the “creative universe.” +

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

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