Scenes from a Mall (1991)

R | 83 mins | Comedy-drama | 22 February 1991

Director:

Paul Mazursky

Producer:

Paul Mazursky

Cinematographer:

Fred Murphy

Editor:

Stuart Pappé

Production Designer:

Pato Guzman

Production Company:

Touchstone Pictures
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HISTORY

According to production notes in AMPAS library files, actor-filmmaker Paul Mazursky conceived Scenes from a Mall in 1988, following the completion of his previous picture, Enemies, A Love Story (1989, see entry). Mazursky discussed his ideas with co-writer Roger Simon, and after “preliminary research by reading several pop psychology books,” Simon wrote a first draft of the screenplay, which Mazursky later revised. The filmmaker told the 22 Feb 1991 LAT that he and distributor The Walt Disney Company had been considering several actors for the role of “Nick Fifer,” including Kevin Kline, Richard Dreyfuss, and William Hurt, but casting actor-filmmaker Woody Allen opposite actress Bette Midler drew the most enthusiastic response. Because he and Allen shared the same agent, Mazursky was able to deliver the screenplay on a Friday and receive Allen’s approval the following Monday. Although the story was set in the Beverly Center shopping mall in Los Angeles, CA, Allen only agreed to the role if production was based in the New York City area, so he could sleep in his own home, as reported in the 24 Feb 1991 Long Beach Press-Telegram. Over one hundred malls were scouted in the United States and Canada, before the Stamford Town Center in Stamford, CT was chosen. To ensure that filming would be completed on schedule, production designer Pato Guzman created a two-story replica of the mall’s interior, built on a soundstage at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in New York City, and constructed over a fourteen-week period by one hundred and fifty crewmembers. Cinematographer Fred Murphy used available lighting from skylights, fluorescent fixtures, and ... More Less

According to production notes in AMPAS library files, actor-filmmaker Paul Mazursky conceived Scenes from a Mall in 1988, following the completion of his previous picture, Enemies, A Love Story (1989, see entry). Mazursky discussed his ideas with co-writer Roger Simon, and after “preliminary research by reading several pop psychology books,” Simon wrote a first draft of the screenplay, which Mazursky later revised. The filmmaker told the 22 Feb 1991 LAT that he and distributor The Walt Disney Company had been considering several actors for the role of “Nick Fifer,” including Kevin Kline, Richard Dreyfuss, and William Hurt, but casting actor-filmmaker Woody Allen opposite actress Bette Midler drew the most enthusiastic response. Because he and Allen shared the same agent, Mazursky was able to deliver the screenplay on a Friday and receive Allen’s approval the following Monday. Although the story was set in the Beverly Center shopping mall in Los Angeles, CA, Allen only agreed to the role if production was based in the New York City area, so he could sleep in his own home, as reported in the 24 Feb 1991 Long Beach Press-Telegram. Over one hundred malls were scouted in the United States and Canada, before the Stamford Town Center in Stamford, CT was chosen. To ensure that filming would be completed on schedule, production designer Pato Guzman created a two-story replica of the mall’s interior, built on a soundstage at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in New York City, and constructed over a fourteen-week period by one hundred and fifty crewmembers. Cinematographer Fred Murphy used available lighting from skylights, fluorescent fixtures, and reflectors, which he described as “chaotic lighting,” to give the film a natural look, while depicting “the commotion of modern life.” Approximately 2,600 background actors were required, all of whom were costumed in contemporary Los Angeles fashions.
       Mazursky told the 31 Dec 1989 NYT that principal photography would likely begin in Jun 1990, and described it as his latest picture about the institution of marriage. A 25 Dec 1990 release was planned. Photography began at the Stamford Town Center, either on 11 Jun 1990, as reported in the 12 Jun 1990 HR, or on 14 Jun 1990, as reported that day in DV. The 29 Jun 1990 HR described the Stamford shooting schedule as Monday through Friday for eleven hours per day, ending 6 Jul 1990. Although set dressers decorated the mall for the Christmas season, some retailers, such as FAO Schwarz and Johnston & Murphy, supplied their own decorations, one of several reasons Mazursky commended the people of Stamford for their cooperation. The 3 Aug 1990 LAT reported the production’s move to the Beverly Center, where filming resumed in mid-Aug 1990.
       According to the 14 Apr 1990 Screen International, Woody Allen, who openly disliked California, agreed to a two-day shoot in Los Angeles if he and his family were flown across the country in Disney’s corporate jet. Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg also promised Allen’s domestic partner, actress Mia Farrow, and her nine children a guided tour of the Disneyland amusement park. In the 24 Feb 1991 Long Beach Press-Telegram, Mazursky commented on Allen’s eccentricities, including his disdain for elevators and escalators, fear of flying, and his perception of shopping malls as “a science fiction thing,” all of which had to be overcome to complete the picture. Mazursky also overcame Allen’s aversion to rehearsing, committing the actor to three weeks of rehearsal prior to filming.
       As stated in the 16 Oct 1990 DV, Disney postponed the release until 22 Mar 1991, reserving 25 Dec 1990 for Green Card (1990, see entry), reportedly to “maximize revenues” for both pictures. The 11 Feb 1991 Var announced the 16 Feb 1991 world premiere at the Palace Theater in Stamford. Proceeds benefited the Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut and Save the Children. Scenes from a Mall was released 22 Feb 1991 to mixed reviews. The Apr 1991 Box estimated gross receipts of only $7 million for its first ten days.
       End credits include the following statements: “The producers wish to thank The Taubman Company, Inc.”; “Filmed on location at Stamford Town Center, Stamford, Connecticut, and Beverly Center, Los Angeles, California”; “The New York Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting”; “Filmed at Kaufman Astoria Studios in New York”; “For Pato.” According to the 13 Jan 1991 Var, Pato Guzman died 2 Jan 1991 of an undisclosed illness. Scenes from a Mall was his twelfth and final collaboration with Paul Mazursky. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Back Stage
16 Mar 1990.
---
Box Office
Apr 1991.
---
Daily Variety
8 Jan 1990.
---
Daily Variety
14 Jun 1990.
---
Daily Variety
16 Oct 1990
p. 1, 11.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jun 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Feb 1991
p. 10, 23.
Long Beach Press-Telegram
24 Feb 1991
Section A, pp. 13-14.
Los Angeles Times
3 Aug 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Feb 1991
Section F, p. 1, 14.
New York
25 Feb 1991.
---
New York Times
31 Dec 1989.
---
New York Times
22 Feb 1991
p. 19.
Screen International
14 Apr 1990.
---
Variety
10 Jan 1990.
---
Variety
9 May 1990.
---
Variety
13 Jan 1991.
---
Variety
11 Feb 1991.
---
Variety
25 Feb 1991
p. 48.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Co-starring:
Barber shop quartet:
[and]:
Joe Cool & the Coolers (rap group):
[and]:
El Mariachi Bustamante:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Touchstone Pictures presents
In association with Silver Screen Partners IV
A Paul Mazursky production
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
Asst unit prod mgr, L.A. crew
2d 2d asst dir, L.A. crew
DGA trainee, L.A. crew
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl cam and Steadicam® op
1st asst cam
Addl 1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Best boy
Key grip
Best boy grip
Grip
Still photog
Steadicam® op, L.A. crew
Addl 1st asst cam, L.A. crew
2d asst cam, L.A. crew
2d asst cam, L.A. crew
Gaffer, L.A. crew
Key grip, L.A. crew
Best boy, L.A. crew
Best boy grip, L.A. crew
Dolly grip, L.A. crew
Loc lighting and grip equip by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Storyboard artist
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Graphic artist
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Addl set dec
Prop master
Props
Props
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Const coord
Scenic charge man
Set dec, L.A. crew
Leadman, L.A. crew
Prop master, L.A. crew
Asst prop master, L.A. crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Ward supv
Costumer (Ms. Midler)
Costumer (Mr. Allen)
Ward supv, L.A. crew
MUSIC
Mus and adaptations by
Supv mus ed
Mus ed
Mus rec and mixed by
Addl orch
Addl mus rec by
Supv copyist
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Post prod dial
ADR ed
Foley by
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst ADR ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Boom op, L.A. crew
Cableman, L.A. crew
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title des
DANCE
MAKEUP
Makeup artist (Ms. Midler)
Makeup artist
Addl makeup artist
Hairstylist (Ms. Midler)
Hairstylist
Addl hairstylist
Makeup artist, L. A. crew
Hairstylist, L. A. crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Prod office coord
Asst coord
Asst to Paul Mazursky
Asst to Patrick McCormick
Asst to Woody Allen
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Prod office asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Unit pub
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Casting assoc
Prod coord, L.A. crew
Loc mgr, L.A. crew
Loc mgr, L.A. crew
Prod accountant, L.A. crew
Prod office asst, L.A. crew
Transportation coord, L.A. crew
Transportation capt, L.A. crew
Extras casting, L.A. crew
Voice casting, L.A. crew
STAND INS
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Prod and distributed on
SOURCES
SONGS
“You Do Something To Me,” written by Cole Porter, performed by Marlene Dietrich, courtesy of MCA Records
“Give Me Your Kisses (I’ll Give You My Heart),” written by Leonard Whitcup and George Douglas, performed by Louis Armstrong, courtesy of MCA Records
“The Christmas Break,” written by Joseph E. Warren, performed by Joe Cool & the Coolers
+
SONGS
“You Do Something To Me,” written by Cole Porter, performed by Marlene Dietrich, courtesy of MCA Records
“Give Me Your Kisses (I’ll Give You My Heart),” written by Leonard Whitcup and George Douglas, performed by Louis Armstrong, courtesy of MCA Records
“The Christmas Break,” written by Joseph E. Warren, performed by Joe Cool & the Coolers
“Winter Wonderland,” written by Felix Bernard and Dick Smith, performed by Vintage
“Mister Santa,” written by Pat Ballard, performed by Vintage
“Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” written by Johnny Marks, performed by Gene Autry, courtesy of Everest Records
“Coney Island Baby,” written by Les Applegate, performed by Vintage
“Wyze Man,” written by Joseph E. Warren, performed by Joe Cool & the Coolers
“Cu-Cu-Rru-Cu-Cu, Paloma,” written by Tomas Mendez, performed by El Mariachi Bustamante
“Guadalajara,” written by Pepe Guizar, performed by El Mariachi Bustamante
“La Calandria,” written by Nicandro Castillo, performed by El Mariachi Bustamante
“Hurricane,” written and performed by Passion Play
“Arabian Belly Dance,” written by J. Leach
“Deck The Halls,” performed by Peter Kater, courtesy of Silver Wave Records
“Let’s Do It,” written by Cole Porter
“Easy To Love,” written by Cole Porter
“Tenderly,” written by Jack Lawrence and Walter Gross
“Theme From ‘Amarcord,’” written by Nino Rota, courtesy of Cam’s Original Soundtrack
“Juliet Of The Spirits,” written by Nino Rota, courtesy of Cam’s Original Soundtrack
“You Do Something To Me,” written by Cole Porter, produced by Marc Shaiman, performed by Bette Midler.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
22 February 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 22 February 1991
New York opening: week of 22 February 1991
Production Date:
11 or 14 June--19 August 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Touchstone Pictures, a.a.d.o. the Walt Disney Company
Copyright Date:
25 February 1991
Copyright Number:
PA504501
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
83
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30851
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Los Angeles, California, sports attorney Nick Fifer and his wife, psychologist Deborah Feingold Fifer, say goodbye to their teenaged children, Sam and Jennifer, who are leaving on a skiing trip. When the children are gone, Nick and Deborah make love to celebrate their sixteenth wedding anniversary. They finalize plans for a party that evening, then drive to the Beverly Center shopping mall, where a mime follows them and mocks their behavior. Preoccupied with an endorsement deal for one of his clients, Nick becomes irritated with the mime and chases him away. The couple exchanges anniversary presents: Deborah gives Nick a personalized surfboard, and he gives her a family photograph in an antique silver frame. Deborah becomes self-conscious as they pass a bookstore displaying her bestselling book, I Do, I Do, I Do: Recommitting Yourself to Marriage in the Age of Divorce. On a video monitor above the display, Deborah’s colleague, Dr. Hans Clava, endorses Deborah’s belief that married couples should renew their vows every six years. Nick buys a copy as a show of support, but Deborah believes it to be an act of hostility, motivated by his anxiety. After buying a gourmet sushi platter for the party, the couple stops at the food court, where Nick reveals that he was involved in a seven-month affair with a younger woman until the previous afternoon. He also admits to two “one-nighters” with colleagues, and one with a prostitute. Hoping to allay Deborah’s outrage, Nick explains that her book inspired him to confess. Deborah pretends to forgive him, then ... +


In Los Angeles, California, sports attorney Nick Fifer and his wife, psychologist Deborah Feingold Fifer, say goodbye to their teenaged children, Sam and Jennifer, who are leaving on a skiing trip. When the children are gone, Nick and Deborah make love to celebrate their sixteenth wedding anniversary. They finalize plans for a party that evening, then drive to the Beverly Center shopping mall, where a mime follows them and mocks their behavior. Preoccupied with an endorsement deal for one of his clients, Nick becomes irritated with the mime and chases him away. The couple exchanges anniversary presents: Deborah gives Nick a personalized surfboard, and he gives her a family photograph in an antique silver frame. Deborah becomes self-conscious as they pass a bookstore displaying her bestselling book, I Do, I Do, I Do: Recommitting Yourself to Marriage in the Age of Divorce. On a video monitor above the display, Deborah’s colleague, Dr. Hans Clava, endorses Deborah’s belief that married couples should renew their vows every six years. Nick buys a copy as a show of support, but Deborah believes it to be an act of hostility, motivated by his anxiety. After buying a gourmet sushi platter for the party, the couple stops at the food court, where Nick reveals that he was involved in a seven-month affair with a younger woman until the previous afternoon. He also admits to two “one-nighters” with colleagues, and one with a prostitute. Hoping to allay Deborah’s outrage, Nick explains that her book inspired him to confess. Deborah pretends to forgive him, then shoves her knee into his crotch and throws the sushi platter across the room, hitting the mime. She runs to their car, but is too despondent to drive. Nick takes the wheel and absentmindedly parks the car in a space reserved for the handicapped, while she accuses him of initiating the affair out of jealousy over her fame. Realizing they have left their presents behind, Nick and Deborah continue their argument inside the mall. When Deborah declares her intention of divorcing Nick, he offers his own legal services, saying he could save her money. In the food court, they drink margaritas and discuss the terms of the divorce. Deborah tells Nick to move out of the house, and he is overcome with anxiety, resulting in an asthma attack. She takes him to a movie theater, where he regains his composure as they watch Salaam Bombay! Deborah analyzes Nick’s transgression, and suggests it was a reaction to being an unwanted child. Within minutes, Nick and Deborah are reconciled and leave the theater to purchase another sushi platter. However, Deborah quickly disrupts their happiness by revealing her affair with Dr. Hans Clava. Nick eats sushi and listens calmly as she explains how the elderly psychologist assisted with the completion of her book, while satisfying her “father fixation” and her insatiable sex drive. Although she promises to end the affair, Nick demands a divorce, then goes to the men’s room to vomit. He enters the parking lot to discover that his car has been impounded and complains to the concierge, then goes to a drug store for aspirin and finds Deborah unconscious on the floor. After Nick helps Deborah to her feet, they reveal what they like and dislike about each other. Nick receives news that he has secured a $600,000 endorsement for his client, and invites Deborah to celebrate with champagne and caviar. They purchase new outfits, then speculate on their love lives as single adults in the Maison de Caviar, an elegant restaurant on the mall’s upper level. Nick and Deborah take to the dance floor, and advise each other on who they should take as lovers from among their circle of friends. Neither agree with the other’s recommendations, but agree on their fear of returning to single life. Nick realizes they are “stuck” with each other, even though she betrayed him. Outraged by her husband’s hypocrisy, Deborah storms out of the restaurant, with Nick in pursuit. A heated argument ensues in front of a large crowd, and when the mime tries to intervene, Nick punches him in the jaw. Security guards attempt to detain Nick, but Deborah exonerates him, claiming he is a mental patient under her care. Nick apologizes to the mime and gives him $100. Deborah telephones Hans to end the affair, and the concierge notifies Nick that his car has been recovered. While ordering another sushi platter, Deborah realizes Nick has misplaced his surfboard and they retrace their steps to find it. +

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

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