What About Bob? (1991)

PG | 98 mins | Comedy | 17 May 1991

Director:

Frank Oz

Producer:

Laura Ziskin

Cinematographer:

Michael Ballhaus

Editor:

Anne V. Coates

Production Designer:

Les Dilley

Production Company:

Touchstone Pictures
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HISTORY

Garry Marshall was initially attached to direct What About Bob? according to a 23 Jan 1989 HR article, that stated filming would begin 10 Apr 1989. Bill Murray and Robin Williams were said to be under consideration for the role of “Bob Wiley.” Several months later, referring to the film as What’s the Matter with Bob?, Liz Smith’s column in the 22 Jun 1989 LAHExam reported that Tom Hanks was the Walt Disney Company’s first choice for the role of Bob Wiley, but when Hanks turned it down, Bill Murray became the leading contender. Writer-director Woody Allen was reportedly in talks to play “Dr. Leo Marvin,” although Allen had not appeared in another director’s film since The Front (1976, see entry). Michael Keaton was also listed as a candidate for an unspecified role in a 13 Oct 1989 LAHExam brief. Bill Murray’s official casting was announced in a 7 Mar 1990 DV item which stated that no director was attached at that time, but filming would begin in summer 1990.
       The 30 Jun 1990 Screen International reported that Frank Oz had signed to direct. Two months later, Richard Dreyfuss’s casting was announced in a 21 Aug 1990 DV item, which stated that filming would commence the following week.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files and the 18 Sep 1990 HR production chart listed the start of principal photography as 27 Aug 1990. Filming began in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City, where exteriors of Bob’s apartment were shot. Other New York City locations included Union ... More Less

Garry Marshall was initially attached to direct What About Bob? according to a 23 Jan 1989 HR article, that stated filming would begin 10 Apr 1989. Bill Murray and Robin Williams were said to be under consideration for the role of “Bob Wiley.” Several months later, referring to the film as What’s the Matter with Bob?, Liz Smith’s column in the 22 Jun 1989 LAHExam reported that Tom Hanks was the Walt Disney Company’s first choice for the role of Bob Wiley, but when Hanks turned it down, Bill Murray became the leading contender. Writer-director Woody Allen was reportedly in talks to play “Dr. Leo Marvin,” although Allen had not appeared in another director’s film since The Front (1976, see entry). Michael Keaton was also listed as a candidate for an unspecified role in a 13 Oct 1989 LAHExam brief. Bill Murray’s official casting was announced in a 7 Mar 1990 DV item which stated that no director was attached at that time, but filming would begin in summer 1990.
       The 30 Jun 1990 Screen International reported that Frank Oz had signed to direct. Two months later, Richard Dreyfuss’s casting was announced in a 21 Aug 1990 DV item, which stated that filming would commence the following week.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files and the 18 Sep 1990 HR production chart listed the start of principal photography as 27 Aug 1990. Filming began in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City, where exteriors of Bob’s apartment were shot. Other New York City locations included Union Square Park and the exterior of the New York Convention Center. On Labor Day weekend, cast and crew moved to Smith Mountain Lake, VA, which stood in for Lake Winnipesaukee, NH. The location, further south than the film’s New England setting, was chosen due to the waning summer season. Also, filmmakers had scouted “the perfect lake-front house” there, close to a nearly empty resort area where cast and crew could be accommodated. The house was slightly altered, with the addition of green shutters and a shingled roof. Other Virginia locations included the Elks National Home in Bedford, which stood in for the “Tomsky Institute.” Interiors of Bob’s apartment and Dr. Marvin’s office were filmed on a soundstage constructed at the Bedford Armory. According to a 7 Jun 1991 HR item, the Virginia Department of Economic Development reported that $4.1 million of the production budget was spent in Virginia.
       A 28 Jun 1991 HR brief noted that residents of Lake Winnipesaukee were upset the film was not shot there. In addition, Charlene Joyce of the New Hampshire Film Commission complained that the film made the New England vacation spot look “tacky.”
       At a 16 May 1991 screening of the picture, the Cinema World theater in Pittsburgh, PA, offered two free tickets to anyone named “Bob,” as noted in a 13 May 1991 DV brief. Bobs in attendance were also eligible to win What About Bob? T-shirts and copies of David Rensin’s The Bob Book (New York, 1991).
       Critical reception was mixed. However, as noted in a 4 Jun 2004 WSJ article, the film was a commercial success, with cumulative box-office grosses of $63.7 million.
       A 9 Apr 2015 DV item reported that Richard Dreyfuss sued the Walt Disney Company over its refusal to be audited by Robinson and Co., which was hired by Dreyfuss to audit Disney’s books on What About Bob? to determine if the actor was owed any monies on the film. Dreyfuss was joined by Christine Turner, wife of the late producer, Raymond Wagner, who also wanted Robinson and Co. to audit Turner and Hooch (1989, see entry). The outcome of the lawsuit has not been determined as of the writing of this Note.
       The film concludes with the title card: “Bob went back to school to become a psychologist. He then wrote a huge best seller: ‘Death Therapy.’ Leo is suing him for the rights.”
       End credits include the following statements: “Special thanks to: Charles and Jane Williams; Virginia Film Office; State of Virginia; Bernards Landing Resort, Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia; Residents of Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia; City of Roanoke, Virginia; City of Bedford, Virginia; Virginia National Guard; Franklin County, Virginia; Bedford County, Virginia; Roanoke Regional Airport Commission; Elks Home – Bedford, Virginia; Jim Henson Productions; Robin Oz”; “Use of ‘Good Morning America’ facilities courtesy of American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.”; “Scenes from ‘The Brady Bunch’ courtesy of Paramount Pictures.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
7 Mar 1990.
---
Daily Variety
21 Aug 1990.
---
Daily Variety
13 May 1991.
---
Daily Variety
17 May 1991
p. 2, 14.
Daily Variety
9 Apr 2015.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jan 1989
p. 1, 44.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Sep 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 May 1991
p. 10, 20.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jun 1991.
---
LAHExam
22 Jun 1989.
---
LAHExam
13 Oct 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 May 1991
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
18 Jun 1991
Metro, p. 2.
New York Times
17 May 1991
p. 15.
Screen International
30 Jun 1990.
---
Variety
20 May 1991
p. 40.
WSJ
4 Jun 2004.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Touchstone Pictures Presents
in association with Touchwood Pacific Partners I
A Laura Ziskin Production
A Frank Oz Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Unit prod mgr, New York crew
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam trainee
Addl photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Rigging gaffer
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Lamp op
Lamp op
Still photog
Video assist
Gaffer, New York crew
Best boy, New York crew
Key grip, New York crew
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Junior illustrator
Art dir, New York crew
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Prop master
Prop master
Set des
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Greensperson
Greensperson
Set dec, New York crew
Leadman, New York crew
Prop master, New York crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Costumer to Mr. Murray
Costumer
Ward supv, New York crew
Ward supv, New York crew
MUSIC
Mus ed
Addl orch
Addl orch
Orch contractor
Vocal contractor
Mus rec & mixed by
at Columbia Recording Studios
Score mixed at
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cableman
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
ADR ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR mixer
Foley mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Dubbing rec
Boom op, New York crew
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Title des
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup for Mr. Murray
Makeup asst
Hairstylist
Hairstylist to Mr. Murray
Hairstylist to Mr. Dreyfuss
Makeup artist, New York crew
Hairstylist, New York crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Post prod coord
Asst to Mr. Oz
Asst to Ms. Ziskin
Asst to Mr. Murray
Asst to Mr. Dreyfuss
Prod coord
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant
Unit pub
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Casting assoc
Extras casting
Loc teacher
Boat master
Loc mgr, New York crew
Prod coord, New York crew
Transportation capt, New York crew
Transportation capt, New York crew
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Jolt," written by Gerry Hurtado and Chris Abbott, performed by Skatemaster Tate and The Concrete Crew, courtesy of Russett Records
"Brady Bunch Theme," written by Sherwood Schwartz and Frank De Vol
"Singin' In The Rain," written by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown
+
SONGS
"Jolt," written by Gerry Hurtado and Chris Abbott, performed by Skatemaster Tate and The Concrete Crew, courtesy of Russett Records
"Brady Bunch Theme," written by Sherwood Schwartz and Frank De Vol
"Singin' In The Rain," written by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown
"Good Morning America Theme," written by Marvin Hamlisch and Richard Hazard, courtesy of Capitol Cities, ABC, Inc.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
What's the Matter with Bob?
Release Date:
17 May 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 May 1991
Production Date:
began 27 August 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Touchstone Pictures, a.a.a.o. the Walt Disney Company
Copyright Date:
28 May 1991
Copyright Number:
PA518554
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Prints
Produced and distributed on Eastman Film
Duration(in mins):
98
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31147
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Bob Wiley is a neurotic divorcee with numerous phobias. When his psychologist, Carswell Fensterwald, quits the business, Bob is referred to Dr. Leo Marvin, whose self-help book, Baby Steps, has recently become a bestseller. Although Dr. Marvin is about to leave on a month-long vacation, Bob finagles a session on his last day in the office. In their meeting, Bob lists his many phobias, including a fear of germs, public spaces, and moving. Dr. Marvin gives him a copy of Baby Steps and tells him they will reconvene in a month. Bob takes “baby steps” out of the office, and Dr. Marvin records his initial impressions on a Dictaphone, stating that Bob has a multi-phobic personality, characterized by separation from reality and a need for family. Dr. Marvin, his wife, Fay, and children Anna and “Siggy,” go to Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Bob calls Dr. Marvin’s phone exchange in a desperate attempt to speak with him. Betty, the switchboard operator, finally gives in and puts Bob’s call through to Dr. Marvin’s lake house. The agitated therapist tells Bob to call his partner, Dr. Harmon, and hangs up. To obtain Dr. Marvin’s New Hampshire mailing address, Bob poses as a police detective and informs Betty at the phone exchange that Dr. Marvin’s new patient, “Bob Wiley,” committed suicide. The next day, Bob arrives in Lake Winnipesaukee with his goldfish, “Gil,” in a jar around his neck. Outside the bus depot, he repeatedly shouts “Dr. Leo Marvin” as Dr. Marvin emerges from the general ... +


Bob Wiley is a neurotic divorcee with numerous phobias. When his psychologist, Carswell Fensterwald, quits the business, Bob is referred to Dr. Leo Marvin, whose self-help book, Baby Steps, has recently become a bestseller. Although Dr. Marvin is about to leave on a month-long vacation, Bob finagles a session on his last day in the office. In their meeting, Bob lists his many phobias, including a fear of germs, public spaces, and moving. Dr. Marvin gives him a copy of Baby Steps and tells him they will reconvene in a month. Bob takes “baby steps” out of the office, and Dr. Marvin records his initial impressions on a Dictaphone, stating that Bob has a multi-phobic personality, characterized by separation from reality and a need for family. Dr. Marvin, his wife, Fay, and children Anna and “Siggy,” go to Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Bob calls Dr. Marvin’s phone exchange in a desperate attempt to speak with him. Betty, the switchboard operator, finally gives in and puts Bob’s call through to Dr. Marvin’s lake house. The agitated therapist tells Bob to call his partner, Dr. Harmon, and hangs up. To obtain Dr. Marvin’s New Hampshire mailing address, Bob poses as a police detective and informs Betty at the phone exchange that Dr. Marvin’s new patient, “Bob Wiley,” committed suicide. The next day, Bob arrives in Lake Winnipesaukee with his goldfish, “Gil,” in a jar around his neck. Outside the bus depot, he repeatedly shouts “Dr. Leo Marvin” as Dr. Marvin emerges from the general store with his family. Disturbed by Bob’s presence, Dr. Marvin tells him to wait at the coffee shop where he will call him that afternoon. Bob’s bizarre behavior draws attention from coffee shop patrons. When the proprietors, Mr. and Mrs. Guttman, learn that he is waiting for a call from Dr. Marvin, they curse Dr. Marvin’s name, and complain that he bought their dream home. The Guttmans offer Bob a ride to Dr. Marvin’s lake house. There, Dr. Marvin panics when he sees Bob approach, and urges him to take a “vacation” from his problems. Bob seems satisfied with Dr. Marvin’s advice. However, the next day he returns, this time wearing a T-shirt that reads, “Don’t bother me, I’m local.” Bob announces that he is taking a literal vacation in Lake Winnipesaukee, and is staying with the Guttmans. Dr. Marvin, who is anxiously preparing for an at-home interview on the Good Morning America television program to be aired the next day, sends Bob away, then forbids Fay, Anna, and Siggy from letting him inside if he comes back. That afternoon, Anna drives past Bob and offers him a ride. They commiserate over social anxiety and Anna invites Bob to come sailing on her friend’s boat. Bob confesses to having a fear of boats, but agrees to go. Meanwhile, Dr. Marvin takes Siggy to the dock to practice diving, but his overbearing approach fails with his timid son. Bob and Anna sail past, and Dr. Marvin is so upset by the sight of them together that he accidentally drops Siggy in the water. Later, Dr. Marvin reprimands Anna for befriending his patient, but she defends Bob, whom she describes as sensitive. Dr. Marvin retreats inside the house and tells Fay he is a failure. Bob finds Siggy on the dock, and reveals his own fear of diving. Empowered by Bob’s confession, Siggy takes his first dive. Fay sees him through the window and cheers. Upset that Bob has usurped his role as teacher, Dr. Marvin charges the dock and inadvertently pushes Bob into the water, causing everyone else to rush to Bob’s aid. Fay accuses her husband of being hostile, and insists on inviting Bob for dinner. That night, Dr. Marvin loses his patience as Bob continues to ingratiate himself with the family. A rainstorm hits, and despite Dr. Marvin’s resistance, Fay invites Bob to stay overnight. With the Good Morning America crew due to arrive at 7 a.m., Dr. Marvin insists that he leave early the next morning. However, Bob is still there when the television crew arrives. The host, Marie Grady, assumes Dr. Marvin wants Bob in the interview. Before Dr. Marvin has time to protest, Marie declares it is a brilliant idea. As cameras roll, a stupefied Dr. Marvin watches in shock as Bob overtakes the interview. Afterward, Dr. Marvin offers him a ride home, but instead drives him to the Tomsky Institute, a mental hospital. Bob protests when he realizes he is being committed. Within hours, Dr. Marvin receives a call from Dr. Catherine Tomsky, who tells him Bob is perfectly sane and has been released. Detecting his frustration, she suggests that Dr. Marvin could use a couple days in the hospital, but he refuses. Instead, he picks up Bob, who tries to schedule therapy sessions for the following week. Dr. Marvin loses his temper and leaves Bob on the side of the road. Shortly after, he gets a flat tire and Bob, who hitched a ride, waves as he passes. That evening, Fay Marvin surprises her husband with a birthday party. In the crowd, Dr. Marvin sees Bob with his sister, Lily. He loses his temper and clobbers him. As a doctor friend treats Dr. Marvin with a sedative, Fay apologizes to Bob, but asks him to leave the house. Dr. Marvin sneaks out and breaks into the general store, where he steals a gun and explosives. He kidnaps Bob, leads him into the woods, and promises he has a guaranteed cure for his problems. Tying Bob to a fallen tree trunk, he straps the explosives, on a timer, around Bob’s neck, and leaves. Bob assumes Dr. Marvin is putting him through an exercise to untie his “emotional knots.” He extricates himself from the constraints and walks back to the Marvins’ lake house, with the explosives still hanging from his neck. He drops the explosives inside, and finds the Marvins on their lawn just as the house blows up. Dr. Marvin suffers a nervous breakdown and is committed to a mental hospital. Soon, Bob marries Lily Marvin. When the priest asks if anyone objects to the marriage, Dr. Marvin makes a gurgling noise and bolts from his wheelchair. Sometime later, Bob earns a degree in psychology and writes his own bestseller, Death Therapy, prompting Dr. Marvin to sue him for the rights. +

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

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