The Good Son (1993)

R | 87 mins | Drama | 24 September 1993

Director:

Joseph Ruben

Writer:

Ian McEwan

Cinematographer:

John Lindley

Editor:

George Bowers

Production Designer:

Bill Groom

Production Company:

Twentieth Century Fox
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HISTORY

The film opens and closes with voice-over narration by Elijah Wood’s character, “Mark Evans.”
       End credits state: “The Major League Baseball trademarks depicted in this motion picture were licensed by Major League Baseball Properties, Inc.”; and, “Filmed in Cape Ann, Massachusetts-Two Harbors, Minnesota-and Las Vegas, Nevada”; and,"The Producers wish to thank: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Division of Parks and Recreation; Tettegouche State Park; Split Rock Lighthouse State Park; Minnesota Historical Society, Split Rock Lighthouse Historic Site; The Mallet Company, Mirror Lake, Jackson, New Hampshire; Massachusetts Film Office; Minnesota Film Board; Antiques Dealers of Essex; Twentieth Century Draperies.”
       A 3 Dec 1992 DV article stated that Laurence Mark was first attached to produce The Good Son in 1985, when he proposed the idea to novelist Ian McEwan and helped develop the screenplay. In the late 1980s, the project moved from Twentieth Century Fox to Universal’s independent company, Quantum Pictures, with Brian Gilbert in talks to direct. After investing in script rewrites, location scouting, and casting, Universal passed on the project, and the majority of pre-production costs were covered by the Australian film distribution company, Hoyts. Gilbert also left, and Stuart Orme was hired as his replacement under Hemdale Film Corporation. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, The Good Son landed back at Fox when producer Mary Anne Page and executive producer Daniel Rogosin selected the script as their first acquisition in an exclusive two-year deal with the studio. A 27 Oct 1990 Screen International brief linked the project to Miramax Pictures, but no further sources cited the company’s involvement. A 14 Jun 1991 Screen International ... More Less

The film opens and closes with voice-over narration by Elijah Wood’s character, “Mark Evans.”
       End credits state: “The Major League Baseball trademarks depicted in this motion picture were licensed by Major League Baseball Properties, Inc.”; and, “Filmed in Cape Ann, Massachusetts-Two Harbors, Minnesota-and Las Vegas, Nevada”; and,"The Producers wish to thank: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Division of Parks and Recreation; Tettegouche State Park; Split Rock Lighthouse State Park; Minnesota Historical Society, Split Rock Lighthouse Historic Site; The Mallet Company, Mirror Lake, Jackson, New Hampshire; Massachusetts Film Office; Minnesota Film Board; Antiques Dealers of Essex; Twentieth Century Draperies.”
       A 3 Dec 1992 DV article stated that Laurence Mark was first attached to produce The Good Son in 1985, when he proposed the idea to novelist Ian McEwan and helped develop the screenplay. In the late 1980s, the project moved from Twentieth Century Fox to Universal’s independent company, Quantum Pictures, with Brian Gilbert in talks to direct. After investing in script rewrites, location scouting, and casting, Universal passed on the project, and the majority of pre-production costs were covered by the Australian film distribution company, Hoyts. Gilbert also left, and Stuart Orme was hired as his replacement under Hemdale Film Corporation. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, The Good Son landed back at Fox when producer Mary Anne Page and executive producer Daniel Rogosin selected the script as their first acquisition in an exclusive two-year deal with the studio. A 27 Oct 1990 Screen International brief linked the project to Miramax Pictures, but no further sources cited the company’s involvement. A 14 Jun 1991 Screen International brief stated Barbara Hershey was in consideration for the adult female lead. The item also suggested the characters Mark and "Henry" were initially written as brothers, not cousins.
       Although production was expected to begin in Jan 1991, several delays arose related to the casting of Macaulay Culkin. An 18 Oct 1991 HR story stated that Michael Lehmann was hired to direct the $15 million project, with $4 million already invested in the construction of sets in New England, and that Mary Steenburgen had been added to the cast. In a meeting with Culkin in Aug 1991, Lehmann decided the twelve-year-old was too young for the role and suggested the studio find another actor. However, Macaulay’s father and manager, Kit Culkin, refused to sign a contract for Fox’s Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992, see entry) unless his son was also cast in The Good Son, which he saw as an opportunity to widen the boy’s acting range. Because the Home Alone sequel was scheduled to shoot in Dec 1991, Fox agreed to delay the 4 Nov 1991 start date of The Good Son until the following autumn. Although the deal stipulated Culkin would receive $1.5—$2 million, a 27 Oct 1991 LAT article suggested that Fox executives approved the actor for both films with the hope of later convincing Kit Culkin to reconsider. Lehmann and Laurence Mark traveled to New York City to read scenes with Macaulay, but were unsuccessful in persuading him to leave the project. Fox embraced the decision and shut down production on 15 Oct 1991, claiming that having “the only child in America that sells tickets” was worth the additional $3—$4 million to postpone production and hire a new director. Lehmann, who was paid upfront, decided to pursue other projects.
       Early the following year, the 27 Jan 1992 HR stated Jonathan Lynn turned down an offer to direct The Good Son in order to work on Hollywood Pictures’ The Distinguished Gentleman (1992, see entry), which was scheduled to begin production in Apr 1992. A 22 May 1992 Screen International item announced the involvement of director-producer Joseph Ruben. A few months later, the 15 Sep 1992 DV reported Mary Steenburgen was eager to re-accept the role of "Susan" after receiving a second offer from Ruben. Although filmmakers hoped to adjust the 7 Dec 1993 production start date to accommodate her schedule, Steenburgen had previously committed to starring in Philadelphia (1993, see entry), and was unavailable. With the casting of Wendy Crewson, principal photography was moved up to 19 Nov 1992.
       After scouting locations in several states along the East Coast, offices were established in Gloucester, MA. House exteriors were filmed in the Manchester-by-the-Sea village in Cape Ann, and additional locations included the communities of Rockport, Essex, Annisquam, Danvers, Beverly, and Marblehead. Interiors of the “Evans” household were shot in a temporary studio built in Beverly’s Lynch Park. Crew filmed the opening sequence in Las Vegas, NV, before relocating to Minnesota, where the climactic scene was staged at Lake Superior’s 120-foot cliff, Palisade Head. The 3 Dec 1992 DV estimated that filming was scheduled to conclude in mid or late Feb 1993.
       Days before production began, the 17 Nov 1992 HR stated that Kit Culkin rejected Ruben’s choice for Macaulay’s onscreen sister, “Connie,” and insisted filmmakers recast the role with his eight-year-old daughter, Quinn Culkin. A few weeks later, the 3 Dec 1992 DV announced that Kit Culkin had producer Laurence Mark fired from the project, due to his association with former director Michael Lehmann. Conflicting reports listed the final production cost as $17 million and $28 million.
       A 1 Aug 1993 LAT article stated that the R-rated film with two recognized child stars provided challenges for Fox’s marketing strategy. However, the film was “picture-locked” in Jul 1993, following two successful test screenings in Los Angeles, CA, and New Jersey. Post-production was expected to continue until 8 Sep 1993, with additional preview screenings to be held throughout the month until its national opening on 24 Sep 1993. Reviews were largely negative, with several critics suggesting that Culkin was, ironically, miscast.
       More than a year after domestic release, the 6 Nov 1994 issue of the London, England Observer reported that the film was finally opening in the U.K. after a year-long ban by the British Board of Film Classification, which deemed the story inappropriate due to the recent murder of two-year-old James Bulger by two ten-year-old boys. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
15 Sep 1992.
---
Daily Variety
3 Dec 1992
p. 1, 17.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Oct 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Oct 1991
p. 1, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Sep 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 1992
p. 1, 74.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jan 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 1993
p. 10, 28.
Los Angeles Times
27 Oct 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
1 Aug 1993
p. 27, 34.
Los Angeles Times
24 Sep 1993
Section F, p. 1, 18.
New York Times
24 Sep 1993
p. 12.
Screen International
27 Oct 1990.
---
Screen International
14 Jun 1991.
---
Screen International
22 May 1992.
---
The Observer (London)
6 Nov 1994.
---
Variety
27 Sep 1993
pp. 40-41.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Twentieth Century Fox presents
A Joseph Ruben Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d 2d asst dir
1st asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
"B" cam asst
Gaffer
Key grip
Best boy elec
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
Steadicam op
Steadicam op
Video asst op
Video asst op
Video asst op
Elec
Grip
Chapman crane op
Crane grip
Aerial cam op, Minnesota unit
1st asst cam, Minnesota unit
2d asst cam, Minnesota unit
2d asst cam, Minnesota unit
Still photog, Minnesota unit
Key grip, Minnesota unit
Best boy grip, Minnesota unit
Dolly grip, Minnesota unit
1st cam asst, Las Vegas unit
2d cam asst, Las Vegas unit
Video asst, Las Vegas unit
Stills, Las Vegas unit
Wescam op, Las Vegas unit
Dir of photog, 2d unit
Key grip, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept coord
Storyboard artist
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Const coord
Labor foreman
Leadman
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
On-set dresser
Asst props
Asst props
Gen foreman
Loc foreman
Loc foreman
Loc gang boss
Greensman foreman
Lead scenic
Paint foreman
Standby painter
Prop builder
Prop prod asst
Master scenic artist, Minnesota unit
Standby scenic artist, Minnesota unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Set costumer
Set costumer
MUSIC
Supv mus ed
Orch contractor
Scoring mixer
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cableman
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Supv ADR ed
Foley supv
Re-rec mixer
Post prod facilities
Boom op, Minnesota unit
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Aerial/Spec eff prod asst
Wire removal
Titles & opticals
Titles & opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Projectionist
Prod coord
Asst loc mgr
Loc asst
Asst to Mr. Ruben
Asst to Mr. Swerdlow
Asst to Page/Rogosin
Asst to the Culkins
Casting assoc
Casting asst
Boston casting
Extras casting
Aerial supv
Aerial supv
Aerial coord
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Transportation coord
Transportation coord/Boston
Transportation capt
Animal wrangler
Animal wrangler
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Studio teacher
Studio teacher
Studio teacher
Craft service
Catering
First aid
First aid
First aid
Prod coord, Minnesota unit
Asst prod coord, Minnesota unit
Prod secy, Minnesota unit
Loc asst, Minnesota unit
Boat wrangler, Minnesota unit
Transportation coord, Minnesota unit
Transportation capt, Minnesota unit
Craft service, Minnesota unit
Craft service, Minnesota unit
Craft service, Minnesota unit
Paramedic, Minnesota unit
Loc mgr, Las Vegas unit
Asst accountant, Las Vegas unit
Extas casting, Las Vegas unit
Prod secy, Las Vegas unit
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Asst stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Aerial/Cliff stunts
Aerial/Cliff stunts
Aerial/Cliff stunts
Ice skating stunts
Ice skating stunts
Swimming stunts
Swimming stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
DETAILS
Release Date:
24 September 1993
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 24 September 1993
New York opening: week of 24 September 1993
Production Date:
19 November 1992--mid or late February 1993
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
24 September 1993
Copyright Number:
PA644569
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Prints
Filmed with Panavision® Cameras & Lenses
Duration(in mins):
87
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
32478
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Shortly after the death of his ailing wife, Arizona businessman Jack Evans is called away on an important two-week conference in Tokyo, Japan. Although reluctant to leave his grieving son Mark alone, he entrusts the boy to the care of his brother’s family in Maine. After a cross-country road trip, Mark meets his Uncle Wallace, Aunt Susan, and younger cousin Connie, and immediately bonds with his seemingly pleasant cousin Henry. The next day, the boys climb to Henry’s tree house, but when the ladder breaks, Henry hesitates before pulling Mark to safety. Later, at a cemetery, Henry smokes a cigarette while asking morbid questions about Mark’s mother and sharing gruesome details about the death of his infant brother, Richard. They see Susan standing on an isolated cliff, which Henry identifies as the place where she retreats to mourn Richard. As Mark begins sessions with therapist Dr. Alice Davenport, he blames himself for his mother’s death and believes she has returned to him in the body of his Aunt Susan. On the third day of Mark’s visit, Henry kills a dog with a homemade crossbow, which disturbs Mark and prompts him to spend more time alone. Henry apologizes for the “accident” and shows Mark his new creation: a life-size paper mache dummy, which he throws over a busy highway overpass, causing a ten-car pileup. Mark is outraged at being an accomplice to a crime, but Henry accuses him of being scared to have fun. When Mark considers telling his uncle, Henry threatens to play innocent and blame the incident on Mark. They fight, and Henry suggests he may hurt his sister, Connie, next. Over lunch, Henry tells his parents Mark ... +


Shortly after the death of his ailing wife, Arizona businessman Jack Evans is called away on an important two-week conference in Tokyo, Japan. Although reluctant to leave his grieving son Mark alone, he entrusts the boy to the care of his brother’s family in Maine. After a cross-country road trip, Mark meets his Uncle Wallace, Aunt Susan, and younger cousin Connie, and immediately bonds with his seemingly pleasant cousin Henry. The next day, the boys climb to Henry’s tree house, but when the ladder breaks, Henry hesitates before pulling Mark to safety. Later, at a cemetery, Henry smokes a cigarette while asking morbid questions about Mark’s mother and sharing gruesome details about the death of his infant brother, Richard. They see Susan standing on an isolated cliff, which Henry identifies as the place where she retreats to mourn Richard. As Mark begins sessions with therapist Dr. Alice Davenport, he blames himself for his mother’s death and believes she has returned to him in the body of his Aunt Susan. On the third day of Mark’s visit, Henry kills a dog with a homemade crossbow, which disturbs Mark and prompts him to spend more time alone. Henry apologizes for the “accident” and shows Mark his new creation: a life-size paper mache dummy, which he throws over a busy highway overpass, causing a ten-car pileup. Mark is outraged at being an accomplice to a crime, but Henry accuses him of being scared to have fun. When Mark considers telling his uncle, Henry threatens to play innocent and blame the incident on Mark. They fight, and Henry suggests he may hurt his sister, Connie, next. Over lunch, Henry tells his parents Mark wants to move into Richard’s former room. The subject causes his mother to leave the table in tears, and Henry plays the perfect child by consoling her. That evening, Wallace and Susan leave the children alone while they go out to dinner. During a game of hide-and-seek, Mark fears for Connie’s safety and insists on sleeping at her bedside. The next morning, however, he awakens to find that Henry has taken Connie ice skating. While spinning around, Henry flings his sister onto a fragile section of the pond, causing her to fall into the freezing water. He lazily extends his arm, but makes no real effort to pull her to safety, waiting until two adults hack through the surface and take Connie to the hospital. Later, Mark tells his aunt that Connie’s fall was not an accident, but she is appalled by the suggestion and accuses him of lying. Mark telephones his father, who advises him to share his suspicions with Dr. Davenport. At her house, however, he walks in on her session with Henry. Infuriated by Henry’s manipulation, Mark runs home, and Henry tells the therapist that Mark is the one acting strangely. Afterward, Henry insists no one will believe Mark’s “lies,” and Mark shares his theory that his mother has been reincarnated as Susan. That night, Henry leads Mark to believe he poisoned the family’s food, sending the boy into a frenzy stuffing the contents of the refrigerator into the garbage disposal. The next day, Susan finds Richard’s toy rubber duck among Henry’s belongings, reminding him that she has been searching for it since Richard’s death. Jealous because the toy originally belonged to him, Henry wrestles it from his mother’s grasp and runs to the cemetery, where he drops it into a well. Back at the house, Henry considers causing harm to his mother to upset Mark. Wallace walks in on Mark holding a pair of scissors to Henry’s neck. Ignoring the boy’s protests, Wallace locks Mark in a room until he can speak with Dr. Davenport. Through the window, Mark sees Henry and Susan leaving to take a walk while discussing what really happened to Richard. Desperate to warn his aunt, Mark throws a chair through the window and follows them. In the forest, Henry admits to killing Richard and runs away, leading his mother to her usual cliff-side refuge. He pushes her over the precipice, but she clutches onto a ledge below. As Henry prepares to drop a boulder on her head, Mark appears and fights his cousin, sending them rolling toward the edge. Susan climbs to safety and grabs one boy in each hand as they dangle over the turbulent waters. Unable to hold them both, Susan lets Henry go and pulls Mark into her arms. Back in Arizona, Mark looks over the rocky red landscape and wonders if Susan would make the same choice again. +

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

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