House of Cards (1993)

PG-13 | 109 mins | Drama | 25 June 1993

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HISTORY

A 2 Dec 1991 HR news item referred to the film by the working title, Before I Wake.
       According to a 15 Jan 1993 HR article, screenwriter Michael Lessac wrote the script between 1984 and 1986. Although several companies were interested in the property, Lessac, who previously worked in television, intended to make the vehicle his feature film directorial debut. Production notes in AMPAS library files and the 26 Nov 1990 DV indicate that A&M Films financed the project without studio support.
       The script was originally developed as a father-daughter drama, but the 2 Dec 1991 HR stated that Lessac rewrote the story for his friend, actress Kathleen Turner. Roughly 3,000 young girls auditioned for the role of “Sally Matthews,” and 1,000 boys were screened to play her brother, “Michael.”
       Despite various reports of a 1 Apr 1991 start date, the 23 Apr 1991 HR announced the start of principal photography two weeks later, on 15 Apr 1991. The 10 Apr 1991 DV noted that Tommy Lee Jones filmed House of Cards while also working on JFK (1991, see entry).
       Interiors and exteriors of the “Matthews” Victorian home were shot on the Wheatmore Dairy Farm in Archdale, NC. Scenes at the construction site took place at the Internal Revenue Building in downtown Raleigh; courtroom scenes were shot in Winston-Salem; and the Greensboro campus of University of North Carolina doubled as the exterior of “Dr. Beerlander’s” clinic. Additional sequences and soundstage work were completed at the Carolina Atlantic Studios and the Ferndale Middle School in High Point, NC. Scenes featuring autistic ... More Less

A 2 Dec 1991 HR news item referred to the film by the working title, Before I Wake.
       According to a 15 Jan 1993 HR article, screenwriter Michael Lessac wrote the script between 1984 and 1986. Although several companies were interested in the property, Lessac, who previously worked in television, intended to make the vehicle his feature film directorial debut. Production notes in AMPAS library files and the 26 Nov 1990 DV indicate that A&M Films financed the project without studio support.
       The script was originally developed as a father-daughter drama, but the 2 Dec 1991 HR stated that Lessac rewrote the story for his friend, actress Kathleen Turner. Roughly 3,000 young girls auditioned for the role of “Sally Matthews,” and 1,000 boys were screened to play her brother, “Michael.”
       Despite various reports of a 1 Apr 1991 start date, the 23 Apr 1991 HR announced the start of principal photography two weeks later, on 15 Apr 1991. The 10 Apr 1991 DV noted that Tommy Lee Jones filmed House of Cards while also working on JFK (1991, see entry).
       Interiors and exteriors of the “Matthews” Victorian home were shot on the Wheatmore Dairy Farm in Archdale, NC. Scenes at the construction site took place at the Internal Revenue Building in downtown Raleigh; courtroom scenes were shot in Winston-Salem; and the Greensboro campus of University of North Carolina doubled as the exterior of “Dr. Beerlander’s” clinic. Additional sequences and soundstage work were completed at the Carolina Atlantic Studios and the Ferndale Middle School in High Point, NC. Scenes featuring autistic and Down Syndrome children were supervised by the Gateway Educational Center and The Teach Center, and several of the children’s parents appeared in the film as teachers. Once filming concluded in North Carolina, production moved to Villahermosa, Mexico, and the Mayan ruins of Comalcalco. According to the 2 Dec 1991 HR, production costs came in $600,000 under the $10.5 million budget.
       Although Twentieth Century Fox and PentAmerica, also known as Penta Pictures, were scheduled to release the film in Mar 1992, House of Cards debuted without a distributor as the closing night film of the 1993 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT. In the 15 Jan 1993 HR, Lessac said that he hoped premiering the picture at Sundance would eradicate the negative word-of-mouth that arose due to its association with Penta International’s other two poorly-received releases, Man Trouble (1992, see entry) and Folks! (1992, see entry). The 19 Jan 1993 HR announced that Miramax Films acquired domestic distribution rights during the festival.
       According to a 17 May 1993 Var advertisement, House of Cards received Best Picture and Best Actress (Kathleen Turner) awards at the Worldfest/Houston International Film Festival. The film was also screened at the AFI/L.A. Film Fest on 16 Jun 1993, as indicated by a HR item of the same date.
       End credits state: “3D graphics and animation developed with SAS/NVISION™ Software and provided by SAS Institute Inc.”; “Special thanks to Greg Shank, Animator, and to Roxanne Hicklin, Enrique Leoni and Stuart Nisbet for technical assistance”; and, “The director & producers wish to thank: Carolina Atlantic Studios; the University of North Carolina at Greensboro; North Carolina Film Commission; the Governor’s Office of North Carolina; Comalcalco Archeological Site; the people of Oxolotan; the State of Tabasco; the parents, teachers, and children of the Ferndale Middle School and Gateway Education Center as well as Connie Mashburn, Kathy Moore, Penny Barratt, Dr. Catherine Lord, Dr. Bernard Rimland, Dr. Darold Treffert, Dr. Eric Schopler, Lillian & Harold Michaelson, Sarah Black; Children from Beerlander’s school: Azalea Anderson, Baron Boyce, Derek Burris, Cady Jean Francis, Katie Martin, Sam Peter Miller, Eric Peak, Martin Sizemore, Lyndy Steed, Mack Weaver.” An incorrect dedication reads, “In memory of Anne Dollard, 1956-1988.” Dollard was a Hollywood talent agent who died in a horseback riding accident in 1989. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
26 Nov 1990
p. 1, 13.
Daily Variety
10 Apr 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Dec 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jan 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jan 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 1993
pp. 23-24.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 1993.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Jun 1993
Calendar, p. 14.
New York Times
25 Jun 1993
Section C, p. 18.
Variety
15 Feb 1993
pp. 84-85.
Variety
17 May 1993.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Mario & Vittorio Cecchi Gori and Silvio Berlusconi present
A Penta Pictures Production
In association with A&M Films
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Co-prod
Co-exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d asst cam
Addl cam op
Addl cam asst
Addl cam asst
Steadicam op
Best boy
Dolly grip
Grip
Addl grip
Addl grip
Gaffer
Elec
Video playback
Still photog
Asst cam, Mexico unit
Gaffer, Mexico unit
Key grip, Mexico unit
Panavision© cams and lenses provided by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Storyboard artist
Art dept coord
Art dir, Mexico unit
Asst art dir, Mexico unit
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Lead person
On set dresser
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Draftsman
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Set builder
Set builder
Set builder
Set builder
Set builder
Const rigger
Const rigger
Head painter
Painter
Painter
Props coord, Mexico unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward coord, Mexico unit
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus scoring mixer
Supv mus ed
Mus ed
Featured musician
Featured musician
Featured musician
Featured musician
Mus consultant to Penta Pictures
Mus consultant to Penta Pictures
SOUND
Sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley artist
Sd des
Sd des
Sd eff rec
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Foley rec
Sd intern
ADR group coord
ADR artist
ADR artist
ADR artist
ADR artist
ADR artist
ADR artist
ADR artist
ADR artist
Post prod services provided by
a division of LucasArts Entertainment Company, Marin County, California
This film mixed and rec in a
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Asst spec eff
Visual eff by
Opticals by
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Local casting
Scr supv
Dial coach
Unit pub
Casting assoc
Extras casting
Teacher
Teacher
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Prod van driver
Honey wagon driver
Driver/Mechanic
Driver
Driver
Driver
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Asst to Kathleen Turner
Asst to Dale Pollock
Asst to Lianne Halfon
Craft service
Caterer
Projectionist
Unit supv, Mexico unit
Prod coord, Mexico unit
Loc mgr, Mexico unit
Loc mgr, Mexico unit
Accountant, Mexico unit
Transportation coord, Mexico unit
Post prod supv
Post prod coord
Dailies adv
Public relations
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stand in for Miss Turner
Stand in for Mr. Jones
Stand in for Miss Menina
Stand in for Mr. Strong
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Before I Wake
Release Date:
25 June 1993
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening and New York openings: 25 June 1993
Production Date:
began 15 April 1991
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® Cameras and Lenses
Prints
Prints by Deluxe®
Duration(in mins):
109
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Countries:
Italy, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31575
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

While on an archeological expedition in Mexico, architect Ruth Matthews witnesses her husband fall to his death from a pyramid. Suppressing her grief, Ruth moves back to Arliss, North Carolina, with her son, Michael, and six-year-old daughter, Sally. While Michael enjoys reconnecting with friends and supports his mother’s emotional adjustment to widowhood, the usually talkative Sally becomes withdrawn and refuses to speak. Absorbed in her own world, she is obsessively fixated on stories she heard from a Mayan archeologist, who claimed that her father went to live on the moon. Sally begins to display strange behavior at home and at school, prompting teachers to insist she see a psychologist. One afternoon, Michael urges his sister to climb onto the roof to retrieve a baseball caught in the gutter. Sally complies, but screams incessantly when she sees her mother reaching toward her from the upstairs window. Child psychologist Dr. Jacob “Jake” Beerlander arrives during the incident, and theorizes that Sally was overcome with paralyzing anxiety upon noticing that her mother’s hat was on backward. Although Ruth vehemently insists there is nothing wrong with her daughter, the girl eventually begins sessions with Dr. Beerlander, who suspects she may be autistic. While Ruth confides in her friend, Lillian Huber, Sally builds an intricate spiral structure out of playing cards. Ruth photographs the edifice and shows it to Dr. Beerlander, determined to prove that Sally is not sick. Dismayed by her denial, Dr. Beerlander introduces her to other mentally challenged children in his care who also demonstrate spectacular abilities. He warns that because Sally’s condition occurred so suddenly, they must act quickly to treat her. Afterward, Ruth overhears two children with Down Syndrome ... +


While on an archeological expedition in Mexico, architect Ruth Matthews witnesses her husband fall to his death from a pyramid. Suppressing her grief, Ruth moves back to Arliss, North Carolina, with her son, Michael, and six-year-old daughter, Sally. While Michael enjoys reconnecting with friends and supports his mother’s emotional adjustment to widowhood, the usually talkative Sally becomes withdrawn and refuses to speak. Absorbed in her own world, she is obsessively fixated on stories she heard from a Mayan archeologist, who claimed that her father went to live on the moon. Sally begins to display strange behavior at home and at school, prompting teachers to insist she see a psychologist. One afternoon, Michael urges his sister to climb onto the roof to retrieve a baseball caught in the gutter. Sally complies, but screams incessantly when she sees her mother reaching toward her from the upstairs window. Child psychologist Dr. Jacob “Jake” Beerlander arrives during the incident, and theorizes that Sally was overcome with paralyzing anxiety upon noticing that her mother’s hat was on backward. Although Ruth vehemently insists there is nothing wrong with her daughter, the girl eventually begins sessions with Dr. Beerlander, who suspects she may be autistic. While Ruth confides in her friend, Lillian Huber, Sally builds an intricate spiral structure out of playing cards. Ruth photographs the edifice and shows it to Dr. Beerlander, determined to prove that Sally is not sick. Dismayed by her denial, Dr. Beerlander introduces her to other mentally challenged children in his care who also demonstrate spectacular abilities. He warns that because Sally’s condition occurred so suddenly, they must act quickly to treat her. Afterward, Ruth overhears two children with Down Syndrome reciting patterns of prime numbers and tries to interact with them. Determined to connect with her daughter, she builds a computer program that virtually recreates Sally’s card structure. One day, Ruth visits the construction site for her latest project, instructing Michael and Sally to wait in the car. When Michael is not looking, Sally climbs the scaffolding and walks along the arm of a tower crane, one hundred and forty feet above the ground. Although she is rescued without injury, the Department of Social Services threatens to charge Ruth with negligence and places Sally in the full-time care of Dr. Beerlander. Sally conveys no reaction to being removed from her mother’s custody, but Ruth convinces Dr. Beerlander to let her live at home while attending sessions during the day. Examining photographs of Sally’s house of cards, Ruth notices that the structure includes a Tarot card of “The Moon.” While Sally works with Dr. Beerlander, Ruth builds an oversize model of Sally’s structure using plywood boards, hoping to place herself inside her child’s unique mind. On the night of a full moon, Ruth falls asleep at the base of her creation, which at full size resembles a spiral staircase reaching toward the sky. Sally sneaks out of the house and climbs the tower. The next morning, Michael and Dr. Beerlander find Sally wandering through a field alone. Ruth carries Sally back to the tower and urges her to climb the stairs with her. Although Sally did not see her father die, she stares into her mother’s eyes and imagines Ruth’s memories of the accident. Finally allowing herself to be emotional, Sally sheds a single tear, throws her arms around Ruth, and says, “I miss my daddy.” Seemingly returned to normal, Sally teases her brother, and Ruth invites Dr. Beerlander to stay for breakfast. +

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

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