Sommersby (1993)

PG-13 | 113 mins | Drama, Romance | 5 February 1993

Director:

Jon Amiel

Cinematographer:

Philippe Rousselot

Editor:

Peter Boyle

Production Designer:

Bruno Rubeo

Production Companies:

Le Studio Canal+, New Regency Films, Alcor Films
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HISTORY


       An onscreen statement notes that Sommersby was based on the 1982 French film, The Return of Martin Guerre, written by Daniel Vigne and Jean-Claude Carrière. While the original feature was based on the real-life story of a sixteenth century peasant, the 29 Nov 1991 Screen International called Sommersby an “updated adaptation” set during the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War.
       According to a 21 Apr 1992 HR production chart, principal photography began 13 Apr 1992. The 17 Apr 1992 LAT stated that production was expected to last four months. Production notes in AMPAS library files indicate that director John Amiel considered locations in fifteen states before selecting the Hidden Valley area of Virginia. Sommersby was reportedly the first feature film allowed to shoot in the George Washington National Forest, and set construction was supervised by an archaeologist in case the crew happened to unearth any relics. The fictional “Vine Hill” comprised almost thirty buildings and thirty acres of tobacco, which was cultivated especially for the production. During pre-production the cast rehearsed in Hot Springs, VA, working with dialect coach Julie Adams and learning various skills for their roles, including farming, animal husbandry, and period dancing. The antebellum estate of Warwickton, which was built between 1848 and 1851, stood in for the “Sommersby” home. Exterior scenes set in Nashville, TN, were filmed in Lexington, VA, while courtroom scenes took place in the Charlotte Court House located in the town of the same name.
       A 22 Feb 1993 DV item noted that Jodie Foster dubbed her own dialogue for the French release. While the ... More Less


       An onscreen statement notes that Sommersby was based on the 1982 French film, The Return of Martin Guerre, written by Daniel Vigne and Jean-Claude Carrière. While the original feature was based on the real-life story of a sixteenth century peasant, the 29 Nov 1991 Screen International called Sommersby an “updated adaptation” set during the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War.
       According to a 21 Apr 1992 HR production chart, principal photography began 13 Apr 1992. The 17 Apr 1992 LAT stated that production was expected to last four months. Production notes in AMPAS library files indicate that director John Amiel considered locations in fifteen states before selecting the Hidden Valley area of Virginia. Sommersby was reportedly the first feature film allowed to shoot in the George Washington National Forest, and set construction was supervised by an archaeologist in case the crew happened to unearth any relics. The fictional “Vine Hill” comprised almost thirty buildings and thirty acres of tobacco, which was cultivated especially for the production. During pre-production the cast rehearsed in Hot Springs, VA, working with dialect coach Julie Adams and learning various skills for their roles, including farming, animal husbandry, and period dancing. The antebellum estate of Warwickton, which was built between 1848 and 1851, stood in for the “Sommersby” home. Exterior scenes set in Nashville, TN, were filmed in Lexington, VA, while courtroom scenes took place in the Charlotte Court House located in the town of the same name.
       A 22 Feb 1993 DV item noted that Jodie Foster dubbed her own dialogue for the French release. While the film was in post-production, a 3 Jan 1993 LAT article indicated that Warner Bros. Pictures briefly considered changing the title to A Stranger Within. Although Warner Bros. claimed to have “no firm release date,” the LAT suggested that the projected opening of late Mar 1993 was called into question when TriStar Pictures was forced to delay its release of the Richard Gere vehicle, Mr. Jones (see entry), to allow for re-shoots after it received negative feedback from test audiences. In order to avoid confusion between the two films that might hurt both studios’ profits, Warner Bros. opted to release Sommersby on 5 Feb 1993. TriStar planned to reschedule Mr. Jones for Apr 1993, but that film did not open until 8 Oct 1993.
       According to a 4 Feb 1993 LAT article, an “industry screening” of Sommersby was held 2 Feb 1993 at the Bruin Theatre in Westwood, CA.
       A 10 Feb 1993 DV advertisement announced an opening weekend gross of $8,104,624 from 1,400 theaters. The film was a moderate success with critics and audiences, and on 16 Jul 1993, HR reported worldwide earnings of $130 million to date.
      End credits state: “The producers would like to offer warm thanks to the Virginia Film Commission and to the people of Bath and Charlotte counties for their enthusiastic help and support in making this film.”; “Special thanks to: The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service; George Washington National Forest; The cities of Lexington and Charlotte County Courthouse"; and, “Filmed entirely on location in Virginia.”

              The actor who plays “Dick Mead” is credited as “R. Lee Ermey” in opening credits and “Ronald Lee Ermey” in end credits. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
10 Feb 1993.
---
Daily Variety
22 Feb 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 1993
p. 8, 49.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 1993.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Apr 1992.
---
Los Angeles Times
3 Jan 1993
Calendar.
Los Angeles Times
4 Feb 1993.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Feb 1993
Calendar, p. 1.
New York Times
5 Feb 1993
p. 8.
Screen International
29 Nov 1991.
---
Variety
1 Feb 1993
p. 96.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Le Studio Canal+
Regency Enterprises Alcor Films Present
An Arnon Milchan Production
A Jon Amiel Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op/Steadicam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Addl 2d asst
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
Best boy grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Storyboard artist
Art dept P.A.
FILM EDITORS
Post prod supv
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst to post prod supv
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Set des
Set buyer
On set dresser
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Draper
Draper asst
Draper asst
Stand-by greens
Stand-by greens
Stand-by greens
Stand-by greens
Stand-by greens
Prop master
Asst props
Asst props
Asst props
Const coord
Const coord
Lead carpenter
Lead carpenter
Lead carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Labor foreman
Scenic artist
Lead set painter
Stand-by painter
Painter
Intern
COSTUMES
Assoc cost des
Cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
Asst to the cost des
Ward mistress
Cutter/Fitter
Stitcher
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Mus rec at
Mus cond by
Orch by
Addl orch by
Addl orch by
Scoring mixer
SOUND
Sd mixer
Cable person
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Machine room rec
Machine room op
Machine room op
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Foley rec
Stage eng
ADR group
ADR rec
Post prod sd services provided by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Titles and opticals by
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Key make up artist/Richard Gere's make up
Jodie Foster's make up
Asst make up
Key hair stylist
Asst hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Prod supv
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Loc asst
Loc scout
Loc intern
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Payroll accountant
Accounting clerk
Accounting clerk
Post prod accountant
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Key P.A.
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Post prod P.A.
Intern
Animal wrangler
Addl wrangler
Addl wrangler
Addl wrangler
Addl wrangler
Addl wrangler
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation dispatcher
Prod van driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Dialect coach
Extras casting
Extras casting
Extras casting
Extras casting
Catering by
Craft service
First aid
First aid
Asst to Mr. Milchan
2d asst
Asst to Mr. Reuther
Asst to Mr. Reuther
Asst to Ms. McLaglen
Asst to Mr. Amiel
Asst to Mr. Amiel
Asst to Mr. Gere
Asst to Ms. Foster
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the French film The Return of Martin Guerre written by Daniel Vigne and Jean-Claude Carrière (Societe Francaise de Production Cinematographique, Societe de Productions des Films Marcel Dassault and FR3, 1983).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
A Stranger Within
Release Date:
5 February 1993
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 5 February 1993
Production Date:
began 13 April 1992
Copyright Claimant:
Regency Enterprises, VOF & Studio Canal
Copyright Date:
17 May 1993
Copyright Number:
PA626670
Physical Properties:
Sound
Spectral Recording® Dolby Stereo SR in selected theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® Cameras and Lenses
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
113
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Countries:
France, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
32259
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At the end of the U.S. Civil War, Confederate soldier John “Jack” Sommersby makes the arduous journey home to his farm in Vine Hill, Tennessee, where he is warmly welcomed by local townspeople. Upon hearing of his return, Jack’s wife, Laurel, abandons her work in the fields and runs to greet him with their young son, "Little Rob." That night, the Sommersbys host a dinner party for their friends. Jack regales them with stories of his imprisonment during the war, and Laurel is surprised when her formerly cold and abusive husband asks her to dance. Afterward, she reminds him that they used to sleep in separate bedrooms, but Jack dissolves the tension between them by asking her to help shave his beard. In the morning, Jack inspects the farm while Laurel returns to the fields with her close friend, pastor Orin Meecham, who intended to marry her if Jack had died in battle. Although Orin resents Jack’s return, Jack and Laurel become intimate. The next day, Jack goes to town to have new shoes made, but the cobbler remarks how his feet seem to have shrunk two sizes since the war. Hoping to revive the local economy, Jack holds a town meeting inviting his neighbors to share ownership of his land if they help him plant tobacco. The townspeople wonder why Jack is so willing to give away his property, and many resent that he extended the offer to the black freedmen in the community. Jack leaves for Virginia to obtain seed. Meanwhile, Laurel and the townspeople transform the land into a flourishing farm. Jack arouses concern by being away longer than expected, but Laurel is overjoyed by his ... +


At the end of the U.S. Civil War, Confederate soldier John “Jack” Sommersby makes the arduous journey home to his farm in Vine Hill, Tennessee, where he is warmly welcomed by local townspeople. Upon hearing of his return, Jack’s wife, Laurel, abandons her work in the fields and runs to greet him with their young son, "Little Rob." That night, the Sommersbys host a dinner party for their friends. Jack regales them with stories of his imprisonment during the war, and Laurel is surprised when her formerly cold and abusive husband asks her to dance. Afterward, she reminds him that they used to sleep in separate bedrooms, but Jack dissolves the tension between them by asking her to help shave his beard. In the morning, Jack inspects the farm while Laurel returns to the fields with her close friend, pastor Orin Meecham, who intended to marry her if Jack had died in battle. Although Orin resents Jack’s return, Jack and Laurel become intimate. The next day, Jack goes to town to have new shoes made, but the cobbler remarks how his feet seem to have shrunk two sizes since the war. Hoping to revive the local economy, Jack holds a town meeting inviting his neighbors to share ownership of his land if they help him plant tobacco. The townspeople wonder why Jack is so willing to give away his property, and many resent that he extended the offer to the black freedmen in the community. Jack leaves for Virginia to obtain seed. Meanwhile, Laurel and the townspeople transform the land into a flourishing farm. Jack arouses concern by being away longer than expected, but Laurel is overjoyed by his eventual return, and the two continue to grow closer. A few months later, Laurel becomes pregnant, but the happy news is quickly undermined when Jack and a black farmer named Joseph discover that worms have infested the tobacco. Just then, three passing travelers stop by the farm asking for Jack. Watching from the house, Laurel is disturbed when Jack threatens the men with a knife. They continue to the local church, where they ask Orin Meecham for water. Later, Orin gives Jack a homemade pesticide and tricks him by crediting the recipe to a man named Hamilton Sayers, who has been dead for several decades. When Jack unwittingly agrees to thank Sayers, Orin becomes convinced that he is an imposter. Revealing that the three travelers knew the real Jack Sommersby during the war, he condemns Laurel for living in sin with a man who is not her lawful husband. That night, Jack awakens to find that Joseph, the black farmer, has been badly beaten by the Ku Klux Klan. One of the assaulting members recognizes Jack as a teacher from Clarke County, Mississippi, but Jack chases the Klansmen away. Orin confronts Jack about his fraud, initiating a fistfight. Little Rob Sommersby announces that his mother has gone into labor, and she gives birth to a daughter named Rachel. Shortly after the tobacco crop is harvested and Rachel is baptized, three federal marshals arrest Jack for the murder of a man in Jackson, Mississippi. The officers take him to Nashville, Tennessee, for trial, which is overseen by a black judge named Barry Conrad Isaacs. The prosecution presents a convincing case, and Orin suggests Jack reveal himself as an imposter to avoid capital punishment. When Jack refuses, Laurel takes the witness stand to prove that he is lying. Folsom, a farmer from Clarke County, Mississippi, corroborates Laurel’s story by identifying Jack as a con man named “Yellow” Horace Townsend, who swindled the townspeople under the pretence of building them a schoolhouse. Although Judge Isaacs considers the evidence worthy grounds for a mistrial, Jack identifies Folsom as the Ku Klux Klan member who recognized him, and insists he be allowed to question the man. Jack claims Folsom only testified against him so that Joseph’s land contract would be deemed invalid, and Orin Meecham is named as an accomplice to the scheme. When Folsom makes a racist remark about the judge, Isaacs sentences him to sixty days in prison for contempt, and urges the court to disregard his testimony. Jack calls Laurel to the stand, and she explains that his sudden compassion is what alerted her to his deception. He reminds her that proving his fraud will nullify their neighbors’ land ownership, and Rachel will be considered an illegitimate child. Laurel duly accepts Jack as her real husband by confessing she loves him more than the man she knew before the war. With his identity no longer in question, Judge Isaacs sentences Jack to be hanged. Before the execution, Jack tells Laurel that his real name is Horace Townsend, and admits to sharing a jail cell with a lookalike--Laurel's husband, Jack Sommersby. Upon his release from prison, Sommersby committed murder and died of a stab wound incurred during the scuffle. After burying his body, Horace used the information he knew about Sommersby’s life to assume his identity. Laurel begs Jack to reveal the truth, but he refuses to revert to his former name and thereby invalidate the profitable land contracts he made for Laurel and his neighbors. While standing on the gallows, Jack calls out for Laurel, and the two share one last look before he is hanged. Sometime later, the townspeople restore the church and the Sommersby mansion, and Laurel places flowers next to an epitaph that reads, “John Robert Sommersby, beloved husband, loving father and citizen of Vine Hill.” +

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

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