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HISTORY

       The impetus of the story was the Marriage Fraud Act of 1986, which required that a marriage between a U.S. citizen and a foreign national last for two years before the alien obtained permanent resident, i.e. “green card,” status, according to the 20 Jan 1991 Santa Barbara News Press. Because of widespread marriage fraud, every couple had to jointly apply to the Immigration and Nationalization Service for a green card ninety days before their second anniversary. At that point, the agency would interview the couple separately to determine if the marriage was legitimate. For the sake of the story, Green Card, writer-director Peter Weir sped up the procedure by having the INS intervene early in the marriage between “Bronté” and “Georges,” even though the couple did not apply for a change in Georges’ residential status.
       Green Card was one of three Australian films concurrently being financed, in whole or in part, by the Australian Film Finance Corporation, the 23 May 1990 Var reported. Investment in the three films was jointly $14.6 million in Australian dollars. The 4 Jun 1990 NYT reported that the total budget for Green Card was $12.5 million.
       Director Peter Weir wrote the screenplay for Gérard Depardieu, a French star with a limited knowledge of English who was generally unknown to American film audiences at the time. However, Depardieu was so busy in Europe that Weir delayed the project for a year and directed Dead Poets Society (1989, see entry) in the interim, according to the 4 Jun 1989 editions of both the LAT and NYT.
       Principal ... More Less

       The impetus of the story was the Marriage Fraud Act of 1986, which required that a marriage between a U.S. citizen and a foreign national last for two years before the alien obtained permanent resident, i.e. “green card,” status, according to the 20 Jan 1991 Santa Barbara News Press. Because of widespread marriage fraud, every couple had to jointly apply to the Immigration and Nationalization Service for a green card ninety days before their second anniversary. At that point, the agency would interview the couple separately to determine if the marriage was legitimate. For the sake of the story, Green Card, writer-director Peter Weir sped up the procedure by having the INS intervene early in the marriage between “Bronté” and “Georges,” even though the couple did not apply for a change in Georges’ residential status.
       Green Card was one of three Australian films concurrently being financed, in whole or in part, by the Australian Film Finance Corporation, the 23 May 1990 Var reported. Investment in the three films was jointly $14.6 million in Australian dollars. The 4 Jun 1990 NYT reported that the total budget for Green Card was $12.5 million.
       Director Peter Weir wrote the screenplay for Gérard Depardieu, a French star with a limited knowledge of English who was generally unknown to American film audiences at the time. However, Depardieu was so busy in Europe that Weir delayed the project for a year and directed Dead Poets Society (1989, see entry) in the interim, according to the 4 Jun 1989 editions of both the LAT and NYT.
       Principal photography took place in New York City from 26 Mar to 11 June 1990, according to studio notes in AMPAS library files. Before production, Weir held “loosely structured” rehearsals to acquaint costars Andie MacDowell and Gérard Depardieu, who was making his debut in a major English-language film. The four-room rooftop apartment, complete with a functioning Victorian greenhouse and full-time gardener, was built on a soundstage in mid-Manhattan. Two outdoor gardens were also designed for the film, one in Central Park’s Conservancy Gardens for a dinner party scene, the other on New York’s Lower East Side in an abandoned lot. Other New York City locations included Federal Plaza on Foley Square, where the couple was married; the Cupping Club restaurant in lower Manhattan’s Soho (south of Houston Street) neighborhood; the American Irish Society; Central Park; and an Upper West Side apartment. Weir also employed street musicians, including a singing group of former homeless people called The Emmaus Group and a fourteen-year-old boy, Larry Wright, who drummed on plastic cans in subways. Wright’s performance was used for the opening credits. The 21 Dec 1990 DV noted that post production took place in Australia.
       Despite its poor showing in U.S. theaters, Green Card was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, the 27 Feb-6 Mar 1991 Time Out of London, England, noted.
      End credits contain the following information: "Made with the participation of the Australian Film Finance Corporation Pty Limited"; “The producers wish to thank: The New York City Mayor’s Film Office; The New York State Governor’s Film Office; The Green Guerrillas of New York; The New York City Parks Department; Will Cressler and the American Irish Historical Society for their cooperation in the filming of this motion picture. Special appreciation to John Ptak.”
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Back Stage
16 Mar 1990.
---
Daily Variety
21 Dec 1990
p. 2, 14
Hollywood Reporter
27 Mar 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 1990
p. 6, 43
Hollywood Reporter
28 Dec 1992
p. 3, 18
Los Angeles Times
4 Jun 1989
Calendar, p. 3, 20, 23
Los Angeles Times
22 Dec 1990
Calendar, p. 1
New York Times
4 Jun 1990
Section C, p. 13
New York Times
25 Dec 1990
p. 22
Newsday (Long Island, NY)
11 Feb 1990
Section II
Santa Barbara News-Press
20 Jan 1991.
---
Time Out (London)
27 Feb-6 Mar 1991
p. 24
Variety
23 May 1990
p. 25
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Touchstone Pictures presents
A Peter Weir Film
An Australia-France Co-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
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Lighting gaffer
Best boy elec
Elec asst
Key grip
Dolly grip
Best boy grip
Grip
Still photog
Still photog
Addl op
Addl asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dept coord
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed (U.S.)
Asst film ed (U.S.)
Asst film ed (U.S.)
Asst film ed (U.S.)
Apprentice film ed (U.S.)
Addl film ed, Post prod--Australia
Addl film ed, Post prod--Australia
Asst film ed, Post prod--Australia
Asst film ed, Post prod--Australia
Asst film ed, Post prod--Australia
Asst film ed, Post prod--Australia
Apprentice film ed, Post prod--Australia
Negative matcher, Post prod--Australia
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Key set builder
Key set builder
Const asst
Cam standby scenic artist
Chargeman scenic artist
Chargeman scenic artist
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Greensperson
COSTUMES
Assoc cost des
Ward supv
Ward supv
Ward supv
Seamstress
MUSIC
Mus eng, Post prod--Australia
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Sd des, Post prod--Australia
Sd eff ed, Post prod--Australia
Sd eff ed, Post prod--Australia
Dial ed, Post prod--Australia
Dial ed, Post prod--Australia
Dial ed, Post prod--Australia
Foley, Post prod--Australia
Foley, Post prod--Australia
Asst sd ed, Post prod--Australia
Re-rec mixer, Post prod--Australia
Multi track eng, Post prod--Australia
Soundfirm tech coord, Post prod--Australia
Post prod coord, Post prod--Australia
Post prod facilities, Post prod--Australia
Dubbing facilities, Post prod--Australia
VISUAL EFFECTS
Opticals, Post prod--Australia
Title des, Post prod--Australia
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Mr. Depardieu's makeup
Hairstylist
Addl makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Loc coord
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Prod coord
Prod office coord
Prod controller
Asst auditor
Office asst
Office asst
Office asst
Office asst
Casting assoc
Extras casting
For Todd Thaler Casting
Extras casting
Asst to Mr. Weir
Asst to Mr. Feldman
Asst to Mr. Halberstadt
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
2d unit supv
Continuity
Transportation
Craft service
Craft service
Financial services
Financial consultant
Completion guarantee provided by
COLOR PERSONNEL
Prod dailies
N.Y.
Col timer, Post prod--Australia
Laboratory, Post prod--Australia
SOURCES
MUSIC
SONGS
“Holdin’ On,” written by Beresford Romeo and Simon Law, performed by Soul II Soul, courtesy of Virgin Records, Ltd
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “Clarinet Concerto In A Major: Adagio,” Richard Stolzman, clarinet, performed by The English Chamber Orchestra, courtesy of RCA Victor Red Seal, a division of BMG Classics
“Remember Slow Fox?” written by Ole Georg, performed by The David Carr Orchestra, courtesy of Capitol Production Music/Ole Georg
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SONGS
“Holdin’ On,” written by Beresford Romeo and Simon Law, performed by Soul II Soul, courtesy of Virgin Records, Ltd
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “Clarinet Concerto In A Major: Adagio,” Richard Stolzman, clarinet, performed by The English Chamber Orchestra, courtesy of RCA Victor Red Seal, a division of BMG Classics
“Remember Slow Fox?” written by Ole Georg, performed by The David Carr Orchestra, courtesy of Capitol Production Music/Ole Georg
“Strossa Stroma Sou,” from the motion picture soundtrack of Zobra the Greek, written by Mikos Theodorakis and I. Kambanellis, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “Flute Concerto No. 1 In G Major: Rondo and Adagio,” Hans-Martin Linde, flute, performed by The Munich Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Hans Stadmair, courtesy of Polydor International GmbH, a division of PolyGram Classics
“River Watermark Storms In Africa,” written by Enya, Roma Ryan, Nicky Ryan, performed by Enya, courtesy of WEA Records, Ltd, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“Pass the Ammo,” written and performed by Professor Griff and L.A.D., courtesy of Luke Records
“Oyin Momo Ado,” written and performed by Michael Olatunji, courtesy of CBS Records, Music Licensing Department
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “Flute And Harp Concerto In C Major: Andantino,” performed by Suddeutsches Kammerorchester Stuttgart, courtesy of Teldec Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“Surfin’ Safari,” written by Mike Love and Brian Wilson, performed by The Beach Boys, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc., by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
“Subway Drums,” written and performed by Larry Wright
“Eyes On The Prize,” written by Harry Stewart, performed by The Emmaus Group Singers.
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DETAILS
Release Date:
23 December 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 23 December 1990
Production Date:
26 March--11 June 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Lam Ping, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
9 January 1991
Copyright Number:
PA498302
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
98
Length(in feet):
9,625
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Countries:
Australia, France, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30793
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Anton DeVere introduces Bronté Parrish to Georges Faure at New York City’s Afrika Café, and from there the couple go to the courthouse and marry in a civil ceremony. Each has a hidden agenda. Bronté, a horticulturalist for the City Parks Department, wants to move into an apartment building that accepts only married couples, and Georges, a French “composer” whose work visa has expired, needs a “green card” from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) that will allow him to legally stay in America. After getting their marriage certificate, they part company, expecting never to see each other again. Bronté convinces the apartment building cooperative, especially the suspicious Mrs. Bird, that as a professional horticulturalist, she is the ideal person to move into the rooftop greenhouse apartment. Her excuse for her husband’s absence is that he is studying music in Africa. Bronté continues working with her boyfriend, Phil, in a group that plants urban gardens in poor neighborhoods, but never lets him come to her apartment. By coincidence, when Bronté, Phil, and other friends go to a restaurant, Georges is their waiter. Seeing Bronté’s discomfort, Georges pretends he has never met her. Later, Bronté is contacted by Mr. Gorsky and Mrs. Sheehan, investigators from the INS, who set up an appointment to interview her and Georges. Hurrying to the restaurant, Bronté learns Georges has been fired, but one of the waiters promises to relay her message to him. Georges arrives at her apartment only minutes before the investigators. Bronté is frightened that the oafish Frenchman, who mistakenly calls her “Betty,” will do or say the wrong thing, because if the INS uncovers a so-called “green card” marriage, it deports ... +


Anton DeVere introduces Bronté Parrish to Georges Faure at New York City’s Afrika Café, and from there the couple go to the courthouse and marry in a civil ceremony. Each has a hidden agenda. Bronté, a horticulturalist for the City Parks Department, wants to move into an apartment building that accepts only married couples, and Georges, a French “composer” whose work visa has expired, needs a “green card” from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) that will allow him to legally stay in America. After getting their marriage certificate, they part company, expecting never to see each other again. Bronté convinces the apartment building cooperative, especially the suspicious Mrs. Bird, that as a professional horticulturalist, she is the ideal person to move into the rooftop greenhouse apartment. Her excuse for her husband’s absence is that he is studying music in Africa. Bronté continues working with her boyfriend, Phil, in a group that plants urban gardens in poor neighborhoods, but never lets him come to her apartment. By coincidence, when Bronté, Phil, and other friends go to a restaurant, Georges is their waiter. Seeing Bronté’s discomfort, Georges pretends he has never met her. Later, Bronté is contacted by Mr. Gorsky and Mrs. Sheehan, investigators from the INS, who set up an appointment to interview her and Georges. Hurrying to the restaurant, Bronté learns Georges has been fired, but one of the waiters promises to relay her message to him. Georges arrives at her apartment only minutes before the investigators. Bronté is frightened that the oafish Frenchman, who mistakenly calls her “Betty,” will do or say the wrong thing, because if the INS uncovers a so-called “green card” marriage, it deports the foreigner and charges the American citizen with fraud. Georges puts on a wedding ring, takes off his shoes, and lies down on Bronté’s sofa with a newspaper to prepare for the agents’ arrival. Mrs. Sheehan and Mr. Gorsky ask questions about the couple’s domestic life, and Georges makes up a story about how he met his bride. When Bronté gets a telephone call in another room, Gorsky asks Georges if he can use the bathroom. Georges leads him down a corridor, but does not know which of three closed doors leads to the right room. He covers his unfamiliarity by pretending to show Gorsky the apartment and opening all three. Later, on Friday, Bronté’s lawyer informs her that she and George have another interview at INS on Monday morning, but this time the agents will talk to the couple separately, which means Bronté and the Frenchman will have to learn about each other over the weekend. Bronté reluctantly allows Georges to move into the apartment. They are opposites: Georges smokes cigarettes and drinks strong coffee, while Bronté is a non-smoker who drinks decaffeinated coffee. He eats meat, she is a vegetarian. He is large and gregarious, while she is petite and reserved. Georges agrees to limit smoking to the roof outside the apartment. Over the weekend, as the couple shop at a market, Bronté runs into her friend, Lauren Adler, and introduces Georges as an acquaintance staying at her apartment. Georges invites Lauren to return home with them, so he can prepare a French meal. As the three get on the elevator, Mrs. Bird joins them and complains about INS agents asking questions. Lauren loves the meal Georges prepares, but Bronté refuses to eat because the food is too “buttery.” After Lauren leaves, Georges and Bronté argue, and he accidentally breaks a framed photograph with his outsized gestures. Later, Lauren Adler telephones to invite them to her parents’ home for dinner that evening. She tells Bronté her father wants to donate his garden to her urban garden group, but her mother wants to keep it, so the dinner will provide a chance for Bronté to change Mrs. Adler’s mind. When Bronté hangs up, she berates George for replacing some of her “research plants” with vegetables. She explains that the reason she married him was to have access to the greenhouse. Georges doubts that her urban garden project benefits poor people, because they have other things to worry about. Ordering Georges not to answer the telephone or admit anyone into the apartment, Bronté leaves for the Adlers’ dinner party. It is a small society affair with older guests. When Lauren arrives later, Bronté is shocked to see that she has brought Georges. Lauren introduces him to everyone as a French composer, and after dinner, Mrs. Adler invites Georges to play one of his compositions on the piano. He pounds chords in a cacophony of noise. Lauren is amused by what she takes to be an “experimental” piece, but Mrs. Adler does not approve. However, Georges plays a soft melody and asks Mrs. Adler to translate an accompanying French poem. As she recites Georges’ story about trees and the effect they have on impoverished children, Mrs. Adler is nearly brought to tears. Lauren whispers to Bronté that her mother will probably relinquish her garden, thanks to Georges. Later, at the apartment, Bronté and Georges make lists about each other. Bronté shows him her family albums and identifies people in the photographs. Her father is a writer who named his children after writers, hence her name Bronté. Georges shows her his tattoos, which symbolize parts of his life on the street as he was growing up, and confesses that he was once jailed for stealing a car. He asks Bronté when she has her “period,” and what side of the bed she sleeps on. He writes letters “from Africa,” in which he describes elephants and yearns to return to Bronté, and she writes a journal covering the days he was away. On the roof, using the open sky as a background, they take Polaroid photographs of themselves in ski outfits and bathing suits. Bronté uses the greenhouse to take “jungle” photographs of Georges in Africa. Bronté’s parents arrive unannounced and reach Bronté’s door the same moment as Mrs. Bird, who is still perturbed about government agents and believes Georges is a spy. Bronté introduces Georges to her parents as a handyman, but Mr. Parrish soon realizes Georges has no idea what he is doing. He also sees one of the cheek-to-cheek “ski photographs” of Georges and Bronté. However, Mr. Parrish likes Georges and feels comfortable with him. After her parents leave, Bronté and Georges walk through Central Park, quizzing each other about their vital statistics and everything else they can think of. He explains that he used to play piano in French bars, which is how he met Anton, the man who arranged their marriage. They make up reasons why they fell in love. When they return to the apartment building, Bronté sees her boyfriend Phil outside, joins him without Georges, and hurries him away to a restaurant. Georges enters the apartment alone. Using scissors, he puts together a photographic scrapbook of himself and Bronté documenting their happy times together. Later, when Phil comes home with Bronté, he is drunk, aggressive, and unresponsive to Bronté’s attempt to fend him off. Georges intercedes, identifying himself as Bronté’s husband. Recognizing Georges as the waiter from the restaurant, Phil is suspicious, but Georges throws him out. Angry that her secret has been exposed, Bronté gathers Georges’s possessions and tells him to leave. In the morning, Mrs. Bird finds Georges asleep in the hallway and pounds on Bronté’s door. Bronté lets Georges back in, but they argue until they realize it is 9:00 and their interview at INS is at 10:00. With traffic jammed, they barely make it in time. Gorsky takes Georges to an interrogation room, while Mrs. Sheehan leads Bronté to another. They are individually sworn to tell the truth, under penalty of law. Each speaks well of the other, but when Georges gets an answer wrong, he lets slip that he could not memorize everything. He tells Gorsky he is willing to leave the country voluntarily, but only if Bronté is not punished, because the marriage was his fault. As Bronté and Georges leave the building together, he says nothing about being discovered. They wish each other well, she returns his ring, and they separate. Returning to her apartment, Bronté realizes it feels empty. The doorman delivers an envelope containing Georges’ handwritten sheet music for a song called “Bronté.” She runs to the Afrika Café where they first met and drinks coffee, hoping to see him. He appears outside the window, she runs out, and they embrace. However, Mr. Gorsky is there. Georges explains that he must return to France, but he made a deal with INS that she not be charged or lose her apartment. Placing the wedding rings on each other’s fingers again, they kiss. Bronté promises to rejoin him in Paris, and Gorsky drives Georges away.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.