Where the Heart Is (1990)

R | 108 mins | Comedy-drama | 23 February 1990

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HISTORY

Director and co-writer John Boorman told the Feb 1990 Interview that Where the Heart Is developed from his conversations with actor Sean Connery about making a “comedic retelling” of Shakespeare’s King Lear with “a modern emperor or … head of a conglomerate” who gives everything to his children. However, when Boorman began working on the project with his daughter, Telsche Boorman, the story took a different direction as “a farce or fable,” and was no longer suited to Connery. Telsche based the character of “Chloe” on her own younger sister, Katrine Boorman, and borrowed some of Katrine’s clothes for actress Suzy Amis to wear for the role. Artist Timna Woollard, who created Chloe’s paintings, was a longtime friend of the Boorman sisters.
       Anthony Michael Hall was originally cast as “Jimmy McBain,” but replaced by David Hewlett early in the production, according to the 28 Feb 1990 Var, 5 Mar 1989 LAT, and 11 Apr 1989 Newsday. Although there were rumors that the actor and Boorman had a “falling out,” the director himself insisted that Hall was “miscast” and that he was looking for someone “with a different look.”
       Principal photography began 24 Apr 1989, according to the 28 Apr 1989 DV, and was called “Untitled John Boorman” throughout production, even though the eventual title, Where the Heart Is, was being used unofficially in the press and, at one point, as the name of the production company. After filming in Toronto, Canada, and New York City, Boorman wrapped on 30 Jun 1989, the 10 Jul 1989 HR noted. Before production began, ... More Less

Director and co-writer John Boorman told the Feb 1990 Interview that Where the Heart Is developed from his conversations with actor Sean Connery about making a “comedic retelling” of Shakespeare’s King Lear with “a modern emperor or … head of a conglomerate” who gives everything to his children. However, when Boorman began working on the project with his daughter, Telsche Boorman, the story took a different direction as “a farce or fable,” and was no longer suited to Connery. Telsche based the character of “Chloe” on her own younger sister, Katrine Boorman, and borrowed some of Katrine’s clothes for actress Suzy Amis to wear for the role. Artist Timna Woollard, who created Chloe’s paintings, was a longtime friend of the Boorman sisters.
       Anthony Michael Hall was originally cast as “Jimmy McBain,” but replaced by David Hewlett early in the production, according to the 28 Feb 1990 Var, 5 Mar 1989 LAT, and 11 Apr 1989 Newsday. Although there were rumors that the actor and Boorman had a “falling out,” the director himself insisted that Hall was “miscast” and that he was looking for someone “with a different look.”
       Principal photography began 24 Apr 1989, according to the 28 Apr 1989 DV, and was called “Untitled John Boorman” throughout production, even though the eventual title, Where the Heart Is, was being used unofficially in the press and, at one point, as the name of the production company. After filming in Toronto, Canada, and New York City, Boorman wrapped on 30 Jun 1989, the 10 Jul 1989 HR noted. Before production began, the budget was estimated at $15 million, the 27 Feb 1989 DV reported.
       Reviews of the “fairy tale” (a common description among critics) were unenthusiastic, and even the praise was faint: The 23 Feb 1990 NYT described the picture as “a majestic dud.” The most memorable aspect of the film, according to some reviewers, was Timna Woollard’s series of trompe l’oeil paintings that incorporated the actors. According to the Apr 1990 Box review, Where the Heart Is “belly-flop[ped] embarrassingly” in theaters with a “dismal” opening weekend gross of little more than half a million dollars.
       End credits contain the follow acknowledgments: “The producers wish to thank: Toronto Film Liaison Office; Ontario Film Development Corp.; Frejon Stairs and Railings; Richardson Greenshields of Canada Limited.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Apr 1990.
---
Daily Variety
27 Feb 1989
p. 46.
Daily Variety
7 Apr 1989
p. 10.
Daily Variety
28 Apr 1989
p. 25.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jul 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Feb 1990
p. 4, 112.
Interview
Feb 1990.
---
LA Reader
2 Mar 1990.
---
LA Weekly
2 Mar 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Mar 1989
Calendar, p. 392.
Los Angeles Times
23 Feb 1990
Calendar, p. 8.
New York Times
23 Feb 1990
p. 11.
New Yorker
12 Mar 1990.
---
Newsday
11 Apr 1989.
p. 11.
Variety
22 Mar 1989
p. 20.
Variety
24 Jan 1990
p. 9, 19.
Variety
28 Feb 1990
p. 24, 28.
Village Voice
6 Mar 1990.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Touchstone Pictures presents
In association with Silver Screen Partners IV
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
3d asst dir
Prod mgr, New York crew
2d asst dir, New York crew
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Focus puller
Clapper/loader
Key grip
Best boy
Gaffer
Best boy
Cam op, New York crew
Cam asst, New York crew
Key grip, New York crew
Dolly grip, New York crew
Gaffer, New York crew
Best boy, New York crew
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
1st asst art dir
Art dir, New York crew
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Chloe's paintings by
Prop master
Lead props
Key scenic artist
Scenic artist
Const mgr
Head carpenter
Set dresser, New York crew
Prop master, New York crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward mistress
Ward mistress
Ward, New York crew
Ward, New York crew
MUSIC
Mus comp and orch by
Mus performed by
Mus assoc
SOUND
Sd ed
Boom op
Asst sd ed
Foley ed
Dubbing mixer
Rec eng
Sd mixer, New York crew
Boom op, New York crew
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Miniature & opt eff, Light & Motion
Miniature & opt eff, Light & Motion
Miniature & opt eff
Rear projection
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Chloe's body make-up by
Make-up
Hairstylist
Makeup, New York crew
Hairstylist, New York crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Creative assoc
Creative assoc
Prod accountant
Loc mgr
Scr supv
Casting (Toronto)
Magician & dove trainer
Extras casting
Transportation co-ord
Prod co-ord
Asst to Mr. Boorman
Loc mgr, New York crew
Prod co-ord, New York crew
Extras casting, New York crew
Transportation capt, New York crew
COLOR PERSONNEL
SOURCES
SONGS
“Blue Moon Revisited (Song For Elvis),” written by Margo & Michael Timmins and Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart, performed by The Cowboy Junkies, courtesy of BMG Music
“A Song of India,” Rimsky-Korsakov arranged by F. Henri Klickmann, as played by Tommy Dorsey.
DETAILS
Release Date:
23 February 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 23 February 1990
Production Date:
24 April--30 June 1989
Copyright Claimant:
Buena Vista Pictures Distributions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
26 February 1990
Copyright Number:
PA453781
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Cameras by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
108
Length(in feet):
9,634
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30124
SYNOPSIS

In Brooklyn, New York, Stewart McBain’s American Demolition Company implodes two large buildings next to the Dutch House, an old dwelling whose imminent destruction is protested by picketing conservationists. At that moment, a protective order arrives from the city government, declaring the Dutch House an architectural landmark. Stewart McBain sees Daphne, one of his daughters, among the protesters and asks why she has betrayed him. Although only there to see a friend, Daphne grabs a picket sign and waves it at her father. When Stewart goes home, his other two grown children, Chloe and Jimmy, tell him he looked like a villain on television news. Stewart and his wife, Jean, attend an arts school graduation show in which Chloe introduces her student film of optical-illusion paintings that include her sister, Daphne. Since Daphne is partially nude, Stewart averts his eyes. One of the other students is fashion designer Lionel, the gay son of Stewart McBain’s business associate. After the show, Stewart and Lionel’s father discuss their spoiled adult children’s refusal to leave home, and Lionel’s father offers Chloe an assignment to design a calendar for an insurance company. As the McBain family leaves the Manhattan gathering, Stewart instructs the chauffeur to cross the East River into Brooklyn and stop at the Dutch House. He announces that the structure’s landmark status brought his multi-million-dollar redevelopment project to a standstill, so he is donating the house to Chloe, Daphne, and Jimmy. Tossing them the house keys, Stewart promises to start them off with $750 apiece, but from then on they will have to fend for themselves. The next day, Hamilton, Stewart’s banker, informs him that unless he continues the redevelopment, he ... +


In Brooklyn, New York, Stewart McBain’s American Demolition Company implodes two large buildings next to the Dutch House, an old dwelling whose imminent destruction is protested by picketing conservationists. At that moment, a protective order arrives from the city government, declaring the Dutch House an architectural landmark. Stewart McBain sees Daphne, one of his daughters, among the protesters and asks why she has betrayed him. Although only there to see a friend, Daphne grabs a picket sign and waves it at her father. When Stewart goes home, his other two grown children, Chloe and Jimmy, tell him he looked like a villain on television news. Stewart and his wife, Jean, attend an arts school graduation show in which Chloe introduces her student film of optical-illusion paintings that include her sister, Daphne. Since Daphne is partially nude, Stewart averts his eyes. One of the other students is fashion designer Lionel, the gay son of Stewart McBain’s business associate. After the show, Stewart and Lionel’s father discuss their spoiled adult children’s refusal to leave home, and Lionel’s father offers Chloe an assignment to design a calendar for an insurance company. As the McBain family leaves the Manhattan gathering, Stewart instructs the chauffeur to cross the East River into Brooklyn and stop at the Dutch House. He announces that the structure’s landmark status brought his multi-million-dollar redevelopment project to a standstill, so he is donating the house to Chloe, Daphne, and Jimmy. Tossing them the house keys, Stewart promises to start them off with $750 apiece, but from then on they will have to fend for themselves. The next day, Hamilton, Stewart’s banker, informs him that unless he continues the redevelopment, he must repay his substantial loan on the property. Harry, Stewart’s American Demolition partner, suggests they demolish the Dutch House, pay a fine for violating the protective order, and get on with construction. However, Chloe, Daphne, and Jimmy have already moved in. They clean and paint the interior and place a “For Rent” sign outside, but it attracts disreputable-looking people. Their attempts to get jobs or raise money go nowhere, and when Chloe accepts the calendar assignment, she spends the last of their money to buy art supplies. Jimmy convinces his friend Tom, a stockbroker, to move in; Chloe invites Lionel to bring his budding fashion design business into the house; and Daphne trades a room to an old homeless magician for the secrets to his tricks. The six roommates argue among themselves, and Jimmy dubs the magician “The Shit” because he spends hours on the toilet. The others call him “Shitty,” for short. Sheryl Corman, a wealthy anthropology student with an interest in extreme religions, inquires about renting a room because the Dutch House was once the home of a cult that spoke in “tongues.” Asked to pay three months’ rent in advance. Sheryl happily complies, and her money pays the bills. Shitty gives everyone dance lessons. Jimmy, a computer whiz, designs a video game, and Tom, the stockbroker, promises to find investors. Meanwhile, Stewart McBain learns that a corporate raider is bidding up American Demolition stock. Stewart at first considers selling the company because his assets are tied up in the redevelopment property, but then decides to borrow more money and outbid the raider. At the Dutch House, Chloe paints Daphne into a wall painting for the calendar’s January page, photographs it, and begins a new painting that incorporates Shitty as a character. At the McBain house, Stewart and his wife Jean adjust to the silence. He does not miss the kids, but she complains that he was never home enough to know them. At her insistence, Stewart drives to the Dutch House to peek inside, but everyone is gathered around the fire in the living room, seemingly happy, so he slips away. The next day, Tom telephones Jimmy to inform him that American Demolition’s stock went up a point. Hamilton tries to dissuade Stewart from taking out a new bank loan using his family’s Connecticut country house and thirty percent of American Demolition as collateral, but Stewart feels he can afford the loan because the stock is undervalued. From across the street at a brokerage office, Tom watches through binoculars as Stewart dials a telephone number and orders: “Buy American Demolition.” Reading Stewart’s lips, Tom buys another 1,000 shares of American Demolition, which further drives up the price. At that point, Tom strategically sells his stock for a profit, triggering a price drop. The next day, Jean McBain arrives at the Dutch House in hysterics to inform her children that Stewart has lost everything. Tom explains that when market manipulation left Stewart holding overpriced stock, the bank stepped in and collected the collateral, which was everything the McBains owned. Chloe, Daphne, and Jimmy blame Tom for the disaster and throw him out of the house. Hamilton asks Stewart to keep American Demolition operating until the bank decides what to do with it, but he refuses. He shreds his credit cards and walks out. Gripping a bottle of wine wrapped in a paper bag, he walks through a homeless encampment and pays five dollars for a box to sleep in. Hamilton goes to the Dutch House to alert the residents that the bank will be selling it. Jean, the children, and Shitty hunt for Stewart. Stopping at the old Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan, Jean sees a photograph of Shitty as a young dancer on the wall. Shitty takes her inside and they dance as an orchestra plays. Elsewhere, Sheryl Corman records worshippers speaking in “tongues” at an African church. Stewart McBain stumbles in, and the African priest calls him up to speak. Stewart describes how he lost his home, his family, and now his mind. The priest declares that Stewart is speaking in tongues, and Sheryl takes him home to the Dutch House. Awakening in the morning, Stewart sees his wife sleeping and everyone else chanting to East Indian music. Chloe tells her father he looks better than he did yesterday. When Jimmy demonstrates a video game he designed called “Demolition,” in which a little man tries to escape from the Taj Mahal without being crushed by a demolition company’s wrecking ball, Stewart becomes hysterical and yells that everything has broken down. A man comes in to serve a writ of eviction. Chloe takes photographic slides of her calendar paintings to a boardroom meeting at Lionel’s father’s company, but suddenly news arrives that the stock market has crashed. Jimmy finds Tom in a fetal position at the brokerage firm and asks him to come home. Shitty trains Daphne to be a magician and a fake psychic. When Stewart chokes Tom for ruining his company, Tom insists he was trying to save the business and keep it in the family. Later, as Stewart poses for Chloe, they reconnect by recounting memories of her childhood. With nothing left to lose, the residents agree to put on a show featuring Lionel’s fashions and Chloe’s artwork. Stewart suggests they all get temporary jobs and pool their money, but when they return to the Dutch House, it has been padlocked and their belongings dumped outside. They pack everything into a trailer and haul it with Tom’s car to Hamilton’s bank, but Hamilton has just been fired, so Stewart invites him to join them. Hamilton explains that if the Dutch House were gone, the redevelopment property would be valuable again, the bank could be paid off, and Jean could get back her country house in Connecticut. Stewart still has the keys to American Demolition’s arsenal of explosives, which he uses to blow up the house. Everyone goes to live at the Connecticut house, where Chloe begins a new series of classic paintings for the calendar. Lionel hosts a fashion show for New York’s biggest buyers, while Shitty performs magic tricks. The show is a success. Lionel declares his love for Chloe, claiming that his homosexuality was a ruse to ensure his success in the fashion industry. Tom and Daphne realize they love each other, and Stewart reignites his marital relationship with Jean.
+

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

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