Dying Young (1991)

R | 105 mins | Drama, Romance | 21 June 1991

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HISTORY

An item in the 4 Sep 1990 HR announced that Julia Roberts would be starring in the forthcoming Dying Young, based on Marti Leimbach’s 1990 novel of the same name. Joel Schumacher was set to direct for Fogwood Films, and Twentieth Century Fox was listed as distributor. Producers Sally Field and Kevin McCormick brought the project to Twentieth Century Fox in 1988, with actress Julia Roberts in mind, but executives wanted to cast a better-known actress, according to a 16 Jun 1991 NYT article. At the time, Roberts had only appeared in two theatrically-released feature films, Satisfaction and Mystic Pizza (1988, see entries). Following Steel Magnolias (1989) and Pretty Woman (1990, see entries), however, Roberts was offered the role of “Hilary O’Neil.” Schumacher reportedly accepted the job on condition that the book’s suicide be omitted, believing a story about illness and death should be balanced with life-affirming themes. The love triangle between “Hilary,” “Victor Geddes,” and “Gordon,” was also changed in favor of a more conventional love story.
       Principal photography began on 12 Nov 1990, as stated in a 22 Jan 1991 HR production chart. Production notes in AMPAS library files list CA locations in Mendocino, San Francisco, Napa Valley, and Los Angeles. Schumacher changed the setting of the story from New England to Mendocino, CA, where permission was granted from the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the Coastal Commission to build a Victorian house overlooking the ocean. After three weeks in Mendocino, the company relocated to San Francisco to film the Nob Hill sequences. Additional scenes were shot at the ... More Less

An item in the 4 Sep 1990 HR announced that Julia Roberts would be starring in the forthcoming Dying Young, based on Marti Leimbach’s 1990 novel of the same name. Joel Schumacher was set to direct for Fogwood Films, and Twentieth Century Fox was listed as distributor. Producers Sally Field and Kevin McCormick brought the project to Twentieth Century Fox in 1988, with actress Julia Roberts in mind, but executives wanted to cast a better-known actress, according to a 16 Jun 1991 NYT article. At the time, Roberts had only appeared in two theatrically-released feature films, Satisfaction and Mystic Pizza (1988, see entries). Following Steel Magnolias (1989) and Pretty Woman (1990, see entries), however, Roberts was offered the role of “Hilary O’Neil.” Schumacher reportedly accepted the job on condition that the book’s suicide be omitted, believing a story about illness and death should be balanced with life-affirming themes. The love triangle between “Hilary,” “Victor Geddes,” and “Gordon,” was also changed in favor of a more conventional love story.
       Principal photography began on 12 Nov 1990, as stated in a 22 Jan 1991 HR production chart. Production notes in AMPAS library files list CA locations in Mendocino, San Francisco, Napa Valley, and Los Angeles. Schumacher changed the setting of the story from New England to Mendocino, CA, where permission was granted from the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the Coastal Commission to build a Victorian house overlooking the ocean. After three weeks in Mendocino, the company relocated to San Francisco to film the Nob Hill sequences. Additional scenes were shot at the Filoli Estate, a historically protected residence, which stood in for Victor Geddes’s family home. Several days were spent in nearby Oakland, CA, shooting Hilary’s apartment on Foothill Boulevard. In early Dec 1990, the crew arrived in Napa Valley where filming took place inside Leap Manor at Stag’s Leap Winery, for scenes depicting “Estelle Whittier’s” home. Later, the subterranean wine cellars at V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, CA, were used as the setting for Estelle’s holiday party. On 19 Dec 1990, production moved to Fox sound stages in Los Angeles, where interiors of “Hilary’s” mother’s apartment and “Victor’s” home were created. Interiors of the Victorian house in Mendocino were surrounded with “fourteen thousand square foot hand-painted latex” screen matching the Mendocino coastline, viewable through any window in the home.
       Filming was completed on 8 Feb 1991, as stated in production notes.
       According to the 17 May 1991 LAT, Fox ordered reshoots the previous week, after test screening audiences requested to see more onscreen romance. Reportedly, “five minutes of footage” was added to the final cut, causing a delay in release until 21 Jun 1991.
       Noting that the $18 million picture had earned over $30 million to date, the 15 Aug 1991 LAT argued that Dying Young had been “misjudged a flop.” The film’s title was blamed for hurting its box-office sales, prompting the foreign release to be retitled, Choice of Love. The picture’s title had been a source of debate throughout production. According to the 20 May 1991 HR, filmmakers had considered All For Love and Forever Young as alternate titles.
       End credits acknowledge: “Klimt paintings courtesy of: Austrian Gallery, Vienna; Galerie Würthle, Vienna; Theater Collection of the National Library, Vienna; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Art Museum Solothurn, Switzerland”; and, “Tape material of Jeopardy! courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.; The Jetsons clip provided by Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc.; John Vanderpant Photographic Collection.” End credits also state: “Special thanks to: The people and merchants of Mendocino, California; the people of Ft. Bragg, California; California Film Commission; Dave Bartlett, Mike Curry & Russian Gulch State Park, Mendocino, California; Darrell Sattui, Tom Davies & V. Sattui Winery, St. Helena, California; Mike Halfhill & Stags’ Leap Winery, Napa, California; Ann Taylor & Filoli Center, Woodside, California”; and, “For Richard, Guy, and too many others.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
4 Sep 1990
p. 1, 66.
Hollywood Reporter
20 May 1991
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 1991
p. 9, 16.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 May 1991
Section F, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
21 Jun 1991
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
15 Aug 1991.
---
New York Times
16 Jun 1991.
---
New York Times
21 Jun 1991
p. 10.
Variety
29 Oct 1990.
---
Variety
24 Jun 1991
p. 48.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Twentieth Century Fox Presents
A Fogwood Films Production
A Joel Schumacher Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
First asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Key grip
Best boy grip
Key grip/Rigging
Dolly grip
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Rigging gaffer
Elec
Film loader
Addl photog, Northern California crew
Asst cam, Northern California crew
Grip, Northern California crew
Grip, Northern California crew
Elec, Northern California crew
Elec, Northern California crew
Elec, Northern California crew
Elec, Northern California crew
Cam equip supplied by
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
Art dept coord
Illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Post prod coord
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst props
Greensman
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Drapery foreman
Junior set des
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Mill foreman
Paint foreman
Paint foreman
Labor foreman
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Standby painter
Props, Northern California crew
Swing gang, Northern California crew
Swing gang, Northern California crew
Swing gang, Northern California crew
Standby painter, Northern California crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
Cost asst
MUSIC
Featured saxophone performances by
Mus ed
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Score rec
Score mixed by
Score cond
Copyist
Scoring coord
SOUND
Sd mixer
Cableman
Supv sd ed
Co-supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Rec
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
ADR mixer
ADR mixer
ADR mixer
ADR voice casting
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Cableman, Northern California crew
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff
Spec eff
Visual eff supv
Titles and opticals by
Title des by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Visual consultant
Prod supv
Asst loc mgr
Scr supv
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst to J. Schumacher
Asst to J. Schumacher
Asst to K. McCormick
Asst to S. Field
Asst to D. Henderson
Asst to J. Roberts
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Const accountant
Helicopter pilot
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Caterer, Angel's Food Service
Caterer, Angel's Food Service
Caterer, Angel's Food Service
Casting assoc
Casting assoc
Extras casting
Tech adv/Cancer ward
Tech adv/Cancer ward
Tech adv/Cancer ward
Tech adv/Cancer ward
Loc projectionist
Company nurse
Animal trainer
Craft services
Stage security
Loc casting, Northern California crew
Prod asst, Northern California crew
Prod asst, Northern California crew
Prod asst, Northern California crew
Prod asst, Northern California crew
Prod asst, Northern California crew
Prod asst, Northern California crew
Video displays by
Cranes and dollies by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stand-in/Julia Roberts
Stand-in/Campbell Scott
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Dying Young by Marti Leimbach (New York, 1990).
SONGS
“Love Theme From Dying Young,” written by James Newton Howard, produced and performed by Kenny G, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
“I Can’t Stand It,” written by Ruud Van Rijen and Henning Reith, performed by Twenty 4th Street featuring Capt. Hollywood, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
“All The Way,” written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, produced by Narada Michael Walden for Perfection Light Productions, performed by Jeffrey Osborne, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
+
SONGS
“Love Theme From Dying Young,” written by James Newton Howard, produced and performed by Kenny G, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
“I Can’t Stand It,” written by Ruud Van Rijen and Henning Reith, performed by Twenty 4th Street featuring Capt. Hollywood, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
“All The Way,” written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, produced by Narada Michael Walden for Perfection Light Productions, performed by Jeffrey Osborne, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
“Adagio Un Poco Mosso,” performed by Artur Rubinstein, courtesy of RCA Victor Red Seal, a division o BMG Classics
“Let It All Go,” written by John Hiatt, performed by The Jeff Healey Band, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
“Oughta Be A Law,” written by Gary Nicholson and Dan Penn, performed by Lee Roy Parnell, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
“Save Some Love,” written by Greg Gerard, performed by Keedy, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
“All The Way,” written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, performed by King Curtis, courtesy of Fantasy, Inc.
“Oh Yeah,” written, performed and produced by Gardner Cole, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
“Merry Christmas Baby,” written by Johnny Moore and Lou Baxter.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
21 June 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 21 June 1991
New York opening: week of 21 June 1991
Production Date:
12 November 1990--8 February 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
20 June 1991
Copyright Number:
PA518296
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
105
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31030
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Oakland, California, twenty-three-year-old Hilary O’Neil finds her boyfriend making love to another woman. She leaves, determined to start a new life. Later, Hilary interviews to be a live-in companion to an ill man in the wealthy, Nob Hill district of San Francisco. Learning that she has no nursing experience and was not sent there by an employment agency, Attorney Richard Geddes cancels the interview. However, Malachi, the butler, stops Hilary as she leaves, and insists that she return to interview in another part of the mansion. She reluctantly returns and meets, twenty-eight-year-old Victor Geddes, who suffers from an advanced case of leukemia. He apologizes for his father Richard’s rudeness, and is charmed by Hilary as she recounts her volunteer nursing experience. Victor offers her the job, downplaying her role as a care-giver, and she moves in immediately. On the way to Victor’s chemotherapy appointment the next morning, he casually explains that the chemicals can cause a range of side effects including sweating, chills, nausea, and screaming. Passing several buildings, he regales Hilary with his extensive knowledge of architecture. Returning home, Hilary applies cold compresses to Victor as he vomits repeatedly. Once he falls asleep, Hilary observes the family photographs from a healthier time in Victor’s life, and is upset at the effects of his illness. Unsure that she has the strength or experience to help him, Hilary telephones her friend, Shauna, and announces that she wants to quit. Victor overhears her in the hallway. Later, Victor shares that he is writing his doctoral thesis on German Impressionist painters, and shows Hilary slides of the paintings he finds so beautiful. He apologizes for not properly preparing her for ... +


In Oakland, California, twenty-three-year-old Hilary O’Neil finds her boyfriend making love to another woman. She leaves, determined to start a new life. Later, Hilary interviews to be a live-in companion to an ill man in the wealthy, Nob Hill district of San Francisco. Learning that she has no nursing experience and was not sent there by an employment agency, Attorney Richard Geddes cancels the interview. However, Malachi, the butler, stops Hilary as she leaves, and insists that she return to interview in another part of the mansion. She reluctantly returns and meets, twenty-eight-year-old Victor Geddes, who suffers from an advanced case of leukemia. He apologizes for his father Richard’s rudeness, and is charmed by Hilary as she recounts her volunteer nursing experience. Victor offers her the job, downplaying her role as a care-giver, and she moves in immediately. On the way to Victor’s chemotherapy appointment the next morning, he casually explains that the chemicals can cause a range of side effects including sweating, chills, nausea, and screaming. Passing several buildings, he regales Hilary with his extensive knowledge of architecture. Returning home, Hilary applies cold compresses to Victor as he vomits repeatedly. Once he falls asleep, Hilary observes the family photographs from a healthier time in Victor’s life, and is upset at the effects of his illness. Unsure that she has the strength or experience to help him, Hilary telephones her friend, Shauna, and announces that she wants to quit. Victor overhears her in the hallway. Later, Victor shares that he is writing his doctoral thesis on German Impressionist painters, and shows Hilary slides of the paintings he finds so beautiful. He apologizes for not properly preparing her for the ravages of chemotherapy, and offers to let her go with a week’s salary, but Hilary decides to stay. In the following days, she researches Victor’s disease at the library, and fills his kitchen with fresh food. When he sweats and shakes uncontrollably, she holds him until his fever subsides. Feeling better, Victor invites Hilary to dine at a trendy, upscale restaurant, but she is uncomfortable in the stuffy surroundings, and persuades Victor to go dancing at a gritty club instead. However, Victor is visibly uneasy in the crowded, noisy nightclub, and they agree to return home. As Hilary mixes a health drink in the blender, Victor plays a record by pianist Arthur Rubinstein, and asks Hilary to dance. He reveals that he has finished his latest regime of chemotherapy, and suggests they take a vacation. Hilary worries he may die while they are far from home, but Victor assures her that he intends to remain alive with her help. Driving North along the coastline, he teases Hilary about her hot pink convertible. She discovers that he has never learned to drive, and insists he take the wheel. In a small, coastal town, they rent a Victorian farmhouse overlooking the ocean. Hilary finds vials of morphine in Victor’s suitcase, but he claims they are only a precaution that he will not need. They enjoy beers at a working class bar and Victor does his best to fit in. When he is unable to sleep, Hilary allows Victor to lie next to her in bed. Later, he thanks Hilary for teaching him how to live again, and in return, he wants to share his love of fine art with her. As the days pass, Victor admires Hilary’s red hair in the sunlight, which reminds him of a Gustav Klimt painting. He regains his energy and his hair grows back, and Hilary suspects her services are no longer needed. When Victor crawls into Hilary’s bed again, they make love. In the morning, she tells him that she no longer wants to be paid, and Victor responds that he will give her his heart instead. In the following days, they enjoy each other’s company at home and outdoors. Their blissful solitude is interrupted when Gordon, a local carpenter they met at the bar, arrives to replace the insulation around their drafty windows. He tells them about a nearby winery they should visit, and brings them a portable television the next time he returns. Hilary cooks dinner for the three of them, and afterward, they become engrossed in the trivia game show, Jeopardy . Hilary and Gordon know the answers to pop culture questions, while Victor excels at questions on esoterica and politics. In time, they visit a winery owned by Estelle Whittier, where Gordon is working on a construction project. Estelle invites them to stay for lunch. Victor is intrigued by a maze on the property, where Estelle says that she buried her three husbands. She warns that the maze is difficult, and few figure out how to navigate it. At night, Victor wakes up sweating, but tells Hilary he is fine. On another visit to the winery, Estelle offers to “read” their tea leaves, but Victor interrupts her predictions and races to try his luck in the maze. Gordon clocks his progress, as deep within the hedges, Victor becomes light-headed and collapses near the grave of one of Estelle’s husbands. Hilary panics and searches for him. When he hears her voice, Victor revives, and they find their way out together. At home, he secretly takes morphine to control his pain, and rebuffs Hilary when she wants to make love. She asks him, point blank, if he is sick, but Victor denies his condition and insults her. Days later, Hilary announces that she invited Gordon to join them on Christmas Eve. Victor continues to inject himself with morphine, and hides the syringes in the trash. At dinner, Victor observes as Hilary and Gordon reminisce about their working class childhoods. He becomes jealous at Gordon’s obvious interest in Hilary. Victor demands they participate in his version of Jeopardy, and spouts answers that only he knows the questions to. He jumps to his feet, behaving erratically. When he staggers and falls, Hilary and Gordon help him to bed. Gordon assumes that Victor is intoxicated, but Hilary worries that his antics are a sign of his declining health. After Gordon leaves, Hilary searches the trash cans and finds the empty morphine syringes. She confronts Victor, and he confesses that he chose to stop his treatments knowing that his symptoms may return. He tells Hilary that he wants to die on his own terms, with her by his side. However, she chastises him for is deceiving her and allowing her to believe they had a future together. Distraught, she leaves the house and calls Victor’s father from a pay telephone, asking for his help. Richard Geddes arrives to bring his son home to begin another course of treatment, but agrees to wait to leave until after Estelle’s Christmas party. At the romantic barn venue, Hilary apologizes to Victor for calling his father. Victor tells her that he has agreed to go back to the hospital in the morning, and wishes Hilary good luck with Gordon. Hilary insists he is mistaken about her relationship with Gordon, and promises to visit Victor during his treatment. Nevertheless, he ends their relationship, and Hilary fights back tears. Seeing that he has left the party, Hilary follows Victor back to their house, and accuses him of trying to sneak away from his father and die alone. Victor confesses that after ten years of chemotherapy, he does not want any more treatments, but she pleads with him to fight, promising to be there for him no matter what happens. They fall asleep together, and in the morning, they leave their vacation hideaway for an uncertain future. +

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

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