A Stranger Among Us (1992)

PG-13 | 109 mins | Drama | 17 July 1992

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HISTORY

The 26 Jul 1992 LAT reported that A Stranger Among Us was competing against seven other film projects to be the first since The Chosen (1982, see entry) to focus on the Hasidic Jewish Community. Producer Howard Rosenman claimed that A Stranger Among Us was the first to film because director Sidney Lumet became interested and was available to start production immediately. With the release of A Stranger Among Us, the other projects set in the Hasidic community were no longer expected to move forward.
       Although Cher was considered for the lead role, the Walt Disney Company suggested casting a blonde actress to contrast with the “sea of bobbing black hats” traditionally worn by men in the Hasidic community. The film was originally titled Close to Eden, and the 28 Jun 1991 HR announced the casting of Melanie Griffith as part of her two picture deal with Hollywood Pictures. A Stranger Among Us marked the feature film debut of actor Eric Thal.
       According to the 28 Jun 1991 HR, principal photography was scheduled to begin 15 Sep 1991, and an item in the 25 Jul 1991 DV reported that the production would be able to film in New York City’s “darkened jewelry center on 47th Street” during the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah on 9 Sep 1991 through Yom Kippur on 18 Sep 1991. However, a 1 Oct 1991 HR production brief reported principal photography did not begin until 23 Sep 1991. The 1 Jun 1992 HR noted that ... More Less

The 26 Jul 1992 LAT reported that A Stranger Among Us was competing against seven other film projects to be the first since The Chosen (1982, see entry) to focus on the Hasidic Jewish Community. Producer Howard Rosenman claimed that A Stranger Among Us was the first to film because director Sidney Lumet became interested and was available to start production immediately. With the release of A Stranger Among Us, the other projects set in the Hasidic community were no longer expected to move forward.
       Although Cher was considered for the lead role, the Walt Disney Company suggested casting a blonde actress to contrast with the “sea of bobbing black hats” traditionally worn by men in the Hasidic community. The film was originally titled Close to Eden, and the 28 Jun 1991 HR announced the casting of Melanie Griffith as part of her two picture deal with Hollywood Pictures. A Stranger Among Us marked the feature film debut of actor Eric Thal.
       According to the 28 Jun 1991 HR, principal photography was scheduled to begin 15 Sep 1991, and an item in the 25 Jul 1991 DV reported that the production would be able to film in New York City’s “darkened jewelry center on 47th Street” during the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah on 9 Sep 1991 through Yom Kippur on 18 Sep 1991. However, a 1 Oct 1991 HR production brief reported principal photography did not begin until 23 Sep 1991. The 1 Jun 1992 HR noted that the film was budgeted at $18 million and principal photography finished in Nov 1991.
       The 5 May 1992 HR reported that Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc. changed the name of its official entry in the Cannes Film Festival from Close to Eden to A Stranger Among Us. As noted in the 1 Jun 1992 HR, the film was not well received by critics at Cannes, and several attendees walked out during the screening, while others booed when it ended. Two weeks after Cannes, Melanie Griffith was in New York City for reshoots on the ending. A Disney spokeswoman said the “long-planned new ending” could not be filmed prior to Cannes because the filmmakers were “rushing to ready the film” for the competition. The film’s original release date had been postponed from Jul 1992 to Sept 1992, but the reshoots affected distribution plans, and a Buena Vista spokesperson stated there was no release date scheduled. A Stranger Among Us was released domestically on 17 Jul 1992, and the 26 Jul 1992 LAT reported it had a “lukewarm” opening weekend.
       End credits include the following statements: “Clip and audio from ‘Carefree’ provided by Turner Entertainment Co.”; “The appearance and performance of Mr. Fred Astaire has been granted through a special license with the Estate of Fred Astaire. All rights reserved,” and, “This motion picture was filmed in part at Kaufman Astoria Studios.” End credits also include “Special Thanks” to: “Michael Kuhn; Malcolm Ritchie; Jill Tandy; Kathryn Smith; Polygram Holding Inc.; Banque Paribas; Jewelry Fashions by Chante; Dinnerware & stemware by Rosenthal; Track lighting by Lightolier; The NYC Mayor’s Office for Film Theatre & Broadcasting; The NYC Police Department’s Film Unit; Queens Borough Public Library.”
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
25 Jul 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jun 1991
p. 3, 64.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 May 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 May 1992
p. 7, 15.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 1992
p. 1, 27.
Los Angeles Times
17 Jul 1992
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jul 1992
pp. 23-24.
New York Times
17 Jul 1992
p. 1.
Variety
18 May 1992
p. 45.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Hollywood Pictures presents
In association with Touchwood Pacific Partners I
A Propaganda Films production
In association with Sandollar/Isis
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Line prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Best boy
Key grip
Dolly grip
Key rigging elec
Key rigging grip
Video playback
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
Asst art dir
Prod des coord
FILM EDITORS
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser leadman
Prop master
Asst prop
Master scenic artist
Standby scenic
Const supv
Key const grip
COSTUMES
Cost
Cost
Ward supv
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus adpt, orch, and cond by
Mus eng
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Asst sd ed
ADR ed
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles & opticals by
DANCE
Sabbath dance choreog by
MAKEUP
Hair des
Asst hairstylist
Makeup des
Makeup artist
Makeup artist for Melanie Griffith
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod coord
Loc mgr
Scr supv
Prod auditor
Asst auditor
Prod office asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Casting asst
Casting asst
Asst to Steve Golin
Asst to Sigurjon Sighvatsson
Asst to Howard Rosenman
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Legal services by
Yiddish & religious adv
STAND INS
Ms. Griffith's stand-in
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Change Partners,” by Irving Berlin, Irving Berlin Music Company
“Mi Bon Siach,” by Paul Zim
“Egypto Tech,” by Roger Deller & Joe Misiti, performed by The Turn-Ups.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Close to Eden
Release Date:
17 July 1992
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 July 1992
Production Date:
23 September--November 1991
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
109
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31753
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Emily Eden, a New York City police officer, and Nick, her partner and boyfriend, stake out a movie theater based on information from Emily’s informant. As usual, Emily refuses to call for backup, and when the two thugs arrive, Nick is stabbed during the takedown. Later, Emily is chastised for not calling for backup, and while her partner recuperates, she is assigned the case of Yaakov Klausman, a missing person from a Hasidic Jewish community. Emily meets Yaakov’s parents at the home of their rebbe, whose two adult adopted children, Ariel and Leah, are also present. She learns that Yaakov was last seen at their jewelry store, and $720,000 of diamonds are also missing. Emily assumes that Yaakov stole the diamonds and ran away, but the rebbe says that would not happen within their close-knit religious community. At the jewelry store, Emily discovers Yaakov’s body hidden in the ceiling. Yaakov had turned off the alarm, so Emily believes he knew his attacker, and suggests it might be someone within the Hasidic community. She wants to go undercover and promises to respect their customs. The rebbe allows her to live in his home and asks Ariel and Leah to assist her. Emily dyes her blonde hair brown, wears modest clothing, and shares a room with Leah, who teaches her their customs. Leah reveals that the rebbe’s wife and children died in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, and later, he adopted Leah and Ariel after their parents died in an automobile crash. Leah proudly asserts that Ariel is an exceptional scholar who is expected to become ... +


Emily Eden, a New York City police officer, and Nick, her partner and boyfriend, stake out a movie theater based on information from Emily’s informant. As usual, Emily refuses to call for backup, and when the two thugs arrive, Nick is stabbed during the takedown. Later, Emily is chastised for not calling for backup, and while her partner recuperates, she is assigned the case of Yaakov Klausman, a missing person from a Hasidic Jewish community. Emily meets Yaakov’s parents at the home of their rebbe, whose two adult adopted children, Ariel and Leah, are also present. She learns that Yaakov was last seen at their jewelry store, and $720,000 of diamonds are also missing. Emily assumes that Yaakov stole the diamonds and ran away, but the rebbe says that would not happen within their close-knit religious community. At the jewelry store, Emily discovers Yaakov’s body hidden in the ceiling. Yaakov had turned off the alarm, so Emily believes he knew his attacker, and suggests it might be someone within the Hasidic community. She wants to go undercover and promises to respect their customs. The rebbe allows her to live in his home and asks Ariel and Leah to assist her. Emily dyes her blonde hair brown, wears modest clothing, and shares a room with Leah, who teaches her their customs. Leah reveals that the rebbe’s wife and children died in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, and later, he adopted Leah and Ariel after their parents died in an automobile crash. Leah proudly asserts that Ariel is an exceptional scholar who is expected to become the next rebbe. Ariel guides Emily in their way of life, and she begins to develop romantic feelings for him. Emily’s temporary new partner, Levine, mans a surveillance post in an office across the street while Emily sets up surveillance equipment inside the jewelry store. Yaakov’s fiancée, Mara, wonders what Emily is doing, learns she is an undercover officer, and promises to keep Emily’s identity secret. Later, Tony and Chris Baldessari arrive at the store ostensibly to make a purchase from Leah. The imposing brothers note that Yaakov’s death was unfortunate, and make subtle threats as they offer protection in exchange for a monthly fee. Mara overhears the conversation, and yells that they are murderers. As others quiet Mara, Ariel tells the brothers that he will consider their offer, and they promise to return. At the police station, Emily and Levine learn that the Baldessari brothers had done business with Yaakov for more than a year, so he might have let them inside. Emily and Levine are not certain if they killed Yaakov, but plan to arrest them for extortion when they return to the store for payment. Later, a badly beaten Mara arrives at the rebbe’s home. She states that two men attacked her, but she did not see their faces. Emily questions her and learns that Mara was a homeless drug addict until a year ago when Yaakov met her and offered help. The rebbe welcomed Mara into his home and the community, and she and Yaakov planned to marry. That evening, Emily enjoys the camaraderie at a Seder as the community unites to celebrate the Sabbath. During the evening, the rebbe notices the looks between Ariel and Emily, and he rises to announce Ariel’s engagement. Emily is surprised, and later, questions Ariel. He admits he has never met his fiancée, who lives in France. Emily is surprised at the arranged marriage, but Ariel participated in the choice and believes this woman is his probable soulmate. Emily is upset, insisting that he could choose a different life. However, Ariel does not want another path; he wants to take the rebbe’s place someday and hopes he will be worthy. The next day, the Baldessari brothers arrive at the jewelry store, and place their jackets on the counter as they demand payment. As Emily discreetly handcuffs them and radios Levine, Mara notices a jewelry pouch in one of the jackets and declares it is one of the three pouches stolen from Yaakov. The brothers push Emily aside, run out of the store, and get in their car. Levine breaks his ankle as he runs after them, shooting. Emily runs outside, shoots at their car, and they crash into a building. The brothers die, but with his last breath, Tony Baldessari insists they did not kill Yaakov. However, with Yaakov’s stolen pouch in their possession, the case seems to be over. Emily visits Nick at the hospital, and he proposes marriage. She refuses, insisting that she was always honest about not wanting a commitment. Nick wants more and asks her to stay away, insisting he can no longer work as her partner. That night, Ariel violates a Hasidic rule regarding a single man being alone with a woman, and visits Emily at home. She wants to kiss him, but he refuses and admits his bride is arriving that evening. Emily kisses him anyway, and although he cares for her, he begs her to stop. He only came to see her because he believes Tony’s dying declaration that the Baldessari brothers did not kill Yaakov. He agrees with Emily that it might be one of them or someone pretending to be one of them. Emily suddenly wonders how Mara knew that Yaakov had three pouches of jewels, and she realizes Mara is the culprit. At the rebbe’s house, the community prepares for the arrival of Ariel’s bride. Upstairs, Mara packs to leave and tells Leah that too much has happened for her to stay. When Leah sees money hidden in the suitcase, Mara pulls a gun on her. As Emily and Ariel drive to the rebbe’s house, Mara discreetly holds a gun on Leah and moves her through the crowd greeting Ariel’s bride. As they arrive, Emily sees Mara and Leah walking away. She gives Ariel her spare gun, and they chase the girls into a synagogue. Emily tries to reason with Mara, and is knocked unconscious. Ariel asks Mara to let Leah go free, but she refuses and starts to drag Leah outside, so Ariel shoots and kills her. Later, Ariel, Leah, and the rebbe visit Emily at the hospital to thank her. Ariel asks to be left alone with Emily, and admits he will miss her, but must leave. Emily cries as he steps outside where his fiancée waits with other members of the Hasidic community. Ariel meets her for the first time, and apologizes for being alone with Emily, but his bride is understanding. Later, Emily watches as Ariel gets married. At the police station, Levine asks Emily for a date. However, she refuses, saying she is waiting to find her soulmate. +

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

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