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HISTORY

According to a 17 Jul 1977 LAT article, the concept for A Wedding originated when screenwriter-producer-director Robert Altman was shooting the film 3 Women (1977, see entry). When an “irritating” reporter inquired what his next project would be about, Altman retorted, “I’m going to make a movie about a great big fancy wedding.” Later that evening, Altman and some of his colleagues decided a wedding film would be a great idea. Within weeks, Altman contacted actor-screenwriter John Considine and tasked him with developing the project.
       Principal photography began 15 Jun 1977 in Lake Bluff, IL as stated in a 25 Jul 1977 Box news brief. Filming was shot entirely on location in IL over a period of eight weeks, as discussed in a 1 Oct 1978 Chicago Daily Herald article. The wedding scenes were filmed at the Grace Episcopal Church in Oak Park, IL, and the scenes involving the reception were filmed at the Lester Armour mansion in Lake Bluff, IL. The owner, Mrs. Armour, initially refused to grant the production permission to film on her property, but when the Chicago Rehabilitation Institute asked her to raise $300,000 for their charity, she negotiated a deal with the production company. Lion’s Gate Films agreed to donate $40,000 to the charity and promised to hold the world premiere as a charity benefit for the Institute, as explained in a 26 Jul 1977 HR article.
       The $3.9 million production cast several IL-based actors and utilized local production crews, as stated in a 27 Apr 1977 Var article. Altman also hired ... More Less

According to a 17 Jul 1977 LAT article, the concept for A Wedding originated when screenwriter-producer-director Robert Altman was shooting the film 3 Women (1977, see entry). When an “irritating” reporter inquired what his next project would be about, Altman retorted, “I’m going to make a movie about a great big fancy wedding.” Later that evening, Altman and some of his colleagues decided a wedding film would be a great idea. Within weeks, Altman contacted actor-screenwriter John Considine and tasked him with developing the project.
       Principal photography began 15 Jun 1977 in Lake Bluff, IL as stated in a 25 Jul 1977 Box news brief. Filming was shot entirely on location in IL over a period of eight weeks, as discussed in a 1 Oct 1978 Chicago Daily Herald article. The wedding scenes were filmed at the Grace Episcopal Church in Oak Park, IL, and the scenes involving the reception were filmed at the Lester Armour mansion in Lake Bluff, IL. The owner, Mrs. Armour, initially refused to grant the production permission to film on her property, but when the Chicago Rehabilitation Institute asked her to raise $300,000 for their charity, she negotiated a deal with the production company. Lion’s Gate Films agreed to donate $40,000 to the charity and promised to hold the world premiere as a charity benefit for the Institute, as explained in a 26 Jul 1977 HR article.
       The $3.9 million production cast several IL-based actors and utilized local production crews, as stated in a 27 Apr 1977 Var article. Altman also hired a real wedding planning service called Carson&sortType=sortByExactMatch'>Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co. to plan and cater the fictional wedding reception.
       The large cast included many actors making their feature film debuts, including Amy Stryker who played the role of “Muffin Brenner,” as noted in a 6 Jul 1977 Var news item. Several second generation actors were also cast, including Susan Kendall Newman, daughter of Paul Newman, Gavan O’Herlihy, son of Dan O’Herlihy and Marta Heflin, daughter of Van Heflin, according to a 21 Jun 1977 HR and DV news items. A 17 Jul 1977 LAT article stated that Shelly Duvall and Sissy Spacek were offered roles, but declined to appear in the picture.
       LAT also noted that the script was not complete before principal photography began on 15 Jun 1977, and shortly before filming, the actors were given biographies of their characters. In the 1 Oct 1978 Chicago Daily Herald, actress Dina Merrill claimed that all of the actors were paid below Screen Actors Guild (SAG) minimum wages.
       Altman pledged the first $2 million of his share of the film’s profits to the Hollywood campaign to enact the Equal Rights Amendment, as mentioned in a 13 Jun 1978 DV article.
       A 10 Jul 1978 DV article announced A Wedding was scheduled to open the 16th Annual New York Film Festival on 22 Sep 1978. On 25 Sep 1978, the film’s west coast premiere at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) donated its proceeds to the Motion Picture and Television Fund, according to a 7 Aug 1978 DV article. The film also competed as the official U.S. entry at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain where Carol Burnett was awarded the Best Actress prize, as reported in 30 Aug 1978 Var and 22 Sep 1978 DV news items.
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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
25 Jul 1977.
---
Chicago Daily Herald
1 Oct 1978
p. 3.
Daily Variety
24 Mar 1977.
---
Daily Variety
28 Apr 1977.
---
Daily Variety
21 Jun 1977.
---
Daily Variety
22 Jun 1977.
---
Daily Variety
18 Aug 1977.
---
Daily Variety
13 Jun 1978.
---
Daily Variety
10 Jul 1978.
---
Daily Variety
7 Aug 1978.
---
Daily Variety
31 Aug 1978.
---
Daily Variety
22 Sep 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jul 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Sep 1978
p. 3.
LAHExam
24 Mar 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Jul 1977
Calendar, pp. 1,10, 33-34.
Los Angeles Times
27 Sep 1978
p. 1.
New York Times
23 Sep 1978.
---
Variety
27 Apr 1977
p. 30.
Variety
6 Jul 1977.
---
Variety
12 Jul 1978.
---
Variety
30 Aug 1978.
---
Variety
6 Sep 1978
p. 22.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Starring:
The Groom's Party
The Bride's Party
The Groom's Party
The Bride's Party
The Groom's Party
The Groom's Party
+

NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Starring:
The Groom's Party
The Bride's Party
The Groom's Party
The Bride's Party
The Groom's Party
The Groom's Party
The Wedding Staff
The Groom's Party
The Groom's Party
The Wedding Staff
The Corelli House Staff
The Bride's Party
The Corelli House Staff
Timothy Thomerson
The Bride's Party
The Wedding Staff
The Groom's Party
The Corelli House Staff
The Wedding Staff
[and]
The Wedding Staff
and introducing:
The Wedding Staff
The Wedding Staff
The Bride's Party
The Corelli House Staff
The Wedding Staff
The Wedding Staff
The Bride's Party
The Groom's Party
The Wedding Staff
The Bride's Party
The Groom's Party
The Bride's Party
The Corelli House Staff
[and]
The Bride's Party
The Ruteledge Children:
The Bride's Party
The Bride's Party
The Bride's Party
The Bride's Party
The Bride's Party
The Bride's Party
The Bride's Party
[and]
The Bride's Party
The Wedding Staff
The Musicians:
The Musicians
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Production of Lion's Gate Films, Inc.
Released by 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst
Gaffer
Gaffer
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Special thanks, Wedding gift table
COSTUMES
Special thanks, Bridal gowns and bridal party gown
Special thanks, Bridal gowns and bridal party gown
Special thanks, Bridal gowns and bridal party gown
Special thanks, Groom's party fashions
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus ed
Fanfare mus composed by
The choir of St. Luke's Episcopal Church; Evanston
The Chicago Brass Ensemble
The Chicago Brass Ensemble
Church organist
Loc mus rec by
Loc mus rec by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title des
Titles and opts by
MAKEUP
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Post prod by
Post prod supv
Scr supv
Prod coord
Prod accountant
Prod asst
Bridal portrait
Special thanks, Bridal consultant
Special thanks, Illinois film office
SOURCES
LITERARY
"Bird On A Wire," written by Leonard Cohen.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
27 September 1978
Premiere Information:
New York Film Festival screening: 22 September 1978
New York opening: week of 23 September 1978
Los Angeles opening: 27 September 1978
Production Date:
15 June 1977 -- mid September 1977 in Chicago, IL
Copyright Claimant:
20th Century Fox Film Corporation a.a.d.o.
Copyright Date:
13 November 1978
Copyright Number:
PA17994
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby®Stereo
Color
Color by DELUXE®
Lenses
Lenses and Cameras by PANAVISION®
Duration(in mins):
124
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

A wedding ceremony for young Muffin Brenner and Dino Corelli begins with members of the bride and groom’s extended families present. A few miles away at the Corelli’s family mansion, the groom’s maternal grandmother and powerful matriarch, Nettie Sloan, lies in bed awaiting news of the ceremony. Too old and fragile to attend, a nurse and other members of the house staff tend to her, including nurse Janet Schulman and Randolph, the African-American houseman. Nettie summons Rita Billingsley, the perfectionist wedding coordinator, and inquires how many guests are expected. Rita replies that the majority of those invited declined to attend, but Nettie is not surprised. Just as the wedding ceremony ends, Nettie suddenly dies. Rita is shocked, but the wedding reception must go on, so she rushes outside to greet guests arriving at the mansion for the party. Randolph summons the alcoholic family doctor, Dr. Jules Meecham, who instructs Nurse Janet and Randolph not to tell anyone in the family about Nettie’s demise until after the reception. When one of Nettie’s daughters, Antoinette “Toni” Sloan Goddard, comes upstairs to check on her mother, Dr. Meecham tells her the old woman is resting and should not have visitors. Toni passes the message along to her sisters and family members downstairs. When Muffin and Dino arrive, Dino’s father Louis “Luigi” Corelli, surprise the couple with a brand new Mercedes automobile, which has been decorated with a “Just Married” sign. As family members spread out to different parts of the mansion, Luigi invites the father of the bride, Liam “Snooks” Brenner, Dino’s uncle Mackenzie Goddard, and Muffin’s uncle Reverend David ... +


A wedding ceremony for young Muffin Brenner and Dino Corelli begins with members of the bride and groom’s extended families present. A few miles away at the Corelli’s family mansion, the groom’s maternal grandmother and powerful matriarch, Nettie Sloan, lies in bed awaiting news of the ceremony. Too old and fragile to attend, a nurse and other members of the house staff tend to her, including nurse Janet Schulman and Randolph, the African-American houseman. Nettie summons Rita Billingsley, the perfectionist wedding coordinator, and inquires how many guests are expected. Rita replies that the majority of those invited declined to attend, but Nettie is not surprised. Just as the wedding ceremony ends, Nettie suddenly dies. Rita is shocked, but the wedding reception must go on, so she rushes outside to greet guests arriving at the mansion for the party. Randolph summons the alcoholic family doctor, Dr. Jules Meecham, who instructs Nurse Janet and Randolph not to tell anyone in the family about Nettie’s demise until after the reception. When one of Nettie’s daughters, Antoinette “Toni” Sloan Goddard, comes upstairs to check on her mother, Dr. Meecham tells her the old woman is resting and should not have visitors. Toni passes the message along to her sisters and family members downstairs. When Muffin and Dino arrive, Dino’s father Louis “Luigi” Corelli, surprise the couple with a brand new Mercedes automobile, which has been decorated with a “Just Married” sign. As family members spread out to different parts of the mansion, Luigi invites the father of the bride, Liam “Snooks” Brenner, Dino’s uncle Mackenzie Goddard, and Muffin’s uncle Reverend David Ruteledge to his “grotto” in the basement, a recreation of Luigi’s favorite Italian café. In another part of the house, Muffin and her bridesmaids gather, including Buffy Brenner, her sister and maid of honor who suffers from selective mutism. Muffin thanks her sister, but when Muffin walks away, Buffy angrily splashes water at a bathroom mirror. Meanwhile, Dino gathers with his groomsmen, including military school classmate Bunky Lemay, faculty member Capt. Reedley Roots and Matthew Ruteledge, Muffin’s cousin. Bunky asks why Dino’s best man, Wilson Briggs, is not there and Dino suggests it is because Wilson used to date Muffin. In another room, older women convene, including Beatrice Sloan Cory, Nettie’s radical socialist sister, Regina Corelli, the groom’s mother and her sisters, Clarice and Toni Sloan. Beatrice believes Nettie is faking her illness so everyone will wait on her like a queen. Meanwhile, Clarice Sloan pulls the house servant Randolph into a doorway for a kiss. He confesses that Nettie passed away but asks Clarice not to tell anyone else. Rita gathers the newlywed’s families to form a reception line, but only one guest arrives, so Rita orders members of the wedding party, security guards and house staff to walk down the line. When Dr. Meecham later informs Luigi that Nettie died, he accuses his mother in law of dying on purpose to ruin the wedding day. Just then, a shaken, slightly incoherent Regina finds Dr. Meecham and demands his immediate medical attention. Meanwhile, the bride and groom take their first dance, as the caterer, Ingrid Hellstrom, stumbles around the room intoxicated. When she tells Clarice that the day is a sad occasion, Clarice mistakenly assumes Ingrid is talking about Nettie’s death. Ingrid wanders off and shares the news with random family members. As the family mingles, they gossip about Luigi, whom they know very little about and suspect is part of the Italian mafia. When Muffin’s mother, Tulip Brenner, dances with Mackenzie Goddard, Toni’s husband, he guides her into a private room and proclaims love at first sight. As Tulip runs upstairs flustered, Dr. Meecham examines Regina as she shakes uncontrollably. He gives her a shot and the shakes stop, but Regina is now high. Meanwhile, Dino dances with Buffy, who speaks for the first time to inform her new brother-in-law that she is pregnant with his child. Outside, Dino’s friend and best man, the missing Wilson Briggs, arrives simultaneously with Dino’s former girl friend, Tracy Farrell. When Dino pulls Wilson aside and tells him that Buffy is pregnant, Wilson swears the baby is not his and asks if it is Dino’s, provoking Dino’s laughter. Inside, Tracy runs to Dino and they kiss romantically in front of everyone. Only a few feet away, Muffin and Wilson do the same. As guests gather in the dining room, Wilson and Tracy meet and gossip about Buffy’s pregnancy with Dino’s child. Mackenzie sneaks up behind Tulip and tells her to meet him at the greenhouse, but Tulip says she cannot return his feelings; however, he forces her to say she loves him. Downstairs in the grotto, Luigi tries to tell Regina about Nettie’s death but she is still high and rambles about how they met, adding that Nettie “arranged” everything. They return upstairs to the cake cutting ceremony. Luigi gives Wilson the keys to the Mercedes, instructing him to pass them along to Dino and Muffin when it is time for them to leave for their honeymoon. Outside, a storm brews and there is a tornado warning. The security staff escorts the wedding party to the basement grotto until the storm passes, but Toni goes upstairs to get Nettie and discovers that her mother has died. In the basement, Tulip’s sister-in-law, Candice Ruteledge, reports that her daughter is pregnant and Tulip assumes she means the just married Muffin. As Reverend Ruteledge calms the guests by leading them in a hymn, Tulip and Mackenzie arrange a secret rendezvous in Florida. Candice tells Snooks that Buffy is pregnant with Dino’s baby and Snooks calls a family meeting. Upstairs, security guards find a strange Italian man and brutally detain him but Randolph later informs them that the man is Luigi’s brother. However, Luigi orders his brother thrown out of the party, explaining that he promised Nettie that no one from his family would set foot in the mansion. Dr. Meecham reminds Luigi that he is no longer beholden to Nettie now that she is dead, so Luigi apologizes to his brother and asks him to stay. Meanwhile, at the Brenner meeting, Buffy confesses to her pregnancy. Snooks wants to annul Muffin and Dino’s marriage but Tulip is afraid of what everyone will think. Snooks’s sister, Marge Spar, suggests an abortion and Tulip agrees, so Snooks asks Dr. Meecham to assess if an abortion is still possible. Elsewhere, Toni gathers the Sloan family to announce Nettie’s death but they already know. Back in the study, Dr. Meecham determines Buffy is too far along in her pregnancy for an abortion. Snooks summons Dino, who admits to having sex with Buffy but argues that all of his friends did too, so he is not sure if he is the father. When Snooks asks Buffy how many men she slept with, she silently counts her fingers, and then continues counting on her Aunt Candice’s fingers. Tulip stops the girl when she reaches twenty men. Later, Capt. Reedley sobers an intoxicated Dino by taking off both of their clothes and throwing Dino into the shower. Meanwhile, Rita helps Muffin change into her honeymoon dress and kisses the bride on the lips. Muffin runs away looking for Dino but overhears Dino and Capt. Reedley in the shower and assumes they are having sex. Moments later, someone speeds off in the Mercedes. Rita’s assistant, Melba Lear, assumes the newlyweds have left and gathers the family members to say their farewells. As the Brenner family leaves early, Tulip and Mackenzie confirm their secret rendezvous. Along the highway, the Brenner family encounters an accident between a gas tanker and the Mercedes. Tulip and Snooks race toward the car but the police push them back, reporting that the people in the car died. Tulip wails that God is punishing her. The devastated Brenners return to the mansion to inform the others. As the families argue and blame each other, Muffin and Dino rush downstairs wondering what is wrong. The families celebrate with relief except Luigi, who realizes Wilson Briggs and Tracy Farrell died because Wilson had the keys to the Mercedes. Tulip secretly tells Mackenzie that they can no longer rendezvous because God was sending her a warning. Alone, Luigi visits Nettie’s body. He announces that his twenty-two years of faithful service are over; he kept his bargain and their secrets, and he is now free. Luigi finds his brother and they drive away as Luigi celebrates his emancipation. Back at the mansion, Rita sits on the front steps with Rosie Bean, one of the married bridesmaids. Rita says she is always sad when the wedding is over and Rosie agrees, claiming that once the wedding ends, the sadness of married life begins. +

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

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