Grace Quigley (1985)

PG | 97 mins | Comedy | 17 May 1985

Director:

Anthony Harvey

Cinematographer:

Larry Pizer

Editor:

Robert Reitano

Production Designer:

Gary Weist

Production Company:

The Cannon Group, Inc.
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HISTORY

End credits acknowledge: “Special Thanks to: BMW Motorcycles.”
       The print viewed for this entry was the director’s cut, titled Grace Quigley, released in New York City on 17 May 1985, and is the only version to be released to home video as of the writing of this Note. In a rare occurrence, a “screenwriter’s cut,” was released theatrically in Los Angeles, CA, under the title, The Ultimate Solution of Grace Quigley. Despite receiving critical praise as the superior film, A. Martin Zweiback’s version has rarely been seen since.
       According to the 7 Nov 1983 LAT, the 9 May 1984 LAT, and modern sources, Grace Quigley got its start in 1972 when writer A. Martin Zweiback tossed his thirty-page treatment over the fence of film director George Cukor’s home. Incidentally, actress Katharine Hepburn was staying there while recuperating from hip surgery, and fell in love with the story. Hepburn contacted Martin herself to express interest, and subsequently bought his script.
       The 7 Nov 1983 LAT reported that Hepburn tried for ten years to get backing from both major and independent studios but cited the film’s subject matter as having been an obstacle. Reportedly, Lee Marvin and Steve McQueen were in contention to co-star, and Sam Peckinpah, Anthony Harvey, and writer Zweiback all showed interest in directing. LAT noted that Columbia Pictures had agreed to make the picture in 1979, but released the property when they could not land a “major” male lead actor. Eventually, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus optioned the project for their production ... More Less

End credits acknowledge: “Special Thanks to: BMW Motorcycles.”
       The print viewed for this entry was the director’s cut, titled Grace Quigley, released in New York City on 17 May 1985, and is the only version to be released to home video as of the writing of this Note. In a rare occurrence, a “screenwriter’s cut,” was released theatrically in Los Angeles, CA, under the title, The Ultimate Solution of Grace Quigley. Despite receiving critical praise as the superior film, A. Martin Zweiback’s version has rarely been seen since.
       According to the 7 Nov 1983 LAT, the 9 May 1984 LAT, and modern sources, Grace Quigley got its start in 1972 when writer A. Martin Zweiback tossed his thirty-page treatment over the fence of film director George Cukor’s home. Incidentally, actress Katharine Hepburn was staying there while recuperating from hip surgery, and fell in love with the story. Hepburn contacted Martin herself to express interest, and subsequently bought his script.
       The 7 Nov 1983 LAT reported that Hepburn tried for ten years to get backing from both major and independent studios but cited the film’s subject matter as having been an obstacle. Reportedly, Lee Marvin and Steve McQueen were in contention to co-star, and Sam Peckinpah, Anthony Harvey, and writer Zweiback all showed interest in directing. LAT noted that Columbia Pictures had agreed to make the picture in 1979, but released the property when they could not land a “major” male lead actor. Eventually, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus optioned the project for their production company, the Cannon Group.
       The 9 May 1984 LAT reported that Cannon allowed Katharine Hepburn to choose her own director, and she upheld her promise to Anthony Harvey to let him direct her next picture. Harvey had directed Hepburn in her Academy Award winning role in The Lion In Winter (1968, see entry). Producer Menahem Golan was reportedly not pleased with Hepburn’s choice, but she was adamant that Harvey direct. Modern sources report that Zweiback graciously stepped down from directing the picture in order to grant Hepburn’s wishes, on condition that he and his wife, Adrienne Zweiback, be kept on as executive producers and allowed to remain on set during production. However, Anthony Harvey is rumored to have threatened to quit if the couple appeared on set.
       Principal photography began on 19 Sep 1983 in New York, as reported in the 20 Sep 1983 HR production chart. The 7 Nov 1983 LAT noted a nine-week production schedule, and that Katharine Hepburn, Nick Nolte, and Anthony Harvey had agreed to work below their usual rates in order to get the $5 million picture made.
       The 27 Sep 1983 HR reported a night-shoot in Harlem, NY, was interrupted when hoodlums threw eggs and tin cans onto the closed set, and local police advised filmmakers to leave. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that all five boroughs of New York City were utilized in filming, and list locations at the Willowbrook Hospital on Staten Island, the Transit Museum in Brooklyn, and Empire Studios in Long Island City, Queens. Production notes report that Katharine Hepburn performed her own stunts, including riding on the back of a motorcycle driven by Nick Nolte.
       The 9 May 1984 LAT announced a gala premiere would be held at the Cannes Film Festival on 14 May 1984.
       After its debut, Menahem Golan suggested the picture be re-edited, causing a melee with Hepburn and director Harvey, who had already made several prior edits per Golan’s request. Golan told the 31 Oct 1984 Var that he wanted thirty minutes shaved off of the running time, insisting it come in at ninety-minutes. According to Var, Cannon retained final cut after honoring the Director’s Guild of America contract to grant Harvey two attempts to re-edit the picture. Despite the trouble, an early 1985 release date was anticipated.
       According to the 11 Feb 1985 HR, Hepburn and Harvey rewrote new beginning and end scenes, and returned to New York to film them. The 20 Feb 1985 Var reported that filming on the new sequences had been completed.
       Referring to the film under its new, shortened title Grace Quigley, the 16 May 1985 HR announced the picture would premiere the following day in New York City. However, no plans were set for a Los Angeles, CA, opening.
       After poor reviews from its New York release, Cannon Group decided to let screenwriter A. Martin Zweiback re-edit the film to reflect his original vision, as reported in the 7 Jun 1985 HR film review. Zweiback’s version was scheduled to be released in Los Angeles under the title, The Ultimate Solution of Grace Quigley, as noted in the 17 Jul 1985 Daily News. According to the 6 Dec 1985 HR, a 13 Dec 1985 Los Angeles premiere date was planned, and the 12 Dec 1985 HR cited the Goldwyn Pavilion Cinema in Los Angeles as the venue.
       According to the 3 Jan 1986 Daily News, Zweiback was unhappy over Cannon’s lack of support for his version, reporting that only a small advertisement appeared in one newspaper the day the film was released, with no additional advertising over the two-weeks the picture played at the Goldwyn Pavilion. The 18 Mar 1987 DV noted that during its Los Angeles run, the theater was being picketed by the Projectionists Union, which largely prevented Zweiback’s version from being seen by AMPAS members. Although the director’s version of the film had already been released on videocassette, the 14 Jan 1986 LAHExam announced that Zweiback was funding several additional theatrical screenings on his own in the Los Angeles area.
       Critical response to the screenwriter’s cut was overwhelmingly positive, and reportedly presented a vastly different tone than Harvey’s version. Film critic Leonard Maltin deemed Harvey’s version “abysmal...bland and tasteless,” and praised Zweiback’s film as being “touching” and “funny.” According to the 7 Jun 1985 HR film review, Katharine Hepburn “refused to see either version,” but ceaselessly supported director Anthony Harvey.
       The 18 Mar 1987 DV announced Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley had proclaimed 19 Mar 1987 “Screenwriter’s Day,” noting that the picture was the first in Hollywood history to have a “screenwriter’s version.” The Ultimate Solution of Grace Quigley was to be screened as the headlining event at AFI’s “Salute to Screenwriter’s Day” on 19 Mar 1987.
       According to the 17 Oct 2005 Var, nearly two decades later, Zweiback’s film would be screened again at the Hawaii International Film Festival on 24 Oct 2005, with a personal introduction by A. Martin Zweiback. Var reported that after Katharine Hepburn’s death in 2003, Zweiback approached Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), which acquired both versions of the film after purchasing the Cannon Group. Former MGM president, Chris McGurk, told Zweiback that a revival of his cut “might be possible.” However, the reissue met a stalemate when MGM was bought by a “consortium of investors” headed by Sony. At the time of this entry in 2015, The Ultimate Solution of Grace Quigley has yet to be reissued theatrically or made available on home video. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily News
17 Jul 1985
p. 18.
Daily News
3 Jan 1986.
---
Daily Variety
12 Jul 1984.
---
Daily Variety
17 Oct 1984.
---
Daily Variety
18 Mar 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Sep 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Sep 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Sep 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Feb 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 May 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 1985
p. 3, 27.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jul 2003
p. 1, 18.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
14 Jan 1986.
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Nov 1983
p. 1, 5.
Los Angeles Times
9 May 1984
p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
13 Dec 1985
p. 14.
New York Times
17 May 1985
p. 12.
Variety
28 Mar 1984.
---
Variety
16 May 1984
p. 131.
Variety
31 Oct 1984.
---
Variety
20 Feb 1985.
---
Variety
17 Oct 2005.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
The Cannon Group, Inc. presents
a Golan-Globus production
for Northbrook Films
of an Anthony Harvey film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d unit cam op
Addl asst cam
Gaffer
Best boy elec
2d elec
3d elec
4th elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Generator op
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop
Key const grip
Const grip
Const grip
Const grip
Const grip
Const grip
Const grip
Const grip
Const coord
Shopman
Set builder
1st carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Scenic chargeman
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic apprentice
Const craft services
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Asst ward
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Rerec, Sound One Corp.
Rerec, Sound One Corp.
ADR ed
ADR eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Title des
Opticals by
DANCE
Dance seq choreog
MAKEUP
Mr. Nolte's makeup
Miss Hepburn's hair created by
Miss Hepburn's makeup
Key makeup artist
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Scr supv
Asst to Ruth Morley
Transportation capt
Miss Hepburn's driver
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
Asst loc mgr
Asst to prod mgr
Asst to Mr. Pearce
L. A. Cannon coord
Prod coord
Asst to the prod coord
Secy to Mr. Pearce
Craft services
N. Y. Cannon coord
Prod accountant
Loc accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
DGA trainee
Addl DGA trainee
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Unit pub
Pub coord
National pub representative
Prod equip and facilities supplied by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Flint double
Emily double
2d hearse driver
3d hearse driver
4th hearse driver
1st limo driver
2d limo driver
3d limo driver
Stunt driver
Stunt driver
Stunt driver
Stunt driver
Stunt driver
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"Bad Boys Get Spanked," written by Chrissie Hynde, performed by The Pretenders, courtesy of WEA Records
"Thumbelina," written by Chrissie Hynde, performed by The Pretenders, courtesy of WEA Records.
PERFORMER
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Ultimate Solution of Grace Quigley
Release Date:
17 May 1985
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 17 May 1985
Los Angeles opening: 13 December 1985
Production Date:
began 19 September 1983
Copyright Claimant:
Cannon Films, Inc.
Copyright Date:
12 August 1985
Copyright Number:
PA266712
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
97
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27414
SYNOPSIS

Elderly New Yorker, Grace Quigley, has an argument with her new landlord, Mr. Argo, and is evicted for keeping a pet bird. As Grace sits on a bench outside her building wondering where she will live, she witnesses Mr. Argo being murdered by a hit-man. The killer walks toward her and Grace gets into a parked automobile, unaware that it belongs to the criminal. She hides in the backseat as the getaway car is driven to a warehouse and parked. When the hit-man leaves, Grace finds an envelope in the automobile with his address, and learns that his name is Seymour Flint. The following day, Grace goes to Seymour’s apartment, admits to seeing him kill Mr. Argo, and asks what his fee would be to kill someone for her. Seymour is reluctant to discuss his criminal activities with the woman, but she reveals that the intended victim is herself. Later, Seymour Flint tells his therapist, Dr. Herman, about the elderly woman’s offer, and insists that he does not want to hurt her, despite his profession. Grace continues to pursue Seymour, and forces her way into his home. She shares that she tried to end her life twice but failed, and is grateful to have found someone who can do the job for her. She assures Seymour that she will procure his $2,000 fee. When Seymour arrives to pick up his fee, Grace ambushes him with another customer, Harvey Jenkins, who also wants to recruit Seymour’s services. Seymour refuses, but Grace pleads with him and invites him to dinner to discuss the matter further. When Seymour arrives, ... +


Elderly New Yorker, Grace Quigley, has an argument with her new landlord, Mr. Argo, and is evicted for keeping a pet bird. As Grace sits on a bench outside her building wondering where she will live, she witnesses Mr. Argo being murdered by a hit-man. The killer walks toward her and Grace gets into a parked automobile, unaware that it belongs to the criminal. She hides in the backseat as the getaway car is driven to a warehouse and parked. When the hit-man leaves, Grace finds an envelope in the automobile with his address, and learns that his name is Seymour Flint. The following day, Grace goes to Seymour’s apartment, admits to seeing him kill Mr. Argo, and asks what his fee would be to kill someone for her. Seymour is reluctant to discuss his criminal activities with the woman, but she reveals that the intended victim is herself. Later, Seymour Flint tells his therapist, Dr. Herman, about the elderly woman’s offer, and insists that he does not want to hurt her, despite his profession. Grace continues to pursue Seymour, and forces her way into his home. She shares that she tried to end her life twice but failed, and is grateful to have found someone who can do the job for her. She assures Seymour that she will procure his $2,000 fee. When Seymour arrives to pick up his fee, Grace ambushes him with another customer, Harvey Jenkins, who also wants to recruit Seymour’s services. Seymour refuses, but Grace pleads with him and invites him to dinner to discuss the matter further. When Seymour arrives, he is greeted by a group of Harvey’s elderly friends, and treated as an honored guest. He is angry with Grace for telling her friends about him, but she dismisses his complaints. Harvey speaks with Seymour in private and asks that his death be painless. When Seymour’s girl friend, Muriel, arrives at the dinner, Seymour is surprised to see her. She performs a strip tease, much to the delight of the guests. Later that week, Seymour sends Muriel to Harvey’s apartment to return his money, but when Harvey sees the seductive woman at his door, he drops dead of a heart attack. Seymour denies having a hand in his death and tries to return his money, but Grace thanks him for causing Harvey to die with a smile on his face. She tells Seymour that she no longer wants to die because she has a newfound purpose in life helping others end their lives, and procures five new clients for Seymour. However, Seymour insists he is giving up his career. Grace insists he has a responsibility to help people, and takes him to a nursing home. After seeing the despondent residents, Seymour agrees that he would be doing a good deed by ending people’s suffering. He agrees to let Grace help him, and she asks him to call her “mom.” Sometime later, Seymour plans the murders of the five elderly friends. When one of the women, Emily Watkins, delays her murder to visit her daughter, Grace offers the others a chance to back out, but they are all grateful to have found a “solution” to ending their miseries. While they gather at the home of Homer Morrison and sing songs around his piano, Seymour fills the house with carbon monoxide, and they all die with smiles on their faces. In time, Seymour and Muriel get married, and Grace lines up ten more customers. Emily Watkins returns, ready to die, but Grace tells her she will have to wait in line. When a taxicab driver named Max Putnam cheats Grace and steals her shoes, she demands that Seymour kill the man. Seymour refuses, and tells Dr. Herman about his arrangement with Grace. Later, Grace seeks counseling form Dr. Herman herself, and tells him of her conflicting feelings about whether she should turn Seymour over to police because he refused to kill Max Putnam. She tells the therapist that she sent an incriminating letter about Seymour’s activities to her friend, with instructions to deliver it to police in the event that anything should happen to her. Dr. Herman informs Seymour of Grace’s threat, and demands he get the letter back, fearing that he will also go to prison for his knowledge of Seymour’s murders. When Grace refuses to destroy the letter, Seymour decides to kill her. Emily Watkins attends the funeral of her four friends and is upset that she delayed her own death. She begs Grace to move her to the front of the line, but Grace refuses. Seymour arrives on a motorcycle with plans to kill Grace, but Emily sees him and makes a scene on the street, insisting he kill her. Seymour flees, and Emily steals a hearse. As she chases after him, the rest of the funeral procession follows her. During the pursuit, Seymour fires his gun into Grace’s vehicle, then crashes his motorcycle. When Grace races to his side, “mother” and “son” embrace and apologize to each other. Emily speeds toward them, and accidentally drives the hearse into a river, achieving her wish to die. Sometime later, Seymour visits Grace and tells her he killed the taxicab driver, Max Putnam. They are both struck with guilt, and as they cry in each other’s arms, Seymour refuses to kill anyone else. Later, Grace tries to jump from the top of a building, and Seymour stops her from ending her life. She feels she does not deserve to live after ordering Putnam’s death. However, Seymour confesses that he may have missed when he shot Putnam, so the man may still be alive. They agree to end their killing business, but return to Grace’s home to find a crowd of elderly people seeking their assistance. Grace and Seymour hail a taxicab to escape, laughing hysterically when they discover that the driver is Max Putnam. +

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

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