The Lemon Sisters (1990)

PG | 92 mins | Comedy-drama | 31 August 1990

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HISTORY

The 1959 childhood segments, scattered throughout the movie, were filmed in black and white.
       According to an article in the Sep 1989 issue of Elle, The Lemon Sisters came about because of Diane Keaton’s fascination with Atlantic City, NJ, and her longtime friendship with fellow actresses Carol Kane and Kathryn Grody. In the summer of 1984, Keaton and screenwriter Jeremy Pikser drove to Stockbridge, MA, where Kane and Grody were appearing at the Berkshire Theatre Festival. The women “chatted late into the night about their memories of Atlantic City,” while Pikser took notes. Soon after, the three actresses and producer Joe Kelly traveled to the resort city to see how legalization of casino gambling in 1978 had changed it. As they discussed ideas, Keaton, Grody, and Kane developed their own characters. Unfortunately, the grand old hotels Keaton wanted to include in the film had already been demolished, and nearby Victorian residential neighborhoods were “going fast.” The production managed to postpone for a few days the demolition of the house where Keaton’s character lived. The “Lemon Tree Club” scenes were shot at the empty, soon-to-be-razed Clifton’s Harlem Club, and the Caesars casino interiors were shot at the real Caesars. However, Boardwalk scenes had to be filmed in Asbury Park, NJ, because “there was no unadulterated seafront property left in Atlantic City.”
       The 26 Sep 1988 HR noted that principal photography began that day, and the 15 Nov 1988 Newsday announced that Carol Kane’s last day of shooting would be the following Monday, 21 Nov 1988. The budget began at $5 million, the 2 Nov 1988 Var reported, but as ... More Less

The 1959 childhood segments, scattered throughout the movie, were filmed in black and white.
       According to an article in the Sep 1989 issue of Elle, The Lemon Sisters came about because of Diane Keaton’s fascination with Atlantic City, NJ, and her longtime friendship with fellow actresses Carol Kane and Kathryn Grody. In the summer of 1984, Keaton and screenwriter Jeremy Pikser drove to Stockbridge, MA, where Kane and Grody were appearing at the Berkshire Theatre Festival. The women “chatted late into the night about their memories of Atlantic City,” while Pikser took notes. Soon after, the three actresses and producer Joe Kelly traveled to the resort city to see how legalization of casino gambling in 1978 had changed it. As they discussed ideas, Keaton, Grody, and Kane developed their own characters. Unfortunately, the grand old hotels Keaton wanted to include in the film had already been demolished, and nearby Victorian residential neighborhoods were “going fast.” The production managed to postpone for a few days the demolition of the house where Keaton’s character lived. The “Lemon Tree Club” scenes were shot at the empty, soon-to-be-razed Clifton’s Harlem Club, and the Caesars casino interiors were shot at the real Caesars. However, Boardwalk scenes had to be filmed in Asbury Park, NJ, because “there was no unadulterated seafront property left in Atlantic City.”
       The 26 Sep 1988 HR noted that principal photography began that day, and the 15 Nov 1988 Newsday announced that Carol Kane’s last day of shooting would be the following Monday, 21 Nov 1988. The budget began at $5 million, the 2 Nov 1988 Var reported, but as “more names” were added to the cast, costs increased to $9 million.
       The 17 Apr 1987 USA Today announced that Diane Keaton would produce and direct The Lemon Sisters, but a year later, according to the 2 Mar 1988 HR, David Leland was considered for the job. In the end, neither Keaton nor Leland directed. The 3 Sep 1990 Austin American Statesman and 5 Oct 1990 LAT stated that comedy playwright Mo Gaffney wrote the film’s 1959 flashback scenes, but she was listed in the credits only as those sequences’ “kid wrangler.” Keaton told the 1 Nov 1988 Boston Globe she financed The Lemon Sisters “with my friends,” and was currently shooting “six days a week, very fast and dirty,” but by the time the film was released on 31 Aug 1990, she had removed her production credit and did “virtually nothing” to promote it, the 8 Sep 1990 Long Beach Press-Telegram reported.
       Reviews were lukewarm, and critics made liberal use of the “lemon” in the title. After a “light” opening, the film “collapsed by 65%” in its second week, according to the 6 Sep 1990 and 11 Sep 1990 DV. The 2 Jan 1991 Houston Chronicle named The Lemon Sisters one of 1990’s “biggest flops,” with ticket sales totaling only $3.4 million.
       The film begins with two title cards that read: “Atlantic City 1959” and “Atlantic City 1982.”
Acknowledgments in end credits contain the following: “Special thanks to: New Jersey Film Commission; Atlantic City Historical Society; Atlantic City Police Department; Atlantis Casino Hotel; Bally’s Park Place Hotel, Casino & Tower; Alan Buggy; City of Asbury Park, New Jersey; City of Atlantic City, New Jersey; City of Brigantine, New Jersey; Claridge Casino Hotel; The Completion Bond Company, Inc.; John Dawson; Alexander Gelderman; Cadillac Jack; Joel Getzler; Vick’s Gold Levi; Premila Hoon; David King; the staff of the Lagoon; Lee Mayes; John McLaughlin; Newark Symphony Hall; Bill Nisselson; Frank Rainone; Lee Salomon; Sands Hotel, Casino and Country Club--Atlantic City; Lou Valentino; Stephen J. Vaccaro; Kosmo Fadikys and family. Filmed on location at Caesars Atlantic City.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Austin American Statesman
3 Sep 1990
Section D, p. 10
Back Stage
2 Jun 1989.
---
Boston Globe
1 Nov 1988
p. 23
Daily Variety
18 May 1989
p. 2
Daily Variety
18 Nov 1989
p. 2
Daily Variety
22 Aug 1990
p. 26
Daily Variety
5 Sep 1990
p. 18
Daily Variety
6 Sep 1990
p. 3
Daily Variety
11 Sep 1990
p. 23
Elle
Sep 1989
p. 128, 130
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Sep 1988
p. 1, 19
Hollywood Reporter
4 Sep 1990
p. 6, 61
Houston Chronicle
2 Jan 1991
p. 3
Long Beach Press-Telegram
8 Sep 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
31 Aug 1990
Calendar, p. 6
Los Angeles Times
5 Sep 1990
Calendar, p. 2
Los Angeles Times
5 Oct 1990
San Diego edition, p. 2
New York Times
1 Sep 1990
p. 12.
Newsday (Long Island, NY)
15 Nov 1988
p. 11
USA Today
17 Apr 1987
Section D, p. 1
Variety
21 Sep 1988
p. 6
Variety
2 Nov 1988
p. 16
Variety
24 May 1989
p. 24
Variety
31 May 1989
pp. 31-32.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Miramax Films Presents
A Lightyear Entertainment Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr, Little Lemons seq
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
1st asst dir, Little Lemons seq
2d asst dir, Little Lemons seq
DGA trainee, Little Lemons seq
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Co-exec prod
Co-exec prod
WRITERS
Narr wrt by, Little Lemons seq
Narr wrt by, Little Lemons seq
Addl narr, Little Lemons seq
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cameraperson
2d asst cameraperson
Still photog
Gaffer
Best boy
Elec
Key grip
Dolly grip
Best boy grip
Cam scenic
Video eng
1st asst cameraperson, Little Lemons seq
2d asst cameraperson, Little Lemons seq
Still photog, Little Lemons seq
Gaffer, Little Lemons seq
Best boy, Little Lemons seq
Elec, Little Lemons seq
Elec, Little Lemons seq
Key grip, Little Lemons seq
Dolly grip, Little Lemons seq
Best boy grip, Little Lemons seq
Grip, Little Lemons seq
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst to the prod des
Storyboards, Little Lemons seq
Art dept asst, Little Lemons seq
Art dept asst, Little Lemons seq
Art dept asst, Little Lemons seq
FILM EDITORS
Supv ed
Film ed
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutting
Videotape ed, Little Lemons seq
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
2d prop
Key dresser
Dresser
Dresser
Asst set dec
Key scenic artist
Scenic
Scenic
Scenic
Scenic
Const supv
Key set builder
Carpenter
Carpenter
Studio mgr
Const grip
Set dec, Little Lemons seq
Asst set dec, Little Lemons seq
Prop master, Little Lemons seq
Asst prop, Little Lemons seq
Lead man, Little Lemons seq
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst to the cost des
Ward supv
Asst ward supv
Cost, Little Lemons seq
Cost asst, Little Lemons seq
MUSIC
Orig mus comp and arr by
Mus performances arr and supv by
Mus ed
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Studio musician [drums]
Studio musician [bass]
Studio musician [guitar]
Studio musician [bass]
Studio musician [drums]
Studio musician [guitar]
Vocals
Mus post-prod
Mus mixer
Mus score rec at
Mus rec eng
Mus rec supv
Mus contractor
Violin guy, Little Lemons seq
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
1st asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Asst ADR ed
Re-rec mixer
ADR rec, LA
Sd transfer tech
Foley artist
ADR mixer
ADR mixer
Sd mixer, Little Lemons seq
Boom op, Little Lemons seq
VISUAL EFFECTS
Main and end title des
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup supv and Diane Keaton's makeup by
Makeup artist
Hairdresser
Hairdresser/Makeup artist, Little Lemons seq
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Asst unit prod mgr
Prod assoc
Asst casting
Extras casting
Asst extras casting
Asst extras casting
Post prod services
Creative consultant, Glass/Schoor, Inc.
Assoc post prod supv, Glass/Schoor, Inc.
Post-prod facilites, NY
Prod office coord
Asst prod office coord
Loc coord
Unit prod asst
Unit prod asst
Unit prod asst
Unit prod asst
Unit prod asst
Teamster capt
Teamster co-capt
Teamster
Teamster
Teamster
Teamster
Teamster
Teamster
Teamster
Teamster
Teamster
Teamster
Teamster
Teamster
Teamster
Teamster
Teamster
Teamster
Teamster
Teamster
Teamster
Magic consultant
Personal aide to the dir
Asst to the prods
Asst to the prods
Asst to Ms. Keaton, Ms. Kane and Ms. Grody
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst to accountants
Office asst/Housing coord
Office asst/Projectionist
Office asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Film researcher
Stock footage courtesy of
Stock footage courtesy of
Stock footage courtesy of
Animals provided by
[Animal] Trainer
[Animal] Trainer
Dailies advisor
Food stylist
Craft service
Asbury Park liaison
Promotions
Supv prod exec
Exec in charge of prod
Exec in charge of prod
Prod exec for Miramax
Public relations
Financing provided by
Financing provided by
Financing provided by
Scr supv, Little Lemons seq
Loc mgr, Little Lemons seq
Loc coord, Little Lemons seq
Prod office coord, Little Lemons seq
Asst prod office coord, Little Lemons seq
Kid wrangler, Little Lemons seq
Children's dial coach, Little Lemons seq
Prod auditor, Little Lemons seq
Asst prod auditor, Little Lemons seq
Teamster capt, Little Lemons seq
Prod office asst, Little Lemons seq
Unit prod asst, Little Lemons seq
Unit prod asst, Little Lemons seq
Unit prod asst, Little Lemons seq
Unit prod asst, Little Lemons seq
Unit prod asst, Little Lemons seq
Unit prod asst, Little Lemons seq
Unit prod asst, Little Lemons seq
Unit prod asst, Little Lemons seq
Unit prod asst, Little Lemons seq
Unit prod asst, Little Lemons seq
Unit prod asst, Little Lemons seq
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Under The Boardwalk," written by Artie Resnick and Kenny Young, performed by "The Lemon Sisters," published by Alley Music Corporation/Tria Music Co., Inc.
"Friends," written by William Linhart and Mark Livingston, performed by "The Lemon Sisters," published by SBK Unart Catalog, Inc.
"Stop! In The Name Of Love," written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, performed by "The Lemon Sisters," published by Stone Agate Music [Division of Jobete Music Co., Inc.]
+
SONGS
"Under The Boardwalk," written by Artie Resnick and Kenny Young, performed by "The Lemon Sisters," published by Alley Music Corporation/Tria Music Co., Inc.
"Friends," written by William Linhart and Mark Livingston, performed by "The Lemon Sisters," published by SBK Unart Catalog, Inc.
"Stop! In The Name Of Love," written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, performed by "The Lemon Sisters," published by Stone Agate Music [Division of Jobete Music Co., Inc.]
"Wild Thing," written by Chip Taylor, performed by Carol Kane, published by SBK Blackwood Music, Inc.
"Theme From Star Trek, by Alexander Courage and Gene Roddenberry, published by Bruin Music Company, courtesy of Paramount Pictures Corporation
"That's Life," written by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon, performed by Carol Kane, published by PolyGram International Publishing, Inc.
"These Boots Are Made For Walkin'," written by Lee Hazelwood, performed by Carol Kane, published by Criterion Music Corporation
"Rawhide," lyrics by Ned Washington, music by Dimitri Tiomkin, performed by Carol Kane, published by Volta Music Corp./Larga Music/Mrs. Ned Washington
additional music courtesy of Capitol Production Music/Ole George.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
31 August 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 31 August 1990
Production Date:
26 September--21 November 1988
Copyright Claimant:
Lightyear Entertainment, L.P.
Copyright Date:
19 June 1989
Copyright Number:
PAu1276628
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Black and White
Lenses
Filmed With Panavision® Cameras & Lenses
Duration(in mins):
92
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29724
SYNOPSIS

Eloise Hamer, Nola Frank, and Franki DeAngelo have been best friends in Atlantic City, New Jersey, since they were little girls. Nola’s strict mother owned the Berkeley saltwater taffy store on the Boardwalk. Eloise’s eccentric but loving father sponsored talent contests for children and later opened the TV Museum next to the taffy shop. Franki, the smallest of the three, was named after singer Frank Sinatra and hoped someday to be a star. The three girls enjoyed singing together. In 1959, when a barker at a concession booth gives them each a lemon as booby prizes, the girls run to their special spot under the Boardwalk, declare themselves “the Lemon Sisters,” and promise to be friends for the next eighty-three million years. Nola says her mother told her that three lemons apart are just lemons, but three lemons together are a jackpot—a reference to casino slot machines. Twenty-three years later, in 1982, the Lemon Sisters are still good friends, but the arrival of the gambling industry is changing their hometown. Franki DeAngelo works as a camera girl in a casino and tries to make show business contacts. Nola and her husband, Fred Frank, have taken over her mother’s taffy shop, and are the parents of three children. Eloise Hamer operates her late father’s TV Museum, which houses his collection of memorabilia from 1950s and 1960s television shows. Though local business people discuss selling their stores and concessions to the casinos and “getting out” while they can, the Lemon Sisters, who sing together at a restaurant, hope to buy a little Boardwalk club and perform for tourists. Eloise’s on-and-off-again boyfriend, taxicab driver C. W., introduces Franki to a budding talent ... +


Eloise Hamer, Nola Frank, and Franki DeAngelo have been best friends in Atlantic City, New Jersey, since they were little girls. Nola’s strict mother owned the Berkeley saltwater taffy store on the Boardwalk. Eloise’s eccentric but loving father sponsored talent contests for children and later opened the TV Museum next to the taffy shop. Franki, the smallest of the three, was named after singer Frank Sinatra and hoped someday to be a star. The three girls enjoyed singing together. In 1959, when a barker at a concession booth gives them each a lemon as booby prizes, the girls run to their special spot under the Boardwalk, declare themselves “the Lemon Sisters,” and promise to be friends for the next eighty-three million years. Nola says her mother told her that three lemons apart are just lemons, but three lemons together are a jackpot—a reference to casino slot machines. Twenty-three years later, in 1982, the Lemon Sisters are still good friends, but the arrival of the gambling industry is changing their hometown. Franki DeAngelo works as a camera girl in a casino and tries to make show business contacts. Nola and her husband, Fred Frank, have taken over her mother’s taffy shop, and are the parents of three children. Eloise Hamer operates her late father’s TV Museum, which houses his collection of memorabilia from 1950s and 1960s television shows. Though local business people discuss selling their stores and concessions to the casinos and “getting out” while they can, the Lemon Sisters, who sing together at a restaurant, hope to buy a little Boardwalk club and perform for tourists. Eloise’s on-and-off-again boyfriend, taxicab driver C. W., introduces Franki to a budding talent manager named Frankie McGuinness. Eloise Hamer, who lives with seven cats in her late father’s Victorian house, walks across the street to another Victorian that Fred and Nola Franks inherited from Nola’s mother. Sitting on Nola’s porch, Franki proposes that they raise money to open the “Lemon Sisters Club.” Unfortunately, business at both the taffy shop and the TV museum has been bad lately. Worse, two teenaged boys who taunt Eloise about the “junk” in her museum raise doubt whether young people care about cultural artifacts from an earlier generation. Franki De Angelo arranges for Eloise to appear on the television trivia quiz show, TV Tube of Knowledge. Franki coaches Eloise on television trivia, but when they travel to New York City for the program, Eloise’s nervousness causes her to lose. Baxter O’Neil, a local realtor and old family friend, informs Nola and Eloise that he has found someone willing to buy their Boardwalk properties for $100,000 each. To celebrate their new “jackpot,” the Lemon Sisters party at Caesar’s Casino. Eloise is so inspired by the casino’s Greco-Roman statuary that she buys a statue and drags it home. Nola hires a nanny, Mrs. Kupchak, who quickly takes over the Frank household. Franki D’Angelo takes Nola and Eloise to a shuttered bar, coincidentally called the Lemon Tree Club, and declares that fate must have arranged for them to buy it. The three perform a song with choreography on the empty stage. However, Fred Frank refuses to let Nola invest money in the club, because he is upgrading the family taffy business. When Nola acknowledges that her husband is right, Franki gets angry and leaves. Frankie MacGuinness convinces Franki that she is good enough to perform at casinos as a solo act, and she agrees to use her $2,000 savings as seed money to buy clothes and hire a choreographer. Meanwhile, Fred Frank updates the taffy shop equipment and plans to launch an exclusive candy item called the “taffy rabbit.” Eloise Hamer buys more Greco-Roman statuary and stores it in her house until she can open a museum devoted to Atlantic City kitsch. Although she is asthmatic, Eloise spends nights at home with her seven cats, watching home movies of pre-casino Atlantic City, until she overuses her inhaler. She is rushed to the hospital and put into an oxygen tent. C. W. visits, and although Eloise wants C. W. to keep in touch, she cannot admit it, so he negotiates a complicated invitation allowing him to telephone her regularly. When Eloise gets out of the hospital, she comes home to an empty house. Nola and Franki have removed her seven cats and stored her statuary into one room. Outraged, Eloise orders her freinds out of the house. C. W. admonishes Eloise for forsaking her friends, but confesses he loves her and is available whenever she needs someone. Nola watches her husband build a giant mechanical rabbit in front of their new taffy shop to attract customers. On an abandoned stage, as Franki D’Angelo rehearses her act, Frank McGuinness suggests that she forego tap-dancing while performing the rock song, “Wild Thing.” Eloise arrives to say hello, but Frank and Franki ignore her and continue rehearsing. Lack of business forces Eloise to close down the museum and move her father’s television memorabilia into her statuary-crowded house. A local casino operator named Nicholas Panas takes Eloise to dinner and offers to buy the television collection, but Eloise refuses to sell her father’s “legacy.” Fred Frank unveils his giant rabbit and officially reopens the Berkeley taffy shop, home of the “taffy rabbits.” However, none of the strolling tourists enter the shop. Noticing that passersby are all carrying taffy, Fred, Nola, Frankie, and Franki hurry down the Boardwalk and discover that a new casino is giving taffy away to attract customers. Franki auditions for club owners, but nobody is interested. Fred Frank’s giant rabbit is hauled to the junkyard. Eloise telephones C. W., but hangs up when he answers. At night, when Eloise visits her cats in Nola’s back yard, Nola invites her inside the nearly empty house. Nola and Fred have spent everything, and now may lose the house if they cannot raise $40,000. Eloise says she would give Nola the money, but spent most of her $100,000 on Greco-Roman statuary. Later, Nola sits in her empty house and thinks about three little girls on the beach, dreaming about their singing career. Soon, the Frank family leaves for Fred’s sister’s house in Philadelphia, where they will be staying for “just a while.” Franki DeAngelo continues to audition without success, and becomes angry when a club owner asks her to sing Italian songs. When Frank McGuinness insists that Franki change her extravagant style, she fires him, throws food in his face, and storms off. Eloise sees young prospective buyers looking at Nola’s empty house and scares them away with a story about decapitation murders happening there. Separately, Nola, Franki, and Eloise sing along to the Supremes’ “Stop! In The Name Of Love.” Baxter O’Neil, who is trying to sell Nola’s house, asks Eloise if she wants to sell her house, too. Franki D’Angelo arrives at Eloise’s house to invite her to a two o'clock show at Caesar’s, where she has been hired as a last-minute fill-in. Eloise is packing some of her father’s most valuable artifacts into a cart to take to Nicholas Panas, so Franki agrees to help. Driving by, C. W. stops his taxicab and takes them to Panas, who agrees to pay $40,000. Eloise hurries to Caesar’s and joins Nola, Frankie McGuinness, and promoter Charlie Sorrell at a table. Franki’s show goes badly, but the audience, thinking her act is a joke, laughs. When the manager pulls Franki off the stage, Charlie hires her as a comedian for another venue and tells her not to change anything. Carrying a paper bag to Nola, Eloise sees C. W. on the Boardwalk and hugs him. They kiss and make a date. Eloise gives the paper bag to Nola and says that she and Franki need her back. The bag contains the $40,000 Nola needs to save her house. Nola, Eloise, and Franki decide to sing together again as the Lemon Sisters, even if nobody hires them. +

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

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