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HISTORY

On 8 Jul 1987, LAHExam and Var announced that John Huston would executive produce Theophilus North, an adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s 1973 novel of the same name. Huston wrote the adaptation with Prizzi’s Honor (1985, see entry) screenwriter Janet Roach, and was also cast as “Mr. Bosworth,” appearing onscreen alongside his daughter, Anjelica Huston. The film marked the first theatrical feature directed by Huston’s son, Danny Huston, who previously collaborated with his father on Under the Volcano (1984, see entry).
       Production was scheduled to begin 20 Jul 1987 in Newport, RI, with a budget of $5--$5.5 million. According to a 4 Aug 1987 HR production chart, however, the start date was delayed until 27 Jul 1987, and the title had been changed to Mr. North. Three days after principal photography began, the 30 Jul 1987 LAHExam reported that John Huston had been hospitalized in Massachusetts due to ongoing complications with emphysema. Although his condition had supposedly improved, Huston relinquished his role, and personally requested actor Robert Mitchum step in as his replacement. A DV item published that same day suggested that Huston considered making a brief cameo appearance as “the judge” after Burgess Meredith was forced to drop out due to a scheduling conflict. However, the 7 Aug 1987 HR announced that the role had since been filled by Thomas H. Needham, a real Superior Court judge from Newport. Huston died on 28 Aug 1987, before filming was completed.
       According to the 21-28 Sep 1987 issue of W magazine, the picture was partially shot at the Gray ... More Less

On 8 Jul 1987, LAHExam and Var announced that John Huston would executive produce Theophilus North, an adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s 1973 novel of the same name. Huston wrote the adaptation with Prizzi’s Honor (1985, see entry) screenwriter Janet Roach, and was also cast as “Mr. Bosworth,” appearing onscreen alongside his daughter, Anjelica Huston. The film marked the first theatrical feature directed by Huston’s son, Danny Huston, who previously collaborated with his father on Under the Volcano (1984, see entry).
       Production was scheduled to begin 20 Jul 1987 in Newport, RI, with a budget of $5--$5.5 million. According to a 4 Aug 1987 HR production chart, however, the start date was delayed until 27 Jul 1987, and the title had been changed to Mr. North. Three days after principal photography began, the 30 Jul 1987 LAHExam reported that John Huston had been hospitalized in Massachusetts due to ongoing complications with emphysema. Although his condition had supposedly improved, Huston relinquished his role, and personally requested actor Robert Mitchum step in as his replacement. A DV item published that same day suggested that Huston considered making a brief cameo appearance as “the judge” after Burgess Meredith was forced to drop out due to a scheduling conflict. However, the 7 Aug 1987 HR announced that the role had since been filled by Thomas H. Needham, a real Superior Court judge from Newport. Huston died on 28 Aug 1987, before filming was completed.
       According to the 21-28 Sep 1987 issue of W magazine, the picture was partially shot at the Gray Craig mansion in Middletown, RI.
       On 25 Nov 1987, Var reported that Heritage Entertainment had filed a lawsuit against Chateau Entertainment, which had agreed to co-produce the project using $5 million from an Australian investor. However, when filming began that summer, Chateau claimed the funds were no longer available. Heritage alleged that Chateau’s departure caused several weeks of delays, resulting in the loss of John Huston and thereby lessening the film’s “commercial appeal.” Although the 23 Dec 1987 DV stated that Chateau filed several counterclaims to deny the allegations, a 23 Mar 1988 Var item announced that both lawsuits had been dropped.
       Despite a 22 Jul 1987 HR news item stating that Heritage intended to distribute the film itself, the 25 Feb 1988 HR announced that The Samuel Goldwyn Company had acquired theatrical rights across the Western Hemisphere.
       According to the 3 Aug 1988 DV, Mr. North screened, out of competition, at the Venice Film Festival on 31 Aug 1988, more than a month after its U.S. opening.
       End credits include the following acknowledgments: "This film was shot entirely on location in the State of Rhode Island with the cooperation of The Rhode Island Film Commission. Edward Diprete, Governor"; "The Producers wish to thank The Preservation Society of Newport County for the use of the mansions Chateau Sur Mer, The Elms and The Breakers and The Heritage Foundation of Rhode Island for the use of The Blithewold Gardens and Arboretum."; and, "Special thanks also to: Hartwest Productions, Steve Anton, Amy Shapiro, Daniel Ferreira, Salve Regina College, Maricella Hernandez, John Cherol, Tom Sturges, Monique Pannagio, Jim Farley, The Candy Store, Lisa Birnbach, Judy Lynn." More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
30 Jul 1987.
---
Daily Variety
23 Dec 1987.
---
Daily Variety
3 Aug 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jul 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Feb 1988
p. 3, 63, 66.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jul 1988
p. 3, 6.
LAHExam
8 Jul 1987.
---
LAHExam
30 Jul 1987.
---
LAHExam
7 Aug 1987.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Jul 1988
Calendar, p. 15.
New York Times
22 Jul 1988
p. 8.
Variety
8 Jul 1987
p. 3, 7.
Variety
25 Nov 1987.
---
Variety
23 Mar 1988.
---
Variety
20 Jul 1988
p. 12.
W
21-28 Sep 1987
p. 10.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
A Special Appearance By
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Heritage Entertainment Presents
A Skip Steloff/Steven Haft Production
A Danny Huston Film
Produced in Association with Showcase Productions International, Inc.
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam op
Still photog
Gaffer
Best boy--Elec
Key grip
Best boy--Grip
Dolly grip
Generator op
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Storyboard artist
FILM EDITORS
Post-prod supv
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser's researcher
Scenic artist
Prop master
Asst prop mgr
Antique cars
Const supv
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Painter
Painter
Painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst to cost des
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus supv
Mus ed
Scoring eng
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
Source mus eng
Source mus eng
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Supv dial ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Post-prod facilities
Ultra-Stereo consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles
MAKEUP
Key makeup
Makeup artist
Spec makeup
Hairstylist
Spec hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Exec in charge of prod for Heritage Entertainment
Scr supv
Prod exec
Prod coord
Addl prod coord
Prod secy
Prod accountant--Newport
Prod accountant--L.A.
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Projectionist
Projectionist
Asst to Danny Huston
Asst to the prods
Asst to the prods
Prod asst--Newport
Prod asst--Newport
Loc and housing liaison
Office asst--L.A.
Office asst--L.A.
Intern
Unit pub
Prod counsel
Loc casting
Police officer
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Theophilus North by Thornton Wilder (New York, 1973).
SONGS
"You Do Something To Me," music & lyrics by Cole Porter, performed, arranged & produced by David McHugh
"Oh, Louie," written, arranged & produced by David McHugh
"Those Monday Blues." written, arranged & produced by David McHugh
+
SONGS
"You Do Something To Me," music & lyrics by Cole Porter, performed, arranged & produced by David McHugh
"Oh, Louie," written, arranged & produced by David McHugh
"Those Monday Blues." written, arranged & produced by David McHugh
"You Know My Soft Spot," written, arranged & produced by David McHugh
"Those Sweet Lies You Told Me," written, arranged & produced by David McHugh
"We Were Meant To Be Together," written, arranged & produced by David McHugh.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Theophilus North
Release Date:
22 July 1988
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 22 July 1988
Production Date:
began 27 July 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Heritage Entertainment, Inc.
Copyright Date:
28 March 1988
Copyright Number:
PA376427
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Ultra-Stereo®
Color
Duration(in mins):
91
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29022
SYNOPSIS

In 1926 Newport, Rhode Island, Yale University graduate Theophilus North finagles his way into a high-paying job as a reader to the invalid James McHenry Bosworth, despite the objections of Mr. Bosworth’s stingy daughter, Sarah Baily-Lewis, who is determined to safeguard every penny of her future inheritance. During the interview, Mr. Bosworth is drawn to Mr. North’s keen sense of adventure, which reminds him of his youth. As they shake hands, a small spark jumps between them, prompting Mr. North to mention his strange ability to conduct electrical charges through his body. During his days at the Bosworth household, Mr. North also works as a tutor and tennis instructor for the family’s many children. In his off-hours, he cleans dishes at a wharf-side seafood shack and befriends butler Henry Simmons and boarding housekeeper Amelia Cranston. One night over drinks, Henry and Amelia tell Mr. North the secrets of Newport society, including the fact that many impatient heiresses frequently bribe doctors to keep their ailing fathers confined to the home, therefore limiting their spending. Although Amelia refuses to divulge names, Henry implies that Sarah Baily-Lewis has made such an arrangement with the local physician, Dr. Angus McPherson. At another part-time job, Mr. North gives French literature lessons to teenager Elspeth Skeel, who believes the tutor’s “magic” hands may cure her chronic headaches. Although he denies possession of special abilities, his touch instantly relieves the pain. Over time, Mr. North becomes a confidante to Mr. Bosworth, and offers him herbal pills to lessen the symptoms of his incontinence. Seemingly recovered, Mr. Bosworth soon begins taking drives along the coast, and the sudden upturn in his health infuriates his daughter. Eventually, Mr. ... +


In 1926 Newport, Rhode Island, Yale University graduate Theophilus North finagles his way into a high-paying job as a reader to the invalid James McHenry Bosworth, despite the objections of Mr. Bosworth’s stingy daughter, Sarah Baily-Lewis, who is determined to safeguard every penny of her future inheritance. During the interview, Mr. Bosworth is drawn to Mr. North’s keen sense of adventure, which reminds him of his youth. As they shake hands, a small spark jumps between them, prompting Mr. North to mention his strange ability to conduct electrical charges through his body. During his days at the Bosworth household, Mr. North also works as a tutor and tennis instructor for the family’s many children. In his off-hours, he cleans dishes at a wharf-side seafood shack and befriends butler Henry Simmons and boarding housekeeper Amelia Cranston. One night over drinks, Henry and Amelia tell Mr. North the secrets of Newport society, including the fact that many impatient heiresses frequently bribe doctors to keep their ailing fathers confined to the home, therefore limiting their spending. Although Amelia refuses to divulge names, Henry implies that Sarah Baily-Lewis has made such an arrangement with the local physician, Dr. Angus McPherson. At another part-time job, Mr. North gives French literature lessons to teenager Elspeth Skeel, who believes the tutor’s “magic” hands may cure her chronic headaches. Although he denies possession of special abilities, his touch instantly relieves the pain. Over time, Mr. North becomes a confidante to Mr. Bosworth, and offers him herbal pills to lessen the symptoms of his incontinence. Seemingly recovered, Mr. Bosworth soon begins taking drives along the coast, and the sudden upturn in his health infuriates his daughter. Eventually, Mr. Bosworth arranges the purchase of a fifty-acre estate so he can build a seaside philosophy academy. During the summer, Mr. North romantically pursues the Bosworths’ plucky Irish maid, Sally Boffin. Sally rejects him, confessing that she is still in love with her former employer’s son in Boston, Massachusetts. Although her lover’s mother condemned the match due to her lower-class status, Mr. North bolsters Sally’s self-confidence by encouraging her to follow her heart and return to Boston. When Elspeth Skeel is suspected of having a brain tumor, she refuses surgery and requests treatment from Mr. North instead. His touch soothes her pain, and rumors begin to circulate about his supposed healing abilities. As Newport residents flock to Mr. North for help, Dr. McPherson has him arrested for treating their ailments without a medical license. During the trial, however, Mr. North’s many friends attest to his honorable character, and the judge rules his actions as nothing more than “kindly meddling.” The charges are dismissed, and the irate Dr. McPherson is held in contempt. Sometime later, Mr. North is invited to attend a lavish society ball. There, he runs into Sally Boffin, now happily married to her wealthy sweetheart, and he accepts a position as trustee to Mr. Bosworth’s philosophy academy. As the guests contently sway across the ballroom, Mr. North locks eyes with Mr. Bosworth’s beautiful widowed granddaughter, Persis Bosworth-Tennyson. Although she has a reputation for being cold and emotionally distant, she accepts Mr. North’s invitation to dance, and smiles when his fingers emit an electrical shock. When the song ends, Persis pulls him out into the garden and proclaims, “Theophilus, you are a most unusual young man!” +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.