Benny & Joon (1993)

PG | 100 mins | Comedy-drama, Romance | 23 April 1993

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HISTORY

End credits include the following acknowledgements: “The producers wish to thank: Charlie Chaplin™ © Bubbles, Inc. S.A. 1990, Represented by Bliss House, Inc., Springfield, MA 01103; Gordon Films, Inc. and The Estate of Raymond Rohauer; Larry Harmon Picture Corporation; The City of Spokane; Spokane Police Department; Spokane Fire Department; Washington State Film Commission; Union Pacific Railroad.”
       Various contemporary sources misspelled the title as Benny & June.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, screenwriter Barry Berman was inspired to create the character of “Sam” after watching numerous Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin films during his term at the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Clown College in Venice, FL. Five years after graduation, Berman developed the story with Lesley McNeil, credited onscreen as Leslie McNeil, a previous collaborator on an unnamed project. Together, they spent several years editing Berman’s screenplay. The character “Joon” was added in a later draft. First-time producers Susan Arnold and Donna Roth became involved after reading the script in 1989.
       Two years later, a 13 Feb 1991 DV item indicated the film entered preproduction at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), then known as MGM—Pathé Communications. Following his recent departure from the television series, thirtysomething (ABC, 29 Sep 1987—3 Sep 1991), actor Peter Horton was considered to direct. However, the 7 Feb 1992 Screen International announced that filming was scheduled to begin in Apr 1992 with director Jeremiah Chechik. Although Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts were initially approached to star, the 13 Mar 1992 Screen International noted the casting of real-life couple Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, alongside Woody Harrelson as Joon’s brother, “Benny.” The item ... More Less

End credits include the following acknowledgements: “The producers wish to thank: Charlie Chaplin™ © Bubbles, Inc. S.A. 1990, Represented by Bliss House, Inc., Springfield, MA 01103; Gordon Films, Inc. and The Estate of Raymond Rohauer; Larry Harmon Picture Corporation; The City of Spokane; Spokane Police Department; Spokane Fire Department; Washington State Film Commission; Union Pacific Railroad.”
       Various contemporary sources misspelled the title as Benny & June.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, screenwriter Barry Berman was inspired to create the character of “Sam” after watching numerous Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin films during his term at the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Clown College in Venice, FL. Five years after graduation, Berman developed the story with Lesley McNeil, credited onscreen as Leslie McNeil, a previous collaborator on an unnamed project. Together, they spent several years editing Berman’s screenplay. The character “Joon” was added in a later draft. First-time producers Susan Arnold and Donna Roth became involved after reading the script in 1989.
       Two years later, a 13 Feb 1991 DV item indicated the film entered preproduction at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), then known as MGM—Pathé Communications. Following his recent departure from the television series, thirtysomething (ABC, 29 Sep 1987—3 Sep 1991), actor Peter Horton was considered to direct. However, the 7 Feb 1992 Screen International announced that filming was scheduled to begin in Apr 1992 with director Jeremiah Chechik. Although Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts were initially approached to star, the 13 Mar 1992 Screen International noted the casting of real-life couple Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, alongside Woody Harrelson as Joon’s brother, “Benny.” The item also erroneously reported the departure of Chechik, who was in contention to direct Se7en (1995, see entry) at the time. On 24 Apr 1992, Screen International stated that Robbins and Sarandon were replaced by Johnny Depp and Laura Dern, respectively. An 8 May 1992 Screen International brief claimed that Dern left the film due to supposed displeasure over receiving third billing, but the 24 Jun 1993 Rolling Stone stated Dern dropped out of both Benny & Joon and I’ll Do Anything (1994, see entry) to star in Jurassic Park (1993, see entry).
       Casting complications continued when a 5 Jun 1992 DV article announced that MGM filed suit against Harrelson for breaching his contract in order to join Paramount Pictures’ Indecent Proposal (1993, see entry). Harrelson initially made a verbal agreement to star in Benny & Joon on 17 Mar 1992, before signing a written “pay or play” contract early the following month. Following the successful 17 Mar 1992 opening of White Men Can’t Jump (see entry), the deal guaranteed Harrelson top billing and a $1.25 million salary. Around the same time, however, the actor entered negotiations with Indecent Proposal producer Sherry Lansing and director Adrian Lyne, fully knowing that production of the film would interfere with his existing commitment. Although Harrelson claimed to depart Benny & Joon due to disagreements with director Jeremiah Chechik, MGM learned that Paramount resumed his rehearsals with the promise of an ensuing offer. Attaching additional conspiracy charges to Lansing and Lyne, MGM demanded more than $5 million in damages to cover pre-production and advertising costs, as well as fees related to the hiring of Harrelson’s replacement. According to the 6 Oct 1992 DV, MGM accepted a settlement estimated between $400,000 and $500,000.
       An 8 May 1992 HR story announced that Aidan Quinn had assumed the role of Benny. A month later, 9 Jun 1992 HR production charts confirmed principal photography began 1 Jun 1992 in Spokane, WA. In addition to the city’s Riverfront Park, filming took place inside an abandoned warehouse. Joon’s art studio was built both in the soundstage and in the practical location used for the “Pearl” family house, situated along the Spokane River.
       Following the completion of production, the 2 Feb 1993 HR reported that Roth/Arnold Productions signed an eighteen-month first-look deal with MGM.
       A 22 Apr 1993 DV advertisement listed a three-day domestic gross of $3,304,000 in 407 theaters. The 21 Apr 1993 HR announced that MGM was pleased with the box-office performance, and subsequently planned to expand the release to 1,300 theaters on 23 Apr 1993.
       Johnny Depp received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
13 Feb 1991.
---
Daily Variety
5 Jun 1992
p. 1, 28.
Daily Variety
6 Oct 1992.
---
Daily Variety
22 Apr 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 May 1992
p. 4, 64.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Feb 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 1993
p. 14, 58.
Los Angeles Times
16 Apr 1993
Section F, p. 4.
New York Times
16 Apr 1993
Section C, p. 13.
Rolling Stone
24 Jun 1993
pp. 34-38.
Screen International
7 Feb 1992.
---
Screen International
13 Mar 1992.
---
Screen International
24 Apr 1992.
---
Screen International
8 May 1992.
---
Variety
29 Mar 1993
p. 82.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents
A Roth/Arnold Production
A Film by Jeremiah Chechik
From Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d unit dir of photog
Chief lighting tech
Best boy elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Still photog
Lighting and grip equip by
Cranes & dollies by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept coord
Storyboard illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Carpenter
Carpenter
Scenic foreman
Asst scenic artist
Scenic painter
Set dresser
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Asst mus ed
Mus cond
Mus contractor
Scoring mixer
Mus service
Mus supv
Solo clarinet
Solo soprano saxophone
Mus consultant
Mus consultant
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Cableman
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd EFX ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Supv ADR ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Asst ADR ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
ADR mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Fire eff coord
Spec eff coord
Opticals by
MAKEUP
Key makeup
Key hairstylist
Makeup/Hair asst
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Physical comedy seqs choreog by
Scr supv
Prod coord
Unit mgr
Addl casting
Asst to the prods
Asst to Jeremiah Chechik
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Loc mgr
Asst prod coord
Key set prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Casting assoc
Casting asst
Casting asst
Transportation coord
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Unit pub
Extras casting
Craft service
Catering
First aid
Projectionist
Security
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," written by Charles Reid and Craig Reid, performed by The Proclaimers, courtesy of EMI Records Group/Chrysalis Records, by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
"Pinetop's Boogie Woogie," written and performed by Joe "Pinetop" Perkins, courtesy of Antone's Records and Tapes
"Pushin' Forward Back," written by Christopher J. Cornell, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, performed by Temple of the Dog, courtesy of A&M Records, Inc.
+
SONGS
"I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," written by Charles Reid and Craig Reid, performed by The Proclaimers, courtesy of EMI Records Group/Chrysalis Records, by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
"Pinetop's Boogie Woogie," written and performed by Joe "Pinetop" Perkins, courtesy of Antone's Records and Tapes
"Pushin' Forward Back," written by Christopher J. Cornell, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, performed by Temple of the Dog, courtesy of A&M Records, Inc.
"Have A Little Faith In Me," written and performed by John Hiatt, courtesy of A&M Records, Inc.
"Can't Find My Way Home," written by Steve Winwood, performed by Joe Cocker, courtesy of Capitol Records, by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
23 April 1993
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 16 April 1993
New York opening: week of 16 April 1993
Production Date:
began 1 June 1992 in Spokane, WA
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® Cameras & Lenses
Prints
originated on Eastman Color Film from Kodak
Duration(in mins):
100
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
32319
SYNOPSIS

After a day’s work at his automobile repair shop in Spokane, Washington, Benjamin “Benny” Pearl returns home to find that the manic outbursts of his mentally ill younger sister, Juniper “Joon” Pearl, have driven their latest housekeeper to resign. On the way to Benny’s poker game that evening, Joon notices an eccentric young man hiding in a tree. As Joon watches her brother play cards, Benny’s co-worker, Mike, complains about the recent arrival of his twenty-six year-old cousin, Sam, who stays up late watching classic Hollywood films. Since the Pearls have exhausted all potential housekeepers, Joon’s psychologist, Dr. Garvey, encourages Benny to send her to a group home. Although he initially rejects the idea, her increasingly unmanageable behavior prompts him to consider the life he could have if she were no longer under his care. One night, Joon challenges Mike to a round of poker, and when she loses, Mike insists she must agree to accommodate Sam. Recognizing him as the man in the tree, Joon is charmed by his quirky behavior, which mimics the physical comedy of silent film stars Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. The next morning, Benny warns Sam about Joon’s mental illness and asks him to assume the role of housekeeper while he is at work. Sam dusts the house while playing loud music, but Joon grows upset and takes away his stereo. Offended, Sam disappears for a few hours, but returns that evening and makes the family grilled cheese sandwiches with a clothing iron. Joon tells her brother she enjoys having Sam around, and her newfound serenity prompts Benny to remember the automobile accident that killed their parents twelve years earlier. Joon helps the ... +


After a day’s work at his automobile repair shop in Spokane, Washington, Benjamin “Benny” Pearl returns home to find that the manic outbursts of his mentally ill younger sister, Juniper “Joon” Pearl, have driven their latest housekeeper to resign. On the way to Benny’s poker game that evening, Joon notices an eccentric young man hiding in a tree. As Joon watches her brother play cards, Benny’s co-worker, Mike, complains about the recent arrival of his twenty-six year-old cousin, Sam, who stays up late watching classic Hollywood films. Since the Pearls have exhausted all potential housekeepers, Joon’s psychologist, Dr. Garvey, encourages Benny to send her to a group home. Although he initially rejects the idea, her increasingly unmanageable behavior prompts him to consider the life he could have if she were no longer under his care. One night, Joon challenges Mike to a round of poker, and when she loses, Mike insists she must agree to accommodate Sam. Recognizing him as the man in the tree, Joon is charmed by his quirky behavior, which mimics the physical comedy of silent film stars Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. The next morning, Benny warns Sam about Joon’s mental illness and asks him to assume the role of housekeeper while he is at work. Sam dusts the house while playing loud music, but Joon grows upset and takes away his stereo. Offended, Sam disappears for a few hours, but returns that evening and makes the family grilled cheese sandwiches with a clothing iron. Joon tells her brother she enjoys having Sam around, and her newfound serenity prompts Benny to remember the automobile accident that killed their parents twelve years earlier. Joon helps the illiterate Sam write a letter to his mother, and he thanks her by treating her to tapioca pudding at the local diner. After bonding over their mutual dislike of raisins, the two go grocery shopping with the waitress, Ruthie. When they invite her to stay for dinner, Ruthie tells Benny about her former acting career, and the group watches one of her movies. Afterward, Benny drives Ruthie home and nervously asks her on a date. Meanwhile, Joon shows Sam how to paint and the two awkwardly brush lips before Sam pulls away to inflate a balloon, which makes Joon laugh. Although Dr. Garvey is pleased with Joon’s sudden change in mood, she still encourages Benny to speak with his sister about the group home. When Sam attempts to apply for a job at the video rental store, he is discouraged by his inability to fill out the application form. At the end of their date, Ruthie invites Benny to her apartment for a beer, but he declines, claiming his life is “complicated.” When he attempts to explain, she abruptly cuts him off and runs upstairs, dejected. In the park one afternoon, Sam performs a physical comedy routine that attracts the attention of amused passersby. Amazed by his talent, Benny stays in the park after nightfall and attempts to re-create various stunts. While home alone, Sam and Joon tentatively make love and profess their feelings for one another. The next morning, Benny’s praise for Sam’s comedy performance encourages him to go back for the video store job. Benny books Sam for an audition with a talent agent, but Joon is annoyed by his intrusion. Sam declares they are in love. When Benny throws Sam out of the house, Joon screams, “I hate you!” He attempts to make amends by fetching tapioca from the refrigerator, but realizes they are out of pudding and is forced to go to the diner to confront Ruthie. As Joon burns a childhood photo of her and Benny, Sam knocks at the back door. They pack their bags and board a bus, but Joon quickly becomes restless and begins to cry. The driver stops to call paramedics, who forcibly remove Joon from the bus and take her to the hospital. Driving past the commotion just as the ambulance pulls away, Benny follows. When Joon refuses to see him, Benny blames Sam for her episode. Sam retreats to Ruthie’s apartment and resumes working at the video store. A few days later, Benny apologizes to Sam, and together, they sneak into Joon’s hospital ward. While Sam distracts the staff by pretending to be an unstable patient, Benny pleads with Joon, acknowledging that his behavior was overprotective and controlling. He offers to set Joon up in an apartment in Ruthie’s building and insists she can continue to see Sam. Downstairs, Benny’s hospital worker friend, Thomas, recognizes Sam and shows him the location of Joon’s window. When Dr. Garvey arrives, she and Benny ask Joon whether or not she would like to live in a group home. While answering, the girl notices Sam swinging on the scaffolding outside her window and declares she would like to live alone. As Dr. Garvey hesitantly consents, Sam’s pulley snaps and he falls to the ground, breaking his ankle. Released by her doctors, Joon leaves the hospital and embraces Sam. Sometime later, Benny stops by Ruthie’s apartment with white roses for her and pink roses for Joon. Through the open door, he sees Sam teaching Joon how to iron grilled cheese sandwiches, and silently leaves the flowers in the entryway. +

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

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