The Pickle (1993)

R | 103 mins | Comedy | 30 April 1993

Director:

Paul Mazursky

Writer:

Paul Mazursky

Producer:

Paul Mazursky

Cinematographer:

Fred Murphy

Editor:

Stuart Pappé

Production Designer:

James Bissell

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures
Full page view
HISTORY

In addition to the black-and-white flashback scenes of “Harry Stone’s” childhood, the film features extended sequences of Stone’s motion picture, also titled The Pickle, starring Ally Sheedy, Little Richard, Dudley Moore, and Griffin Dunne as cast members. The story centers on a group of teenagers from Kansas who grow a large cucumber and turn it into a spaceship. After launching the gherkin, they arrive on Planet Cleveland, which is identical to Earth except its inhabitants all wear black spandex jumpsuits and eat only meat products. Sheedy’s character develops a romantic relationship with an advisor to the U.S. President, but ultimately decides to leave the planet because she is a vegetarian.
       On 26 Apr 1991, Screen International announced that Paul Mazursky would write, produce, and direct The Pickle, about a film director that the 6-12 May 1993 issue of Drama-Logue claimed was “loosely based” on Mazursky himself. Although he was already considering an actor for the role, Mazursky reportedly decided to cast Danny Aiello after seeing his performance in Once Around (1991, see entry).
       According to a 1 Oct 1991 HR production chart, principal photography began 23 Sep 1991. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that New York City locations included Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood; Greenwich Village, Coney Island, the Upper West Side; and the Plaza Hotel, where a twenty-foot foam model of the pickle hung over the building’s Fifth Avenue entrance. To frame the special effects shots, the team scouted locations in Central Park carrying a pickle attached to the end of a fishing rod. Miniature models of the pickle were then used to show the “spacecraft” ... More Less

In addition to the black-and-white flashback scenes of “Harry Stone’s” childhood, the film features extended sequences of Stone’s motion picture, also titled The Pickle, starring Ally Sheedy, Little Richard, Dudley Moore, and Griffin Dunne as cast members. The story centers on a group of teenagers from Kansas who grow a large cucumber and turn it into a spaceship. After launching the gherkin, they arrive on Planet Cleveland, which is identical to Earth except its inhabitants all wear black spandex jumpsuits and eat only meat products. Sheedy’s character develops a romantic relationship with an advisor to the U.S. President, but ultimately decides to leave the planet because she is a vegetarian.
       On 26 Apr 1991, Screen International announced that Paul Mazursky would write, produce, and direct The Pickle, about a film director that the 6-12 May 1993 issue of Drama-Logue claimed was “loosely based” on Mazursky himself. Although he was already considering an actor for the role, Mazursky reportedly decided to cast Danny Aiello after seeing his performance in Once Around (1991, see entry).
       According to a 1 Oct 1991 HR production chart, principal photography began 23 Sep 1991. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that New York City locations included Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood; Greenwich Village, Coney Island, the Upper West Side; and the Plaza Hotel, where a twenty-foot foam model of the pickle hung over the building’s Fifth Avenue entrance. To frame the special effects shots, the team scouted locations in Central Park carrying a pickle attached to the end of a fishing rod. Miniature models of the pickle were then used to show the “spacecraft” being launched over Brooklyn and Manhattan. After four weeks in New York, the production relocated to Los Angeles, CA. Several interior sets were built at the MTM/CBS Studios in the Studio City district, while additional scenes were shot at the Park Plaza Hotel, the Universal Studios backlot, and an East Los Angeles cemetery.
       A 7 May 1993 LAT news item indicated that the film premiered 27 Apr 1993 at the Directors Guild of America theater. The event raised $25,000 for the Travelers Aid Society of Los Angeles/Teen Canteen for homeless youth. Reviews were generally negative.
       End credits note: “Special Thanks to: The City of New York, New York; Jayne Keyes & The New York City Film Commission; The Plaza Hotel, New York; FAO Schwartz, New York,” misspelling the name of toy company FAO Schwarz. An acknowledgment also notes: “Clip from the Green Pastures provided by Turner Entertainment Company.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Drama-Logue
6-12 May 1993
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 1993
p. 5, 19.
Los Angeles Times
1 May 1993
Calendar, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
7 May 1993.
---
New York Times
1 May 1993
The Arts, p. 11.
Screen International
26 Apr 1991.
---
Variety
3 May 1993
p. 40.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures presents
a Paul Mazursky film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
Unit prod mgr, New York crew
2d 2d asst dir, New York crew
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam & B cam op
Addl cam op
Still photog
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
2d grip
Dolly grip
Video asst
Video playback
Spacecam op
Asst Spacecam op
1st asst cam, New York crew
1st asst cam, New York crew
2d asst cam, New York crew
Chief lighting tech, New York crew
Asst chief lighting tech, New York crew
Key grip, New York crew
2d grip, New York crew
Dolly grip, New York crew
Video playback, New York crew
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dept coord
Prod illustrator
Prod illustrator
Art dir, New York crew
Art dir, Apogee
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst props
Asst props
Propmaker foreman
Propmaker foreman
Const coord
Chargeman scenic artist, New York crew
Prop master, New York crew
Asst props, New York crew
Asst props, New York crew
Set dec, New York crew
Const coord, New York crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Costumer
Costumer
Ward, New York crew
MUSIC
Mus rec eng
Mus ed
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
ADR supv
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Foley by
Prod sd mixer, New York crew
Boom op, New York crew
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff, New York crew
Spec visual eff by
Visual eff supv, Apogee
Visual eff prod, Apogee
Lead model maker, Apogee
Des eng, Apogee
Stage mgr, Apogee
Dir of photog, Apogee
Cam tech, Apogee
Anim supv, Apogee
Opt supv, Apogee
EFX supv, Apogee
EFX asst ed, Apogee
Process compositing by
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup artist
Makeup for Danny Aiello
Hairstylist, New York crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Prod office coord
Prod accountant
Asst to Mr. Mazursky
Prod assoc
Asst prod coord
Prod's asst
Loc mgr
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Craft service
Craft service
Helicopter pilot
Unit pub
Extras casting
Casting asst
Prod office asst
Prod asst
Transportation capt, New York crew
Transportation co-capt, New York crew
Loc mgr, New York crew
Asst loc mgr, New York crew
Prod asst, New York crew
Studio facilities by
STAND INS
Stunt coord, New York crew
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Unbeatable," written by Vernon Lynch, Jr. & Charles Murphy, performed by K-9 Posse, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
"Good Morning Heartache," written by Irene Higginbotham, Ervin Drake & Dan Fisher
"Autumn In New York," written by Vernon Duke
+
SONGS
"Unbeatable," written by Vernon Lynch, Jr. & Charles Murphy, performed by K-9 Posse, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
"Good Morning Heartache," written by Irene Higginbotham, Ervin Drake & Dan Fisher
"Autumn In New York," written by Vernon Duke
"Good Golly Miss Molly," written by Robert Blackwell & John Marascalco, performed by Little Richard, courtesy of Specialty Records, Inc.
"Che Gelida Manina," from Puccini's La Bohéme, performed by Jussi Björling, courtesy of Angel/EMI Classics, by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 April 1993
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 27 April 1993
Los Angeles and New York openings: 30 April 1993
Production Date:
began 23 September 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 May 1993
Copyright Number:
PA613597
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Black and White
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
103
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31503
SYNOPSIS

Following a string of failures, revered filmmaker Harry Stone returns to New York City after several years in France and decides to take on a more commercial science-fiction screenplay titled The Pickle. In a meeting with young studio executive Ronnie Liebowitz, Harry learns the script is about a group of Midwestern teenagers who grow an enormous cucumber and use it as a space vessel to fly to another planet. Although certain the project will ruin his career, Harry is eager to collect the generous paycheck being offered and agrees to begin production immediately. While staying at the Plaza Hotel, an adoring fan named Bernadette propositions Harry for sex, but they are interrupted by a telephone call from his ex-wife, Ellen. Harry meets Ellen in the hotel restaurant to discuss their daughter, Carrie, who has recently given birth. Ellen asks for more alimony payments, and Harry questions why they ever ended their relationship. Later, Harry’s twenty-two-year-old French lover, Francoise Tournier, unexpectedly arrives just before he leaves to visit his daughter. When Francoise teases him about The Pickle, Harry becomes irate and demands she go back to Paris. They reconcile in the limousine on the way to see Harry’s mother, Yetta, and Francoise forces Harry to watch a cut of The Pickle before its official preview screening the following day. As they drive through familiar neighborhoods, the director remembers visiting his grandparents’ general store on the day of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death. As Francoise ... +


Following a string of failures, revered filmmaker Harry Stone returns to New York City after several years in France and decides to take on a more commercial science-fiction screenplay titled The Pickle. In a meeting with young studio executive Ronnie Liebowitz, Harry learns the script is about a group of Midwestern teenagers who grow an enormous cucumber and use it as a space vessel to fly to another planet. Although certain the project will ruin his career, Harry is eager to collect the generous paycheck being offered and agrees to begin production immediately. While staying at the Plaza Hotel, an adoring fan named Bernadette propositions Harry for sex, but they are interrupted by a telephone call from his ex-wife, Ellen. Harry meets Ellen in the hotel restaurant to discuss their daughter, Carrie, who has recently given birth. Ellen asks for more alimony payments, and Harry questions why they ever ended their relationship. Later, Harry’s twenty-two-year-old French lover, Francoise Tournier, unexpectedly arrives just before he leaves to visit his daughter. When Francoise teases him about The Pickle, Harry becomes irate and demands she go back to Paris. They reconcile in the limousine on the way to see Harry’s mother, Yetta, and Francoise forces Harry to watch a cut of The Pickle before its official preview screening the following day. As they drive through familiar neighborhoods, the director remembers visiting his grandparents’ general store on the day of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death. As Francoise returns to the hotel, Harry laments the loss of funding for one of his passion projects, a modern adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Outside Yetta’s nursing home, the sight of the boardwalk Ferris wheel triggers memories of his parents’ turbulent marriage. He decides to visit his childhood home, which has fallen into despair, and begins telling the new tenants about the premise of The Pickle. Back at the Plaza Hotel, Harry fights with Francoise about her presence in New York, but quickly apologizes and spoon-feeds her a hot fudge sundae during an interview with a newspaper reporter. Agent Phil Hirsch interrupts, as does Harry’s son, Gregory, a recovering drug addict. After postponing the rest of the interview, father and son have Harry’s blood pressure tested and see a lounge performance by his other ex-wife, Patti Wong. While becoming intimate with Francoise, Harry suffers what he believes to be a heart attack, but the house doctor diagnoses it as indigestion. The next morning, Harry goes to his ex-wife Ellen’s apartment and proclaims that he wishes to re-marry. When she refuses, he climbs onto the balcony and threatens to jump until she promises to go to bed with him. In a lunch meeting, Ronnie Liebowitz and marketing executive Mike Krakower assure Harry that audience polling for The Pickle has been surprisingly high. They begin swapping ideas for the director’s next picture—an epic adventure about Hernán Cortes and Montezuma—but the conversation turns sour when the executives suggest updating the story to a present-day barrio in East Los Angeles. Afterward, Harry sits alone and watches more footage from The Pickle, and reminisces with projectionist Butch Levine, who is a former childhood classmate. Before the premiere screening of The Pickle, Harry’s family and associates throw a party, but Harry stays behind in his hotel room, insisting he never attends the previews for his own films. Once he is alone, he swallows several pills while recording a goodbye message to his loved ones to be played after his suicide. He falls unconscious, but awakens when Butch Levine calls to inform him that the screening is going well. After regurgitating the remainder of the medicine, Harry rushes to the theater to hear the audience’s enthusiastic praise. Although Ronnie Liebowitz agrees to greenlight the Cortes and Montezuma film, Harry instead suggests a black-and-white drama about a father and son, which parallels his own career comeback since returning to New York. Looking up into the sky, Harry envisions his younger self aboard the “Pickle” spacecraft as it hovers over the marquee and twirls upward into the starry night. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

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.