A Perfect World (1993)

PG-13 | 138 mins | Drama, Mystery | 24 November 1993

Director:

Clint Eastwood

Cinematographer:

Jack N. Green

Editors:

Joel Cox, Ron Spang

Production Designer:

Henry Bumstead

Production Company:

Malpaso
Full page view
HISTORY

End credits include the following written statement: “The Producers gratefully acknowledge the invaluable help and cooperation of: Texas Film Commission, Office of Governor; Texas Department of Public Safety; Texas Department of Corrections; and The Texas Rangers. Filmed entirely on location in Austin and Central Texas.”
       A 31 Mar 1992 DV article reported that Baltimore Pictures, headed by Barry Levinson and Mark Johnson, was set to produce A Perfect World. Although Baltimore had a first-look deal with TriStar Pictures, TriStar passed on the project, as did director Steven Spielberg, who was allegedly interested but unavailable due to the conflicting shooting schedule of his upcoming film, Jurassic Park (1993, see entry). While Mark Johnson stayed on as a producer of the film, neither Baltimore Pictures nor Barry Levinson were credited onscreen.
       Principal photography began 29 Apr 1993, as stated in 4 May 1993 HR production charts. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, filming took place on location in Huntsville, TX, and in the vicinity of Austin, TX. One of the filming sites in Austin was the state capitol building, which had been recently restored. A 26 May 1993 HR “On Location” column also noted that Martindale, TX, a “nearly abandoned cotton town” by the San Marcos River, provided locations, including a former gas station-hotel and a downtown area in which production designer Henry Bumstead built a “fake-brick structure” in between older buildings.
       A 5 Nov 1993 HR news item reported that the film’s rating was changed from ‘R’ to ‘PG-13’ after a hearing before the Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA) Appeals Board, during which director Clint Eastwood ... More Less

End credits include the following written statement: “The Producers gratefully acknowledge the invaluable help and cooperation of: Texas Film Commission, Office of Governor; Texas Department of Public Safety; Texas Department of Corrections; and The Texas Rangers. Filmed entirely on location in Austin and Central Texas.”
       A 31 Mar 1992 DV article reported that Baltimore Pictures, headed by Barry Levinson and Mark Johnson, was set to produce A Perfect World. Although Baltimore had a first-look deal with TriStar Pictures, TriStar passed on the project, as did director Steven Spielberg, who was allegedly interested but unavailable due to the conflicting shooting schedule of his upcoming film, Jurassic Park (1993, see entry). While Mark Johnson stayed on as a producer of the film, neither Baltimore Pictures nor Barry Levinson were credited onscreen.
       Principal photography began 29 Apr 1993, as stated in 4 May 1993 HR production charts. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, filming took place on location in Huntsville, TX, and in the vicinity of Austin, TX. One of the filming sites in Austin was the state capitol building, which had been recently restored. A 26 May 1993 HR “On Location” column also noted that Martindale, TX, a “nearly abandoned cotton town” by the San Marcos River, provided locations, including a former gas station-hotel and a downtown area in which production designer Henry Bumstead built a “fake-brick structure” in between older buildings.
       A 5 Nov 1993 HR news item reported that the film’s rating was changed from ‘R’ to ‘PG-13’ after a hearing before the Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA) Appeals Board, during which director Clint Eastwood and producer David Valdez spoke in favor of the PG-13.
       Critical reception was mixed. Although Kevin Costner’s performance was praised in several reviews, including Duane Byrge’s 19 Nov 1993 HR critique that said the role “mark[ed], perhaps, Kevin Costner’s best performance,” numerous critics denounced the film as overly long and rambling. In the 6 Dec 1993 New Yorker, Terrence Rafferty stated that, “even by the generous standards of the road movie,” the film was “a shambles,” pointing to John Lee Hancock’s screenplay and Eastwood’s uncertain direction as its major flaws.
       According to a 10 Jan 1994 NYT article, A Perfect World was a box-office failure, grossing only $30 million since its 24 Nov 1993 release. As a possible reason for the poor turnout, NYT cited Costner’s casting as a flawed antihero, since the actor had built his reputation on playing likable leading men. In addition, neither Eastwood nor Costner had been available to promote the film – Costner was busy filming Wyatt Earp (1994, see entry), and Eastwood had been working “almost non-stop” on the post-production of A Perfect World, which was completed 13 Nov 1993, less than two weeks before the film’s opening.
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
31 Mar 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Apr 1993
p. 1, 22.
Hollywood Reporter
4 May 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 May 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 1993
p. 6, 16.
Los Angeles Times
24 Nov 1993
Section F, p. 1, 15.
New York Times
24 Nov 1993
p. 11.
New York Times
10 Jan 1994
Section C, p. 11, 16.
New Yorker
6 Dec 1993
pp. 135-137.
Variety
29 Nov 1993
pp. 30-31.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
'A' cam op
'B' cam op
1st asst 'A' cam
1st asst 'B' cam
2d asst 'A' cam
2d asst 'B' cam
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Rigging gaffer
Rigging gaffer
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Leadperson
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Scenic foreman
Scenic foreman
Prod painter
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Set cost
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Scoring mixer
E. V. I. solos performed by
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Dial supv
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Foley ed
Foley walker
Foley walker
ADR supv
ADR ed
Sd fx ed
Sd fx ed
Sd fx ed
Sd fx ed
Sd fx ed
Sd fx ed
Sd fx ed
1st asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cableman
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting, Texas
Casting asst
Casting asst
Extras casting
Scr supv
Prod coord
Prod secy
Prod auditor
Prod accountant
Unit pub
Asst to Mr. Eastwood
Asst to Mr. Eastwood
Asst to Mr. Johnson
Asst to Mr. Valdes
Asst to Mr. Costner
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Craft service
First aid
Teacher
STAND INS
Stunt coord
'Butch's' stunt double
'Butch's' stand-in
'Phillip's' stand-in
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Big Fran's Baby," composed by Clint Eastwood, conducted and produced by Lennie Niehaus.
SONGS
"Ida Red," performed by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, courtesy of Bill Mack Productions, arranged by Bob Wills
"Abilene," performed by George Hamilton IV, courtesy of the RCA Records Label of BMG Music, written by John D. Loudermilk, Lester Brown and Bob Gibson
"South," performed by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, courtesy of Bill Mack Productions, written by Bennie Moten and Thamon Hayes
+
SONGS
"Ida Red," performed by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, courtesy of Bill Mack Productions, arranged by Bob Wills
"Abilene," performed by George Hamilton IV, courtesy of the RCA Records Label of BMG Music, written by John D. Loudermilk, Lester Brown and Bob Gibson
"South," performed by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, courtesy of Bill Mack Productions, written by Bennie Moten and Thamon Hayes
"Please Help Me, I'm Falling (In Love with You)," performed by Hank Locklin, courtesy of the RCA Records Label of BMG Music, written by Don Robertson and Hal Blair
"Blue Blue Day," performed by Don Gibson, courtesy of the RCA Records Label of BMG Music, written by Don Gibson
"Catch a Falling Star," performed by Perry Como, courtesy of the RCA Records Label of BMG Music, written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss
"Guess Things Happen That Way," performed by Johnny Cash, courtesy of Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing, written by Jack Clement
"Night Life," performed by Rusty Draper, courtesy of Sony Music Special Products, written by Willie Nelson, Walt Breeland and Paul Buskirk
"Sea of Heartbreak," performed by Don Gibson, courtesy of the RCA Records Label of BMG Music, written by Hal David and Paul Hampton
"Dark Moon," performed by Chris Isaak, courtesy of Reprise Records, written by Ned Miller, produced by Erik Jacobsen
"The Little White Cloud That Cried," performed by Chris Isaak, courtesy of Reprise Records, written by Johnnie Ray, produced by Erik Jacobsen
"Don't Worry," performed by Marty Robbins, courtesy of Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing, written by Marty Robbins
"Funny How Time Slips Away," performed by Willie Nelson, courtesy of EMI Records USA, a division of ERG, under license from CEMA Special Markets, written by Willie Nelson.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
24 November 1993
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 24 November 1993
Production Date:
29 April--early July 1993 in Huntsville and Austin, TX
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, a division of Time Warner Entertainment Company, LP
Copyright Date:
7 February 1994
Copyright Number:
PA686505
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Technicolor®
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
138
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
32780
SYNOPSIS

On Halloween night in the early 1960s, eight-year-old Phillip Perry wants to go trick-or-treating but is not allowed by his mother, Gladys, who is a Jehovah’s Witness. Escaping from a nearby prison in Texas, Butch Haynes and his cellmate, Terry Pugh, steal a car from an off-duty guard and kill him. Searching for another car to steal, Haynes waits as Pugh breaks into the Perry’s kitchen, molesting Gladys at knifepoint. Walking in on Pugh as he strikes Phillip, Haynes retaliates, hitting his accomplice. An elder neighbor arrives with a rifle, and Haynes holds Phillip hostage as he and Pugh return to their stolen car. The following day, police chief Red Garnett meets Sally Gerber, a young criminologist who has been sent by the governor to help with the manhunt for Haynes and Pugh. Outside the police station, government official Paul Saunders shows Red a high-tech trailer that will be used in the governor’s political campaign, then donated to Red for police use. After meeting Dick Suttle, the driver of the pickup truck to which the trailer is hitched, Red announces that he is commandeering the trailer and instructs his own police officer, Bradley, to drive. Bobby Lee, a federal agent, joins Red, Sally, and Red’s team as they ride away in search of the escapees. After expressing distrust for Pugh, Haynes gives Phillip his pistol before getting out of the car and orders him to shoot Pugh if he moves. While Haynes buys cigarettes at a service station, Pugh fondles Phillip then steals the pistol. Phillip bites Pugh’s ear and runs out of the car, hiding in a cornfield. As Pugh searches for Phillip, Haynes finds him first, ushers ... +


On Halloween night in the early 1960s, eight-year-old Phillip Perry wants to go trick-or-treating but is not allowed by his mother, Gladys, who is a Jehovah’s Witness. Escaping from a nearby prison in Texas, Butch Haynes and his cellmate, Terry Pugh, steal a car from an off-duty guard and kill him. Searching for another car to steal, Haynes waits as Pugh breaks into the Perry’s kitchen, molesting Gladys at knifepoint. Walking in on Pugh as he strikes Phillip, Haynes retaliates, hitting his accomplice. An elder neighbor arrives with a rifle, and Haynes holds Phillip hostage as he and Pugh return to their stolen car. The following day, police chief Red Garnett meets Sally Gerber, a young criminologist who has been sent by the governor to help with the manhunt for Haynes and Pugh. Outside the police station, government official Paul Saunders shows Red a high-tech trailer that will be used in the governor’s political campaign, then donated to Red for police use. After meeting Dick Suttle, the driver of the pickup truck to which the trailer is hitched, Red announces that he is commandeering the trailer and instructs his own police officer, Bradley, to drive. Bobby Lee, a federal agent, joins Red, Sally, and Red’s team as they ride away in search of the escapees. After expressing distrust for Pugh, Haynes gives Phillip his pistol before getting out of the car and orders him to shoot Pugh if he moves. While Haynes buys cigarettes at a service station, Pugh fondles Phillip then steals the pistol. Phillip bites Pugh’s ear and runs out of the car, hiding in a cornfield. As Pugh searches for Phillip, Haynes finds him first, ushers the boy away, and shoots Pugh dead. Red’s team receives notice that Haynes was spotted at the service station outside Ben Hur, Texas, and Sally suggests that the convicts will likely split up soon, given their disparate records, and recommends two roadblocks instead of one. Although Red disregards her, Sally insists she is one of the two smartest people involved in the investigation, saying that the other is Haynes. Meanwhile, Haynes assures Phillip that he will not shoot him, and lightens the mood by saying that their car is a time machine. Spotting a Ford parked by a farmhouse, Haynes switches out his stolen car for the Ford, but is spotted by the farmer, who alerts the police. Back on the road, Phillip reveals that he cannot remember the last time he saw his father, and Haynes commiserates, admitting that his father also abandoned him. Arriving at the farm, Red finds Pugh’s corpse in the car left by Haynes. In a small town called Noodle, Texas, Haynes purchases new clothes for Phillip, who identifies himself to a store clerks as “Buzz.” Meanwhile, a local policeman notices Haynes’s stolen car in the alley and calls for backup. When Haynes goes to retrieve the car, a police car blocks him; however, Haynes backs into the police car, forcing his way out of the alley. Still inside the shop, Phillip steals a “Casper the Friendly Ghost” Halloween costume and heads to the sidewalk where Haynes picks him up. Phillip reveals the stolen costume, but instead of reprimanding him, Haynes encourages the boy to wear it. In the trailer, Sally reveals to Red that Haynes was raised in a brothel and killed someone at the age of eight. His mother committed suicide when he was twelve years old, and his father, a small-time felon, only surfaced after her death. Haynes was eventually sent to a juvenile detention center in Gatesville, Texas, for four years after stealing a car. Scoffing at Sally, Bobby Lee, the federal agent, says they will not be able to determine which direction Haynes has fled based on his personal history. The trailer passes Haynes’s stolen car, and when Sally recognizes Phillip, Bradley turns the truck and trailer around to give chase. However, as Bradley follows Haynes off the road, the trailer becomes unhitched and rolls into a forest, crashing into a tree. Later that day, in need of more food, Haynes instructs Phillip to trick-or-treat at a house in the countryside, revealing his pistol to the woman who opens the door so that she will fill Phillip’s bag with food and cash. Soon after, they drive past a family on a picnic. Haynes stops the car, getting out to spy a police roadblock. Alone in the car, Phillip accidentally knocks the gearshift and almost runs into the picknickers’ station wagon. Haynes persuades the father, Bob Fielder, to give him and Phillip a ride. Sandwiched in the Fielders’ station wagon, Haynes and Phillip sneak through the roadblock undetected, and, afterward, Haynes steals the car. Learning that Phillip is a Jehovah’s Witness and therefore not allowed to celebrate Christmas, ride roller coasters, or eat cotton candy, Haynes straps the boy to the top of the station wagon for a joyride. That night, Phillip says he wants to go home, and Haynes promises to get him back. Before going to sleep, Haynes instructs the boy to write down everything he ever wanted to do but wasn’t allowed to. Sitting around a campfire by the crashed trailer, Sally asks Red about his time as a sheriff in Amarillo, where he was involved in Haynes’s sentencing as a juvenile. Red admits that Haynes’s father was abusive, so he encouraged the judge to send Haynes to the detention center for four years on a minor charge instead of returning him to his father’s care. In the middle of the night, an African American farmer named Mack finds Haynes and Phillip in the field where he works. Haynes draws his gun, but Mack is friendly and offers to let them sleep on his couch and give them breakfast in the morning. Early the next day, Haynes and Phillip are awakened inside Mack’s house by Mack’s wife Lottie, and their grandson Cleveland. When Mack joins them at the breakfast table, he slaps Cleveland for not immediately responding to an order. Later, Haynes discovers their old gramophone and plays a record, inviting Lottie to dance. The boys join in, while Mack and Haynes overhear a news report about Haynes on the radio. Haynes warns Mack that he will kill everyone if they do anything stupid. When Cleveland asks Haynes to play with him, Mack hits Cleveland again, and Haynes loses his temper, shouting that Cleveland does not deserve to be abused. After tying up Mack, Haynes puts duct tape over his, Lottie’s, and Cleveland’s mouths, as Phillip watches in fear. Searching for his gun, Haynes realizes Phillip has it and tries to retrieve it. Crying, Phillip shoots Haynes in the abdomen, then runs, dropping the gun into a well and stealing the car keys along the way. Haynes lurches after Phillip, saying he probably would not have killed Mack or his family, since he has only ever killed two people – one man who hurt his mother and Pugh. Phillip hides in a tree, and Haynes lies underneath it, bleeding profusely. Since Haynes’s father now lives in Alaska, the convict reveals that he is headed there and invites Phillip to join him. Phillip climbs down from the tree, apologizing, as a line of police cars approaches. Spying the two through binoculars, Red learns that Phillip shot Haynes. Gladys arrives via helicopter and asks Haynes over a megaphone to release her son. In response, Haynes calls out the items Phillip has written down on his list, saying that he must be allowed to trick-or-treat, ride roller coasters, and eat cotton candy from now on. After Gladys promises, Haynes gives Phillip his cash, shakes the boy’s hand, and sends him away. Haynes crawls in the other direction, and Phillip follows. Holding the boy’s hand, Haynes gets up and leads him back toward the police. Red approaches, telling Bobby Lee to shoot only if he orders it. After recognizing Red, Haynes asks to talk to the boy. Reaching around to his back pocket, he retrieves a postcard from Alaska, prompting Bobby Lee to shoot. Phillip hugs Haynes as he dies, and takes the postcard before retreating to his mother. Angry that he shot Haynes without a prompt, Red punches Bobby Lee, and Sally kicks him in the groin. As Phillip and Gladys fly away in the helicopter, Phillip stares at Haynes’s corpse below. +

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.