The Help (2011)

PG-13 | 137 mins | Comedy-drama | 2011

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HISTORY

In the end credits, the film’s producers thank the following organizations and individuals: The State of Mississippi; Mississippi Film Office; The City of Greenwood, Mississippi; The City of Jackson, Mississippi; The Junior League of Jackson; Mississippi Development Authority; Viking Range Corporation; Fred E. Carl, Jr.; Bill Crump; AT&T; Entergy Mississippi, Inc.; Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Economic Development Foundation; Joe Nosef; Sparky Reardon; Carol Lee and Demitrie McLorn. An acknowledgement follows which reads: “The Junior League chapter, and their respective members, depicted in the film are fictitious and any similarity to any actual chapter or individual, whether living or dead, is purely coincidental.” The end credits also contain acknowledgements for the following: Life used by permission of The Picture Collection Inc.; Guiding Light footage courtesy of Proctor & Gamble Productions, Inc.; ABC News Radio; Poster from Cleopatra (1963) courtesy of Twentiethy Century Fox, all rights reserved; NBC News Archives; Corbis, and ITN Source.
       According to a 23 Sep 2011 DV article, director Tate Taylor had known Kathryn Stockett, writer of the novel, The Help , since both were five years old. A 16 Dec 2011 HR article stated that Taylor read Stockett’s manuscript in 2007 and encouraged her to persevere despite the “60 rejections” she had received from agents. Though Stockett, encouraged by her loved ones and agent, first told Taylor “no” when he asked to option the rights, she finally agreed when he convinced her “that if her book were optioned by a big-time producer, it might sit on a shelf or be adapted disastrously.” Along with producer Brunson Green and executive producer John Norris, Taylor optioned the rights to the novel for ... More Less

In the end credits, the film’s producers thank the following organizations and individuals: The State of Mississippi; Mississippi Film Office; The City of Greenwood, Mississippi; The City of Jackson, Mississippi; The Junior League of Jackson; Mississippi Development Authority; Viking Range Corporation; Fred E. Carl, Jr.; Bill Crump; AT&T; Entergy Mississippi, Inc.; Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Economic Development Foundation; Joe Nosef; Sparky Reardon; Carol Lee and Demitrie McLorn. An acknowledgement follows which reads: “The Junior League chapter, and their respective members, depicted in the film are fictitious and any similarity to any actual chapter or individual, whether living or dead, is purely coincidental.” The end credits also contain acknowledgements for the following: Life used by permission of The Picture Collection Inc.; Guiding Light footage courtesy of Proctor & Gamble Productions, Inc.; ABC News Radio; Poster from Cleopatra (1963) courtesy of Twentiethy Century Fox, all rights reserved; NBC News Archives; Corbis, and ITN Source.
       According to a 23 Sep 2011 DV article, director Tate Taylor had known Kathryn Stockett, writer of the novel, The Help , since both were five years old. A 16 Dec 2011 HR article stated that Taylor read Stockett’s manuscript in 2007 and encouraged her to persevere despite the “60 rejections” she had received from agents. Though Stockett, encouraged by her loved ones and agent, first told Taylor “no” when he asked to option the rights, she finally agreed when he convinced her “that if her book were optioned by a big-time producer, it might sit on a shelf or be adapted disastrously.” Along with producer Brunson Green and executive producer John Norris, Taylor optioned the rights to the novel for $10,000, then worked on the first draft of the script for fourteen months, as stated in the 23 Sep 2011 DV article. According to the 16 Dec 2011 HR article, Taylor was “broke” during this period, and had to borrow money from his parents and even actress Allison Janney, a friend, so that he could finish the script. In the interim, Penguin Books published the novel in 2009, and it was on NYT ’s best-seller list for 103 weeks, according to production notes. A 7 Oct 2011 HR news item reported that the book sold over “1 million hardcovers in both 2010 and 2011.”
       The DV article stated that executive producer Christopher Columbus “had been following Tate’s career,” and once the script was ready, Columbus came on as a producer and submitted it to Participant Media. Participant agreed to be a part of the project “no matter where it land[ed].” According to production notes, the producers persisted through several rejections, as Stockett had with her novel, before Dreamworks agreed to make the film. The 23 Sep 2011 DV article stated that, after Dreamworks executives read the script and met with Stockett, they “were convinced they had to do it,” despite already having a full slate. The 16 Dec 2011 HR article stated that, on 2 Feb 2010, Spielberg met with Columbus in London, and agreed that Dreamworks would commit to the project if Columbus promised to be on set for the entire production. The budget for The Help was set at $25 million, with “a third coming from co-financier Participant Media.” A 17 Jun 2010 DV news item announced that another company, Imagenation Abu Dhabi, would also contribute a portion of the finances. In order to draw the production to Mississippi, instead of Louisiana which offered generous tax credits, the Mississippi Film Commission “arranged $2.75 million in funding and used the film as a guinea pig” to consider future tax credits.
       According to the 23 Sep 2011 DV article, Taylor wrote the part of “Minny” for friend Octavia Spencer, and the part of “Charlotte” for Allison Janney. Taylor had worked with both Spencer and Janney on his first feature film, Pretty Ugly People (2008). Spencer commented that the character of Minny was “very loosely…based on me,” as the actress had met Stockett years before and had made such an impression that Stockett used Spencer’s personality as a template for Minny while writing the book. In a 17 Nov 2011 LAT article, Stockett pointed out “how natural [Spencer] felt in her own skin,” a quality which she later transferred to “the blunt and outspoken Minny.” According to a 31 Jul 2011 LAT article, Taylor fought hard to cast Viola Davis in the role of “Aibileen.” Davis, cognizant that her participation in the film would elicit strong reactions from the African American community, agreed to do the film, though she later became aware of “entire blogs committed to saying that [she was] a sellout just for playing a maid.” A 25 Aug 2010 DV announced that Wes Chatham was cast as the boyfriend to Emma Stone's character, "Skeeter"; however, Chatham played Skeeter's brother in the film.
       The 16 Dec 2011 HR article reported that in Dec 2009, Taylor, production designer Mark Ricker, co-producer Sonya Lunsford, set decorator Rena DeAngelo, and Green took a five-day road trip through Mississippi to scout the perfect location to use for the story, which is set in Jackson, MS. In production notes, Green, who, along with Taylor, is a Mississippi native, stated, “in Greenwood [MS], we saw the 1960s Jackson had remained intact.” Also noted in HR , Columbus later introduced Taylor to director of photography Stephen Goldblatt, who encouraged Taylor to shoot on film instead of digital and to “go for vivid colors rather than the desaturated look of many period films.”
       The film began shooting in late Jul 2010 on location in Greenwood, Mississippi, according to a 25 Jun 2010 HR news item. Costume designer Sharen Davis provided looks “inspired by what young women in the sixties would wear once they finished school and prepared for their careers” and more lavish costumes for characters like Celia Foote, as stated in an Aug 2011 Vogue article. Davis was “childhood friends” with both Stockett and Spencer, and felt particularly inspired to work on the film as her grandmother had been a maid in North Carolina.
       In the 23 Sep 2011 DV article, Jessica Chastain, who played “Celia Foote,” commented on working with so many women on set: “I tend to be the female on the set and this was such a wonderful experience…probably the nicest set I’ve ever been on, because we all really loved and cared for each other while we were working.”
       Three chefs joined the set to help filmmakers create the traditional Southern foods seen in the film, as stated in production notes. Chastain, who had to eat fried chicken in a scene, maintains a vegan diet, so the chefs had to create faux fried chicken for the actress, using soy hot dogs, vegan turkey slices, vegan flour, and almond milk. Also in the film, Minny’s “infamous chocolate pie” is served to Bryce Dallas Howard’s character “Hilly”; because Howard follows a gluten-free diet, one slice of gluten-free pie was inserted into a regular, more photogenic, chocolate pie.
       Composer Thomas Newman, whose mother hailed from Mississippi, stated in a 16 Dec 2011 DV article that “the feeling of Mississippi, the perfume of it, was something [he] could really relate to.” Newman visited Greenwood, MS, during production, to take in “the flavor, just the feeling of a night or the humidity of a day,” then incorporated “acoustic guitar, dulcimer, and glass harmonica” into the score.
       Viola Davis addressed the potential controversy surrounding the film in the 23 Sep 2011 DV article, stating, “For one thing, the movie is called The Help …And it has black maids at the center of it, in 1961 Mississippi, during the civil rights movement. It gives a lot of people reservations, especially when it’s in the hands of Hollywood.” Holly Bario, co-president of production at Dreamworks, acknowledged the film “needed to be handled in a sensitive way.” To generate word-of-mouth publicity, Dreamworks marketing head, Christine Birch, explained that several screenings were held for “groups that comprised the predictable demographics – black church groups, women’s organizations, etc.” Home Shopping Network joined with Dreamworks to promote The Help by selling products which were tied into the film. A 9 Aug 2011 LAT article reported that Roslyn Brock, “chairwoman of the NAACP,” and Cynthia M.A. Butler-McIntyre, “national president of the Delta Sigma Theta Inc. sorority,” both promoted the film and encouraged their organizations to support it through word-of-mouth and other events. Though initially opposed to the idea of The Help , Brock changed her mind after seeing one of the film’s 250 advance screenings.
       The film opened to mixed reviews. Critics generally lauded Davis’ performance. NYT reviewer Manohla Dargis stated, “Davis keeps her cool even as she warms your heart and does her job, often beautifully. She doesn’t just turn Aibileen, something of a blur in the novel, into a fully dimensional character, she also helps lift up several weaker performances.” DV referred to the film as “an elightening and deeply affecting exercise in empathy for those who’ve never considered what life must have been like for African-Americans living with inequality a full century after the Emancipation Proclamation.” HR accused Taylor of “verg[ing] uncomfortably into cliché” by painting the black maids as sages and the white “Southern belles” as either “witches” or weak-willed followers.
       According to a 15 Aug 2011 DV article, in its first five days of release, The Help grossed $35.4 million, taking in the highest per-theater averages in Memphis, TN, and Jackson, MS. A 14 Oct 2011 HR article reported that the film had taken in $160 million in box-office receipts, and conjectured that, despite a lack of exit polls, many people were most likely seeing the film “at least twice.”
       In Oct 2011, the Hollywood Film Festival awarded the cast of The Help with an “ensemble acing award,” according to a 21 Sep 2011 DV news item. AFI named the film as one of the Top 10 Movies of the Year. For her portrayal of Minny, Octavia Spencer won a Golden Globe Award for “Best Supporting Actress.” The film was nominated for four Academy Awards: “Best Picture,” “Best Actress in a Leading Role” (Viola Davis), and “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” (Jessica Chastian & Octavia Spencer).
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
16 Dec 2009
p. 6, 27.
Daily Variety
17 Jun 2010
p. 2, 15.
Daily Variety
25 Aug 2010.
---
Daily Variety
8 Aug 2011
p. 2, 13.
Daily Variety
15 Aug 2011
p. 1, 20.
Daily Variety
21 Sep 2011.
---
Daily Variety
23 Sep 2011
p. 28, 61.
Daily Variety
16 Dec 2011.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jun 2010.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 2011.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 2011
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 2011
pp. 58-61, 72.
Los Angeles Times
31 Jul 2011
p. D1.
Los Angeles Times
9 Aug 2011
p. B1.
Los Angeles Times
10 Aug 2011.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Nov 2011
p. S16.
New York Times
10 Aug 2011
p. 1.
New York Times
14 Aug 2011
p. AR1.
Variety
7 Oct 2011.
---
Vogue
Aug 2011.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Co-prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Aerial dir of photog
A cam op/Steadicam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam loader
Still photog
Video assist
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Elec
Rigging gaffer
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Key rigging grip
Pilot
Wescam tech
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
Prod illustrator
Storyboard artist
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
On set dresser
Prop master
Asst prop master
Prop asst
Prop asst
Prop asst
Food stylist
Food stylist
Food stylist
Set des
Leadperson
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Const coord
Const foreman
Labor foreman
Greens foreman
Greens foreman
Paint foreman
Standby painter
Const buyer
Propmaker foreman
Tool foreman
Foreman
Foreman
Foreman
Foreman
Scenic foreman
Scenic foreman
Scenic foreman
Warehouse mgr
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Asst cost des
Cost supv
Key set cost
Key cost (L.A.)
Background cost
Cost
Cost illustrator
Head cutter
Stitcher
Set cost
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus coord
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Mus consultant
Music rec and mixed
Orch rec by
Digital audio
Mus contractor
Mus preparation
Audio coord
Digital coord
Asst eng
Asst eng
Mus rec at
Mixed at
Instrumental soloist
Instrumental soloist
Instrumental soloist
Instrumental soloist
Instrumental soloist
Instrumental soloist
SOUND
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Sd utility
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
ADR supv
Supv foley ed
ADR ed
1st asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Foley mixer
Foley rec
Foley rec
Re-rec at
Mix tech
Addl sd services
ADR mixer
ADR mixer
ADR rec at
Group ADR by
Group ADR by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Main on end titles by
Title des
Titles prod
End crawl by
Visual eff
Visual eff supv, Pixel Magic
Visual eff prod, Pixel Magic
Visual eff coord, Pixel Magic
Tech prod supv, Pixel Magic
CG supv, Pixel Magic
2d artist, Pixel Magic
2d artist, Pixel Magic
2d artist, Pixel Magic
2d artist, Pixel Magic
2d artist, Pixel Magic
2d artist, Pixel Magic
2d artist, Pixel Magic
DANCE
MAKEUP
Makeup dept head
Key makeup artist
Makeup artist
Addl makeup
Addl makeup
Addl makeup
Hair dept head
Key hairstylist
Hairstylist
Addl hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Casting exec
Casting assoc
Casting asst NY
Casting asst LA
Local casting
Local casting assoc
Local casting asst
Scr supv
Prod exec
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Travel coord
Prod controller
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant
2d asst accountant
2d asst accountant
Payroll accountant
Accounting clerk
Post prod accountant
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Loc asst
Loc liaison
Prod safety exec
Dialect coach
Acting coach
Acting coach, "Mae Mobley"
Unit pub
First aid
First aid
Transportation coord
Transportation capt/Picture cars
Local transportation capt
Picture car capt
DOT compliance
Craft service
Chef
Prod resources
Prod clearances provided by
Prod clearances provided by
For ImageNation Abu Dhabi
For ImageNation Abu Dhabi
Asst to the prod
Asst to the prod
Asst to the prod
Asst to Mr. Taylor
Asst to Mr. Taylor
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Post prod exec
Post prod supv
Post prod supv
Post prod coord
Post prod coord
Post prod asst
Stock footage res
STAND INS
Stunt coord
"Stunt cop"
"Aibileen" stunt double
"Hilly" stunt double
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Digital intermediate by
Supv digital col
Digital intermediate prod
Digital intermediate ed
Assoc col
Assoc col
Col timing asst
Digital intermediate asst prod
Efilm VFX project mgr
Cinemascan dailies col
Cinemascan dailies prod
Lab col timer
Lab account mgr
Account mgr asst
Projectionist
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Help by Kathryn Stockett (New York, 2009).
MUSIC
"Guiding Light Theme ('Romance' from Violin Concerto #2 in D Minor)," written by Henryk Wieniaswski, performed by Bert Buhrman.
SONGS
"Jackson," written by Jerry Leiber and Billy Edd Wheeler, performed by Johnny Cash and June Carter, courtesy of Columbia Nashville, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"Sherry," written by Bob Gaudio, performed by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, courtesy of Rhino Entertainment Company, by arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
"I Ain't Never," written by Webb Pierce and Mel Tillis, performed by Webb Pierce, courtesy of MCA Nashville, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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SONGS
"Jackson," written by Jerry Leiber and Billy Edd Wheeler, performed by Johnny Cash and June Carter, courtesy of Columbia Nashville, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"Sherry," written by Bob Gaudio, performed by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, courtesy of Rhino Entertainment Company, by arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
"I Ain't Never," written by Webb Pierce and Mel Tillis, performed by Webb Pierce, courtesy of MCA Nashville, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"Walk Right Back," written by Sonny Curtis, performed by The Everly Brothers, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc., by arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
"Rhythm of the Rain," written by John C. Gummoe, performed by The Cascades, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc., by arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
"Victory Is Mine," written by Alvin Darling and Dorothy Norwood, performed by Dorothy Norwood, courtesy of Malaco Records
"Road Runner," written by Ellas McDaniel, performed by Bo Diddley, courtesy of Geffen Records, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"Hallelujah I Love Her So," written and performed by Ray Charles, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp./Rhino Entertainment Company, by arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
"Swingin' on a Rainbow," written by Peter De Angelis and Robert Marcucci, performed by Frankie Avalon, courtesy of Orchard Enterprises NY, Inc., by arrangement with Nola Leone/Ace Music Services, LLC
"The Wah-Watusi," written by David Appell and Kal Mann, performed by The Orlons, courtesy of ABKCO Music & Records, Inc.
"(You've Got) Personality," written by Harold Logan and Lloyd Price, performed by Lloyd Price, courtesy of Geffen Records, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"The Little Drummer Boy," written by Katherine Davis, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone, performed by Ray Conniff & The Ray Conniff Singers, courtesy of Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"Carolina," written by Justin Tapp, courtesy of Selectracks/Bug Music
"Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," written and performed by Bob Dylan, courtesy of Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"Let's Twist Again," written by David Appell and Kal Mann, performed by Chubby Checker, courtesy of ABKCO Music & Records, Inc.
"Hey! Bo Diddley," written by Ellas McDaniel, performed by Bo Diddley, courtesy of Geffen Records, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"The Living Proof," written by Mary J. Blige, Thomas Newman, Harvey Mason, Jr. and Damon Thomas, performed by Mary J. Blige, Mary J. Blige appears courtesy of Geffen Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc.
"Don't Knock," written by Roebuck Staples, performed by Mavis Staples, courtesy of Anti-.
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DETAILS
Release Date:
2011
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 10 July 2011
Copyright Claimant:
DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC
Copyright Date:
18 August 2011
Copyright Number:
PA1747822
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby® Digital; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound; Datasat Digital Sound in selected theatres
Color
Lenses/Prints
Filmed with Panavision® cameras & lenses; Prints by deluxe®
Duration(in mins):
137
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
46717
SYNOPSIS

Aibileen Clark, a middle-aged black woman, tells an unseen journalist that she knew her entire life that she was going to grow up to become a maid. Her current position is raising the baby daughter, Mae Mobley, of white suburban housewife Elizabeth Leefolt. Skeeter Phelan, a young white woman, interviews for her first post-collegiate job at the local Jackson, Mississippi newspaper. The Editor-in-Chief, Harold Blackly, throws her the bone of filling in on a cleaning advice column for housewives. Afterward, Skeeter arrives at Elizabeth's bridge party where the girls greet her warmly, even though it's obvious they don't approve of her wanting a career over a husband. Skeeter also asks Elizabeth permission to ask Aibileen cleaning questions for the cleaning column since her own family maid, Constantine, has mysteriously gone missing. Another white housewife, Hilly Holbrook, painfully needs to use the ladies' room, but refuses to use Elizabeth's. Hilly doesn't approve of Elizabeth letting Aibileen use the indoor toilets since, according to her, black people carry different diseases than whites. After the party, Skeeter's mother, Charlotte, is infuriated that her daughter has taken a job. At dinner, the entire family is uncomfortable when Skeeter asks questions about what really happened to Constantine. At last, Charlotte coldly admits to firing the elderly maid. The next day, Skeeter calls New York book editor Elaine Stein to pitch a book written from the point of view of black maids in the South. The excited young writer claims that she already has a negro maid who will talk to her. Elaine is skeptical, but agrees to read whatever Skeeter can come up with, which may be nothing since Aibileen promptly refuses to participate. ... +


Aibileen Clark, a middle-aged black woman, tells an unseen journalist that she knew her entire life that she was going to grow up to become a maid. Her current position is raising the baby daughter, Mae Mobley, of white suburban housewife Elizabeth Leefolt. Skeeter Phelan, a young white woman, interviews for her first post-collegiate job at the local Jackson, Mississippi newspaper. The Editor-in-Chief, Harold Blackly, throws her the bone of filling in on a cleaning advice column for housewives. Afterward, Skeeter arrives at Elizabeth's bridge party where the girls greet her warmly, even though it's obvious they don't approve of her wanting a career over a husband. Skeeter also asks Elizabeth permission to ask Aibileen cleaning questions for the cleaning column since her own family maid, Constantine, has mysteriously gone missing. Another white housewife, Hilly Holbrook, painfully needs to use the ladies' room, but refuses to use Elizabeth's. Hilly doesn't approve of Elizabeth letting Aibileen use the indoor toilets since, according to her, black people carry different diseases than whites. After the party, Skeeter's mother, Charlotte, is infuriated that her daughter has taken a job. At dinner, the entire family is uncomfortable when Skeeter asks questions about what really happened to Constantine. At last, Charlotte coldly admits to firing the elderly maid. The next day, Skeeter calls New York book editor Elaine Stein to pitch a book written from the point of view of black maids in the South. The excited young writer claims that she already has a negro maid who will talk to her. Elaine is skeptical, but agrees to read whatever Skeeter can come up with, which may be nothing since Aibileen promptly refuses to participate. She might get fired – or worse – if Elizabeth finds out she's talking behind her back. Then, when a torrential rainstorm hits Jackson, Hilly fires her maid, Minny, when she refuses to use the outdoor toilet and sneakily uses the indoor bathroom. After trying to apologize to Hilly a few days later, Minny calls Aibileen in a panic implying she's done something extremely horrible to her former employer. While still on the phone, Minny's husband Leonard comes home and beats his wife mercilessly. Listening to Minny's terrified screams, Aibileen decides its time to call Skeeter and let herself be interviewed. Having read up on Mississippi's Jim Crow laws and learning that it's illegal for blacks and whites to meet, Skeeter sneaks into Aibileen's home. While Aibileen worries that Skeeter might not like what she hears about white people, the journalist remains committed to the project and is anxious to interview as many maids as possible. However, Aibileen doubts that any others will talk to her, especially Minny. Aibileen does her best to open up to Skeeter, beginning with the story of the first baby she ever took care of, which she did when she was just 14 years old. Meanwhile, Minny, is forced to find work outside town at the estate of Celia Foote, whom all the housewives have branded as "white trash." However, Celia is a bubbly, friendly person and she and Minny hit it right off – as long as Minny keeps her presence in the house a secret. Also, Hilly's new maid, Yule Mae, finds an antique ring behind the living room couch while vacuuming. Since she needs extra money for her sons' tuition and Hilly won't give her an advance, Yule Mae pockets the ring. As Skeeter enjoys another interview session with Aibileen, Minny barges into the house to tell of a bombing at the home of civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Minny is stunned that a white woman is in Aibileen's home and, after giving Skeeter a punishing dressing down, slams her way out of the house. Two seconds later, however, Minny barges back in, ready to unload all of her stories about working for white households. Although Minny proves to be a hostile subject, eventually she softens up when she starts talking about cooking. The three ladies end up enjoying an all-night interview session. The next night, Skeeter goes on a blind date with Stuart, a suitor she's been set up with by Hilly. Unfortunately, Stuart acts like an insulting drunk and Skeeter promptly leaves him at the restaurant. Skeeter has better luck with her editor Elaine, who is thrilled with Minny and Aibileen's stories. The bad news is that Elaine needs Skeeter to interview at least a dozen more maids before the book can be published. But, at least Stuart comes by to apologize to Skeeter and the two have a more successful second date where he encourages her to be a writer. A few nights later, when word spreads of a black man being shot, Aibileen is kicked off her bus while coming home from work. Aibileen navigates the dangerous streets alone until she arrives at Minny's house where she learns that Medgar Evers has been shot and killed. Another tragic event happens the next day when police publicly arrest Yule Mae for stealing Hilly's ring. The cops beat her senseless in full view of the entire town. Skeeter rushes surreptitiously to Aibileen's house, which she finds is packed with at least a dozen black maids who all now want to share their life stories. With the book nearly done, Aibileen is still afraid that the people of Jackson will recognize themselves in it despite Skeeter using pseudonyms for everyone. However, Minny promises she has "insurance" that will keep them safe. At last, Minny reveals the terrible thing she did to Miss Hilly. After getting fired, Minny dropped by Hilly's house with an apology and a chocolate pie. However, after Hilly eats two giant slices of the pie, Minny tells her the main ingredient in it is her own feces. As Hilly tries to make herself throw up, Minny makes a hasty retreat. Now, Minny believes if Skeeter puts that story in the book that Hilly will go to the grave convincing people that none of it takes place in Jackson. Although Skeeter is hesitant to print such a scandalous story, Minny gives her an ultimatum: put in the feces-eating story or pull all of her stories out altogether. Finally, Skeeter is ready to finish her book, except she needs to include the story about what really happened to Constantine. Charlotte at last confesses the truth. Several months ago, Constantine's daughter Rachel barged into a fancy luncheon that Charlotte was holding for the Daughters of America. Pressured by the other ladies, Charlotte fired the maid right on the spot. Then, the elderly Constantine passed away before Charlotte attempted to bring her back a few days later. With the last story done, Skeeter's book, called The Help , is published anonymously and sold all over town. Skeeter splits up her publishing advance fee with Minny and Aibileen, but when she confesses to Stuart that she's the anonymous author of the popular book, he dumps her because he "doesn't need the trouble." Also, Minny's prediction comes true as Hilly furiously tries to convince Elizabeth and her friends that there's no way the book is about their own maids. Still, just when Elaine offers Skeeter a job as an Editorial Assistant in New York, Hilly threatens her with a libel lawsuit. But Skeeter cautions Hilly that if she does, then the whole town will know she ate human feces. Hilly won't relent until Charlotte stands up for her daughter, of whom she now feels very proud. At Celia's house, her husband Johnny comes home early from work and, although Minny is afraid he's going to kill her, he is actually grateful for all the work she's done. He's always known that there's no way his wife could have been cooking such wonderful dinners for him these past few months. Celia shows her appreciation by whipping up an extravagant meal on her own just for Minny. After Aibileen and Minny encourage Skeeter to leave Jackson to work in New York, Aibileen returns to Elizabeth's house where she's accused by Hilly of stealing some silverware she lent her friend. Hilly is intent on calling the police and having Aibileen arrested, but the maid counters that if she goes to jail, she'll have all the time in the world to write the entire truth about how vicious and evil Hilly is. Although Elizabeth doesn't call the authorities, she still fires Aibileen. As Mae Mobley pounds on the window, crying for her departing nanny, Aibileen appears satisfied that she's about to embark on a new career as a writer. +

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