She-Devil (1989)

PG-13 | 99 mins | Comedy | 8 December 1989

Director:

Susan Seidelman

Cinematographer:

Oliver Stapleton

Editor:

Craig McKay

Production Designer:

Santo Loquasto

Production Company:

Orion Pictures
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HISTORY

       A 5 Jan 1989 DV item referred to the film by the working title, She-Devils.
       Fay Weldon’s 1983 novel, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, was originally adapted into a six-part miniseries produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), as noted in a 13 Dec 1989 LAT item. The BBC version remained more faithful to Weldon’s work, while Susan Seidelman’s feature film adaptation used only the first half of the novel, as noted in several contemporary sources, including the 13-20 Sep 1989 Time Out (London). In the novel, “Ruth Patchett” is six-feet-two inches tall and, toward the end of the story, undergoes plastic surgery to shorten her legs and match her appearance to “Mary Fisher’s.” Seidelman cast the much shorter Roseanne Barr in the role of Ruth, and left out the plastic surgery subplot altogether, opting for a happier ending in which Ruth triumphs, as opposed to morphing into her nemesis.
       Weldon stated that she chose to option the book to Susan Seidelman despite an offer from John Huston, because she felt that Seidelman, who was drawn to the novel in a bookshop after noticing a friend’s blurb on the dust jacket, had a more personal interest in the project. Although the article cited the budget as $25 million, a previous item in the 11 Apr 1989 Village Voice estimated the cost at $16 million.
       According to a 27 Aug 1989 NYT article, Seidelman sent the script to Meryl Streep without specifying which role she would play. The director was delighted when Streep expressed interest in the role of Mary Fisher ... More Less

       A 5 Jan 1989 DV item referred to the film by the working title, She-Devils.
       Fay Weldon’s 1983 novel, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, was originally adapted into a six-part miniseries produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), as noted in a 13 Dec 1989 LAT item. The BBC version remained more faithful to Weldon’s work, while Susan Seidelman’s feature film adaptation used only the first half of the novel, as noted in several contemporary sources, including the 13-20 Sep 1989 Time Out (London). In the novel, “Ruth Patchett” is six-feet-two inches tall and, toward the end of the story, undergoes plastic surgery to shorten her legs and match her appearance to “Mary Fisher’s.” Seidelman cast the much shorter Roseanne Barr in the role of Ruth, and left out the plastic surgery subplot altogether, opting for a happier ending in which Ruth triumphs, as opposed to morphing into her nemesis.
       Weldon stated that she chose to option the book to Susan Seidelman despite an offer from John Huston, because she felt that Seidelman, who was drawn to the novel in a bookshop after noticing a friend’s blurb on the dust jacket, had a more personal interest in the project. Although the article cited the budget as $25 million, a previous item in the 11 Apr 1989 Village Voice estimated the cost at $16 million.
       According to a 27 Aug 1989 NYT article, Seidelman sent the script to Meryl Streep without specifying which role she would play. The director was delighted when Streep expressed interest in the role of Mary Fisher instead of the lead character, Ruth. Streep was cast, and Seidelman set out to find a “larger than life” actress to play opposite her, eventually choosing television star Roseanne Barr, who had never appeared in a theatrical film.
       A 13 Aug 1989 LAT item reported that filmmakers were having a hard time casting a 230-260 pound, five-foot-four-inch tall body double to appear in a nude scene for Roseanne Barr.
       Principal photography began 12 Apr 1989, according to an 18 Apr 1989 HR production chart. Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that filming took place in New York City, where locations included: a Stanford White-designed mansion on Long Island Sound, which stood in for Mary Fisher’s home; a mansion in Piermont, NY, which doubled as a retirement home; Times Square; Fifth Avenue; the Guggenheim Museum, where the party at which the Patchetts first meet Mary Fisher was filmed; and New York City’s first police precinct station at South Street Seaport, since converted into a warehouse, which served as the location for the Vesta Rose Employment Agency.
       A 6 Dec 1989 premiere took place at New York City’s Ziegfeld Theatre, with proceeds going toward the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) AMMI education program, as noted in a 30 Nov 1989 DV brief.
       Critical reception was mixed, and, as noted in an 8 Feb 1990 DV item, domestic box-office grosses were disappointing. The Feb 1990 Box review reported that the film had taken in only $7.8 million after three weeks of release. However, overseas engagements looked more promising, with strong opening weekends in Australia, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, and Finland.
       Calling the 1986 BBC miniseries, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, a “more subtle and more bizarre” adaptation, the 13 Dec 1989 LAT noted that the miniseries would air on Arts & Entertainment (A&E) network on 15-16 Dec 1989, one week after She-Devil’s theatrical release.
       She-Devil marked Roseanne Barr’s feature film acting debut. For her turn as Mary Fisher, Meryl Streep received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

      End credits contain the following statements: "People Weekly is a registered trademark of Time Inc. Magazine Company, used with permission"; "Video clip featuring Zodiac Mind Warp courtesy of PolyGram Records"; "The Newlywed Game courtesy of Barris Industries"; and, "Special thanks to: New York City Mayor's Office of Film, Television and Broadcasting; New York State Governor's Office for Motion Picture and Television Development; New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Development Commission; Suffolk County Motion Picture/T.V. Commission; Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous ; Multimedia Entertainment; Parkside Manor; Huberts Restaurant; Romantic Times Publishing; Kathryn Falk and Carole Stacy; Don Hines; John Hines; Arnulf Rainer; Jackie Collins." End credits also include the memorial, "In loving memory of Dean Maitland, 1970-1989." Maitland served as a sound recordist on the film.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Feb 1990.
---
Daily Variety
5 Jan 1989.
---
Daily Variety
30 Nov 1989.
---
Daily Variety
8 Feb 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 May 1989
p. 24.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 1989
p. 4, 67.
Los Angeles Times
15 Jan 1989
Calendar, p. 32.
Los Angeles Times
13 Aug 1989
Calendar, p. 36.
Los Angeles Times
8 Dec 1989
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
13 Dec 1989
p. 255.
New York Times
27 Aug 1989
Section A, p. 15.
New York Times
8 Dec 1989
p. 8.
Time Out (London)
13-20 Sep 1989
p. 29.
Variety
6 Dec 1989
p. 32.
Village Voice
11 Apr 1989.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
An Orion® Pictures Release
A Seidelman/Brett Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
Asst prod mgr
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam trainee
Still photog
24 frame video/Computer eng
Best boy
Elec
Genny op
Dolly grip
Tech dir
Cam
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept coord
Asst to prod des
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
Negative matching
SET DECORATORS
Asst set dec
Lead man
Set dresser
Set dresser
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Key const grip
Scenic charge man
Standby carpenter
Standby scenic
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Const grip
Carpenter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Ward supv
Women's ward
Ms. Streep's costumer
Cost shopper
Ms. Streep's jewelry by
MUSIC
Mus ed
Assoc mus ed
Asst mus ed
Mus cond by
Mus rec mixer
Score mixed at
Main title vocal arr by
Musicians contractor
Mus clearance by
for Fricon Entertainment
Main title song wrt
Main title song wrt
Vocals by
Percussion by
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Sd transfer tech
Asst ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
Foley artist
VISUAL EFFECTS
Eff coord
Spec visual eff by
Main and end titles and opt eff by
New York City
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Ms. Streep's hair & makeup by
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod supv
Asst to Ms. Seidelman
Loc supv
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod auditor
Asst auditor
Financial consultant
Loc asst
Loc asst
Loc asst
Dial coach
Key set P.A.
Extras casting
Asst to Ms. Fay
Principal casting asst
Animals provided by
Animal trainer
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Craft services
Craft services
Studio mgr
Video research
Computer graphics
Tutoring by
New York City
Teamster capt
Teamster co-capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Loc services by
Post prod facilities
Stock footage
Catering
Long Island accommodations
STAND INS
Stand-in for Ms. Barr
Stand-in for Ms. Streep
Stand-in for Mr. Begley
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon (London, 1983).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"I Will Survive," performed by Sa-Fire, written by Dino Fekaris and Frederick Perren, provided courtesy of PolyGram Records
"Party Up," performed by Chubby Checker and The Fat Boys, written by Frank Buonadonna/Denya Versailles/Chubby Checker
"Tied Up," performed by Yello, written by Boris Blank, provided courtesy of Mercury Records
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SONGS
"I Will Survive," performed by Sa-Fire, written by Dino Fekaris and Frederick Perren, provided courtesy of PolyGram Records
"Party Up," performed by Chubby Checker and The Fat Boys, written by Frank Buonadonna/Denya Versailles/Chubby Checker
"Tied Up," performed by Yello, written by Boris Blank, provided courtesy of Mercury Records
"C'mon And Get My Love," performed by D. Mob, written by D. Poku, provided courtesy of FFRR Records, Ltd.
"It's Getting Hot," performed by The Fat Boys, written by Albert Cabrera/Mark Morales/Damon Wimbley/Darren Robinson, provided courtesy of Tin Apple Pan Records
"Always," peformed by Tom Kimmel, written by Tom Kimmel and Doug Sisemore, provided courtesy of PolyGram Records
"Tren D'Amor," performed by Jermaine Stewart, written by Stewart/Curnow/Harding, provided courtesy of Virgin Records Ltd./Arista Records, Inc.
"You're The Devil in Disguise," performed by Elvis Presley, written by Bernie Baum, Bill Giant and Florence Kaye, provided courtesy of RCA Records
"You Can Have Him," performed by Carmel, written by Bill Cook, provided courtesy of London Records
"That's What I Call Love," performed by Kate Ceberano, written by Kate Ceberano/Ashley Cadell, provided courtesy of London Records.
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PERFORMERS
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
She-Devils
Release Date:
8 December 1989
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 6 December 1989
Los Angeles and New York openings: 8 December 1989
Production Date:
began 12 April 1989
Copyright Claimant:
Orion Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
7 June 1990
Copyright Number:
PA470455
Physical Properties:
Sound
Spectral Recording Dolby Stereo SR™ in selected theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Prints
DeLuxe®
Duration(in mins):
99
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29854
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Homely, overweight housewife Ruth Patchett gets a makeover before attending a party with her husband, Bob. When she accidentally spills wine on another partygoer, Ruth is overjoyed to discover it is Mary Fisher, her favorite romance novelist. Bob steps in to apologize, and he and Mary Fisher lock eyes. Ruth goes to get a club soda to remove the stain, while Bob takes the novelist aside, offering his services as an accountant and promising her a ride home. After dropping off Ruth at their house in the suburbs, Bob drives Mary to her mansion in the Hamptons, and they make love. Awaiting her husband’s return, Ruth reads a Mary Fisher novel and eats donuts. Bob finally comes home the next morning and announces that he signed Mary Fisher as a client. The Patchett children, Nicolette and Andy, rejoice that they are going to be rich. Later, Ruth accuses Bob of having an affair, but he denies it. As the affair progresses, Ruth dedicates herself to housework and child-rearing as she waits for her husband’s dalliance to end. After some time, she becomes dispirited and ruins an elaborate dinner with Bob’s parents. Bob reprimands Ruth, but she defends herself, and announces that he is having an affair. Bob’s father scolds his son, saying he shouldn’t have married Ruth if he didn’t love her, but Bob reminds him that he was forced to marry Ruth because she was pregnant. Later, Bob rants as he packs his suitcase, saying a man’s life is made up of assets and liabilities. His assets are home, family, career, and the freedom to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Meanwhile, his only liability is Ruth, whom ... +


Homely, overweight housewife Ruth Patchett gets a makeover before attending a party with her husband, Bob. When she accidentally spills wine on another partygoer, Ruth is overjoyed to discover it is Mary Fisher, her favorite romance novelist. Bob steps in to apologize, and he and Mary Fisher lock eyes. Ruth goes to get a club soda to remove the stain, while Bob takes the novelist aside, offering his services as an accountant and promising her a ride home. After dropping off Ruth at their house in the suburbs, Bob drives Mary to her mansion in the Hamptons, and they make love. Awaiting her husband’s return, Ruth reads a Mary Fisher novel and eats donuts. Bob finally comes home the next morning and announces that he signed Mary Fisher as a client. The Patchett children, Nicolette and Andy, rejoice that they are going to be rich. Later, Ruth accuses Bob of having an affair, but he denies it. As the affair progresses, Ruth dedicates herself to housework and child-rearing as she waits for her husband’s dalliance to end. After some time, she becomes dispirited and ruins an elaborate dinner with Bob’s parents. Bob reprimands Ruth, but she defends herself, and announces that he is having an affair. Bob’s father scolds his son, saying he shouldn’t have married Ruth if he didn’t love her, but Bob reminds him that he was forced to marry Ruth because she was pregnant. Later, Bob rants as he packs his suitcase, saying a man’s life is made up of assets and liabilities. His assets are home, family, career, and the freedom to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Meanwhile, his only liability is Ruth, whom he calls a “She-Devil.” The next day, Ruth makes a list of Bob’s assets and sets out to destroy the first item on the list: their home. While the children are at school, she steals Mary Fisher’s file from Bob’s home office, then sets fire to the house. That afternoon, she loads Nicolette, Andy, and the family dog into a taxicab and rides with them to Mary’s house in the Hamptons. Despite Bob’s protests, Ruth leaves the children and dog behind, stating that they will have a better life with him. Using Mary’s file, she seeks out Mrs. Fisher, Mary’s mother, who lives in a nursing home. Under the alias “Vesta Rose,” Ruth gets a job as a nursing home attendant and befriends Mrs. Fisher, eventually convincing her to pay her estranged daughter a visit. With her latest manuscript overdue, Mary loses patience with Nicolette and Andy, but Bob encourages her to bond with the children. Mrs. Fisher arrives, and Mary is humiliated when her mother talks about her bowels and reveals Mary’s real age at the dinner table. Back at the nursing home, Ruth bonds with Nurse Hooper, an uptight attendant who discloses that she has $55,000 in savings. Their boss, Mrs. Trumper, interrupts when she discovers Mrs. Fisher gone and urine stains on her sheets. She reminds Ruth and Nurse Hooper that incontinence is not acceptable in her establishment. A reporter from People magazine arrives at Mary’s home for an interview to promote Mary’s upcoming book, Love in the Rinse Cycle. Mrs. Fisher hijacks the interview, revealing that Mary was a teenage “slut” who gave up a baby for adoption at the age of sixteen. Just then, Mrs. Trumper calls to inform Mary that Mrs. Fisher has been kicked out of the nursing home, and Ruth crosses “Family” off of the list of Bob’s assets. When Ruth leaves the nursing home, Nurse Hooper follows, and they concoct a plan to start a business together, using Hooper’s savings. The women lease a rundown building in New York City and fix it up, establishing the headquarters of Vesta Rose Employment Agency “for the unloved and the wanted” women of the world. They distribute flyers in Times Square, and downtrodden women show up in droves. One day, Ruth spies Bob in the city, carrying on an affair with another woman. She makes up a sexy Vesta Rose flyer and drops it off at Bob’s office. He promptly calls in search of a personal assistant, and Ruth sends Olivia Honey, a beautiful young woman who aspires to work for, and marry, a powerful man. Bob hires Olivia on the spot. Meanwhile, Mary’s publisher expresses doubts about Love in the Rinse Cycle, stating that the heroine should not have children or a husband named “Bob.” Mary defends her choices, and says she will take it to another publisher. At a newsstand, she sees herself on the cover of People magazine and panics after reading the damning article written about her. Devastated, she calls Bob, who is busy having sex with Olivia. Mary tries to revive her affair with her butler, Garcia, but he rejects her. Bob returns home late, and Mary shows him the magazine article. He says they will need whatever publicity they can get when Love and the Rinse Cycle is released. Mary accuses him of having no taste, and Bob spends the night on the couch. Later, while having sex with Olivia at the office, Bob sets her on top of a Xerox machine and makes photocopies of his hands on her backside. Olivia tells Bob she loves him and he stops short. Afterward, Olivia tells Ruth that she has been fired. She also reveals that Bob steals from his clients by wiring interest from their accounts into his Swiss bank account. The women break into Bob’s office and transfer a large sum of money from the account of one of his clients into Bob’s Swiss account. Ruth finds the racy Xerox copies, in which Bob’s hands are clearly identified by a ring Mary gave him. At a book signing, Bob reads a bad review aloud to Mary. Arriving home, Mary receives the Xerox copies in the mail and hits Bob. Her maid, Ute, quits, claiming she never intended to clean for an entire family. Mary finds Nicolette and Andy drinking champagne and dancing with Garcia and Mrs. Fisher. She sends the kids upstairs and shouts that she must regain control of her life. Ruth calls in an anonymous tip to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), crosses “Career” off her list, and moves on to “Freedom.” At a party for Mary’s book release, Bob proposes a toast just as police arrive to arrest him for embezzlement. Bob is found guilty and sentenced to eighteen months in jail. Sixteen months later, Ruth and the children visit him in prison. Bob compliments Ruth on her appearance and offers to cook dinner for the family when he is released. Ruth accepts. Elsewhere, a somber Mary promotes her new book, Trust and Betrayal: A Docu-Novel of Love, Money, and Skepticism, on a television talk show. Ruth goes to a book signing, and Mary vaguely recognizes her as she inscribes her book “To Ruth, with thanks, Mary Fisher.” Mary shrugs off the feeling that she knows Ruth as an attractive, foreign man steps forward. Outside, Ruth smiles as she walks down the street with her signed book. +

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

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