Mr. & Mrs. Bridge (1990)

PG-13 | 127 mins | Drama | 23 November 1990

Director:

James Ivory

Producer:

Ismail Merchant

Cinematographer:

Tony Pierce-Roberts

Editor:

Humphrey Dixon

Production Designer:

David Gropman

Production Company:

Merchant Ivory Productions
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HISTORY

       Mr. And Mrs. Bridge is based on two novels by author Evan S. Connell: Mrs. Bridge, published in 1959, and Mr. Bridge, published in 1969. A disguised account of his upper-crust parents’ emotionally repressed marriage, both novels are written as vignettes and have minimal plot. The “Douglas Bridge” character, the son of the movie’s title characters, is based on Connell.
       The 24 May 1971 Publishers Weekly reported screenwriter Abby Mann had purchased the screen rights to the novels. However, nothing came of that. By the mid-1980s, actress Joanne Woodward, along with executive producer Robert Halmi, had optioned the novels, the 20 Jan 1989 NYT reported. Woodward envisioned making two television movies from the novels and starring as the “Mrs Bridge” character, according to an article in the 20-27 Feb 1991 issue of London, England’s Time Out magazine.
       In 1987, director James Ivory and his partner, producer Ismail Merchant, had dinner with Woodward and her husband, actor Paul Newman. The 18 Feb 1990 NYT reported that Woodward mentioned having the option on the novels. Ivory, who was already familiar with the books, suggested rather than doing two television movies, to combine the novels into one big-screen movie. Merchant and Ivory agreed to do the film and assigned their screenwriter, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, to adapt the novels into a script. Newman offered to play “Mr. Bridge,” provided he liked the script.
       Principal photography began on 25 Aug 1989 in Kansas City, MO, according to the 22 Sep 1989 DV production chart. The 22 Nov 1989 Var reported the ... More Less

       Mr. And Mrs. Bridge is based on two novels by author Evan S. Connell: Mrs. Bridge, published in 1959, and Mr. Bridge, published in 1969. A disguised account of his upper-crust parents’ emotionally repressed marriage, both novels are written as vignettes and have minimal plot. The “Douglas Bridge” character, the son of the movie’s title characters, is based on Connell.
       The 24 May 1971 Publishers Weekly reported screenwriter Abby Mann had purchased the screen rights to the novels. However, nothing came of that. By the mid-1980s, actress Joanne Woodward, along with executive producer Robert Halmi, had optioned the novels, the 20 Jan 1989 NYT reported. Woodward envisioned making two television movies from the novels and starring as the “Mrs Bridge” character, according to an article in the 20-27 Feb 1991 issue of London, England’s Time Out magazine.
       In 1987, director James Ivory and his partner, producer Ismail Merchant, had dinner with Woodward and her husband, actor Paul Newman. The 18 Feb 1990 NYT reported that Woodward mentioned having the option on the novels. Ivory, who was already familiar with the books, suggested rather than doing two television movies, to combine the novels into one big-screen movie. Merchant and Ivory agreed to do the film and assigned their screenwriter, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, to adapt the novels into a script. Newman offered to play “Mr. Bridge,” provided he liked the script.
       Principal photography began on 25 Aug 1989 in Kansas City, MO, according to the 22 Sep 1989 DV production chart. The 22 Nov 1989 Var reported the film wrapped on 16 Nov 1989. The film shot on location throughout Kansas City; no soundstages were used. A private estate known as Longview Farm was used to film the country club scenes, while a home in the Country Club district was secured for use as the Bridge family home, according to the Dec 1990 Theatre Crafts magazine. Since the movie covered almost a twenty-year span of time in the house, set designers and dressers had one set of decorations for scenes set in the 1930s, and another for scenes set in the 1940s, as the novel noted that Mrs. Bridge redecorated the house in 1939. The film also shot in Ottawa, Canada, and Paris, France.
       The 18 Feb 1990 NYT reported the film’s budget was $7.5 million. The film saved on production costs by borrowing antique furnishings rather than renting or buying them. Many businesses and local residents were happy to lend them items appropriate to the period because the Merchant-Ivory team had a reputation for doing quality period productions following the critical and commercial success of their A Room with a View (1986). Others donated services in exchange for the prestige of being listed in onscreen credits, including London tailors Gieves & Hawkes, which made the all the male characters’ wardrobe, and Brunschwig & Fils which donated $100,000 worth of fabrics and wallpaper. In addition to the onscreen credit, producer Ismail Merchant personally cooked many dinners during filming to thank the donors.
       Merchant was able to easily secure a loan to finance the production thanks to a “negative pickup” to purchase the completed film from Cineplex Odeon Films, as noted in the 25 Jan 1989 DV. Cineplex Odeon sold the domestic distribution rights to Miramax Films, but retained international distribution, according to the 31 Oct 1989 DV.
       Several scenes with the Bridge children as toddlers and grade schoolers were shot, but were left on the cutting room floor, except for a few excerpts that appeared as home movies prior to the opening-credits roll. Joanne Woodward, who was fifty-nine years old at the time of filming, told the Feb 1991 Interview magazine that the decision to leave those scenes out was made because she “didn’t look young enough to have those young children.”
       Mr. And Mrs. Bridge opened on 23 Nov 1990 on two screens, at Cinema 1 in New York City, and at the AMC Century City in Los Angeles, CA, taking in $58,000 in its first three days of release, according to the Box Office Mojo website. On 1 Mar 1991, the film expanded to 240 screens across the country.
       Joanne Woodward received a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her role in the movie.
       End credits state: “Special Thanks to: Gieves & Hawkes, USA; and The Administration and Staff of the Louvre; The Missouri Film Commission and Gary Gonder; The City of Ottawa Film Office and Terry McEvoy; Credit Lyonnais; Barbara and Matthew Zimmermann; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; KFDI, Wichita, Kansas for tornado broadcast; Killiam Shows, Inc. for World War II footage; The Smokey Hill Railway and Historical Society, Inc.; Kansas City Railroad Museum; The Kansas City Southern Railway Company; Chuck Haddix and the Marr Sound Archives and Conservatory Library, University Libraries, University of Missouri, Kansas City; John Selzer and the Shawnee Mission West High School Music Department; Manion’s International Auction House, Inc. and Joe Tucker, Dale Jones, Jeff Springer, Kirk Doan, and William Morris.”
       End credits also state: “‘A Star is Born’ (1937, see entry) produced by David O. Selznick.”
      End credits include the following written epilogue: “Mr. Bridge arrived home in time to rescue Mrs. Bridge. He very quickly arranged for a tow-truck to dislodge the Lincoln. He was so irritated, however, that he forgot to give Mrs. Bridge the roses. Ruth, ever restless, went to Paris with a painter. She liked it so much that she stayed for ten years. Though not with the same painter. Carolyn divorced Gil and moved back home to the Mission Hills district, where she soon remarried. Douglas studied law at Stanford after getting out of the Air Force. He returned to Kansas City to marry a very nice girl and carry on his father’s firm. His son Walter in due course also joined the firm which is now called Bridge, Bridge & Bridge."
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
25 Jan 1989.
---
Daily Variety
22 Sep 1989.
---
Daily Variety
31 Oct 1989.
---
Daily Variety
10 Sep 1990
p. 2, 14.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 1990
p. 7, 27.
Interview
Feb 1991
p. 130-135.
Los Angeles Times
23 Nov 1990
p. 1.
New York Times
20 Jan 1989.
---
New York Times
18 Feb 1990.
---
New York Times
23 Nov 1990
p. 1.
Publishers Weekly
24 May 1971.
---
Theatre Crafts
Dec 1990
p. 14.
Time Out (London)
20-27 Feb 1991.
---
Variety
22 Nov 1989.
---
Variety
10 Sep 1990
pp. 56-57.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Cineplex Odeon Films in association with Miramax presents
A Merchant Ivory/Robert Halmi Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod supv
Asst dir
2d asst dir
Asst dir (France)
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod (France)
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st cam asst
2d cam asst
Stills photog
Best boy elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
3d elec
3d grip
Cam trainee
Canadian loc sequences filmed by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir (France)
Asst art dir (France)
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice picture ed
Apprentice picture ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
On-set dresser
2d props
Scenic artist
Greensman
Picture car coord
Asst const coord
Lead carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Fabrics and wall coverings by
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Ward supv
2d ward
Cost asst
Spec cost consultant
MUSIC
Mus orch
Mus rec
Mus rec
Mus rec at
New York City
Mus rec at
New York City
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
ADR rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff and const coord
Spec eff team
Spec eff team
Main title seq des by
DANCE
Choreog (France)
MAKEUP
Makeup for Paul Newman
Hairdresser
Asst hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Loc scout (France)
Kansas City casting
Casting assoc
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Loc mgr (France)
Prod secy
Asst prod secy
Prod secy (France)
New York office mgr
Transportation coord
Prod auditor
On set prod asst
On set prod asst
Asst to James Ivory
Asst to Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward
Asst
Asst
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Dailies advisor
Post prod facilities
Shakespearean tutor to Mr. Newman
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novels Mrs. Bridge (New York, 1959) and Mr. Bridge (New York, 1969) by Evan S. Connell.
SONGS
“Wah-Hoo!” Cliff Friend, Chappell & Co., performed by Janet Gaynor and Frederick March
“Stouthearted Men,” Sigmund Romberg, Oscar Hammerstein II, Warner Bros. Inc./Bambaline Music Pub. Co. & Williamson Music, performed by Nelson Eddy, courtesy of RCA Records
“Jeepers Creepers,” Harry Warren, Johnny Mercer, Warner Bros. Inc., performed by Ethel Waters and Orchestra, courtesy of RCA Records
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SONGS
“Wah-Hoo!” Cliff Friend, Chappell & Co., performed by Janet Gaynor and Frederick March
“Stouthearted Men,” Sigmund Romberg, Oscar Hammerstein II, Warner Bros. Inc./Bambaline Music Pub. Co. & Williamson Music, performed by Nelson Eddy, courtesy of RCA Records
“Jeepers Creepers,” Harry Warren, Johnny Mercer, Warner Bros. Inc., performed by Ethel Waters and Orchestra, courtesy of RCA Records
“Take Me, I'm Yours,” Loretta Anawalt, Richard Robbins, performed by Alison Sneegas
“Boogie Woogie,” Clarence "Pinetop" Smith, Edwin H. Morris & Co., a division of MPL Communication Inc., performed by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra, courtesy of RCA Records
“Ah! Sweet Mystery Of Life,” Victor Herbert, Rida Johnson Young, Warner Bros. Inc., performed by Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, courtesy of RCA Records
“Holiday For Strings,” David Rose, WB Music Corp., performed by David Rose and His Orchestra, courtesy of RCA Records
“A String Of Pearls,” Jerry Gray, Chappell & Co., performed by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra, courtesy of RCA Records
“The Rhumba Jumps,” Johnny Mercer, Hoagy Carmichael, WB Music Corp./Frank Music Corp., performed by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra, Marion Huston, Tex Beneke, courtesy of RCA Records
“Blues In The Night,” Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, Warner Bros. Inc., performed by Dinah Shore with Orchestra, courtesy of RCA Records
“Stormy Weather,” Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler, Mills Music Inc. (Filmtrax)/Fred Albert Music Corp., performed by Lena Horne with Orchestra, courtesy of RCA Records.
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DETAILS
Release Date:
23 November 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 23 November 1990
Production Date:
25 August--16 November 1989
Copyright Claimant:
Cineplex Odeon Films, Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 December 1990
Copyright Number:
PA499409
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in selected theatres.
Color
Color by Technicolor
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex ® Camera by Panavision ®
Duration(in mins):
127
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30393
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Kansas City, Missouri, in the mid-1930s, the Bridge family lives an upper middle-class life in the upscale Country Club district. Family head, Walter Bridge, an attorney who was raised in a poor family, is a conservative who denounces President Franklin Roosevelt’s policies, yet takes on pro bono cases in his law practice. His wife, India Bridge, attends bridge club and other society functions, but feels unappreciated and unfulfilled as a housewife. Mabel Ong, a friend in India’s painting class, suggests she read economist Thorstein Veblen’s book The Theory of the Leisure Class, a social critique of economic policies and conspicuous consumption, but Walter pooh-poohs the book’s ideas, calling it “socialist nonsense.” Walter and India have difficulty accepting the changing social mores and gender roles of the era, which they see played out through their three children: daughters Ruth and Carolyn, and son Douglas. Late one night, when Walter catches eldest child Ruth kissing a boy in the living room after a dance, Walter slaps her across the face. When India overhears middle child Carolyn contemplating having sex with her boyfriend, she is aghast. Meanwhile, when India finds a striptease magazine with photos of naked women in young teenager Douglas’s room, she gets a book explaining sex, The Mysteries of Marriage, and presents it to him without saying a word. Ruth, who acts in community theater productions, tells her father she has no desire to be a wife raising children in the ... +


In Kansas City, Missouri, in the mid-1930s, the Bridge family lives an upper middle-class life in the upscale Country Club district. Family head, Walter Bridge, an attorney who was raised in a poor family, is a conservative who denounces President Franklin Roosevelt’s policies, yet takes on pro bono cases in his law practice. His wife, India Bridge, attends bridge club and other society functions, but feels unappreciated and unfulfilled as a housewife. Mabel Ong, a friend in India’s painting class, suggests she read economist Thorstein Veblen’s book The Theory of the Leisure Class, a social critique of economic policies and conspicuous consumption, but Walter pooh-poohs the book’s ideas, calling it “socialist nonsense.” Walter and India have difficulty accepting the changing social mores and gender roles of the era, which they see played out through their three children: daughters Ruth and Carolyn, and son Douglas. Late one night, when Walter catches eldest child Ruth kissing a boy in the living room after a dance, Walter slaps her across the face. When India overhears middle child Carolyn contemplating having sex with her boyfriend, she is aghast. Meanwhile, when India finds a striptease magazine with photos of naked women in young teenager Douglas’s room, she gets a book explaining sex, The Mysteries of Marriage, and presents it to him without saying a word. Ruth, who acts in community theater productions, tells her father she has no desire to be a wife raising children in the suburbs while her husband climbs the corporate ladder. She wants to move to New York City to become a professional actress. Walter agrees to put $1,000 in the bank for her, but if she is not able to support herself by the time the money is gone, she must return home. During a large ceremony where Douglas becomes an Eagle Scout, the scoutmaster instructs all the new Eagle Scouts to show their appreciation for their mothers’s support by giving them a kiss. However, Douglas awkwardly stands still while the other scouts kiss their mothers, causing India much embarrassment and sadness. One weekend as Walter and India have lunch at the country club, the radio reports a tornado is fast approaching, and guests run to the cellar for safety. However, Walter refuses to go to the cellar or let a concerned India go either, saying there is nothing to worry about. The tornado passes without any damage to the country club while they leisurely finish their meal. Walter feels satisfied that his instincts were proven correct. Walter takes India to Europe on the Queen Mary ocean liner. In Paris, France, the two are startled by the sexually liberated attitudes of the Parisians, especially while attending a show at the Moulin Rouge nightclub. Aroused by the can-can girls, Walter tries to have sex with India that night, but she declines, saying she is tired. Walter also buys India a painting she admired a man painting while they visited the Louvre art museum. India touches his cheek to express her thanks. However, they cut their trip short when they get word the Nazis have invaded the French province of Lorraine. When they return home, Walter and India attend the engagement party of prominent local psychiatrist Dr. Alex Sauer. India’s friend, Mabel Ong, is a patient of Dr. Sauer, and praises the practice of psychiatry, calling it a “voyage of self-discovery.” Meanwhile, India’s friend, Grace Barron, gets drunk at the party and goes to her car for a cigarette, but ends up accidentally setting the car on fire. When Carolyn Bridge returns from college at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, she announces she is engaged to Gil Davis, who is the son of a plumber. Gil is not in a fraternity and does not have much money, so he has given her an opal ring rather than a diamond ring. However, when Carolyn tells her father of the engagement, he refuses to allow her to marry Gil. Walter tells India they should have sent Carolyn to a private college on the east coast rather than a state university, which is filled with “opportunists.” However, Gil goes to visit Walter at his law office, insisting that he may not be “ritzy” enough for Walter, but he intends to earn money and make Carolyn happy. After Walter learns that Gil’s grandfather is from the same small town where Walter grew up, he agrees to get to know the boy. Ruth comes home for Carolyn’s wedding, reporting that she is taking an occasional acting class in New York City while working in the circulation department at Conde Nast magazine. Walter gives Carolyn a necklace that belonged to his mother, which she wears with her wedding dress. Before the wedding begins, India asks Carolyn if she understands about sex and has read The Mysteries of Marriage book. Carolyn says she has, but India tucks the book in her luggage anyway. While shopping, India is disturbed to see Douglas on a date with a young girl named Paquita, who works at one of the local dime stores. The night, India quizzes her son about Paquita and suggests he should be dating someone from their social circle instead. One night when it is pouring rain, Walter offers to drive his secretary, Julia, home. Suggesting they go for a drink first, Julia, who is unmarried, subtly flirts with Walter, but he is oblivious. Julia says it was exactly twenty years ago that she started working for him and reminds him of the dedication she has shown to him, even coming in to work on weekends when he asks her to. When Walter does not show any type of appreciation, Julia quits. When Douglas announces he is going to join the Army Air Corps, Walter forbids it, saying he must continue his schooling, but if he is drafted, then he can fight in World War II. Walter tells Douglas he has been seeing a heart specialist and has some heart irregularities. Walter warns him that India must not know about his heart problems, but that Douglas will be expected to take care of his mother should he die. However, Walter takes India to the bank to show her what is in the family’s safety deposit box, including numerous stock certificates, which he advises her not to sell. While there, India asks if Walter has ever loved anyone besides her and he tells her he has not. India’s best friend, Grace Barron, is distraught that her banker husband, Virgil, is losing many clients to other banks. Graces worries that she is not presenting the proper social image of a banker’s wife and confesses she thinks she is losing her grip on reality. India tries to comfort her, reminding her of all the blessings they have in their lives. Harriet Rogers, the Bridges' live-in maid, is arrested when police catch her boyfriend dealing drugs. Walter bails her out of jail, but instructs her to say nothing about the arrest to India. India asks Walter’s permission to go into “analysis” with local psychiatrist Dr. Alex Sauer. Walter dismisses the idea, saying psychiatry is “on a par with fortune telling, astrology and lucky dice.” India says that Dr. Sauer would be someone for her to talk to, but Walter says she can talk to him. Walter suggests buying her a new car instead, but India says she is happy with her Lincoln automobile. One night, daughter Carolyn returns home, saying her husband, Gil, slapped her while they were having an argument. She tells her mother she will not allow a man to order her around the way India has been ordered around by Walter throughout their marriage. Meanwhile, Ruth is enjoying her life in New York City and sleeping with her boyfriend regularly. At Christmas, India is devastated when Grace Barron dies after taking too many sleeping pills. Walter does not hug or comfort his wife, and dismisses Grace’s death, by saying she was unstable. India becomes angry over his attitude, saying Grace was her best friend and she loved her. Douglas comes home from the Army for Christmas. India does not like his new mustache and demands he shave it off. When he refuses, she gets angry, screaming, “you are just like your father.” Douglas tries to placate her, asking, who else would he be like. On Valentine’s Day, Walter buys two dozen roses for his wife. Meanwhile, India gets in her car to go shopping. However, the car battery fails just as she is backing out and the car stalls halfway out of the garage. When there is not enough room to open the car door, India is trapped for many hours as the snow covers the car.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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