My Blue Heaven (1990)

PG-13 | 97 mins | Comedy | 17 August 1990

Director:

Herbert Ross

Writer:

Nora Ephron

Cinematographer:

John Bailey

Production Designer:

Charles Rosen

Production Company:

Warner Bros., Inc.
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HISTORY

According to a 27 May 1990 LAT Magazine article, executive producer-screenwriter Nora Ephron pitched My Blue Heaven in late 1987 to actress Goldie Hawn, who was interested in the role of the district attorney. The project was in development at Warner Bros. under Allyn Stewart, when a twenty-two-week Writers Guild strike began in Mar 1988 and Ephron’s completion of the script was delayed. In early 1989, Hawn turned down the role, but she and her business partner, Anthea Sylbert, remained as executive producer and producer, respectively.
       The search began for a well-known actor to carry the film. Steve Martin expressed interest in playing the FBI agent, but after Danny DeVito declined the gangster role, Ephron encouraged Martin to consider the lead. Director Herbert Ross became available when a different project was delayed. The 27 May 1990 LAT Magazine article reported that production began in Oct 1989 and HR production charts list 5 Nov 1989 as the starting date. In an 18 Feb 1990 Film article by Stephen Farber, Ross commented that his vision for the film was to go beyond escapist comedy. He stated, that there is “safety and comfort [in] middle-class values,” and that “at heart everybody is middle class,” including the gangster who becomes a “pillar of the suburban community.”
       In the same article in Film , Ephron stated that she told Martin his character was “about hyperactivity, not…a New York accent.” She stated that a turning point in his creation of the character came after he brought in an old costume worn in his former nightclub act, a “shiny, silver-gray jacket.” ... More Less

According to a 27 May 1990 LAT Magazine article, executive producer-screenwriter Nora Ephron pitched My Blue Heaven in late 1987 to actress Goldie Hawn, who was interested in the role of the district attorney. The project was in development at Warner Bros. under Allyn Stewart, when a twenty-two-week Writers Guild strike began in Mar 1988 and Ephron’s completion of the script was delayed. In early 1989, Hawn turned down the role, but she and her business partner, Anthea Sylbert, remained as executive producer and producer, respectively.
       The search began for a well-known actor to carry the film. Steve Martin expressed interest in playing the FBI agent, but after Danny DeVito declined the gangster role, Ephron encouraged Martin to consider the lead. Director Herbert Ross became available when a different project was delayed. The 27 May 1990 LAT Magazine article reported that production began in Oct 1989 and HR production charts list 5 Nov 1989 as the starting date. In an 18 Feb 1990 Film article by Stephen Farber, Ross commented that his vision for the film was to go beyond escapist comedy. He stated, that there is “safety and comfort [in] middle-class values,” and that “at heart everybody is middle class,” including the gangster who becomes a “pillar of the suburban community.”
       In the same article in Film , Ephron stated that she told Martin his character was “about hyperactivity, not…a New York accent.” She stated that a turning point in his creation of the character came after he brought in an old costume worn in his former nightclub act, a “shiny, silver-gray jacket.” According to the production notes, costume designer Joe Aulisi then created for Martin twenty-two, light-colored designer suits made in silks and sharkskins, with wide shoulders, wide lapels and tight trousers to create a “lounge-lizard look.”
       The fictional town of Fryburg, CA, was created using a number of locations. According to HR production charts, San Luis Obispo, San Diego and Los Angeles, CA were shooting sites, and production notes for the film also listed Atascadero and Paso Robles, CA as “Fryburg” locations. Production notes also noted that some exteriors for the film were shot at Jack Murphy Stadium and the Hotel Del Coronado terrace in San Diego, and the entrance of Atascadero city hall.
       According to a 22 Aug 1990 Var news item, the ending of the story was changed when the film was in post-production. The news item did not provide details, but described the change as “a kinder, gentler ending.”
       Some critics found fault with the meandering nature of Ephron’s script. Several reviewers, such as LAT and Box , felt her strongest comic premise, the notion that mobsters are relocated to heartland communities and return to their criminal ways, deserved greater emphasis. However, Steve Martin earned plaudits for his portrayal of “Vinnie Antonelli.” Also singled out were the lively merengue numbers. NYT reviewer Caryn James described the film as a “sketchy outline of a howlingly funny idea,” and the Var review, as a “lighthearted fairy tale.” The Var review praised the use of inter-title cards for providing a “tongue-in-cheek storybook feel.” As the Var review predicted, the film had a limited box office success.


Academic Network participant. University of Texas, Austin. Advisor: Prof. Janet Staiger; Student: Theofanis. fks 09/2010 More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Oct 1990.
---
Film
18 Feb 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Nov 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 1990
p. 14, 27.
LAT Magazine
27 May 1990
p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
20 Aug 1990
p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
26 Aug 1990.
---
New York Times
18 Aug 1990
p. 16.
Variety
22 Aug 1990
p. 95.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Hawn/Sylbert production
A Herbert Ross film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Co-prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
2d company grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutting by
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Set des
Set des
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Leadman
Swing gang
Swing gang
Const coord
Standby painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Supv mus ed
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
Re-rec mixer
Foley artist
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Titles des
Opticals des
DANCE
MAKEUP
Make-up artist
Make-up artist
Make-up artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Extras casting
Scr supv
Prod secy
Asst prod secy
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Asst to Mr. Ross
Asst to Mr. Ross
Asst to Ms. Taylor-Corbett
Prod aide
Prod aide
Prod aide
Prod aide
Prod aide
Prod aide
Prod aide
DGA trainee
Unit pub
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Craft service
STAND INS
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"My Blue Heaven," music by Walter Donaldson, lyrics by George Whiting, published by EMI Feist Catalog Inc., George Whiting Publishing Co. and Donaldson Publishing Co., performed by Fats Domino, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc. by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
"Surfin' U.S.A.," written by Chuck Berry and Brian Wilson, published by Arc Music Corp., performed by The Beach Boys, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc. by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
"Stranger in Paradise," written by Robert Wright and George Forrest, published by Scheffel Music Corp., performed by Tony Bennett, courtesy of CBS Records, Music Licensing Department
+
SONGS
"My Blue Heaven," music by Walter Donaldson, lyrics by George Whiting, published by EMI Feist Catalog Inc., George Whiting Publishing Co. and Donaldson Publishing Co., performed by Fats Domino, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc. by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
"Surfin' U.S.A.," written by Chuck Berry and Brian Wilson, published by Arc Music Corp., performed by The Beach Boys, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc. by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
"Stranger in Paradise," written by Robert Wright and George Forrest, published by Scheffel Music Corp., performed by Tony Bennett, courtesy of CBS Records, Music Licensing Department
"I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)," written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddy Holland, published by Stone Agate Music, performed by Billy Hill, courtesy of Reprise Records by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"The Boy from New York City," written by John Taylor and George Davis, published by Trio Music Co., Inc., performed by The Ad Libs, courtesy of Sun Entertainment Corp.
"New York, New York," written by Fred Ebb and John Kander, published by EMI Unart Catalog Inc.
"Take Me Out to the Ball Game," written by Albert Von Tilzer and Jerry Norworth, published by Broadway Music Corporation
"The Star-Spangled Banner," performed by The United States Marine Band, courtesy of RCA Records.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
17 August 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 17 August 1990
New York opening: week of 18 August 1990
Production Date:
began 5 November 1989
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
15 October 1990
Copyright Number:
PA487976
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo in selected theatres
Color
Technicolor
Lenses/Prints
Filmed with Panavision cameras & lenses
Duration(in mins):
97
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30616
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Mobster Vinnie Antonelli and his wife Linda have been transplanted from New York City to Fryburg, California under the Witness Protection Plan. FBI agent Barney Coopersmith is in charge of Vinnie’s case and must ensure that he testifies at an upcoming mob trial in New York. Vinnie and Linda, who have assumed the names Tod and Terry Wilkinson, find suburban life alien, and Linda quickly abandons Vinnie to return to New York. Meanwhile, in nearby San Diego, Barney suffers a similar fate to Vinnie when his wife, a sports therapist, grows bored with his meticulous “system for everything.” Claiming that Barney is no fun, she takes off for Kansas with a San Diego Padres relief pitcher sent down to the Wichita farm team. Vinnie attempts to adjust to his new environment by grocery shopping at his local supermarket. True to his nature, he picks up a price gun set aside by a store clerk and stamps low prices on several steaks before taking them to the cashier. Vinnie’s criminal tendencies bring him to the attention of Hannah Stubbs, an uptight assistant district attorney. When Vinnie is arrested for felony theft, Barney insists that the charges be dropped, arguing that Vinnie is needed as a government witness. While the fuming Hannah complains that America’s criminals are being dumped in her community, Vinnie looks through her purse and finds photos of her ex-husband and two sons. Meaning well, Vinnie suggests to Hannah that she loosen up and buy more attractive shoes. Vinnie soon learns that Fryburg has a large population of transplanted Witness Protection Program gangsters and before long he is invited to dine with a gathering of old ... +


Mobster Vinnie Antonelli and his wife Linda have been transplanted from New York City to Fryburg, California under the Witness Protection Plan. FBI agent Barney Coopersmith is in charge of Vinnie’s case and must ensure that he testifies at an upcoming mob trial in New York. Vinnie and Linda, who have assumed the names Tod and Terry Wilkinson, find suburban life alien, and Linda quickly abandons Vinnie to return to New York. Meanwhile, in nearby San Diego, Barney suffers a similar fate to Vinnie when his wife, a sports therapist, grows bored with his meticulous “system for everything.” Claiming that Barney is no fun, she takes off for Kansas with a San Diego Padres relief pitcher sent down to the Wichita farm team. Vinnie attempts to adjust to his new environment by grocery shopping at his local supermarket. True to his nature, he picks up a price gun set aside by a store clerk and stamps low prices on several steaks before taking them to the cashier. Vinnie’s criminal tendencies bring him to the attention of Hannah Stubbs, an uptight assistant district attorney. When Vinnie is arrested for felony theft, Barney insists that the charges be dropped, arguing that Vinnie is needed as a government witness. While the fuming Hannah complains that America’s criminals are being dumped in her community, Vinnie looks through her purse and finds photos of her ex-husband and two sons. Meaning well, Vinnie suggests to Hannah that she loosen up and buy more attractive shoes. Vinnie soon learns that Fryburg has a large population of transplanted Witness Protection Program gangsters and before long he is invited to dine with a gathering of old Mafia pals. During the meal, Vinnie learns from the mobsters that he will receive government checks only until he testifies, and then will be expected to work for a living. Realizing he has no occupational skills, Vinnie suggests that there are enough of them to “start a crime wave” and, with the other mobsters, hijacks a truck and steals its contents. Vinnie is again arrested and is in Hannah’s office evading questions about contraband found in his car, when Barney intervenes and claims that the police searched the car without a warrant. Later, Vinnie, handcuffed to Barney, returns to New York to testify at the trial of a Mafia kingpin. Although Vinnie is supposed to remain incognito, a welcoming committee of family and friends greets him at the airport. Moved by the deeply felt emotion displayed by Vinnie’s mother, Barney uncuffs his charge to allow mother and son to hug, only to have Vinnie escape. Barney tracks Vinnie to his tailor shop, where he is buying metallic gray suits. Noting that change is difficult, Vinnie encourages Barney to “change from the outside in” and convinces him to get fitted for a stylish suit. Afterward, Vinnie takes Barney to Bruno’s, his favorite bar in the city, and teaches Barney the merengue. As they dance with girls they pick up in the bar, two rival gangsters arrive and aim pistols at Vinnie, but Barney shoots the chandelier above the hit men before they can fire and saves Vinnie’s life. Vinnie now feels a lifelong obligation to Barney and, the next day at the murder trial, offers the compelling testimony the FBI needs to win a conviction. On the return flight, Vinnie admits to Barney that he looks forward to returning “home” to Fryburg. He suggests that Barney make peace with the uptight Hannah and pursue her romantically. Vinnie later plays matchmaker by taking Hannah and her sons to a Padres game and inviting Barney to join them. During the game, the boys, who play on a Little League team, tell Vinnie that Fryburg’s baseball field has a severe flooding problem. Later, Barney invites Hannah to a law enforcement cocktail party, where he tips the bandleader to play a merengue, and teaches Hannah some dance moves. Meanwhile, romance comes into Vinnie’s life in the frozen foods section at the supermarket when he spies Shaldeen, a shopper with teased hair wearing stretch capris. They get married in Reno, though Vinnie later assures Barney that he used a false name to avoid compromising his new identity. When Vinnie’s mobster friends acquire a huge supply of large, empty water bottles, he devises a fundraising scheme to improve the Little League field. He distributes the water bottles to local businesses to be used as receptacles to collect money for the Little League, and soon the bottles are filled with coins and bills in support of the plan. When Hannah spots Vinnie driving a carload of bottles filled with money, she charges him with perpetrating a scam, but Vinnie says he is a new man and loves the community. One police officer, Crystal Rybak, believes Vinnie, but Hannah insists on bringing him to trial, using his real name despite Barney’s protests. During the court proceedings, Hannah argues that Vinnie is in danger, just as two hit men walk into the courtroom and start shooting. Crystal dives onto Vinnie, protecting him from flying bullets, then helps him escape from the courthouse. She offers her car and gun, and when Vinnie tells Crystal he is in her debt forever, she asks to go with him. They drive to the Little League field, where they meet Vinnie’s mobster friends. Barney follows with Hannah, who remains skeptical about Vinnie’s intentions. The hit men also follow, but Vinnie uses Crystal’s pistol to shoot the guns out of their hands. To the doubting Hannah, Vinnie declares he never intended to defraud the children and illustrates his point with an anecdote about his childhood. Barney supports Vinnie’s assertion and convinces Hannah by kissing her. A year later, on opening day of Vincent Antonelli Stadium, Home of the Fryburg Turtles, Vinnie, who was recently named Man of the Year, throws out the first ball to the cheers of an adoring crowd. The Turtles, among them Hannah’s sons, dash onto the field in uniforms modeled on Vinnie's suit, while Vinnie and Crystal sit in the bleachers with their new baby. Vinnie admits, "Sometimes I even amaze myself." +

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

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