My Girl (1991)

PG | 102 mins | Comedy-drama | 27 November 1991

Director:

Howard Zieff

Producer:

Brian Grazer

Cinematographer:

Paul Elliott

Production Designer:

Joseph T. Garrity

Production Company:

Imagine Films Entertainment
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HISTORY

Voice-over narration is heard intermittently in the film, often reflecting “Vada’s” observations and imaginative interpretations of people in her life. The narration begins after Vada attends her first creative writing class, where the instructor asks her to explore what, of significance, is in her “soul.”
       A 31 Jul 1990 DV article announced that screenwriter Laurie Elehwany’s spec script, Born Jaundiced, had been purchased by Imagine Entertainment and slated for production “within six months.” One month later, on 24 Aug 1990, DV reported that the working title had been changed to I Am Woman. By spring 1991, contemporary sources began referring to the picture by its release title, My Girl. The movie marked Elehwany’s first produced screenplay.
       DV stated that “two unknown kids” were being sought to star in the movie. However, by the time the film went into production on 14 Jan 1991, various sources reported that Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky had been cast. While the picture marked Chlumsky’s first leading role in a feature film, Culkin was already well known to audiences after starring in Home Alone (1990, see entry).
       The film is set in the fictitious town of “Madison, Pennsylvania.” According to production notes in the AMPAS library files, screenwriter Laurie Elehwany based “Madison” on towns in southwestern Pennsylvania, where she grew up. The movie, however, was shot in and around Orlando, FL. Several Florida locations, including the municipalities of Sanford, Winter Haven, Plant City, Clermont, and Bartow were used throughout production.
       Although a 15 Feb 1991 HR news brief stated that filming would occur “in” an historic home ... More Less

Voice-over narration is heard intermittently in the film, often reflecting “Vada’s” observations and imaginative interpretations of people in her life. The narration begins after Vada attends her first creative writing class, where the instructor asks her to explore what, of significance, is in her “soul.”
       A 31 Jul 1990 DV article announced that screenwriter Laurie Elehwany’s spec script, Born Jaundiced, had been purchased by Imagine Entertainment and slated for production “within six months.” One month later, on 24 Aug 1990, DV reported that the working title had been changed to I Am Woman. By spring 1991, contemporary sources began referring to the picture by its release title, My Girl. The movie marked Elehwany’s first produced screenplay.
       DV stated that “two unknown kids” were being sought to star in the movie. However, by the time the film went into production on 14 Jan 1991, various sources reported that Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky had been cast. While the picture marked Chlumsky’s first leading role in a feature film, Culkin was already well known to audiences after starring in Home Alone (1990, see entry).
       The film is set in the fictitious town of “Madison, Pennsylvania.” According to production notes in the AMPAS library files, screenwriter Laurie Elehwany based “Madison” on towns in southwestern Pennsylvania, where she grew up. The movie, however, was shot in and around Orlando, FL. Several Florida locations, including the municipalities of Sanford, Winter Haven, Plant City, Clermont, and Bartow were used throughout production.
       Although a 15 Feb 1991 HR news brief stated that filming would occur “in” an historic home in Bartow, FL, only the exterior of the Victorian mansion was used in the film. Interior scenes of the Sultenfuss home and funeral parlor were shot on a newly built sound stage in Orlando. Principal photography also occurred on the grounds of a traveling carnival that filmmakers had invited to Orlando. Another unique “location” included a 1968 Ultra Van motor home, which was purchased for the film and transformed into the residence of “Shelly DeVoto.” Production notes state that filming concluded in Mar 1991.
       A 6 Sep 1991 DV news item reported that My Girl, which had been rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), had lost an appeal to have the rating changed to PG. However, less than two weeks later, a 23 Sep 1991 DV news brief announced that the film had “won” the “less-restrictive” PG rating in a second MPAA hearing. The film opened over Thanksgiving weekend 1991, taking in $17.2 million at the box-office, according to a 5 Dec 1991 HR article. The picture received some criticism because Macaulay Culkin’s character, “Thomas J.,” dies in the film. Although the death is not shown onscreen, the boy’s casket is open at the funeral. Some parents felt the images were too strong for young audiences.
       End credits include the following acknowledgments: “Special Thanks to The City of Bartow, Florida; The City of Sanford, Florida; The James E. Strates Show; Cathy Savino and the Orlando Film Office; The Villas of Orlando.” Credit is also given to: “Children’s tutoring by On Location Education—Florida, Orlando, FL; ‘The Novelist,’ by W. H. Auden used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.; ‘Gunsmoke,’ clip courtesy of Viacom Enterprises and CBS Entertainment; LIFE Magazine logo and trademark used with permission of The Time Inc. Magazine Company.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
31 Jul 1990
p. 1, 18.
Daily Variety
24 Aug 1990.
---
Daily Variety
6 Sep 1991.
---
Daily Variety
23 Sep 1991.
---
Daily Variety
25 Nov 1991
p. 2, 16.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Feb 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Nov 1991
p. 11, 22.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 1991
p. 10, 19.
Los Angeles Times
27 Nov 1991
Calendar, p. 8.
New York Times
27 Nov 1991
Section C, p. 14.
Variety
6 May 1991.
---
Variety
2 Dec 1991
p. 88.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures Presents
A Brian Grazer/Imagine Films Entertainment Production
A Howard Zieff Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Chief lighting tech
Best boy
Dolly grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutting
Post prod & re-rec facilities
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Prop asst
On set dresser
Const coord
Const foreman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Men`s ward
Women's ward
MUSIC
Mus ed
Orch conducted by
Scoring mixer
Asst to composer
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Prod mixer
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
ADR ed
ADR ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Opticals & title des by
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod coord
Prod secretary
Prod accountant
Asst to Mr. Caracciolo
Loc mgr
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Casting asst
Voice casting
Craft service
Tech adv - Bees
Unit pub
Florida casting
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Prints by
Film processed at
SOURCES
SONGS
"My Girl," written by William Robinson & Ronald White, performed by The Temptations, courtesy of Motown Record Company, L.P.
"Bad Moon Rising," written by John C. Fogerty, performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival, courtesy of Fantasy, Inc.
"Calliope Rag," written by Ken Wannberg
+
SONGS
"My Girl," written by William Robinson & Ronald White, performed by The Temptations, courtesy of Motown Record Company, L.P.
"Bad Moon Rising," written by John C. Fogerty, performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival, courtesy of Fantasy, Inc.
"Calliope Rag," written by Ken Wannberg
"Carousel Gal," written by Ken Wannberg
"Carousel March," written by Ken Wannberg
"Do Wah Diddy Diddy," written by Jeff Barry & Ellie Greenwich
"Good Lovin," written by Rudy Clark & Arthur Resnick, performed by The Rascals, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp. by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Hot Fun In The Summertime," written by Sylvester Stewart, performed by Sly and The Family Stone, courtesy of Epic Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"I Got Rhythm," written by George Gershwin & Ira Gershwin
"I Only Have Eyes For You," written by Harry Warren & Al Dubin, performed by The Flamingos, courtesy of Rhino Records, Inc.
"I Saw The Light," written and performed by Todd Rundgren, courtesy of Rhino Records, Inc./Bearsville Records, Inc.
"I'm Just Wild About Harry," written by Eubie Blake & Noble Sissle
"It Never Rains In Southern California," written by Albert Hammond & Michael Hazelwood, performed by Albert Hammond by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"Maru-Bihag," performed by Ravi Shankar, courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"Moonglow," written by Will Hudson, Eddie DeLange & Irving Mills, performed by Artie Shaw, courtesy of The RCA Records Label of BMG Music
"More Today Than Yesterday," written by Patrick Upton, performed by Sprial Starecase, courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"The Name Game," written by Lincoln Chase & Shirley Elliston
"One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)," written by Johnny Mercer & Harold Arlen
"Run Through The Jungle," written by John C. Fogerty, performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival, courtesy of Fantasy, Inc.
"Saturday In The Park," written by Robert Lamm, performed by Chicago, courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"Wedding Bell Blues," written by Laura Nyro, performed by The Fifth Dimension, courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
"Wildflower," written by Doug Edwards & David Richardson, performed by Skylark, courtesy of Capitol Records by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
"Witch Doctor," written by Ross Bagdasarian.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Born Jaundiced
I Am Woman
Release Date:
27 November 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles screening: 22 November 1991
Los Angeles and New York openings: 27 November 1991
Production Date:
14 January 1991--March 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Daisy Film Partners
Copyright Date:
24 January 1992
Copyright Number:
PA551445
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
102
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31201
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1972 Madison, Pennsylvania, eleven-year-old Vada Sultenfuss is obsessed with death and dying. She lives with her widowed father, Harry Sultenfuss, at “Sultenfuss Parlor,” a large Victorian home that also functions as a mortuary and funeral parlor. Harry, a mortician, is oblivious to his daughter’s quirky behavior. One summer day, makeup artist Shelly DeVoto arrives at the funeral parlor in a sleek mobile home. Although the free-spirited woman is there in response to a job ad, she is shocked to learn that the position entails applying makeup to dead people. However, she accepts the job. While Shelly acclimates to her new role, Vada and her good friend, Thomas James “Thomas J.” Sennett, ride bicycles through town. They stop at Dr. Welty’s medical office, where Vada describes a variety of ailments. The doctor, familiar with the precocious girl’s complaints, tells Vada that she is in perfect health. Vada and Thomas J. continue on their route, stopping to say hello to their fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Bixler, on whom Vada has a crush. In the days that follow, Shelly DeVoto gets to know the eccentric Sultenfuss family, which also includes Harry’s mother, “Gramoo,” and his older brother, Phil. On learning of Vada’s desire to take Mr. Bixler’s summer writing class, Shelly encourages the girl to ask Harry for money to pay for the class. However, when Vada approaches her father, he says no. The next day, Vada becomes locked in the basement and suffers a panic attack. Shelly comforts the anxious girl, and later asks Harry if Vada’s neuroses are serious. Harry tells Shelly not to interfere. Vada and Thomas J., intrigued by Shelly, ask if they can go inside her camper. ... +


In 1972 Madison, Pennsylvania, eleven-year-old Vada Sultenfuss is obsessed with death and dying. She lives with her widowed father, Harry Sultenfuss, at “Sultenfuss Parlor,” a large Victorian home that also functions as a mortuary and funeral parlor. Harry, a mortician, is oblivious to his daughter’s quirky behavior. One summer day, makeup artist Shelly DeVoto arrives at the funeral parlor in a sleek mobile home. Although the free-spirited woman is there in response to a job ad, she is shocked to learn that the position entails applying makeup to dead people. However, she accepts the job. While Shelly acclimates to her new role, Vada and her good friend, Thomas James “Thomas J.” Sennett, ride bicycles through town. They stop at Dr. Welty’s medical office, where Vada describes a variety of ailments. The doctor, familiar with the precocious girl’s complaints, tells Vada that she is in perfect health. Vada and Thomas J. continue on their route, stopping to say hello to their fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Bixler, on whom Vada has a crush. In the days that follow, Shelly DeVoto gets to know the eccentric Sultenfuss family, which also includes Harry’s mother, “Gramoo,” and his older brother, Phil. On learning of Vada’s desire to take Mr. Bixler’s summer writing class, Shelly encourages the girl to ask Harry for money to pay for the class. However, when Vada approaches her father, he says no. The next day, Vada becomes locked in the basement and suffers a panic attack. Shelly comforts the anxious girl, and later asks Harry if Vada’s neuroses are serious. Harry tells Shelly not to interfere. Vada and Thomas J., intrigued by Shelly, ask if they can go inside her camper. There, the children drink sodas and discover money in a cookie jar. Later, having paid the course fee, Vada attends Mr. Bixler’s creative writing class. The adult students welcome the girl and listen as she recites a simple poem. Mr. Bixler suggests she try writing about more unique, personal topics. Back at the Sultenfuss home, Shelly hears tuba music and finds Harry entertaining Gramoo in the living room. Harry explains that, although Gramoo came to live with them after Vada’s mother died, the elderly lady has become too absent minded to care for her. Shelly expresses sympathy, and later hints to Harry that they could go to a drive-in movie together. Instead, Harry asks if she would like to attend a bingo game, and the makeup artist agrees. Meanwhile, Vada and Thomas J. become “blood brothers” while fishing at a nearby lake. On another day, they discuss the merits of heaven, and Vada tells Thomas J. about her mother, who died two days after Vada’s birth. On the night of the bingo game, Vada urges Thomas J. to sneak out of his house and accompany her as she spies on Shelly and Harry. Later, back at the Sultenfuss home, Vada waits up for her father and sees him go into Shelly’s camper. There, Shelly and Harry dance and kiss, but Harry leaves before midnight. A few days later, while shopping for groceries for their Fourth of July picnic, Harry and Vada run into Shelly at the supermarket. Harry and Shelly flirt with each other, which annoys Vada. On the day of the holiday picnic, two men arrive at the Sultenfuss residence, upsetting Shelly. However, she politely introduces her ex-husband, Danny, and his brother Ralph. Shelly and Danny argue about who legally owns the motor home, until Harry intervenes, intimidating Danny and securing Shelly’s possession of the camper. That night, while watching fireworks, Vada and her uncle Phil discuss Harry and Shelly’s budding romance. A few weeks later, Thomas J. and Vada play in the woods, where they find a beehive. When the bees begin to swarm, the children run to the lake and jump in. That night, Harry, Shelly, and Vada attend a carnival, where the couple informs Vada their plan to marry. Vada shows her displeasure by repeatedly slamming into Shelly’s bumper car. The next day, Vada tells Thomas J. that she wants to run away to California, but Thomas J., who thinks Shelly is “cool,” convinces her to stay. In the days that follow, Vada experiences the emotional turmoil of becoming a young woman, and she and Thomas J. share their first kiss while sitting under the willow tree at the lake. Later, Thomas J. goes into the woods by himself, looking for Vada’s lost mood ring. He kicks the beehive, and the swarm surrounds the boy, stinging him. The next day, Vada’s father tells her that Thomas J. has died of an allergic reaction to the bee stings. Vada is devastated and refuses to leave her room. During the funeral, she approaches Thomas J.’s casket, but the young girl cannot bear to see her dead friend. Sobbing, Vada runs to Mr. Bixler’s house, where she declares her love for her teacher. Just then, Mr. Bixler’s girlfriend comes out onto the porch. Vada, upset, runs to the willow tree near the lake, climbing high into its branches. Late that night, Vada returns home to a worried Shelly. As the makeup artist brushes the girl’s hair, Vada confesses that she stole money from Shelly’s cookie jar to pay for the writing class. Shelly forgives her and tucks her into bed. When Harry comes to say goodnight, Vada expresses guilt for causing her mother’s death. Harry protests, comforting the girl by sharing memories of his late wife. A few days later, Vada and Harry run into Thomas J.’s mother, who gives Vada the mood ring Thomas J. found. Vada attends her writing class for the last time and reads a poem about Thomas J. to her classmates. Afterward, with a positive outlook on life, Vada and her new friend, Judy, ride their bicycles down the sidewalk. +

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

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