The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992)

R | 108 mins | Drama | 10 January 1992

Director:

Curtis Hanson

Writer:

Amanda Silver

Producer:

David Madden

Cinematographer:

Robet Elswit

Editor:

John F. Link

Production Designer:

Edward Pisoni

Production Company:

Rock'N Cradle Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

On 8 Aug 1990, Var announced that Interscope Communications was preparing The Hand That Rocks the Cradle for Hollywood Pictures, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, and a 15 Oct 1990 DV news item reported that Curtis Hanson had been hired to direct. According to a 7 Jul 2014 article in USC News, the picture was writer Amanda Silver’s MFA thesis script at the University of Southern California (USC), and it was produced only a few years after she gradated, marking her theatrically-released feature film debut. At that time, Silver was engaged to executive producer Rick Jaffa, a William Morris agent who gave the script to his clients. Silver told USC News that Jaffa and Hanson were co-writers, but they are not credited as such onscreen.
       A 14 Feb 1992 LA Weekly column stated that Interscope optioned the script for a $200,000 advance, with an additional $300,000 if the film was produced. Hollywood Pictures committed to financing half the deal, even though the studio was suffering from a series of recent box-office failures. Disney reportedly kept its distance from the production, but agreed to hire Hanson based on the critical acclaim of his independent pictures, including The Bedroom Window (1987, see entry) and Bad Influence (1990, see entry). However, the filmmakers were unable to interest female stars, and several actresses, including Annette Bening, declined to participate in the production.
       Although a 23 Oct 1990 HR production chart listed a Jan 1991 principal photography start date, a 22 Feb 1991 ... More Less

On 8 Aug 1990, Var announced that Interscope Communications was preparing The Hand That Rocks the Cradle for Hollywood Pictures, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, and a 15 Oct 1990 DV news item reported that Curtis Hanson had been hired to direct. According to a 7 Jul 2014 article in USC News, the picture was writer Amanda Silver’s MFA thesis script at the University of Southern California (USC), and it was produced only a few years after she gradated, marking her theatrically-released feature film debut. At that time, Silver was engaged to executive producer Rick Jaffa, a William Morris agent who gave the script to his clients. Silver told USC News that Jaffa and Hanson were co-writers, but they are not credited as such onscreen.
       A 14 Feb 1992 LA Weekly column stated that Interscope optioned the script for a $200,000 advance, with an additional $300,000 if the film was produced. Hollywood Pictures committed to financing half the deal, even though the studio was suffering from a series of recent box-office failures. Disney reportedly kept its distance from the production, but agreed to hire Hanson based on the critical acclaim of his independent pictures, including The Bedroom Window (1987, see entry) and Bad Influence (1990, see entry). However, the filmmakers were unable to interest female stars, and several actresses, including Annette Bening, declined to participate in the production.
       Although a 23 Oct 1990 HR production chart listed a Jan 1991 principal photography start date, a 22 Feb 1991 Screen International brief reported that filming was rescheduled to begin in Apr 1991. The LA Weekly article explained that the delay in casting female leads resulted in a production setback. Shooting was initially set to take place in Atlanta, GA, but the locations were changed to Tacoma and Seattle, WA, where filming began on 15 Apr 1991, as stated in 4 Jun 1991 HR production chart. The budget was $11.9 million.
       The film was a box-office success, grossing $51.4 million in its first month of release, and Hollywood Pictures rewarded Amanda Silver and her now-husband, Rick Jaffa, with a two-year “first-look” deal, in which the couple would write and produce new features. The contract was announced in a 3 Mar 1992 DV article, which stated that box office receipts had increased to $70 million. The total gross would amount to $88 million.
       On 31 Oct 2013, HR revealed that the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) Family network was developing the film into a series, originated by producer Daniel Loflin, who was set to write and executive produce the show for Radar Pictures. Ted Field and Mike Weber were also listed as executive producers. As of 28 Feb 2016, the show has not aired.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
15 Oct 1990.
---
Daily Variety
3 Jan 1992
p. 2, 24.
Daily Variety
3 Mar 1992
p. 1, 75.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jun 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jan 1992
p. 8, 42.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Oct 2013.
---
LA Weekly
14 Feb 1992.
---
Los Angeles Times
10 Jan 1992
p. 1.
New York Times
10 Jan 1992
p. 8.
Screen International
22 Feb 1991.
---
USC News
7 Jul 2014.
---
Variety
8 Aug 1990.
---
Variety
6 Jan 1992
p. 17.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Hollywood Pictures presents
An Interscope Communications production
In association with Nomura Babcock & Brown
A Chris Hanson film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Asst unit prod mgr
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Addl cam op
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Visual consultant
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
On-set dresser
Leadperson
Prop master
Asst prop master
Set des
Const coord
Const foreman
Scenic artist
Standby painter/Carpenter
Greensman
COSTUMES
Asst cost des
Cost supv
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus scoring mixer
Asst mus ed
Scoring synchronization by
Orchestrated and cond by
Addl orch by
Orch contractor
Score rec at
SOUND
ADR voices
ADR voices
ADR voices
ADR voices
ADR voices
ADR voices
ADR voices
ADR voices
Prod sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
ADR supv
Dial ed
Dial ed
1st asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Titles & opticals
MAKEUP
Key hairstylist
Asst makeup
Asst hair
Prosthetics makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod secy
Asst to Mr. Madden
Asst to Mr. Hanson
Asst to Mr. Hanson
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Asthma consultant
Asthma consultant
Asthma consultant
Seattle
Architectural advisor
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant
Unit pub
Transportation coord
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Casting assoc
Seattle casting by
Seattle casting by
Extras casting
Extras casting assoc
Studio teacher
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Seattle Today Theme,” written by Dan Dean, courtesy of Dan Dean Productions
“Poor Wand’ring One,” and “O Dry The Glistning Tear,” from “Pirates of Penzance,” “My Gallant Crew Good Morning,” and “Sir Joseph’s Barge Is Seen,” from “H.M.S. Pinafore,” performed by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, courtesy of London Records, a division of PolyGram Classics
“Say It (Over And Over Again),” composed by Frank Loesser and Jimmy McHugh, performed by The John Coltrane Quartet, courtesy of MCA Records.
DETAILS
Release Date:
10 January 1992
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 10 January 1992
Production Date:
began 15 April 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.
Copyright Date:
4 February 1992
Copyright Number:
PA557377
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo® in selected theaters
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Prints
Produced and distributed on Eastman Film
Duration(in mins):
108
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Seattle, Washington, a pregnant housewife named Claire Bartel attends a routine appointment with her new obstetrician, Dr. Mott, and he sexually molests her. Reeling from the assault, Claire has an asthma attack, but she revives with an inhaler. With the encouragement of her husband, Michael, Claire files a legal complaint against the physician, and several other women come forward. However, Dr. Mott commits suicide before going to trial, leaving his wife pregnant and penniless. The stress causes Mrs. Mott to miscarry, and she vows to exact revenge on Claire. Six months later, Claire is busy caring for her newborn son, Joe, and her young daughter, Emma. When the girl asks her parents to hire their handyman, Solomon, as a nanny, Claire explains that the man has a mental disability and cannot be trusted, despite his dependable good nature. That afternoon, Dr. Mott’s wife arrives at the Bartel home, looking for nanny work, and introduces herself as “Peyton Flanders.” She ingratiates herself and elicits Claire’s sympathy by confessing that she is a widow, who suffered a miscarriage after her husband’s death. Oblivious to Peyton Flanders’s true identity, Claire hires the woman as her live-in governess. As Peyton moves into the Bartel home, she gives the family a wind chime and presents herself as a humble people-pleaser. Her quiet demeanor lulls them into a false sense of security while she chips away at the family unit. Peyton secretly breastfeeds baby Joe, making him disinterested in his mother’s milk, and creates an exclusive bond with Emma. Feeling idle and insignificant, Claire helps Michael complete an important grant ... +


In Seattle, Washington, a pregnant housewife named Claire Bartel attends a routine appointment with her new obstetrician, Dr. Mott, and he sexually molests her. Reeling from the assault, Claire has an asthma attack, but she revives with an inhaler. With the encouragement of her husband, Michael, Claire files a legal complaint against the physician, and several other women come forward. However, Dr. Mott commits suicide before going to trial, leaving his wife pregnant and penniless. The stress causes Mrs. Mott to miscarry, and she vows to exact revenge on Claire. Six months later, Claire is busy caring for her newborn son, Joe, and her young daughter, Emma. When the girl asks her parents to hire their handyman, Solomon, as a nanny, Claire explains that the man has a mental disability and cannot be trusted, despite his dependable good nature. That afternoon, Dr. Mott’s wife arrives at the Bartel home, looking for nanny work, and introduces herself as “Peyton Flanders.” She ingratiates herself and elicits Claire’s sympathy by confessing that she is a widow, who suffered a miscarriage after her husband’s death. Oblivious to Peyton Flanders’s true identity, Claire hires the woman as her live-in governess. As Peyton moves into the Bartel home, she gives the family a wind chime and presents herself as a humble people-pleaser. Her quiet demeanor lulls them into a false sense of security while she chips away at the family unit. Peyton secretly breastfeeds baby Joe, making him disinterested in his mother’s milk, and creates an exclusive bond with Emma. Feeling idle and insignificant, Claire helps Michael complete an important grant proposal for his scientific research and offers to deliver it to the air shipping company, but Peyton secretly destroys the document and Claire blames herself for misplacing it. The incident prompts an attack of Claire’s chronic asthma, and creates marital tension with Michael. One day, the simpleton handyman, Solomon, sees Peyton breastfeeding baby Joe and the young woman conspires against him, planting a pair of young Emma’s panties in his toolbox. Believing Solomon is a pedophile, Claire suffers another asthma attack and fires the handyman. However, Emma protests the dismissal of her friend and seeks solace from Peyton, who learns from the girl that Michael had a childhood romance with the couple’s best friend, Marlene. Sensing another opportunity to destroy the family, Peyton encourages Michael to plan a surprise birthday party for Claire, and to plan the event with Marlene. After the friends meet, Peyton slips Marlene’s cigarette lighter in Michael’s coat pocket, and Claire believes the misplaced personal belonging is evidence of an affair. Claire accuses Michael of infidelity, unaware that her shouting is audible to a crowd of partygoers hiding in the living room. Humiliated and bewildered, Claire begins to doubt her sanity and asks Michael for a family holiday. However, Peyton overhears the plan and becomes more aggressive. Plotting murder, Peyton rigs Claire’s greenhouse so the roof will collapse, but the plan is waylaid when Claire makes an unexpected trip to her volunteer job at the botanical gardens. Meanwhile, Marlene returns to her real estate office and scans old listings. Looking at a photograph Dr. Mott’s former home, Marlene notices the same wind chime Peyton gave the Bartels and realizes Claire is in danger. At the Bartel home, Marlene demands to see Claire, and Peyton guides her to the greenhouse, knowing the woman will be killed in her trap. Predicting that Claire will have an asthma attack upon finding her dead friend, Peyton empties her boss’s inhalers and Claire nearly chokes to death. As Claire convalesces in a hospital, Peyton attempts to seduce Michael at home, but he turns her away. Shortly thereafter, Claire leaves the hospital and goes to Marlene’s office, where she discovers the Mott home listing. Claire tours the estate as a potential buyer and notices that the nursery is decorated with the same trim Peyton used in baby Joe’s room. Realizing Peyton is really Mrs. Mott, Claire speeds home, punches the nanny in the face, and orders her to leave, but Claire fears Peyton will return. Although Michael telephones the police, the authorities do not believe the situation is an emergency, and the family decides to go away for the weekend. Before they leave, however, Peyton comes back and knocks Michael down the stairs with a shovel, rendering him immobile. As Claire calls police, Peyton beats her unconscious and goes after Emma, referring to herself as “Mommy.” The girl is no longer deceived by her nanny’s false charm and locks Peyton in the nursery, but the frenzied woman breaks through the door and follows baby Joe’s cries to the attic. There, Solomon reappears after secretly patrolling the family from afar and attempts to rescue the children. As Peyton threatens Solomon, Claire awakens and fights the nanny, then feigns an asthma attack so Peyton will believe she has an advantage. While Claire gasps for air, the nanny charges toward baby Joe, but Solomon shields the child and Claire springs into action, pushing Peyton out the window. With Peyton dead and ambulances on the way, Claire embraces her children and praises Solomon, who is welcomed back into the family fold. Claire asks Solomon to look after Joe while she tends to Michael, and the handyman is delighted by his new job as the baby’s caregiver. +

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

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