What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

PG-13 | 117 mins | Comedy-drama, Romance | 17 December 1993

Director:

Lasse Hallström

Writer:

Peter Hedges

Cinematographer:

Sven Nykvist

Production Designer:

Bernt Capra

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

Actor Johnny Depp read Peter Hedges’s novel, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, shortly after it was published in Sep 1991, according to an article in the 9-15 Dec 1993 Hollywood Drama-Logue. When Depp learned from his agent that director Lasse Hallström was interested in a film adaptation, he re-read the book and spoke with Hallström, whom he had met before. Depp’s casting was confirmed in the 24 Jul 1992 Screen International, which stated filming would take place in North Carolina, beginning in Oct 1992.
       The 11 Sep 1992 HR announced Paramount Pictures would distribute in the U.S., with Cinergi Productions set to produce. However, Cinergi received no further mention in AMPAS library production file clippings and is not credited onscreen. According to the 17 Dec 1993 L.A. Weekly, Paramount funded half the $13.5 million budget. The other half was raised by London, UK-based J&M Entertainment, which controlled foreign distribution rights. A 6 Mar 1995 Var article noted the project marked the first foray into the film business for U.S. government agency Export Import Bank of United States (EXIM). EXIM underwrote an estimated 75% of J&M’s investment, and J&M repaid the agency within four months, a year earlier than scheduled.
       Nineteen-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio prepared for the role of “Arnie Grape” by spending time with a group of mentally disabled children living in a care facility in Texas. In an interview with the Hollywood Drama-Logue, DiCaprio stated that roughly fifty percent of his performance was improvised.
       First-time actress Darlene Cates was discovered after appearing in a segment called “Too Fat to Leave the House” for The ... More Less

Actor Johnny Depp read Peter Hedges’s novel, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, shortly after it was published in Sep 1991, according to an article in the 9-15 Dec 1993 Hollywood Drama-Logue. When Depp learned from his agent that director Lasse Hallström was interested in a film adaptation, he re-read the book and spoke with Hallström, whom he had met before. Depp’s casting was confirmed in the 24 Jul 1992 Screen International, which stated filming would take place in North Carolina, beginning in Oct 1992.
       The 11 Sep 1992 HR announced Paramount Pictures would distribute in the U.S., with Cinergi Productions set to produce. However, Cinergi received no further mention in AMPAS library production file clippings and is not credited onscreen. According to the 17 Dec 1993 L.A. Weekly, Paramount funded half the $13.5 million budget. The other half was raised by London, UK-based J&M Entertainment, which controlled foreign distribution rights. A 6 Mar 1995 Var article noted the project marked the first foray into the film business for U.S. government agency Export Import Bank of United States (EXIM). EXIM underwrote an estimated 75% of J&M’s investment, and J&M repaid the agency within four months, a year earlier than scheduled.
       Nineteen-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio prepared for the role of “Arnie Grape” by spending time with a group of mentally disabled children living in a care facility in Texas. In an interview with the Hollywood Drama-Logue, DiCaprio stated that roughly fifty percent of his performance was improvised.
       First-time actress Darlene Cates was discovered after appearing in a segment called “Too Fat to Leave the House” for The Sally Jessy Raphael Show. A 5 Mar 1994 TV Guide item noted that the 500-pound Cates had not left the house in years before traveling to New York City to appear in the 1992 talk show segment. Cates subsequently beat out sixty other women for the role of “Momma.”
       Principal photography began 2 Nov 1992 in Austin, TX, according to the 3 Nov 1992 HR production chart. An abandoned house in Pflugerville, TX, stood in for the “Grape” residence during scenes in which the home was burned to the ground. A 3 Feb 1993 HR item stated that no special permit was necessary for setting the fire. Filming was set to end in late Jan 1993, according to the 15 Jan 1993 Screen International.
       Although Hedges’s novel received some “rough” reviews and enjoyed only “‘respectable sales,” according to the 17 Dec 1993 L.A. Weekly, Pocket Books planned to reissue the novel in paperback after the film’s release.
       What’s Eating Gilbert Grape opened in Los Angeles, CA, and New York City, on 17 Dec 1993, in time for Academy Award consideration. Critical reception was positive, with consistent praise for the cast. Several reviewers singled out the performance of Leonardo DiCaprio, who won the National Board of Review’s Best Supporting Actor Award, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Actor in a Supporting Role, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture.
       End credits include the following statements: “The producers gratefully acknowledge the following for their support, assistance and cooperation: Tracey Jacobs; Ingvar Skogsberg; Carolyn Quinn; The Texas Film Commission, Office of Governor Ann W. Richards, Texas Department of Transportation, The people of Manor and Lockhart, Texas; Bill Nisselson and Sound One Corp.; Airstream Trailer Club of Texas; Paula Kindred and Kat Krone”; and, “Foodland is a registered trademark of Wetterau Incorporated, used by permission. All rights reserved.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
6 Dec 1993.
---
Hollywood Drama-Logue
9-15 Dec 1993
pp. 4-5.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 1992
p. 1, 53.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Sep 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Sep 1992
p. 1, 17.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Nov 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Feb 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 1993
p. 8, 16.
L.A. Weekly
17 Dec 1993.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Dec 1993
p. 1.
New York Times
17 Dec 1993
p. 3.
Screen International
24 Jul 1992.
---
Screen International
15 Jan 1993.
---
The Guardian (Manchester)
8 Feb 1994.
---
TV Guide
5 Mar 1994.
---
Variety
20 Jul 1992.
---
Variety
12 Oct 1992
p. 5, 14.
Variety
13 Dec 1993
p. 38.
Variety
6 Mar 1995
p. 36.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Matalon Teper Ohlsson Production
A Lasse Hallström Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst photog
2d asst photog
Still photog
"B" cam op
"B" cam op
"B" cam 1st asst photog
"B" cam 1st asst photog
"B" cam 2d asst photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Elec
Elec
1st company grip
2d company grip
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept coord
FILM EDITORS
Post prod supv
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
Ed on
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Draftsperson
Asst set dec
Lead person
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreperson
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Lead scenic
Set painter
Set painter
Scenic artist
Greens foreperson
Greensperson
Greensperson
Greensperson
Greensperson
Greensperson
Greensperson
Greensperson
Greensperson
Greensperson
Greensperson
COSTUMES
Asst cost des
Cost supv
Set costumer
Tailor
MUSIC
Orig mus
Orig mus
Mus prod supv
Mus assoc
Mus rec and mixed by
Solo piano performed by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Supv ADR ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Foley eng
Foley mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec at
Dolby Stereo consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Make-up artist
Asst make-up artist
Asst make-up artist
Prosthetic make-up
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Asst loc mgr
Prod auditor
Asst auditor
Texas casting
Casting asst
Casting prod asst
Prod coord
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Catering
Set teacher
Craft services/First aid
Unit pub
Asst to Mr. Matalon
Asst to Mr. Teper
Asst to Mr. Teper
Asst to Mr. Ohlsson
Asst to Mr. Ohlsson
Asst to Mr. Depp
Asst to Ms. Cates
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Group voices
Group voices
Group voices
Group voices
Group voices
Group voices
Group voices
Group voices
Group voices
Group voices
Group voices
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Dailies by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel What's Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges (New York, 1991).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"This Magic Moment," by Doc Pomus & Mort Shuman, performed by The Manor High School Marching Band
Music from "Sorry, Wrong Number," by Franz Waxman
Music from "Indiscretion Of An American Wife," by Alessandro Cicognini
+
SONGS
"This Magic Moment," by Doc Pomus & Mort Shuman, performed by The Manor High School Marching Band
Music from "Sorry, Wrong Number," by Franz Waxman
Music from "Indiscretion Of An American Wife," by Alessandro Cicognini
Music from "Harmony Lane," by Arthur Kay
"Foodland Muzak," written & performed by Joseph S. DeBeasi
"Waterfalls," written & performed by Joseph S. DeBeasi.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
17 December 1993
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 December 1993
Production Date:
2 November 1992--late January 1993
Copyright Claimant:
Gilbert Grape Partners I, LP, & Gilbert Grape Partners II, LP
Copyright Date:
15 September 1993
Copyright Number:
PA730486
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® cameras & lenses
Prints
Prints by Deluxe®
Duration(in mins):
117
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
32522
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the sleepy Endora, Iowa, Gilbert Grape and his younger, mentally handicapped brother Arnie watch a caravan of Airstream trailers passing through town. Gilbert muses that Arnie was not supposed to live past the age of ten, but the mischievous teenager is about to turn eighteen. Gilbert and Arnie live with older sister, Amy, fifteen-year-old Ellen, and their morbidly obese mother, “Momma,” in a ramshackle house built by their dead father. An older brother named Larry is estranged from the family. With Amy, Gilbert bears the burden of taking care of Arnie, who has a penchant for running away, and Momma, who is confined to the living room couch. Gilbert languishes in his job at Lamson’s Grocery, a struggling “mom-and-pop” store. One day, he delivers groceries to Betty Carver, with whom he is having an affair. He leaves Arnie in the car, and Betty sends her sons outside to play. Betty and Gilbert kiss, but stop abruptly when Mr. Carver arrives home. Gilbert flees, and finds Arnie has run off to climb the local water tower – a prank he regularly pulls. Gilbert arrives at the tower, and uses a police megaphone to coax his brother down. Sheriff Jerry Farrel reprimands Gilbert, warning that Arnie cannot do this again. At dinner, as Amy and Ellen discuss plans for Arnie’s eighteenth birthday party, Ellen accuses Gilbert of not contributing. Gilbert works on house repairs with his friend, Tucker Van Dyke, who hopes to secure a job at Burger Barn, a new fast food restaurant coming to town. When a young boy stops by the house to gawk at Momma, Gilbert helps him sneak a peek at the obese woman, ... +


In the sleepy Endora, Iowa, Gilbert Grape and his younger, mentally handicapped brother Arnie watch a caravan of Airstream trailers passing through town. Gilbert muses that Arnie was not supposed to live past the age of ten, but the mischievous teenager is about to turn eighteen. Gilbert and Arnie live with older sister, Amy, fifteen-year-old Ellen, and their morbidly obese mother, “Momma,” in a ramshackle house built by their dead father. An older brother named Larry is estranged from the family. With Amy, Gilbert bears the burden of taking care of Arnie, who has a penchant for running away, and Momma, who is confined to the living room couch. Gilbert languishes in his job at Lamson’s Grocery, a struggling “mom-and-pop” store. One day, he delivers groceries to Betty Carver, with whom he is having an affair. He leaves Arnie in the car, and Betty sends her sons outside to play. Betty and Gilbert kiss, but stop abruptly when Mr. Carver arrives home. Gilbert flees, and finds Arnie has run off to climb the local water tower – a prank he regularly pulls. Gilbert arrives at the tower, and uses a police megaphone to coax his brother down. Sheriff Jerry Farrel reprimands Gilbert, warning that Arnie cannot do this again. At dinner, as Amy and Ellen discuss plans for Arnie’s eighteenth birthday party, Ellen accuses Gilbert of not contributing. Gilbert works on house repairs with his friend, Tucker Van Dyke, who hopes to secure a job at Burger Barn, a new fast food restaurant coming to town. When a young boy stops by the house to gawk at Momma, Gilbert helps him sneak a peek at the obese woman, but Tucker disapproves. At work one day, Gilbert encounters an out-of-towner named Becky, who was traveling with her grandmother in the Airstream caravan, but is now stuck in Endora, waiting for a spare part to fix her grandmother’s truck. Becky buys groceries, and Gilbert and Arnie give her a ride home. Although she is patient and kind to Arnie, Gilbert is too nervous to speak to Becky. That night, Arnie upsets Momma when he chants “Dad is dead” at the dinner table. Momma stomps on the floor, shouting for him to stop, and Gilbert notices the floorboards buckling under her weight. He enlists the help of Tucker Van Dyke, who erects several support beams in the basement. Tucker asks for help, and Gilbert tries to send Arnie down, but he refuses. Tucker recalls that, seventeen years ago, their father hanged himself in the basement, and apologizes to Gilbert for not remembering. Frustrated with his chaotic family life, Gilbert visits Becky and her grandmother. Betty Carver grows jealous when she spots Gilbert and Becky together at an ice cream shop. Later, they retreat to a field to watch the sun set. Gilbert runs home to bathe Arnie. In his haste to get back to Becky, he leaves the boy to get out of the bath and dry himself. The next morning, Gilbert awakens to find Arnie still in the bathtub, shivering. Momma embraces the traumatized Arnie and chastises Gilbert for his negligence. To celebrate her and Gilbert’s “anniversary,” Betty Carver calls for a grocery delivery. Gilbert arrives at her home, and she asks him to dial a number because her hands are covered in cookie dough. Gilbert dials and is shocked to hear Betty’s husband on the line. As Betty initiates oral sex, Mr. Carver asks Gilbert to come to his office. There, instead of accusing Gilbert of sleeping with his wife, he tries to sell him insurance. Betty calls in a panic and demands that her husband come home. Carver nervously admits to having family troubles. That night, Carver is found dead in the “kiddie” pool in his front yard. Gilbert’s friend, an undertaker named Bobby McBurney, conjectures that the man had a heart attack and fell into the pool, rather than drowning as police reported. Gilbert spends more time with Becky. She asks what he wants in life, and he answers that he wants a new house for his family, a new brain for Arnie, and for his mother to take aerobics classes. Their conversation is interrupted when Gilbert realizes Arnie has run away again. He finds him at the water tower. This time, Arnie climbs all the way to the top and police must use a crane to rescue him. Sheriff Jerry Farrel arrests the boy. For the first time in years, Momma leaves the house to go to the police station. There, she yells at Sheriff Farrel and refuses to fill out paperwork, demanding that Arnie be released immediately. Farrel complies. On their way out of the station, Momma and her children encounter a crowd of voyeurs, who gawk and snap photographs of the large woman. Becky tells Gilbert she would like to meet his mother, but he rejects the idea. During Mr. Carver’s funeral, Arnie sees the prefabricated Burger Barn being shipped into town and interrupts the solemn event with excited screams. The widowed Betty Carver tells Gilbert she is moving to St. Louis, Missouri, and bids him goodbye. At the Burger Barn grand opening, Tucker Van Dyke proudly dons a uniform and serves burgers to his friends. Becky finds Gilbert and tells him her grandmother’s truck is fixed, and they are leaving the next day. Gilbert reacts coldly. At home, he tries to get Arnie to take a bath, but Arnie refuses. Gilbert loses his temper and strikes the boy several times, drawing blood. He flees the house and drives out of town. Later that night, he goes to see Becky and finds her swimming in a pond with Arnie. After Amy and Ellen retrieve Arnie, Becky and Gilbert spend the night together. Gilbert finally opens up to her about his father’s suicide. The next day, at Arnie’s birthday party, Gilbert finds his brother and apologizes. Momma, who is hiding out in a bedroom, is less quick to forgive him. She breaks down in tears, and tells Gilbert she never meant to become like this. Gilbert assures her that he is not ashamed of her. Becky arrives, and Gilbert convinces Momma to meet her. Becky shakes Momma’s hand and sets her at ease. Back outside, she bids Gilbert goodbye and they embrace. After the party, Momma decides to climb the stairs to her old bedroom. Finally making it to her old bed, she collapses and calls for Arnie. The boy runs upstairs, and finds her dead. Certain that police will need a crane to remove Momma’s body, Gilbert decides to preserve her dignity by burning the house down. He and his siblings move the furniture outside and set the house ablaze. A year later, Amy takes a job managing a bakery in Des Moines and arranges to move there with Ellen. When the yearly Airstream caravan passes through town, Arnie and Gilbert join Becky and her grandmother, and ride out of town. +

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

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