Sister Act (1992)

PG | 100 mins | Comedy | May 1992

Director:

Emile Ardolino

Writer:

Paul Rudnick

Producer:

Teri Schwartz

Cinematographer:

Adam Greenberg

Editor:

Colleen Halsey

Production Designer:

Jackson DeGovia

Production Companies:

Touchstone Pictures, Touchwood Pacific Partners
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HISTORY

According to a 30 May 1991 Var article, the idea for the story and several drafts of the script were written by Paul Rudnick, who is credited onscreen under a pseudonym, Joseph Howard. DV news items, dated 16 Nov 1990 and 30 May 1991, stated that Jim Cash and Jack Epps also worked on early versions of the script, although their contribution to the final film has not been determined. In a 20 Jul 2009 New Yorker article, Rudnick stated that the studio ordered many changes to the script, to which many writers contributed. According to the New Yorker article, Rudnick left the project, feeling the script was no longer his. Although he asked that his name be removed from the credits, he and Disney agreed to the use of the pseudonym.
       Sister Act was originally developed by Disney and Touchstone for Bette Midler. According to the 30 May 1991 Var article, she left the project because she "had a problem with the character." In a 20 Jul 2009 New Yorker article, Rudnick stated that Midler dropped out because she was concerned that her fans would not want to see her portray a nun. Later, Whoopie Goldberg expressed interest in playing the lead.
       A 1 Oct 1991 HR news item reported that portions of the film were shot in Reno, NV and Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA. According to 26 Mar 1993 LAT news item, many of the scenes were shot at the Hollywood United Methodist Church. An Apr 1995 Noe Valley Voice article ... More Less

According to a 30 May 1991 Var article, the idea for the story and several drafts of the script were written by Paul Rudnick, who is credited onscreen under a pseudonym, Joseph Howard. DV news items, dated 16 Nov 1990 and 30 May 1991, stated that Jim Cash and Jack Epps also worked on early versions of the script, although their contribution to the final film has not been determined. In a 20 Jul 2009 New Yorker article, Rudnick stated that the studio ordered many changes to the script, to which many writers contributed. According to the New Yorker article, Rudnick left the project, feeling the script was no longer his. Although he asked that his name be removed from the credits, he and Disney agreed to the use of the pseudonym.
       Sister Act was originally developed by Disney and Touchstone for Bette Midler. According to the 30 May 1991 Var article, she left the project because she "had a problem with the character." In a 20 Jul 2009 New Yorker article, Rudnick stated that Midler dropped out because she was concerned that her fans would not want to see her portray a nun. Later, Whoopie Goldberg expressed interest in playing the lead.
       A 1 Oct 1991 HR news item reported that portions of the film were shot in Reno, NV and Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA. According to 26 Mar 1993 LAT news item, many of the scenes were shot at the Hollywood United Methodist Church. An Apr 1995 Noe Valley Voice article reported that St. Paul's Catholic Church in San Francisco's Outer Mission district was also used as a shooting site.
       In an interview in the film's DVD bonus materials, director Emile Ardolino stated that each of the actresses selected to play nuns were picked individually to ensure as diverse an ensemble as possible. According to a 29 Jul 1992 Var news item, Kathy Najimy's inspiration for her character, "Sister Mary Patrick," who was described in the script as "cheerful," was television host, Mary Hart of Entertainment Tonight . Filling the role of "Deloris" as a child was Isis Carmen Jones, who later portrayed a younger version of Whoopi Goldberg's character, "Guinan," in the episode, "Rascals," of the television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation . As noted in a 28 Jul 1992 Var news item and the onscreen credits, the singing of Wendy Makkena ("Sister Mary Robert") was re-voiced by Andrea Robinson.
       A 20 Jul 1992 People news item reported that Goldberg fell out of favor with Disney studio when she publicly referred to herself as "picking cotton" for Disney and passed out T-shirts on the set with a picture of Mickey Mouse in black face and the caption, "Nigga-teer." According to the news item, tensions lightened after the film became a box-office success.
       An 11 Jun 1993 Var news item reported that actress Donna Douglas, best known for her role as "Elly May Clampett" on the television series, The Beverly Hillbillies , brought a $200 million dollar lawsuit against Whoopi Goldberg, Bette Midler and their production companies, claiming the movie infringed on her intellectual property, a book called A Nun in the Closet . Douglas claimed the book was adapted into a screenplay, submitted and rejected by Walt Disney Pictures, All Girls Prods, and Whoop, Inc. The outcome of the suit has not been determined.
       Sister Act was nominated for Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical (Goldberg). Goldberg, Makkena and Najimy, as well as Maggie Smith ("Mother Superior") and Mary Wickes ("Sister Mary Lazurus") reprised their roles in a 1993 sequel, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit , which was directed by Bill Duke. Goldberg was one of the producers of a stage musical based on the film, Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy , which opened on Broadway on 20 Apr 2011, starring Patina Miller as Delores.


The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Taylor Miller, a student at University of Texas at Austin, with Janet Staiger as academic advisor.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
16 Nov 1990.
---
Daily Variety
30 May 1991
p. 1, 16.
Daily Variety
28 Jul 1992.
---
Daily Variety
11 Jun 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 May 1992
p. 5.
Los Angeles Times
29 May 1992
Section F, p. 1, 10.
Los Angeles Times
26 Mar 1993.
---
New York Times
29 May 1992
p. 10.
New Yorker
20 Jul 2009
p. 37.
Noe Valley Voice
Apr 1995.
---
People
20 Jul 1992.
---
Variety
30 May 1991
p. 1, 3.
Variety
25 May 1992
p. 49.
Variety
28 Jul 1992.
---
Variety
29 Jul 1992.
---
Variety
11 Jun 1993.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Scott Rudin production
An Emile Ardolino film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Steadicam op
Steadicam asst
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Chief lighting tech
Best boy
Key grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
Arriflex cameras and lenses provided by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Prod illustrator
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set des
Set des
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
MUSIC
Orig mus and adpt
Mus prod
Mus prod
Mus prod
Supv mus ed
Mus ed
Mus coord
Mus consultant
Score orch
Score orch
Score orch
Score orch
Score orch
Prod mus rec
Prod mus rec
Prod mus rec
Mus rec and mixed by
Vocal consultant
Prod vocal coach and contractor
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cable man
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Foley sd fx
Foley sd fx
Sd asst
Sd asst
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Dubbing rec
PDL
Foley mixer
Foley mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Main & end title des
Santa Monica, CA
DANCE
Mus numbers staged by
Addl choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Casting asst
Loc casting
ADR voice casting
Prod coord
Asst coord
Asst to Mr. Ardolino
Asst to Mr. Iscovich
Asst to Ms. Schwartz
Asst to Mr. Rudin
Asst to Mr. Rudin
Asst to Mr. Rudin
Asst to Ms. Gilmore
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
San Francisco loc asst
Reno loc asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Studio teacher
Unit pub
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Sister Mary Robert vocals performed by
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave," written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Edward Holland
"My Guy," written by William Robinson, Jr.
"I Will Follow Him," ("Chariot") written by Norman Gimbel, Arthur Altman, Jacques Plante, J.W. Stole and Del Roma
+
SONGS
"(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave," written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Edward Holland
"My Guy," written by William Robinson, Jr.
"I Will Follow Him," ("Chariot") written by Norman Gimbel, Arthur Altman, Jacques Plante, J.W. Stole and Del Roma
"Rescue Me," written by Carl Smith and Raynard Miner, performed by Fontella Bass, courtesy of MCA Records
"Gravy," written by Kal Mann and Dave Appell, performed by Dee Dee Sharp, courtesy of Highland Music, Inc.
"Roll with Me Henry," written by Etta James, Hank Ballard and Johnny Otis, performed by Etta James, courtesy of Virgin Records America, Inc./Ace Records/Blues Interaction, Inc.
"Shout," written by Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley and O'Kelly Isley
"Just a Touch of Love (Everyday)," written by Robert Clivilles, performed by C&C Music Factory, courtesy of Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"If My Sister's In Trouble," written by David Barratt and William Clift, performed by Lady Soul, courtesy of Boston International Records/Hollywood Records
"Bar Nun," written by Jimmy Vivino.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
May 1992
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 29 May 1992
New York opening: week of 29 May 1992
Production Date:
began 23 September 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Touchstone Pictures, an accepted alternative of the Walt Disney Company
Copyright Date:
3 June 1992
Copyright Number:
PA565888
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo in selected theatres
Color
Technicolor®
Lenses/Prints
Arriflex cameras and lenses provided by Otto Nemenz; Produced and distributed on Eastman Film
Duration(in mins):
100
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31803
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At Saint Anne's Academy in 1968, young Deloris Wilson is reprimanded for acting up in class. As punishment, her teacher, a nun at the Catholic elementary school, tells her to write the apostles' names alphabetically on the board. Deloris writes "John. Paul. Peter. Elvis." Frustrated, the teacher says that if Deloris continues on this destructive track, it will lead to a life of sin and asks her if she knows what happens to girls like her. In the present day, Deloris is the lead singer of a second-rate lounge act at a Reno, Nevada casino. Deloris is also having an affair with the casino's owner, Vince LaRocca, a married man who has been told by his priest he will burn in hell if he divorces. Although Vince has not kept his promise to leave his wife and marry Deloris, he would like to continue his relationship with her. To apologize, he sends her a purple mink coat, which Deloris soon discovers belonged to his wife. When Deloris goes to Vince's office to confront him about the gift, she inadvertently walks in on an interrogation of Ernie, Vince's limo driver who recently spent three hours with the police. Suspecting that Ernie betrayed him, Vince orders his cronies, Willy and Joey, to shoot him. Deloris walks in as they kill Ernie, but, pretending to be unfazed, she thanks Vince for the coat and leaves. Vince sends Willy and Joey after her, with the order to "take care of it" if she runs. Deloris races through the casino basement, pushing people out of her way as Willy and Joey pursue her. Outside, she takes a ... +


At Saint Anne's Academy in 1968, young Deloris Wilson is reprimanded for acting up in class. As punishment, her teacher, a nun at the Catholic elementary school, tells her to write the apostles' names alphabetically on the board. Deloris writes "John. Paul. Peter. Elvis." Frustrated, the teacher says that if Deloris continues on this destructive track, it will lead to a life of sin and asks her if she knows what happens to girls like her. In the present day, Deloris is the lead singer of a second-rate lounge act at a Reno, Nevada casino. Deloris is also having an affair with the casino's owner, Vince LaRocca, a married man who has been told by his priest he will burn in hell if he divorces. Although Vince has not kept his promise to leave his wife and marry Deloris, he would like to continue his relationship with her. To apologize, he sends her a purple mink coat, which Deloris soon discovers belonged to his wife. When Deloris goes to Vince's office to confront him about the gift, she inadvertently walks in on an interrogation of Ernie, Vince's limo driver who recently spent three hours with the police. Suspecting that Ernie betrayed him, Vince orders his cronies, Willy and Joey, to shoot him. Deloris walks in as they kill Ernie, but, pretending to be unfazed, she thanks Vince for the coat and leaves. Vince sends Willy and Joey after her, with the order to "take care of it" if she runs. Deloris races through the casino basement, pushing people out of her way as Willy and Joey pursue her. Outside, she takes a taxi to the police station. Calling herself Deloris van Cartier, she explains to Lieutenant Eddie Souther and his detectives that she saw Joey kill Ernie. Vince and his team are interested in Deloris's story, because they have been investigating Vince and his Reno mob for eighteen months. The police need Deloris's testimony to put Vince away, and Souther promises that if Deloris agrees to testify, they will protect her by hiding her in the last place Vince would think to look. The place Souther chooses is St. Katherine's Convent in San Francisco's inner city. The convent is attached to the poorly attended St. Katherine's Catholic Church, which has long been in disrepair. Although Souther assures Deloris that she will live there only until the police can get a court date for Vince, she isn't happy. However, Souther explains that Vince has a bounty on her head and the convent is the only place she'll be safe. Reverend Mother is also displeased with the situation, but her impoverished convent is in dire need of the police department's generous financial donation to continue operating. Reverend Mother insists that Deloris conduct herself as a nun, dress as a nun, and respond only to the name, Sister Mary Clarence, and that only she will know Deloris's true identity. Deloris chafes with the nun's way of life, objecting to the bland food, her cell-like sleeping quarters, the tone-deaf choir concerts, and the vow of chastity. Reverend Mother scolds her for complaining and reminds her that her singing career is almost nonexistent and that her married lover wants her dead. She suggests that God has brought Deloris to the convent, and she should "take the hint." After suffering through chores and fasting, Deloris calls Souther hoping to be reassigned, but Souther, who suspects there is an office leak and has not told his coworkers where she's hiding, tells her not to call, to prevent her identity from being compromised. Deloris befriends some of the nuns, particularly the perky Mary Patrick, the old-fashioned Sister Mary Lazarus, and a mousy postulant named Mary Robert, and tells them she previously lived in a convent in Reno. One night, Deloris sneaks out of the convent to a bar across the street, and is followed by Mary Patrick and Mary Robert, who think she is ministering to the winos as she might have at her Reno "convent." The sisters desperately want to improve the seedy neighborhood in which they live but are sheltered by Reverend Mother, who has only their protection in mind. To keep her nuns safe and Deloris quiet, Reverend Mother restricts her activities to a single task: She will join the choir, under the direction of Mary Lazarus. During her first rehearsal, Deloris is urged by the choir members to take over direction, and she reluctantly agrees. There's an almost immediate improvement in the sound of the choir, and Deloris discovers that the mousy Mary Robert has an amazing voice. Deloris insists the choir rehearse several hours a week and by their first concert, she has completely rejuvenated and redefined the choir. They now sing beautifully, but Deloris has also modernized their style, to the chagrin of Reverend Mother. People walk into the church from off the street to listen to the music, and though Reverend Mother scolds Deloris, Monsignor O'Hara applauds the choir's marked improvement, and agrees with Deloris that the nuns should be out meeting people and helping to revitalize the neighborhood. As the nuns' popularity grows, so too do the funds to fix the church, and more people attend mass every week. The nuns attract so much attention that the Pope requests a personal concert. Reverend Mother insists that the choir select a more traditional, time-honored program for the Pope's visit, but when the nuns vote against her, she feels out of place and obsolete, and decides to resign. Meanwhile at the police station, Souther's colleague, Detective Tate discovers Deloris's location by intercepting Souther's financial paperwork, then leaks the information to Vince. Although Souther soon discovers this betrayal and throws him in jail, it's too late. The thugs nab Deloris and Mary Robert during a choir rehearsal. After Deloris helps Mary Robert to escape, the meek novice informs Souther and the other nuns that the mobsters are taking Deloris to the Moonlight Lounge in Reno. Reverend Mother reveals Deloris's identity to the other nuns and, with some hesitation, agrees with the nuns that they must rescue her themselves. Together they convince a helicopter pilot to fly them to Reno. After being taken to Vince's office, Deloris, who still wears her habit, conducts herself as a nun so convincingly that neither Joey nor Willy can kill her. She again escapes through the casino basement, dodging people, but because her experience in the convent has changed her, she shows concern when she accidently knocks someone over. The nuns arrive at the casino and spread out to find Deloris. The prevalence of garbed nuns makes Deloris's garb less conspicuous, and the mobsters have a difficult time spotting her. When the nuns reunite with Deloris, she leads them to a back exit, but Vince and his thugs intercept them before they can escape. Joey and Willy hold the nuns at gunpoint, but despite Vince's orders to kill Deloris, neither will shoot her. When Vince raises his gun to fire, Souther, who has arrived with his men, shoots him in the arm and has the mobsters arrested. With wry humor, Reverend Mother states that Deloris has placed their convent in mortal danger, disrupted their routine and turned their choir into a "lounge act," but thanks Deloris and decides not to resign. Deloris admits that she will miss her new-found family, and thanks them for changing her life. Later, the convent of St. Katherine's performs for a packed church and the Pontiff, under Deloris's direction. +

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

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