Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

PG | 102 mins | Adventure, Comedy, Romance | 9 March 1990

Producer:

Teri Schwartz

Cinematographer:

Stephen Goldblatt

Editor:

Richard Halsey

Production Designer:

Bo Welch

Production Company:

Amblin Entertainment
Full page view
HISTORY


       As noted in various contemporary sources, including NYT on 3 Sep 1989 and a May 1990 issue of Premiere , the film marked writer John Patrick Shanley’s feature film directorial debut. Shanley wrote the script in 1987 while he was suffering from severe hypochondria and based the character of “Joe” on his personal experience. He noted that he worked at a medical supply company in his youth and feared that he would remain trapped in a “dreary existence.” After completing the script, Shanley advised his agent that filmmaker Steven Spielberg would be a good match for the project and after several months, Spielberg agreed to executive produce the picture and let Shanley direct. NYT reported the budget was $25 million and noted this amount was distinctly large for a first time director. A 2 Jun 1989 NYT article reported that a Writers Guild of America strike preempted the development phase of the film, limiting potential script rewrites, but production was anticipated to conclude in the Spring of 1990. As stated in 20 May 1989 HR production charts, principal photography began 8 Jun 1989 in Hawaii, New York and Los Angeles, CA. The 3 Sep 1989 NYT article reported that the beginning of the shoot was delayed for two days by Hurricane Delilah.
       After filming on location, the production moved to The Culver City soundstages to shoot scenes of the typhoon and the volcano. As noted in NYT and Premiere , the typhoon was filmed in the 90-by-90 foot, 750,000 gallon water tank used in Esther Williams films ... More Less


       As noted in various contemporary sources, including NYT on 3 Sep 1989 and a May 1990 issue of Premiere , the film marked writer John Patrick Shanley’s feature film directorial debut. Shanley wrote the script in 1987 while he was suffering from severe hypochondria and based the character of “Joe” on his personal experience. He noted that he worked at a medical supply company in his youth and feared that he would remain trapped in a “dreary existence.” After completing the script, Shanley advised his agent that filmmaker Steven Spielberg would be a good match for the project and after several months, Spielberg agreed to executive produce the picture and let Shanley direct. NYT reported the budget was $25 million and noted this amount was distinctly large for a first time director. A 2 Jun 1989 NYT article reported that a Writers Guild of America strike preempted the development phase of the film, limiting potential script rewrites, but production was anticipated to conclude in the Spring of 1990. As stated in 20 May 1989 HR production charts, principal photography began 8 Jun 1989 in Hawaii, New York and Los Angeles, CA. The 3 Sep 1989 NYT article reported that the beginning of the shoot was delayed for two days by Hurricane Delilah.
       After filming on location, the production moved to The Culver City soundstages to shoot scenes of the typhoon and the volcano. As noted in NYT and Premiere , the typhoon was filmed in the 90-by-90 foot, 750,000 gallon water tank used in Esther Williams films of the 1940s and 1950s. The tank held a 68-foot sailboat that was attached to a hydraulic gimbal though a hole in its hull. Shanley used high-speed camera work to make the waves appear more threatening and to accentuate the dramatic scene where Joe dives into the ocean to rescue Patricia. Shanley told Premiere that Spielberg advised him during the editing process, encouraging the director to “’begin (an edit) after an effect is started and before it’s complete… to pick up just the center of something like getting hit by a wave to experience what it’s like.’”
       An Apr 1990 issue of Theatre Crafts reported that the volcano was built on the soundstage where The Wizard of Oz (1939, see entry) was filmed. The volcano was 60 feet tall with an immense base to accentuate its scale. The eruption effects were created by lighting, catapulted boulders, smoke and “optical pieces” constructed by Industrial Light and Magic.
       The film was released to mixed reviews. While a 9 Mar 1990 LAT review called the picture “a funny, endearing fable,” a NYT review on the same day stated: “nothing works.”

       The film begins with the following written prologue: “Once upon a time there was a guy named Joe who had a very lousy job.” It ends with the written statement: “And they lived happily ever after… The End.” During the end credits, a series of four background paintings show “Joe” and “Patricia” rescued by a sailboat.


Academic Network: Georgia Institute of Technology; student: William Folsom; Advisor: Diane Jakacki. SBC 9/1/11. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
May 1990
p. 34.
Daily Variety
7 May 1990
p. 2, 25.
Hollywood Reporter
20 May 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 1990
p. 4, 53.
Los Angeles Times
29 Jan 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Mar 1990
p. 1, 12.
New York Times
2 Jun 1989.
---
New York Times
3 Sep 1989
pp. 11-12.
New York Times
9 Mar 1990
p. 16.
Premiere
May 1990.
---
Theatre Crafts
Apr 1990.
---
Variety
7 Mar 1990
p. 34.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Film by John Patrick Shanley
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr, New York unit
Unit prod mgr, Hawaiian unit
1st asst dir
1st asst dir, New York unit
2d asst dir
2d asst dir, New York unit
2d asst dir, Hawaiian unit
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
1st asst cam, New York unit
Addl cam
Addl cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam, New York unit
2d asst cam, New York unit
Chief lighting tech
Chief lighting tech, New York unit
Asst chief lighting tech
Rigging gaffer
Key grip
Key grip, New York unit
Grip best boy
Dolly grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Prod illustrator
Prod illustrator
Prod illustrator
Art dept researcher
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Set des
Set des
Swing gang
Swing gang
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Standby painter
Greens, Hawaiian unit
Set dresser, New York unit
Set dresser, Hawaiian unit
Scenic artist, New York unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Women's cost supv
Men's cost supv
Cost, New York unit
Cost, New York unit
Cost, Hawaiian unit
Cost, Hawaiian unit
MUSIC
Orig mus score
Orig Waponi mus by
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Prod sd mixer, New York unit
Boom man, New York unit
Sd rec, New York unit
Supv sd ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
ADR ed
ADR ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff supv
Spec eff supv
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff, Hawaiian unit
Mechanical hammerhead shark des by
Opt eff supv
Opt eff asst
Titles and opticals
Visual eff by
Marin County, California
Visual eff prod, ILM
Visual eff art dir, ILM
Visual eff cam, ILM
Visual eff cam, ILM
Visual eff cam, ILM
Project mgr, ILM
Model shop supv, ILM
Opt photog supv, ILM
Anim supv, ILM
Visual eff ed, ILM
Visual eff coord, ILM
Visual eff coord, ILM
Spec eff cam supv, ILM
Concept illustration, ILM
Visual eff gaffer, ILM
Visual eff key grip, ILM
Visual eff rigger, ILM
Visual eff cam asst, ILM
Visual eff cam asst, ILM
Stage crew, ILM
Stage crew, ILM
Stage crew, ILM
Stage crew, ILM
Stage crew, ILM
Stage crew, ILM
Stage crew, ILM
Transportation coord, ILM
Opt cam op, ILM
Opt cam op, ILM
Opt line-up, ILM
Opt line-up, ILM
Opt line-up, ILM
Chief model maker, ILM
Chief model maker, ILM
Chief model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Spec eff cam op, ILM
Spec eff cam op, ILM
Anim, ILM
Anim coord, ILM
Rotoscope, ILM
Matte artist, ILM
Matte photog, ILM
Asst visual eff ed, ILM
Prod asst, ILM
Negative cutter, ILM
Cam engineering, ILM
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Tom Hanks' makeup artist
Makeup artist, Hawaiian unit
Makeup artist, Hawaiian unit
Makeup artist, Hawaiian unit
Makeup artist, Hawaiian unit
Makeup artist, Hawaiian unit
Makeup artist, Hawaiian unit
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist, Hawaiian unit
Hairstylist, Hawaiian unit
Hairstylist, Hawaiian unit
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting asst
Scr supv
Scr supv, Hawaiian unit
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Loc mgr, New York unit
Loc supv, Hawaiian unit
Prod secy
Prod secy, New York unit
Prod secy, Hawaiian unit
Asst prod secy
Asst prod secy
Asst to Ms. Schwartz
Prod accountant
Prod accountant, New York unit
Unit pub
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Transportation capt, New York unit
Transportation capt, Hawaiian unit
Transportation supv, Hawaiian unit
Animal handler
Craft service
Craft service
Craft service, Hawaiian unit
Prod aide
Prod aide
Prod aide
Prod aide
First aid, Hawaiian unit
First aid, Hawaiian unit
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
Stuntperson
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"Sixteen Tons," written by Merle Travis, produced by Val Garay, executive producer Artie Ripp, performed by Eric Burdon
"Come Go with Me," written by C.E. Quick, performed by The Del Vikings, courtesy of MCA Records
"Good Lovin'," written by Arthur Resnick and Rudy Clark, performed by The Young Rascals, courtesy of Atlantic Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
+
SONGS
"Sixteen Tons," written by Merle Travis, produced by Val Garay, executive producer Artie Ripp, performed by Eric Burdon
"Come Go with Me," written by C.E. Quick, performed by The Del Vikings, courtesy of MCA Records
"Good Lovin'," written by Arthur Resnick and Rudy Clark, performed by The Young Rascals, courtesy of Atlantic Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"I Cover the Waterfront," written by Edward Heyman and Johnny Green, performed by The Ink Spots, courtesy of MCA Records
"Blue Moon," written by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers, performed by Elvis Presley, courtesy of RCA Records
"Ol' Man River," written by Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern, performed by Ray Charles, courtesy of Ray Charles Enterprises, Inc.
"Mas Que Nada," written by Jorge Ben, performed by Sergio Mendez & Brazil '66, courtesy of A&M Records
"On the Street Where You Live," written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, produced and arranged by Peter Gordon
"The Cowboy Song," written by John Patrick Shanley, performed by Tom Hanks
"Marooned Without You," music by Georges Delerue, lyrics by John Patrick Shanley.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
9 March 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 9 March 1990
New York opening: week of 9 March 1990
Production Date:
began 8 June 1989
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 May 1990
Copyright Number:
PA465748
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Color by Technicolor®
Lenses
Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
102
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30211
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Long Island City, New York, Joe Banks walks with a herd of expressionless factory workers through the gates of the medical supply company American Panascope, "home of the rectal probe." When Joe steps in a puddle of mud, he raises his arms toward the sky in exasperation. Inside the advertising department office, Joe’s senses are disturbed by fluorescent lighting, bad coffee and a demanding boss, Mr. Waturi. When Joe says he is ill, Waturi complains that Joe is always sick and disparages his work. Later, at an appointment with Dr. Ellison, Joe explains that he has been ill since he left the fire department and is diagnosed with “brain cloud,” a terminal disease with no symptoms, and hypochondria. Joe is given six months to live. Following Dr. Ellison’s advice to enjoy his remaining days, Joe heads back to the office with a newly found appreciation of life, quits his job and asks the secretary, DeDe, on a date. That night at the Fire in Paradise restaurant, Joe tells DeDe that he feels great and pays a Mariachi band to serenade them. Back at Joe’s apartment they kiss, but when DeDe learns of Joe’s imminent death, she promptly leaves. The following day, businessman Samuel Graynamore unexpectedly arrives at Joe’s apartment and calls him a hero for saving three children while working as fireman. Graynamore knows Joe is newly unemployed and claims Dr. Ellison told him about Joe’s condition because they would make a good match. Graynamore wants to hire Joe to jump into a volcano. Graynamore explains that a precious element required for manufacturing superconductors called bubaru has been ... +


In Long Island City, New York, Joe Banks walks with a herd of expressionless factory workers through the gates of the medical supply company American Panascope, "home of the rectal probe." When Joe steps in a puddle of mud, he raises his arms toward the sky in exasperation. Inside the advertising department office, Joe’s senses are disturbed by fluorescent lighting, bad coffee and a demanding boss, Mr. Waturi. When Joe says he is ill, Waturi complains that Joe is always sick and disparages his work. Later, at an appointment with Dr. Ellison, Joe explains that he has been ill since he left the fire department and is diagnosed with “brain cloud,” a terminal disease with no symptoms, and hypochondria. Joe is given six months to live. Following Dr. Ellison’s advice to enjoy his remaining days, Joe heads back to the office with a newly found appreciation of life, quits his job and asks the secretary, DeDe, on a date. That night at the Fire in Paradise restaurant, Joe tells DeDe that he feels great and pays a Mariachi band to serenade them. Back at Joe’s apartment they kiss, but when DeDe learns of Joe’s imminent death, she promptly leaves. The following day, businessman Samuel Graynamore unexpectedly arrives at Joe’s apartment and calls him a hero for saving three children while working as fireman. Graynamore knows Joe is newly unemployed and claims Dr. Ellison told him about Joe’s condition because they would make a good match. Graynamore wants to hire Joe to jump into a volcano. Graynamore explains that a precious element required for manufacturing superconductors called bubaru has been located on the small South Pacific island of Waponi Woo. According to Graynamore, the Waponis are a peaceful people but they are convinced that their volcano, the Big Woo, contains an angry fire god who demands a human sacrifice every hundred years. If the god is not appeased, he will sink the island. Graynamore says that it has been ninety-nine years, eleven months and eleven days since the last sacrifice and the Waponis are anxious. He proposes that Joe act as their sacrificial hero as a form of compensation for the bubaru. At the price of Joe’s life, Graynamore will own mineral rights to the island’s natural resource. Graynamore argues that Joe’s heroism in the fire department makes him perfectly suited for the job because he has experience jumping into fires. When Graynamore offers Joe unlimited credit cards, a chartered yacht to Waponi Woo and the opportunity to die heroically in a tropical paradise, Joe agrees. With his new prosperity, Joe rents a Rolls Royce limousine. He requests advice from his chauffeur, Marshall, about clothing styles but Marshall refuses to dictate Joe’s identity. However, Marshall takes him to the designer store Armani and Joe buys himself and his chauffeur matching tuxedos. After a day of acquiring superfluous items at expensive boutiques, Joe gets his long hair cut short and purchases four handmade, watertight steamer trunks. When Marshall drops Joe off at an exclusive hotel, Joe asks him to dinner and admits he has no one else in his life. The next morning, Joe flies first class to Los Angeles where is met by Graynamore’s flighty daughter, Angelica. At dinner, Joe learns she is a poet and painter. Afterwards, as they look out on the city lights, Angelica claims she is considering suicide because of her financial dependence on Graynamore and Joe suggests that she do something she is afraid of. Angelica offers to come to Joe’s hotel room for the night, but he refuses. Instead, Joe sits on the beach and watches the sun rise. The next morning, Angelica shows Joe a painting of his face superimposed on the sun and informs him that her half-sister, Patricia, will be captain of Graynamore’s yacht, the Tweedledee. Angelica takes Joe to the dock and introduces him to her doppelganger, Patricia, who insists on calling him Felix. He asks for good luck and kisses Angelica goodbye. On the voyage, Joe learns that Patricia agreed to sail to Waponi Woo only because her father promised her the Tweedledee in return. As Joe lies in bed that night, Patricia expresses concern about the mysterious nature of the excursion and her obligation to her father. She is happy to learn he did not sleep with Angelica. The following evening, Joe explains that he will not be returning from the island. When Patricia leans forward for a kiss, Joe confesses the details of their voyage and what he has been hired to do. Patricia quickly retires to her cabin. In the morning, Dagmar, the yacht’s navigator, tells Joe that they are facing a typhoon. Waves crash over the boat as Joe and Patricia kiss passionately and Patricia is knocked overboard by the mast. When Joe dives into the water to save her, the ship is struck by lightning and sinks with the crew. Joe’s steamer trunks float to the surface and he ties them together as a makeshift raft. Riding aboard the trunks over the next few days, Patricia lies unconscious while Joe rations a bottle of water and puts the items from his New York City shopping spree to use. Hallucinating, Joe sees an enormous full moon rise over the Pacific and raises his arms toward the sky, thanking God for his life. Patricia regains consciousness the following morning. As she forces Joe to drink, the couple is spotted by a menacing Waponi warrior. He alerts his tribe to their arrival and the Waponis celebrate. After confirming the castaway is Joe, the couple is given a hero’s welcome and Baw, the Waponi advance man, leads them to the Chief. Standing beneath the Chief’s throne among an array of dead bodies, Joe learns that he will jump into The Big Woo after a feast that night. Joe is bathed and subjected to pranks by the Waponi men while Patricia is manicured and pampered by the Waponi women. Joe arrives at the feast in his Armani tuxedo. The Chief calls upon the Waponis for a hero to replace Joe, but no one volunteers. When the volcano shakes the island, Joe exuberantly initiates the sacrifice and is guided to the mouth of the volcano. Patricia breaks through the crowd and announces her love for him. Despite her protests, Joe insists he must stay true to his word even though he has fallen in love with her too. As Joe proceeds toward the volcano, Patricia proposes and urges the Chief to marry them. Joe reluctantly agrees. After a brief ceremony, Patricia again attempts to talk Joe out of jumping, but he remains steadfast and Patricia decides to go with him. However, at the moment they jump, the volcano erupts, blasting them into the Pacific. Amazed that they are still alive, the couple treads water and watches the island sink. Although Joe fears they will drown, Patricia is convinced they will survive and the four trusty steamer trunks burst to the surface of the ocean once again. As they sit on the trunks, Joe tells Patricia about his brain cloud. Even though they survived the volcano, he is still going to die soon. When Joe contemplates getting a second opinion, Patricia recognizes Dr. Ellison’s name and says that he is Graynamore’s private doctor. She concludes that her father set Joe up. Although Joe feels victimized, Patricia explains their discovery is good news because Joe has his entire life ahead of him, provided they can survive their stint on the raft. Joe vows to bring the steamer trunks with them wherever they go and they kiss under an enormous full moon. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.