AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Director: Ron Howard (Dir)
Release Date:   9 Mar 1984
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles and New York openings: 9 Mar 1984
Production Date:   12 Apr--Jun 1983 in New York City; Los Angeles, CA; and Nassau, The Bahamas
Duration (in mins):   109
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Cast: Starring: Tom Hanks (Allen Bauer)  
    Daryl Hannah (Madison)  
    Eugene Levy (Walter Kornbluth)  
  and John Candy (Freddie Bauer) as
  Co-starring: Dody Goodman (Mrs. Stimler)  
    Shecky Greene (Mr. Buyrite)  
    Richard B. Shull (Dr. Ross)  
    Bobby Di Cicco (Jerry)  
    Howard Morris (Dr. Zidell)  
  [and] Tony Di Benedetto (Tim, the doorman)  
  Co-starring: Patrick Cronin (Michaelson)  
    Charles Walker (Michaelson's partner)  
    David Knell (Claude)  
    Jeff Doucette (Junior)  
    Royce D. Applegate (Buckwalter)  
    Tony Longo (Augie)  
    Nora Denney (Ms. Stein)  
    Charles Macaulay (The President)  
    Ronald F. Hoiseck (Dr. Johannsen)  
    Lou Tiano (Bartender)  
    Joe Grifasi (Manny)  
  [and] Rance Howard (McCullough)  
  Featuring: Corki Corman-Grazer (Wife)  
    Fred Lerner (Husband)  
    David Lloyd Nelson (Lt. Ingram)  
    Al Chesney (Fat Jack)  
    Lowell Ganz (Stan, the tour guide)  
    James Ritz (T.V. dept. manager)  
    Maurice Rice (TV salesman)  
    Babaloo Mandel (Rudy)  
    Pierre Epstein (Dr. Hess)  
    Cheryl Howard (Girl at wedding)  
    Louisa Marie (Girl at wedding)  
  Wedding guests: Valerie Wildman    
    Christopher Thomas    
    Richard Dano    
  [and] Clint Howard    
    Ron Kuhlman (Man with date)  
    Lori Kessler (Girl with date)  
    Joe Cirillo (Sergeant Munson)  
    Tom Toner (Parilli)  
    Lee Delano (Sergeant Lelandowski)  
    Midgia Varela (Wanda)  
    Jack Denton (Man by elevator)  
    Nick Cinardo (George)  
    Fil Formicola (Policeman)  
    Thann Wyenn (Mr. Ambrose)  
    Clare Peck (TV reporter)  
    Eileen Saki (Dr. Fujimoto)  
  Reporters: Jodi Long    
    Victoria Lucas    
    Jeffrey Dreisbach    
    Amy Ingersoll    
    Daryl Edwards    
  [and] Jack Hallett    
    Bill Smitrovich (Ralph Bauer)  
    Nancy Raffa (Mary Bauer)  
    David Krepps (Young Allen)  
    Jason Late (Young Freddie)  
    Shayla MacKarvich (Young Madison)  

Summary: Off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, eight-year-old Allen Bauer jumps from the deck of a tour boat after spotting something in the water. While submerged, he sees a mermaid about his age. They hold hands, but a rescuer pulls Allen away. Twenty years later in New York City, an adult Allen manages his family’s produce business with his shiftless older brother, Freddie Bauer. At the office, Allen gets a telephone call from his girl friend, Victoria, informing him that she is moving out of their apartment. The following day, at the wedding of the Bauers’ employee, Jerry, Allen laments that Victoria left because he did not love her. After the ceremony, Allen becomes intoxicated, decides he is going to die alone, and impulsively takes a taxicab to Cape Cod. The following morning, on the beach, a scientist named Walter Kornbluth and two assistants unpack research equipment. When Allen asks for a ride to an island, Kornbluth accuses him of being a spy. Later, a man named Fat Jack takes Allen to the island in a small boat. Allen confides that he cannot swim, and Fat Jack rocks the boat to scare him, inadvertently killing the engine. After Fat Jack swims to get another boat, Allen tries to restart the engine, but falls into the water and is knocked unconscious. As he sinks, he loses his wallet, and a pair of arms reach out for him. Later, he awakens on the beach and sees a beautiful naked woman, who kisses him passionately, then dives into the ocean and disappears. Unseen by Allen, the woman transforms into a mermaid and finds his wallet. She startles Kornbluth, who is diving nearby, and he drops his camera before he can photograph her. The mermaid swims to a sunken ship and, using the address from Allen’s driver’s license, locates New York City on a map. Later, the mermaid takes human form and causes a commotion at the Statue of Liberty. Wearing only a necklace and unable to speak English, police take her into custody and telephone Allen, who picks her up and takes her home. Arriving at his apartment building, they make love in the elevator. In the afternoon, Allen returns to work and leaves the mermaid with the television for company. Borrowing one of Allen’s suits and armed with a single word of English, “Bloomingdale’s,” the mermaid heads outside and the doorman, Timmy, puts her in a taxicab to the department store. There she uses Allen’s credit card to go on a shopping spree, and spends six hours watching television in the appliance department. Tipped off by Timmy, Allen goes to Bloomingdale’s and is surprised that the mermaid has apparently learned to speak English in one day. She attempts to tell Allen her name in her native language and the high-pitched screech she emits shatters all the television screens in the store. Allen tells her he needs a name he can pronounce, and she chooses “Madison” after the New York City avenue. Madison reveals that she can only remain in the city for six days, and Allen assumes she has an immigration problem. That night, while Allen sleeps, Madison sneaks into the bathroom, takes a saltwater bath, and her legs transform into a tail. Allen awakens and surprises her, so she hurriedly dries her body behind the locked door. When he breaks through, her legs have returned, and she claims that she did not let him in because she was shy. Meanwhile, the scientist, Kornbluth, searches Cape Cod in vain for the mermaid, until he spots Madison’s appearance at the Statue of Liberty on the cover of a tabloid newspaper. Back in New York City, Allen shows Madison a mermaid-themed fountain and she asks if he likes it. He says that he does and it reminds him of a childhood accident, but stops short of revealing that he saw a mermaid. Sadly, he tells her, the fountain is being removed to make way for condominiums. The following day, Allen tells Freddie that he wants to take Madison to a dinner where the President of the United States of America will speak, and Freddie accuses him of being in love. At the Museum of Natural History, Kornbluth is humiliated when he attempts to present his research on mermaids to his peers, led by Dr. Ross. Allen returns home and finds that Madison had the mermaid fountain installed in his living room. She tells him that she traded her necklace for the fountain because she loves him. Elsewhere, Kornbluth’s mentor, Dr. Zidell, tries to reason with him, but Kornbluth insists there is a mermaid in New York City and he plans to prove it. Kornbluth locates Allen and Madison out walking and follows them with two buckets of water. He throws the water at the wrong woman, and her companion beats him. Meanwhile, Allen and Madison have a romantic dinner and ice skate, and Allen suggests they could solve her immigration problem if they got married. When she responds that she cannot marry him, but will not reveal why, Allen treats her coldly, and she runs off. A rainstorm strikes and Allen searches for Madison as she hides under a bridge. In the morning, Madison finds Allen at the produce company, and agrees to marry him. Kornbluth, with a broken arm and wearing a neck brace, impersonates a maintenance worker, and attempts to ambush Madison and Allen, but accidentally soaks the same couple he clashed with earlier, and is thrown down a flight of stairs. Later, Kornbluth infiltrates the dinner for the president dressed as a waiter, but is apprehended by the Secret Service. As he is escorted outside, Kornbluth manages to wet Madison with a hose and her legs turn into a tail, exposing her secret. Authorities whisk her and Allen to a research facility supervised by Dr. Ross. Allen is placed in a tank of water for twelve hours and studied before being released. When Allen feels sorry for himself, Freddie chastises him that most people never experience the happiness Allen felt for a short time. At the research facility, Kornbluth notices Madison’s fading health and challenges Ross’s treatment of her. Allen confronts Kornbluth, who admits he did not consider the consequences of his actions but offers to get Allen in to see Madison. Dressed in lab coats and impersonating Swedish scientists, Allen and Freddie join Kornbluth and gain access to the facility. Allen and Kornbluth smuggle Madison out in Allen’s car and take her to the river as Freddie remains in the laboratory. When the authorities realize Madison is missing, the military is ordered to pursue them. Kornbluth acts as a diversion as Allen and Madison reach the docks. The military bears down on them, and Madison reminds Allen of the time he fell in the water twenty years earlier and says that he felt safe because he was with her. Allen wants to join her, but she warns him that he will never be able to return to his world. Brokenhearted, he says goodbye, and Madison dives into the river. As military frogmen drop into the water from helicopters, Allen changes his mind and leaps into the river. They fight off the divers and swim to Madison’s home at the bottom of the ocean. 

Production Company: Touchstone Films  
  Walt Disney Productions  
Production Text: A Brian Grazer production
A Ron Howard film
Distribution Company: Buena Vista Distribution Co., Inc.  
Director: Ron Howard (Dir)
  John Thomas Lenox (Prod mgr)
  Jan R. Lloyd (1st asst dir)
  Doug Metzger (2d asst dir)
  Christopher Griffin (2d asst dir)
  Hans Anthony Beimler (2d asst dir)
Producer: Brian Grazer (Prod)
  John Thomas Lenox (Exec prod)
Writer: Lowell Ganz (Scr)
  & Babaloo Mandel (Scr)
  And Bruce Jay Friedman (Scr)
  Bruce Jay Friedman (Scr story)
  Bruce Jay Friedman (Story)
  Brian Grazer (Based on a story by)
Photography: Don Peterman (Dir of photog)
  Kalani Manning (Chief lighting tech)
  John Connor (Cam op, Los Angeles unit)
  Ron Batzdorff (Still photog, Los Angeles unit)
  Jerry King (Key grip, Los Angeles unit)
  John Fauer (Cam op, New York unit)
  Craig DiBona (Panaglide op, New York unit)
  S. Karen Epstein (Still photog, New York unit)
  Lou Cappeto (Key grip, New York unit)
  Jon Tower (Chief lighting tech, New York unit)
  Jordan Klein (Underwater dir of photog, Bahamas unit)
  David Doubilet (Underwater still photog, Bahamas unit)
Art Direction: Jack T. Collis (Prod des)
  John B. Mansbridge (Art dir, Los Angeles unit)
Film Editor: Daniel P. Hanley (Ed)
  Michael Hill (Ed)
  Roger W. Tweten (Asst ed)
  Carol Ann Jackson (Asst ed)
Set Decoration: Wilbur L. "Rusty" Russell (Prop master)
  Norman Rockett (Set dec, Los Angeles unit)
  Philip Smith (Set dec, New York unit)
  Bob Wilson, Sr. (Prop master, New York unit)
Costumes: May Routh (Cost des)
  Jack Sandeen (Cost supv)
  Sandy Berke Jordan (Key cost)
  Charles DeMuth (Men's cost, Los Angeles unit)
  Jody Berke (Men's cost, New York unit)
Music: Lee Holdridge (Mus)
  Jack Wadsworth (Supv mus ed)
  Richard S. Luckey (Mus ed)
  Alf Clausen (Addl orch)
  Sidney James (Mus coord)
  Shawn Murphy (Mus scoring mixer)
Sound: Richard S. Church (Sd mixer)
  Bob Hathaway (Sd supv)
  Joseph Parker (Supv sd eff ed)
  George Fredrick (Sd eff ed)
  Al Maguire (Dial ed)
  Richard Portman (Re-rec mixer)
  Nick Alphin (Re-rec mixer)
  Frank Regula (Re-rec mixer)
  Tom Gerard (Re-rec mixer)
Special Effects: Roland Tantin (Spec eff supv, Los Angeles unit)
  Hans Metz (Spec mechanical eff, Los Angeles unit)
  Mitch Suskin (Spec visual eff supv)
  Robert Short (Mermaid des and const)
  Philip Meador (Spec photog eff supv)
  Wayne Fitzgerald (Title des)
  David Oliver (Title des)
Dance: Mike Nomad (Swimming choreog)
Make Up: Robert J. Schiffer (Makeup supv)
  Bruce Hutchinson (Makeup artist)
  Carol Pershing (Hairstylist, Los Angeles unit)
  Judi Goodman (Hairstylist, New York unit)
Production Misc: Bill Shepard (Casting)
  Lyla Foggia (Unit pub)
  Sam Crespi (Asst to Mr. Grazer)
  Louisa Marie (Asst to Mr. Howard)
  Gary D. Paulsen (Transportation coord)
  Bobbi Kronowitz (Prod coord)
  Terry Terrill (Scr supv, Los Angeles unit)
  Motion Picture Marine (Nautical coord, Los Angeles unit)
  William T. Schneider (Loc mgr, Los Angeles unit)
  Susana Preston (Scr supv, New York unit)
  Cleve Kingston (Prod coord, New York unit)
  Jane Raab (Prod coord, New York unit)
  Harry Grier (Loc mgr, New York unit)
  Pat McCorkle (New York casting)
  Dan Tyra-Danico Casting (New York extra casting)
  Theatre Vision International, Inc. (New York prod services provided by)
  Ira Marvin (Prod supv)
  Joseph P. Kane (Prod supv)
  James Steven Claridge (Nautical coord, Bahamas unit)
  Gavin A. McKinney (Nautical coord, Bahamas unit)
  BJ Johnson (Loc mgr, Bahamas unit)
Stand In: Fred Waugh (Stunt coord, Los Angeles unit)
  Victor Magnotta (Stunt coord, New York unit)
  Edgard Mourino (Stunt coord, New York unit)
  Hubie Kerns, Jr. (Stunt coord, Bahamas unit)
  Daniel Aiello (Stunts)
  Bill Anagnos (Stunts)
  Jophery Brown (Stunts)
  John Cade (Stunts)
  Al Cerullo, Jr. (Stunts)
  John De Bello (Stunts)
  John De Virgilio (Stunts)
  Tim Gallin (Stunts)
  Jery Hewitt (Stunts)
  Erik Königer (Stunts)
  Lisa Löving (Stunts)
  Michael Mirkin (Stunts)
  Erick E. Mourino (Stunts)
  Catherine Schultz (Stunts)
  Anne Senelly (Stunts)
  A. L. Sheppard (Stunts)
  Alex Stevens (Stunts)
  Mark Sutton (Stunts)
  Roy Thomas (Stunts)
  Jesse Wayne (Stunts)
  Peggy Westmoreland (Stunts)
  Tom Wright (Stunts)
Color Personnel: Technicolor® (Col by)
MPAA Rating: PG
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "Love Came For Me," performed by Rita Coolidge, lyric, Will Jennings, music, Lee Holdridge, courtesy of A & M Records.
Composer: Lee Holdridge
  Will Jennings
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Buena Vista Distribution Company, Inc. 12/3/1984 dd/mm/yyyy PA201728

PCA NO: 27217
Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby Stereo® in selected theatres

Genre: Romantic comedy
Subjects (Major): Brothers
  Family relationships
Subjects (Minor): American Museum of Natural History (New York City)
  Cape Cod (MA)
  Department stores
  English language
  New York City
  New York City--Madison Avenue
  Produce trade
  Statue of Liberty National Monument (New York City)
  United States. Army. Military Police
  Wounds and injuries

Note: End credits include the following statements: “Sequence from Bonanza provided by National Telefilm Associates, Inc., Los Angeles, California, through the courtesy of NBC”; “Statue of Liberty, National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior”; and “Filmed on location in New York City; Los Angeles, California; Nassau, the Bahamas.”
       A 13 Mar 1984 LAHExam article reported that the idea for the film came to producer Brian Grazer as he drove along Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu, California, in 1977 and fantasized about meeting a mermaid and falling in love. A Mar 1984 Esquire article, stated that Grazer, with development money from United Artists, hired Bruce Jay Friedman to write a script.
       According to a 17 Dec 1980 DV new item, Stan Dragoti had signed a deal to direct the film for the studio with a planned Spring 1981 start. Esquire reported that the project stalled and Grazer learned that producer Ray Stark was also developing a mermaid film. Grazer responded by hiring Alan Mandel to write a new draft. United Artists approved Mandel’s version, but Grazer did not, so he persuaded the studio to allow him to take Bruce Jay Friedman's script elsewhere. Meanwhile, Dragoti left the project and Grazer partnered with director Ron Howard, with whom he worked on Night Shift (1982, see entry). Grazer and Howard took Splash to the Ladd Company and hired Night Shift writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel to rewrite Friedman’s script. However, the Ladd Company's Alan Ladd, Jr. eventually passed on the film. In early 1983, agent Jeff Berg made a deal with Walt Disney Company subsidiary Touchstone Films to make the motion picture.
       A 20 Apr 1983 Var news item stated that Walt Disney Productions added Friedman’s name to the screenplay credits only after the writer’s agent, Ira Schwartz, supplied copies of the script written for United Artists. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) subsequently awarded Friedman co-writing credit with Ganz and Mandel as well as credit for the “screen story.”
       HR production charts on 29 Apr 1983 announced that principal photography began 12 Apr 1983. A 6 Apr 1983 Var brief outlined a production schedule that included a month in New York City, a month in Los Angeles, CA, and two weeks of underwater shooting in The Bahamas, with an $11 million budget.
       A Mar 1984 California article stated that actress Daryl Hannah, an experienced scuba diver, performed her own underwater scenes as the mermaid. The tail worn by Hannah weighed thirty-five pounds, and was fabricated from plexiglass and latex. For a scene in which Madison tears into a lobster at a restaurant, a shell stuffed with potatoes and hearts of palm was used because Hannah was a vegetarian.
       The 9 Mar 1984 LAT review called the film, “a warm, delicious romantic comedy.” Splash received an Academy Award nomination for Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen) as well as a WGA nomination for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.
       On 7 Dec 1985, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Walt Disney World planned to build a water-park called Splash, after the movie, within two years. The park opened in 1989, but under the name, Typhoon Lagoon.
       A sequel, Splash, Too, originally written as a theatrical feature according to a 29 May 1987 HR news item, aired as a made-for-television film on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) network in 1988. Only Dody Goodman, as “Mrs. Stimler,” reprised her role from the first film. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   Apr 1984.   
California   Mar 1984.   
Daily Variety   17 Dec 1980.   
Esquire   Mar 1984.   
Hollywood Reporter   29 Apr 1983.   
Hollywood Reporter   23 Feb 1984   p. 3, 4.
Hollywood Reporter   29 May 1987.   
LAHExam   9 Mar 1984.   Section D, p. 5.
LAHExam   13 Mar 1984.   
Los Angeles Times   9 Mar 1984   p. 1, 12.
LA Weekly   9 Mar 1984.   
Motion Picture Production Digest   28 Mar 1984.   
New York   12 Mar 1984   pp. 90-91.
New York Times   9 Mar 1984   p. 15.
Orlando Sentinel   7 Dec 1985.   
Time   19 Mar 1984.   
Variety   6 Apr 1983.   
Variety   20 Apr 1983.   
Variety   29 Feb 1984   p. 14.
Village Voice   13 Mar 1984   pp. 4-5.
WSJ   15 Mar 1984.   

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