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Adventures in Babysitting
Director: Chris Columbus (Dir)
Release Date:   1987
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles and New York openings: 1 Jul 1987
Production Date:   5 Jan--early Mar 1987
Duration (in mins):   99
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Cast:   Elizabeth Shue (Chris [Parker])  
    Maia Brewton (Sara [Anderson])  
    Keith Coogan (Brad [Anderson])  
    Anthony Rapp (Daryl [Coopersmith])  
  Also Starring Calvin Levels (Joe Gipp)  
  Also Starring Vincent Phillip D'Onofrio (Dawson)  
  Also Starring Penelope Ann Miller (Brenda)  
  Also Starring George Newbern (Dan [Lynch])  
  Also Starring John Ford Noonan ([John] Pruitt)  
  Also Starring Bradley Whitford (Mike [Todwell])  
  Featuring Ron Canada (Graydon)  
  Featuring John Chandler (Bleak)  
  Featuring Daniel Ziskie (Mr. Anderson)  
    Allan Aarons (Janitor #1)  
    Marcia Bennett (Nurse)  
    Rummy Bishop (Janitor #2)  
    David Blacker (Cleminski)  
    Lolita David (Blonde)  
    John Dee (Old man)  
    Monica Devereux (Teenage runaway)  
    Clarke Devereux (Gangster at table)  
    Rick Goldman (Adulterer)  
    Deryck Hazel (Maitre d')  
    John Hemphill (Drunk at party)  
    Frank Hill (El train attendant)  
    Philip Honey (Jock)  
    Clark Johnson (Black gang leader)  
    Maryann Kelman (Passenger)  
    Kirsten Kieferle (Sesame)  
    Peter Lavender (Hot dog vendor)  
    Kevin Lund (Huge guy)  
    Southside Johnny (Band leader at frat party)  
    Allan Merovitz (Man with gun)  
    Sam Moses (Dr. Nuhkbane)  
    Les Nirenberg (Fat man)  
    Juan Ramirez (Chicano leader)  
    Richard Rebiere (Friend)  
    Diane Robin (Nurse)  
    Sandi Ross (Bag lady)  
    Charlene Shipp (Mrs. Pruitt)  
    Sandra Shuman (Mrs. Parker)  
    Linda Sorensen (Mrs. Anderson)  
    Walt Woodson (Gang member)  
    Albert Collins (Blues band singer)  

Summary: In a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, seventeen-year-old Chris Parker learns that her boyfriend, Mike Todwell, must cancel their date to take care of his sick sister. Freed up for the night, Chris reluctantly agrees to a babysitting job at the Andersons’ home. When Chris arrives, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson inform her that they are going to a party downtown, and Brad, their fifteen-year-old, will be spending the night at a friend Daryl Coopersmith’s house; thus, she will only be taking care of eleven-year-old Sara, who is obsessed with the superhero “Thor.” Brad, who has a crush on Chris, ignores Daryl when he arrives outside the house, choosing to stay with Chris and Sara instead. Soon after the Andersons leave, Chris receives a phone call from her friend, Brenda, who has run away from home to a bus station downtown. Scared, Brenda begs Chris to pick her up, as she does not have any money for a taxicab. Though Chris is not allowed to drive her mother’s car into the city, she agrees, asking Brad to watch Sara while she’s gone. Brad and Sara refuse, insisting that Chris take them with her, and on their way out, Daryl appears and threatens to tell Brad and Sara’s parents that Chris drove them into the city if he is not allowed to join as well. Chris obliges, ushering Daryl into the car. As they head into the city, Daryl pulls the latest edition of Playboy from inside his jacket, excited to show Brad that the centerfold model looks exactly like Chris. Embarrassed, Brad flings the magazine out the window, upsetting Daryl who stole it from his father. On the freeway, Chris gets a flat tire. Realizing that she left her purse and wallet at home and there is no spare tire, she panics, but a tow truck appears, and a man named John Pruitt offers help. At first, Pruitt scares the group because he has a hook in place of one of his hands, but they decide to ride with him to a nearby garage where he agrees to tow the car and repair the tire for free. On the way, Pruitt gets word that another man has been spotted at his house, possibly having an affair with his wife. In a fit of rage, he reroutes to surprise his wife at home, and finding the other man there, begins to beat him. Chris and the children watch from the truck as the man tries to escape and Pruitt shoots at him. Errant bullets hit the side of the truck and the windshield of Chris’s car, and she and the others escape, seeking refuge in another car down the street. As Chris orders the others to lock their doors, a car thief named Joe Gipp appears in the driver’s seat and starts the car. Frightened, Chris asks Joe to drop them off at the next block, but he refuses, warning that they are in a bad neighborhood. Joe promises to drive them to safety after he takes care of some business, delivering the car to a warehouse full of other stolen cars. Joe’s boss, Graydon, reprimands him for bringing children to the building and orders him to lock them in an upstairs office. There, Sara suggests they climb through a hole in the ceiling and walk across a catwalk to an open window to escape. Before they leave, Daryl grabs a copy of the latest Playboy to replace his father’s. Meanwhile, Graydon’s accomplice, Bleak, asks for a set of notes that were written on the magazine, and Graydon discovers that the Playboy and the children are missing when he searches upstairs. Bleak, Graydon, and Joe chase after the children, who sneak into another building through an alleyway and find themselves on the stage of a blues bar. The band’s singer tells Chris they cannot leave without singing the blues. Luckily, as the band plays a backing track, Chris and the children manage to string a tune together about their adventures so far, and the audience applauds. Bleak, Graydon, and Joe arrive but do not interrupt the performance. After their song, Chris and the kids escape and jump onto a train at the last minute. As they ride away, however, they are caught in the middle of a fight between two street gangs. Intervening in the conflict to impress Chris, Brad is stabbed in the toe. At the next stop, they rush to the hospital where Brad receives one stitch. There, Chris sees Pruitt, who apologizes for damaging her windshield and tells her that he’s had it replaced at Dawson’s garage, where she’ll need to pay fifty dollars for the new tire. After Brad is released, the group runs from the hospital to avoid making a payment and comes across a college fraternity party on their way to Dawson’s Garage. There, Chris meets Dan Lynch and shares her troubles with him. Dan offers to help, asking his fraternity brothers for cash and procuring forty-five dollars to pay for Chris’s tire. When Chris offers Mr. Dawson the money, however, he refuses to accept less than fifty dollars. Sara, who assumes that the tall, intimidating man is actually Thor, the superhero, reminds him that he is supposed to help people in trouble and offers him her toy helmet as a gift. Touched by Sara’s gesture, Dawson returns the car. On the road, Chris points out the restaurant where she was supposed to have dinner with Mike, and Daryl notices Mike’s car parked outside. Stopping in, Chris finds Mike on a date with another girl and demands an explanation. Mike brushes her off, and Brad and Daryl come to Chris’s defense. Meanwhile, Sara sneaks outside, and Bleak and Graydon, still tailing them, chase after her, causing Sara to run to a nearby skyscraper where she knows her parents’ party is taking place. When they discover Sara has disappeared, Chris and the boys head to the skyscraper as well. Though Sara takes the elevator to the wrong floor, Graydon finds her there, prompting her to escape through an open window pane. Seeing her dangling on the side of the building, Graydon climbs out himself. In search of Sara, Chris steals a fur coat and uses it as a disguise to enter the party where the Andersons are. Spotting Sara through a window, Chris, Brad, and Daryl rush to the roof and throw a rope down to rescue her. Joe finds Chris and the others as they are about to leave and tells them that Bleak and Graydon only want the copy of Playboy that Daryl stole. They return the magazine and leave to pick up Brenda. Heading back to the suburbs, Chris spots the Andersons’ car on the freeway and speeds ahead, barely beating them home. After Chris tells the kids goodbye, she walks outside to find Dan Lynch, returning a pair of Sara’s roller-skates that have the Andersons’ address written on them. As Brad and Sara watch from a window upstairs, Chris and Dan kiss. 

Production Company: Rose Productions  
  Touchstone Pictures  
  Silver Screen Partners III  
Production Text: A Debra Hill and Lynda Obst Production
Distribution Company: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution  
Director: Chris Columbus (Dir)
  Todd Hallowell (2d unit dir)
  David Coatsworth (Prod mgr)
  John G. Wilson (Unit prod mgr, Chicago)
  Tony Lucibello (1st asst dir)
  Tony Lucibello (1st asst dir, Chicago)
  Madeleine Henrie (2d asst dir)
  Robert J. Wilson (2d asst dir, Chicago)
  Anne-Marie Ferney (3d asst dir)
Producer: Debra Hill (Prod)
  Lynda Obst (Prod)
Writer: David Simkins (Wrt)
Photography: Ric Waite (Dir of photog)
  Henri Fiks (Cam op)
  David Crone (2d cam op)
  Roger Gebhard (1st asst cam op)
  Kerry Smart (1st asst cam op)
  Bill Pryde (2d asst cam op)
  Angelo Colavecchia (2d asst cam op)
  Gillian Stokvis (2d asst cam op)
  Chris Holmes (Gaffer)
  Eugene F. Crededio (Gaffer, Chicago)
  Tony Eldridge (Best boy)
  Dennis Delamata (Best boy, Chicago)
  Al Blumenthal (Best boy, Chicago)
  Ron Gillham (Key grip)
  James Kohne (Best boy grip)
  Cal Kohne (Dolly grip)
  Joseph J. Yario (Grip, Chicago)
  Takashi Seida (Still photog)
Art Direction: Todd Hallowell (Prod des)
  Barbara Dunphy (Art dir)
  Gregory Keen (Asst art dir)
  Tom Southwell (Illustrator)
Film Editor: Fredric Steinkamp (Ed)
  William Steinkamp (Ed)
  Karl Steinkamp (1st asst ed)
  Robin Russell (1st asst ed)
  Mike Wilson (2d asst ed)
  Michael Pacek (2d asst ed)
Set Decoration: Dan May (Set dec)
  Don Miloyevich (Prop master)
  Tory Bellingham (Asst prop master)
  Bill Harman (Const coord)
  Matthew Lammerich (Scenic artist)
Costumes: Judith R. Gellman (Cost des)
  Erla Lank (Ward supv)
  Graham Docherty (Ward asst)
Music: Michael Kamen (Mus)
  Segue Music (Mus ed)
  Christopher S. Brooks (Supv mus ed)
  Bruce Babcock (Addl orch)
  Mike Gormley for O.S.S. (Mus supv)
  Seth Kaplan for O.S.S. (Mus supv)
Sound: David Lee (Sd mixer)
  Steve Switzer (Boom op)
  Tom McCarthy (Supv sd ed)
  Fred Judkins (Supv sd ed)
  Don S. Walden (Sd ed)
  David M. Ice (Sd ed)
  Roxanne Jones (Sd ed)
  Howard S. M. Neiman (Sd ed)
  Dick Friedman (ADR ed)
  Terry Porter (Re-rec mixer)
  Mel Metcalfe (Re-rec mixer)
  David J. Hudson (Re-rec mixer)
  The Disney Sound Facility (Re-rec at)
  David W. Gray (Dolby stereo consultant)
Special Effects: Neil Trifunovich (Spec eff coord)
  Michael Lloyd (Mattes by)
  Introvision (Visual eff by)
  Pacific Title (Opticals)
  Phill Norman (Main title des)
Dance: Monica Devereux (Choreog)
Make Up: Bryan Charboneau (Hair stylist)
  Linda Gill (Make-up artist)
Production Misc: Janet Hirshenson (Casting)
  Jane Jenkins (Casting)
  Michael Hirshenson (Casting asst)
  Paula Herold (Addl casting)
  Deirdre Bowen (Casting Canada)
  Film Extra Services (Extras casting Canada)
  Keith Large (Loc mgr)
  Joseph T. Doyle (Loc mgr, Chicago)
  Orest Haba (Asst loc mgr)
  Randi Chernov (Asst to Ms. Hill)
  Janet Damp (Asst to Mr. Columbus)
  Mara McSweeny (Prod coord)
  Sioux Richards (Scr supv)
  Video Options (Video playback)
  John McAuliffe (Transportation capt, Chicago)
  Fred Ionson (Transportation coord)
  Paul D. Steinke (Prod auditor)
  Prudence Emery (Unit pub)
Stand In: Branko Racki (Stunt coord)
  George Aguilar (Stunts)
  Allan Angus (Stunts)
  Dan Beckon (Stunts)
  Eddie Fernandez (Stunts)
  James Fierro (Stunts)
  Linda J. Gamboney (Stunts)
  Jennifer Granger (Stunts)
  Mark Harper (Stunts)
  Michael Hernandez (Stunts)
  Rick LeFevour (Stunts)
  Nina Leone (Stunts)
  Stacy Logan (Stunts)
  Daniel Maldonado (Stunts)
  Leslie Munro (Stunts)
  Alison Reid (Stunts)
  Corinne Stafford (Stunts)
  Barry Swatuk (Stunts)
  Kay H. Whipple (Stunts)
  Rich Wilkie (Stunts)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "Babysitting Blues," words by Mark Mueller, music by Robert Kraft, produced by Robert Kraft, performed by Albert Collins, courtesy of Alligator Records; "Then He Kissed Me," words and music by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector, performed by The Crystals, courtesy of Spector International Records; "Expressway to Your Heart," words and music by Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff, produced by Robert Kraft, performed by Southside Johnny and the Jukes; "Future in Your Eyes," words and music by John Lyon and Robin Batteaux, produced by Robert Kraft, performed by Southside Johnny and the Jukes; "Twenty Five Miles," words and music by Johnny Bristol, Edwin Starr and Harvey Fuqua, performed by Edwin Starr, courtesy of Motown Records; "Evil (Is Going on);" words and music by Willie Dixon, performed by Koko Taylor, courtesy of Alligator Records; "The Brady Bunch Theme," words by Sherwood Schwartz, music by Frank DeVol, performed by The Brady Bunch, courtesy of Paramount Pictures; "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love?)," words and music by Johnny Bristol, Vernon Bullock and Harvey Fuqua, performed by Jr. Walker, courtesy of Motown Records; "Just Can't Stop," words and music by Barry Goldberg and Jay Gruska, produced by Jay Gruska, performed by Percy Sledge; "Albert's Smokin' Ice," written and produced by Robert Kraft, performed by Albert Collins, courtesy of Alligator Records; "Gimme Shelter," words and music by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, performed by The Rolling Stones, courtesy of ABKCO Music and Records, Inc.; "Real Wild Child," words and music by John O'Keefe, John Greenan and David Owens, performed by Iggy Pop, courtesy of A&M Records; "Blues Had a Baby and They Named It Rock-N-Roll," words and music by Morganfield-McGhee, performed by Muddy Waters, courtesy of CBS Records; "Bring It on Home to Me," words and music by Sam Cooke (ABKCO Music), performed by Sam Cooke, courtesy of RCA Records.
Composer: Frank DeVol
  Jeff Barry
  Robin Batteaux
  Johnny Bristol
  Vernon Bullock
  Sam Cooke
  Willie Dixon
  Harvey Fuqua
  Kenneth Gamble
  Barry Goldberg
  John Greenan
  Ellie Greenwich
  Jay Gruska
  Leon Huff
  Mick Jagger
  Robert Kraft
  John Lyon
  Walter B. McGhee
  McKinley Morganfield
  Mark Mueller
  John O'Keefe
  David Owens
  Keith Richards
  Sherwood Schwartz
  Phil Spector
  Edwin Starr
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Touchstone Pictures, a.a.d.o. the Walt Disney Company 24/6/1987 dd/mm/yyyy PA327701

PCA NO: 28566
Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby Stereo® in selected theatres
  Lenses/Prints: Platinum Panaflex® camera and lenses by Panavision®; Prints by De Luxe®

Genre: Comedy
Sub-Genre: Teenage
Subjects (Major): Adolescents
  Babysitters and babysitting
  Chicago (IL)
  Search and rescue operations
Subjects (Minor): Automobile theft
  Blues music
  Cocktail parties
  Hero worship
  Playboy (Magazine)
  Train stations
  Truck drivers
  Wounds and injuries

Note: The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Anagha Kulkarni, a student at University of Washington, Seattle, with Jennifer Bean as academic advisor.

End credits contain a "Special Thanks" to The Associates Center, The Illinois Film Commission, and The Ontario Film Development Corporation; the aforementioned acknowledgements are followed by the written statements: "Also Thank You to Stacey Sher, Raja Gosnell, and Haig Manoogian," and "'The Mighty Thor'™ © 1987 Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc., all rights reserved."
       Adventures in Babysitting marked the feature film directorial debut of Chris Columbus, a protégé of director Steven Spielberg who had written scripts for Spielberg projects including Gremlins (1984, see entry) and The Goonies (1985, see entry). An 18 Dec 1986 HR brief stated that Columbus read more than one hundred scripts over the course of two years and chose the film as his directing debut because the story “was on a small enough scale that [he] felt comfortable with it.” According to production notes from AMPAS library files, the film also marked feature motion picture debuts for writer David Simkins and actors Keith Coogan, Anthony Rapp, and Maia Brewton. Albert Collins, a famous blues musician, also made his acting debut playing an uncredited role as the blues band singer. The film was the first feature motion picture to be produced by Lynda Obst and Debra Hill’s production company, Hill/Obst Productions.
       According to a 14 Jun 1987 LAT news item, Obst and Hill first brought the project to Paramount Pictures, under a “first right of refusal” deal, and Paramount turned it down. Obst stated that the studio would only finance the film if actress Molly Ringwald starred, saying it lacked commercial appeal otherwise. Later, Touchstone Pictures came aboard to produce, and the film received financing from a $300 million fund provided to the Walt Disney Company by Silver Screen Partners III, as reported in a 3 Feb 1987 WSJ news item.
       Production notes stated that an extensive search for talent took place in Dallas, TX; Florida; New York; Toronto, Canada; Chicago, IL; and Los Angeles, CA. Elisabeth Shue, a student at Harvard University at the time, was chosen to play her first lead role in a motion picture as “Chris” after 150 actresses auditioned for the part.
       An 18 Dec 1986 HR news brief announced that filming would begin 5 Jan 1987 in Toronto. After six weeks there, the production moved to Chicago, IL, and later shot some special effects sequences in Los Angeles. To make certain locations double for Chicago, production designer Todd Hallowell added garbage to the streets of Toronto; however, since Toronto’s garbage collecting system was so efficient, certain crew members were made to guard the trash from being removed by city workers. Hallowell also headed up the reconstruction of Chicago’s Associates Center in Toronto, recreating two of the building’s forty stories and replicating the Chicago skyline with a “20 X 40” Translight backdrop. For the scene in which Sara dangles from the side of the Associates Center, a harness and pulley system was used to simulate the “illusion of Brewton being suspended 40 stories up in the air” when the actress was no more than twelve feet from the ground. Other scenes filmed in Toronto included the fraternity party and bus station sequences. In Chicago, locations included: the El-train, where the Chicago Transit Authority shut down a track for several nights; Fitzgerald’s nightclub; Lower Wacker Drive; the Chicago Expressway; and a lookout spot with a panoramic view of the city called “Wolfepoint Landing.”
       Using “Panavision’s latest high-tech platinum camera,” director of photography Ric Waite stated that he used lighting and filming techniques typical of a drama rather than a comedy to emphasize the story’s sense of surprise and unpredictability.
       A 22 Jun 1987 HR article stated that sneak previews of the film took place on 470 screens two weeks prior to its opening. Though Disney was confident Adventures in Babysitting would be a box-office success based on audience reactions at previous screenings, the previews were used to promote word-of-mouth since the film lacked “big stars or a famous director.” Also indicating that the studio predicted the film would be a hit, a 16 Jun 1987 DV item announced that Hill/Obst Productions had signed “an exclusive long-term agreement” with Walt Disney Studios and would move their offices from Paramount to the Walt Disney lot as part of the deal.
       The general release occurred 1 Jul 1987 on roughly 1,100 screens. Though the first week’s box-office earnings were unimpressive, word-of-mouth helped the film take off shortly thereafter, according to a 15 Jul 1987 HR item that stated box-office “was up 45% for the weekend.” The film ultimately took in $34 million in box-office receipts, as stated in a 27 May 2005 DV news brief.
       Critical reception for the film was mixed. Simkin’s script was cited as weak in the 22 Jun 1987 DV , 1 Jul 1987 LAT , and 1 Jul 1987 NYT reviews, while Columbus’s direction and Shue’s performance were generally praised. The filmmakers’ portrayal of African-American characters was largely criticized, according to a 12 Jul 1987 LAT article. John H. Richardson of LADN claimed that the characters’ fearful response to the black city-dwellers portrayed in the film seemed to mirror the filmmakers’ “naivete,” and Elvis Mitchell of the Detroit Free-Press described the film’s apparent theme as, “White kids should remain in the warm, velvety womb of the suburbs. When they enter the city, they encounter terror…coming mostly from one-dimensional blacks.” In response to allegations that the film promoted racism, Albert Collins’s manager, Bruce Iglauer, wrote a letter to LAT on 26 Jul 1987, stating that both he and Collins believed the movie depicted race relations in a positive light, pointing out that Collins’s character, a black blues singer, protected the protagonists from their pursuers, both white and black, by stopping them onstage and demanding a performance. Iglauer also cited the filmmakers’ choice to hire Collins and a backing band of “real Chicago blues musicians” instead of actors as an example of their good intentions.
       A remake of the film was announced in the 27 May 2005 DV brief, to be produced by Lynda Obst and Walt Disney Pictures, with a script set to be written by Hilary Galanoy and Elizabeth Hackett. An online Var article posted 1 Apr 2007 reported that Tiffany Paulsen was brought onto the project as a writer, and actresses Miley Cyrus and Raven Symoné were attached to star. As of Jul 2012, the proposed remake has not gone into production.

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   16 Jun 1987.   
Daily Variety   22 Jun 1987.   
Daily Variety   27 May 2005.   
Hollywood Reporter   18 Dec 1986.   
Hollywood Reporter   22 Jun 1987.   
Hollywood Reporter   23 Jun 1987   p. 3, 33.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Jul 1987.   
Los Angeles Times   14 Jun 1987   Calendar section, p. 29.
Los Angeles Times   1 Jul 1987   p. 1.
Los Angeles Times   12 Jul 1987   Calendar section, p. 23.
Los Angeles Times   26 Jul 1987   Section K, p. 63.
New York Times   1 Jul 1987   p. 24.
Variety   24 Jun 1987   p. 13.
Variety   1 Apr 2007.   
WSJ   3 Feb 1987.   

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