AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Mrs. Doubtfire
Director: Chris Columbus (Dir)
Release Date:   1993
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: 24 Nov 1993; New York opening: week of 24 Nov 1993
Production Date:   began 22 Mar 1993
Duration (in mins):   120
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Cast:   Robin Williams (Daniel Hillard/Mrs. Doubtfire)  
    Sally Field (Miranda Hillard)  
    Pierce Brosnan (Stu)  
    Harvey Fierstein (Frank)  
    Polly Holliday (Gloria)  
    Lisa Jakub (Lydia Hillard)  
    Matthew Lawrence (Chris Hillard)  
    Mara Wilson (Natalie Hillard)  
  And Robert Prosky (Mr. Lundy)  
    Anne Haney (Mrs. Sellner)  
    Scott Capurro (Jack)  
    Sydney Walker (Bus driver)  
    Joe Bellan (TV boss)  
    Martin Mull (Justin Gregory)  
    Terence McGovern (ADR director Lou)  
    Karen Kahn (Female employee #1)  
    Eva Gholson (Female employee #2)  
    James Cunningham (Male employee)  
    Ralph Peduto (Cop)  
    Scott Beach (Judge)  
    Juliette Marshall (Miranda's attorney)  
    Drew Letchworth (Daniel's attorney)  
    Jessica Myerson (Miranda's mother)  
    Sharon Lockwood (Alice)  
    Jim Cullen (Thug)  
    Kenneth Loo (Staring boy #1)  
    Jeff Loo (Staring boy #2)  
    Betsy Monroe (Stunning woman)  
    Joseph Narducci (Delivery boy)  
    James S. Cranna (Ron)  
    Dr. Toad (Bartender)  
    Adele Proom (Lundy's secretary)  
    Rick Overton (Maitre d')  
    Dan Spencer (Cook)  
    Paul Guilfoyle (Head chef)  
    Molly McClure (Woman housekeeper)  
    Andrew L. Prosky (TV director)  
    William Newman (Mr. Sprinkles)  
    Chris Pray (Puppeteer)  
    Geoff Bolt (Lundy's waiter)  
    Dick Bright (Stu's waiter)  
    Adam Bryant (Man in men's room)  
    Tavia Cathcart (Tanya the hostess)  
    C. Beau Fitzsimons (Valet #1)  
    Jeff Moeller (Valet #2)  
    Benne Alder (Woman in restroom)  

Summary: In San Francisco, frequently unemployed actor Daniel Hillard has a job dubbing animated characters in a children’s cartoon. When, onscreen, a villainous cartoon cat offers a cigarette to a little green parakeet called Pudgie the Parrot, Daniel goes off script, improvising dialogue that warns children about the hazards of smoking. The cartoon’s director, a smoker, is infuriated, but Daniel insists that it is unethical to promote smoking to children. Unable to convince the director of his viewpoint, Daniel quits. He then surprises his children, Lydia, Chris, and Natalie, by picking them up from school. Because today is Chris’ twelfth birthday, Daniel throws a boisterous party with hip-hop music, dozens of children, and a hired petting zoo. His wife Miranda, a co-owner in a successful interior design firm, is the family’s breadwinner and used to Daniel’s whimsical antics. However, when she arrives home from work with a couple of small gifts in hand, she finds the house in shambles, children screaming, trash everywhere, and a goat eating her begonias. Inside, she sees her husband and children dancing on the dining room table, while other children swing from a chandelier in the next room, and a pony eats the birthday cake. Angry, Miranda unplugs the stereo and orders the guests out of the house. Miranda and Daniel scream at each other while cleaning up, and during the fighting, Miranda realizes she wants a divorce. Assuming Miranda’s anger will subside, Daniel moves in with his gay brother, Frank, and his partner Jack, both makeup artists. Later, during divorce proceedings, Miranda is given sole custody of the children because Daniel has no place to live and no employment. Though he has visitation rights every Saturday, Daniel makes a final, desperate plea to the judge, saying he can’t live without his children, and that he’s never been away from them for more than a day. The judge agrees to reassess the case, giving Daniel three months to get a job, keep it, and create a suitable home for his children. The judge assigns a court liaison, Mrs. Sellner, to oversee his progress. Unimpressed with Daniel’s ability to “do voices” and his lack of other marketable skills, Mrs. Sellner finds him a job in the shipping department at a television studio. During his breaks Daniel is able to watch the production of a long-running children’s program. Thinking it boring, Daniel asks a man standing beside him what “idiot” would keep such a show on the air for twenty-five years. The man introduces himself as the “idiot,” Jonathan Lundy, owner and general manager of the station. Luckily for Daniel, he agrees and wants to cancel the show. Meanwhile, Miranda receives a commission from her college sweetheart, Stuart Dunmeyer, to redecorate his mansion. Because of her new project, Miranda decides to hire a nanny to take care of the kids. When she shows Daniel the classified ad she’s placing in the newspaper, Daniel surreptitiously changes the telephone numbers, ensuring that no one will be able to apply for the position. Using his ability to “do voices,” Daniel calls Miranda several times posing as various dysfunctional, undesirable nannies. He then calls in the guise of Mrs. Doubtfire, a prim and proper older English woman who claims to have worked the past fifteen years for the Smythe Family of Elbourne, England. Unaware that Mrs. Doubtfire is really Daniel, Miranda hires “her,” which creates a problem for Daniel because “she” is still a “he.” Daniel enlists the aid of Frank and Jack, who, using wigs, makeup and latex masks, transform him into a woman. Although Mrs. Doubtfire impresses Miranda, the children are skeptical about having a nanny and miss their father. Claiming to run a tight ship, Mrs. Doubtfire makes the children turn off the television to do their homework and punishes them with house chores when they don’t obey, but ultimately wins them over individually by reading stories with Natalie, playing soccer with Chris, and helping Lydia with her homework. After a few household mishaps, Daniel learns to care for his home and his children. Because the children are doing better in school and her house is clean when she comes home, Miranda is happier and spends more time with Stu and the children. When Mrs. Doubtfire first meets Stu, she is very passive aggressive and suggests that the large size of his car is a compensation for “smaller genitals.” One evening, after excusing herself for “a call of nature,” Mrs. Doubtfire fails to lock the bathroom door, and Chris accidentally sees Mrs. Doubtfire standing to relieve him/herself. Chris runs, screaming, into Lydia’s room, barely able to exclaim that Mrs. Doubtfire is “half man and half woman.” When Mrs. Doubtfire comes into the room, Lydia and Chris threaten her with a tennis racket, but the nanny reveals that she is really their dad and that “Uncle Frank and Aunt Jack” created the disguise. He then swears them to secrecy. Back at work, Daniel returns to the set of the dinosaur show during a break and improvises a skit, not realizing that Lundy is listening in. Impressed, Lundy invites Daniel to dinner to discuss the potential of a new show for children that is neither boring nor dumbed-down. The meeting is set for Bridges Restaurant, Friday, 7 o’clock sharp, but Mrs. Doubtfire learns that Stu is taking the family to celebrate Miranda’s birthday at the same restaurant on Friday at 7 and Miranda insists that Mrs. Doubtfire come along. That evening, with the Hillard family on one side of the restaurant, and Lundy on the other, Daniel goes back and forth from the ladies’ room, changing in and out of his disguise. With a glass of wine at one table, and several scotches at the other, Daniel becomes intoxicated, until at last, he unintentionally sits down with Lundy dressed as Mrs. Doubtfire. Improvising, Daniel says that his concept for a new show features a “hip old granny” who can teach and entertain children. Mr. Lundy loves the idea. Also during the evening, Mrs. Doubtfire learns that Stu is allergic to pepper, and sneaks into the kitchen to powder his dish with crushed cayenne. After his first bite, Stu begins choking. Mrs. Doubtfire performs the Heimlich maneuver that saves his life, but accidentally rips off her disguise, revealing that she is really Daniel. When the custody trial is revisited, the judge reprimands Daniel for his stunt, saying that he refuses to further subject the three innocent children to his peculiar and harmful behavior. He allows Daniel only supervised visitation on Saturdays. Miranda advertises for a new nanny, but when none work out, the family laments the loss of “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Just then, on the television, Mrs. Doubtfire calls out, “Hello, my dears!” Miranda and the children see that Mrs. Doubtfire lives on. Realizing the children were happier when Mrs. Doubtfire was a part of their lives, Miranda invites Daniel to care for the kids again every day after school. Daniel also continues to appear as Mrs. Doubtfire on his television show. In one episode, Daniel, as Mrs. Doubtfire, explains to her young viewers that there all kinds of families, and whether they live in the same house or not, love binds them together.  

Production Company: Twentieth Century Fox  
  Blue Wolf Productions  
Production Text: A Chris Columbus Film
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century Fox  
Director: Chris Columbus (Dir)
  Joan Bradshaw (Unit prod mgr)
  Geoff Hansen (1st asst dir)
  Cherylanne Martin (2d asst dir)
  Stephen Lee Davis (2d 2d asst dir)
  Carol Bawer (Addl 2d asst dir)
Producer: Marsha Garces Williams (Prod)
  Robin Williams (Prod)
  Mark Radcliffe (Prod)
  Paula DuPré (Assoc prod)
  Matthew Rushton (Exec prod)
  Joan Bradshaw (Co-prod)
Writer: Randi Mayem Singer (Scr)
  Leslie Dixon (Scr)
Photography: Donald McAlpine (Dir of photog)
  Douglas Ryan ("A" cam op)
  Kim Marks ("B" cam op)
  Vance Piper ("A" cam 1st asst)
  Patrick McArdle ("B" cam 1st asst)
  John A. Small ("A" cam 2d asst)
  Paul Sanchez ("B" cam 2d asst)
  Kate O'Neill (Loader)
  Steven R. Mathis (Gaffer)
  Brett Laumann (Best boy elec)
  Kevin A. Thompson (Elec)
  Thomas Cloutier (Elec)
  Frank Helbig (Elec)
  William Hampton (Elec)
  Robert E. Powell (Rigging gaffer)
  Joseph G. Emanuele (Rigging elec best boy)
  John O'Donnell (Rigging elec)
  Robin Knight (Key grip)
  David Childers (Best boy grip)
  Chuck Brown (Dolly grip)
  Robert "Boomer" McCann (Dolly grip "B" cam)
  Philip Y. C. Ho (Grip)
  Michael Whitehurst (Grip)
  Orlando J. Orona (Rigging grip best boy)
  Rod M. Janusch (Rigging grip)
  John Schoening (Rigging grip)
  John Loveless (Crane op)
  Scott Kinzey (Addl cable)
  Jonathan Doff (Video asst)
  Marty Brenneis (Video playback)
  Phil Bray (Still photog)
  Chapman - L.A. (Cranes and dollies provided by)
  Panavision (Filmed in)
Art Direction: Angelo Graham (Prod des)
  W. Steven Graham (Art dir)
  James J. Murakami (Asst art dir)
  Kristen Ross (Art dept coord)
Film Editor: Raja Gosnell (Ed)
  Tim Silano (1st asst ed)
  Kevin D. Ross (Lightworks asst)
  Tara McKinley (Asst ed)
  Donald Ord (Apprentice ed)
  Ron Fode (Projectionist)
  The Film Unit @ The Post Group (Post prod services provided by)
  The Lightworks (Ed on)
  Alexandra Fitzpatrick (Ed prod asst)
  Gary Burritt (Negative cutter)
Set Decoration: Garrett Lewis (Set dec)
  Mark Woods (Leadman)
  John Zemansky (Prop master)
  Daniel R. Bentley (Asst props)
  Stephen J. Gardner (Asst props)
  George Mauricio (Asst props)
  Steve Saklad (Set des)
  Steve Wolff (Set des)
  Robert Goldstein (Set des)
  Harold Fuhrman (Set des)
  Don Watson (Swing gang)
  Emilio R. Aramendia (Swing gang)
  Eugene Texeira (Swing gang)
  Kristin Argue (Drapery)
  Richard W. Clot (Constr coord)
  Raymond E. Mondoux (Asst constr coord/Shop foreman)
  Mike Anderson (Constr shop gen)
  Todd McCune Bray (Lead scenic)
  Hank Giardina (Paint foreman)
  Lisa M. Devlin (Standby painter)
  Joanne Desmond (Constr shop liaison)
  George Zimninsky (Greensman)
  Geoff Lake (Asst greensman)
  Aristokraft, Inc. (Kitchen cabinets by)
Costumes: Marit Allen (Cost des)
  Jim Cullen (Cost supv for Mr. Williams)
  Deirdre Nicola Williams (Cost supv)
  Christine Peters (Cost supv)
  Michael J. Becker (On set cost)
  Mary E. Still (On set cost)
  Barbara Hartman-Jenichen (On set cost)
  Nancy Hart Servin (Seamstress)
  Linda Benavente Notaro ("Mrs. Doubtfire" body suits)
Music: Howard Shore (Mus)
  Fred Steiner (Cartoon mus comp and cond)
  Ellen Segal (Supv mus ed)
  Robin Katz (Mus ed)
  Dan Wallin (Scoring mixer)
  Howard Shore (Orch)
  Jo Ann Kane Music Services (Mus preparation)
  Sandy De Crescent (Musicians contractor)
  Bryndon Hassman (Opera coach for Mr. Williams)
  Elena Servi (Italian diction coach for Mr. Williams)
Sound: Nelson Stoll (Sd mixer)
  Fred Runner (Boom op)
  Conrad Slater (Cableman)
  Skywalker Sound A division of Lucas Digital Ltd., Marin County, California (Post-prod sd services provided by)
  Gary Rydstrom (Sound des/Rerec mixer)
  Lora Hirschberg (Asst sd des)
  Tom Johnson (Rerec mixer)
  Gary Summers (Rerec mixer)
  Gloria S. Borders (Supv sd ed)
  Clare Freeman (Asst sd ed)
  Scott Guitteau (Asst sd ed)
  Dianna Stirpe (Asst sd ed)
  Kevin Rose-Williams (Asst sd ed)
  Patti Tauscher (Asst sd ed)
  Bob Shoup (Sd eff ed)
  C. J. Appel (ADR ed)
  Ewa Sztompke (Dial ed)
  Sara Bolder (Dial ed)
  Claire Sanfilippo (Dial ed)
  Sandina Bailo-Lape (Foley ed)
  Marian Wilde (Foley ed)
  Dennie Thorpe (Foley artist)
  Tom Barwick (Foley artist)
  Chris Boyes (Foley rec)
Special Effects: John McLeod (Spec eff)
  Frank W. Tarantino (Effectsman)
  Leo Loverro (Effectsman)
  Geoff Heron (Effectsman)
  Nina Saxon Film Design (Title des by)
  Pacific Title (Titles & Opt by )
Make Up: Greg Cannom (Spec makeup created by)
  Ve Neill (Key makeup artist)
  Pamela Westmore (Makeup artist)
  Stephan L. Dupuis (Makeup asst)
  Yolanda Toussieng (Key hairstylist)
  Virginia G. Hadfield (Hairstylist)
  Mitch Devane (Cannom Creations crew)
  John Logan (Cannom Creations crew)
  Steve Prouty (Cannom Creations crew)
  Todd Tucker (Cannom Creations crew)
  Roland Blancaflor (Cannom Creations crew)
  Keith Vanderlaan (Cannom Creations crew)
Production Misc: Janet Hirshenson (Casting)
  Jane Jenkins (Casting )
  Michael Hirshenson (Casting assoc)
  Schuyler Kent (Casting asst)
  Hayes & Van Horn Casting (Extra casting)
  Carol De Pasquale (Scr supv)
  Bruce Devan (Loc mgr)
  Debra Girard (Asst loc mgr)
  Randol Perelman-Taylor (Loc asst)
  Cynthia LaPointe (Loc asst)
  Susannah Greason (Loc asst)
  Oscar Briones (Loc asst)
  Jacqueline A. Shea (Prod coord)
  Mary Duann (Asst prod coord)
  Elizabeth Devereux (Asst to Mr. Columbus)
  Cyndi McHale Margolis (Asst to Mrs. Garces Williams)
  Rebecca Erwin Spencer (Asst to Mr. Williams)
  Ken Ryan (Prod accountant)
  Mayda Renizza-Holt (Asst accountant)
  Saundra Marie Ardito (Accounting asst)
  Jay Roberts (Payroll)
  Marie Noonan (Const accounting)
  Ellen Pasternack (Unit pub)
  Robert Neilson (Transportation coord)
  James C. Taylor (Transportation capt)
  Maylon Houston (Co-capt)
  Darin Rivetti (Set prod asst)
  Cindy Ichikawa (Set prod asst)
  Dione Holden (Office prod asst)
  Jennifer Garces (Office prod asst)
  Christopher Hoffman (Office prod asst)
  Lisa LaCuesta (Office prod asst)
  Erik Ross (Office prod asst)
  Christopher Desmond (Paramedic coord)
  Tomkats (Catering)
  John Halko (On set caterer)
  Dirk Long (On set caterer)
  Bill Powers (On set caterer)
  Curtis Hamlin (On set caterer)
  Steve Watson (On set caterer)
  James J. Wilhelm (Craft service)
  Gary Gero (Animal handler)
  Myra Rosenthal (Studio teacher)
  Bonnie Hudson (Studio teacher)
  C & F Security (Loc security)
  The American Humane Association (Animal action supv by)
Stand In: Troy Brown (Stunt coord)
  Patrick Banta (Stunts)
  Leon Delaney (Stunts)
  David Lyle Draves (Stunts)
Animation: Chuck Jones (Anim by)
  Linda Jones Clough (Anim prod by)
  Stephen A. Fossati (Assoc prod)
  Bill Littlejohn (Anim)
  Barry Nelson (Anim)
  Tom Ray (Anim)
  Tom Roth (Anim)
  Dwayne Gressky (Anim)
  Ralph Newmann (Anim)
  Claude Raynes (Anim)
  Susan Goldberg (Asst anim)
  Sylvia Pompei (Asst anim)
  Debra Armstrong (Asst anim)
  Rick Reinert (Anim backgrounds)
  Debra Rykoff (Checker)
  Charlotte Clark (Checker)
  Ted Bemiller & Sons (Cam)
  Industrial F/X L. A. (Thanks to)
Color Personnel: Dennis McNeill (Col timer)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs: "Babalu," written by Margarita Lecuona; "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)," written by Steve Tyler, Joe Perry and Desmond Childs, performed by Aerosmith, courtesy of Geffen Records; "Walk Like a Man," written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio, performed by The Four Seasons, courtesy of The Four Seasons Partnership, by arrangement with Warner Special Products; "Luck Be a Lady," written by Frank Loesser, performed by Frank Sinatra, courtesy of Reprise Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products; "Jump Around," written by Erik Schrody and Larry Muggerud, performed by House of Pain, courtesy of Tommy Boy Records; "Dragon" from "Outer Limits," written by Dominic Frontiere; "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," written and performed by James Brown, courtesy of PolyGram Special Markets, a division of PolyGram Group Distribution; "Stormy Monday Blues," written by Aaron Walker, performed by B. B. King and Albert Collins, courtesy of MCA Records.
Composer: James Brown
  Desmond Childs
  Bob Crewe
  Dominic Frontiere
  Bob Gaudio
  Margarita Lecuona
  Frank Loesser
  Larry Muggerud
  Joe Perry
  Erik Schrody
  Steve Tyler
  Aaron Walker
Source Text: Based on the novel Alias Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine (Boston, 1988).
Authors: Anne Fine

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation 22/11/1993 dd/mm/yyyy PA659812

PCA NO: 32710
Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby stereo in selected theatres
  col: Deluxe

 
Genre: Comedy-drama
 
Subjects (Major): Actors and actresses
  Child custody
  Family relationships
  Female impersonation
  Nannies
 
Subjects (Minor): Birthdays
  Brothers
  Children
  Divorce
  Homosexuality
  Impersonation and imposture
  Interior decorators
  Parties
  Restaurants
  Romantic rivalry
  Television producers
  Television programs

Note: 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.

Mrs. Doubtfire is based on the 1988 novel by Anne Fine, titled Alias Madame Doubtfire . According to a filmed interview in a DVD special feature for the film, actor-producer Robin Williams, who portrayed "Daniel Hillard/Mrs. Doubtfire," stated that his wife and fellow producer, Marsha Garces Williams, read the book and saw the comedy potential for Williams; and director Chris Columbus stated that in an early version of the script before he became involved with the project, Miranda and Daniel get back together. Columbus was uncomfortable with this and during three months of rewrites in which Columbus was involved, the ending was revised to end with the couple's divorce.
       Artist-director-producer Chuck Jones, who directed several animated films, among them, Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes shorts for Warner Bros., designed, directed and produced a short cartoon, Pudgie The Parrot , which is seen at the beginning of Mrs. Doubtfire . According to a DVD extra, Jones created two versions of the cartoon, the version included in the feature film, and a version with more "cartoony" backgrounds that reflect his personal style.
       The character makeup created by Mrs. Doubtfire 's Academy Award winning makeup team consisted of eight overlapping foam latex appliances. The design was based on a 1940s-era photograph of a woman. The makeup took three to four-and-a-half hours to apply, and one hour to remove. Because producers wanted Williams to shoot for ten hours a day with makeup on, it was not unusual for him to work fifteen-hour days while filming. All the latex makeup appliances were made fresh weekly to avoid shrinkage. In a Jan 1994 Us interview, costume designer, Marit Allen, reported that Mrs. Doubtfire's dress size was the largest possible, 44 or 46, and when in costume, the crew would call Williams, "Mrs. D," because he was so realistic.
       According to Columbus, he encouraged the cast to improvise as a way to heighten the comedy in the film. Approximately forty minutes of these alternate takes were included in the DVD Combo pack release.
       Portions of the film were shot in San Francisco, CA, according to a 6 Apr 1993 HR news item. A 7 Apr 1994 HR article states that the owner of the San Francisco Victorian home used as the location site for the Hillards' family home sued the film's producers, claiming that the "crews spoiled the home and allowed children and animals to 'run wild.'" The outcome of the suit has not been determined.
       By 11 Apr 1994, an HR news item noted that the film had grossed nearly $212 million domestically in its nineteen weeks of release, making it the fourteenth highest grossing picture in history at that time. A 31 May 1994 Var article reported that Mrs. Doubtfire broke the $200 million gross marker after twenty-three weeks release overseas, making it Fox's biggest film in foreign release to that time.
       Mrs. Doubtfire won an Academy Award for Best Makeup, and Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical and Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture -Comedy/Musical (Williams). A 22 Nov 1999 Var news item reported that Mrs. Doubtfire was adapted into the play, Thank Goodness for Maria , by Italian stage impresario Pietro Garinei. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Hollywood Reporter   25 May 1993.   
Hollywood Reporter   6 Apr 1993.   
Hollywood Reporter   7 Apr 1994.   
Hollywood Reporter   11 Apr 1994.   
Los Angeles Times   24 Nov 1993   p.1.
New York Times   24 Nov 1993   p. 11.
Us   Jan 1994.   
Variety   29 Nov 1993   p. 30.
Variety   31 May 1994.   
Variety   22 Nov 1999.   

Display Movie Summary
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.
 
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