Pleasantville Movie Poster

Trivia for Pleasantville

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  • The calendar in the Parkers' front room informs us that the Pleasantville-based portion of the film is set in April 1958. Another calendar in the back room of the soda shop is also for 1958.
  • For the sequence where Bud is applying the gray make-up to his mother, the color of the make-up was actually green. When they had to "black-and-white" the scene, the shades of green came out the best for the appropriate shades of her "gray" make-up. Conversely, when Betty first visits the soda shop, she is in full gray make-up, which meant that Joan Allen was shot wearing full green make-up, that is subsequently removed by Bill Johnson (Jeff Daniels).
  • Writer and director Gary Ross acknowledges these cinematographic homages: The scene of J.T. Walsh in front of the bowling alley scorecard recalls Patton's speech in front of the American flag in Patton (1970); The courtroom segregated into black-and-white characters downstairs and "colored" characters upstairs recalls To Kill a Mockingbird (1962);
  • When Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) enters Pleasantville, she becomes a character named Mary-Sue. "Mary-Sue" is a term that originated in fan fiction to describe a character who comes into the character's lives and completely solves all of their problems. It is also a fan-fiction term for an idealized and seemingly perfect fictional character, a young or low-rank person who saves the day through unrealistic abilities. Often, this character is recognized as an author insert or wish-fulfillment.
  • The jukebox in Mr. Johnson's malt shop is a 1952 Seeburg M100C, known in collector circles as the "Happy Days" jukebox, due to its appearance in the opening and closing segments of Happy Days (1974).
  • In several scenes, you can see the house used in Lethal Weapon (1987) just across the street from Bud and Mary-Sue's.
  • Bud/David (Tobey Maguire) brings Mr. Johnson (Jeff Daniels) an art book from the library titled "The World Of Art" by an author named Edward Bissell. The book is purely fictional being made just as a prop for this film.
  • The Native American in the test pattern behind Don Knotts changes to angry and then sad as the movie progresses.
  • Though many believe that the shot of Bud raising his arms up in triumph during a rainstorm is an homage to The Shawshank Redemption (1994), writer and director Gary Ross thought it was an original idea, and didn't realize the connection until after the film was released.
  • In the original screenplay, the TV Repairman was to be played by Dick Van Dyke, and the name of the repair company was Rob's TV Repair (Rob was Van Dyke's character's name on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961)) In a subsequent draft, the name in the script was simply TV Repairman, leaving room for Don Knotts.
  • The scores projected during the bowling alley scene indicate that all of the bowlers are on pace for final scores of 230 or better. Two bowlers have perfect scores through eight frames.
  • During the publicity campaign surrounding the film's release, there was a contest for a trip to Pleasantville, Iowa (the smallest Pleasantville in the United States).
  • When David (Tobey Maguire) and Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) first arrive in Pleasantville, and are flipping through the television channels, after Don Knotts first appears, there is a very quick clip of Leave It to Beaver (1957), with the Beaver standing by a chair. An homage to the early shows on which this movie was based.
  • The backlot street set where Bud and Mary-Sue's house stands, is located at Warner Brothers "Ranch" studio complex in Burbank, California. The main house was a new façade built for the movie, but directly across the street, clearly seen in several scenes, are houses once occupied by other famous 1960's television characters like Gidget, Hazel, and Samantha Stevens. It is the Gidget/Hazel house that was also used as Roger Murtaugh's (Danny Glover's) house in the Lethal Weapon film franchise. Margaret's (Marley Shelton's) house (where Whitey (David Tom) drives up in his car at night and drops her off) was used as the residence of Mrs. Kravitz in Bewitched (1964) and The Partridge Family (1970).
  • Since every scene from the middle of the movie on had to be in some way digitally changed to have black and white characters interact with characters who are in color, technically this film had the most digital effects shots until Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999).
  • The two books that Bud/David (Tobey Maguire) narrates to the teenagers of Pleasantville, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "Catcher in the Rye", are the two most widely banned books in the United States.
  • Early appearances of color: the red rose, after the encounter at Lover's Lane; pink bubblegum seen in the hallway at school; one girl's pink tongue; the red hearts of the cards in the bridge hand; the subtle green of the car in front of the diner; the jukebox in the diner becomes multicolored, the guy in front of the jukebox combs his hair with a yellow comb, Jennifer's red cherry on her shake in the diner; the pink cherry blossoms reflected in the side mirror of the car; the subtle green of the grass at Lover's Lane before it turns completely colorized.
  • Don Knotts was not available to return for looping. The film's narrator, comic, and impersonator Craig Shoemaker, was hired (uncredited) by the editor to fill in and do the voice work for Don Knotts.
  • The author of the book that Jennifer/Mary-Sue (Reese Witherspoon) is reading, D.H. Lawrence, was an early twentieth century author, poet, playwright, essayist, and literary critic. His works were considered highly controversial when they were written, and confronted issues such as emotional health and vitality, spontaneity, human sexuality, and instinct.
  • While David answers questions in the diner scene, the music in the background is Take Five from Dave Brubeck's album Time Out. Almost all jazz is written in 4/4 time, but the Time Out album consists solely of tracks with non 4/4 time signatures. The Take Five cut, for example, is 5/4. Thus, with the song and in the movie, we are invited into a new world of possibility.
  • Melissa Joan Hart turned down the role of Jennifer.
  • Danny Strong and Marc Blucas appeared on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1996).
  • The film is dedicated to writer and director Gary Ross' mother, actor J.T. Walsh, and camera assistant Brent Lon Hershman, who was killed in a car crash in the middle of the shoot.
  • "Elm Street" is a street shown in a classroom during a geography lesson. Since Warner Brothers owns New Line Cinema, which owns this movie and the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, this could very well be an Easter Egg.
  • Feature film debut of Maggie Lawson (Lisa Anne).
  • In the scene where Bud/David (Tobey Maguire) is driving Margaret (Marley Shelton) to Lover's Lane, he is driving a white 1952 Buick Roadmaster, and the song, "At Last", by Etta James, is playing in the background. Contrary to some claims, this is not the same model year car that Tom Cruise's and Dustin Hoffman's characters drove in Rain Man (1988).
  • Rachael Leigh Cook auditioned for the role of Jennifer.
  • This was Don Knotts' last live-action appearance in a theatrically released film. He still continued to work on various television and cartoon projects.
  • In the scene where Bud is asked how he knew how to handle the fire, it's mentioned that the books have now started to fill in if the plot is described. After describing the plot of 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" to the diner, he is asked about another book. The title is not mentioned by name, but the character of Holden Caulfield is mentioned. That means the book in question is "The Catcher in the Rye". The book is also featured in a mural later in the film. "The Catcher in the Rye" is the book that supposedly inspired Mark David Chapman to kill John Lennon. The song used in the end credits, and is basically the theme of the film, is a Fiona Apple cover of "Across the Universe", a song witten by John Lennon.
  • Directorial debut of Gary Ross.
  • The film cast includes one Oscar winner: Reese Witherspoon; and two Oscar nominees: William H. Macy and Joan Allen.
  • William H. Macy and Joan Allen appeared in Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993) and Room (2015).
  • Joan Allen and Tobey Maguire appeared in The Ice Storm (1997).
  • William H. Macy and J.T. Walsh appeared in House of Games (1987), Things Change (1988), and The Client (1994).
  • Marc Blucas (Basketball Hero) and Danny Strong (Juke Box Boy) both appeared in multiple episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997).
  • Denise Dowse and McNally Sagal appeared on Secrets and Lies (2015).
  • In the bowling alley scene, when the elder men decide to do something about the chaos unfolding around them, a very popular black-and-white cinematic trick known as the "Dutch Tilt" or "Dutch Angle", often noticed in The Twilight Zone (1959) and Sir Alfred Hitchcock shows, was utilized. The camera is tilted to create a crooked, dark, disorienting shot emphasizing madness and discontent, thus making the viewer feel uneasy.
  • Although technically not his debut, this was Paul Walker's first wide release and successful big screen film.
  • Animal action was monitored by the American Humane Association. No animals were harmed in the making of this film.
  • At one point, when the Jennifer and Bud try to use a bathroom there aren't any toilets. This is a clever reference to a FCC ruling during the 1950's, which stated that toilets (or any reference to its use, such as the sound of flushing) could not be presented in film or television.
  • The mechanism of inserting a character into a television show via a remote control device was used in "Amazon Women on the Moon".
  • William H Macy and Kristin Rudrüd appeared as Jerry and Jean Lundegaard in the 1996 film Fargo.
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