Addams Family: TV to Film

Based on the characters created by the late Charles Addams, this ghoulish comedy features Anjelica Huston as Morticia, Raul Julia as the lusty Gomez, and Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester. The old TV series has acquired a cult status. It is the directorial debut of Barry Sonnenfeld (the cinematographer of the Coen brothers Miller’s Crossing). The screenplay was written by Paul Rudnick, Edward Scissorhand’s Caroline Thompson and Beetlejuice’s Larry Wilson.

What is evil Ask Anjelica Huston and Raul Julia, who star as the wicked couple Morticia and Gomez. Thing, Lurch, and Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) also return from syndication death. Inspired by some 1,300 darkly humorous cartoons drawn by Charles Addams, the film stars Judith Malina as Granny Frump, Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams, Carel Struycken as the hulking butler Lurch, among others.

“It makes us laugh and see aspects of ourselves that we try to hide, the darker side of our personalities,” comments director Barry Sonnenfeld. He is making his motion picture directorial debut with the film after his award-winning work as director of photography on such films as Misery and Miller’s Crossing.

“The Addams Family celebrates the freakish and the macabre, yet they’re a loving, tightly-knit family,” says producer Scott Rudin, who, with Mike Nichols, most recently produced Paramount’s Regarding Henry. “They are adorable, malevolent, endearing eccentrics,” Rudin adds. “I’ve always loved the subversive nature of the Charles Addams’ cartoons.”

“The Addams family are pranksters,” remarks Raul Julia. “They’re rascals. They are not an evil family and don’t really do serious harm to people. They love being a little bad. They laugh at the people who are so preoccupied with being good that they have no fun.”

During filming, Anjelica Huston was required to schedule two hours for make-up before donning the tell-tale gown of the Addams femme fatale. Huston found the idea of playing Morticia irresistible. “She’s flirtatious, motherly, suspicious….a romantic soul and quite cool under fire. I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of Morticia.”

Julia remarks that he found his character Gomez, the head of the family, “a little strange. Perhaps childlike in spirit, he’s an extrovert who enjoys everything, yet in a matter of seconds he can go from joy to deep anger and depression. But, mostly, he’s just a happy-go-luck guy who enjoys life and is in love with Morticia and his family.”

Huston received an Oscar for prizzi’s Honor, which her father, the late John Huston directed. She was also Oscar-nominated for The Grifters, a performance that brought her the best actress awards from the National Society of Film Critics and, along with her role in The Witches, the Los Angeles Film Critics.

Raul Julia won the National Board of Review’s Best Actor Award for Kiss of the Spider Woman. His films include Havana, Presumed Innocence and Tequila Sunrise. He is a four-time Tony Award nominee for such diverse performances as The Threepenny Opera and Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Christopher Lloyd played Dr. Emmett Brown in the Back to the Future trilogy. A two-time Emmy award-winner for Taxi and won a NY Drama Desk Award for Kaspar.

Barry Sonnenfeld directed The Addams Family after distinguishing himself ass an award-winning cinematographer with such films as Misery, Miller’s Crossing and When Harry Met Sally, and Big.

Previously president of production at Twentieth Century Fox, producer Scott Rudin’s films include Pacific Heights and Regarding Henry. he was executive producer of Flatliners, the Julia Roberts vehicle. He won an Emmy for the Academy award-winning documentary He Makes Me Feel Like Dancing. He produced Jodi Foster’s film debut, Little Man Tate.

The director of cinematography is Owen Roizman (a four-time Academy award nominee whose films include The French Connection, Tootsie, and The Exorcist. The editor is Dede Allen (two time Oscar nomineee for Reds and Dog Day Afternoon).

Hollywood hopes that the Holiday season would pull the industry out of a recession that has yielded a soft market and declining admissions. While the movies this winter are, as usual, big budget and large scale, they also reflect a new morality for the early l990s.

The new movies express a changing ideology, featuring “back to basic” values: Honesty, decency, and good family life. This trend continues the “new humanism” that began this summer with such movies as Regarding Henry, The Doctor, City Slickers and The Fisher King. In its new spirituality, Hollywood shows again that movies, the country’s prime entertainment, don’t operate in a political void, and that a stronger moral tone should be encouraged–especially if its message is good business at the box office.