Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
usnook | 2013-05-31 11:04

Driving Miss Daisy is a 1989 American comedy-drama film adapted from the Alfred Uhry play of the same name. The film was directed by Bruce Beresford, with Morgan Freeman reprising his role as Hoke Colburn and Jessica Tandy playing Miss Daisy. The story defines Daisy and her point of view through a network of relationships and emotions by focusing on her home life, synagogue, friends, family, fears, and concerns over a 25-year period.

Mrs. ("Miss") Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy), a 72-year-old wealthy white Jewish widowed school teacher, lives in Atlanta, Georgia, alone except for an African American housemaid named Idella (Esther Rolle). In 1948, after a driving mishap where her automobile is wrecked, Miss Daisy’s son, Boolie (Dan Aykroyd), tells her she will have to get a chauffeur because no insurance company will cover her. She refuses, but Boolie is determined to find her a driver. Meanwhile, she is stuck at home and unable to run errands.

Boolie finds Hoke Coleburn (Morgan Freeman), who had chauffeured for a local judge until he died and decided to remain in the area rather than accompany the judge's widow when she moved away. Miss Daisy at first refuses to let Hoke drive her, going so far as to walk to the local Piggly Wiggly with Hoke following her by automobile, much to her chagrin. It is revealed that her reluctance to be driven around is because she is embarrassed that people might think she is either too elderly to drive, or so well off that she can pay for a driver. Out of necessity, Miss Daisy gradually starts to accept Hoke and the fact that she needs him to drive her around. She eventually comes to respect him.

Later, Miss Daisy finds out that Hoke is illiterate and teaches him how to read. Miss Daisy has Hoke drive her to her brother's 90th birthday party in Mobile, Alabama. During the trip, Hoke reveals that it is the first time he has left his home state of Georgia. Miss Daisy realizes that Hoke's race affects how others treat him in this society and she is further opened to the social aspects of discrimination. As Miss Daisy and Hoke spend time together, she gains appreciation for his many skills and the two become friends. Boolie is also appreciative, and Hoke shrewdly negotiates salary increases from him, which enables him to buy Miss Daisy's old trade-in's for himself each time Daisy gets a new car.

The racism and prejudice that permeated American society during the time period in which the story takes place is explored in the film, especially when Hoke is questioned by a pair of Alabama highway patrolmen who make out-of-earshot bigoted comments about Miss Daisy being Jewish and Hoke being black.

Idella, who had served Miss Daisy for many years and whom Miss Daisy was very close to emotionally, suddenly dies in 1963. Miss Daisy, Boolie, his wife Florine (Patti LuPone), and Hoke attend the funeral. Rather than hire a new maid, Miss Daisy mostly takes it upon herself to care for her house and cook her meals. Hoke assists with cooking and the two plant a vegetable garden (which Daisy initially didn't want out of spite earlier during Hoke's tenure).

After her synagogue is bombed, Miss Daisy realizes that she is subject to some of the same prejudices as Hoke. But in the course of the movie, American society undergoes radical changes, and Miss Daisy soon attends a dinner at which Dr. Martin Luther King gives a speech. She initially invites Boolie to the dinner, but he declines, and suggests that Miss Daisy invite Hoke. However, Miss Daisy only asks him to be her guest during the car ride to the event and ends up attending the dinner alone, with Hoke insulted by the manner of the invitation, listening to the speech on the car radio outside.

One morning in 1971, Hoke arrives at the house and finds Miss Daisy in a confused state, with signs of dementia. Hoke manages to calm her down and Miss Daisy confesses to Hoke that he is her best friend. After a discussion with Hoke, Boolie arranges for Miss Daisy to enter a retirement home since she is no longer able to live on her own. In 1973, the family home is sold, and Hoke, now 81, retires. Hoke is driven to Miss Daisy's house by his adult granddaughter where he meets Boolie. Boolie and Hoke meet at Miss Daisy's house one final time before the new owner takes possession, and then drive to the retirement home to visit Miss Daisy, who is now 97. Boolie leaves Hoke and Miss Daisy alone so they can spend time together. Hoke shows Miss Daisy her uneaten pumpkin pie. She has difficulty moving her fork and Hoke feeds her instead. As Hoke feeds Miss Daisy, he reminisces upon all the years he spent driving her, and the image of a car drives off into the distance.

Academy Awards

The Oscar campaign for the film was directed by publicist Ronni Chasen.

At the 62nd Academy Awards for 1989, Driving Miss Daisy received a total of four awards from nine nominations. The four awards included: Best Picture, Best Actress (Jessica Tandy), Best Makeup, and Best Adapted Screenplay. The remaining five nominations included: Best Actor (Morgan Freeman), Best Supporting Actor (Dan Aykroyd), Best Art Direction (Bruno Rubeo, Crispian Sallis), Best Costume Design, and Best Film Editing.

Driving Miss Daisy also achieved the following distinctions at the 62nd Academy Awards ceremony:
it is the only film based on an off Broadway production ever to win an Academy Award for Best Picture;
it is the last Best Picture winner to date to receive a PG rating;
it is one of only four films to date to win Best Picture without having received a Best Director nomination; and
Jessica Tandy, at age 81, became the oldest winner ever in the history of the Best Actress category.

Other awards
Driving Miss Daisy also won three Golden Globe Awards (Best Picture, Best Actor Morgan Freeman, and Best Actress Jessica Tandy) in the Comedy/Musical genre.[8] At the 1989 Writers Guild of America Awards, the film won in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Rounding out its United States awards, the film won both Best Picture and Best Actor from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. In the United Kingdom, Driving Miss Daisy was nominated for four British Academy Film Awards, with Jessica Tandy winning in the Best Actress category. Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman won the Silver Bear for the Best Joint Performance at the 40th Berlin International Film Festival.

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