American Beauty


2h 1999

Brief Synopsis

An unemployed ad man falls for his daughter's best friend.

Film Details

Also Known As
Belleza Americana
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Black Comedy
Teens
Release Date
1999
Distribution Company
AMBLIN PARTNERS
Location
San Jose, California, USA; Los Angeles, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h

Synopsis

A middle class family reveals itself to be anything but normal.

Crew

Paula Abdul

Choreographer

Tony Adler

Assistant Director

Newell Alexander

Adr

Tariq Anwar

Editor

Rick Arbuckle

Song

Randy Bachman

Song

Brook Bacon

Swing Gang

Alan Ball

Coproducer

Alan Ball

Screenplay

Ian Ball

Song

Brian Basham

Adr

Huston Beaumont

Rigging Gaffer

Bob Beemer

Rerecording

Jenny Behnke

Effects Assistant

Jan Bergstrom

Set Decorator

Bill Bernstein

Music Editor

Dr Bill

Special Thanks To

Paul Blackburn

Song

Christine Bonnem

Location Manager

Tom Boone

Grip

Bryan Bowen

Sound Effects Editor

Susan Boyajian

Adr

Lester Boykin

Electrician

John Bozzalla

Production Assistant

Julian Bratolyubov

Music

Robert Brugger

Other

Dana Brunetti

Assistant

Clyde E Bryan

Assistant Camera Operator

Steven Buhai

Production Assistant

Sammy Cahn

Song

Jennifer Carlson

Video Playback

John F Carney

Lighting

Cristen Carr Strubbe

Unit Production Manager

Betty Carter

Song Performer

Betty Carter

Song

Mitch Carter

Adr

John Cassella Jr.

3-D Artist

Kevin Chambers

Swing Gang

Tony Chance

Storyboard Artist

Robert Chapin

3-D Artist

Mark Cirillo

Adr

Molly Click

Art Department Coordinator

Robert Clotworthy

Adr

Bruce Cohen

Producer

Simon Coke

Dialogue Editor

Tara B Cook

Assistant

Cydney Cornell

Hair Stylist

Jordan Corngold

Music

Nicolle Cornute

Art Department

Jeff Couch

Driver

David Cowgill

Adr

James M. Cox

Lighting Technician

Rosemary Cremona

Assistant Director

Phil Culotta

Stunts

Burton Cummings

Song

Bobby Darin

Song Performer

Bobby Darin

Song

Patricia Dehaney

Hair Stylist

Stephen P Del Prete

Production Assistant

Matt Dessero

Visual Effects

Maria Devane

Post-Production Accountant

Joanie Diener

Music Editor

E Carey Dietrich

Assistant Director

Andrea Dopaso

Set Designer

Chris Douridas

Music Supervisor

Dean Drabin

Adr Mixer

Moosie Drier

Adr

Ross Dunkerley

Electrician

David Durham

Effects Assistant

Bob Dylan

Song

Bob Dylan

Song Performer

Chris Edmonds

Assistant Director

Michelle Edmonds

Assistant Director

Iake Eissinmann

Adr

John Emory

Grip

Yoshi Enoki

Assistant Location Manager

Ed Evans

Driver

Susan Evans

Art Department

Paul Farley

Best Boy Grip

Vince Filippone

Avid Editor

Carl Fischer

Boom Operator

Paul Flinchbaugh

Sound

Andy Fraser

Song

Fortunato Frattasio

Visual Effects

Marina Freeman

Stand-In

Maurice Freeman

Production Assistant

Marcy Froehlich

Assistant Costume Designer

Carlos M Gallardo

Dolly Grip

Robert Garlow

Props

Earl D. Gayer

Electrician

Mike Gentile

Assistant Camera Operator

Scott Gershin

Sound Editor

Nerses Gezalyan

Foley Mixer

Marilyn Giardino-zyeh

Script Supervisor

Ron Glenn

Grip

David John Golia

Director Of Photography

Jackie Gonneau

Adr

Rene Gonzalez

Projectionist

Mark S Gordon

Dialogue Editor

Nicolle Gray

Effects Assistant

Thomas Gray

Song

Joy A Green

Animal Trainer

Christopher Greenbury

Editor

Sergio Gutierrez

Dolly Grip

Victor Haddox

Accounting Assistant

Geoffrey Haley

Camera Operator

Conrad W. Hall

Director Of Photography

Conrad Hall

Director Of Photography

Oscar Hammerstein Ii

Song

Jason Hansen

Special Effects Assistant

Tom Hardesty

Other

P J Harling

Avid Editor

Lee Harris

Set Costumer

John Hartigan

Special Effects Coordinator

Anna E Hayward

Production Assistant

Jim Heritage

Other

Alix Hester

Set Costumer

Phil Hetos

Color Timer

Julie Hewett

Makeup Artist

Peter Hirsch

Assistant Director

Chee Ho

Location Assistant

Bridget Hoffman

Adr

Tom Hrupcho

Other

Wayne Incorvaia

Special Effects Assistant

Jeffrey Jenofsky

Production Assistant

Dan Jinks

Producer

Jim Johnson

Driver

Trevor Jolly

Adr Supervisor

Richard W Jones

Other

Jim Kale

Song

Al Kaminsky

Driver

Ian Kay

On-Set Dresser

Lisa Dennis Kennedy

Post-Production Supervisor

Stephanie Kime

Assistant Director

Dean M King

Best Boy Grip

Jerry King

Key Grip

Kenny King

Key Grip

Tricia Kingery

Accounting Assistant

Krissy C Korn

Craft Service

Gary Kudroff

Swing Gang

Michael Labog

Production Assistant

Matthew Labyorteaux

Adr

John Lacy

Electrician

A. Welch Lambeth

Transportation Coordinator

Carolyn Lassek

On-Set Dresser

Paul Lavender

Song

David S. Lazan

Art Director

Lee Lebaigue

Sound

Peggy Lee

Song Performer

Jerry Leiber

Song

John Lennon

Song

Annie Lennox

Song Performer

Ron Linxwiler

Driver

Janet Lonsdale

Production Accountant

Randy Lovelady

Transportation Captain

Juliet Loveland

Makeup Artist

Christina Macgregor

Adr

Larry Madaras

Assistant Editor

Matt Magnolia

Editor

Lance Mancuso

Medic

Barry Mann

Song

David Marquette

Other

George R Matejka

Driver

Paul Mccartney

Song

Tania Mccomas

Makeup Artist

James M Mcewen

Gaffer

Nichole Mcwhorter

Stand-In

Pia Mehr

Other

Hector Mendoza

Driver

Bob Merrill

Song

Ralph Merzbach

Other

Scott Millan

Rerecording

Edie Mirman

Adr

Christie Moreau

Adr

James Moriana

Foley Artist

Leslie Morris

Music Contractor

Kim Mozingo

Assistant

Michael J. Musteric

Production Assistant

David H Neale

Electrician

Thomas Newman

Music

Thomas Noroian

Grip

Carol A. O'connell

Hair Stylist

Joseph Ondrejko

Construction Coordinator

Mark Ormandy

Audio

Raquel Osborne

Extras Agent/Coordinator

Benjamin Ottewell

Song

Tom Ozanich

Foley Editor

Wayne Parviainen

Driver

Thomas Pasatieri

Original Music

Aaron Pazanti

Camera Operator

Oliver James Peacock

Song

Lisa Penaranda

Set Decorator

Gary Peterson

Song

E Petralia

Song

Mickey Petralia

Song

Cindy Picker

Choreographer

Glen R Polzel

Driver

Damon Preston

Stand-In

Ana Maria Quintana

Script Supervisor

Mark Rabinowitz

Production Assistant

Film Details

Also Known As
Belleza Americana
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Black Comedy
Teens
Release Date
1999
Distribution Company
AMBLIN PARTNERS
Location
San Jose, California, USA; Los Angeles, California, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h

Award Wins

Best Actor

1999
Kevin Spacey

Best Cinematography

1999

Best Director

1999
Sam Mendes

Best Original Screenplay

1999

Best Picture

1999
Sam Mendes

Best Screenplay Motion Pict

1999

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1999
Annette Bening

Best Film Editing

1999
Tariq Anwar

Best Original Score

1999

Best Actor

1999
Kevin Spacey

Best Original Score

1999

Articles

American Beauty


Who would have thought that a film whose most poignant scene features some leaves and a swirling plastic bag would be a hit? And yet, not only was American Beauty (1999) a worldwide smash with audiences, it picked up scores of awards for its cast and crew, including Oscars® for Best Picture, Actor, Cinematography, Writing, and Director for Sam Mendes. Not bad for his first feature film! Starring Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham, a man in the throes of a major mid-life crisis, American Beauty deftly weaves an assortment of characters from an anonymous suburb into a fascinating tale of self-reckoning. Annette Bening costars as his frustrated wife Carolyn and Thora Birch plays their sullen teenage daughter Jane. Powerful performances from Chris Cooper and Wes Bentley round out the featured cast with Mena Suvari serving as the adolescent object of Spacey's increasing obsession.

The story of American Beauty proved polarizing even before the cameras rolled; some actors were as strongly drawn to the project as others were repelled. You can put Spacey in the first camp: "I read the screenplay and nearly fell out of bed. I thought I better meet him [Mendes] quick before someone else read it." The actor was, in fact, Mendes' first choice for the role. In an interview, the director explained, "I've always sensed that Kevin was limited by the roles that were offered to him. You know – the most clever guy in the film – more than anybody else and here in this part he is the least clever and the blindest and the most lost – the fool. I thought here is his chance to be vulnerable and I just felt he would pounce on the role."

Wes Bentley, who plays Thora Birch's video artist boyfriend, described a similar experience with his initial read of the script, retelling, "I was reading American Beauty on the plane and got to the speech about how life was so overwhelming that this character couldn't take it and that was something I could identify with recently in my life. It was like, 'Oh yeah I know what he is talking about.' It moved me to tears. I got off the plane and for the first time in my life I couldn't wait to call my agent. I got so excited to call – I said 'I want this role. Get me in a room with Sam [Mendes]. I just need to be in a room with him and let him know I understand this person and I need to be a part of this.'" Not everyone had such a visceral reaction, however; Kirsten Dunst wasn't interested in playing the object of Lester Burnham's lust. Her explanation was simple: "I didn't want to be kissing Kevin Spacey. Come on! Lying there naked with rose petals!?"

Surprisingly enough, the screenplay was written by another Hollywood novice, Alan Ball. A television writer moving on to his first feature film script, Ball would springboard from his success on American Beauty to create Six Feet Under (2001-5), one of the most acclaimed cable television series of the last decade. Like the television show, American Beauty is full of clever references and subtle asides for the watchful viewer to enjoy. The film makes a couple of sly references to Nabokov's seminal novel Lolita; for example, Suvari's nymphet is named Angela Hayes; Lolita's last name was Haze. Spacey's character Lester Burnham not only draws parallels to Lolita's anti-hero Humbert Humbert, his very name is an anagram for "Humbert Learns." In another playful turn, Bening's self-help tapes are narrated by "Dr. Alan Ball." With regards to the film's most famous sequence, Ball was reportedly inspired to write the videocam plastic bag sequence after witnessing something similar at the World Trade Center plaza.

If you think the scene where Spacey and Bentley are smoking marijuana was a little too realistic, just chalk it up to good acting. The two men smoked honey tobacco, but as Spacey explained, "We were laughing for real, because, to be honest with you guys, the whole crew thought we were baked out of our minds. And we weren't, I promise you-we were just dealing with memories."

In case you're wondering who choreographed the drill team's dance routine, it was none other than Paula Abdul! Also, television viewers will immediately recognize supporting cast members like Peter Gallagher from The O.C., Allison Janney from The West Wing, and-think back now-Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap. Even the closing credits hold some surprises, with thank yous to Pete Townshend and Nicole Kidman. The Townshend credit is most likely for the film's use of The Who song "The Seeker," and Nicole's credit refers to a past theatrical collaboration with Mendes. From the opening narration to the last seconds of American Beauty, viewers are well advised to follow the film's tagline: Look closer. As film critic Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine confirmed, "The clever brushstrokes of television writing yield to a depth of characterization that allows for fear, feeling and that network bugaboo, ambiguity. The suburbanites of American Beauty - young and old - have interior lives that encompass different ideas of beauty and truth. You don't peg these people at a glance; they keep springing surprises."

Producer: Alan Ball, Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks, Stan Wlodkowski
Director: Sam Mendes
Screenplay: Alan Ball
Cinematography: Conrad L. Hall
Film Editing: Tariq Anwar, Christopher Greenbury
Art Direction: David Lazan
Music: Thomas Newman
Cast: Kevin Spacey (Lester Burnham), Annette Bening (Carolyn Burnham), Thora Birch (Jane Burnham), Wes Bentley (Ricky Fitts), Mena Survari (Angela Hayes), Chris Cooper (Col. Frank Fitts).
C-122m. Letterboxed.

by Eleanor Quin
American Beauty

American Beauty

Who would have thought that a film whose most poignant scene features some leaves and a swirling plastic bag would be a hit? And yet, not only was American Beauty (1999) a worldwide smash with audiences, it picked up scores of awards for its cast and crew, including Oscars® for Best Picture, Actor, Cinematography, Writing, and Director for Sam Mendes. Not bad for his first feature film! Starring Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham, a man in the throes of a major mid-life crisis, American Beauty deftly weaves an assortment of characters from an anonymous suburb into a fascinating tale of self-reckoning. Annette Bening costars as his frustrated wife Carolyn and Thora Birch plays their sullen teenage daughter Jane. Powerful performances from Chris Cooper and Wes Bentley round out the featured cast with Mena Suvari serving as the adolescent object of Spacey's increasing obsession. The story of American Beauty proved polarizing even before the cameras rolled; some actors were as strongly drawn to the project as others were repelled. You can put Spacey in the first camp: "I read the screenplay and nearly fell out of bed. I thought I better meet him [Mendes] quick before someone else read it." The actor was, in fact, Mendes' first choice for the role. In an interview, the director explained, "I've always sensed that Kevin was limited by the roles that were offered to him. You know – the most clever guy in the film – more than anybody else and here in this part he is the least clever and the blindest and the most lost – the fool. I thought here is his chance to be vulnerable and I just felt he would pounce on the role." Wes Bentley, who plays Thora Birch's video artist boyfriend, described a similar experience with his initial read of the script, retelling, "I was reading American Beauty on the plane and got to the speech about how life was so overwhelming that this character couldn't take it and that was something I could identify with recently in my life. It was like, 'Oh yeah I know what he is talking about.' It moved me to tears. I got off the plane and for the first time in my life I couldn't wait to call my agent. I got so excited to call – I said 'I want this role. Get me in a room with Sam [Mendes]. I just need to be in a room with him and let him know I understand this person and I need to be a part of this.'" Not everyone had such a visceral reaction, however; Kirsten Dunst wasn't interested in playing the object of Lester Burnham's lust. Her explanation was simple: "I didn't want to be kissing Kevin Spacey. Come on! Lying there naked with rose petals!?" Surprisingly enough, the screenplay was written by another Hollywood novice, Alan Ball. A television writer moving on to his first feature film script, Ball would springboard from his success on American Beauty to create Six Feet Under (2001-5), one of the most acclaimed cable television series of the last decade. Like the television show, American Beauty is full of clever references and subtle asides for the watchful viewer to enjoy. The film makes a couple of sly references to Nabokov's seminal novel Lolita; for example, Suvari's nymphet is named Angela Hayes; Lolita's last name was Haze. Spacey's character Lester Burnham not only draws parallels to Lolita's anti-hero Humbert Humbert, his very name is an anagram for "Humbert Learns." In another playful turn, Bening's self-help tapes are narrated by "Dr. Alan Ball." With regards to the film's most famous sequence, Ball was reportedly inspired to write the videocam plastic bag sequence after witnessing something similar at the World Trade Center plaza. If you think the scene where Spacey and Bentley are smoking marijuana was a little too realistic, just chalk it up to good acting. The two men smoked honey tobacco, but as Spacey explained, "We were laughing for real, because, to be honest with you guys, the whole crew thought we were baked out of our minds. And we weren't, I promise you-we were just dealing with memories." In case you're wondering who choreographed the drill team's dance routine, it was none other than Paula Abdul! Also, television viewers will immediately recognize supporting cast members like Peter Gallagher from The O.C., Allison Janney from The West Wing, and-think back now-Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap. Even the closing credits hold some surprises, with thank yous to Pete Townshend and Nicole Kidman. The Townshend credit is most likely for the film's use of The Who song "The Seeker," and Nicole's credit refers to a past theatrical collaboration with Mendes. From the opening narration to the last seconds of American Beauty, viewers are well advised to follow the film's tagline: Look closer. As film critic Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine confirmed, "The clever brushstrokes of television writing yield to a depth of characterization that allows for fear, feeling and that network bugaboo, ambiguity. The suburbanites of American Beauty - young and old - have interior lives that encompass different ideas of beauty and truth. You don't peg these people at a glance; they keep springing surprises." Producer: Alan Ball, Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks, Stan Wlodkowski Director: Sam Mendes Screenplay: Alan Ball Cinematography: Conrad L. Hall Film Editing: Tariq Anwar, Christopher Greenbury Art Direction: David Lazan Music: Thomas Newman Cast: Kevin Spacey (Lester Burnham), Annette Bening (Carolyn Burnham), Thora Birch (Jane Burnham), Wes Bentley (Ricky Fitts), Mena Survari (Angela Hayes), Chris Cooper (Col. Frank Fitts). C-122m. Letterboxed. by Eleanor Quin

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Winner of the Nastri D'Argento Film Award for Best Director of a Foreign Film (Sam Mendes) at the 2000 Taormina Internationl Film Festival.

Winner of five 1999 awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Kevin Spacey), Best Actress (Annette Bening) and Best Screenplay from the London Film Critics Association.

Winner of four 1999 awards, including Best Film, Best Director (Sam Mendes), Best Actor (Kevin Spacey) and Best Ensemble from the Online Film Critics Society.

Winner of the 1999 Award for Best Cinematography (Conrad Hall) from the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC).

Winner of the 1999 award for Best Cinematography (Conrad Hall) from the National Society of Film Critics.

Winner of the 1999 award for Best Director from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

Winner of the 1999 award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Alan Ball) from the Writers Guild of America.

Winner of the 1999 award for Excellence in Contemporary Costume Design for Film by the Costume Designers Guild (CDG).

Winner of the Air Canada People's Choice Award at the 1999 Toronto International Film Festival.

Winner of three 1999 awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay from the 1999 Broadcast Film Critics Association.

Winner of two 1999 awards, including Best Picture and Best Breakthrough Performance (Wes Bently) from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.

Released in United States Fall September 15, 1999

Released in United States September 17, 1999

Expanded Release in United States September 24, 1999

Wide Release in United States October 1, 1999

Re-released in United States February 18, 2000

Expanded re-release in United States March 10, 2000

Expanded re-release in United States March 17, 2000

Released in United States on Video May 9, 2000

Released in United States November 1999

Released in United States January 2000

Released in United States July 2000

Released in United States October 2000

Shown at London Film Festival (Closing Night) November 3-18, 1999.

Shown at Brussels International Film Festival (Opening Night) January 20-29, 2000.

Shown at Taormina International Film Festival July 2-9, 2000.

Feature directorial debut for screenwriter and celebrated theater director Sam Mendes.

Sam Mendes received the 1999 award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Feature Film from the Directors Guild of America.

Completed shooting February 25, 1999.

Began shooting December 14, 1998.

Alan Ball was named NATO/ShoWest 1999 Screenwriter of the Year.

Dreamworks purchased the screenplay for $250,000.

Released in United States Fall September 15, 1999 (NY, LA)

Released in United States September 17, 1999 (Boston, San Francisco)

Expanded Release in United States September 24, 1999

Wide Release in United States October 1, 1999

Re-released in United States February 18, 2000

Expanded re-release in United States March 10, 2000

Expanded re-release in United States March 17, 2000

Released in United States on Video May 9, 2000

Released in United States November 1999 (Shown at London Film Festival (Closing Night) November 3-18, 1999.)

Released in United States January 2000 (Shown at Brussels International Film Festival (Opening Night) January 20-29, 2000.)

Released in United States July 2000 (Shown at Taormina International Film Festival July 2-9, 2000.)

Released in United States October 2000 (Shown at AFI/Los Angeles International Film Festival (Special Screening) October 19-26, 2000.)

Winner of the 2000 Artios Award for Feature Film - Drama by the Casting Society of America (CSA).