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teaser Overboard (1987)

1987, MGM released Overboard, a riches-to-rags romantic comedy directed by Garry Marshall and starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. Hawn plays a snooty socialite who loses her memory after an accident and is tricked by Russell into believing that she is his blue-collar wife and mother to his rowdy children.

Granted, the amnesiac plot device has been used many times before in Hollywood comedies but what makes Overboard so entertaining is the on-screen chemistry between Hawn and Russell. Longtime off-screen partners, the two met in 1983 during the shooting of Swing Shift (1984), a rather underrated Jonathan Demme film with an impressive cast including Christine Lahti and Ed Harris. Hawn, whose career was launched as a giggling, ditzy blonde in television's Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In during the late sixties, has been a consistent Hollywood screen presence for over thirty years. She won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in Cactus Flower (1969), a film starring Walter Matthau and Ingrid Bergman. Other highlights of her career include Private Benjamin (1980), for which she earned a Best Actress nomination, and more recently, films like The First Wives Club (1996). Russell started his career a bit earlier, with an uncredited role in It Happened at the World's Fair (1963), an Elvis flick in which Kurt is listed as the "Boy Who Kicks Mike." After such an auspicious beginning, Russell went on to do such films as Silkwood (1983) with Meryl Streep, a performance that garnered him a Golden Globe nomination. Other films include Backdraft (1991) and Tombstone (1993).

As director, Garry Marshall had helmed only three other films prior to Overboard, including Nothing in Common (1986), an early Tom Hanks vehicle also starring Jackie Gleason. Marshall, brother of Penny - best known for being the L in TV's Laverne and Shirley and a director in her own right - would later be responsible for spring-boarding one of Hollywood's most popular leading ladies: Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (1990). Other films include the weeper Beaches (1988) and the critically acclaimed Pacino/Pfeiffer flick Frankie and Johnny (1991). An interesting characteristic of Marshall is his fondness for certain character actors, the most prominent being Hector Elizondo, who has been cast in twelve of the director's films. In Overboard, Elizondo plays the small but crucial role of "Garbage Scow Skipper."

Edward Herrmann and Katherine Helmond turn in amusing performances in their supporting roles. Herrmann, a prolific character actor, is best known for television movie roles in such projects as Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years (1977). He also, however, turned in a memorably creepy performance as the head vampire in The Lost Boys (1987). Helmond, best known for her work in the TV series Soap (1977-81) and Who's The Boss? (1984-92), marked a stellar performance in the Terry Gilliam film Brazil (1985). Legendary actor Roddy McDowall, whose career spanned over fifty years, not only had a featured role in the film but was also the executive producer . . . a job that had a twist to it. McDowall was originally hired by MGM to scout for old movie properties with an eye to remaking them, but when he happened upon a new screenplay entitled Overboard, he decided to make it instead!

Producer: Garry Marshall, Alexandra Rose, Anthea Sylbert
Director: Garry Marshall
Screenplay: Leslie Dixon, Larry Grusin
Art Direction: Jim Dultz, James Shanahan
Cinematography: John A. Alonzo
Editing: Sonny Baskin, Dov Hoenig
Music: Alan Silvestri
Cast: Goldie Hawn (Joanna Stayton/"Annie Proffitt"), Kurt Russell (Dean Proffitt), Edward Herrmann (Grant Stayton III), Katherine Helmond (Edith Mintz), Michael G. Hagerty (Billy Pratt), Frank Campanella (Captain Karl).
C-113m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Eleanor Quin

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