on July 16, 2004
Lovely is such an old fashioned word, I know. But that's the word that describes this film, for me. The story of the developing friendship over many years between the black chaueffeur and the older Jewish woman is very heartwarming in its simplicity. Jessica Tandy is marvelous as "Miss Daisy" the fiercely independant, irascible widow, whose advancing age requires her son to employ, against her wishes, a driver/companion for her. Miss Tandy, who originated the role of Blanche DuBois on Broadway in "A Streetcar Named Desire", was a wonderful actress. This was one of her last films, and all the skill, sublety, and experience of her life-long craft come together to create a living, breathing "Miss Daisy." Morgan Freeman meets her skill in his portrayal of "Hoag", the accomodating chaueffeur. He has the manner of a certain resignation that an older black man may have felt in the turbulent, prejudiced south in which he lived, yet exudes dignity. He has the manner of "Hoag" down pat, right down to the closed mouth laugh that I have seen in the old black men who hang out on the corner. This is not a caricature, he IS "Hoag." His relationship with Miss Daisy starts out very rocky, to say the least, but, as time passes, their places in each others lives develope into almost a "marriage", with a quiet understanding of, and dependence on, each other. And though Miss Daisy insists she was not prejudiced, and inherently wasn't, it is touching to see her slowly let go of her last universally accepted beliefs of peoples place in society, where the "colored" help were always servants of some sort, and the line was just never crossed. Scenes such as the one where she and "Hoag" are both eating their dinner in the house, she in the dining room, he , alone in the kitchen, express this. The very thought of them dining together, it just wasn't done. As time goes on, and she becomes quietly aware of the similarities of the prejudices against her religion and the prejudices and injustice against Hoags race, the differences that seperate them become insignicant. Dan Akroyd and Patti Lupone are fine as Miss Daisy's son and his typically '50s wife, who admonishes her black maid for the unforgivable sin of forgetting to tell her she was out of coconut for the ambrosia she was serving to her guests... a '50s hostess' nightmare. There are a few moments when their performances threaten to lapse into parody, but one is only aware of this because this is basically a two person play, and the skill and realism of Tandys and Freemans performances just eclipse the others, they are basically props compared to the skill and, yes, sublety of the leads . The exception is Esther Rolle as "Idella" , Miss Daisys black maid. Though her part is small, and her lines few, she manages to convey a resigned dignity also, and her dead-pan delivery of several one liners is very humorous. Miss Daisys affection and respect for Idella is clearly etched upon her face, however, at Idella's funeral. This is just a wonderfully simple, beautiful film. It never treads into being overly sentimental, thanks to the casting of two very special stars. This film took many by surprise by winning the Oscar for best film of the year, proving that a movie with no special effects, and, that actually tells a story, can still move audiences. The final scene, where their years-long friendship comes full circle, will have tears in your eyes, as Miss Daisy conveys the sweet sad wisdom of the old, who know that "all shall soon pass...."
on December 24, 2003
Superb casting of Jessica Tandy as a stubborn elderly Southern woman of privilege and Morgan Freeman as her loyal and capable and patient chauffeur makes this one of the best dramas and character studies of all time. Tandy won an Oscar for this 1989 performance and Freeman was nominated for one. This is a movie of wonderful spirited characters, people who demonstrate sassiness, independence, tolerance, admiration, and respect for each other - but only after a few years of working together. It all started when Miss Daisy crashed her car and her son, Dan Aykroyd, a pompous banker type, declared she absolutely could drive no more. So he hired a chauffeur for her. At first, all the old Southern prejudices came into plan, prejudices of class, race, and education. But gradually the wisdom and quiet patience of Freeman's character won her over.
At its core, this is the story of an unlikely friendship that shows it's possible to transcend prejudice and appreciate the human being within.
Take an intense and flawless performance by Jessica Tandy (80-years-old when the movie was released in 1989) and a charming and slyly witty performance by Morgan Freeman (closing in on his fifties)--she a rich Jewish lady of the South, high-toned, spoiled, stubborn to a fault, he a black illiterate chauffeur, wise, patient and in need of a job--and we have the basis for a profound character study. What we are studying is both the character of the leads and the character of a way of life passing languidly before our eyes.
Adapted for the screen from his Pulitzer Prize winning stage play by Alfred Uhry and directed by Bruce Beresford, who previously gave us the remarkable Aussie classic, Breaker Morant (1980), Driving Miss Daisy is one of those films that is a work of art as well as a sociological discovery. Using beautifully constructed scenes carefully observed, Beresford allows us to recall a way of life and a culture that characterized the South during the middle of the last century. Freeman's Hoke Colburn is black; and, as he mumbles, "not all that much has changed" since the days of slavery. He still has to "yes'em" and shuffle his feet and show deference to white folk just to get by. Miss Daisy Werthan herself is rich and very tight with her money. She is also as racially prejudiced as a Dixie sheriff, but blind to her prejudices as she rages against the infirmaries of age.
The movie begins as she loses control of her car and drives it off the road and into a drainage ditch. She is shaken but unharmed. However her driving days are over. Her son Boolie Werthan, played with a fine touch and surprising restraint by comedian Dan Aykroyd, decides to get her a chauffeur. But she will not hear of it. She feels her independence is being threatened, and she doesn't need her son to tell her what to do. She can take care of herself. When Boolie arrives with Hoke, who is clearly black, Miss Daisy declares she will not have that man in her house.
One feels very strongly at this point how compromised the infirm are when they must rely on help from others. Let a stranger into your house and there is no telling where it might end. More that this though, is the underlying idea that dependence on people from a lower social-economic class will in fact have a leveling effect on class distinctions, and this is again something that Miss Daisy (in her ignorance of herself) will not abide.
But Hoke says he has wrestled some hogs in the mud in his time and has yet to let one get away, and he will do what is necessary to secure his position as Miss Daisy's driver. He comes highly recommended, and after listening to him, Boolie has little doubt he got the right man for the job. Miss Daisy of course is having none of it, and indeed she tells him to get out. She refuses to get into the car; she won't let him clean the chandelier or weed her garden. However, he doesn't give up. He takes all of her contrariness with good spirit and a sunny attitude, and then one day as she tries to go shopping on foot, he follows alongside of her in the car, and after some walking she is persuaded to hop in.
On one level this is about racial politics in the South, circa mid- twentieth century, and on another level it is about growing old and coping with life as one grows old. It is about taking care of oneself and getting the most out of life despite the handicap of a declining body. This applies to both Hoke and Miss Daisy. He knows that the physical demands of a chauffeur are more appropriate to his age than some of the physical work he did when younger, and she knows that to live the full social life that she desires, she needs help in getting around. Naturally, as the film progresses they learn from one another. At first they are drawn together by her sharp wit and his appreciation of somebody who can speak the truth with a barb and not mince words. Later they are drawn closer together by their mutual strength of character and the plain fact that she needs a driver and he needs a job. But finally they are drawn together because they become, as she suddenly observes one day, best friends.
This then is a story of love as well--love between two people from different walks of life. The differences are not just those of race and socio-economic status, or of religion and gender, but of world views and personal psychology, hers demanding and exacting, highbrow and imperial, his practical and easy-going, naturistic and democratic.
A tide is turned when her temple is burned to the ground by "the same ones as always" as Hoke informs her, which forces Daisy to realize that her enemies are the same as his. Consequently she attends a speech given by Martin Luther King, Jr. He prefers to wait outside in the car and listen to it on the radio. At once we see the commonality of their understanding, but still the differences of their stations in life remain. The dream and the reality are meshing but slowly, as all things do in the Old South, or, for that matter, most anywhere.
See this above all for the captivating performances by Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman, two of the great actors of our time, and for the touching and bittersweet story by Alfred Uhry. Also noteworthy is director Beresford's careful attention to detail and his unobtrusive guidance so that the film flows as sweetly as Tupelo honey on a warm southern day.
on September 25, 2004
Driving Miss Daisy is one of my all-time favorites. I bought the Special Edition widescreen DVD (ISBN 0-7907-7237-X, UPC 0-85392-33402-5) and was horribly disappointed. It shows less picture than does my old fullscreen VHS tape (and I seem to be the only one who has noticed)! Although the image is with a widescreen aspect ratio, the left & right sides of the picture do not extend beyond those of the VHS. And the top & bottom letterbox black bars on the DVD image are actually covering up parts of the picture that I can see on the VHS. In other words, THE PICTURE BETWEEN WIDESCREEN DVD AND FULLSCREEN VHS IS IDENTICAL, EXCEPT THAT THE DVD HAS BLACK BARS LITERALLY COVERING UP THE TOP & BOTTOM. For instance, at the end of the movie, the VHS tape clearly shows Miss Daisy's hand fumbling with the fork, and her slice of pie sitting there on the table. On the widescreen DVD, this is all covered up by the bottom black bar, so all you see of the pie is the few bites that Hoke raises (out of the void) to Miss Daisy's mouth. The touching scene is completely ruined. I'm not exactly sure what's up with this pseudo-widescreen version, but it stinks.
on March 28, 2000
This is simply a wonderful film! The performances by Jesica Tandy, Morgan Freeman, Dan Ackroyd and Esther Rolle are top-notch. The pace of the film is magnificent; there is not a dull moment in the entire one and a half hours. The set is lovely and period correct, as is the music and even the automobiles (mostly vintage Cadillacs). The chemistry between the two lead characters is very special, and Jessica Tandy certainly deserved the Academy Award for her performance. It is wonderful to see the progression over the period of several decades, and the friendship that develops between a proud, old Jewish widow and her newly appointed chauffeur. Dan Ackroyd as Miss Daisy's son is surprisingly effective also. An all round gem of a movie that deserves to be seen again and again.
on February 13, 2006
"Driving Miss Daisy" is about an elderly, well-to-do, widow named Miss Daisy (Jessica Tandy), a retired school-teacher. Her son believes that she needs extra help with her errands, so as opposed to having his mother, Miss Daisy walk everywhere to run her errands, then her son (Dan Aykroyd) takes it upon himself to hire Miss Daisy, (his mother), a chauffeur (Morgan Freeman).
At first, Miss Daisy doesn't like the idea of being driven around town because she feels that that is being boastful, proud and snobbish. Ironically, Miss Daisy is somewhat of a snob, in her own way, but not purposefully. She's set in her ways, a true traditionalist, who refuses to become progressive. at all costs. While wealthy, she doesn't want to appear as pretentious or ostentatious because after all, she was just a poor farm girl as she puts it in the film; hence, her reasons for refusing to hire a chauffeur; although, ironically, she does have a maid, who is one of her best friends.
At first, Miss Daisy is extremely hateful and rude to her chauffeur, (Morgan Freeman), but realizes that he's only doing his job to the best of his abilities and as the times change, so does Miss Daisy's attitude toward her driver.
As the film progresses, so does Miss Daisy's affinity (i.e., liking) for her chauffeur (Mr. Morgan Freeman). She teaches him how to read because sadly he cannot read. Being a retired teacher, while visiting her deceased husband at the cemetary, she realizes that Mr. Freeman is illiterate. Contrary to what most people might do, she doesn't coddle him, but rather encourages him with a tough love approach yet is sensitive to his plight. Her Christmas gift to him, although, she doesn't celebrate Christmas because she doesn't celebrate it, the reason being that she's Jewish, offers him a token of her appreciation and gives him a practice workbook, in order, that he can learn to read and write. Mr. Freeman plays the character in a dignifed manner--not feeling pity for himself because his character is illiterate, but remains friendly, well-mannered and humble. Not once in the film does Morgan Freeman's character allow himself to feel pity for himself. He's a true character, who's humble, well-mannered and most importantly, respectful.
Eventually, Miss Daisy travels to the deep south to visit a relative. Eventually, Miss Daisy and her chauffeur (Morgan Freeman) stop on the side of the ride to eat lunch. When they're approached and confronted by a racist and obnoxious police officer, who wishes to see Miss Daisy's chauffeur's proof of ownership and insurance. Miss Daisy's chauffeur politely honors his request and shows him the proof that it's Miss Daisy's car. Secure in knowing that the car is not stolen because that is what is implied by the officer's reasons for harassing Miss Daisy and her driver, then the officer leaves and Miss Daisy's driver and her are soon on their way. Miss Daisy not being an ignorant fool, knows the real reason that they were being confronted by this obnoxious and evil police officer and it was because she is Jewish and her driver is of African-American descent. Of course, being the sophisticated and dignified person that Miss Daisy is along with her driver, they do not choose to acknowledge this overt example of racism. Unfortunately, this was the era, in which, the "Jim Crow Laws" were still in effect, hence the reasons for this particular event taking place because it was historically-based on over racism taking place in the deep south; especially, during the 50's and 60's. but I digress.
Eventually, Miss Daisy begins to treat her chauffeur (Morgan Freeman) with more respect. Secretly she likes him as a friend, but for some reason, she doesn't want him to know that she cares for him as a friend. It's most likely because she's extremely conservative and probably not one to wear her heart on her sleeve. However, be that as it may, Miss Daisy likes her driver, but throughout the film she is somewhat stern and hateful to him, which grates on your nerves because you think to yourself, "Is she ever going to be nice to him?" In her own way, she allows herself to become more emotionally-attached to her driver in a platonic, inoocent, friendly sense, which makes this film a gem.
Ultimately, I highly recommend this film to anyone over 13 due to the racial slurs involved in this film (in that one particular scene with the police officer), who wishes to see a heart-warming story about an elderly woman, set in her ways, but willing to overcome her own biases and realizes that one of her best-friends she could ever have is her driver.
on December 9, 2005
A wonderful comedy/drama about a black chauffeur (Morgan Freeman) and the crotchety, stubborn Miss Daisy (Jessica Tandy), a Jewish widow living in Atlanta. The story spans the period 1948-1960s, and shows the development of the friendship between the two. Freeman is a little bit too perfect in his role, but he's excellent nonetheless, as is Tandy. Racial prejudice and change are at the core of the movie, but they're handled so subtly that they take second place to the relationship of Freeman and Tandy. The movie is very humane and heartwarming - and most enjoyable. Definitely worth a watch.
on March 3, 2013
I saw this movie when it first came out and I was so excited when I founded it in Blu Ray plus a book! It is such a touching story and a Wonderful Example how our society use to be and how two people overcame those rules in such a caring way! I just can't Highly Recornmend this movie enough! The quality of the Blu Ray is outstanding!
on May 2, 2004
"Driving Miss Daisy" is one of the best films released in 1989, rightfully winning four Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Makeup. This adaptation of the play version is brilliant. It tells the story, set between 1940's-1960's, of a fiesty elderly woman who's unhappy of growing old. As she meets a man who becomes her driver, the story develops into something special. The combination of stories become increasingly interesting as the two develop a close friendship. Their relationship beats the racist society and the painful past that the man has endured. Through everything, their lives change forever. Her son's frequent visits to her house offer the added entertainment value as it adds to the emotional value. Despite the twenty-five year plot span, the storyline flows smoothly. The warm, loving story offers an unforgettable viewing experience.
Jessica Tandy performs her role as the unhappy elderly woman splendidly. Her every expressed emotion is felt upon audiences. She became the oldest person to win an Oscar, at age 80. Morgan Freeman and Dan Ackroyd's Oscar nominated roles (Best Actor/ Best Supporting Actor) offer the added unique theme to this great film. All other actors also performed wonderfully.
The quality of "Driving Miss Daisy" proves that it's destined to become a classic in the following years. It's sure to continue pleasing audiences for many years to come. Most viewers will have to watch it multiple times to fully understand the movie because of its deep storyline. Afterwards, those who do will be glad they did.
on February 21, 2001
This is a superb film with excellent performances, a strong story line and a beautiful setting! It's all about an aging but strong minded southern belle (Jessica Tandy) who builds a strong and enduring friendship with her patient and unflappable chauffeur (Morgan Freeman). At first they were adversaries that couldn't agree on anything, but as the years passed they built a friendship based on mutual understanding and respect. This wonderful movie also stars Dan Aykroyd, Patti Lupone and Esther Rolle. This beautifully made masterpiece features Bruce Beresford's wonderful direction, excellent performances by ALL of its actors, lead and supporting and a memorable music score. This gem of a film also features tons of beautiful and picturesque southern scenery, as it was filmed on location, in and around Atlanta. This is definitely one film you'll want to see, unfortunately they don't make movies like this anymore. This was a sleeper when first released in theaters, but went on to become a box-office smash and an American classic. If you enjoy Jessica Tandy's performance, be sure to see her in Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) with Kathy Bates, The Birds (1963) with Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor and The Seventh Cross (1944) with Spencer Tracy, Agnes Moorehead and Tandy's real life husband Hume Cronyn. Morgan Freeman fans should see Lean on Me (1989) with Robert Guillaume, Lynne Thigpen and Regina Taylor.