Garry Marshall vows, if you see this film, you’ll understand women better
BY KATHERINE BRODSKY
April 26, 2005
Released back in 1988, the complicated friendship between opposites C.C. Bloom and Hillary Whitney resonated with audiences and on April 26, 2005, Buena Vista will release the much-awaited special edition DVD of Beaches. The DVD is filled with deleted scenes, a blooper reel from the film’s wrap party, a “Wind Beneath My Wings” music video, screen tests and a lively audio commentary with director Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries, Raising Helen).
The story of two lonely young girls who met on a beach and grew up together, going through both good times and tragic times, bickering on the way is a tearjerker, to be sure. But, hey, isn’t life filled with tears (not to mention, bickering)? But it’s also filled with some laughs and a musical number or two if we’re lucky. Under the helm of director Garry Marshall and the dazzling voice of Bette Midler, Beaches provides both. And now, the release of the DVD provides an excuse for those who have already seen the film, to watch it again. And those who haven’t seen it get a chance to discover some beautiful performances by Bette Midler, Barbara Hershey, John Heard and the rest of the gang, including one big dog.
As director Garry Marshall vows, if you see this film, you’ll understand women better. He is referring to men understanding women better, of course. But even woman can be quite clueless about others of their species – so it’s of benefit to us all.
The incredibly vivacious Marshall is currently directing a play called “Wrong Turn at Lungfish” starring usual suspect Hector Elizando at his Falcon Theatre in Burbank and was happy to speak about the upcoming special edition for Beaches:
Katherine: So how long has it been since you’ve seen Beaches?
Garry: Oh… about four weeks because I did all new narration. I had never done a Director’s Cut narration on Beaches so I did it weeks ago in time for the release of the DVD. It was a great visit and I do a whole-behind-the-scenes thing and I tell stories about Bette and Barbara Hershey and everybody and that was fun. It made me cry again. Would you believe that?
Katherine: So you cried the first time you saw your own movie?
Garry: Yes I did. I was crying when I was editing but I stopped all the screenings years ago because I had a headache but then I had seen it again… Well I always cry at the same place, when they play that song “Wind Beneath My Wings”. It gets you.
Katherine: Well that’s OK. I cried too. I have to confess.
Garry: It’s a good thing. It’s a nice tear.
Katherine: So how do you think the experience of watching it again is different from when it first came out?
Garry: I think it holds up pretty good because more and more women are coming to the forefront in all areas, and back then they said that nobody would care about women’s friendship. You know, that people won’t go see that. But a lot of people went, men and women, and so now women are rising to great positions and they run most of the studios now…
Katherine: So your films, a lot of them, have really strong female characters and really big female audiences as well, so how did that come to be considering that you are not female (I have no proof, but…)?
Garry: You know I grew up with two sisters, no brothers. There was Ronny who produced “Happy Days” for me and my sister Penny who acts, directs – she does everything. So they were very strong women in my life.
Katherine: So did they say: You know Gary you have to make films about female characters or we’ll kill you?
Garry: No they didn’t put that kind of pressure, but they did say they were good examples. My mother worked all of her life, she was a dance teacher and I also noticed, to be honest, that most of the male directors wanted to blow things up so there was like an open area for somebody who wanted to direct women movies, chick flicks, whatever you… I don’t call them chick flicks.
Katherine: I think they’re better than that.
Garry: I think they’re higher, HIGHER than that. (laughs)
Garry: So here it is, the complexity of women, I call it. And it’s interesting to tell the stories.
Katherine: We’re very simple. What are you talking about?
Garry: No, I don’t think so. That’s why I think men should go see Beaches too. I think they’ll understand women better.
Katherine: Yeah, you’re right. We’re complicated. We’re strange people.
Garry: What strange—complex is a good word.
Katherine. Complex, yes—crazy.
Katherine: And highly neurotic, but you know …
Garry: …Well, there’s a touch of that but that makes it interesting.
Katherine: Yes, I think so too. I have to justify my existence somehow. So you know, Beaches was a very sentimental film about two friends who were completely different from each other yet somehow managed to “click”. Were there in your own life people who are different like that yet…
Garry: Well I work with a lot of women and yeah I see totally different… My two sisters were different, I have two daughters that are pretty different, but it [the movie] was really about how women fight. You know, I always say men fight and they don’t talk to each other for twenty years or they kill each other. Women fight, say terrible things to each other and an hour later they make up and go shopping. I think they got the better idea of how it should be done.
Katherine: You think so?
Garry: I think so. Women are pretty good. Women usually fight about some stupid guy and then when they figure out it’s just a stupid guy they make up and move on.
Katherine: It’s never about a stupid guy, it’s about who has better nails.
Garry: Well it could be a bright guy and then they get married. That’s also good.
Katherine: Perhaps. So re-watching Beaches now do you feel your style has changed much since making it?
Garry: Well, I don’t think it changed that much. You do a little more of a record album these days. See I just wanted to put a few songs in Beaches and we did very well. The album of Beaches went gold. Without a lot of rock n’ roll and without MTV’s help and it was just good music – we had fourteen songs running around in there. So that changed a little bit but I don’t know if for the better even. But I think I learned a lot on Beaches. A guy I worked with Dante Spinotti is a wonderful cinematographer and it was his first picture and he went on to be nominated for an Academy Award for “LA Confidential” which was great.
So it’s a pretty picture and I just liked having somebody like Bette who can be flying in the big comedy scenes and have her do more like a realistic part. I was very proud of that, of taking women and making them vulnerable and so I continued doing that. Right after Beaches I did “Pretty Woman”, then I did “Frankie and Johnnie” and then I did “Other Sister” and “Princess Diaries” so that helped me get into the vein there of understanding women and trying to make them very pretty and very interesting.
Katherine: When I actually talked to you about “The Princess Diaries”…
Garry: You talked to me?
Katherine: I did. You were really mean to me and I just hung up and cried for days…
Katherine: I’m kidding.
Garry: I… oh, you’re such a jokester!
Katherine: So you did the publicity for that and you’re doing publicity for this… I was working on a magazine feature about DVD releases and during my research interviews, I was told that people (eg. actors, directors) don’t like to get involved with promoting them because they’re not as ‘sexy’ as theatrical releases but yet you are involved. Why so? Or were you forced?
Garry: …I’m too old to be forced dear.
Katherine: I didn’t think you were.
Garry: No I don’t get forced. I just feel that a lot of the pictures I’ve done, Beachesbeing one of them…I just love the pictures so that’s why I’m sitting here talking to you. So I mean yeah, the junkets [for theatrical releases] are fun. They give you free food. You didn’t send me a sandwich or nothing but I’m driving in a car and I’m happy so…
Katherine: Do you feel that having it now in front of maybe a new audience is something that’s going to make it in some way immortal?
Garry: Well I don’t know about immortal, but I must say that to me to touch more women and to have them understand friendships is important. I’ve had girls come up to me who said, “Yeah, after I saw ‘Beaches‘ I called up my friend Denise who I was really mad at. She got me so aggravated and I called her and we made up.” So if I could do that with this new release, yes, that would be very pleasing to me because, hey, it’s a tough world. You need friends out there.
Katherine: You know what? I just, I’m gonna watch it again because I’m just having a fight with a friend so maybe we’ll make up as result.
Garry: Well, try it. Call her up and say listen, let’s watch Beaches together and see if it makes a…
Katherine: No, I have to be influenced by the film first to do that…
Garry: Oh. OK. Maybe you’ll change your mind.
Katherine: How do you think for those people who’ve seen it before, how is that going to be a different experience seeing it again years later.
Garry: Well, they’re going to see some deleted scenes and some extra scenes that we had and they’re going to hear me tell all about the behind-the-scenes story of it so it will be a different experience that way because there was never a DVD out on this picture. This one is unique in that you know, there were no DVDs in those days. I think it was ’85 or ’86 and Bette Midler’s kid was like three years old and now this year Bette Midler’s daughter is going to college.
Garry: So time moves on but Barbara Hershey’s doing good and John Heard, they’re all people working. I know there were a couple of kids in that movie who I used who have been in other movies since Beaches. And in Beaches there is a theater which the character CC Bloom appeared at – a theater called the Falcon Theater…
Katherine: The one that you’re directing a play in right now.
Garry: Yeah, that’s the theater that I have in beautiful Burbank, the Falcon Theater. There wasn’t a Falcon Theater when we did that movie. But now there is…
Katherine: Is it important to you that people see your films over and over again?
Garry: Oh yes, I think it is. It’s nice. I don’t want to force them to, but if I can touch them emotionally and they can see something new in it… In the middle of Beaches there’s a scene from the “Laverne & Shirley” TV show so they see some history of my work in each film. I tend to use some of the same characters. I directed fourteen movies. Every movie had Hector Elizondo. He didn’t like Beaches. I don’t know, it was originally not a happy movie at all, it was much sadder than that. And they brought me in to kind of make it a little more ‘warm’, I guess you might call it. The original ending was a whole messy thing and so we kind of updated it a little in the sense of making it a friendship that had an emotional impact on each other.
Katherine: Are there any other releases coming up of your own or those of other people that you’re really looking forward to?
Garry: Well yes because I’m a little older and I’m gonna do a bunch more movies and then they’re gonna put me in a home for old directors. What I’m very excited about is that my son Scott is a director and he just finished his first picture. It’s called “Lucky 13”, it’s a low budget picture, it stars Jeremy Dillon, Daryl Hannah and Jami Gertz. Disney bought it at the Aspen Film Festival and it’s going to be released in the fall. So let him direct and I’ll act a little bit to help him out [Marshall plays the character of Irwin Fiedler in the film]. But I look forward to his next film and I will probably do one in the fall… I’m doing this musical now in my theater and I’ll probably—are you ready for this? You wanna hear something weird….
Garry: You want weird?
Katherine: I do.
Garry: I’m directing an opera…
Katherine: Oh my God.
Garry: …in August that’ s going to be at the Music Center in downtown L.A.
Katherine: You’re singing in it, of course.
Garry: Well I don’t sing and they don’t like anybody who doesn’t sing real good. And it’s an opera called “The Grand Duchess” so if there’s any opera fans… it will be at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. This is a real operetta written in 1867 but incidentally it’s very funny and it was given to me because it’s a comedy opera so it’s really gonna make you laugh.
Katherine: That is quite a combination. Is there anything else that you’re planning on pursuing, projects in the far-away future? Something that you always really wanted but never could I mean I think an opera’s pretty out there…
Garry: Well I like to try new things. And I had a play called “The Rose” that was on Broadway. It lasted three nights and dumped, there it is. I’ve always wanted to do a movie of that and will do one soon I hope…
Katherine: Is theatre much different for you than the movies?
Garry: Yeah, they’re all involved with annoyances, but you get it done. I like to get it done. I love to work in all media.
Katherine: Well it seem like if you’re in a movie you yell cut and then the scene is over and you do it again to get it just right the second time. In a play, if you’re an actor you stay in character, and both the actors and director have just one shot at it. But then it’s over…
Garry: Well there’s no cut. You can get away with bad acting easier in movies than in plays. In the play they’re up there all alone. But I like it all. There are some people that are just brilliant movie actors. To be honest, in movies you’ve got to have great eyes, in TV you’ve got to work from the waist up and in theater you’ve got to be from head to toe – so some people are better at one thing than the other.
Katherine: Have the people you’ve worked with in Beaches like Bette Midler and everybody else, do you feel they’ve changed much over the years?
Garry: No, I think Bette’s still out there doing her act and killing them all over the country with it. It’s a wonderful act and Barbara’s still doing some beautiful movies, and they’re all doing ok. I’d like to see them go on and some of the day players, the players who had small parts, have all moved on to pretty good things. Everybody worked except the dog in Beaches. I don’t think that dog worked anymore.
Garry: It was a big dog, you know. He was a head higher. That dog is too big to work in a lot of things. Paris Hilton made little dogs popular. You look at that dog in Beaches, that was a good dog.
Well there you have it, “chic flick,” or not – the Special Edition DVD of Beaches is not only a top quality affair, but it is also a chance to see one of the world’s most talented canines in action.
Garry Marshall will soon be seen in-the-flesh as a thespian himself, in his son Scott Marshall’s comedy “Lucky 13”, which also stars Daryl Hannah, Jami Gertz, Jeremy Piven and even features Neil Diamond as himself. “Lucky 13” follows the story of 13-year-old boy who on the occasion of his upcoming Bar Mitzvah attempts to reconcile a strained relationship between his father and grandfather (Marshall). It would just be a curious thing to simply see Marshall in a strained relationship!