My Cousin Vinny (1992) Poster


Shortly after her Academy Award win for Best Supporting Actress, a rumor started circulating that Marisa Tomei had won by mistake because presenter Jack Palance had incorrectly read out the wrong name. This is a highly unlikely occurrence--the Academy specifically has two officials stationed offstage to intervene and read out the correct name if such an event should ever transpire. Such an event didn't occur until the 2017 Academy Awards when Warren Beatty was given the wrong card and mistakenly announced La La Land as Best Picture, instead of the actual winner: Moonlight.
Director Jonathan Lynn actually has a law degree and insisted the film's legal proceedings be realistic. In fact, many attorneys and law professors have praised the film for its accurate depiction of trial strategy and courtroom procedure, especially with regards to presenting expert witnesses at trial.
The misunderstanding between Vincent Gambini and Judge Haller regarding the two "utes" was in fact a real conversation between Joe Pesci and director Jonathan Lynn. Lynn, who is British, at first had a hard time understanding Pesci's pronounced New Jersey accent. He decided that the routine was quite funny and put it in the film.
According to director Jonathan Lynn the screech owl in the scene in the woods was a real owl that had a little prior training so it wouldn't be scared away by the gunfire. The crew got it to open its mouth by giving it little pieces of beef, and artificially induced screeches were added to the film in post production. The owl's reaction to Vinny shooting the gun was authentic and needed only one take. The director states on the DVD commentary, "we got amazingly lucky with that screech owl".
When Vinny is trying to explain his "real name" to Judge Haller he knocks over the judge's chess board. This was accidental but director Jonathan Lynn thought it was so funny and authentic he decided to leave it in the film.
The exchange between the prosecutor and automotive expert about the equipment used to analyze the tires was taken almost verbatim from an actual court transcript. The witness, asked how he analyzed the evidence, answered "I have a dual-column gas chromatograph, Hewlett-Packard model 5710a with flame analyzing detectors." The D.A. quipped, "Does that thing come turbo-charged?" and the witness answered, "Only on the floor models." This appears in lots of "funny things said in court" collections.
The American Bar Association's publication, the ABA Journal, ranked the film #3 on its list of the "25 Greatest Legal Movies.
According to the DVD commentary, when Gambini says, "Now, Mrs. Riley, and ONLY Mrs. Riley, how many fingers am I holding up now?", Joe Pesci ad-libbed the "only Mrs. Riley!" part.
Final feature film of Fred Gwynne.
Austin Pendleton, a real-life stutterer, originally turned down the part of the stuttering John Gibbons. But he did it as a favor to his friend, Jonathan Lynn. According to Pendleton, he had trouble finding work in film for years because he became typecast as a stutterer.
Joe Pesci was 49, while Marisa Tomei was 27 when this movie was released.
Joe Pesci won the Academy Award for Goodfellas (1990) while making this film and brought the award to the set to show cast and crew.
Near the end of the trial, Sheriff Farley informs the court that "two boys, who fit the defendants' description, were arrested two days ago by Sheriff Tillman in Jasper County, Georgia." Sheriff 'Mack' Tillman was actually the real-life sheriff of Jasper County, at the time, where much of the film was shot, and this line was a hat-tip to him for the assistance he provided to the producers during filming.
Near the end of the film, as Vinny leaves, Fred Gwynne can be seen giving the exact same wave that he did as Herman Munster on The Munsters (1964).
Director Jonathan Lynn proposed Fred Gwynne for the role of the judge after seeing him in The Cotton Club (1984).
Beechum County isn't a real county in Alabama. It was also filmed in Georgia, the Sac o Suds is still open and still called the Sac o Suds, and the 3 hotels are closed.
Temperatures exceeded 100 degrees during the courtroom scenes, which were filmed in the midst of a Georgia summer in a converted warehouse with a corrugated metal roof.
Although set in Alabama the film was actually shot in Georgia.
In 2002 Marisa Tomei temporarily lost the Oscar she won for this film when she moved into a new house.
Exteriors were shot in Monticello, Georgia. The scene where Vinny and Mona stop to check the tires in front of Lucy's Secondhand Store served as an establishing shot for the town where the trial takes place and where Mona later gets Vinny's red tux. The courthouse in the background is actually Jasper County Superior Court in Monticello. Wazoo, Alabama is a fictional town. There is, however, a Yazoo City in Mississippi.
Lorraine Bracco was the first choice for the role of Mona Lisa Vito but declined the role.
The prison scenes were filmed at Lee Arrendale Correctional Institute in Alto, Georgia. Though depicted in the film, the prison has neither a death row or death chamber facility. The prison was also the setting for the movies Unshackled (2000) and Bad Boys (1983).
During district attorney John Gibbons opening statement, if you look at the defense table behind him, you can see Stan, Bill, and Vinny all trying to hold in their laughter.
Joe Pesci reprised his character for his 1998 album "Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You".
The red convertible that Vinny and Lisa are driving is a 1962 Cadillac..
The quote "dead-on balls accurate" is a reference to an actual attorney named Joey Callo, from whom the name Jerry Callow/Gallow was borrowed.
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Lisa's pink camera is a disc camera. Disc cameras were discontinued in the mid-1990s.
On the Dan Le Batard radio show, actor Jim Belushi admitted he regretted that he turned down the title role in this film.
When the preliminary hearing is being conducted, a door to the right rear of the witness is open, and a photograph may be seen hanging on the wall. The picture is of William Randolph Hearst, a somewhat odd choice to hang in a courthouse.
In the film, Judge Haller gives Vinny a constant hard time because of Vinny's being from New York. This is ironic, considering that Fred Gwynne, who plays Judge Haller, was a native New Yorker himself.
The tires on both vehicles were described as having Michelin XGV 75 R 14 tires; this could not be correct, because the standard wheel on the 1963 Pontiac Tempest was 15 inches, so a 14 inch tire would not fit on the rim. The 1964 Buick Skylark had 14 inch wheels, so those would be the correct tires.
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Many of the shots at the beginning were filmed along Highway 83 in Bostwick, Georgia. One plantation house was actually built in the early 1900s though it looks like an antebellum home.
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This movie and In the Heat of the Night (1988) use the same courtroom. Jill Jane Clemens played Maudie the pawnbroker. The building used as the Sac-O-Suds also served as Munn's Market in In the Heat of the Night: A Frenzied Affair (1992), which was shot the same year.
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In the film, Marisa Tomei's character has the last name Vito. This could be a partial reference to Joe Pesci's famous role of Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas (1990).
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One of two theatrical feature film comedies directed by director Jonathan Lynn that debuted in the year of 1992. The other one is The Distinguished Gentleman (1992).
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Actress Paulene Myers played Constance Riley. the witness that had trouble seeing. Earlier in her career, she played Judge Frances MacKenzie in an episode of All in the Family.
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