Pleasantville (1998) Poster



Early appearances of color: the red rose, after the encounter at Lover's Lane;
  • pink bubblegum seen in the hallway at school;

  • one girl's pink tongue;

  • the red hearts of the cards in the bridge hand;

  • the subtle green of the car in front of the diner;

  • the jukebox in the diner becomes multicolored the guy in front of the jukebox combs his hair with a yellow comb Jennifer's red cherry on her shake in the diner;

  • the pink cherry blossoms reflected in the side mirror of the car;

  • the subtle green of the grass at Lover's Lane before it turns completely colorized.

Since every scene from the middle of the movie on had to be in some way digitally changed to have black and white characters interact with characters who are in color, technically this film had the most digital effects shots until Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999).
The two books that Bud (David) narrates to the teenagers of Pleasantville, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "Catcher in the Rye," are the two most widely banned books in the United States.
For the sequence where Bud is applying the gray makeup to his mother, the color of the makeup was actually green. When they had to "black-and-white" the scene, the shades of green came out the best for the appropriate shades of her "gray" make-up. Conversely, when Betty first visits the soda shop, she is in full gray makeup which meant that Joan Allen was shot wearing full green make-up that is subsequently removed by Bill Johnson (Jeff Daniels).
The Native American in the test pattern behind Don Knotts changes to angry and then sad as the movie progresses.
Though many believe that the shot of Bud raising his arms up in triumph during a rainstorm is an homage to The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Gary Ross thought it was an original idea, and didn't realize the connection until after the film was released.
When Jennifer enters Pleasantville, she becomes a character named Mary-Sue. "Mary-Sue" is a term that originated in fan fiction to describe a character who comes into the character's lives and completely solves all of their problems. It is also a fan-fiction term for when the author (usually female) inserts herself (as a character) into the story.
Director Gary Ross acknowledges these cinematographic homages:
  • The scene of J.T. Walsh in front of the bowling alley scorecard recalls Patton's speech in front of the American flag in Patton (1970);

  • The courtroom segregated into black-and-white characters downstairs and "colored" characters upstairs recalls To Kill a Mockingbird (1962);

Don Knotts was not available to return for looping. The film's narrator, comic and impersonator Craig Shoemaker, was hired (uncredited) by the editor to fill in and do the voice work for Don Knotts.
In a number of scenes, you can see the house used in Lethal Weapon (1987) just across the street from Bud and Mary-Sue's.
The back lot street set where Bud and Mary Sue's house stands is located at Warner Brothers "Ranch" studio complex in Burbank, California. The main house was a new facade built for the movie but directly across the street, clearly seen in a number of scenes, are houses once occupied by other famous 1960's T.V. characters like Gidget, Hazel and Samantha Stevens. It is the Gidget / Hazel house that was also used as Danny Glover's house in the Lethal Weapon movies. Margaret's house (where Whitey drives up in his car at night and drops her off) was used as the residence of Mrs. Kravitz in Bewitched (1964) and The Partridge Family (1970).
Bud brings Mr. Johnson an art book from the library titled "The World Of Art" by an author named Edward Bissell. The book is purely fictional being made just as a prop for this film.
The author of the book that Reese Witherspoon's character is reading, D.H. Lawrence, was an early 20th century author, poet, playwright, essayist, and literary critic. His works were considered highly controversial when they were written, and confronted issues such as emotional health and vitality, spontaneity, human sexuality, and instinct.
The jukebox in Mr. Johnson's malt shop is a 1952 Seeburg M100C, known in collector circles as the "Happy Days" jukebox due to its appearance in the opening/closing segments of the ABC-TV series.
Melissa Joan Hart turned down the role of Jennifer.
In the original screenplay, the TV Repairman was to be played by Dick Van Dyke and the name of the repair company was Rob's TV Repair (Rob was Van Dyke's name on his first show) In a subsequent draft, the name in the script was simply TV Repairman, leaving room for Don Knotts.
The scores projected during the bowling alley scene indicate all the bowlers are on pace for final scores of 230 or better. Two bowlers have perfect scores through eight frames.
While David answers questions in the diner scene, the music in the background is Take Five from Dave Brubeck's album Time Out. Almost all jazz is written in 4/4 time, but the Time Out album consists solely of tracks with non 4/4 time signatures. The Take Five cut, for example, is 5/4. Thus, with the song and in the movie, we are invited into a new world of possibility.
During the publicity campaign surrounding the film's release, there was a contest for a trip to Pleasantville, Iowa (the smallest Pleasantville in the United States).
When David and Jennifer first arrive in Pleasantville and are flicking through the TV, after Don Knotts first appears, there is a very quick clip of Leave It to Beaver (1957), with the Beaver standing by a chair. An obvious homage to the early shows that Pleasantville is based on.
The film is dedicated to director Gary Ross' mother, actor J.T. Walsh and camera assistant Brent Lon Hershman who was killed in a car crash in the middle of the shoot.
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The calendar in the Parkers' front room informs us that the Pleasantville-based portion of the film is set in April 1958. Another calendar in the back room of the soda shop is also for 1958.
Feature film debut of Maggie Lawson.
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Danny Strong and Marc Blucas both appeared as unnamed characters in Pleasantville. Both also acted for several overlapping years in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, though their characters in Buffy only appeared together in 1 episode, Superstar.
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An earlier post said that Gary Ross only acknowledges two cinematographic homages - the one from Patton, and the one from To Kill a Mockingbird - so this may fall more under the category of "Easter egg" than homage, but it's too specific to be coincidental, so...

In the scene where Bud is driving Margaret to Lover's Lane, he is driving a white convertible, and a beautiful, period-appropriate song is playing in the background. That car? A 1949 Buick Roadmaster. The song? "At Last," by Etta James.

The same car driven cross-country by Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, and the same song Cruise and Hoffman dance to in a very touching scene near the end of the movie.

Maybe a hidden homage, maybe not. But if not, one of the coolest unintentional movie references ever.
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This was Don Knotts' last live-action appearance in a theatrically released film. He still continued to work on various TV and cartoon projects.
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Rachael Leigh Cook auditioned for the role of Jennifer.
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"Elm Street" is a street shown in a classroom during a maths' problem. Since the Warner Bros. owned New Line Cinema owns this movie, Pleasantville (1998) and the one to do with Elm Street, this could very well be an Easter Egg.
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