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Premiere's Ultimate Fall Movie Preview

Expect the unexpected from this fearless crop of Oscar hopefuls, as megastars shed their usual screen images, love stories pop up in dark places, and underdogs finally have their day. Premiere goes behind the scenes of the fall's biggest and best to show how Arnold Schwarzenegger battles Satan with his mind instead of his muscles; why Jodie Foster's got happy feet; what's making Tom Cruise go uncredited; and much, much more. Don't be tricked out of this season's ample treats-here's all you need to know about the movies you'll be scared to miss.

September, 1999
From age gaps to paralysis to royalty, these unlikely romances prove that there's someone for everybody.

Sleepy Hollow
The Pitch: The Headless Horseman rides again. In director Tim Burton's version of the Washington Irving tale, Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is a constable who, while investigating some murders in the titular town, woos the melodramatic daughter (Christina Ricci) of a wealthy townsman.

The Big Picture: When his Superman failed to get off the ground, Burton recalls, "I was pretty discouraged and felt pretty bad. And then Scott [Rudin] sent me this script," which restored his creative superpowers. After all, he jokes, "not having a head is something I can relate to sometimes. "This fairy tale (which came in over budget, yet "way, way under" $100 million, according to Burton) got a dramatic face-lift from playwright-screenwriter Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love), and loads of dark, idiosyncratic visual flourish from the director himself, who infused it with the "beauty and luridness" of '50s horror flicks from Hammer Films-painted backdrops, ambiguous characters, and all. But instead of Peter Cushing and Vincent Price in the lead roles, Sleepy Hollow features Depp as an eccentric, "scarecrowish-looking character," according to Burton, and Ricci as, the actress says, "a stereotypical damsel in distress." The other big player was the fog. "Tons of fog," Ricci says. "Even when we were outside, fog, fog, fog, fog." Burton says, "I vowed after a certain point never to use smoke in movies, and there wasn't one shot that didn't use it. It's uncontrollable; it disappears; it makes you feel terrible. But beyond that, it's okay." Ricci got a few good scares on set, such as "the time Johnny and I were almost burned alive." Flaming, glue-covered sticks were shot at the actors from a big funnel on a crane, she says: "It was windy, and there was no way to control the direction. I was like, All right, whatever-if I suffer third-degree burns, at least I can sue." Burton offers a horror story of his own: "The last day of shooting in this rotting old building, there was a rotted old door with a sign saying, do not enter. Asbestos. The glamorous world of moviemaking." (Paramount, November 19)

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