The play Driving Miss Daisy was written by Alfred Uhry and opened to a great success in New York on April 15, 1987. It was later adapted into a movie in 1989 and won several Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Jessica Tandy. Morgan Freeman won a Golden Globe award in 1990 for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, as well. The characters were inspired by Uhry’s real life grandmother and her chauffeur. The movie was directed by Australian film director, Bruce Beresford, who is known for his period pieces and small-scale dramas.
The setting for our featured movie, Driving Miss Daisy, is Atlanta, Georgia in the 1950’s. It spans a 25 year period and skillfully follows the changes of the times. An elderly widowed Jewish woman named Miss Daisy Werthan, played by Jessica Tandy, has a driving mishap. Her son, Boolie, played by Dan Aykroyd tells her that no insurance agency will cover her driving deeming her an insurance risk. To ensure her safety he hires a chauffer, an African American named Hoke Colburn, played by Morgan Freeman. This upsets Miss Daisy. She is very resistant to giving up driving. To her this represents the beginning of giving up control of her life and her independence, something she is scared to lose. If she can’t drive herself, she wasn’t going to let anybody else drive her either. She said she would rather take the trolley. Luckily for her, Hoke is a patient caring man and is in time able to win over her trust. He and Miss Daisy develop a very heartwarming long term relationship.
The story of Miss Daisy and Hoke is beautifully written and directed. It is an example of movie making at its finest. Beresford certainly out did himself with the recreation of the old South – an era when women wore hats and gloves when they went out. They gathered regularly to play cards or dominoes and shared gossip. The houses in the neighborhood and the furniture and fixtures inside were all so perfectly selected, down to the flowered wallpaper and turquoise appliances and countertops. Quite classic! Miss Daisy had a house keeper named Idella, played by Esther Rolle, who used a push sweeper. Miss Daisy shopped at the Piggly Wiggly, a supermarket chain that was founded in 1916 in Memphis, Tennessee (Morgan Freeman’s home town) and still operates today in the Southern regions. To this day, I always think of small town south when I hear the name Piggly Wiggly. My advice is for you older viewers, watch this flick and take a walk down memory lane and you youngsters out there, watch for a lesson about life in the 50’s. It’ll be worth it.
Fun Flick Finds
1. Where in Georgia was Hoke from?
2. What brand of radio did Miss Daisy have?