Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Peter Bogdanovich|
|Produced by||Martin Starger|
|Written by||Anna Hamilton Phelan|
|Music by||Dennis Ricotta|
|Edited by||Barbara Ford|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$48.2 million|
Mask is a 1985 American biographical drama film directed by Peter Bogdanovich, starring Cher, Sam Elliott, and Eric Stoltz with supporting roles played by Dennis Burkley, Laura Dern, Estelle Getty, and Richard Dysart. Cher received the 1985 Cannes Film Festival award for Best Actress.The film is based on the life and early death of Roy L. "Rocky" Dennis, a boy who had craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, an extremely rare disorder known commonly as lionitis due to the disfiguring cranial enlargements that it causes. Mask won the Academy Award for Best Makeup at the 58th ceremony, while Cher and Stoltz received Golden Globe Award nominations for their performances.
In Azusa, California in 1978, Roy L. "Rocky" Dennis (Eric Stoltz), who has craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, is accepted without question by those who know and love him: the boyfriends of his freewheeling biker mother, particularly Gar (Sam Elliott); his "extended motorcycle family"; and his maternal grandparents (Richard Dysart and Estelle Getty) who share his love of baseball card collecting. However, many others fail to see his humanity, intelligence and humor and thus respond to his unusual appearance with fear, pity, awkwardness, and uncertainty. Rocky's mother, Florence "Rusty" Dennis (Cher), is determined to give Rocky as normal a life as possible, in spite of her own wild ways as a member of the Turks biker club, as well as her strained relationship with her parents. She fights for Rocky's inclusion in a mainstream junior high school and confronts a principal who would rather relegate him to a special education school, despite the fact that his condition hasn't affected his intelligence. They then go to the doctor for Rocky's semi-annual physical, where Rocky claims to be feeling well, despite continuing headaches, which his mother can sing away without medicine. A young doctor tells Rusty that Rocky will probably not live for more than six months. Rusty scoffs at this claim, as doctors previously made failed predictions that Rocky would be blind and suffer other maladies.
Rocky goes on to thrive at school. He wins friends by assisting a fellow student with remembering his locker combination. Using humor when faced with an awkward silence during roll call, Rocky just repeats the prior new student's line, "Wow, thanks a lot." The class turns to smile and laugh with Rocky. He entertains his history class by giving a rendition of the story of the Trojan Horse and it being the turning point of the Trojan War. Gradually overcoming discrimination and tutoring his classmates for $3 per hour, Rocky is asked by the principal to accept a job as a counselor's aide at Camp Bloomfield, a summer camp for blind children. Unsure, he declines the invitation, but says he'll think about it.
Rocky tells his mother that he needs a suit to go to his graduation. He is dismissed by the Turks and Gar tells him to bring a beer from the refrigerator. To his surprise, Rocky finds a suit inside, which he gladly thanks everybody for. At his graduation from junior high, Rocky takes home academic achievement prizes in math, science, English, and history. Dozer, a biker who loves Rocky and has a thick stammer, tells Rocky that he is proud of his achievements.
After a visit from Rocky's grandparents, where Rocky's grandfather continuously puts Rusty down, they take Rocky to a baseball game. They return to find Rusty in a drug-induced stupor. Afterwards, Rocky feels the need to get away from his mother, to help her break her drug habit, and accepts the job as the counselor's aid.
At camp, Rocky falls in love with Diana Adams (Laura Dern), a blind girl who cannot see his deformed skull and is entranced by Rocky's kindness and compassion. Rocky uses his intelligence to explain to Diana words like "billowy", "clouds", "red", and "green" by using cotton balls as a touchable vision of "billowy clouds", a warm rock to explain "red" and "pink", and a frozen rock to explain "icy blue." Diana introduces Rocky to her parents, who are put-off by Rocky's appearance, and do not want Diana to spend time with him.
Near the end of the film, Rocky faces the pain of separation from the two people to whom he feels closest. His dream of a motorbike trip through Europe collapses when his best friend Ben (Lawrence Monoson), who was to come with him, tells him that he is dropping out of school and moving back to Michigan "for good." This drives Rocky into berating Ben and calling him "stupid". However, Rocky feels better after taking a bus trip by himself to visit Diana at the equestrian stables, located near Griffith Park. They share a romantic moment, and Diana tells Rocky that her mother prevented her from receiving his phone messages. But then, she reveals that she is going away immediately to a private school for the blind, and cannot be with him. To add to this, a member of his biker family, Red, passes away (presumably from cancer). Also, he attends high school, where none of his friends are, and where he used to respond to taunts with wit and humor, he responds to a boy by pushing him against a locker and calling him a son-of-a-bitch.
One evening when Rocky's "biker family" is visiting, Rocky is fighting a fierce headache and quietly withdraws to his room, removes the tacks from his wall map of Europe, and goes to bed. The next morning, Rusty tries to wake up Rocky for school and flies into a fit of grief-stricken rage when she realizes he has died. After destroying the kitchen, Rusty mourns the death of Rocky and says "Now you can go anywhere you want, baby." She then re-pins his map of Europe.
The movie ends with Rusty, Gar, and Dozer visiting his grave, leaving flowers and some baseball cards by his headstone and a voice-over by Rocky himself, who recites the poem he wrote for English class earlier in the film.
Rusty Dennis sold the film rights to Rocky's life story for $15,000, most of which went to pay medical bills for her son Joshua who was undergoing AIDS treatments.She originally hoped the film would focus on Rocky's life and intrepid personality rather than giving equal emphasis to her story, but was won over by Cher's role, stating: "Cher depicted the way I am very well. I always thought I was perfectly normal, that the rest of the world is nuts."
In 1984 camp scenes for the movie were filmed at Camp Bloomfield. Campers and staff got a preview of the finished film at Universal Studios in February, 1985.
Bogdanovich had originally intended to use several songs by Bruce Springsteen, the real Rocky Dennis' favorite singer. But due to an impasse between Universal Pictures and Springsteen's label, Columbia Records, the songs were pulled from the film and replaced with songs by Bob Seger for the original theatrical release. Bogdanovich sued Universal for $19 million, alleging the film studio switched the music without his approval in violation of his final cut privilege.The Springsteen songs were eventually restored for the 2004 director's cut DVD of the film.
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Reviews were mostly positive. As of July 15,2020 [update] , the film has a 93% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 28 reviews, with an average rating of 7.5/10.
Roger Ebert wrote of the film, "A wonderful movie, a story of high spirits and hope and courage," with Stoltz's performance establishing a believable character that transcends his deformity and Cher's characterization of Rusty as "one of the most interesting movie characters in a long time."Gene Siskel described Mask as "superb" and also singled out Cher's portrayal of Rusty as the heart of the film, but criticized the marketing campaign that kept Stoltz's face secretive as a revival of a freak show mentality. Doloros Barclay of the Associated Press declared Mask was "directed with great sensitivity by Peter Bogdanovich" and carried by Cher and Stoltz's performances but believed the depiction of Rusty's biker friends was "perhaps a bit too sanitized to be believable." A contrasting review by Vincent Canby in The New York Times read in part, "Mask is one of those movies that try so hard to get their supposedly universal message across (don't we all hide behind a mask of one sort or another?) that they are likely to put your teeth on edge more often than they bring one little, lonely teardrop to the eye."
Michael Westmore and Zoltan Elek won the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling in the 58th Academy Awards.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in the 2006 list for AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers.
The film was a box office success, garnering $48,230,162 in total.
Back to the Future is a 1985 American science fiction film directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale. It stars Michael J. Fox as teenager Marty McFly, who accidentally travels back in time to 1955, meeting his future parents and becoming his mother's romantic interest. Christopher Lloyd portrays Marty's friend Doctor Emmett "Doc" Brown, an eccentric scientist and inventor of the time-traveling DeLorean automobile, who helps Marty repair history and return to 1985. The cast also includes Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, and Thomas F. Wilson.
Peter Bogdanovich is an American director, writer, actor, producer, critic and film historian. Part of the wave of "New Hollywood" directors, Bogdanovich's career started as a film journalist until he got hired to work on Roger Corman's The Wild Angels (1966). After the success of the film, he got a chance to direct his own film Targets (1968), a critical success. He later gained wider popularity for his critically acclaimed drama The Last Picture Show (1971), which earned eight Oscar nominations including Academy Award for Best Director.
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Eric Stoltz is an American actor, director and film producer. He played the role of Rocky Dennis in the biographical drama film Mask, which earned him the nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, and has appeared in a wide variety of films from mainstream fare like Some Kind of Wonderful to independent films like Pulp Fiction, Killing Zoe, and Kicking and Screaming. In 1985, Stoltz was the original actor cast as Marty McFly in the movie Back to the Future before the role was recast with Michael J. Fox. In 2010, he portrayed Daniel Graystone in the science fiction television series Caprica, and became a regular director on the television series Glee.
Craniodiaphyseal dysplasia is an extremely rare autosomal recessive bone disorder that causes calcium to build up in the skull, disfiguring the facial features and reducing life expectancy.
Paper Moon is a 1973 American road comedy-drama film directed by Peter Bogdanovich and released by Paramount Pictures. Screenwriter Alvin Sargent adapted the script from the 1971 novel Addie Pray by Joe David Brown. The film, shot in black-and-white, is set in Kansas and Missouri during the Great Depression. It stars the real-life father and daughter pairing of Ryan and Tatum O'Neal as protagonists Moze and Addie.
The Wild Angels is a 1966 American outlaw biker film produced and directed by Roger Corman. Made on location in Southern California, The Wild Angels was the first film to associate actor Peter Fonda with Harley-Davidson motorcycles and 1960s counterculture. It inspired the biker film genre that continued into the early 1970s.
Roy Lee "Rocky" Dennis was an American boy who had craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, an extremely rare sclerotic bone disorder. The condition usually results in neurological disorders and death during childhood or teenage years. His life was the basis for the 1985 drama film Mask.
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood is a book by Peter Biskind, published by Simon & Schuster in 1998. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is about the 1970s Hollywood, a period of American film known for the production of such films such as The Godfather,The Godfather Part II,Chinatown,Taxi Driver,Jaws,Star Wars,The Exorcist, and The Last Picture Show. The title is taken from films which bookend the era: Easy Rider (1969) and Raging Bull (1980). The book follows Hollywood on the brink of the Vietnam War, when a group of young Hollywood film directors known as the "movie brats" are making their names. It begins in the 1960s and ends in the 1980s.
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Throughout her acting career, Cher has mainly starred in comedy, drama, and romance films. She has appeared in eighteen films, including two as a cameo. She has also appeared in one starring theater role, one video game role, numerous television commercials and directed a piece of the motion picture If These Walls Could Talk in 1996 and some of her music videos of the Geffen-era in late 1980s and in early 1990s. Cher has starred in various international television commercials, as well as high-profile print advertising for Lori Davis (1992). Before she started her film career, she had a couple of hits in the 1960s, as a solo artist, and with her ex-husband Sonny Bono as the couple Sonny & Cher.
99 Homes is a 2014 American drama film directed by Ramin Bahrani, written by Bahrani and Amir Naderi, and starring Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon and Laura Dern. Set in Florida, during the Great Recession, the film follows single father Dennis Nash (Garfield) and his family as they are evicted from their home by businessman Rick Carver (Shannon), leading to Nash choosing to help Carver in evicting people out of their homes in exchange for his family's home. Bahrani dedicated the film to the late film critic Roger Ebert.
Anna Hamilton Phelan is an American actress and scriptwriter. She has been nominated for an Oscar for her work on Gorillas in the Mist, and was also nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for her work on Mask.
Florence "Rusty" Tullis, also known as Rusty Dennis, Rusty Mason and Rusty Dennis Mason was an American woman known for being the mother of Rocky Dennis, who was diagnosed with craniodiaphyseal dysplasia. Their story was depicted in the 1985 film Mask, in which Tullis was portrayed by Cher.
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