Jonathan Demme: Wikis


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Jonathan Demme
Born Robert Jonathan Demme
February 22, 1944 (1944-02-22) (age 65)
Baldwin, New York, U.S.
Occupation director, producer, actor, screenwriter
Years active 1971 - present
Spouse(s) Joanne Howard
Evelyn Purcell

Robert Jonathan Demme (born February 22, 1944) is an American filmmaker, producer and screenwriter.


Personal life

Demme was born in Baldwin, New York, the son of Dorothy Demme and a public relations executive father.[1] Demme has three children: Ramona, Brooklyn, Josephine. He is a graduate of the University of Florida. He also was the uncle of director Ted Demme, who died in 2002. He is currently a member of the steering committee of the Friends of the Apollo in Oberlin, Ohio, along with Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman.[2]


Demme broke into feature film working for exploitation film producer Roger Corman from 1971 to 1976, co-writing and producing Angels Hard as They Come and The Hot Box, then directing three films (Caged Heat, Crazy Mama, Fighting Mad) for Corman's studio New World Pictures. After Fighting Mad, Demme moved on to direct the comedy film Handle with Care for Paramount Pictures in 1977. The film was well-received by critics,[3] but received little promotion,[4] and performed poorly at the box office.[5]

Demme's 1980 film Melvin and Howard did not have a wide release, but received widespread critical acclaim, and led to the signing of Demme to direct the Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell star vehicle Swing Shift. A big-budget production intended to be a major prestige picture for Warner Bros.[6] as well as a commercial breakthrough for Demme,[7] Swing Shift was compromised by creative differences, with Demme renouncing the film. The film was released in May 1984, and was generally panned by critics and neglected by moviegoers.[6]

After Swing Shift, Demme started making documentary films, making a notable series of concert films with Stop Making Sense and Swimming to Cambodia.a[›]

In 1991, Demme won the Academy Award for The Silence of the Lambs—one of only three films to win all the major categories (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress). Demme directed an Oscar-winning turn from Tom Hanks in his next feature, Philadelphia.

Since then, Demme's films have included remakes of two popular films: The Truth About Charlie, a remake of Charade that starred Mark Wahlberg in the Cary Grant role; and The Manchurian Candidate, with Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep.

In 2007, Demme's film Man from Plains, a documentary about former U.S. President Jimmy Carter's book tour in promotion of his book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, premiered at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals.

In 2008, the alternative movie Rachel Getting Married was released, which many critics compared to Demme's films of the late 1970s and 1980s.[8][9][10] It was included in many 2008 "best of" lists, and received numerous awards and nominations, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress by lead Anne Hathaway.

In the Spring 2010, Demme will direct Family Week, a play by Beth Henley. The play will be produced by MCC Theater and co-star Rosemarie DeWitt and Sarah Jones.

One of his common directorial motifs is to allow characters to look directly into the camera. Demme formed his production company, Clinica Estetico, with producers Edward Saxon and Peter Saraf. They were based out of New York City for fifteen years. Four of his films have featured performances by the Jamaican reggae star Sister Carol: Something Wild, Married to the Mob, Rachel Getting Married, and the forthcoming Stay With the Rhythm.



^ a: Demme would continue to alternate making feature films with documentaries and concert films, making Neil Young: Heart of Gold and Man from Plains in the years following 2004's The Manchurian Candidate.[9]


  1. ^ "Jonathan Demme Biography (1944-)". Film Reference. Retrieved 2009-03-19.  
  2. ^ "Friends of the Apollo". Oberlin College. Retrieved 2009-07-06.  
  3. ^ Sragow, Michael (1984), "Jonathan Demme On the Line", American Film (January/February),, retrieved 2009-03-18, "Although his best two movies to date, Citizens Band (AKA Handle With Care, 1977) and Melvin and Howard (1980), were hailed for bringing the heartiness and sensitivity of a homegrown Jean Renoir into latter-day American film comedy, they failed to score at the box office."  
  4. ^ Kaplan, James (1988-03-27), "Jonathan Demme's Offbeat America", The New York Times: 6.48,, retrieved 2009-03-18, "Paramount figured it might just have a sleeper hit in the small movie, but it took a wait-and-see attitude, spending little on advertising and promotion, and hoping the movie would hook onto the C.B. craze and catch."  
  5. ^ Williams, Phillip (2002), "The Truth About Jonathan Demme", MovieMaker, 2002-10-11,, "We had a great time doing it and we were invited to the New York Film Festival, despite the fact that the film tanked horrendously—and famously—at the box office."  
  6. ^ a b Vineberg, Steve, "Swing Shift: A Tale of Hollywood", Sight & Sound (British Film Institute),, retrieved 2009-03-19  
  7. ^ Uhlich, Keith (August 2004), Jonathan Demme, Sense of Cinema, ISSN 1443-4059,, retrieved 2009-03-19  
  8. ^ Burr, Ty (2008), "He's back", The Boston Globe, 2008-10-12,, retrieved 2009-03-19, "Warm rather than cold, forgiving rather than damning, Rachel is a throwback to the fluky, generous vibe that sustained the director's films in the late 1970s and 1980s - Handle With Care (1977), Melvin and Howard (1980), Stop Making Sense (1984), Something Wild (1986), and Married to the Mob (1988)."  
  9. ^ a b Olsen, Mark (2008-09-28), "Jonathan Demme's 'Rachel Getting Married.'", Los Angeles Times,, retrieved 2009-03-19, "With "Rachel Getting Married," Demme, 64, has returned to the playful, deeply humanist storytelling of such early work as 1980's "Melvin and Howard" and 1986's "Something Wild," both of which are widely acknowledged as having influenced a younger generation of filmmakers."  
  10. ^ Schickel, Richard (2008), "Rachel Getting Married, Demme Getting Messy", TIME, 2008-10-02,,8599,1846818,00.html, retrieved 2009-03-19, "Back in the '70s and '80s he was the best — or at any rate the most promising — young American director. […] Demme's new film, Rachel Getting Married, is arguably an attempt on the part of the director to wend his way back to his roots."  

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