Driving Miss Daisy


Movie: Driving Miss Daisy

Release Date: December 15, 1989

Director: Bruce Beresford

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy, Dan Aykroyd, Patti LuPone, Esther Rolle

Personal History: Watched Before

Rating: 9 Oscars out of 10

1989, the year that I graduated high school and started my freshman year away from home at college was a momentous one. Not only did those two important life changes happen, but Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” album was released. The latter being the most important of course. 1989 was also the year ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ was released in theaters. So you can see why I missed it during its theatrical run.

‘Driving Miss Daisy’ was a huge commercial hit and was a movie that everyone wanted to talk about. It was a crowd pleaser in theaters which helped boost its $146 million worldwide box office gross, The film continued its popularity on HBO as well as its video rental run. It was a film that made its way (and remained) into the pop culture zeitgeist very easily.

Over the years it has become one of my favorite movies of all time, one that I have now seen numerous times. It was included in my 365 Day Movie Challenge back in 2020. Here is an edited version of what I wrote about ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ back then. (Click here for the unedited version.)

From A Movie a Day Keeps the Doctor Away January 29, 2020:

The 62nd Academy Awards happened to fall on Monday, March 26, 1990, my nineteenth birthday. I can’t remember what I had for dinner yesterday, but I know how I spent at least 3 hours and 37 minutes on that particular day. Watching the Oscars.

I was a freshman in college, living the dorm life and in rehearsals for the theatrical spring production. “Psycho Beach Party” was the show that year, and I happened to be playing the role of Chicklet. A girl. But that is a whole other discussion for a whole other time. While I was at rehearsal, my VCR was recording the Oscars. I raced home afterwards and watched them on my small color television in my dorm room. I knew how to party back then, didn’t I?

That year, I had only seen two of the five nominated movies for Best Picture before the ceremony and I was really rooting for ‘Dead Poets Society’ to win. It did not win. ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ did. It was nominated for nine awards and won four, so of course it was on the top of my list of movies to see as soon as possible.

I didn’t actually see it until sometime that summer either through HBO or a Blockbuster rental. I watched it with my mom. We both loved the movie and I remember telling her afterwards that Jessica Tandy’s character reminded me so much of my grandmother (her mother), Josephine. She laughed and agreed. It was undeniable.

Josephine, or “Josie” as I used to call her, was a tough, opinionated, stubborn, conservative woman. She was on the shyer side, but when she spoke, you knew what she wanted or needed and you knew exactly how she felt. Underneath that tough exterior though, she was a lovely human being, and one of my favorite females ever to step foot on this planet. I used to go grocery shopping with her and my grandfather when I was younger.

My grandmother never drove, so she was always in the passenger seat while my grandfather drove and I sat in the back, sometimes with my Aunt Helen. That is really the only difference between that scenario and the scenes between Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman in the movie. The harsh criticisms, the direction-giving, the bossiness and the laughter were all there. There are some great memories from those shopping trips where Grandpa was “driving Miss Josie” and I am grateful to have been a part of them.

I don’t need a movie to remember Josie. But every time I watch ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ I can’t help but be reminded of her and those entertaining car rides.

The movie is still as sweet as can be and delightful to watch. It is a simple story that’s told beautifully by the heartwarming screenplay and two wonderful performances by its lead actors.

Jessica Tandy, still reminding me of Josie, was deserving of every award she received for the role. I still laughed at those one-liners and sharp jabs she has throughout the movie to whomever her character encounters. The subtle looks and gestures though really make this a gorgeous performance.

Morgan Freeman is as equally charming and its hard to believe he didn’t win an Oscar for this role. Thankfully he finally did in 2005 for ‘Million Dollar Baby.’ (see 340. Million Dollar Baby)

Even Patti LuPone, the most horrible c-word on the planet, couldn’t ruin my viewing of this classic today. To be honest, I forgot she was in it until I saw her mug next to Dan Aykroyd. Thankfully she is not in it a lot and plays a horrible human (typecast!) that is the punchline to many jokes throughout. So it was kind of a bonus. I mean, “If I had a nose like Florene’s, I wouldn’t go around wishing anybody a Merry Christmas!” It doesn’t get better than that!


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