Autodidact: self-taught

Oct
23
2015

The Addams Family Screenplay

by V. L. Craven

Addams Family

[This post is written with the assumption you’ve seen The Addams Family film. If you haven’t go! Watch it! It’s fantastic! Still, I’ll keep it spoiler-free.]

Recently, I re-watched The Addams Family, which came out in 1991 and I’m an old person, as I saw it twice in the cinema. I had magazines with interviews with the cast and costumers and set designers and pull out posters–I still have the Morticia one. It’s not on the wall, but I still have it.

There was a drawing for an Addams Family pinball machine in one of the magazines. You know I sent in my information for that. (I have just learned it’s the best-selling pinball machine of all time. Well, of course it is!)

I read the novelization of the screenplay, as well, which would have been around twenty-four years ago.

When I was re-watching it, there’s a place where Gomez tries to get Fester to say their secret name for one another. Fester, newly returned after twenty-five years away in the Bermuda Triangle, can’t recall it and winds up saying, ‘You almost killed me you demented freak.’ In the film, Gomez says, ‘Poor man! What did they do to you in the Bermuda Triangle?’ but it’s said off-screen and sounded, to me, like it was dubbed in.

And I could have sworn I’d read in the book Gomez saying, ‘Demented freak! You do remember the password!’

I’d sold or given away the book many years ago, but the internet exists so I searched and it turns out you can download (or just read) the actual shooting script here .

So I did that one afternoon.

It was great fun, actually, though I wouldn’t recommend it if you haven’t seen the film.

Boy, did it go through a lot of revisions.

There were several scenes that were cut from the film–including something that happened in the TV show, which was that Pugsley was a little chemistry genius and could turn himself into other things. During the opening section of the film he turned himself into a mouse.

Then there were all sorts of little details I’ve missed in the film that would have taken place in the background when I would have been watching the actors in the foreground.

Aside from cut scenes there were also lines here and there that didn’t make it to the screen. And Abigail Craven (a nefarious surname if ever I heard one)–her original first name was Virginia, apparently, as they didn’t change all of the times her first name appeared in later versions of the script.

But the most disturbing thing was that Cousin Itt–are you ready?

Originally had arms.

Excuse me while I go outside and scream to the heavens.

THAT’S SO WROOOONG.

That’s bad creepy.

He sees Margaret at the dance and runs his hands through his hair.

WHAT?!

No no no no.

And for some reason they spell it ‘Cousin It’ in the film script, rather than ‘Itt’ like on the TV show.

I know my Addamses. It’s Itt, dammit.

Then again, they changed some other things, geneology-wise. Fester was Morticia’s brother on the show and Gomez’s brother in the film. Grandmama was Gomez’s mother on the show and was Morticia’s in the film and was called Granny or Mama, depending on who was talking. (On the TV show, Morticia’s mother was played by Margaret Hamilton–the actress who played the Wicked Witch of the West. Inspired.)

But still, Itt was Itt.

And this is Morticia. The poster that was on my wall for years.

And this is Morticia. The poster that was on my wall for years.

Other things I recall from reading those articles a quarter of a century ago:

Cher was up for the role of Morticia at one point.

The actor who played Cousin Itt was allergic to hairspray and the way he got the part was by doing Hamlet’s soliloquy in the Itt voice.

The nutso sounding music that plays when Gomez and Fester are going down the slide to the vault is by the duo the Kipper Kids, one of whom is Bette Midler’s husband, Martin von Haselberg.

During the ball, the composer of the orchestra is played by Marc Shaiman, Bette Midler’s composer of many, decades, as well as the composer of the original score for The Addams Family. (He’s the guy playing the piano in the opening of Beaches, as well, if you’d like to see him out of Addams garb.)

After the film was released multiple offers were made to purchase the Addams residence, but it was just a facade.

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