An old Jewish woman and her African-American chauffeur in the American South have a relationship that grows and improves over the years.
Release Year: 1989
Rating: 7.4/10 (30,734 voted)
Stars: Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy, Dan Aykroyd
An elderly Jewish widow living in Atlanta can no longer drive. Her son insists she allow him to hire a driver, which in the 1950s meant a black man. She resists any change in her life but, Hoke, the driver is hired by her son. She refuses to allow him to drive her anywhere at first, but Hoke slowly wins her over with his native good graces. The movie is directly taken from a stage play and does show it. It covers over twenty years of the pair's life together as they slowly build a relationship that transcends their differences.
Writers: Alfred Uhry, Alfred Uhry
(as Patti Lupone)
William Hall Jr.
Alvin M. Sugarman
Clarice F. Geigerman
Crystal R. Fox
The comedy that won a Pulitzer Prize
Release Date: 15 December 1989
Filming Locations: 822 Lullwater Road, Druid Hills, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $73,745
(17 December 1989)
Did You Know?
The role of Florine, played by Patti LuPone, is not in the original play "Driving Miss Daisy". It was written in by playwright and screenwriter Alfred Uhry specifically for LuPone, who, Uhry felt, looked good in a costume.
Incorrectly regarded as goofs:
When Hoke is in the phone booth outside of the "Piggly Wiggly" you can see a theatre in the background. The movie on the Marquee is "Scudda Hoo! Scudday Hay!" This was not released in 1953, it was released in 1948. It would not have been in theaters for over 4 to 5 years. (You can see the year that has passed when the Christmas Scene showing the cards starts at around 0:40:43 in the movie.)Boolie hired Hoke only six days before this scene ("The same time it took the lord to make the world"). In addition, when Hoke and Idella are in the kitchen talking, the announcer on the radio mentions that the year is 1948. By the time of the cemetery scene, the year is 1951.
I've never been prejudiced in my life and you know it.
[about the Martin Luther King dinner]
Okay, then why don't you ask Hoke to go with you?
Hoke? Don't be ridiculous. He wouldn't go.
Driving Miss Daisy is an unusual film. Although it's really more of an
extended pair of entwined character portraits–spanning a quarter of a
century–it has all of the narrative focus and tightness of a more
traditionally structured mystery plot.
The character portraits are of Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy) and Hoke
Colburn (Morgan Freeman). The film is set in suburbs of Atlanta and
begins in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Daisy is wealthy, but she
wasn't born that way. Her son, Boolie (Dan Aykroyd) runs the successful
family business–a large textile factory. At the beginning of the film,
we see Miss Daisy, who is already around 60 years old or so, have a
driving mishap–she has the car in the wrong gear and runs off of her
driveway, almost completely backing over a 10 foot drop to the
neighbor's driveway, at about 20 miles an hour. This naturally concerns
Boolie, and when Daisy has a problem finding a company that is willing
to insure her after the accident, Boolie hires Hoke–also rapidly
approaching "elderly"–as her driver, against her protests. She doesn't
want a driver. She doesn't want someone else in her house. She doesn't
want to be treated as if she's incapable. Driving Miss Daisy is an
exploration of Hoke and Daisy's relationship, all the way into the
Alfred Uhry adapted the script from a play he wrote by the same name
that was first produced Off-Broadway. Although the play began in a
small theater, it had good reviews and good word of mouth,
necessitating a move to a larger theater. Uhry eventually won a
Pulitzer Prize for his work. He has said that that Driving Miss Daisy
was semi-biographical about his grandmother and her driver.
That fact probably helped create the remarkable depth of character
shown in the film, although certainly director Bruce Beresford,
Freeman, who also starred in the play, and Tandy do more than their
share to build a charming, frequently funny and poignant portrayal of
two very different humans learning to see eye to eye.
It's significant that Driving Miss Daisy is set in the South and spans
the period prior to and slightly after the civil rights movement in the
US. And it's significant that Hoke is an African-American while Miss
Daisy is Jewish.
Miss Daisy is humorously fussy, prim and proper. Well, to the audience
at least–I don't suppose it would be so humorous to have to deal with
it. This helps create an initial "formal antagonism" between Daisy and
Hoke. Only infinite calm and patience from Hoke earns a gradual
softening of Daisy's public displeasure and curmudgeonliness. The
unusual structure means that Driving Miss Daisy is more a series of
vignettes, each significant to the gradual coming together of Hoke and
Daisy, although most incidents are relatively minor in isolation. Uhry
makes the film a collection of those small but memorable, important and
frequently amusing (at least in retrospect) moments that make up a
lifetime of telling memories in any familial relationship–and Hoke
does become family. Eventually, Hoke and Daisy form a bond that is
perhaps stronger than Daisy's bond with her own son.
As for the significance of Hoke and Daisy's ethnic orientations, Miss
Daisy makes a vocal point of not being racist or otherwise
discriminatory. She also likes to focus on her humble beginnings–a few
incidents near the beginning of her relationship with Hoke hinge on her
being embarrassed at her wealth. And of course, as a Jew in the South,
she is well aware of discrimination and disadvantage, having
experienced it first hand.
One of the more touching scenes of the film features Hoke and Daisy
driving to Alabama to attend her brother's 90th birthday party. It's
Hoke's first time outside of Georgia. They've parked temporarily on the
side of the road. Two white Alabama policemen see Hoke and pull over.
They want to know what Hoke is doing with a nice, new Cadillac. When
they discover that Daisy is Jewish, they are disparaging through
implicature, and they make a literally discriminatory remark to each
other when Hoke and Daisy drive off. Although these kinds of events are
much more major than say, apparently stealing a can of salmon, Uhry and
Beresford tie them together wonderfully so that they all have about the
Related to these themes, the film is also charming and moving for
juxtaposing a kind of personal consistency throughout time with a
rapidly changing society. That's why the profound social changes
happening "just next door", so to speak, are largely kept in the
Technically, Driving Miss Daisy is a gem. It's full of subtly complex
and aesthetically pleasing cinematography, well blocked scenes and a
fabulous and deservedly famous score from Hans Zimmer. But the story
and performances are so good that it's almost difficult to notice the
Unless you are completely averse to anything even slightly in the realm
of realist drama/light comedy, Driving Miss Daisy is a must-see. It's
sentimental but not syrupy and touching but not overly serious–you'll
laugh just as often as anything else. Don't miss this one if you
haven't yet seen it.