Not Without My DaughterJanuary 11, 1991
An American woman, trapped in Islamic Iran by her brutish husband, must find a way to escape with her daughter as well.
Release Year: 1991
Rating: 5.9/10 (5,397 voted)
Stars: Sally Field, Alfred Molina, Sheila Rosenthal
"Moody" is an Iranian doctor living in America with his American wife Betty and their child Mahtob. Wanting to see his homeland again, he convinces his wife to take a short holiday there with him and Mahtob. Betty is reluctant, as Iran is not a pleasant place, especially if you are American and female. Upon arrival in Iran, it appears that her worst fears are realized: Moody declares that they will be living there from now on. Betty is determined to escape from Iran, but taking her daughter with her presents a larger problem.
Writers: Betty Mahmoody, William Hoffer
Mary Nell Santacroce
In 1984, Betty Mahmoody's husband took his wife and daughter to meet his family in Iran. He swore they would be safe. They would be happy. They would be free to leave. He lied.
Release Date: 11 January 1991
Filming Locations: Ankara, Turkey
Did You Know?
In the book, Betty Mahmoody and Mahtob escaped Iran thru the northern mountain regions in the dead of winter with severe ice and snow. The producers,planned to film the escape scene in the Eilat Mountain in Southern Israel. However, there was no snow that winter and the escape scene was going to scrapped. Many protests arose because they felt the scene was essential. Sally Field even threatened to quit the project. The producers looked for other locations but either they were too expensive or unsafe for the actors and the crew. Finally, the scene was re written to have Betty Mahmoodey and Mahtob traveling thru the desert in searing heat.
There is no home near Friday praying mosque in Tehran, and Mr. Mahmoodi's home was 10 kilometers from that.
I don't know how to say this to you. We're not going back. We're staying here.
What do you mean? How long?
I want to get a job here in a hospital.
I want us… to live in Iran.
There's nothing for me in America.
No… What? Are you crazy? We're Americans. Your daughter's an American! Moody, honey, you're upset about your job. I understand that. We're going to go back today and we're going to fix it.
I want Mahtob to grow up here.
Okay movie, disturbing comments
While I was re-watching bits of this movie a few weeks ago, I read the
user comments here at IMDb and was very disturbed. Since it is still
bothering me, I decided to write my own comments on the movie and on
what has been said here.
First, the movie. It is about an international custody battle. That is
a very real problem in this day and age. When couples from different
countries break up they often each want the children to live with them
and grow up in the country (and culture) in which they were raised.
Each naturally thinks the way he or she was raised is better for their
This movie is Betty Mahmoody's story. And the culture clash is between
the United States and Iran. It takes place in 1984. The Ayatollah
Khomeini was still very much the leader Iran and the Iran-Iraq war had
been going on for 4 years and would continue for another 4. Iran was
quite isolated from much of the world at that time.
And 'Moody' Mahmoody, an Iranian-born doctor practicing in the U.S.,
brings his American wife, Betty, and their daughter, Mahtob, to Iran
for a visit. When they arrive, Moody is dismayed at the changes in
Iran, especially the breakdown of the education system and the
resulting shortage of doctors. Then he becomes an ultra, ultra
fundamentalist Muslim – so reactionary he makes suicide bombers look
moderate. He demands that Betty dress and behave how he thinks a good
Muslim wife should and wants their daughter to be raised to do the
same. He becomes physically abusive to Betty. If she wants to return to
America, it is fine with him, but Mahtob will remain with him in Iran.
So Betty plans a dangerous escape for herself and her daughter.
Does the movie work? Somewhat. 'Women in peril' movies are always a
guilty pleasure and Sally Field is a good actress. The biggest problem
is with Moody's character. Alfred Molina is a wonderful actor, but it's
hard to do much with a character that undergoes such a radical change
in his basic character in a matter of weeks. I kept expecting to learn
that he had once been diagnosed as psychotic or schizophrenic.
Is the movie unfair to the Iranian people? Again, somewhat. Virtually
all the characters in the movie except Betty and Mahtob are Iranian.
Some are good. Some are bad. But you can't have a 'woman in peril' with
no peril. And that is provided by Moody and his family. But the people
who help Betty escape are also Iranian. What unfairness there is lies
not in maligning the Iranian people (it doesn't do that) but in
implying (and sometimes saying explicitly) that the Iranian culture is
inferior just because it is not westernized. As a free American woman I
would not want to live in any fundamentalist society, regardless of
which religion was in control. But post-revolution Iran is no more
representative of thousands of years of Persian culture than Italy
under Mussolini was representative of a land that produced the Roman
Empire and Michelangelo.
Is the movie unfair to Moody? No, because this is BETTY's story. Talk
to anyone in a bitter custody battle and they'll tell you all about why
their ex is evil. And they wouldn't be lying. They are giving you their
point of view. That doesn't mean Moody doesn't have a different point
of view which is equally true and equally untrue (and which, I gather
from the comments, was explored in another movie.) But 'Not Without My
Daughter' doesn't pretend to be a sociological examination into the two
sides of a dispute. Let me repeat for the third time, this is BETTY's
That brings me to why some of the comments disturb me so much. I would
fully understand if some viewers thought the movie was silly or
inaccurate or biased. But several writers have used their reviews as an
excuse to joyfully bash the United States. My favorite was 'Who died
and made Americans god to do movies about other countries??' That
writer is from Sweden but doesn't seem to have a problem with Jan
Troell making 'The New Land' (Nybyggarna) about America. And, were we
to listen to her, we wouldn't have 'An American in Paris' or 'The
Killing Fields' or 'Out of Africa' or 'Amadeus' (all of which are much
better films than 'Not Without My Daughter.') But in the United States
we have freedom of speech. That means that movie producers are free to
make any movie to which they think they can sell tickets. And, as a
member of the viewing public, when I disagree with what they are saying
I have a very simple remedy. I don't buy a ticket.