Postcards from the Edge (film)

Postcards from the Edge is a 1990 American comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols. The screenplay by Carrie Fisher is based on her 1987 semi-autobiographical novel of the same title. The film stars Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, and Dennis Quaid.

Postcards from the Edge
Postcards from the edge.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMike Nichols
Screenplay byCarrie Fisher
Based onPostcards from the Edge
by Carrie Fisher
Produced byJohn Calley
Mike Nichols
CinematographyMichael Ballhaus
Edited bySam O'Steen
Music byCarly Simon
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • September 14, 1990 (1990-09-14)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$22 million[1]
Box office$63.4 million


Actress Suzanne Vale is a recovering drug addict trying to pick up the pieces of her acting career and get on with her life after kicking a cocaine-Percodan habit; after Vale overdosed while on a date, her mother admitted her to a rehab center from the emergency room. When she is ready to return to work, her agent advises her the studio's insurance policy will cover her only if she lives with a "responsible" individual such as her mother Doris Mann. Suzanne is very reluctant to return to the woman from whom she struggled to escape for years after growing up in her shadow. The situation is not helped by the fact that Doris is very loud, competitive, manipulative, self-absorbed and given to offering her daughter unsolicited advice with insinuating value judgments while treating her like a child.

Producer Jack Faulkner runs into Suzanne on the set and reveals that he is the one who drove her to the hospital during her last overdose, and the two kiss. Suzanne then agrees to go out with him. During a passionate first date, he professes intense and eternal love for her and she believes every word is true. Suzanne's euphoria is short-lived, however; she subsequently learns from Evelyn Ames, a bit player in her latest film, that Jack is sleeping with Evelyn as well. Still dressed in the costume she wears as a uniformed cop in the schlock movie, Suzanne drives to Jack's house and confronts him. As their argument escalates, Jack implies that Suzanne was much more interesting when she was trying to function while she was on drugs.

At home, Suzanne learns from Doris that Suzanne's sleazy business manager Marty Wiener has absconded with all her money. This leads to an argument between the two women, and Suzanne storms out to go to a looping session. There the paternalistic director Lowell Kolchek tells her he has more work for her as long as she can remain clean and sober.

Suzanne arrives home and discovers that Doris has crashed her car into a tree after drinking too much wine (and vodka smoothies). Suzanne rushes to her hospital bedside where the two have a heart-to-heart talk while Suzanne fixes her mother's makeup and arranges a scarf on her head to conceal the fact she bloodied her wig in the accident. Looking and feeling better, Doris musters her courage and faces the media waiting for her. Suzanne runs into Dr. Frankenthal, who had pumped her stomach after her last overdose, and he invites her to see a movie with him. She declines, telling him she's not ready to date yet. Dr. Frankenthal tells her he's willing to wait until she is.

In the film's closing moments Suzanne performs Shel Silverstein's "I'm Checkin' Out", a foot-stomping country western number, for a scene in Lowell Kolchek's new film.


Fisher said in the DVD commentary that Jerry Orbach filmed a scene as Suzanne's father, which was later cut.


In discussing adapting the book for the screen, director Mike Nichols commented, "For quite a long time we pushed pieces around, but then we went with the central story of a mother passing the baton to her daughter."[2] He added "Carrie doesn't draw on her life any more than Flaubert did. It's just that his life wasn't so well known."[2]

Nichols began pre-production in New York, where he assembled a group of actors to run lines from the script in order to perfect it. In return the actors, one of whom was Annette Bening, were given small roles in the movie when it filmed.[3]

Responding to questions about how closely the film's Suzanne/Doris relationship parallels her relationship with her mother, Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher stated "I wrote about a mother actress and a daughter actress. I'm not shocked that people think it's about me and my mother. It's easier for them to think I have no imagination for language, just a tape recorder with endless batteries."[2] In the DVD commentary she notes that her mother wanted to portray Doris but Nichols cast Shirley MacLaine instead. In her 2013 autobiography, Unsinkable, Reynolds noted that Nichols told her, "You're not right for the part."

Blue Rodeo accompanied Meryl Streep on "I'm Checkin' Out", written by Shel Silverstein. Other songs performed in the film include "I'm Still Here" (sung by MacLaine) and "You Don't Know Me" (sung by Streep).


Box officeEdit

The film opened in 1,013 theaters in the United States and Canada on September 14, 1990 and grossed $7,871,856 in its opening weekend, ranking number 1 at the US box office.[4] It eventually grossed $39,071,603 in the US and Canada[5] and $24.3 million internationally,[6] for a worldwide total of $63.4 million.

Critical responseEdit

The film earned positive reviews from critics and holds an 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 36 reviews, with an average rating of 7.1/10. The critical consensus read, "Uniting a pair of powerhouse talents with a smart, sharply written script, Postcards from the Edge makes compelling drama out of reality-inspired trauma".[7] Metacritic gave the movie a score of 71 based on 18 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[8] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[9]

Vincent Canby of The New York Times said the film "seems to have been a terrifically genial collaboration between the writer and the director, Miss Fisher's tale of odd-ball woe being perfect material for Mr. Nichols's particular ability to discover the humane sensibility within the absurd."[10]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times observed, "What's disappointing about the movie is that it never really delivers on the subject of recovery from addiction. There are some incomplete, dimly seen, unrealized scenes in the rehab center, and then desultory talk about offscreen AA meetings. But the film is preoccupied with gossip; we're encouraged to wonder how many parallels there are between the Streep and MacLaine characters and their originals, Fisher and Debbie Reynolds... Postcards from the Edge contains too much good writing and too many good performances to be a failure, but its heart is not in the right place."[11]

Hal Hinson of The Washington Post said, "Meryl Streep gives the most fully articulated comic performance of her career, the one she's always hinted at and made us hope for." He felt the film's earlier section was "the movie's best, primarily because Nichols is so focused on Streep. In fact, almost nothing else seems to matter to him... But while Nichols is servicing his star, he lets the other areas of the film go slack... [He] is finely attuned to the natural surreality of a movie set, but when he moves away from the show-biz satire and concentrates on the mother-daughter relationship, the movie falters."[12]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards[13] Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Original Song "I'm Checkin' Out"
Music and Lyrics by Shel Silverstein
American Comedy Awards[14] Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role) Meryl Streep Won
Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Shirley MacLaine Nominated
Artios Awards[15] Outstanding Achievement in Feature Film Casting – Comedy Juliet Taylor Nominated
British Academy Film Awards[16] Best Actress in a Leading Role Shirley MacLaine Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Carrie Fisher Nominated
Best Original Film Score Carly Simon Nominated
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[17] Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Shirley MacLaine Nominated
Best Original Song – Motion Picture "I'm Checkin' Out"
Music and Lyrics by Shel Silverstein
London Film Critics' Circle Awards Newcomer of the Year Annette Bening Won

American Film Institute recognition:


  1. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (1989-12-07). "It's Fade-Out for the Cheap Film As Hollywood's Budgets Soar". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b c Dougherty, Margot (December 29, 2016). "Looking back on EW's 1990 interview with Carrie Fisher". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  3. ^ BFI (2017-11-10). BFI Screen Talk: Annette Bening BFI London Film Festival 2017. Archived from the original on 2021-12-15. Retrieved 2018-05-27.
  4. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (1990-09-17). "Postcards Takes No. 1 at Box Office Movies: Mother-daughter comedy sales hit $8.1 million. Paramount's 'Ghost' is in second place on $5.8 million in sales". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
  5. ^ "". 1990-11-06. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  6. ^ Evan Frook, John (June 26, 1992). "Col TriStar tide rising overseas". Daily Variety. p. 1.
  7. ^ "Postcards from the Edge (1990)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  8. ^ "Postcards from the Edge Reviews". Metacritic.
  9. ^ "Home". CinemaScore. Retrieved 2022-12-01.
  10. ^ Canby, Vincent (1990-09-12). "Review/Film; Down and Out at the Top in Hollywood". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger (1990-09-12). "Postcards from the Edge". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-10-31 – via
  12. ^ Hinson, Hal (1990-09-14). "Postcards from the Edge". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  13. ^ "The 63rd Academy Awards (1991) Nominees and Winners". AMPAS. Archived from the original on October 20, 2014. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  14. ^ "1991 American Comedy Awards". Mubi. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  15. ^ "Nominees/Winners". Casting Society of America. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  16. ^ "BAFTA Awards: Film in 1991". BAFTA. 1991. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
  17. ^ "Postcards from the Edge – Golden Globes". HFPA. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  18. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 13, 2011. Retrieved September 16, 2022.

External linksEdit