My American Cousin
Canada, 1985 (fiction, 89 minutes, colour, English)
Also known as
"Mein Cousin aus Amerika", "Mi primo americano", "Mój amerykanski kuzyn", "Mon cousin américain", "O Meu Primo Americano"
"The film takes place in the summer of 1959, when rock-and-roll music was blasting out of every jukebox [...] A precocious twelve-year old finds herself wishing she was sixteen and then one hot, still summer night, Sandy's life changes forever. [...] Both attracted and fascinated by her fearless cousin, Sandy is hopelessly stranded between her parents' strict and conservative expectations and the seduction of the rock-and-roll culture that Butch personifies."
-- Festival of Festivals
|Film Credits (partial):
||Peter O'Brian, Sandy Wilson, Phillip Schmidt|
||Margaret Langrick, John Wildman, Richard Donat, Jane Mortifee, T.J. Scott, Camille Henderson, Darcy Bailey, Allison Hail, Samantha Jocelyn, Babs Chula, Terry Moore, Brent Severson, Carter Dunham, Julie Nevlon, Alexis Peat, Mickey Mauncell, Kitty Wilson, Jakevan Weston, Ritchie Hobden|
||Okanagan Motion Picture Company Inc., Borderline Productions Inc., Peter O'Brian Independent Pictures Inc.|
Awards won by My American Cousin
- Genie Award: Best Achievement in Direction -- awarded to Sandy Wilson
- Genie Award: Best Motion Picture -- awarded to Peter O'Brian
- Genie Award: Best Screenplay -- awarded to Sandy Wilson
- Genie Award: Best Achievement in Film Editing -- awarded to Haida Paul
- Genie Award: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role -- awarded to John Wildman
- Genie Award: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role -- awarded to Margaret Langrick
Notes about My American Cousin
- Filmed in Penticton, British Columbia.
- Shown at the Festival of Festivals (Toronto) in 1985.
Quotes by the Director
"I think [My American Cousin] catches that wonderful time in a young girl's life when she's curious and just doesn't know any better. I remember when my mother first asked to look at the script. She ended up storming out of the room and saying, 'I can't read any more of this. It's too real.' That's when I knew I was on to something."
-- Sandy Wilson
"When I arrived on my set [for My American Cousin], my first A.D. [Assistant Director] said, 'Would you like a binder?' And I said, 'What for?' And he said, 'Well, to put your script in.' I said, 'I've written the script, I know the script. What do I need the script for?' This is from documentaries where you don't go out with a script. [...] Next, my cameraman Richard Leiterman says to me, 'Sandy, can I see your shot list?' I replied, 'You mean my story board?' [...] He said, 'No, Sandy, I mean your shot list. ' And I said, 'You know, I've heard a lot about shot lists but I don't know exactly what they are.' [...] Richard Leiterman carried me for that day. [...] I learned very quickly how to do my shot list, how to do my homework. I carried my script with me. I put it in a big red binder -- that became the bible. I felt naked without it. [...] I took a few days to figure out what I was supposed to do as the director. And then we started to really cook. I loved it. It's a wonderful thing when everybody is contributing their very best."
-- Sandy Wilson
Quotes about My American Cousin
"It's an amazing job of evoking through specific detail, costumes, props and attitudes a period many of us still blush to remember."
-- Nina Darnton
"If Sandra's parents and grandmother are the allegorical figurations of an anglo-centric colonial Canada, then Sandra herself allegorizes an adolescent Canada coming of age at mid-century, shifting her gaze from the UK to the US. Allegorically, Canadian nation as read through Sandra is gendered female, while the US as read through Butch is gendered male"
-- Christopher E. Gittings
"[Sandy] Wilson clung tenaciously to her vision of the film. She fought long and strenuously for her choice of Margaret Langrick (an unknown and a non-actress) to play the lead. She fought to direct her picture. On top of that, everything had to be resolved and negotiated under time-constraints, because filming had to commence during the B.C. cherry picking season. And win every battle she did."
-- Gail Henley
"[Sandy] Wilson establishes a polarity between a realistic Canadian road that is scenically beautiful but leads nowhere and an American road that promises freedom and happiness but is based on fantasy."
-- David L. Pike
"Funny but realistic, My American Cousin follows Butch's brief intrusion into Sandy's life with a sensitivity that transcends nostalgia."
-- Jay Scott
"[My American Cousin] is filled with some beautifully creative and unabashedly feminine touches that portent a real talent in the making."
-- Jan Teag
"Sandy Wilson's debut feature film has emerged as something of an English-Canadian classic, operating simultaneously as a deeply personal film and as a metaphor for the inferiority complex of our national psyche."
-- Wyndham Wise
Publications by the Director about My American Cousin
- Wilson, Sandy. "My American Cousin." In Best Canadian Screenplays, edited by Douglas Bowie and Tom Shoebridge, 251-338. Kingston, Ont.: Quarry Press, 1992.
Bibliography for My American Cousin
Brief Sections of Books
- Gittings, Christopher E. Canadian National Cinema: Ideology, Difference and Representation. London: Routledge, 2002. (pp. 150-153)
- Monk, Katherine. Weird Sex and Snowshoes: And Other Canadian Film Phenomena. Vancouver: Raincoast Books, 2001. (p. 319)
- Spaner, David. Dreaming in the Rain: How Vancouver Became Hollywood North by Northwest. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2003. (pp. 80-82)
- Yamaguchi, Joanne. "Who is the American Cousin?: Canadian Cinema, Cultural Freedom, and Sandy Wilson's 'American Cousin.'." Cineaction!, no. 16 (May 1989): 70-72.
Newspaper or Magazine Articles
- Ansen, David. "My American Cousin." Review of My American Cousin. Newsweek, August 25, 1986.
- Attanasio, Paul. "Wilson's too-thin cousin." Review of My American Cousin. Washington Post, September 20, 1986.
- Calgary Herald. "My American Cousin." Review of My American Cousin. Calgary Herald, November 22, 1985.
- Calgary Herald. "Okanagan-set comedy runs off with six Genies." Calgary Herald, March 21, 1986.
- Cinema Canada. "Spectrafilm sells 'Cousin''s Canadian video rights to American co." Cinema Canada, June 1986.
- Chaput, Luc. "My American Cousin." 24 Images, August 1986. [in French]
- Cinema Canada. "'American Cousin' bows." Cinema Canada, November 1985.
- Corliss, Richard. "A man, a woman and some dogs." Review of My American Cousin. Time, September 1, 1986.
- Darnton, Nina. "Film view: looking back at growing up in the 50's and 60's." New York Times, August 24, 1986.
- Darnton, Nina. "My American Cousin." Review of My American Cousin. New York Times, August 15, 1986.
- Globe and Mail. "'American Cousin' distributor wants foreign sales allowed." Globe and Mail, April 15, 1986.
- Gold, R. "Canadian 'Cousin' helmer puts own life on screen." Interview with Sandy Wilson. Variety, April 16, 1986.
- Halifax Chronicle-Herald. "'American Cousin' big Canadian film winner." Halifax Chronicle-Herald, August 22, 1986.
- Hall, Carla. "Sandy Wilson, wistfully; the filmmaker & her craft." Interview with Sandy Wilson. Washington Post, September 28, 1986.
- Henley, Gail. "The distribution factor." Cinema Canada, November 1985.
- Holden, Stephen. "At the movies." Interview with Sandy Wilson. New York Times, August 15, 1986.
- Johnson, Brian D. "My American Cousin." Review of My American Cousin. Maclean's, November 4, 1985.
- Kehr, Dave. "My American Cousin." Review of My American Cousin. Film Comment, November-December 1985.
- Kempley, Rita. "My nifty American cousin; a relatively real look at growing up female in the fifties." Review of My American Cousin. Washington Post, September 19, 1986.
- Lavoie, André. "À voir à la télévision le jeudi 29 mars : La visite des États." Le Devoir, March 24, 2007. [in French]
- Lekich, John. "My Canadian classic: Sandy Wilson recalls secret origins." Interview with Sandy Wilson. Reel West Magazine, Winter 2014.
- Lekich, John. "You can go home again." Interview with Sandy Wilson, Peter O'Brian. Globe and Mail, November 24, 1984.
- McDonagh, M. "Memory of American cousin inspires coming-of-age film." Interview with Sandy Wilson. The Film Journal (New York), October-November 1986.
- McKinnon, A. "Sandy Wilson: first features, Canadian wives, American cousins, an interview." Interview with Sandy Wilson. Cinema Canada, July-August 1985.
- Montreal Gazette. "'Cousin' strikes Genie gold." Montreal Gazette, March 21, 1986.
- Nemeth, Mary. "International nostalgia: 'My American Cousin' captures the 50's on film." Alberta Report, October 7, 1985.
- Rickey, Carrie. "L'homme fatal." Ms., December 1985.
- Sachs, Lloyd. "'My American Cousin' comes up relatively empty." Review of My American Cousin. Chicago Sun-Times, August 22, 1986.
- Salamon, Julie. "My American Cousin." Review of My American Cousin. Wall Street Journal, August 21, 1986.
- Schupp, Patrick. "My American Cousin." Review of My American Cousin. Séquences, July 1986. [in French]
- Scott, Jay. "Big break gives Wildman chance to show his stuff." Globe and Mail, November 1, 1985.
- Scott, Jay. "Genie six-pack for 'My American Cousin'." Globe and Mail, March 21, 1986.
- Scott, Jay. "My American Cousin heads 'home' to rave reviews." Globe and Mail, August 16, 1986.
- Scott, Jay. "A poignant, welcome visit from My American Cousin." Review of My American Cousin. Globe and Mail, September 9, 1985.
- Seventeen. "My American Cousin." Seventeen, June 1986.
- Teag, Jan. "Sandy Wilson's My American Cousin." Review of My American Cousin. Cinema Canada, June 1986.
- Travers, Peter. "My American Cousin." Review of My American Cousin. People Weekly, September 8, 1986.
- Vancouver Sun. "A hit with US critics." Vancouver Sun, August 16, 1986.
- Vancouver Sun. "My American Cousin." Review of My American Cousin. Vancouver Sun, November 8, 1985.
- Variety. "My American Cousin." Review of My American Cousin. Variety, September 18, 1985.
- Wickenhaver, Janet. "Production focus: 'My American Cousin'." Millimeter, July 1986.
- Winnipeg Free Press. "My American Cousin." Winnipeg Free Press, January 18, 1986.
- Winnipeg Free Press. "Wilson takes from real life to make movie." Winnipeg Free Press, October 22, 1986.
Web Sites about My American Cousin