Corrina, Corrina (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jessie Nelson|
|Produced by||Paula Mazur
|Written by||Jessie Nelson|
|Music by||Rick Cox|
|Edited by||Lee Percy|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|August 12, 1994|
Corrina, Corrina is a 1994 American feature film set in 1959 about a widower (Ray Liotta) who hires a housekeeper/nanny (Whoopi Goldberg) to care for his daughter (Tina Majorino). It was written and directed by Jessie Nelson, in her feature film directing debut. It was the final film in which Don Ameche starred; he died shortly after filming was completed.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (April 2013)|
The wife of Manny Singer (Ray Liotta) has recently died. He realizes his young daughter Molly (Tina Majorino) is missing and he goes off to look for her. Manny's father, the unassuming and sweet Harry (Don Ameche) stumbles upon Molly under the table. He holds her. Molly has not spoken since her mother, Annie, died. Manny's mother, the old world Eva (Erica Yohn) finds them.
As his friends and family drive away, Manny struggles to communicate with his daughter. Manny needs to return to work at his advertising job where he works with his best friend Sid (Larry Miller).
Manny searches for a housekeeper/nanny to take care of Molly. Corrina (Whoopi Goldberg) interviews for the position. Since her mother's death, Molly has not only refused to speak but doesn't even acknowledge people. She responds to Corrina and Manny hires Corrina as a housekeeper. Very quickly a strong bond is formed between nanny and child. Corrina works out a system to "talk" with Molly without making her speak and also helps her find a pet turtle they named Lois.
Corrina watches the early struggles of life after Annie. She asks about an unfinished grocery list and Manny admits to being unable to erase his wife's handwriting from the board. Late one evening a distraught Manny lies and says his wife is in the bathtub, rather than admit to her sudden passing. Upon hearing this lie, Molly runs to the tub hoping to see her mother. Corrina sees the lonely child sit quietly in the empty bathtub while Manny buries his head in his hands as he sits in the chair Annie purchased for their home.
As Corrina adjusts to her new role, Manny and Molly adjust to Corrina's ways too. Manny, overhearing Corrina discussing heaven, asks that Corrina avoid the topic. Manny and his wife were atheists and Manny doesn't want Molly to believe in a god he does not believe in. Corrina does not disobey but notes that she too will just have to explain to Molly that her mother is in the bathtub instead of face reality. Meanwhile, while watching TV, Molly sees a commercial that notes how deadly cigarettes are and watching her father smoke scares the young girl. She begins hiding his cigarettes.
While Corrina is making Manny's bed, Molly speaks for the first time noting the spot her mother used to sleep. When consoling Molly about her mother, Corrina explains that Molly's mother is with the angels and perhaps Manny is jealous of the angels who get to spend all day with his wife. Molly finds comfort in knowing her mother is somewhere happy. That night, when Manny comes home, Molly tells him about the dinner she has helped make. Hearing the sound of her voice brings joy to Manny. Corrina stays for dinner upon Molly's insistence and she and Manny discover a common bond in music.
Molly begins to spend time with Corrina's sister Jevina, her brother-in-law Frank, her nephew Percy and her nieces Lizzie and Mavis. They take Molly to church and welcome her into their home. The children welcome the shy Molly and they become close friends. Meanwhile, Manny is introduced to Jenny (Wendy Crewson), a perky white woman with two unruly sons. Corrina's sister wants her to date a black man, Anthony. Corrina says she is uninterested and, "in the words of Gertrude Stein, girl, there ain't no "there" there."
Manny is still struggling with losing Annie and although Sid feels Jenny is the perfect fit, Manny is not ready to date. Molly begins talk about heaven and her mother. A frustrated Manny tells her that heaven is just something that people make up so they won't feel sad anymore. Molly replies, "Well, what's wrong with that?" and starts asking about her mother. When Manny refuses to talk about her Molly cries, "she's disappearing! She's almost gone!".
A frightened Molly must return to school and to give her some confidence, Corrina tells her to remember she is "Molly Singer and there is no one in the world better than" she is. While coloring family pictures, Molly is mocked for adding Corrina to her picture. Molly repeats Corrina's message to herself but she is visibly hurt. She runs into Corrina's arms at the end of the day, desperate to go home. Manny and Corrina have an exchange about stealing each other's cigarettes, not knowing how they can go through so many so quickly. That night, Molly awakes from a nightmare where she could not get her mother to turn around. Corrina and Manny run to her side but she is scared and angry. Molly tells her father, "it's all your fault she's gone! I hate you" and Corrina tells her she's allowed to be mad. Manny admits to Molly how hurt he is about losing Annie and how much he misses her too. That night Jevina chastises Corrina for pretending to become a part of this new family.
A terrified Molly begs Corrina to let her stay home from school and Corrina secretly agrees. At work, Manny struggles with a new project for Jell-O pudding. Corrina spends more time with the family and she and Manny slowly discover they are more compatible with each other than anyone else. Manny confides in Corrina about his deceased wife and Corrina talks about her long gone former husband. They share a love of music and Corrina even assists Manny on his new jingle. After a successful advertizing campaign, Manny comes home with flowers for Molly as well as Corrina. Their private celebration is interrupted by a visit from Jenny, which Corrina takes as a cue that she is not meant to stay.
The next day, a flustered Corrina goes to work where Manny apologizes for Jenny's meeting. He admits all he wanted was to celebrate with Molly and Corrina. As they say farewell, they share a kiss on the check. Manny's nosey neighbor sees this embrace. Corrina and Manny begin to fall in love and, in 1950s America, face difficulties as an interracial couple. A night out for dinner leads to racial slurs from fellow patrons that the young Molly does not understand. Molly, however, is taken with Corrina and she asks her grandfather to make sure that Manny marries Corrina one day.
Manny buys Corrina an album one night, after she admits her interest in writing liner notes and her sister finds the gesture inappropriate. Jevina thinks that Manny and Corrina are wrong for each other. Molly also struggles with tension when she unknowing calls Lizzie a racial slur, not knowing what her words mean. Manny's nosey neighbor tells his mother Eva about the budding romance and Eva tells Manny she is concerned for him. Manny thinks Corrina is the best thing in the world for Molly.
After losing her kite, Manny finds it in the backyard next to dozens and dozens of cigarettes. Manny confronts Molly and she says that she doesn't want cigarettes to kill her father. Manny promises to be there for Molly and they hug. A moving truck delivers more furniture to the house but this couch won't fit in through the door so it remains on the lawn. That night, Corrina and Manny talk about their last words with their spouses and share a moonlight dance. They share a kiss that is witnessed by a glowing Molly.
After weeks of not attending class, Corrina gives Molly a scrapbook with a turtle to keep her school items, suggesting it's almost time for her to rejoin her class. Molly does not respond to the gesture as she is not yet ready to go back. After a call from Molly's teacher, Manny finds out that Corrina had been letting Molly skip school. Corrina felt Molly wasn’t ready to go back. In a fit of anger, Manny tells Corrina is not Molly's mother and fires her, taking a heartbroken Molly home.
Molly becomes withdrawn again, and soon after, Manny learns that his father Harry has died. Jenny again tries to win over Manny but he is not interested. After the funeral, Manny goes to visit Corrina at her home to tell her of his father's passing and to properly apologize. After an unsuccessful talk, Corrina overhears Manny's not-so quiet prayers to God to help him out. Corrina gives Manny the scrapbook for Molly and he hopes she will give it to Molly in person. Corrina informs Manny she quits and Manny assures her that she was replaced. Manny and Corrina embrace and he begins to kiss her. Corrina brings him inside to formally meet her family.
The movie ends with Molly singing This Little Light of Mine in order to cheer her up her Grandma Eva. Finally, the sober Eva gives in and joins Molly in the joyful song.
- Whoopi Goldberg as Corrina Washington
- Ray Liotta as Manny Singer
- Tina Majorino as Molly Singer
- Jenifer Lewis as Jevina Washington
- Larry Miller as Sid
- Joan Cusack as Jonesy
- Wendy Crewson as Jenny Davis
- Don Ameche as Grandpa Harry
- Erica Yohn as Grandma Eva
- Lynette Walden as Annie
The film received mixed reviews from many film critics criticizing Nelson's failure to fully address the complications surrounding a romantic interracial relationship in the 1950s. Roger Ebert confessed that he enjoyed the film but wrote, "...seems almost as shy as the characters about the charged issues of race and romance. After it was over I felt that, yes, it was warm and good-hearted, but there was more of a story there to be told." Janet Maslin of The New York Times praised the actors and actresses for their work on the film but echoed a similar criticism regarding Manny and Corrina's relationship, "The affection between them is evident, but not even by the end of her story has Ms. Nelson decided what sort of affection it is. That may be true to life, but for an otherwise mainstream movie, it's trouble." Corrina, Corrina currently holds a 35% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The movie was not a box office success. The movie grossed $20,160,000 (USA) 
- "Overview for Don Ameche". Tcm.com. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
- "Corrina, Corrina". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Maslin, Janet (1994-08-12). "FILM REVIEW; A Wise Housekeeper Tries to Tidy Up a Bereft Family". The New York Times.
- Dutka, Elaine (1994-08-30). "Weekend Box Office : 'Killers' Takes 'em by Surprise". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-11.