Not Without My Daughter
|Not Without My Daughter|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Brian Gilbert|
|Produced by||Harry J. Ufland|
|Written by||Betty Mahmoody
David W. Rintels
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Editing by||Terry Rawlings
Ofer Bedarshi (video)
|Release date(s)||January 11, 1991|
|Running time||116 min.|
Not Without My Daughter is a film released in 1991 depicting the escape of American citizen Betty Mahmoody and her daughter from her husband in Iran. The film was shot in the United States and Israel, and the main characters are played by Sally Field and Alfred Molina. Sheila Rosenthal and Roshan Seth star as Mahtob Mahmoody and Houssein the smuggler, respectively.
An Iranian physician, Sayed Bozorg "Moody" Mahmoody (Molina) desires to visit his family in Iran. He wants his Iranian family to meet his wife Betty (Field) and daughter Mahtob, and asks them to come with him. After spending two weeks in Iran, Moody informs her that he has been fired from the clinic for racial reasons and wishes for them to stay in Iran. Betty says she would like to go home, but Moody becomes hostile and abusive, refusing to let her go and preventing her from leaving the house or using the telephone. Betty briefly manages to visit the American Interests Division of the Swiss Embassy, but is informed that she has automatically been stripped of her American citizenship status and is now an Iranian citizen for marrying an Iranian.
Knowing that her chances of escape are limited, Betty plays the part of devout Muslim wife to gain Moody and his family's trust. During a trip to the market, a sympathetic shopkeeper overhears her speaking with the Embassy on the telephone and puts her in contact with a friendly smuggler, Hossein (Seth), who offers Betty and Mahtob a safe passage through the Persian Gulf. Because of the Iran-Iraq war, the Gulf becomes too dangerous, so Hossein books a flight back to America for Betty and Mahtob. However, Betty receives word that her father is critically ill and may die soon. Moody, who at this time fully trusts in Betty, approves of her returning to see him, but will not let Mahtob go with her. However, Moody also books a flight for Betty a few days before the one scheduled earlier by Hossein, only to complicate things further.
Finally, on the night before Betty's flight to America, Moody receives a call from his clinic requesting him to return for emergency treatment. As this may be her last chance to escape with Mahtob, Betty feigns going out with Mahtob to get some presents for her father and meets up with Hossein and his sister. With Hossein's advice, Betty calls Moody and pretends to agree to meet him with a lawyer the next day so as to stall him. Hossein sends Betty and Mahtob off with the smugglers, and using fake IDs and documents, make their way past the checkpoints. Despite the difficult journey, in which one smuggler demands Betty's jewelery as payment and later attempts to assault her, only to be sent away by the other smuggler, Betty and Mahtob are finally dropped off in Turkey, the remaining smuggler returning their things to them as a sign of apology. Weary from the long trip, Betty and Mahtob see the American Embassy in the distance.
- Sally Field as Betty Mahmoody
- Alfred Molina as Sayed Borzog "Moody" Mahmoody
- Sheila Rosenthal as Mahtob
- Roshan Seth as Houssein the Smuggler
- Sarah Badel as Nicole
- Mony Rey as Ameh Bozorg
- Georges Corraface as Mohsen
The movie was based on a book with the same title, written by Betty Mahmoody and William Hoffer and based on Betty's version of events. The screenplay was written by David W. Rintels. The film was directed by Brian Gilbert and filmed at GG Studios, Neve Ilan, Israel and in Atlanta, Georgia.
Box office 
|This section requires expansion. (October 2011)|
Controversy and criticism 
Not Without My Daughter has been criticized for its perceived misrepresentation of and bias towards Iran, Iranian Muslims and Iranian culture. Caryn James of The New York Times, in a review, states that the movie "exploits the stereotype of the demonic Iranian...it is an utter artistic failure, and its reliance on cultural stereotype is a major cause". Moody, she writes, seems to be a "pure product of his culture, a mysterious, misogynist Easterner...the film views fanaticism as the Iranian national character". A review in the Los Angeles Times described the movie as "unbalanced and distorted" which "fails to distinguish between the (Iranian) state and the people". In his review, film critic Roger Ebert noted the film made "moral and racial assertions that are deeply troubling" and that it "does not play fair with its Muslim characters. If a movie of such a vitriolic and spiteful nature were to be made in America about any other ethnic group, it would be denounced as racist and prejudiced."
In response to Not Without My Daughter, a Finnish documentary, titled Without My Daughter was made by director Alexis Kouros. It is composed of interviews with Dr. Mahmoody regarding his life in Iran and attempts to contact his daughter Mahtob. Kouros said that the intention of the 90-minute documentary was to "show the lies in the American film and present the real story behind" what turned into an acrimonious custody battle for Mahtob Mahmoody.
The movie was released to generally mixed reviews, as Sally Field was nominated for the Worst Actress, while Sheila Rosenthal won the Young Artist Award for Best Actress.
Dr. Mahmoody wrote a book, Lost Without my Daughter, published in the UK.
- "Home Alone in 9th Week as No. 1 Film : Movies: 'Godfather Part III' takes dramatic slide from second to sixth place in its third week out. 'Awakenings' is in second.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- "'Home Alone' Fends Off Yet Another 'Intruder' : Box Office: Vietnam War film opens to mediocre business as comedy remains on top for 10th week. After four weeks of release, 'Godfather Part III' drops to 12th.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-03.
- Seeing and Believing: Religion and Values in the Movies - by Margaret R. Miles, p71
- Caryn James, Embrace the Stereotype; Kiss the Movie Goodbye, The New York Times, January 27, 1991, Accessed August 15, 2009.
- Not Without My Daughter (review), rogerebert.com, January 11, 1991, Accessed August 15, 2009.
- Finnish documentary counters anti-Iran propaganda in US film
- Not Without My Daughter at the Internet Movie Database
- Not Without My Daughter at Rotten Tomatoes
- Not Without My Daughter - History vs. Hollywood
- Not Without My Daughter clip
- A criticism of Not Without My Daughter