Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Victor Nuñez|
|Produced by||Jonathan Demme|
|Written by||Victor Nuñez|
|Music by||Charles Engstrom|
|Edited by||Victor Nuñez|
|Distributed by||Orion Pictures|
|Box office||$9,054,736 (U.S.)|
Ulee's Gold is a 1997 American independent drama film written and directed by Victor Nuñez and starring Peter Fonda in the title role. Co-stars include Patricia Richardson, Christine Dunford, Tom Wood, Jessica Biel, J. Kenneth Campbell and Vanessa Zima. It was released by Orion Pictures, with Jonathan Demme receiving presenter credits for his role in the film's financing.
The film was the "Centerpiece Premiere" at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival. Fonda won a Golden Globe for his performance and was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
Ulee (short for Ulysses) Jackson is a Vietnam veteran, widower and grandfather. He is a beekeeper by profession, who raises two granddaughters (Biel and Zima) because his son (Wood) is in prison and his daughter-in-law Helen (Dunford), a drug addict, has run away. The son implores him to look for his wife and bring her home.
Upon returning home with Helen, Ulee's granddaughters see their mother going through withdrawal, and the youngest pleads with their neighbor Connie (Richardson) to help her. Connie is a twice-divorced nurse who assists Ulee in getting his daughter-in-law through detox. The film shows Ulee holding the family together and attempting to protect them from two young criminals, former associates of his son, who come looking for a hidden stash of cash.
- Peter Fonda ... Ulee Jackson
- Patricia Richardson ... Connie Hope
- Christine Dunford ... Helen Jackson
- Tom Wood ... Jimmy Jackson
- Jessica Biel ... Casey Jackson
- Vanessa Zima ... Penny Jackson
- Steven Flynn ... Eddie Flowers
- Dewey Weber ... Ferris Dooley
- J. Kenneth Campbell ... Sheriff Bill Floyd
- Traber Burns ... Chance Barrow
- Ryan Marshall ... Charley Myers
Nuñez used the Lanier family, a third-generation beekeeping family in Wewahitchka, Florida as "bee consultants" for the film; the Lanier family swamp lands and bee yards served as filming locations, with some members of the family appearing as extras in the film. Other filming locations were Orlando, Apalachicola and Port St. Joe, Florida.
During a 1997 interview held in Melbourne, Fonda commented on the character he portrayed:
|“||Ulee is the best character I've ever read. It's the kind of role you pay money to do — a complex character full of possibilities and the script was full of moments that were very deep, very pure and very simple. I also found a lot of Ulee in my father. He kept a couple of hives and I can see him hop-footing it across the lawn, thinking he had a bee up his pant leg. As I began to develop Ulee, I used a lot of the way my father was to us as kids, the way he was to us as a family and the way he was to himself.||”|
Andrew Johnston wrote in Time Out New York: "The plot poses ample opportunities for cliches, all of which Nunez deftly avoids. The characters are wonderfully drawn and bring out the best in the actors —the taciturn Fonda often seems to be channeling his father, and Richardson proves she’s too talented to be wasting her time on Home Improvement".
- "Review: 'Ulee's Gold' outshines blockbuster pack". CNN.
- "Making of" pamphlet accompanying the DVD release
- Ulee's Gold - L.L. Lanier and Son's Tupelo Honey - Wewahitchka, Florida
- "Filming locations for Ulee's Gold". IMDb. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
- "Rotten Tomatoes". Retrieved 2010-09-08.
- Johnston, Andrew (June 12, 1997). "Lee's Gold". Time Out New York.