Big NightBig Night
Theatrical release poster Directed by Campbell Scott
Stanley TucciProduced by Jonathan Filley Written by Joseph Tropiano
Stanley Tucci Starring Marc Anthony
Ken CheesemanMusic by Gary DeMichele
Louis PrimaRelease date(s) January 24, 1996(Sundance Film Festival) Running time 107 min Country United StatesLanguage EnglishIMDb profile
- For the 1951 American film, see The Big Night.
Big Night is a 1996 American motion picture drama with comedic overtones directed by Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci. Produced by Jonathan Filley for the Samuel Goldwyn Company, the film met with much critical acclaim both in the United States and internationally. It was nominated for the "Grand Jury Prize" at the Sundance Film Festival and the "Grand Special Prize" at the Deauville Film Festival.
Scott and Tucci won the New York Film Critics Circle Award and the Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best New Director. Tucci and Tropiano won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.
The film, set in the 1950s, tells the story of two immigrant brothers from Italy who own and operate a restaurant called "Paradise." One brother, Primo (Tony Shalhoub), is a brilliant, perfectionist chef who chafes under their few customers' expectations of "traditional" Italian food. Their uncle's offer to return to Rome to help with his restaurant is becoming more and more appealing to Primo. The other brother, Secondo (Tucci), is the restaurant's manager, who is enamored with the possibilities presented by their new endeavor and life in America. Despite Secondo's efforts and Primo's magnificent food, their restaurant is failing.
Secondo is unable to commit to his girlfriend Phyllis (Minnie Driver) as he has recently been sleeping with Gabriella (Isabella Rossellini), the wife of a competitor. Her husband's self-named restaurant, Pascal's (Ian Holm), has enjoyed great success despite (or perhaps due to) the mediocre, uninspired food served there. Desperate to keep Paradise afloat, Secondo asks Pascal for a loan. In an apparent display of generosity, Pascal instead insists that he will persuade Louis Prima to dine at Paradise when he comes to town; the celebrity's patronage should revitalize the brothers' business. Primo and Secondo plunge themselves into preparations for this "big night", inviting dozens of people to dine for free and spending what little they still have on planning a magnificent, extraordinary feast. Primo pours his heart into each dish, lavishing care and attention on the cooking.
As they wait for Prima and his entourage to arrive, the crowd indulges in the exquisite food and partakes in a fabulous celebration. Hours pass, however, and it becomes apparent that the famous trumpeter is not coming. In the wee hours of the morning, the attendees begin to file homewards; Pascal admits that he set Secondo up for failure; not as revenge for his affair with Gabriella but to eliminate the small competition they provided. Utterly bankrupted, the brothers will now have to either return to Italy or work for Pascal.
Phyllis catches Secundo and Gabriella kissing and runs away to a beach where she has a final quarrel with Secundo. Primo, who had been unaware of Pascal's "help", explodes with rage, storming out into the night and onto the beach where he and Secundo have a blistering argument. The film closes with an uninterrupted, nearly wordless long take: as dawn breaks, Secondo silently cooks an omelette. When it is done, he divides it among three plates, giving one to Cristiano (Marc Anthony), their waiter, and eating one himself. Primo hesitantly enters, visibly ashamed of his outburst; Secondo hands him the last plate and lays his arm across his brother's shoulder as they eat without speaking.
- Tony Shalhoub : Primo
- Stanley Tucci : Secondo
- Marc Anthony : Cristiano
- Larry Block : Man in Restaurant
- Caroline Aaron : Woman in Restaurant
- Andre Belgrader : Stash
- Minnie Driver : Phyllis
- Peter McRobbie : Loan Officer
- Isabella Rossellini : Gabriella
- Liev Schreiber : Leo
- Pasquale Cajano : Alberto N. Pisani
- Christine Tucci : Woman Singer
- Gene Canfield : Charlie
- Ian Holm : Pascal
- Allison Janney : Ann
The outside shots of the "Paradise" restaurant were filmed in the small town of Keyport, New Jersey.
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