For this week’s “Things That Bring Back Memories” post, I am going to pick something in the topic of “MOVIES” and go with Batteries Not Included. This movie was released in 1987, and is one that I look back on and kind of giggle. At the time, we thought that it was so interesting and futuristic. Now it seems like the things you see from the UFO hanging on a string from back in the day! The story was fun, and had a great cast that made you laugh and be excited. Definitely one that a lot of us remember.
If, for some reason, you are of an age that makes it difficult to remember Batteries Not Included movie, here’s the preview to the movie that we all saw before it came out on film:
Did you ever watch Batteries Not Included movie when you were younger? or have you seen it on TV or Netflix later in life? Let me know what you thought of it, and if you have any memories of it in your life!
More Info on the Movie:
Batteries Not Included (styled *batteries not included) is a 1987 family-comic science fiction film directed by Matthew Robbins about small extraterrestrial living space ships that save an apartment block under threat from property development. The story was originally intended to be featured in the TV series Amazing Stories, but executive producer Steven Spielberg liked the idea so much that he decided to make it a theatrical release. It is also notable for being the feature film screenwriting debut of Brad Bird, who was one of the writers and producers of the movie.
Many of the film’s foreign releases (including at least Swedish, Finnish, Hexagonal French, German, Italian, Portuguese, American Spanish, and Japanese) used the title Miracle on 8th Street.
Frank and Faye Riley (Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy), an elderly couple who run an apartment building and café in the run-down East Village neighborhood, come under threat by a nearby property development. The development manager, Lacey sends a hoodlum named Carlos and his gang of thugs to bribe the couple and their tenants to move out. When the tenants resist, Carlos and his thugs punch through artist Mason Baylor’s (Dennis Boutsikaris) door, intimidate pregnant single mother Marisa Esteval (Elizabeth Peña) and break retired boxer Harry Knoble’s (Frank McRae) jar of tiles. After Frank Riley refuses to move, Carlos vandalizes the café.
This assault does get 3 of the tenants to move out. Mason’s girlfriend, Pamela is tired of living in an old, depressing building with a guy whose art career is going nowhere. She dumps Mason, packs up and before leaving, advises Mason to quit being an artist and get a steady job. The Rileys’ friends, Muriel and Sid Hogensin take Lacey’s bribe and decide to move to a nice retirement home in New Jersey. Frank feels a little betrayed by the Hogensins for taking Lacey’s bribe but they explain that the building and the area it’s in just doesn’t feel like home anymore. They advise Frank that maybe he and Faye should do the same and come live with them at the retirement home. With the assault and Faye’s dementia growing, Frank contemplates giving in.
Things look bleak until the appearance of a pair of small living space ships descend into the Rileys’ apartment that evening, repairing many of the items that were broken. They have the ability to repair anything that’s broken in a matter of seconds and even making it look brand new. Apparently, when they repair something, they don’t repair just recent damage, but “all” of the damage. They even repair the vandalized cafe, putting Frank and Faye back in business. The two extraterrestrials take up residence in the shed at the top of the apartment building, and are dubbed “The Fix-Its” by the residents of the building. Carlos comes back to threaten the tenants once again, but the Fix-Its lure him to the top of the building and into the shed where they scare him away.
Faye and Marisa learn that the “female” Fix-It is pregnant. After consuming plenty of metal and electrical objects, it gives birth to three baby Fix-Its, although one of them is stillborn. Faye buries the stillborn in a flowerpot the next day, but then Harry digs it up, takes it back to his apartment, and succeeds in reviving it by taking apart his precious television set. Frank and Faye see a boost of business in the café from the demolition crew, while the Fix-Its help in the kitchen.
Mason and Marisa grow closer. Marisa finds Mason’s paintings very nice, which makes Mason feel better about his artwork and not to give up on it. Marisa’s baby is due in 2 or 3 months. Her boyfriend, Hector who is a traveling musician and also the father of her baby comes over. Mason leaves Marisa and Hector alone but when Mason returns, Hector is gone. Marisa explains that Hector and his band have found a steady gig in Chicago with good pay. Mason wonders why Hector would leave without her. Marisa confesses that she told Hector to go without her because their relationship just wasn’t working out. But it also appears she has developed feelings for Mason. Mason has developed feelings for her as well.
With Carlos unable to prove the existence of the Fix-Its that had been foiling their plans, Lacey, the development manager, is furious with the delays in evicting the tenants and moves to replace him. Desperate to see the job done and growing more unstable, Carlos breaks into the building’s basement to sabotage the building’s pipework and electricity, and badly damages the “father” machine in the process. After Harry throws him out, the tenants discover the Fix-It children are missing and go searching for them in the city while Faye stays behind with the “mother” machine as it fixes the “father”. When the “father” machine is repaired, the now-wary Fix-It parents leave to seek out their offspring. After finding them with Harry, the machine family departs from the planet.
Tired of the delays, Lacey’s subordinate Kovacs sends a professional arsonist to burn down the building in a staged “accidental fire”. Carlos discovers the plan and in a rage sabotages the arson to make the entire building explode, only to then discover that Faye is still in the building. While the arsonist flees, Carlos unsuccessfully attempts to pose as her late son Bobby to get her to leave, but succeeds in rescuing her as the fire spreads. The tenants then return to find the blazing apartment block collapsing, and Faye being loaded into an ambulance.
By the next morning, the apartment block has been reduced to a smoldering wreck. To Kovacs’ fury, construction is still unable to continue as Harry, sitting dejected on the steps, refuses to leave. Harry is then greeted by the mechanical family later that night, who have recruited countless other Fix-Its for repairs. By the next morning the entire building has been seamlessly restored to brand new condition, forever ending Lacey’s demolition plans and resulting in his termination of Kovacs. Mason and Marisa settle into a relationship, while Carlos ironically tries to start a friendship with the Rileys, with Faye finally having come to accept her real son’s passing. The story then rolls on to an undisclosed period some years later in the future, revealing that skyscraper developments have eventually been built, but this time flanking either side of the tiny apartment building, with Frank’s café now doing a roaring trade as a result of the new employment brought into the area.
Some of the Characters:
Hume Cronyn (Frank Riley) was born on July 18, 1911, and passed away June 15, 2003. He was a Canadian-American actor of stage and screen, who enjoyed a long career, often appearing professionally alongside Jessica Tandy, his wife for over fifty years. Cronyn, one of five children, was born in London, Ontario, Canada. His father, Hume Blake Cronyn, Sr., was a businessman and a Member of Parliament for London. His mother, Frances Amelia, was an heiress of the brewing company of the same name. Cronyn was also a cousin of Canadian-born theater producer, Robert Whitehead, and a first cousin of the Canadian-British artist Hugh Verschoyle Cronyn GM (1905–1996). His first Hollywood film was Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943). He later appeared in Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944) and worked on the screenplays of Rope (1948) and Under Capricorn (1949). He was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor for his performance in The Seventh Cross (1944) and won a Tony Award for his performance as Polonius opposite Richard Burton’s Hamlet (1964). Cronyn bought the screenplay What Nancy Wanted from Norma Barzman — later blacklisted with her husband Ben Barzman — with the idea of producing the film and starring Tandy. However, he sold the screenplay to RKO which later filmed it as The Locket (1946). Cronyn also made appearances in television, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode “Kill With Kindness” (1956) and Hawaii Five-O episodes “Over Fifty, Steal” (1970) and “Odd Man In” (1971). In 1990 he won an Emmy award for his role in the TV Movie Age Old Friends.
Jessica Tandy (Faye Riley) was born on June 7, 1909, and passed away on September 11, 1994. She was an English-American stage and film actress, who spent most of her 67-year career in the United States. She appeared in over 100 stage productions and had more than 60 roles in film and TV. Born in London to Jessie Helen Horspool, she was only 18 when she made her professional debut on the London stage in 1927. During the 1930’s, she appeared in a large number of plays in London’s West End, playing roles such as Ophelia and Katherine. During this period, she also worked in a couple of British films. Following the end of her marriage to the British actor Jack Hawkins, she moved to New York in 1940, where she met Canadian actor Hume Cronyn. He became her second husband and frequent partner on stage and screen. She received the Tony Award for best performance by a Leading Actress in A Play for her performance as Blanche Dubois in the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948. Tandy shared the prize with Katharine Cornell and Judith Anderson in a three-way tie for the award. Over the following three decades, her career continued sporadically and included a supporting role in Alfred Hitchcock’s horror film, The Birds (1963), and a Tony Award-winning performance in The Gin Game. Along with Cronyn, she was a member of the original acting company of the Guthrie Theater. In the mid-1980’s she had a career revival. She appeared with Cronyn in the Broadway production of Foxfire in 1983 and its television adaptation four years later, winning both a Tony Award and an Emmy Award for her portrayal of Annie Nations. During these years, she appeared in films such as Cocoon (1985), also with Cronyn. She became the oldest actress to receive the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Driving Miss Daisy (1989), for which she also won a BAFTA and a Golden Globe, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Fried Green Tomatoes (1991). At the height of her success, she was named as one of People’s “50 Most Beautiful People”. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1990, and continued working until shortly before her death.
Frank McRae (Harry Noble) was born on June 3, 1942, and is an African-American former NFL player, with plenty of height and built like an ox, has scored over 40 film appearances predominantly as tough thugs, authority figures or even successful comedy roles. McRae first came to attention playing a grinning jail inmate, “Reed Youngblood”, helping Warren Oates escape in Dillinger (1973), and then quickly notched up minor tough guy roles in several films including Hard Times (1975), F.I.S.T. (1978) and Big Wednesday (1978). However, not to be typecast as a brute, McRae turned in some light-hearted & comedic performances in National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), *batteries not included (1987) and as a foul-mouthed mechanic in the hilarious Used Cars (1980). Also turned in quite funny performances in Loaded Weapon 1 (1993), and as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s long-suffering police captain in Last Action Hero (1993).
Elizabeth Peña (Marisa Esteval) was born on September 23, 1959, and passed away on October 14, 2014. Elizabeth’s love for the arts came naturally, as her father was a well-known playwright, actor, director and novelist, so its not hard to understand that by the time she was 8, Cuban-American Elizabeth Pena already had designs to become an actress. Born in New Jersey, raised in New York, Elizabeth’s, and her sister, sister, Tania’s parents, Mario and Estella Margarita Peña, had opened off-Broadway’s Latin American Theatre Ensemble, and were more than encouraging. Elizabeth attended New York City’s High School of the Performing Arts, now the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, and found occasional work in repertory theatre and in television commercials. Her film debut in the independent Spanish-speaking feature, El Super (1979), and started her on a long line of independent and rebellious characters which showed plenty of independence. During the early 80s, she played everything – from a knife-threatening waitress to a disco queen, as she waited for her big break. The big break came in the 1990’s form of 2 hugely successful films of different genres; one was the hugely popular comedy, Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), co-starring Bette Midler, Richard Dreyfuss and Nick Nolte, in which she stole many scenes as the sultry, politically-minded maid, “Carmen”, who lusts for Nolte, and the other was the mystery, drama, Jacob’s Ladder (1990) This propelled her to move to Los Angeles, where she continued to spice up both the big and small screen, including the part of Ritchie Valens’ stepsister-in-law, in the well-received biopic, La Bamba (1987). Honors also came by Elizabeth’s way, when she received the “Independent Spirit” and “Bravo” awards for the film, Lone Star (1996), and the “ALMA Award” for Tortilla Soup (2001). On TV, Elizabeth never found the one series role which could showcase her abilities fully. Co-starring roles in Tough Cookies (1986), I Married Dora (1987) and Shannon’s Deal (1990) were short-lived. Elizabeth was married since 1994 married to Hans Rolla. The couple had 2 children; a son, Kælan, and a daughter, Fiona . She passed away in 2014, after a brief illness.
Dennis Boutsikaris (Mason Baylor) was born on December 21, 1952 in Newark, New Jersey. He is an actor, known for W. (2008), The Bourne Legacy (2012) and *batteries not included (1987). On Broadway Boutsikaris became the first American to play Mozart in Amadeus, and was directed by Laurence Olivier in Filumena. He was married to actress Deborah Hedwall, who later co-starred with him in the Off-Broadway production of Sight Unseen to great critical acclaim. They divorced in 2002. His film credits include leading roles in *batteries not included, The Dream Team, Crocodile Dundee II, Boys on the Side and In Dreams, among many others. His most recent indie films include Cherry Crush, The Education of Charlie Banks, and Calling it Quits for which he received the Best Actor Award at the Staten Island Film Festival and the Long island Film Festival. He is Paul Wolfowitz in Oliver Stone’s “W.” He plays Terrence Ward in The Bourne Legacy. On television he had the lead in the series Stat, The Jackie Thomas Show, and Misery Loves Company. He has been seen on Broadway in Bent, Filumena (directed by Sir Laurence Olivier), and Amadeus (as the first American to play Mozart) with Frank Langella. He was seen in the Delacorte Theatre’s production of Julius Caesar as Cassius. He was in the original New York productions of The Boys Next Door, A Picasso, and the revival of That Championship Season. In 2012 he co-starred in The Bourne Legacy, the fourth installment of the successful “Bourne” franchise. He is part of NBC’s State of Affairs, the TV series that marks the return to series television of Katherine Heigl. In 2012 he also made an appearance as Jack Quayle in the season 2 episode “Collateral Damage” of the CBS show Blue Bloods. In 2015 and 2016, he played the role of lawyer Rick Schweikart in the first and second seasons of the American series Better Call Saul.
Did You Know?
The black and white photos of Frank and Faye used in the opening credits, were real-life photos of Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, whom were married for decades.
When Carlos throws Frank Riley out his café and starts smashing it up, Frank gets up from the floor, then runs to the café window to look inside. You can see a boom mic reflected in the window.
The building that housed Hume Cronyn’s lunch counter was a unique old building that was the only one on the block. Twenty-five years earlier it was used for the Judy Holliday musical Bells Are Ringing (1960) with the block in the same condition.
In the scene where Harry is running through Downtown New York with the youngest baby flying saucer. If you look carefully in the background, you can a theater marquee of “The Fly”. The film was in production when “The Fly” was released on August 15, 1986.
When the two machines first appear in the Riley apartment, the toaster is plugged into different sockets. In the first shot, it’s in the bottom socket. In the second, the top socket.
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