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Theatre / Driving Miss Daisy

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"An old nigger and an old Jew woman takin' off down the road together. That is one sorry sight."

Daisy Werthan: Hoke?
Hoke Colburn: Yes'm?
Daisy Werthan: You're my best friend.
Hoke Colburn: Oh, go on Miss Daisy...
Daisy Werthan: No, really. You are... you are.
Hoke Colburn: Yes'm.

Driving Miss Daisy is a 1987 play by Alfred Uhry, later adapted for the screen by its playwright and director Bruce Beresford, into a 1989 comedy-drama film and 1989's Best Picture Academy Award winner. The film also made Jessica Tandy, age 80, the oldest winner of the Best Actress Oscar.

This play chronicles 25 years in the life of an elderly Jewish widow named Daisy Werthan, and her Black chauffeur, Hoke Colburn. He's hired by her son, Boolie, when she can no longer drive herself. At first, Ms. Daisy objects to the changes in her life. But eventually, the two transcend their differences to become lifelong friends. The play was based on real people: Uhry's grandmother and her retainer.

This movie is not exceptionally well remembered today. Indeed, lots of people only know about it due to being one of the earlier lead roles of Morgan Freeman and for the controversy of it winning when Do the Right Thing wasn't even nominated (both films being about race relations, but from very different perspectives). And sometimes for being called "bullshit" in Public Enemy's "Burn Hollywood Burn".


It was revived on Broadway in 2010 with James Earl Jones as Hoke and Vanessa Redgrave as Miss Daisy. When the production transferred to Australia, Angela Lansbury took on the role of Miss Daisy and it was later filmed for PBS' headline arts program Great Performances.

This work features examples of:

  • Call-Back: In the beginning of the film Hoke describes how there's a nice patch of dirt in the backyard that he could turn into a vegetable garden, Daisy refuses and demands that he stop messing with her things. Near the end of the film (15-20 years later) they're seen working on a beautiful vegetable garden in her backyard.
  • Catchphrase: Daisy's "Highway robbery!"
  • Deadpan Snarker: Miss Daisy.
  • Deep South: Atlanta Georgia to be specific.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Daisy was really cold to Hoke at first, forbidding him from doing much anything. Through the movie, she grew fond of him.
  • Advertisement:
  • Dramatic Drop: Idella drops a bowl of peas when she dies..
  • Ethnic Menial Labor: Idella and Hoke, being a maid and a chauffeur.
  • Flanderization: Not the movie itself, but you can bet that when someone parodies this movie, it will be a Shallow Parody with Hoke done in an over-the-top minstrel style.
  • Grande Dame: Daisy appears to begin the movie as a cynical version of this trope and move over towards the idealistic by the end.
  • Greedy Jew: Lampshaded by Daisy as she hates being reminded how wealthy she is by anyone, however, her real issue is that her son is wealthy, and by extension, so is she.
  • Informed Judaism: Neither Daisy nor Boolie advertise their Jewishness very much, beyond Daisy's cynical "all these Christians giving their money to Georgia Power" comment on ostentatious Christmas lights displays.
    • Boolie states he can't attend Martin Luther King's speech because his racist fellow businessmen would start dealing with New York Jews instead of a Georgia Jew like him.
    • Insistent Terminology: The gift she gives Hoke (to help him learn to read) is not a Christmas gift, because as a Jew, she can't give them. Even though it's December 25.
  • Minimalist Cast: The play only has three characters seen on stage — Miss Daisy, Hoke, and Boolie. The film obviously subverts this.
  • Odd Friendship: As lampshaded by the picture's quote.
  • Old Retainer: Hoke and previously Idella.
  • Oscar Bait: Obvious attempt, and succeeded (won Best Picture.) Trying to get anyone to remember the movie in a serious context is surprisingly difficult, however.
  • Racist Grandma: Subverted. See Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior! below.
  • Rule of Three: Boolie.
    Boolie: "Goodbyeeee...!"
    *car drives away*
    Boolie: "Good luuuck...!"
    Boolie: *silently* "Good God."
  • Sanity Slippage: Poor Daisy, when she starts to suffer from dementia.
  • Scare Chord: GASP An empty tin of salmon!
  • Secretly Wealthy: Miss Daisy wishes and tries to act like this, she does not succeed. To be fair, she is not rich, her son is, and she doesn't want nor need his money.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior! Miss Daisy, and to some extent also Hoke. Surprisingly enough, Miss Daisy is not overtly racist nor is her son but she did despise Hoke at the beginning, for patronizing her (to her son, too) and especially because Boolie hired him, as she's fiercely independent.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: Inverted. Hoke feeding Daisy the Thanksgiving pie closed the play, signifying their long-lasting friendship.
  • Time Skip: As the play and film took place over a couple decades, this happened quite often. The film ends in the early 70's, as evidenced by a jogger and an early 70's car passing by.
  • Verbing Nouny: The name follows this naming scheme. Driving Miss Daisy
  • With Due Respect: Much of Hoke's discussion with Daisy is based on this.


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