EW Staff
November 16, 1999 AT 05:00 AM EST

Agnes Browne

Current Status
In Season
92 minutes
Anjelica Huston, Marion Monks
Anjelica Huston
John Goldsmith
Drama, Comedy

We gave it a B

All through production around Dublin, they called it ”The Mammy,” since that’s the title of Brendan O’Carroll’s best-selling 1999 novel — an episodic tale of an Irish widow tending seven kids — that forms the basis of the film. ”In Ireland, mammy just means ‘mother,”’ Huston explains.

But she knew she had a problem with the title after her film editor flew to New York with rough-cut reels and got dirty looks from airport personnel who saw the labels. From then on, ”it was unanimous that ‘The Mammy’ was not going to go over as a title in America,” she recalls. ”People thought it was the new ”Jolson Story” or something.”

The titular switch was a minor hiccup compared with Huston’s panic when Rosie O’Donnell, tentatively set for the lead role of Agnes, pulled out a few weeks before preproduction. Meryl Streep was already signed for the Irish drama ”Dancing at Lughnasa,” so Huston agreed to star herself.

The casting suited Irish stage actress O’Dwyer, who plays Agnes’ best friend, just fine. ”When I first read for Anjelica, people asked, ‘Can I touch you?’ She’s got quite the grand reputation over here.” So does Welsh-born Tom Jones, who appears as himself and performs a concert-scene finale (it’s Agnes’ dream to see him) in circa-1967 garb. ”He did a whole added show just for the extras,” says O’Dwyer, who brought along her own mother and ”never saw her bop so much in my life.” BUZZ FACTOR: 3

You May Like