Splash is a 1984 fantasy romantic comedy film directed by Ron Howard and written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The original music score was composed by Lee Holdridge. It was the very first film released by Disney's Touchstone Films (now known as Touchstone Pictures).
As a boy, Allen Bauer, who does not know how to swim, leaps into the water off Cape Cod after something only he can see. He is rescued from drowning by a young mermaid, and an instant connection forms between them. When his parents retrieve him, no one sees her, who weeps at the loss of her new friend before departing. Allen comes to believe the encounter was a near-death hallucination, but his bond with her proves so strong that his subsequent relationships with women invariably fail as he subconsciously seeks the connection he felt with her.
Years later, now co-owner with his womanizing brother, Freddie, of a wholesale fruit and vegetable business in New York City, Allen, depressed after his latest breakup, returns to Cape Cod, where he briefly encounters eccentric scientist Dr. Walter Kornbluth, and again falls into the sea. He wakes up on a beach where he encounters a beautiful nude woman who, unknown to him, is the mermaid he met as a boy (she is wearing the same necklace she wore as a girl). He instantly becomes attracted to her, as she again saves him from drowning. But after kissing him, she dives into the sea and leaves Allen to return home. Kornbluth, while diving seeking proof of strange sea creatures, also encounters her in her mermaid form, whom he becomes obsessed with finding again.
The mermaid finds Allen's wallet that he dropped in the water and decides to find him. (In one scene that was deleted, she meets with a sea hag who tells her that she can only stay from the sea for six days, but she has to wet her tail every day, which explains the bathtub scene later in the film. It instead clarifies that mermaids become human after they have been dry long enough but return to mermaid form if their bodies are soaked with water.) She comes ashore at Liberty Island nude, where she is arrested for indecent exposure.
The crowd boos at the cops for arresting a beautiful woman just because she is nude. Garnering information from Allen's wallet (which she still carries), the cops call Bauer, who races to the police station. She gets released in Allen's care. After a series of comedic events where they are unable to control their urges, she goes out to buy some clothes at Bloomingdale's. She later picks up English from watching television all day there. Needing a name, Allen lists some choices as they walk. While doing so when on Madison Avenue, he asks himself aloud "Where are we, Madison?" which she picks as her name.
Allen quickly falls in love with Madison, not realizing she is the mermaid he has subconsciously sought a reunion with all his adult life. While she requites his love, he finds it hard to understand her unusual behavior (for example, eating an entire lobster, shell and all, at a White House dinner) and has trouble accepting that this relationship might go well. Meanwhile, Kornbluth, realizing that the nude woman at Liberty Island was the mermaid he had encountered, pursues them, although neither realize it at first.
When Kornbluth finally proves Madison is a mermaid by dumping water on her and turning her legs back into a tail, she is taken in by government scientists for examination. At first jubilant at having proven his belief that mermaids exist, Kornbluth, who had only wanted people to stop thinking he was insane, deeply regrets his actions when Madison is studied like a laboratory specimen and slated for dissection. Meanwhile, Allen, stunned by the revelation, lapses into mortification at having fallen in love with a "fish." "People fall in love every day," he bemoans, "and look what I got." But Freddie finally sets aside the lascivious humor that has typified him throughout the movie to break through Allen's self-absorption: "People fall in love every day, is that what you said? Yeah? Well, that's a crock. It doesn't work that way." Freddie angrily berates Allen for giving up on Madison, with whom he has seen his brother so happy over the past few days. "A lot of people will never be that happy!" Freddie declares. "I'll never be that happy!" Realizing Madison's situation is more important than his mixed emotions, Allen calls various government officials, but no one will arrange for her freedom or even tell him where she is being held.
Desperate, Allen confronts the guilt-ridden Kornbluth, who still has clearance to the lab where Madison is imprisoned. Impersonating two Swedish scientists, the brothers enter the lab with Kornbluth, then Allen and Kornbluth emerge with a figure concealed in blankets, claiming it to be the scientist impersonated by Freddie, who was attacked by "the creature," who is now too dangerous to approach; the panicking security guard closes off the lab until the head scientist arrives to receive a cheerful greeting from Freddie, who had remained in the lab while Allen and Kornbluth smuggled Madison outside in the blankets. After a pursuit through the streets of the city, she jumps back into the ocean. When she reveals that Allen can survive under water as long as he is with her, Allen realizes she was the young mermaid he had met so long before, and although she warns him that if he comes to live in the sea "(he) can't go back," he jumps into the water after her and they elude their pursuers. Together they swim along the ocean floor toward what appears to be an underwater kingdom.
- Tom Hanks as Allen Bauer
- Daryl Hannah as Madison
- John Candy as Freddie Bauer
- Eugene Levy as Dr. Walter Kornbluth
- Dody Goodman as Mrs. Stimler
- Richard B. Shull as Dr. Ross
- Shecky Greene as Mr. Buyrite
- Bobby Di Cicco as Jerry
- Howard Morris as Dr. Zidell
- Patrick Cronin as Michaelson
- Jeff Doucette as Junior
- Royce D. Applegate as Buckwalter
- Tony Longo as Augie
- Nora Denney as Mrs. Stein
- Joe Grifasi as Manny
- Rance Howard as McCullough
- Lowell Ganz as Stan, the Tour Guide
- Babaloo Mandel as Rudy
- Clint Howard as Wedding Guest
- Lee Delano as Sergeant Leleandowski
- Migdia Chinea Varela as Wanda
- Eileen Saki as Dr. Fujimoto
- Jodi Long as Reporter
- Bill Smitrovich as Ralph Bauer
Screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel both make cameo appearances in the film. Ganz plays Stan, the tour guide, in the scene set at the Statue of Liberty. Mandel plays the man in charge of ice skate rentals who tackles Tom Hanks' character when he tries to run out with his skates still on. Ron Howard's father, actor Rance Howard, can be seen early in the film, screaming at Hanks' character about "his cherries." Howard's brother, Clint Howard, can be seen as a wedding guest, identified by Candy's character as the bride's brother and yelled at by Hanks.
According to the documentary on the Splash: 20th Anniversary Edition DVD in 2004, producer Brian Grazer had pitched the film to numerous studios but was turned down repeatedly until The Walt Disney Company, then headed by Ron Miller, agreed to produce the film. An issue at the time of production was the competition between Splash and another announced mermaid film that had lined up Warren Beatty as its star. Director Ron Howard promised the studio that Splash would be filmed quicker and cheaper than the other film, which eventually fell through.
Many big name Hollywood stars were considered for the male lead such as Jeff Bridges, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Bill Murray, Christopher Reeve, Mickey Rourke, and John Travolta before going to the relative lesser known at the time Tom Hanks.
The film's content (including some language and brief nudity), which was deemed inappropriate for a Disney film at the time, led to the creation of the Touchstone Pictures label, which would release films targeted towards older audiences, in contrast to the more family-friendly Walt Disney Pictures banner. Splash was the first film to be released by the new label.
The mermaid tail which Daryl Hannah wore was manufactured by Robert Short Productions. It is fully functional: Hannah swam with the mermaid tail so fast that her safety team could not keep pace with her. According to the DVD documentary, Hannah had been swimming "mermaid" style with her legs bound together since she was a child, due to her fascination with Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid story.
However, by the standards of swimmable mermaid tails, the exceptionally-detailed film tail was difficult to remove. For the sake of efficiency, Hannah at first kept it on while the cast had lunch. In the documentary contained on the Splash! DVD, Tom Hanks recalled how the other cast members would drop French fries over the side to her as though she were a trained sea mammal, for she couldn't leave the water while her legs were "shrink-wrapped."
The movie was a huge success: made with a USD $8 million budget, the movie grossed $6,174,059 on its opening weekend and ended up grossing $69,821,334 in the U.S. alone. The movie was well received by critics and is considered by many as one of the best films of 1984. It earned a 92% "Fresh" rating from the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. However, the audience panned it with just 52% liking it on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.2 IMDb rating.
- Saturn Award for Best Actress - Daryl Hannah
- National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay - Bruce Jay Friedman, Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel
- Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Screenplay - Bruce Jay Friedman, Lowell Ganz, Brian Grazer, Babaloo Mandel
- Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
- Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay - Bruce Jay Friedman, Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel
- Saturn Award for Best Direction - Ron Howard
- Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film
- Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor - John Candy
- Saturn Award for Best Make-Up - Robert J. Schiffer
- Young Artist Award for Best Family Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
An official fourteen track soundtrack for the film was released on both Vinyl LP and Cassette in the UK by Cherry Lane Records Ltd in 1984. Both have been out of print for many years. The catalogue numbers for these releases were PIPLP 710 and ZCPIP 710 respectively. In 2000 the soundtrack was released on a twenty six track CD in the U.S. by Super Tracks Music Group. The back cover states that this product is "For Promotional Use Only" and that it has been "Manufactured for the composer...". Although this release is very hard to find brand new and may in fact be out of print, it is still obtainable from certain movie soundtrack specialist retailers and also occasionally used from certain online stores. This CD has every track that the LP and cassette have but has a considerably longer running length due to the twelve extra tracks. These extra tracks include more of the original music from the film, the theme song (by Lee Holdridge and Will Jennings) sung by Rita Coolidge and alternate versions of some of the tracks which appear on the LP and Cassette. The catalogue number for this release is LH CD - 02.
Cherry Lane album track listing
- Love Came For Me (Love Theme) (2:34)
- Madison In Bloomingdale's (1:37)
- Mermaid On the Beach (2:32)
- Underwater (2:20)
- Reflection (1:03)
- Rainy Night (2:40)
- Face To Face (1:25)
- Escape And Chase (2:54)
- Madison And Allen (3:04)
- Moonlit Night (2:56)
- Daydream (:55)
- Raid On A Museum (:50)
- The Leap To Freedom (3:35)
- Return Home (1:23)
Super Tracks album track listing
- Main Title (1:51)
- First Meeting (1:33)
- The Boat/Mermaid On The Beach (2:34)
- Underwater - Version #1 (1:29)
- Underwater - Version #2 (1:25)
- Daydream (:57)
- Madison At Bloomingdale's (1:09)
- In The Bar (2:12)
- Late At Night (2:35)
- Watching TV (1:24)
- "I Love You" (1:41)
- Rainy Night (2:38)
- All Wet (1:07)
- Sneak Attack (1:03)
- Raid On A Museum (:43)
- Reunion (1:21)
- Escape And Chase (2:55)
- The Leap For Freedom (2:20)
- Return Home (2:14)
- Love Came To Me (Love Theme) - Rita Coolidge (4:30)
- End Title (3:07)
- Rainy Night - Version #2 (2:37)
- Escape And Chase - Film Version (2:54)
- The Leap For Freedom - Film Version (2:20)
- Love Came For Me - Solo Sax Version (2:36)
- Love Came For Me - Solo Guitar Version (3:48)
- Main article: Splash, Too
- Box office / business for Splash from IMDb