LGTTM – Six Days, Seven Nights (1998)


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SIX DAYS, SEVEN NIGHTS (1998)          

This adventure/romance film has become one of my all-time favourites in the genre. It has a funny script, exotic locations, and a cast that perform well and appear to enjoy a rapport that comes across convincingly on the screen. However, details surrounding casting resulted in a unique scenario that played out rather differently. It was originally intended to make the female lead (Anne Heche), a virtually unknown actress, into the ‘It’ girl of the period. That all changed in the same week she was cast (although not yet signed by Touchstone Pictures), after she went from ‘virtually unknown’ to one of the most talked about actresses in America. Why? A few days earlier she had met Ellen DeGeneres, arguably the most famous lesbian on the planet, and had made a red-carpet appearance on her arm! As director Ivan Reitman commented: ‘We hired a relatively ‘unknown’ and now she’s one of the most famous women in America.’

Was Ellen DeGeneres controlling with Anne Heche when they dated? – Film Daily

Anne Heche & Ellen DeGeneres

In an instant it became apparent to studio heads that any attempt to sell Anne as the next heterosexual sex symbol in American movies would pretty much be a waste of a sizeable investment. Touchstone immediately fired her from the picture. Only Harrison Ford’s intervention (with his considerable ‘clout’) saw her re-instated as the female lead. Prior to this chain of events, Ford had already chosen her over a list of other prominent candidates for the Robin Monroe role; a list that included the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan and Uma Thurman. Notable actresses Elizabeth Hurley, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Cameron Diaz, Minnie Driver and Melanie Griffith had also been considered yet fallen by the wayside.

Anyway, Anne went ahead and played the role and (in this writer’s opinion) was terrific in it. Unfortunately for her, however, studio executives decided that cinema audiences would never accept her as a bona fide leading lady attracted to her male co-stars, and she has never been given the lead in a movie since Six Days, Seven Nights. Return to Paradise was released immediately after this and was already in post-production. Australian actress Margot Robbie stated on The Graham Norton Show that Six Days, Seven Nights was her all-time favourite Harrison Ford film. I tend to agree with her, and Anne’s very funny performance in it forms the basis for that view. While promoting Return to Paradise on ‘Entertainment Tonight’, she was asked if rumoured reports that she had been romantically involved with co-star Vince Vaughn while making the picture overseas were true. She was currently living an openly gay life with Ms. DeGeneres and felt insulted by the question. She cut short the interview and left with the tape.

It would be fair to say that sexual issues have lain at the root of Anne’s psychological problems for much of her life. ‘I think my father was a sexual addict’, she has since said. ‘I think he saw everybody as a sexual being. But I think [at the time he contracted AIDS] he was living a very flamboyant homosexual lifestyle. You know, at that time there were bath houses where the whole trick was how many can you do a night. You know, there was no question of what he was doing at that time. He was in complete denial until the day he died. We know he got it from his gay relationships. Absolutely. I don’t think it was just one. He was a very promiscuous man, and we knew his lifestyle then.’

And it was her father who sexually assaulted Anne in her youth. ‘I told my mother, at about the seventh year of therapy, that I had been abused sexually by my father, and she hung up the phone on me. To have gone through so much work to heal myself, and have my mother not acknowledge in any way that she was sorry for what had happened to me, broke my heart. And in that moment I think I split off from myself. So Anne, this girl who had just confronted her mother, shrunk, and out came Celestia…’

Celestia was the name the troubled Anne gave to her second identity. ‘What could I do when I was Celestia?’, she asked rhetorically, ‘ I spoke a different language. I spoke a different language that God and I spoke together. I could, you name it, I could do it. I could see into the future. I could heal people… I think everything I have done in all my insanity was to try to get my parents to love me. My father loved movie stars. I decided I needed to become famous to get his love. My mother loved Jesus. That was her thing. So I wanted to become Jesus Christ.’ Anne’s meltdown was inevitable and it took place in Fresno. ‘I was told to go to a place where I would meet a spaceship. I was told that, in order to get on the spaceship, I would have to take a hit of ‘ecstasy’… I did go to a house. I did ask people to join me. I did go to the hospital… I believed I was from another planet. I think I was insane.’ Since those days Anne has split with Ellen, been married and divorced by one man and given birth to two children, one by her husband and the other via another relationship. ‘I would never limit myself to saying I would be with a man or a woman’, she hastens to add.

It may be of interest to note that Harrison Ford is a licensed pilot, owns a De Havilland Beaver, and actually flew the one used in the movie. He first had to be certified by the film studio’s insurance company to allow him to, not only fly the machine himself, but to also fly it with cast members in the plane. The same aircraft, incidentally, was used in the production of The Edge, released a year earlier. Both screenplays required the aircraft to crash during the picture. Ford, incidentally, was fifty-five years old when Six Days, Seven Nights was released in 1998. Indeed, he was thirty-five when he played Han Solo in Star Wars back in 1977, the role that rocketed him to stardom. That just happened to be the very first film that Anne Heche ever saw in her life. She was eight years old at the time!

Six Days Seven Nights (1998)

David Schwimmer & Jacqueline Obradors

David Schwimmer, in the middle of his run as Ross Geller in TV’s hot series Friends, portrays Robin’s fiancée here. He has a couple of humorous moments but the picture belongs entirely to Ford and Heche. Even the stunning Jacqueline Obradors fails to snatch the focus from the two leads. Jackie’s parents are both Argentine, but she was born in California. In 2001 she would go on to play Detective Rita Ortiz for four seasons on NYPD Blue. This movie has a number of editing and story-line issues, the most obvious of these being found in the scene involving Quinn’s discovery of a Japanese WW2 float-plane wrecked in a tree. He awakens Robin as he saws off the floats with a brand new hacksaw! Where did it come from? He certainly did not bring it with him, and it could not have come from within the aircraft, for it had been in the jungle for over forty years! The blade of any hacksaw exposed to the elements for four decades would have long since rusted through. Later, they attach the floats to their aircraft. Using an extraordinary amount of rope (where did it all come from), and with Robin exhibiting more knot-tying skills than a lorry-driver (despite her history of working for a women’s magazine in NYC). Later still, with no piloting experience whatsoever, she will fly, then crash-land the plane in the water near their island resort! Uh-huh.

Blunders and casting issues aside, Six Days, Seven Nights is a fun movie, light and easy on the eye. We even get a brief glimpse of singer Taj Mahal singing one of his hits early in the picture. Budget for the film ran at $70 million. Overall it grossed over $164 million worldwide, doubtless due in no small amount, to the drawing power of Harrison Ford.

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