Original Release: May 20, 2008 (France) and October 4, 2008 (US)
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Written by: J. Michael Straczynski
Produced by: Clint Eastwood, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Robert Lorenz
Running Time: 141 minutes
Box Office: $113,020,256 (Worldwide)
Los Angeles, 1928. A single mother returns from work to find her nine-year-old son gone. She calls the LAPD to initiate a search. Five months later, a boy is found in Illinois who fits the description; he says he's her son. To fanfare and photos, the LAPD reunite mother and son, but she insists he's not her boy. The cops dismiss her as either a liar or hysterical. When she joins a minister in his public criticism of the police, they in turn use government power to silence and intimidate her. Meanwhile, a cop goes to a dilapidated ranch to find a Canadian lad who's without legal status; the youth tells a grisly tale. There's redress for murder; is there redress for abuse of power?
Jeffrey Donovan (Captain J.J. Jones), Gattlin Griffith (Walter Collins), Jason Butler Harner (Gordon Northcott), Michelle Gunn (Sandy), Michael Kelly (Detective Lester Ybarra), John Malkovich (Rev. Gustav Briegleb), Colm Feore (Chief James E. Davis), Denis O'Hare (Dr. Jonathan Steele)
Filming Locations: (view all)
- Santa Fe Railroad Depot - 1170 W. 3rd Street, San Bernardino, CA, USA (Train Station)
- San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, CA, USA
- Vermont, USA
- Daniel Webster Elementary School - 2101 E. Washington Boulevard, Pasadena, CA, USA (Walter's school)
- San Dimas, California, USA
- New York Street, Backlot, Universal Studios - 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA, USA
- J. Michael Straczynski first learned of the story of Christine Collins from an unnamed source at Los Angeles City Hall. The source had stumbled across case files regarding the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders among other discarded documents scheduled for destruction. Straczynski took the files himself and became obsessed with the case, doing extensive research over the course of a year. He tried to make it into a television project, but never found a solid way to do that. Virtually every event depicted in the film appears as cited in legal documents, with dialogue often taken verbatim from court transcripts. Straczynski wrote his first draft of the screenplay in only eleven days.
- The title refers to a European folk legend. Supposedly, fairies, elves, trolls, or even the devil would occasionally steal young children from their cradles, and leave a false child - a "changeling" - in its place. The changeling would grow sick and die, or exhibit bad behavior as it grew up, while the real child would supposedly become the slave of those who took it, and would never be seen again by its parents. The "changeling" legend was sometimes used to explain infant deaths or disorders such as mental retardation or autism in children.
- Clint Eastwood agreed to direct the same afternoon he read the script.
- Based on the true story of the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, also known as the Wineville Chicken Murders.
- Both Hilary Swank and Reese Witherspoon lobbied for the role of Christine Collins. Clint Eastwood cast Angelina Jolie at the suggestion of Executive Producer Ron Howard, who noted that Jolie's "look" would fit best with the time period.
- Clint Eastwood said in the DVD extras that part of the reason why he cast Angelina Jolie is that she is a mother, so she knows what it would feel like if her one of her kids was kidnapped.
- The first cut ran 50 minutes longer. It includes two major scenes shot but removed. The first subplot is a long roof chase where Northcott eludes capture from the Mounties. Another major deleted sequence is where after Christine returns from the mental institution, Briegleb brings men to protect her as he believes that she is in danger from the LAPD.
- Ron Howard planned to direct the film himself, until scheduling conflicts dictated otherwise. He then decided to serve as a producer.
Christine Collins: I used to tell Walter, "Never start a fight... but always finish it." I didn't start this fight... but by God, I'm going to finish it.
Christine Collins: Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.
Christine Collins: He's not my son!
Capt. J.J. Jones: Why are you doing this, Mrs. Collins? Why are you doing this? You seem perfectly capable of taking care of the boy. Your job pays you enough to attend to his personal needs, so I don't understand why you're running away from your responsibilities as a mother.
Christine Collins: I am not running away from anything! Least of all my responsibilities! I am even taking care of that boy right now, because I am all he has! What worries me is that you have stopped looking for my son!
Capt. J.J. Jones: Why should we be looking for someone we've already found?
Christine Collins: Because you have not found him.
Christine Collins: He's not my son.
Capt. J.J. Jones: Mrs. Collins...
Christine Collins: No, I don't know why he's saying that he is, but he's not Walter and there's been a mistake.
Capt. J.J. Jones: I thought we agreed to give him time to adjust.
Christine Collins: He's three inches shorter; I measured him on the chart.
Capt. J.J. Jones: Well, maybe your measurements are off. Look, I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation for all of this.
Christine Collins: He's circumcised and Walter isn't.
Capt. J.J. Jones: Mrs. Collins, your son was missing for five months, for at least part of that time in the company of an unidentified drifter. Who knows what such a disturbed individual might have done. He could have had him circumcised. He could have...
Christine Collins: ...made him shorter?
Arthur Hutchins: Night, Mommy.
Christine Collins: Stop calling me that! I'm not your mother! I want my son back! Damn you!
Christine Collins: Reverend, I appreciate everything that you're doing and everything that you said, but I'm not on a mission. I just want my son home.
Dr. Jonathan Steele: According to your file, you believe that the police substituted a fake boy for your son.
Christine Collins: No, I didn't say he was a fake boy. He's not *my* boy. They brought home the wrong boy. My son is still missing.
Christine Collins: Walter, honey. Time to wake up.
Walter Collins: Just ten more minutes...
Christine Collins: Sorry, sport. You can sleep in tomorrow, that's what Saturdays are for.
Christine Collins: I'm perfectly sane and i will explain that to them.
Carol Dexter: How? The more you try to act sane, the crazier you start to look. If you smile too much, you are delusional or you are stifling hysteria. If you don't smile you are depressed. If you remain neutral you are emotionally withdrawn, potentially catatonic.
Christine Collins: Three boys made a run for it that night, detective, and if one got out, then maybe either or both of the other two did too. Maybe Walter's out there having the same fears that he did. Afraid to come home and identify himself, or afraid to get in trouble. But either way, it gives me something I didn't have before today.
Detective Lester Ybarra: What's that?
Christine Collins: Hope.
Academy Awards - Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role - Angelina Jolie
Golden Globes - Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama - Angelina Jolie
Golden Globes -Best Original Score - Motion Picture - Clint Eastwood
BAFTA Awards - Best Leading Actress - Angelina Jolie
BAFTA Awards - Best Director - Clint Eastwood
Screen Actors Guild Awards - Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role - Angelina Jolie
AARP Movies for Grownups Awards - Movies for Grownups Award Best Screenwriter - J. Michael Straczynski
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films - Best Actress - Angelina Jolie
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films - Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films - Best Director - Clint Eastwood
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films - Best Writing - J. Michael Straczynski
African-American Film Critics Association - Best Actress - Angelina Jolie
Art Directors Guild - Period Film
Awards of the Japanese Academy - Best Foreign Film
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards - Best Picture
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards - Best Actress - Angelina Jolie
Cannes Film Festival - Palme d'Or - Clint Eastwood
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards - Best Actress - Angelina Jolie
CinEuphoria Awards - Top Ten of the Year - International Competition Clint Eastwood
Crime Thriller Awards - Best Film
Empire Awards - Best Actress - Angelina Jolie
Empire Awards - Best Actress - Best Thriller
Golden Schmoes Awards - Best Actress of the Year - Angelina Jolie
Houston Film Critics Society Awards - Best Actress - Angelina Jolie
International Online Film Critics' Poll - Best Actress in a Leading Role - Angelina Jolie
Irish Film and Television Awards - Best International Actress - Angelina Jolie
Italian Online Movie Awards - Best Actress - Angelina Jolie
Italian Online Movie Awards - Best Director - Clint Eastwood
London Critics Circle Film Awards - Director of the Year - Clint Eastwood
London Critics Circle Film Awards - Actress of the Year - Angelina Jolie
National Board of Review - Top Ten Films
Satellite Awards - Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama - Angelina Jolie
St. Louis Film Critics Association - Best Actress - Angelina Jolie
Teen Choice Awards - Choice Movie Actress: Drama - Angelina Jolie
Women Film Critics Circle Awards - Adrienne Shelly Award
Women Film Critics Circle Awards - Best Movie About Women