A 30th Anniversary screening of Director Jonathan Lynn’s My Cousin Vinny

May 21, 2022 An Eastern Region Special Projects Anniversary Series event

The Eastern Region Special Projects Anniversary Series celebrates classic films with a screening near the anniversary of their initial release, accompanied by an introduction detailing their contribution to the world of cinema and, if feasible, a discussion with the Director. On May 21, the series featured a 30th Anniversary screening of Jonathan Lynn’s 1992 comedy My Cousin Vinny.

Following an introduction by Committee Chair Raymond De Felitta, the audience in the DGA’s New York Theater revisited the tale of wildly inexperienced New York lawyer Vincent Laguardia Gambini (Joe Pesci), who has to save his college bound teenage cousin Bill (Ralph Macchio) and Bill’s friend Stan (Mitchell Whitfield) from jail or worse after they are accused of murder in a backwater Alabama town. Complicating matters are Vinny’s cranky fiancée (Best Supporting Actress Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei) who has a few surprises up her sleeve, an uncompromising judge (Fred Gwynne) who may be onto him, and a smooth talking district attorney (Lane Smith) who considers the case open and shut.

Following the screening, Lynn joined De Felitta onstage to recall the making of My Cousin Vinny and the aftermath. Asked by De Felitta if he knew that the film would be so beloved some three decades after its release, Lynn recalled the challenges he faced before the launch.

“Every film you do, you do your best and hope that it'll turn out to be something that people will love forever and occasionally that happens. We didn't know how the audience would respond to this until the first test screening. When I showed it to the executives at Fox, they told me to cut out half an hour because comedy shouldn't be more than about 90 minutes. I said, ‘Which half an hour would you suggest?’ and they said ‘Alright you can have a test screening and then we'll get into this.’ The test screening scores were through the roof so after that they said, ‘We don't need to talk about cuts.’ I said ‘Can I have a couple of days of reshooting shots that I don't like?’ ‘Yes, yes anything you want.’ So different once the test scores are good.”

In addition to My Cousin Vinny, Lynn’s directorial credits include the feature films Wild Target, The Fighting Temptations, The Whole Nine Yards, Trial and Error, Sgt. Bilko, Greedy, The Distinguished Gentleman, Nuns on the Run and Clue; the movie for television Arms and the Man; the pilot for the series Ferris Bueller; and episodes of Smart Guys and Yes, Prime Minister. He has been a DGA member since 1985.

You can listen to Lynn's Q&A by clicking the podcast episode embedded below. You can find more DGA podcast episodes here.


Event photos by Marcie Revens

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