In the 1998 romantic drama Hope Floats, Sandra Bullock played Birdee Pruitt, a woman who’s publicly humiliated on national TV when her best friend announces she’s having an affair with Birdee’s husband. Birdee takes her young daughter Bernice and flees Chicago, returning to her mother’s house in a small Texas town.
The front gate and fence were added for the movie. There was also a pool that the crew covered up during filming. In this heart-wrenching scene, Bernice begs her father to take her back home to Chicago with him:
Gena Rowlands was perfectly cast as Birdee’s eccentric mother Ramona. She’s one of my favorite characters in the movie.
Bernice was played by Mae Whitman, who was 10 at the time. Since then, you may have seen her in Arrested Development as George-Michael’s girlfriend Ann Veal, or as Lauren Graham’s troubled daughter Amber on Parenthood.
Here she is on the front porch with some of her grandmother’s many stuffed animals:
When Justin Matisse (Harry Connick, Jr.), an old boyfriend of Birdee’s, shows up at the house to do some work around Ramona’s house, Bernice lets him know she doesn’t want him anywhere near her mother. This scene always makes me laugh.
Bernice: “Back home we had a pet skunk that Mom called Justin Matisse. All day long, she’d say, ‘You stink, Justin Matisse!’ Finally, one day she just picked up a club and killed it.”
Justin: “Well, that’s a sad story.”
Bernice (while packing up his tools for him): “If you liked the skunk, and we didn’t. I wonder if she’s still got that club in her purse upstairs…”
After a death in the family (I won’t give it away in case you haven’t seen it yet), Justin talks with Birdee’s nephew Travis on the front porch. Travis’s mother left him with Ramona and didn’t even come back to visit for the funeral.
Ramona keeps a couple of “Scaredy Cats” perched on the staircase. Bernice asks her mother, “Did Grandma kill those cats?” Birdee says, “No, honey, they come already dead.” Ramona has apparently made a lot of money selling these things.
The Dining Room:
Birdee’s Childhood Bedroom:
I didn’t get a photo of it, but when Birdee dances with her father in the nursing home (he has dementia), it kills me every time.
Sandra Bullock has starred in some great “house movies.” I already featured Practical Magic and While You Were Sleeping, and I’m working on both The Proposal and Blind Side. Do you have a favorite of hers?
Screened Porch Off the Kitchen:
Looking Out from the Front Porch and Down the Street:
The House at Night:
This photo of the house at night is the only shot we get of the entire front of it in the movie. Here’s how it looks today, via Blue Eyes and Bluebonnets:
It’s known as the McCollum-Chapman-Trousdale House, in Smithville, Texas. It’s a Neoclassical-style home built in 1908. Most of the movie was filmed in Smithville, a small town of 4,000 residents, which is 29 miles southeast of Austin. You can see some great photos of the town and more photos of this house, here and here.
P.S. In real life real-estate news, Sandra Bullock just put the California beach house she shared with husband Jesse James on the market and has moved into a Victorian house in New Orleans with her newly adopted son Louis.