Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: Pleasantville (1998)

Pleasantville is a 1998 film starring Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon as a brother and sister tandem who could not be any different. One day they are arguing over what to watch; they subsequently break the television and have to call a TV repairman (D0n Knotts) to fix it – yup in 1998 there were still TV repairmen who showed up at your door.

But I digress – Don Knotts the TV repairman leaves them with a remote that transports them to the B&W picturesque world of Pleasantville, home of a popular 1950’s television program. In the real world it would be like one of us being transported to Mayberry (The Andy Griffith Show), or better yet the town from Leave it to Beaver. Everything appears to be perfect but as you can expect but the introduction of the modern day brother/sister starts to change the town. This change is represented by the world of Pleasantville slowly being converted into color.


Check out the trailer here:

The clever use of “B&W vs. color” cinematography, as well as the revisionist social commentary on the era are two of the highlights of the film that appealed to me. Oh yeah, and the cast is not too shabby either – in addition to Maguire and Witherspoon, rounding out the awesome cast are Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, and William H. Macy.

Have you seen the film? If so what do you think about it?

Also be sure to check out my friend Todd Mason’s blog for more “overlooked” titles.


  1. “in 1998 there were still TV repairmen who showed up at your door.” Well…the idea wasn’t Too alien then, but unless you had a very high end (and large) set, pretty unlikely…

    I didn’t buy the ending (at all), but did enjoy the conceit of how living something more like life affects the characters…and, as you note, the cast is impressive.
    Todd Mason recently posted..some Overlooked a/v: NOTHING PERSONAL (2009 feature), ONE MORE TRAIN TO ROB, several podcasts, etc.My Profile

  2. This one is among some of my favorites – it’s such a warm and charming story and it has one of the best examples of cinematography – so clever and beautiful.
    sati recently posted..Thoughts on Golden GlobesMy Profile

  3. Patti Abbott says:

    I liked this film. It played around just enough with time and change to make it interesting but not absurd.

  4. Oh, I definitely overlooked this one. I should give this a rent one day, great pick Iba.
    ruth recently posted..FlixChatter Review: Zero Dark ThirtyMy Profile

  5. I saw this a long time after it appeared in theaters and liked it very much. I thought I wouldn’t, so I was surprised. I like the b/w and color thing going on. Toby Maguire was perfectly cast.
    Yvette recently posted..Tuesday’s Overlooked (or Forgotten) Film: ANASTASIA (1956) starring Yul Brynner and Ingrid BergmanMy Profile

  6. Hi, iluv and company:

    I caught ‘Pleasantville’ on a Wednesday matinee. In one of the last 1950s, resplendent. old school retro theaters just outside Washington, DC. Which added something to a film that surprised me on a few levels.

    Great cinematography and use of B&W in a color palette, and vice versa. The meticulous detail of the late 1950s, early 1960s, snow-globe like world of Pleasantville. And the revelation that Tobey Maguire can act! While Reese Witherspoon held her own in a nicely done, character driven, almost experimental film.

    An excellent choice for an Overlooked film!

    PS: William H. Macy make a Ozzie Nelson!

    • That must have been fun Jack! You know in looking back at Witherspoon’s earlier work she really did make solid unconventional choices. I think about this and a film like Election.

      • Hi, Iluv:

        Excellent point!

        ‘Election’ put Ms. Witherspoon on the map. A risky decision, but she pulled off her role with near effortless ease. Confidence goes a long way for an actor or actress. And she has a huge surfeit of it. It’s also fun watching her branch out and resist the Hollywood cookie-cutter roles others seem made for.

  7. I love Pleasantville! Definitely one underrated movie that seems to have gone under the rug since it came out. Great cast, even enjoyed Toby Maguire as the main protagonist 😀 And Jeff Daniels was an unexpected but brilliant choice for his role.
    Castor recently posted..“Promised Land” Is A Single Layered Fracking FairytaleMy Profile

  8. I recall seeing this in at theater when it was released. It was actually a first date. I really enjoyed the film and she hated it and I never asked her out again.
    3guys1movie recently posted..Life of PiMy Profile

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