'He Said, She Said' is long for a comedy but is more than a comedy

Ken Kwapis and Marisa Silver, who co-directed "He said, She Said," the most recent film to be shot in Baltimore, said they were aware that their movie is long for a comedy. It runs 115 minutes. "We know that the movie comedy, as was the rule in the '30s, is supposed to end at 90 minutes, but we felt that our film was personal at core, that it was more a study of character than it was a comedy, so we didn't think we had to limit the movie to 90 minutes," said Kwapis. "The film is really about two people communicating with each other."

Asked why the movie, one that dwells on the sexual relationship of the lead characters, didn't include a mention of AIDS, Kwapis said he didn't think it necessary to spell it out. "We do have the scene where the older and younger couples talk about condoms, so it is evident that they are practicing safe sex," he said.


We met before the film opened, and the co-directors, who are engaged to be married (she is 30, and he is 33) said they were not going to read the reviews. "I never do," said Silver. "But then you don't have to. If they're bad, your 'friends' tell you all about them."

The idea for the film came to them when they were discussing their own relationship with a third person. When their stories differed in detail, they thought their individual recollections might work as a film.


They were glad they chose Baltimore for the locale of their movie. "Everyone was so cooperative," said Silver.

One of the more recognizable locations in the film is the Conservatory, the restaurant at Peabody Court. Other scenes were done at the corner of Eutaw and Centre streets. That's where the sidewalk cafe scenes were done. "There is none there," said Silver. "We arranged that."

Both Silver and Kwapis have directed other films. She did "Permanent Record," a 1988 drama about a high school boy who committed suicide, and he did "Vibes," a 1988 comedy starring Jeff Goldblum and Cyndi Lauper. When they were informed that there was at least one critic who liked both movies, she said, "Thank you." He said, "So you're the one."


Penny Marshall, who directed "Awakenings," was asked if Robert De Niro, who stars in the film, intimidates people as a result of his stature as an actor.

"Not me," she said. "I had a good time doing the film, much more than I did on 'Big.' Any actor needs guidance. It's the job of the director to encourage and discourage. Robert had asked me to see all his films so I could tell him what I wanted. He keeps going. He'll do line after line without doing a 'take.' He'll do it 20 times without stopping."

"Awakenings," nominated for an Academy Award for best picture of the year, is about a man who spends a number of years in a post-encephalitic coma, then returns to consciousness when a doctor, new to the hospital, gives him and others a new drug.

"People asked me why I decided to do something so serious," said Marshall. "Well, it's not a comedy, but it does have its lightness. I knew nothing about the subject, but when I read the script, I was enchanted with it. It was so true. I just couldn't shake it."


Marshall, who is currently blond, starred for more than seven years as Laverne on the television series "Laverne and Shirley." She also directed several episodes, then directed a television pilot starring James Belushi and Michael Keaton.

Her first feature film as a director was "Jumpin' Jack Flash." Her next was "Big," and her third is "Awakenings."

She comes by all this naturally. Her brother is Garry Marshall ("Pretty Woman"), and her ex-husband is Rob Reiner ("Misery"). "Rob and I don't see each other that much, but we're still good friends," she said."

Would she act again?

"Well, sure, if they asked me," she said. "I have two lines in 'The Hard Way.' Michael J. Fox and James Woods star in that one."