Can’t you see the pitch meeting in Hollywood for this movie? WRITER: “It’s about an old Jewish woman in Atlanta and how she comes to respect her black chauffeur.” MOVIE EXEC: “Does something blow up? Do they have to run from the fireball?”
Miss Daisy was a 72-year-old woman who’d had an accident, and her son felt it was no longer safe for her to drive. So he hires a chauffeur to take her around town. She resists the idea, even telling her driver, “This is not the way to the Piggly Wiggly!”
Although Driving Miss Daisy was a successful play before being adapted to the screen, I think the film’s success depends almost entirely on the performances of Jessica Tandy as Miss Daisy Werthen and Morgan Freeman as Hoke. Morgan Freeman was nominated for an Oscar (he lost to Daniel Day-Lewis’s wonderful performance in My Left Foot), and Jessica Tandy was named Best Actress, becoming the oldest winner (81) of that honor.
Speaking of awards, this movie has a couple of unusual distinctions. Alfred Uhry wrote the screenplay, based on his own Pulitzer award-winning play. It’s only the second Pulitzer winner that was adapted and became Best Picture, following Frank Capra’s You Can’t Take it With You (1937). Driving Miss Daisy is also the first film since 1932 to win Best Picture without its director (Bruce Beresford) even being nominated.