Harry and the Hendersons

This article is about the film. For the TV series, see Harry and the Hendersons (TV series).
Harry and the Hendersons

Theatrical release poster
Directed by William Dear
Produced by William Dear
Richard Vane
Written by William Dear
William E. Martin
Ezra D. Rappaport
Music by Bruce Broughton
Cinematography Allen Daviau
Edited by Donn Cambern
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • June 5, 1987 (1987-06-05) (United States)
Running time
110 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $16 million
Box office $49,998,613

Harry and the Hendersons is a 1987 American fantasy comedy film directed and produced by William Dear, and starring John Lithgow, Melinda Dillon, Don Ameche, David Suchet, Margaret Langrick, Joshua Rudoy, Lainie Kazan, and Kevin Peter Hall. Steven Spielberg served as the uncredited executive producer of this film while Rick Baker provided the makeup and the creature designs for Harry. It is the story of a family's encounter with the cryptozoological creature Bigfoot. The film won an Academy Award for Best Makeup, and inspired a follow-up TV series of the same name.[1]

In the United Kingdom the film was originally released as Bigfoot and the Hendersons, though the TV series retained the American title. The DVD and all current showings of the movie in the UK now refer to the movie by its original title.

The film earned mostly mixed reviews and was a success at the box office during its release, earning thrice its budget.


George Henderson (John Lithgow) is returning home with his family from a camping trip when they hit something with the family station wagon. George investigates, and discovers to his horror and awe, that they had hit a Sasquatch. Deciding to take the creature home, George does so, strapping it to the roof of the car. Meanwhile, a mysterious hunter has been tracking the creature and discovers the Hendersons' license plate which fell off when they hit the creature.

At home, curiosity gets the best of George, and he goes out to the garage to examine the creature. Much to his shock, the creature was not dead and has since disappeared. He hears noises from his kitchen and sees the creature, it has knocked over the fridge in its attempt to find food. After waking the whole house, the family realizes that the creature is friendly and kind. George has a change of heart; at first he wished to make money from the creature, but now decides to take him back to the wild. Naming the creature "Harry," George tries to lure him into the station wagon, but Harry believes that the Hendersons mean him harm and instead he disappears.

Saddened, the family resume their normal lives, but as the sightings of Harry become more frequent and the media fervor heightens, George decides he needs to find Harry in order to keep him safe. George visits the "North American Museum of Anthropology" to speak with Dr. Wallace Wrightwood, an expert on Bigfoot, but is disheartened when he realizes its ramshackle state. Giving his number to the clerk (Don Ameche) inside the Museum, George resumes his search for Harry. The hunter from the woods is revealed to be Jacques LaFleur (David Suchet). Once a legendary hunter, he became obsessed with Bigfoot and has hunted for one ever since becoming a laughingstock. LaFleur tracks down the Hendersons and begins to get closer to finding Harry.

After a Harry sighting, George goes into the city to search for him. Meanwhile, the police are dealing with the sudden "Bigfoot Mania" by apprehending several local Bigfoot enthusiasts that are hunting Bigfoot in case the Bigfoot in question is someone dressed as Bigfoot. Following a car chase, George is able to save Harry from LaFleur, and LaFleur is subsequently arrested by the arriving police officers. When George brings Harry home, he and the Hendersons bury the hunting trophies and pay their respects to the dead animals that were converted into hunting trophies.

The next morning, the neighbors of the Hendersons notice hair in their pool as Harry is seen being dried off while watching The Addams Family. At the police station, LaFleur calls up someone stating that he has a lead on Bigfoot and tells him to secure his release by this day. George calls Dr. Wallace Wrightwood from the museum and asks to have dinner to speak about Bigfoot. At the Henderson house, George is met by the same museum clerk who is revealed to be Dr. Wrightwood himself, having also become a laughingstock. Dr. Wrightwood tries to tell George and the rest of the family to give up on Bigfoot as it has destroyed his life and will do so to theirs. His faith is rejuvenated when he meets Harry, and instantly he agrees to take him to safety, away from the city. By this time, LaFleur has been bailed of jail and heads to the Henderson house. George and Harry escape the house with Dr. Wrightwood and his old truck. LaFleur gives chase and eventually catches up with the Henderson family.

Fleeing to the mountains of Washington state, George tries to make Harry leave, going so far as to hit Harry. Confused and upset, Harry does not leave, allowing LaFleur to catch up to them. When LaFleur attacks the Henderson's dog, Harry attacks LaFleur until George intervenes. Through George's faith and Harry's kindness, LaFleur changes his mind and decides that Harry deserves to live peacefully. As the family says goodbye, George thanks Harry for all he has done for the family and tells him to take care of himself to which Harry replies "OK" (his first spoken words). As Harry leaves, several other Sasquatches appear from their hiding places and also disappear into the wilderness with him much to the amazement of the Hendersons. When Dr. Wrightwood asks LaFleur what he's going to do next, LaFleur quotes "I don't know. There's always Loch Ness." As the two of them laugh at that comment, the Hendersons keep waving goodbye to Harry.

During the credits, there is rotoscoping of different scenes of the movie.



Box office

Harry and the Hendersons opened third behind Beverly Hills Cop II and The Untouchables.[2] It went on to gross $29.7 million at the North American domestic box office and $20.2 million internationally for a total of $49.9 million worldwide.

Critical response

The response from critics was mixed. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 44% based on reviews from 18 critics.[3][4] [5]



Bruce Broughton composed the film's original score, and co-wrote "Love Lives On" with Barry Mann (music), Cynthia Weil (lyrics) and Will Jennings (lyrics), performed by Joe Cocker over the end credits (in place of Broughton's planned end title cue), the soundtrack version of "Love Lives On" which has a saxophone solo on a single and later released as a single. MCA Records released a soundtrack album on record and cassette; in 2007 Intrada Records issued an expanded album, marking the music's premiere CD release.

1987 MCA soundtrack album

Side 1:

  1. Love Lives On - Joe Cocker [3:49]
  2. Main Title [3:05]
  3. Some Dumb Thing [2:28]
  4. Irene! [1:26]
  5. Harry In The House [4:20]
  6. Harry Takes Off [3:20]

Side 2:

  1. Your Feet's Too Big - Jimmy Walker; arr. Chris Boardman [3:15]
  2. Drawing Harry [1:49]
  3. Taking Harry Home [2:57]
  4. Foot Prints [4:19]
  5. Goodbyes [4:07]
  6. "Harry And The Hendersons" [3:28]

2007 Intrada album

The album begins with the film version of "Love Lives On," which has a flute solo rather than the guitar heard on the single and on the 1987 soundtrack album.

  1. Love Lives On - Joe Cocker [3:51]
  2. Main Title [5:41]
  3. Taking Harry Home [4:33]
  4. Harry in the House [6:22]
  5. Night Prowler [1:01]
  6. Some Dumb Thing [3:16]
  7. Irene! [1:26]
  8. Eye To Eye [0:54]
  9. Our Little Pet [1:36]
  10. Tracking Harry [1:37]
  11. Harry Takes Off [3:19]
  12. Big Freeway [1:39]
  13. Sasquatch [1:01]
  14. The Great Outdoors [1:55]
  15. Bigfoot Museum [0:59]
  16. Planning the Hunt [2:03]
  17. Drawing Harry [1:48]
  18. Night Pursuit [9:52]
  19. First Things First [1:41]
  20. Wrightwood Meets Harry [1:29]
  21. Bed Pals [0:43]
  22. Traffic Jam! [7:14]
  23. Footprints [4:19]
  24. Goodbyes [4:06]
  25. Harry and the Hendersons [3:27]

Home media

The film was released in January 2011 on DVD entitled Harry and The Hendersons Special Edition.[7] A single-disc Blu-ray of the film was released on March 4, 2014.

TV spin-off

The film had a TV series called Harry and the Hendersons. Kevin Peter Hall reprised Harry until his death in 1991. Following Kevin Peter Hall's death, Harry was performed by Dawan Scott in 1991-1992 and by Brian Steele in 1992-1993 while Harry's vocal effects were provided by Patrick Pinney.


  1. "Harry` Spinoff Is `Alf` For The `90s". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
  2. "Cop II Is First Again In Box Office Sales". New York Times. 1987-06-11. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
  3. "Harry and the Hendersons". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
  4. Wilmington, Michael (1987-06-05). "MOVIE REVIEW BIGFOOT `HARRY' TRAVELS A FAMILIAR, GOOEY TRAIL". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
  5. Kehr, Dave (1987-06-05). "Harry And The Hendersons Takes Familiar Turns". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
  6. "Academy Awards, USA: 1998". awardsdatabase.oscars.org. Retrieved 2009-02-27.
  7. "Harry and the Hendersons". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2012-03-29.

External links

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