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Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013)

The Butler (original title)
PG-13 | | Biography, Drama | 16 August 2013 (USA)
Trailer
2:02 | Trailer
As Cecil Gaines serves eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and other major events affect this man's life, family, and American society.

Director:

Lee Daniels

Writers:

Danny Strong, Wil Haygood (article)
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Popularity
4,301 ( 201)
Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 18 wins & 50 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Forest Whitaker ... Cecil Gaines
David Banner ... Earl Gaines
Michael Rainey Jr. ... Cecil Gaines (8)
LaJessie Smith ... Abraham
Mariah Carey ... Hattie Pearl
Alex Pettyfer ... Thomas Westfall
Vanessa Redgrave ... Annabeth Westfall
Aml Ameen ... Cecil Gaines (15)
Clarence Williams III ... Maynard
John P. Fertitta ... Mr. Jenkins (as John Fertitta)
Jim Gleason ... R.D. Warner
Oprah Winfrey ... Gloria Gaines
Isaac White ... Charlie Gaines (10)
David Oyelowo ... Louis Gaines
Joe Chrest ... White Usher
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Storyline

Cecil Gaines was a sharecropper's son who grew up in the 1920s as a domestic servant for the white family who casually destroyed his. Eventually striking out on his own, Cecil becomes a hotel valet of such efficiency and discreteness in the 1950s that he becomes a butler in the White House itself. There, Cecil would serve numerous US Presidents over the decades as a passive witness of history with the American Civil Rights Movement gaining momentum even as his family has troubles of its own. As his wife, Gloria, struggles with her addictions and his defiant eldest son, Louis, strives for a just world, Cecil must decide whether he should take action in his own way. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

One quiet voice can ignite a revolution

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violence and disturbing images, language, sexual material, thematic elements and smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 August 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Lee Daniels' The Butler See more »

Filming Locations:

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$24,637,312, 18 August 2013

Gross USA:

$116,632,095

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$176,598,908
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the original script, Cecil Gaines meets President Barack Obama. Lee Daniels considered asking the president to play himself. Since the film was shot during the height of the 2012 presidential election, Daniels decided to cast actor Orlando Eric Street in the role instead. The scene was shot but ultimately discarded, and archival footage of the real President Obama was used. See more »

Goofs

When the camera pans up Jacqueline Kennedy's legs after JFK's assassination, it's obvious that the actress is not wearing stockings/pantyhose. In 1963, no woman, especially the First Lady, would appear in public with bare legs. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Cecil Gaines: The only thing I ever knew was cotton. It was hard work.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The EE British Academy Film Awards (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Piano Concerto in A Minor Op. 54-1
Written by Robert Schumann
Performed by The Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Kenneth Klein
Gerald Robbins, piano
Courtesy of MSR Classics
By Arrangement with Fine Gold Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
In a timid year, this film is a flawed, but essential, jolt to the system
21 August 2013 | by MovieDude1893See all my reviews

The Butler (Daniels, 2013, B+)

This should have been a punchline. At least, that's what I was walking in expecting. From the overblown marketing to the downright bizarre cast, it had all the trimmings of a pure turkey. Here's the thing, though... It's not. The film is not a facsimile of historical events, it is an invigoration of them and despite the relatively classical style on display, Lee Daniels brings a real brio to the proceedings. It helps that he has Whitaker to make it all stick as the film's unfailingly warm and engaging center. Even in the first 20-30 minutes when the film is struggling to find its legs, his performance is an unmannered beauty. The rest of the actors are also galvanized into action, proving that verisimilitude is not the highest criteria for historical fiction. This is a film as powerful, as beautiful, as unlikely, and as raggedly imperfect as the country it chronicles.


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