GenreDrama ScreenplayChristopher Munch CountryUnited States
Release date29 March 2002 (2002-03-29) (United States) WriterAlice Elliott Dark (excerpts from Bettys book), Christopher Munch Initial releaseMay 31, 2002 (New York City) CastJacqueline Bissett (Frances), Martha Plimpton (Rebecca), Nick Stahl (Morgan), Amy Madigan (Maggie), Justin Theroux (Rebeccas Boyfriend) Similar moviesThe Baby Maker (1970)
The Sleepy Time Gal is a 2001 film written and directed by Christopher Munch. The film stars Jacqueline Bisset, Martha Plimpton, Nick Stahl, Amy Madigan, Justin Theroux, Seymour Cassel and Frankie Faison.
Frances (Jacqueline Bisset) has enjoyed a variety of jobs during her adult life and is the mother of two sons, each by a different husband. She also gave birth to a daughter following an affair she had with a married man, but was forced by her mother to give up the baby for adoption. Frances attempts to search for the child she gave away, but she is diagnosed with cancer before she is able to conduct a thorough search. As Frances is attended by one of her sons (Nick Stahl) and a nurse (Amy Madigan), she is unaware that her lost daughter, who is now a corporate lawyer (Martha Plimpton), is conducting her own search for her missing birth mother. Part of her search takes her to a Daytona Beach, Florida, radio station where Frances worked years ago as a late-night disc jockey under the moniker of the Sleepy Time Gal.
The Sleepy Time Gal was the third film directed by Christopher Munch, whose previous work included The Hours and Times (1991) and Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day (1996). Munch shot the film over a two-and-half year period, and he later told an interviewer the extended stop-and-start shooting schedule was dictated by the lack of finances. "I didn't have a big enough chunk of money at any one point to do the whole thing," he said. "It really was held together by chewing gum and a lot of care."
Munch also stated the inspiration for The Sleepy Time Gal was based on his mother's experience in giving birth to a baby girl out of wedlock and giving the infant away for adoption. But unlike the characters in his film, Munch made no attempt to actively locate his long-lost half-sister.
The Sleepy Time Gal was first shown at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. However, it was not acquired by a major distributor for theatrical release. Later that year, it was cited by the Village Voice in its annual survey of the year's best undistributed films. The film had a television premiere instead of a theatrical debut, with a debut broadcast on the Sundance Channel on March 29, 2002.
After its television broadcast, The Sleepy Time Gal had several commercial theatrical playdates across the U.S. When the film played in New York City in May 2002, film critic Dennis Lim of the Village Voice praised Bisset’s acting, citing a “candid and complex performance that for all its gossamer, death-haunted poetics…conveys the irreducible weight of a singular life.” When the movie played in Chicago in November 2002, Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert praised Munch's screenplay for being “tenderly observant of his characters.”
The Sleepy Time Gal was released on DVD on January 28, 2003, by Sundance Home Channel Entertainment.