Harry and the Hendersons

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 its uncredited executive producer, while Rick Baker provided the makeup and the creature designs for Harry. It is the story of a Seattle family's encounter with the cryptozoological creature Bigfoot, partially inspired by the numerous claims of sightings in the Pacific Northwest, California, and other parts of both the United States and Canada over three centuries. The film won an Oscar for Best Makeup, and inspired a follow-up.[4] In the United Kingdom, the film was originally released as Bigfoot and the Hendersons, though the television series retained the American title. The DVD and all current showings of the movie in the United Kingdom now refer to the movie by its original title.

Harry and the Hendersons
Harry and the hendersons.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWilliam Dear
Produced byWilliam Dear
Richard Vane
Written byWilliam Dear
William E. Martin
Ezra D. Rappaport
Music byBruce Broughton
CinematographyAllen Daviau
Edited byDonn Cambern
Distributed byUniversal Pictures[1]
Release date
  • June 5, 1987 (1987-06-05) (United States)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$10 million[2]
Box office$50 million[3]

In conjunction with the film's setting, shooting took place at several locations in the Cascade Range of Washington state near I-90 and the town of Index near US 2,[5] as well as Seattle's Wallingford, Ballard and Beacon Hill neighborhoods and other locations in or around Seattle. The film grossed $50 million worldwide.


George Henderson (John Lithgow) is returning to his suburban Seattle home with his family from a camping trip in the nearby Cascade mountains when they hit something with the family Ford Country Squire. George discovers, to his horror and awe, that they have hit a Sasquatch. Thinking they have killed it, the family straps the creature to the roof of their car. A lone hunter tracking the creature discovers the Hendersons' license plate, which fell off when they hit the creature.

Later that night, George goes to the garage to examine the creature and discovers it is not dead, and has escaped. He finds the creature in the kitchen, having knocked over the fridge looking for food. After a few mishaps involving the Sasquatch breaking things in the house the family realizes the creature is friendly and kind, and George has a change of heart; initially planning to make money from the creature, he decides to return him to the wild. Naming the creature "Harry", George tries to lure him into the station wagon, but Harry sees through the deception and disappears into the city.

Saddened, the family resume their normal lives, but sightings of Harry become more frequent as media fervor heightens. George tries to find Harry, and visits the "North American Museum of Anthropology" to speak with Dr. Wallace Wrightwood, an expert on Bigfoot, but is disheartened by its ramshackle state. Giving his phone number to the museum clerk (Don Ameche), George resumes his search. The hunter from the woods is Jacques LaFleur (David Suchet), a legendary hunter turned laughingstock for his obsession with Bigfoot, who tracks down the Hendersons.

At work, George's father asks him to make a poster of a violent Sasquatch to drum up gun sales, but George throws the picture away, replacing it with a proper depiction of Harry. His father in turn alters it to make him look vicious resulting in George quitting his job at the arms shop.

George follows a Bigfoot sighting into the city, while the police deal with "Bigfoot mania" by apprehending multiple vigilante Bigfoot hunters, believing the sightings are due to a costumed prankster. After a car chase involving a garbage truck, George (albeit inadvertently) saves Harry from LaFleur, who is arrested.

The next day, George invites Dr. Wrightwood to dinner to speak about Bigfoot. The museum clerk arrives, revealing he is Wrightwood. He urges the Hendersons to give up on Bigfoot, as it has destroyed his life, but then meets Harry, restoring his enthusiasm. Bailed out of jail, LaFleur heads to the Henderson house. George and Harry escape with Dr. Wrightwood in his old truck, and LaFleur gives chase.

Fleeing back to the mountains, George tries to make Harry leave, going so far as to punch Harry. Confused and upset, Harry departs but the family does not leave when they realize LaFleur can follow his footprints. LaFleur catches up to the Hendersons and throws the family dog. Harry captures LaFleur, but George intervenes when LaFleur attempts to escape, and Harry stops George from roughing LaFleur up. Through Harry's kindness and George's faith, LaFleur changes his mind and decides that Harry deserves to live peacefully. As the family says goodbye, George thanks Harry, who gives him a hug, for all he has done for the family. George tells him to take care of himself, to which Harry replies, "Okay" – his first spoken word. As Harry leaves, several other Sasquatches appear and they disappear into the wilderness together, to the Hendersons’ amazement. When Dr. Wrightwood asks LaFleur what he will do next, LaFleur replies, "I don't know. There's always Loch Ness." They laugh, as the Hendersons wave goodbye to Harry.



Box officeEdit

Harry and the Hendersons opened third behind Beverly Hills Cop II and The Untouchables.[6] It went on to gross $29.8 million at the North American box office and $20.2 million internationally for a total of $50 million worldwide.[3]

Critical responseEdit

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 43% based on reviews from 21 critics.[7][8][9]



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" has a saxophone solo on a single and was 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, with the exceptions of the original album version of "Love Lives On" and "Your Feet's Too Big".

1987 MCA soundtrack albumEdit

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 albumEdit

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 mediaEdit

The film was released in December 1987 on Laserdisc.[11] It was also released in January 2011 on DVD entitled Harry and the Hendersons Special Edition.[12] A single-disc Blu-ray of the film was released on March 4, 2014.

Television spin-offEdit

The film had a television series spin-off, also called Harry and the Hendersons. Kevin Peter Hall reprised Harry until his death in 1991. After that, Harry was performed by Dawan Scott in 1991-1992 and by Brian Steele in 1992–1993. Harry's vocal effects were provided by Patrick Pinney. Leon Redbone's version of "Your Feet's Too Big" was used as its theme song.


  1. ^ a b c "Harry and the Hendersons (1987)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  2. ^ http://catalog.afi.com/Catalog/moviedetails/57637
  3. ^ a b "Harry and the Hendersons". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  4. ^ "Harry' Spinoff Is 'Alf' For The '90s". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
  5. ^ Jackie Varriano (October 22, 2019). "Leaving Seattle for a weekend adventure via Highway 2? Stop for elk burgers, milkshakes and Bigfoot lore". The Seattle Times.
  6. ^ "Cop II Is First Again In Box Office Sales". New York Times. 1987-06-11. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
  7. ^ "Harry and the Hendersons". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
  8. ^ Wilmington, Michael (1987-06-05). "MOVIE REVIEW BIGFOOT 'HARRY' TRAVELS A FAMILIAR, GOOEY TRAIL". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
  9. ^ Kehr, Dave (1987-06-05). "Harry And The Hendersons Takes Familiar Turns". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
  10. ^ "Academy Awards, USA: 1998". awardsdatabase.oscars.org. Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2009-02-27.
  11. ^ https://www.lddb.com/laserdisc/02029/40677/Harry-and-the-Hendersons
  12. ^ "Harry and the Hendersons". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2012-03-29.

External linksEdit