Harriet the Spy
Harriet the spy
Promotional poster
Directed by Bronwen Hughes
Produced by Marykay Powell
Written by Screenplay
Doug Petrie
Theresa Rebeck
Greg Taylor
Julie Talen
Louise Fitzhugh
Starring Michelle Trachtenberg
Gregory Smith
Rosie O'Donnell
Music by Jamshied Sharifi
Cinematography Francis Kenny
Editing by Debra Chiate
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) July 10, 1996
Running time 102 minutes
Country USA
Language English
Budget $13 million
Gross revenue $26,570,048 (domestic)

Harriet the Spy is a 1996 in film comedy-drama and mystery film adaptation of the 1964 novel of the same name, drawn and written by Louise Fitzhugh, and starring Michelle Trachtenberg as the title character. This film was produced by Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies, and originally released in movie theaters in July 1996. This was the first film that was produced under the Nickelodeon Movies banner, and the first of two film adaptations of the Harriet the Spy books. In theaters, the pilot episode of Hey Arnold! was shown before the film.

The film was shot in the Florida cities of Fort Lauderdale and Miami, plus Toronto, Canada.


Harriet M. Welsch is an outgoing 11-year-old girl aspiring to be a writer and a spy. Living a privileged life on the Upper East Side, as practice for her future career she observes others carefully and writes everything she thinks in a notebook.

One day during a game of tag, Harriet loses her notebook and is mortified when her friends find it and Marion proceeds to read all of Harriet's secret thoughts to everyone. The children find some of what she wrote hurtful, and the class forms the Spy Catcher Club. The club meets regularly to think up ways to make Harriet's life miserable, including stealing her lunch and spilling paint all over her during art class.

Out of utter frustration and envy, Harriet drops a note in the Hennesseys' mailbox for Rachel's mother. It states, "All those kids hate Rachel. They just want your cake. Furthermore they will clutter up the backyard and also they constitute a nuisance." The Hennesseys find it and Rachel later announces to the Spy Catcher Club that a crank note was dropped in her mailbox. She summarizes what the note said, and to Harriet's amusement, Pinky Whitehead states, "Well, it's very good cake."

Hurt and lonely, Harriet resorts to childish tantrums and resolves to get back at her former friends by thinking up a special punishment for each one. She gets into trouble when she carries out some of her plans, including cutting off a chunk of Laura's hair. When that fails, Harriet tries to resume her friendship with Sport and Janie as if nothing ever happened, but they both reject her. Spending all her time in class writing in her notebook causes her grades to suffer, and Harriet's parents confiscate her notebook and take her to a psychologist.

Harriet's parents speak with her teacher and the headmistress, and Harriet is appointed editor of the class newspaper. The newspaper becomes an instant success and after some time as the editor, Harriet makes amends to her former friends, offering a printed retraction and saying that the statements in her notebook were unfair statements. Sport and Janie forgive her, and all is well again.


  • Michelle Trachtenberg as Harriet M. Welsch
  • Charlotte Sullivan as Marion Hawthorne
  • Gregory Smith as Sport Rocque
  • Vanessa Lee Chester as Janie Gibbs
  • Rosie O'Donnell as Katherine "Ole Golly"
  • J. Smith-Cameron as Mrs. Welsch
  • Robert Joy as Mr. Welsch
  • Teisha Kim as Rachel Hennessy
  • Cecilley Caroll as Beth Ellen Hansen
  • Dov Tiefenbach as Boy with Purple Socks
  • Nina Shock as Carrie Andrews
  • Connor Devitt as Pinky Whitehead
  • Alisha Morrison as Laura Peters
  • Nancy Beatty as Miss Elson
  • Eartha Kitt as Agatha K. Plummer
  • James Gilfillan as Archie Simmons
  • Gerry Quigley as Sport's Dad
  • Jackie Richardson as Janie's Mother
  • Roger Clown as Dr. Wagner

Box office and release

The film was released in United States theaters on July 10, 1996, and the film grossed $6,601,651 on its opening weekend, averaging about $3,615 per each of the 1,826 screens it was shown on. The film went on to gross a total of $26,570,048 by November 10, 1996, and was considered a box office success, earning back double its $13,000,000 budget.

External links

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