Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)

R | 98 mins | Drama | 8 February 1991

Director:

Joseph Ruben

Writer:

Ronald Bass

Producer:

Leonard Goldberg

Cinematographer:

John W. Lindley

Editor:

George Bowers

Production Designer:

Doug Kraner

Production Company:

Twentieth Century Fox
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HISTORY


       A 1 Aug 1986 Publishers Weekly item announced that Nancy Price’s upcoming novel, Sleeping with the Enemy, due to be released in spring 1987, had been optioned by film producer Leonard Goldberg. Ronald Bass was hired to adapt the book for the screen, and Tom Mankiewicz was signed to direct, according to a 21 Mar 1989 DV brief. Mankiewicz eventually left the project, and, as noted in an 8 Feb 1991 LAT article, Twentieth Century Fox studio chief Joseph Roth sent the script to Joseph Ruben, who came on board as director.
       According to a 4 Feb 1991 Var brief, Ruben’s initial casting choices included Kim Basinger and Sean Connery. Basinger signed on to play “Sara/Laura,” as stated in the 17 Dec 1989 LAT, but she later left the project over dissatisfaction with the screenplay and concern that her male co-star had not yet been cast. As noted in the 24 Dec 1989 LAT, brief, Julia Roberts replaced Basinger. Items in the 1 Feb 1990 DV and 3 Feb 1990 Screen International announced that Aidan Quinn was set to co-star. However, Kevin Anderson replaced Quinn when rehearsals were already underway, according to a 25 Mar 1990 LAT brief. Filming was initially planned for Feb 1990, but was delayed two months.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, two weeks of rehearsals preceded the 2 Apr 1990 start of principal photography. Filming took place in Wilmington, NC, which doubled as Cape Cod, MA. The five-room, contemporary beachfront home where the “Burneys” reside was built in less ... More Less


       A 1 Aug 1986 Publishers Weekly item announced that Nancy Price’s upcoming novel, Sleeping with the Enemy, due to be released in spring 1987, had been optioned by film producer Leonard Goldberg. Ronald Bass was hired to adapt the book for the screen, and Tom Mankiewicz was signed to direct, according to a 21 Mar 1989 DV brief. Mankiewicz eventually left the project, and, as noted in an 8 Feb 1991 LAT article, Twentieth Century Fox studio chief Joseph Roth sent the script to Joseph Ruben, who came on board as director.
       According to a 4 Feb 1991 Var brief, Ruben’s initial casting choices included Kim Basinger and Sean Connery. Basinger signed on to play “Sara/Laura,” as stated in the 17 Dec 1989 LAT, but she later left the project over dissatisfaction with the screenplay and concern that her male co-star had not yet been cast. As noted in the 24 Dec 1989 LAT, brief, Julia Roberts replaced Basinger. Items in the 1 Feb 1990 DV and 3 Feb 1990 Screen International announced that Aidan Quinn was set to co-star. However, Kevin Anderson replaced Quinn when rehearsals were already underway, according to a 25 Mar 1990 LAT brief. Filming was initially planned for Feb 1990, but was delayed two months.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, two weeks of rehearsals preceded the 2 Apr 1990 start of principal photography. Filming took place in Wilmington, NC, which doubled as Cape Cod, MA. The five-room, contemporary beachfront home where the “Burneys” reside was built in less than nine weeks. According to a 27 Apr 1990 HR item, the production moved to Spartanburg and Abbeville, SC, in late May 1990. In Spartanburg, an abandoned hospital doubled as “Chloe’s” nursing home. The Fourth of July parade shot in Abbeville, standing in for Cedar Falls, IA, included over 1,000 locals who served as extras. Cast and crew moved back to Wilmington, and the final week of production, when Laura’s escape sequence was filmed, took place on a barge. The fifty-nine day shoot ended on 23 Jun 1990.
       The Summer 1991 issue of People magazine stated that Danielle Sinclair was paid $8,000 for two days’ work as Julia Roberts’s body double. However, Sinclair receives no onscreen credit.
       Controversy arose when Julia Roberts gave an interview to Rolling Stone magazine, and complained about the town of Abbeville, where portions of the film had been shot, calling it “horribly racist” and “hell.” A news brief in the 13 Aug 1990 issue of Time magazine stated that the comments prompted angry Abbeville residents to take out an advertisement in an early Aug 1990 issue of Var, with the headline: “Pretty Woman? Pretty Low,” referring to Roberts’s recent box-office hit, Pretty Woman (1990, see entry).
       Despite mixed reviews, Sleeping with the Enemy, which reportedly cost $18 million, took in $53.4 million in the first twenty-four days of release, as stated in the Apr 1991 Box review. It went on to earn a cumulative domestic gross of $100 million, according to a 26 Feb 1992 Chicago Tribune article about recent “blockbusters.”
      Foley artist Sarah Monat's name is misspelled "Sara Monat" in end credits.

              End credits include "Special Thanks" to: Tabitha McEachern & The Hutaff Family, Wilmington, N.C.; George Settles, Abbeville, S.C.; The people of Wilmington, North Carolina, and Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Abbeville, South Carolina, and Clinton, South Carolina. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Apr 1991.
---
Chicago Tribune
26 Feb 1992
Tempo, p. 4.
Daily Variety
21 Mar 1989.
---
Daily Variety
1 Feb 1990.
---
Daily Variety
29 Jun 1990.
---
Daily Variety
4 Feb 1991
p. 2, 20.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Mar 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 1991
p. 9, 43.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Feb 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Dec 1989
Calendar, p. 44.
Los Angeles Times
24 Dec 1989
Calendar, p. 44.
Los Angeles Times
25 Mar 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 Feb 1991
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
8 Feb 1991
Calendar, p. 8.
New York Times
8 Feb 1991
p. 10.
People
Summer 1991.
---
Publishers Weekly
1 Aug 1986.
---
Screen International
3 Feb 1990.
---
Time
13 Aug 1990.
---
Variety
4 Feb 1991.
---
Variety
11 Feb 1991
p. 110.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Leonard Goldberg Production
A Joseph Ruben Film
Produced and Released by Twentieth Century Fox
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
1st asst dir - 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam
Cam loader
Underwater cam
Underwater cam asst
Still photog
Gaffer
Best boy
Rigging gaffer
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly grip
Grip
Key rigger
Rigging grip
Rigging grip
Rigging grip
Arriflex cameras supplied by
Atlanta
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Storyboard illustrator
Art dept research
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Leadman
Set artist
Draftsperson
Prop master
Asst props
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const gang boss
Lead carpenter
Paint foreman
Greensman
Asst greensman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst to cost des
Men's ward supv
Set costumer
Costumer
Seamstress
Seamstress
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus ed
Mus eng
Mus supv
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cable man
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd asst
Sd asst
Sd asst
Sd asst
Sd apprentice
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rec
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
ADR voice casting
Supv foley ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff asst
Illusion Arts
Illusion Arts
Illusion Arts
Title des
Title des
Titles by
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Key makeup artist
Key hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst to Mr. Goldberg
Asst to Mr. Chernov
Asst to Mr. Ruben
Asst to Julia Roberts
Prod secy
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Marine coord
Sailing consultant
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Casting assoc
Wilmington casting
Wilmington casting, Fincannon & Assoc.
Wilmington casting, Fincannon & Assoc.
New York casting
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Accounting asst
Accounting asst
Dial coach
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Fair coord
Theatre consultant
Theatre consultant
Unit pub
Projectionist
Medic
Craft service
Caterer
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Prod equip supplied by
Atlanta
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Water stunt coord
Stand-in for Ms. Roberts
Stand-in for Mr. Bergin
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based upon the novel Sleeping with the Enemy by Nancy Price (New York, 1987).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Runaround Sue," written by Dion DiMucci and Ernie Maresca, performed by Dion, courtesy of Laurie Records
"The Jet Song," written by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim
"Brown Eyed Girl," written and performed by Van Morrison, courtesy of Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
+
SONGS
"Runaround Sue," written by Dion DiMucci and Ernie Maresca, performed by Dion, courtesy of Laurie Records
"The Jet Song," written by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim
"Brown Eyed Girl," written and performed by Van Morrison, courtesy of Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"My Girl," written by William Robinson and Ronald White, performed by The Temptations, courtesy of Motown Record Company, L.P.
"Circle Of One," written and performed by Oleta Adams, courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
"Close To You," written by Gary Benson, Winston Sela and Maxi Priest, performed by Maxi Priest, courtesy of Ten Records Ltd.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
8 February 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 8 February 1991
Production Date:
2 April--23 June 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
5 February 1991
Copyright Number:
PA506004
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
98
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30671
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Laura Burney struggles to please her abusive husband, Martin, whose behavior ranges from patronizing and controlling to brutally violent. Laura is expected to dress and keep their beachfront home according to Martin’s liking, even arranging the bathroom towels in a specific order. One day, on the beach, Martin introduces himself to Dr. John Fleishman, a new neighbor working on his sailboat. Fleishman compliments Martin’s house and beautiful wife, remarking that he has noticed Laura staring out the window. Fleishman invites the Burneys to go sailing that night. Martin explains that Laura is afraid of boats, as she cannot swim and nearly drowned as a child, but promises he will try to persuade her to come. Back inside, Martin accuses Laura of having an affair with Fleishman, and beats her to the ground. When Martin goes into town, Laura walks to the beach and throws rocks at the lamppost nearest their house, shattering the light bulbs. Martin returns home, apologizes, and gives Laura a red negligee as a gift. He takes off her clothes and dresses her in the negligee, then plays an audio cassette tape of Hector Berlioz’s “Symphonie fantastique,” the same classical music he plays anytime he wants to have sex. Laura pretends to enjoy their lovemaking. Afterward, at lunch, she says has been offered a full-time job at the library where she volunteers, but Martin forbids her taking it. He reminds her of a time six months ago when she abandoned her housekeeping duties and disappeared for two days. Laura argues that her absence was justified, as her mother had just died and she had gone to bury her; nevertheless, Martin punished her ... +


In Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Laura Burney struggles to please her abusive husband, Martin, whose behavior ranges from patronizing and controlling to brutally violent. Laura is expected to dress and keep their beachfront home according to Martin’s liking, even arranging the bathroom towels in a specific order. One day, on the beach, Martin introduces himself to Dr. John Fleishman, a new neighbor working on his sailboat. Fleishman compliments Martin’s house and beautiful wife, remarking that he has noticed Laura staring out the window. Fleishman invites the Burneys to go sailing that night. Martin explains that Laura is afraid of boats, as she cannot swim and nearly drowned as a child, but promises he will try to persuade her to come. Back inside, Martin accuses Laura of having an affair with Fleishman, and beats her to the ground. When Martin goes into town, Laura walks to the beach and throws rocks at the lamppost nearest their house, shattering the light bulbs. Martin returns home, apologizes, and gives Laura a red negligee as a gift. He takes off her clothes and dresses her in the negligee, then plays an audio cassette tape of Hector Berlioz’s “Symphonie fantastique,” the same classical music he plays anytime he wants to have sex. Laura pretends to enjoy their lovemaking. Afterward, at lunch, she says has been offered a full-time job at the library where she volunteers, but Martin forbids her taking it. He reminds her of a time six months ago when she abandoned her housekeeping duties and disappeared for two days. Laura argues that her absence was justified, as her mother had just died and she had gone to bury her; nevertheless, Martin punished her with beatings. Martin suspects Laura is trying to incite a quarrel so she won’t have to sail with him that night, but he insists on her going. Later, they join Dr. Fleishman on his boat. Bad weather cuts the trip short, and Fleishman turns the boat around. As the sea becomes increasingly choppy, Martin loses his grip on the jib. He and Fleishman struggle to gain control of the boat, and Martin is thrown overboard. When he climbs back on, Laura is gone. In a panic, Martin contacts the Coast Guard. Meanwhile, Laura, who has secretly learned to swim, uses the broken lamppost to guide her home. She grabs a bag packed with clothes and cash, dons a wig, and flushes her wedding ring down the toilet. After cleaning up her tracks with a towel, she boards a bus to Iowa, and settles in the small town of Cedar Falls, where she rents a quaint house and fixes it up. Still frightened that Martin could track her down, she reacts skittishly to abrupt noises and movements. She meets her neighbor, Ben, an attractive drama professor who invites her to dinner. When he asks her name, she tells him it is “Sara Waters.” Ben notices a wound on Laura’s hairline, from Martin’s latest beating, and detects her skepticism when he offers to help get her a job at the local college. Regardless, he arranges for an interview, and Laura is hired to work at the library. She and Ben begin dating, and he slowly gains her trust. Eventually, she reveals that she came to Cedar Falls to escape her abusive husband. She also confesses that her mother, Chloe, who is blind, lives in a nursing home nearby. However, Laura fears it is not safe to visit her yet. Meanwhile, after holding a memorial service for Laura, Martin receives a phone call from one of her friends at the YWCA. The woman offers her condolences and inadvertently reveals that Laura was taking swimming lessons. In a rage, Martin goes to the beach house and discovers Laura’s wedding ring in the toilet. Realizing she is still alive, he goes to the nursing home where Laura’s mother, Chloe, once lived, in search of clues. There, he is shocked to discover that Chloe never died, but was moved to another facility. Using a private detective, Martin locates Chloe’s new nursing home and begins stalking her there. Ben helps Laura disguise herself as a man so that she can visit her mother. At the nursing home, Martin passes Laura in the hallway but does not recognize her. Laura has a tearful reunion with Chloe, and reveals that she left Martin. She also tells her about her new relationship with Ben. Soon after, a receptionist alerts Martin that Chloe had a guest. Posing as a police officer, he convinces the blind Chloe that Laura is in danger. Chloe gives him the only information she can recall from Laura’s visit, citing her daughter’s new relationship with Ben, a college professor in Cedar Falls. Martin stalks Ben and Laura at a fair, then follows them home. While Ben sets up a picnic in his backyard, Laura goes next door to change. Noticing the towels in her bathroom are arranged the way Martin liked them, she searches the house in fear, but finds no one. After the picnic, Ben and Laura kiss goodnight. Laura returns home to find her bathtub overflowing. She discovers her pantry has been reorganized, and panics. Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique” plays on her stereo, and Martin appears with a gun as Laura tries to escape. Ben knocks on the door, and Martin points the gun at Laura’s head. She peeks outside and tells Ben to go away. Sensing something wrong, Ben breaks in and tussles with Martin, who easily overpowers him, knocking him unconscious. Martin presents Laura with her old wedding ring. Instead of taking it, she knees him in the groin and steals his gun. Although Martin does not believe she can harm him, Laura trains the gun on him, calls police, and informs them she just shot an intruder. Hanging up the phone, she shoots Martin three times. He collapses, and she cries over his body. Martin revives and retrieves the gun, but it is empty when he pulls the trigger. As Martin dies, Laura rushes to Ben’s side, and the two embrace. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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