Misery (1990)

R | 104 mins | Horror | 30 November 1990

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HISTORY

       According to a 1-8 May 1991 Time Out article, Stephen King based the novel Misery partly on an encounter with Mark David Chapman, who, sometime before murdering John Lennon of The Beatles, introduced himself to King as his “number one fan” and asked him to sign an autograph with a special pen. A 29 Apr 1990 LAT article stated that King initially refused to sell the rights to Misery, a highly personal novel, after previous film adaptations of his work had proven disappointing. The author changed his mind, however, when Rob Reiner expressed interest, as Reiner had directed Stand by Me (1986, see entry), King’s favorite adaptation of his own work to that time.
       Misery was announced as a Castle Rock Entertainment production in a 29 Mar 1989 Var article, which noted that the sixteen-month-old company was forty-percent owned by Columbia Pictures. Reiner, a partner in Castle Rock, was set to produce and direct Misery with a budget of $14 million. The 29 Apr 1990 LAT later cited production costs as $18-20 million.
       Several actors were considered for the role of “Paul Sheldon,” which was initially offered to Michael Douglas, according to a 27 Oct 1989 LAHExam news item. Douglas turned down the role, as did Robert Redford. In a 2 Aug 1989 DV item, Harrison Ford was mentioned as a contender, before Warren Beatty entered “serious conversations” to play the lead, as announced in the 30 Nov 1989 DV. Beatty contributed ideas for the character during rewrites, according to the 29 ... More Less

       According to a 1-8 May 1991 Time Out article, Stephen King based the novel Misery partly on an encounter with Mark David Chapman, who, sometime before murdering John Lennon of The Beatles, introduced himself to King as his “number one fan” and asked him to sign an autograph with a special pen. A 29 Apr 1990 LAT article stated that King initially refused to sell the rights to Misery, a highly personal novel, after previous film adaptations of his work had proven disappointing. The author changed his mind, however, when Rob Reiner expressed interest, as Reiner had directed Stand by Me (1986, see entry), King’s favorite adaptation of his own work to that time.
       Misery was announced as a Castle Rock Entertainment production in a 29 Mar 1989 Var article, which noted that the sixteen-month-old company was forty-percent owned by Columbia Pictures. Reiner, a partner in Castle Rock, was set to produce and direct Misery with a budget of $14 million. The 29 Apr 1990 LAT later cited production costs as $18-20 million.
       Several actors were considered for the role of “Paul Sheldon,” which was initially offered to Michael Douglas, according to a 27 Oct 1989 LAHExam news item. Douglas turned down the role, as did Robert Redford. In a 2 Aug 1989 DV item, Harrison Ford was mentioned as a contender, before Warren Beatty entered “serious conversations” to play the lead, as announced in the 30 Nov 1989 DV. Beatty contributed ideas for the character during rewrites, according to the 29 Apr 1990 LAT, but did not commit to the project. On 22 Dec 1989, DV announced James Caan’s casting.
       Although the 2 Aug 1989 DV noted that Bette Midler was considered to play “Annie Wilkes,” the 1-8 May 1991 Time Out stated that screenwriter William Goldman wrote the part with stage actress Kathy Bates in mind. Goldman credited Castle Rock’s autonomy as the reason Bates was eventually cast, because the company operated independently from Columbia and did not have to satisfy the studio’s desire for bankable stars.
       A start date of 5 Feb 1990 was announced in a 24 Dec 1989 LAT brief. However, filming did not begin until 20 Feb 1990, according to 27 Mar 1990 HR production charts. The town of Genoa, NV, stood in for Silver Creek, CO, as stated in a 9 Mar 1990 HR brief, which described Genoa as “Nevada’s oldest town” with a population of around 400. The crew erected four fully functioning buildings on Genoa’s main boulevard, including a café, radiator shop, sheriff’s station, and general store. Temporary additions to the town included a gas station façade and pay telephone outside an existing sporting goods store. Exteriors of Annie Wilkes’s farm were built in NV, and the house was reconstructed in Los Angeles, CA, where interiors were shot at Hollywood Center Studios. A 17 Jun 1990 NYT article reported that filmmakers were midway through the seventy-five-day shooting schedule, with a Dec 1990 release planned.
       The film grossed $10.1 million on 1,244 screens in its opening weekend, as stated in a 5 Dec 1990 HR “Hollywood Report” column, earning an impressive $8,100 per screen. The release was quickly expanded, with Columbia adding several hundred play-dates.
       Kathy Bates won the Academy Award for Actress in a Leading Role and the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. Her character, “Annie Wilkes,” was ranked seventeenth villain on AFI’s 2003 list 100 Years…100 Villains.

      End credits include the following statements: “Clip from ‘Love Connection’ provided by Eric Lieber Productions, Inc.”; “Clip from ‘Family Feud’ provided by Mark Goodson Productions”; “Filmed at Hollywood Center Studios, Hollywood, California, and on locations in Northern California and Nevada”; “Producers wish to thank: The Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, The City of Genoa, Nevada, James Calder and David Morgan”; and, “Read the Signet Paperback.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Aug 1989.
---
Daily Variety
30 Nov 1989.
---
Daily Variety
22 Dec 1989.
---
Daily Variety
26 Nov 1990
p. 2, 15.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Mar 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 1990
p. 5, 14.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 1990.
---
LAHExam
27 Oct 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
24 Dec 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
29 Apr 1990
Calendar, p. 8, 25-26.
Los Angeles Times
30 Nov 1990
p. 1.
New York Times
17 Jun 1990.
---
New York Times
30 Nov 1990
p. 1.
Time Out (London)
1-8 May 1991
pp. 18-19.
Variety
29 Mar 1989.
---
Variety
26 Nov 1990
p. 10, 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Rob Reiner Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit photog
Spec photog
Cam op
Addl cam op
Asst cam
Asst cam
Addl asst cam
Addl asst cam
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
Still photog
Best boy grip
Grip
Lamp op
Lamp op
Lamp op
Cranes and dollies by
Photog equip by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept coord
Book cover illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Assoc film ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Set des
Leadman
Swing gang
Swing gang
Standby painter
Standby painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Asst mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
Mus contractor
Mus preparation
Cond & orch by
Addl orch by
Addl orch by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cable man
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Machine op
Machine op
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
ADR supv
ADR asst
ADR group coord
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Foley rec
Re-rec facilities
Foley by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec makeup eff by
Spec makeup eff by
Spec makeup eff by
Spec makeup eff by
Spec makeup eff by
Spec makeup eff by
Spec eff supv
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles & opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting assoc
Casting asst
Extras casting
Extras casting, L.A.
Transportation coord
Prod coord
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Post prod accountant
Payroll clerk
Post prod coord
Animal trainer
Helicopter pilot
Transportation capt
Prod secy
Asst to Rob Reiner
Asst to Rob Reiner
Asst to James Caan
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Craft service
First aid
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Caterer
Banking services provided by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stand-in
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Misery by Stephen King (New York, 1987).
AUTHOR
MUSIC
"Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1," performed by Liberace, courtesy of CBS Records, Music Licensing Deptartment, arranged by Liberace, published by AVI Music Publishing Group
"Moonlight Sonata," performed by Liberace, courtesy of CBS Records, Music Licensing Department, arranged by Liberace, published by AVI Music Publishing Group.
SONGS
"Shotgun," performed by Junior Walker & The Allstars, courtesy of Motown Record Company, L.P., written by Autry DeWalt, published by Stone Agate Music (a division of Jobete Music Co., Inc.)
"I'll Be Seeing You," performed by Liberace, courtesy of CBS Records, Music Licensing Department, written by Irving Kahal and Sammy Fain, published by Williamson Music Company and Bienstock Publishing Company on behalf of Redwood Music Limited
"Love Connection," written by Larry Grossman, published by Fiddleback Music Co., Inc., New Start Music and Eric Lieber Music, Inc.
+
SONGS
"Shotgun," performed by Junior Walker & The Allstars, courtesy of Motown Record Company, L.P., written by Autry DeWalt, published by Stone Agate Music (a division of Jobete Music Co., Inc.)
"I'll Be Seeing You," performed by Liberace, courtesy of CBS Records, Music Licensing Department, written by Irving Kahal and Sammy Fain, published by Williamson Music Company and Bienstock Publishing Company on behalf of Redwood Music Limited
"Love Connection," written by Larry Grossman, published by Fiddleback Music Co., Inc., New Start Music and Eric Lieber Music, Inc.
additional Liberace dialogue courtesy of AVI Record Productions, Inc.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 November 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 30 November 1990
New York opening: week of 30 November 1990
Production Date:
began 20 February 1990 in Genoa, NV, and Los Angeles, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Castle Rock Entertainment
Copyright Date:
14 December 1990
Copyright Number:
PA504753
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Color by CFI, Hollywood, California
Lenses/Prints
Prints by CFI, Hollywood, California
Duration(in mins):
104
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30773
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At the Silver Creek Lodge in Colorado, novelist Paul Sheldon celebrates the completion of his latest book with a glass of Dom Perignon champagne and a cigarette. Afterward, he packs up the manuscript and checks out of his cabin. As he drives away, a snowstorm hits, and Paul loses control of his car on a windy, mountain road. The car crashes, landing upside down on the snow-covered hillside. Months earlier, in New York City, Paul complains to his agent, Marcia Sindell, that he has become a romance novelist and wants to get back to serious writing. Marcia reminds him that his romance novels, featuring the character “Misery,” have made him rich and laments that he has killed her off in the latest installment, Misery’s Child. However, Paul is finally working on a novel that will make him proud and intends to finish it in Silver Creek. Back in the present, Paul is discovered by a local named Annie Wilkes, who pries him out of his wrecked car, takes him home, and makes him her patient, administering an intravenous drip feed and pain pills. When he first awakens, Annie introduces herself as Paul’s “number one fan” and assures him that she is a nurse. Later, when Paul asks why he is not in a hospital, she says the roads are closed and phone lines are down due to the blizzard. In another moment of wakefulness, Paul asks Annie if he will be able to walk again, and she pulls the sheets back to reveal his swollen, heavily bruised legs in makeshift splints. She confirms that he has many broken bones but will be able ... +


At the Silver Creek Lodge in Colorado, novelist Paul Sheldon celebrates the completion of his latest book with a glass of Dom Perignon champagne and a cigarette. Afterward, he packs up the manuscript and checks out of his cabin. As he drives away, a snowstorm hits, and Paul loses control of his car on a windy, mountain road. The car crashes, landing upside down on the snow-covered hillside. Months earlier, in New York City, Paul complains to his agent, Marcia Sindell, that he has become a romance novelist and wants to get back to serious writing. Marcia reminds him that his romance novels, featuring the character “Misery,” have made him rich and laments that he has killed her off in the latest installment, Misery’s Child. However, Paul is finally working on a novel that will make him proud and intends to finish it in Silver Creek. Back in the present, Paul is discovered by a local named Annie Wilkes, who pries him out of his wrecked car, takes him home, and makes him her patient, administering an intravenous drip feed and pain pills. When he first awakens, Annie introduces herself as Paul’s “number one fan” and assures him that she is a nurse. Later, when Paul asks why he is not in a hospital, she says the roads are closed and phone lines are down due to the blizzard. In another moment of wakefulness, Paul asks Annie if he will be able to walk again, and she pulls the sheets back to reveal his swollen, heavily bruised legs in makeshift splints. She confirms that he has many broken bones but will be able to walk once he receives an operation. She also reports that she re-located his dislocated shoulder. Marcia Sindell begins to worry about Paul, who has not been seen or heard from in days. She contacts Buster, the Silver Creek police chief, who agrees to investigate. Meanwhile, Annie continues to take care of Paul, who says it is a miracle she found him. She corrects his assumption, admitting that she used to sit outside his cabin and daydream about what he was writing, and when he left on the day of the blizzard, she was right behind him. Annie asks to read the manuscript she salvaged from Paul’s car, and he permits her in a show of gratitude. That night, Annie reveals that she read the first forty pages and detests it. Losing her temper, she yells at Paul for using bad language, and Paul becomes frightened. Later, when Misery’s Child is released, Annie excitedly retrieves her copy from the general store and reads it quickly, reporting on her progress and comparing the book’s brilliance to the Sistine Chapel. She introduces Paul to her sow named “Misery,” and later confesses that his books helped her through the heartbreak of her husband leaving. In the middle of the night, Annie rouses Paul and berates him for killing off the character Misery in Misery’s Child. She threatens him with a stool, then smashes it into the wall, warning that no one will ever come for him. Later, Paul drags himself out of bed but discovers that the door to his room is locked. After finding him on the floor the next morning, Annie rolls a charcoal grill into his room and forces Paul to light his manuscript on fire, aware that he only keeps one copy of his works in progress. Just then, Buster flies overhead in a helicopter, casually pointing out the Wilkes farm and instructing the pilot to turn around. Later, Annie presents Paul with a wheelchair and sets up a writing table by his window. She announces that he is going to resurrect her beloved Misery in a new novel, titled Misery’s Return. Paul pretends to be pleased but asks for a different kind of paper for the typewriter. Annie goes into town, and Paul uses a bobby pin she dropped on the floor to unlock the door to his room. Finding the front door locked and the phone disconnected, he wheels himself through the living room, noticing his signed portrait alongside Annie’s collection of Misery books. In the kitchen, he spots a knife block on the counter but hears Annie’s car approaching and hurries back to his room. Later, Buster discovers Paul’s car, and Sherman Douglas, the Colorado police chief, tells reporters that Paul is presumed dead. However, Buster notices pry marks on the driver’s side door and determines that Paul was rescued. Annie criticizes Paul’s early attempts at the new Misery book, but when he writes something that pleases her, he suggests they celebrate with a candlelit dinner. Having stashed numerous pain pills, he uses them to drug Annie’s wine, but she knocks over the glass before taking a sip. As time goes on, Paul continues to write, his legs heal, and he regains strength by lifting the typewriter in secret. On a rainy night, Annie delivers Paul’s pills in a stupor and says she has fallen in love with him but knows it is unrequited. She produces a shotgun from her robe and says she needs to load it. When she drives into town, Paul sneaks out of his room and steals a knife from the kitchen. On his way back, he finds Annie’s scrapbook with newspaper clippings about various mysterious deaths, including her husband’s, and Annie’s incarceration for a number of infant deaths at a hospital where she worked as a nurse. Back in his room, he practices pulling the knife from his sling, then hides it under the mattress. Hours later, Paul awakens to find Annie injecting him, and he loses consciousness. Waking up again, he finds himself strapped to the bed. Annie wields the knife and says she knows he saw her scrapbook. To discourage him from leaving his room again, she places a block between his legs and uses a hammer to break his ankles. Sometime later, Buster becomes suspicious of Annie when he sees her losing her temper in town, and reads about her conviction at the library. He goes to her farm, where Annie hides Paul in the basement just in time to greet Buster at the door. As the police chief searches the house, Annie explains that she is Paul’s biggest fan and has been writing another Misery novel to keep his legacy alive. Buster starts to leave, but hears Paul cry out from the basement. Just as he opens the basement door and recognizes Paul at the bottom of the stairs, Annie shoots the police chief from behind. She tells Paul it is now time for both of them to die, but Paul convinces her that he needs to finish the last Misery book. Promising to complete it before dawn, he sneaks a container of lighter fluid in his pants and returns to his room. Hours later, he begins typing the final page and Annie anticipates the three things he always uses to celebrate the end of a book: a cigarette, a match, and a bottle of Dom Perignon. She delivers the items, and Paul instructs her to get a glass for herself. He then throws the manuscript onto the floor and douses it with lighter fluid, using the match to ignite the book as Annie returns. Devastated, she throws herself onto the ground, and Paul bashes her over the head with the typewriter. In the ensuing struggle, Annie shoots him in the shoulder and he trips her, causing her head to hit the typewriter. Believing she is dead, Paul crawls out of the room but Annie attacks once more, and he uses a doorstop to deliver the fatal blow to her skull. Eighteen months later, Paul celebrates the critical success of his latest book, The Higher Education of J. Philip Stone, with Marcia at a restaurant. He claims his experience with Annie helped him as a writer, but when Marcia suggests he write a non-fiction account of his abduction, Paul balks at the idea. Explaining he has not yet recovered, he hallucinates Annie as their waitress, while the actual waitress introduces herself as Paul’s “number one fan.” +

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

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