Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986)

R | 113 mins | Drama | 1986

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HISTORY

The version of Nine ½ Weeks viewed for the Summary entry was the “original uncut, uncensored” edition released on DVD in 2009 and may reflect inconsistencies with the way the film appeared during its 1986 U.S. theatrical release.
       The end credits include the following “special thanks to”: Playboy Magazine; Ermengildo Zegna; Sidney Janis Gallery; The New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting. Also noted is an “excerpt from A New Day in Eden created by Douglas Marland, written by Douglas Marland and Patrick Mulcahey.” As the credits conclude, the following text appears onscreen: “photographed entirely on location in New York City, Long Island and New Jersey.”
       According to an undated interview with Roger Ebert from Chicago Sun Times , director Adrian Lyne was motivated to make the picture after reading Elizabeth McNeill’s self-proclaimed autobiographical book, Nine and a Half Weeks (1978), but he felt it would be impossible to produce a commercially viable film “based on pain” and sadomasocism, so he chose to direct Flashdance (1983, see entry) to establish his credibility to audiences and Hollywood studios.
       As noted in a 23 Apr 1984 HR article, the film was initially financed by Tri-Star Pictures, but just before principal photography was scheduled to begin, in Apr 1984, Tri-Star backed out of the deal. According to a Tri-Star representative, the studio had “creative differences” about the script with Lyne, who refused their requests for revisions. Although Tri-Star claimed they had no objections to the explicit sex in the film, Lyne’s agent told HR that Tri-Star wanted two scenes removed from the ... More Less

The version of Nine ½ Weeks viewed for the Summary entry was the “original uncut, uncensored” edition released on DVD in 2009 and may reflect inconsistencies with the way the film appeared during its 1986 U.S. theatrical release.
       The end credits include the following “special thanks to”: Playboy Magazine; Ermengildo Zegna; Sidney Janis Gallery; The New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting. Also noted is an “excerpt from A New Day in Eden created by Douglas Marland, written by Douglas Marland and Patrick Mulcahey.” As the credits conclude, the following text appears onscreen: “photographed entirely on location in New York City, Long Island and New Jersey.”
       According to an undated interview with Roger Ebert from Chicago Sun Times , director Adrian Lyne was motivated to make the picture after reading Elizabeth McNeill’s self-proclaimed autobiographical book, Nine and a Half Weeks (1978), but he felt it would be impossible to produce a commercially viable film “based on pain” and sadomasocism, so he chose to direct Flashdance (1983, see entry) to establish his credibility to audiences and Hollywood studios.
       As noted in a 23 Apr 1984 HR article, the film was initially financed by Tri-Star Pictures, but just before principal photography was scheduled to begin, in Apr 1984, Tri-Star backed out of the deal. According to a Tri-Star representative, the studio had “creative differences” about the script with Lyne, who refused their requests for revisions. Although Tri-Star claimed they had no objections to the explicit sex in the film, Lyne’s agent told HR that Tri-Star wanted two scenes removed from the screenplay. Furthermore, he suggested that the studio was pressured to censor the film by The Coca-Cola Company, the parent company of Columbia Pictures, which owned part of Tri-Star.
       According to HR , shooting was expected to begin 30 Apr 1984. A 13 Aug 1984 DV article announced that principal photography ended 10 Aug 1984 after a fifteen-week shoot, two weeks behind schedule. While the film was budgeted at $13 million, the delay cost producers up to an additional $500,000, according to estimates by DV . Producers Sales Organization (PSO) head Mark Damon told DV that the production was held up by “constant shooting and reshooting” required by the temperamental personalities of Lyne, Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger. In a 23 Feb 1986 Chicago Sun Times article, Rourke reported that he fought with Lyne on the set and that he and Basinger did not speak to each other off-screen. Although Basinger made deprecating statements about Rourke to the press and their working relationship was troubled, Rourke defended the uneasy atmosphere of the production, claiming that it was appropriate for the context of the film. Chicago Sun Times reported that Lyne did not conduct rehearsals so he could capture the first time Rourke and Basinger met on film. Rourke related that he was exceptionally nervous during the scene when his character approaches Basinger’s character in a Chinatown grocery store, because they had never before interacted, and Lyne intentionally kept the actors away from each other even after their first encounter. Rourke noted that Lyne discouraged camaraderie between himself and Basinger to counterbalance the intimacy their characters would share on-screen.
       In the 13 Aug 1984 article, DV announced that MGM/UA Entertainment Co. had picked up the film for distribution and Geffen Records was hired to produce the soundtrack album, which was reportedly composed by Stewart Copeland. However, Copeland is not credited as the film’s composer and, according to a 15 Mar 1986 Orange County Register article, Geffen decided to end its involvement with the film because the script was deemed “offensive.” As noted in a 19 May 1986 Us Magazine news item, actress-singer Grace Jones recorded a version of the theme song, “The Best Is Yet to Come,” but her voice was replaced by pop-singer Luba.
       According to studio production notes from AMPAS library files, locations in New York City included the yard of Trinity Church, the Canal Street Flea Market, the Algonquin Hotel, Café des Artistes on West 67th Street, Coney Island, Wall Street, Little Italy, SoHo, Bloomingdale’s department store and the Chelsea Hotel. Production notes stated that Lyne selected a monochromatic color scheme to evoke sensuality and black and white photography. "John" and "Elizabeth’s" costumes, as well as John’s apartment, were designed in shades of grey, and Lyne used smoke machines to “remove contrast” and provoke the imagination of his viewers. For similar reasons, Lyne chose locations where he could film in natural light, including John’s apartment, a former piano factory with 360-degree views of New York. Although Lyne wanted to shoot at the New York Stock Exchange, the production was “barred” from the site due to its content, according to Orange County Register .
       On 14 Feb 1986, NYT announced that after nearly one year and $1 million, “additional editing” was complete, just one week before the film's release. Damon told NYT that when the film was first screened for test audiences, women were displeased by Elizabeth’s passivity in the affair, but after the filmmakers edited the picture to enhance her willing participation, audiences reported that the film was “too bland.” Damon also reported that timing was another issue; audiences were unwilling to believe in the affair if it began early in the picture, but were unhappy if they had to wait “too long” for it.
       As noted in various contemporary sources, several scenes were removed from the film before its release in the U.S., but they remained in the version screened in Europe. According to Orange County Register , the scenes depicted John’s request to Elizabeth that she blindfold him and cut his wrists so he can share her experience of pain, and another showed John forcing Elizabeth onto all fours to pick up scattered dollar bills. When she protests, John uses his belt as a whip until she confesses that she likes it. The scenes were removed after unfavorable reactions at screenings, where two-thirds of the test audiences left the theater. Another audience reportedly laughed during dramatic sequences. Lyne told Rogert Ebert that the studio was not concerned with the salaciousness of the film in these scenes, but they feared that the audience ceased to identify with Elizabeth. A 13 Aug 1986 Var news item reported that the video release would include some, but not all, of the scenes removed for the film’s U.S. R-rating.
       According to a 14 Aug 1986 DV article, Nine ½ Weeks defied film industry standards by vastly surpassing its domestic box-office gross in foreign markets. While the film earned $3 million in the U.S. within six months, it grossed over $17.6 million internationally, and PSO executives predicted its revenues would exceed $25 million. However, PSO was not expecting to recoup its losses from the cost of production in ticket sales, and reported that they might break even because of “ancillary deals.” PSO claimed the discrepancy was a result of MGM/UA’s “management change” and general reluctance to promote the picture, while the film’s controversial subject matter and the extended editing process helped to generate interest abroad. The foreign release, which was nearly three minutes longer than the American version, was promoted with much steamier advertisements and the campaigns were targeted to specific markets, according to DV . As noted by PSO, foreign distributors “put up minimum guarantees… so they were highly motivated.” DV reported that the film was the top grossing release of the year in the Middle East. In Italy, where the picture premiered a week before opening in the U.S., 9½ Weeks earned $10 million in six months.
       Despite its international success, the film also provoked controversy abroad. In England, for example, the city of Brighton required theaters to obtain a “special license” to show the picture after complaints from the University of Sussex’s Women’s Group, according to a 26 Jul 1986 Screen International news item. A 27 Jan 1989 brief in HR stated that a judge in Rome, Italy, ordered the trial of four government officials on obscenity charges for their involvement in lowering the age limit for viewing the picture from eighteen to fourteen, thereby making the film qualified for television broadcasting.
       In Feb 1990, Lyne sued Jonesfilm for a breach of contract, according to a 19 Feb 1990 LAT news item. Lyne claimed that the studio failed to pay him $200,000 after two years of the film’s release, as well as 10% of its gross receipts. The lawsuit sought to recover $6 million in damages and an injunction to prohibit the film’s future exhibition or distribution. A 7 Sep 1990 HR brief reported that a breach of contract suit was filed by Jonesfilm against MGM Entertainment Co. and Turner Entertainment Co. Jonesfilm alleged that MGM and its parent company, Turner, did not properly distribute the picture and withheld a $500,000 payment for distribution rights. Furthermore, Jonesfilm claimed that the companies “falsely accounted” for the film’s box-office gross.



The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Thor Dodson, a student at Oregon State University, with Jon Lewis as academic advisor.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Chicago Sun Times
23 Feb 1986
pp. 20-21.
Daily Variety
13 Aug 1984.
---
Daily Variety
14 Feb 1986
p. 2, 8.
Daily Variety
14 Aug 1986
p. 3, 22.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 1984
p. 1, 16.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 1986
p. 3, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Feb 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Sep 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
21 Feb 1986
p. 1, 6.
Los Angeles Times
19 Feb 1990.
---
New York Times
14 Feb 1986.
---
New York Times
21 Feb 1986
p. 17.
Orange County Register
15 Mar 1986
Section E, p. 9.
Screen International
26 Jul 1986.
---
Us Magazine
19 May 1986.
---
Variety
12 Feb 1986
p. 22.
Variety
13 Aug 1986.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
an Adrian Lyne film
a Keith Barish production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Co-exec prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Key grip
Dolly grip
Loc lighting
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser
Set dresser
Const coord
Set builder
Set builder
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Furniture provided by
Matthew Farnsworth art based on the work by
Slide sequence paintings by
"Untitled 1983" by
Addl art work by
courtesy of Manhattan Art, NYC
Addl art work by
courtesy of Metro Pictures, NYC
Addl art work by
courtesy of Metro Pictures, NYC
Addl art work by
courtesy of Metro Pictures, NYC
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Ward supv
Asst ward
MUSIC
Music supv by
Magstripe Music, Inc.
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Score prod and rec by
Performed by
Synclavier and synthesizer programming by
Mus coord
Mus coord
Assoc mus coord
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title des
Spec eff
Opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hair stylist
Makeup consultant
Performed by
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting, Lynn Stalmaster & Associates
Exec in charge of prod
Loc mgr
Prod office coord
Prod controller
Unit pub
Res coord
Physical fitness consultant
Prod consultant
Spec consultant
Computer images by
Video consultant
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
ANIMATION
Computer anim
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Nine and a Half Weeks: A Memoir of a Love Affair by Elizabeth McNeill (New York, 1978).
MUSIC
"Selection from 'Ambient Music 1: Music for Airports,'" performed by Brian Eno, written by Brian Eno, Rhett Davies and Robert Wyatt, courtesy of EG Records, Ltd.
SONGS
"The Best Is Yet to Come," performed by Luba, written by Graham Lyle and Terry Britten, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc., produced by Narada Michael Walden for Perfection Light Productions
"This City Never Sleeps," performed by Eurythmics, written by Annie Lennox and D.A. Stewart, courtesy of RCA Records, Ltd.
"Eurasian Eyes," performed and written by Corey Hart, courtesy of EMI America Records, a division of Capitol Records, Inc.
+
SONGS
"The Best Is Yet to Come," performed by Luba, written by Graham Lyle and Terry Britten, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc., produced by Narada Michael Walden for Perfection Light Productions
"This City Never Sleeps," performed by Eurythmics, written by Annie Lennox and D.A. Stewart, courtesy of RCA Records, Ltd.
"Eurasian Eyes," performed and written by Corey Hart, courtesy of EMI America Records, a division of Capitol Records, Inc.
"Slave to Love," performed and written by Bryan Ferry, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc./EG Records, Ltd., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Cannes," performed and written by Stewart Copeland, courtesy of A&M Records, Inc.
"Come to Life," produced by John Taylor and John Ellias, featuring Dalbello, Michael DesBarres, B.J. Nelson and Michael Brecker, written by John Taylor, John Ellias and Michael DesBarres, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
"You Can Leave Your Hat On," performed by Joe Cocker, written by Randy Newman, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
"Let It Go," performed and written by Luba, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
"Love and Happiness," performed by Al Green, written by Al Green and Mabon Hodges, courtesy of Cream Records
"The Strayaway Child," written by Michael Gorman, performed by Andy Narell, courtesy of Hip Pocket Records, distributed by Windham Hill Records
"Saviour," performed by Winston Grennan and Black Sage, written by Winston Grennan
"Strange Fruit," performed by Billie Holiday, written by Lewis Allen, courtesy of PolyGram Special Projects, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
"Bread and Butter," performed by The Nubeats, written by Larry Parks and Jay Turnbow, courtesy of Hickory Records
"Arpegiator," performed and written by Jean Michel Jarre, courtesy of Dreyfus Records
"Voices," performed by Brian Eno, composed by Roger Eno and Brian Eno, courtesy of Opal, Ltd.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
1986
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 21 February 1986
Production Date:
30 April--10 August 1984 in New York and New Jersey
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Color by Technicolor®
Lenses/Prints
Panaflex® camera and lenses by Panavision®; Prints by Metrocolor®
Duration(in mins):
113
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Elizabeth walks through New York City, New York, to her job at Spring Street Gallery in SoHo. As Elizabeth and her colleague, Molly, shop for a dinner party in Chinatown, Elizabeth notices a handsome stranger named John. Later, as the ladies prepare the meal in their shared apartment, Molly encourages Elizabeth to date now that she is divorced, but Elizabeth is shy about discussing sex. The next day at the Chelsea Flea Market, Elizabeth admires a vintage shawl, but is unwilling to pay $300 for it. Meanwhile, John watches Elizabeth through the crowd and, after approaching her, takes her to an Italian restaurant frequented by the mafia. Later, John presents Elizabeth with the vintage shawl she coveted and takes her to a boathouse on the harbor. As John puts a sheet on the bed and explains that he is a Wall Street arbitrageur, Elizabeth becomes uncomfortable and ends the encounter. On their next date, John provokes Elizabeth’s anxiety by forcing her to ride a Coney Island Ferris wheel alone and further enrages her by ordering the operator to stop the machine when she reaches the top. Back at Elizabeth’s apartment, John demands that she take off her dress and blindfolds her. As Elizabeth confesses that she is both scared and excited, John arouses her with a melting ice cube. On another date, Elizabeth visits John’s sparse apartment and he gives her a gold watch, asking that she think about his touch every day at 12:00 p.m. The next day at work, Molly reminds Elizabeth that she has a dinner date with her former husband, Bruce, but Elizabeth suggests ... +


Elizabeth walks through New York City, New York, to her job at Spring Street Gallery in SoHo. As Elizabeth and her colleague, Molly, shop for a dinner party in Chinatown, Elizabeth notices a handsome stranger named John. Later, as the ladies prepare the meal in their shared apartment, Molly encourages Elizabeth to date now that she is divorced, but Elizabeth is shy about discussing sex. The next day at the Chelsea Flea Market, Elizabeth admires a vintage shawl, but is unwilling to pay $300 for it. Meanwhile, John watches Elizabeth through the crowd and, after approaching her, takes her to an Italian restaurant frequented by the mafia. Later, John presents Elizabeth with the vintage shawl she coveted and takes her to a boathouse on the harbor. As John puts a sheet on the bed and explains that he is a Wall Street arbitrageur, Elizabeth becomes uncomfortable and ends the encounter. On their next date, John provokes Elizabeth’s anxiety by forcing her to ride a Coney Island Ferris wheel alone and further enrages her by ordering the operator to stop the machine when she reaches the top. Back at Elizabeth’s apartment, John demands that she take off her dress and blindfolds her. As Elizabeth confesses that she is both scared and excited, John arouses her with a melting ice cube. On another date, Elizabeth visits John’s sparse apartment and he gives her a gold watch, asking that she think about his touch every day at 12:00 p.m. The next day at work, Molly reminds Elizabeth that she has a dinner date with her former husband, Bruce, but Elizabeth suggests that Molly go in her place. Later, Elizabeth masturbates as she views slides of artwork. That evening, John instructs Elizabeth to keep her eyes closed as he fills her mouth with an assortment of food and drink, then massages her with honey as they kiss. At work, Molly confesses to Elizabeth that she had sex with Bruce. When Elizabeth later asks John to go to a party with her and Molly, he refuses to interact with her socially, but offers to take care of her in all other aspects of her life. After John responds to a call and leaves his apartment, Elizabeth grows tired of waiting and looks through his closet, where she finds photographs of John with another woman. Just then, John calls to ask if she has been snooping into his belongings. When she confesses, John hangs up and returns to the apartment, threatening to spank her. As Elizabeth protests, John rips off her underwear and forces himself on her. The next morning, John makes Elizabeth breakfast and takes her shopping. As her affair with John continues, Elizabeth tells Molly that she is confused by her lover but says she might be falling in love. Later, Elizabeth follows John through the city to his office and brings him lunch, but when he is unresponsive, she tries to leave. However, he takes her to a Wall Street bar, where she comments that she always wondered what it would be like to be “one of the guys” and fondles him. Following John’s invitation to the Algonquin Hotel, Elizabeth finds a tuxedo and fake moustache with a note from her lover, instructing her to dress as a man and meet him in the lobby. As they dine, John lights her cigar and they kiss as restaurant patrons watch with discomfort. Outside, the couple is chased by homophobic thugs through a rainstorm and as John fights them off, Elizabeth threatens them with a pocketknife. When the men run away, Elizabeth is excited by their victory and the couple makes love under a leaking drainpipe. Sometime later, John encourages Elizabeth to shoplift a gold locket and buys a horse crop. Back at John’s apartment, Elizabeth performs a strip tease with the crop and a pair of handcuffs. At work, Elizabeth curates a show of Matthew Farnsworth’s paintings, but the elderly artist fails to communicate with the gallery so she tracks him down at his studio in the country. Examining a recently caught fish on his fishing pole, the senile gentleman is perplexed by Elizabeth’s presence. Later, John scatters money on the floor of his apartment and orders Elizabeth to pick it up, but when she protests, he threatens to whip her with his belt. Elizabeth’s depression about the affair is exacerbated when Bruce comes to the gallery looking for Molly instead of her, and she rushes to meet John at the Chelsea Hotel when she receives a phone message from him. As Elizabeth arrives at the hotel, John calls again and declares his love, then asks her to participate in another “game.” He forces Elizabeth to cover her eyes with a blindfold and has a Latina prostitute fondle her breasts. As John becomes intimate with the prostitute, Elizabeth hits him and runs away in a rage. John follows her to an X-rated theater where men watch a couple have sex. When John approaches, Elizabeth kisses one of the men in the audience, but then embraces her lover in tears. Later, at Farnsworth’s opening, Elizabeth is sensitive to the elderly gentleman’s confusion and cries again. After vomiting in the bathroom, Elizabeth returns to John, but packs her clothes to leave him. When John tells her about his childhood in Chicago and his working-class parents, Elizabeth says it is too late to save their relationship. Although John claims his feelings toward Elizabeth are more meaningful than those he’s had with past lovers, Elizabeth argues that he knew their affair would end when she was pushed to her limit. As she closes the door, leaving behind her luggage, John whispers that he loves her and hopes she will come back by the count of fifty. However, Elizabeth proceeds through the streets of New York City and does not return. +

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

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