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FATAL ATTRACTION (director/writer: Adrian Lyne; screenwriter: James Dearden; cinematographer: Howard Atherton; editors: Michael Kahn/Peter E. Berger; music: Maurice Jarre; cast: Michael Douglas (Dan Gallagher), Glenn Close (Alex Forrest), Anne Archer (Beth Gallagher), Ellen Hamilton Latzen (Ellen Gallagher), Stuart Pankin (Jimmy), Ellen Foley (Hildy), Fred Gwynne (Arthur), Meg Mundy (Joan Rogerson), Tom Brennan (Howard Rogerson), Lois Smith (Martha); Runtime: 119; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Stanley R. Jaffe/ Sherry Lansing; Paramount Pictures; 1987)
A crowd-pleasing sensationalist jejune romantic thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A crowd-pleasing sensationalist jejune romantic thriller, that was a smash hit at the box office. It’s the kind of exploitative adult pic that’s junk food for those who believe the world would be better off if women were just docile creatures and not such tempting sexual figures. Director Adrian Lyne (“Foxes”/”Flashdance”/”Nine 1/2 Weeks”)directs this tepid scriptedmelodrama byJames Dearden by keeping it predictable, dull-witted, cliched and dehumanizing. I didn’t find it appealing (though I must say the acting by the three leads is quite good) or eye-opening as a moralistic message movie. Its feminist plea for men to take responsibility for their sexual behavior and its female revenge fantasy offering against such irresponsible men is nothing more than the insane acts of a crazy person.

Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) is a successful yuppie Manhattan lawyer and is happily married to the ideal wife Beth (Anne Archer), and they have a young daughter (Ellen Hamilton Latzen). On the weekend his wife goes to the country, Dan has a one-night stand with sexy book editor Alex Forrest (Glenn Close)–a new business associate. When Dan refuses to continue the affair, the scorned 36-year-old reacts to his brush off with threatening phone calls, by stalking him, an acid attack on his car, and psychological and physical attacks on Dan’s family (like kidnapping his innocent daughter and a bunny boiling). Alex makes the complacent Dan’s once tranquil domestic life a living hell. It leads to the nail-biting climax as a battle between the dangerous psychotic knife-wielding Alex and the terrified wife, with Dan coming to the aid of his attacked wife.

This pic has made the term “Fatal Attraction” become part of the American pop culture lexicon to describe when love is turned into a murderous obsession. It is similar in theme to Clint Eastwood’s 1971 film Play Misty for Me.

The film’s original more subtle ending was scrapped by the producers when it tested poorly at special prevue showings.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”