Celebrating “Fatal Attraction” At 35!
It’s a classic film that entertained and shocked the world when released in 1987 – it catapulted Michael Douglas to super stardom, made Glenn Close a movie star, and caused endless debates about unfaithful husbands and vengeful Mistresses!
Time to celebrate all that is the majesty of:
The Thriller “Fatal Attraction”!
First and foremost, remember this: “Fatal Attraction” is a great film…it was a huge smash hit when released, and was nominated for the Best Picture Of The Year Academy Award in 1987 – it was a pop culture phenomenon – that nobody wanted to make!
First, the riveting trailer:
“It’s Not Going To Stop…It’s Going To Go On And On…”
With those words, Alex Forrest makes clear that she is “not going to be ignored!”
Here are some great stories about a great movie that lives on decades later as one of Hollywood’s most entertaining shockers!
What A Credit!
This film has so many fascinating elements to it, beginning with the opening credits, which say this:
“Written by James Dearden based on his original screenplay”
That’s because Dearden’s short film “Diverson” told the story that became the first third of the film – his tale of a girlfriend who slits her wrists when her boyfriend tries to break up with her. That was the end of “Diverson”, but the inspiration for the rest of “Fatal Attraction.”
Producers saw the short film and asked Dearden to expand it into a feature length film…but as Producer Sherry Lansing said:
“Every studio passed on it at least twice. People would throw the script in my face and say, ‘i’m a happily married man, i would never cheat on my wife for absolutely no reason.’ They were really offended by it.”
For good reason! Some of the Oscar-nominated script included conversations like this, which began after Douglas has an affair with Close while his wife and daughter are out of town:
Dan Gallagher: You’re so sad. You know that, Alex? Lonely and very sad.
Alex Forrest: Don’t you ever pity me, you smug bastard.
Dan Gallagher: I’ll pity you… I’ll pity you. I’ll pity you because you’re sick.
Alex Forrest: Why? Because I won’t allow you treat me like some slut you can just bang a couple of times and throw in the garbage?
And that’s what was so controversial about the film – Douglas has an affair and shows almost NO regret for cheating on his wife, only for being caught up in a revenge tale from a woman spurned!
Brian DePalma Vs. Michael Douglas!
And then came the disasterous directorial dance with Brian DePalma, the brilliant Director of such shockers as “Dressed To Kill” and “Carrie” – he had just made the massively successful film “The Untouchables” and wanted to direct “Fatal Attraction”…one big problem: he wanted to go in a different direction – without Michael Douglas!
Luckily, The Producers said “no”, and DePalma left the project. Says Lansing:
“We never told Michael. He only found out many years later, after he was so hugely successful. He thought it was funny. At the time it would have really hurt him.”
And Douglas adds pointedly about Brian DePalma’s effort to replace him:
“I’ve always carried a grude with Bri. We didn’t get it resolved for like 20 years, when he came up to me at some party to try and explain. I just said, ‘Brian, it’s too late. Twenty years is too late.”
As for Glenn Close, she had starred in the acclaimed film “The Big Chill” – but when she expressed interest in “Fatal Attraction” she was told that she was too nice and earthy to be the vixen in the movie!
So what did she do? She showed up with her hair uncombed, frizzly and unmanageable…just like the character – and won them over immediately!
Director Adrien Lyne said after her audition:
“I remember thinking her hair was a disaster, but that’s what people remember, that kind of medusa hair.”
As Michael Douglas admitted:
“I thought she was wrong before she came and in and absolutely right after she came in. She had that sexy, erotic, dangerous quality.”
And as for the sex scenes, Michael Douglas tells some funny stories about being goofy on set to take the tension out of the moment and Glenn Close was up for anything – IF she was kept awash in alcohol.
“I said, OK Tommy (the prop guy) you have to give me a pitcher of margaritas.”
Oh, and then there is this:
“The stench was unbearable!”
Yes, it was a REAL Rabbit used in that infamous and shocking scene…it was a dead one with the innards taken out but the fur left on, and it smelled horrible…because they really did boil it in a pot of hot water for the scene!
As For The Controversial Ending…
The film’s DVD and blu-ray releases have a lot of great stories about how the audience reacted to test screenings, including the original ending – which was dramatically different that what we all saw!
The film’s original ending was bleak, with Close committing suicide and pinning it on Douglas…but audiences wanted more, and so reluctantly, Glenn Close agreed to let her character show a more evil side at the end….
As she says now:
“The changes that were made with the ending, for better or fore worse for Alex, made it into the sensation that it became…I’m proud to be part of that movie. its part of our collective consciousness.”
35 years later, it’s as compelling and suspenseful as ever, beautifully directed and acted – it also reminds me of a couple of other “crazy lady” movies:
“Single White Female” is a terrific thriller about a roommate who “borrows” much more than Bridget Fonda bargained for – see that and a few more thrillers here:
Here’s another terrific thriller with an “A-List” cast!
If you haven’t seen “Malice”, look for it now – a stellar cast in a twisty thriller!
See more here:
And if erotic thrillers are your favorite kind of film, here’s another great one:
Al Pacino is terrific in this wild thriller – see the trailer and more by clicking on my story here:
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And let me know what you think of “Fatal Attraction!”