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Fatal Attraction
Directed by Adrian Lyne
Produced by Stanley R. Jaffe
Sherry Lansing
Written by James Dearden
Starring Michael Douglas
Glenn Close
Anne Archer
Music by Maurice Jarre
Editing by Michael Kahn
Peter E. Berger
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) September 11, 1987 (premiere)
September 18, 1987 (wide)
Running time 119 min.
Language English
Budget $14,000,000 (estimated)
Gross revenue $320,145,693 (worldwide)[1]

Fatal Attraction is a 1987 thriller film about a married man who has a weekend affair with a woman who refuses to allow it to end and who becomes obsessed with him. It stars Michael Douglas, Glenn Close and Anne Archer. It was directed by Adrian Lyne. The film was adapted by James Dearden and Nicholas Meyer from an earlier short film by Dearden for British television Diversion (1980).

Fatal Attraction was a smash hit, becoming the second highest grossing film of 1987 in the United States and hugely popular internationally. Critics were enthusiastic about the film, and it received six Academy Award nominations, including that for Best Picture and Best Actress for Close.



Daniel Gallagher is a successful, happily married New York attorney living in Manhattan when he meets Alex Forrest, an editor from a publishing company, through business. While his wife and daughter are out of town for the weekend, Dan has an affair with Alex. Though Dan thought it would be a simple fling, Alex begins clinging to him.

Alex's mental instability surfaces when she attempts suicide after Dan explains that he must go home. Dan thinks the affair is forgotten, but Alex shows up at various places to see him. She waits at his office one day to apologize and invite him to the opera Madame Butterfly, but he turns her down. She then calls Dan's office until he tells his secretary he will no longer take her calls. Alex then calls Dan's home at all hours and informs him that she is pregnant and plans to keep the baby. Although Dan wants nothing to do with her, she argues that he must take responsibility. Alex shows up at Dan's apartment (which is for sale) and meets his wife, Beth, feigning interest as a buyer. Later that night, Dan goes to Alex's apartment to confront her about her actions. In response, she replies, "Well, what am I supposed to do? You won't answer my calls, you change your number, I'm not going to be ignored, Dan!"

Dan moves his family to the New York village of Bedford, but this doesn't deter Alex. She has a voice recording delivered to Dan filled with verbal abuse. She stalks him in a parking garage, pours acid on his vehicle, and follows him home one night to spy on him, Beth, and their daughter Ellen from the bushes in his yard; the sight of their family life literally makes her sick to her stomach. Alex's obsession eventually turns into madness. Dan approaches the police to apply for a restraining order against Alex (claiming that it is "for a client"), to which a police lieutenant claims that he cannot violate Alex's rights without probable cause and that the adulterer has to own up to his adultery.

Alex's rage eventually escalates into madness, slowly exposing her severe mental disorder.

At one point, while the Gallaghers are away from home, Alex kills Ellen's pet rabbit, and puts it on their stove to boil. After this, Dan tells Beth of the affair and Alex's pregnancy; infuriated, Beth asks him to leave. Before he goes, Dan calls Alex to tell her that Beth knows about the affair. Beth gets on the phone and warns Alex over the phone that if she persists, Beth will kill her. Alex kidnaps Ellen from school and takes her to an amusement park, buying her ice cream as well as taking her on a roller coaster. Beth is injured in a car accident while searching in a panic for her child. Dan approaches the police about having Alex arrested, but the police still say they lack cause to take action against her, although they can drive by his residence to watch for intruders. Beth is briefly hospitalized and soon released. Beth forgives Dan and he returns home. Angered by what's happened because of Alex, Dan barges into her apartment, severely beating her. To the point he tries to kill her, but stops and as he does Alex turns the tables and tries to kill him with a knife from her kitchen.

Dan overpowers her but leaves the knife and quits fighting. However Alex just smiles, clearly deranged, misinterpreting his actions. Alex then decides to eliminate what she sees as her main obstacle: Beth. While Beth is in the bathroom, Alex attacks her with a chef's knife. Dan hears the screaming and runs in, wrestles Alex into the bathtub and seemingly drowns her. She suddenly emerges from the water, swinging the knife. Beth, who went searching for Dan's gun, shoots Alex in the chest, killing her. The final scene shows police cars outside Dan and Beth's house. As Dan finishes talking with the cops, he walks inside, where his wife is waiting for him. They embrace and proceed upstairs as the camera focuses on a picture on the table of Dan, Beth and Ellen.


After its release, Fatal Attraction engendered much discussion of the potential consequences of infidelity. Feminists, meanwhile, did not appreciate the depiction of Alex as a strong career woman who is at the same time profoundly psychotic.[2] Feminist Susan Faludi discussed the film in her book Backlash, arguing that major changes had been made to the original plot in order to make Alex wholly negative, while Dan's carelessness and the lack of compassion and responsibility raised no discussion, except for a small number of fundamentalist men's groups who said that Dan was eventually forced to own up to his irresponsibility in that "everyone pays the piper".

The film has also had an effect on men. Glenn Close was quoted in 2008 as saying, "Men still come up to me and say, 'You scared the shit out of me.' Sometimes they say, 'You saved my marriage.'"[3]

The film grossed US$156.6 million and was the second highest grossing film of 1987 behind Three Men and a Baby.[4]

Much of the movie's plot was spoofed in the 1993 comedy Fatal Instinct.

Alternate ending

Alex Forrest was originally scripted to commit suicide at the end of the movie by slashing her throat. Her plan was to make it look as if Dan had murdered her, for which he would be arrested. Although Beth saves the day by finding a revealing tape that Alex had sent Dan and taking it to police, test audiences did not respond well.

This resulted in a three-week reshoot for the action-filled sequence in the bathroom and Alex's death by gunshot. Her shooting by Beth juxtaposes the two characters, with Alex becoming the victim and Beth taking violent action to protect her family.[2] The apparent death in the bath device was inspired by the French film ‎Les Diaboliques.[citation needed]

In the 2002 Special Edition DVD, Close comments that she had concerns re-shooting the movie's ending because she believed, and was backed by psychiatrists, that the character would "self-destruct and commit suicide."[2] She gave in on her concerns, however, and recorded the new sequence after having fought against the change for two weeks.[2] The movie was initially released in Japan with the original ending. The original ending first appeared on a special edition VHS and LaserDisc release by Paramount in 1992, and was included on the film's DVD release a decade later.

Blu-ray Release

Paramount released Fatal Attraction on Blu-ray on June 9, 2009 with several bonus features including commentary by director Adrian Lyne, cast and crew interviews, a look at the cultural phenomenon of the movie, a behind-the-scenes look, rehearsal footage, alternate ending and original theatrical trailer (both in high definition).


The film was nominated for six Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Glenn Close), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Anne Archer), Best Director (Adrian Lyne), Best Film Editing (Peter E. Berger and Michael Kahn), Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (James Dearden), and Best Picture.[5]

Psychiatric diagnosis

The film's main character has been discussed by psychiatrists and film experts, and has been used as a film illustration for the condition erotomania. As referenced in Orit Kamirs' Every Breath You Take: Stalking Narratives and the Law, "Glenn Close's character Alex is quite deliberately made to be an erotomaniac". Gelder reports that Glenn Close "consulted three separate shrinks for an inner profile of her character, who is meant to be suffering from a form of obsessive condition known as de Clérambault's syndrome (Gelder 1990, 93 - 94)".[6] It is also noted she displays characteristics of a psychiatric condition known as borderline personality disorder.[7] The character displays the behaviors of impulsivity, emotional lability, fear of abandonment, idealization/devaluation and self-mutilation consistent with the diagnosis, although generally aggression to the self rather than others is a more usual feature in borderline personality disorder.[8]



The film was listed at #28 on the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Thrills in 2001 and the character of Alex Forrest was listed as the seventh greatest movie villain on AFI's 100 Greatest Movie Heroes & Villains in 2003. The film also appears at #59 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments for the moment where Glenn Close suddenly rises from the bathtub.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d Remembering Fatal Attraction 2002 DVD Special Features
  3. ^ Close says boiling that bunny saved marriages
  4. ^ Fatal Attraction at Box Office Mojo; last accessed August 5, 2007
  5. ^
  6. ^ Orit Kamir. "Every Breath You Take: Stalking Narratives and the Law" 2001, University of Michigan Press, ISBN 0472110896, 9780472110896
  7. ^ Robinson, David J. (1999). The Field Guide to Personality Disorders. Rapid Psychler Press. pp. 113. ISBN 0-9680324-6-X. 
  8. ^ Wedding D, Boyd MA, Niemiec RM (2005). Movies and Mental Illness: Using Films to Understand Psychopathology. Cambridge,MA: Hogrefe. p. 59. ISBN 0-88937-292-6. 

External links

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