PAUL SHELDON USED TO WRITE FOR A LIVING. NOW, HE’S WRITING TO STAY ALIVE.
After finishing his last novel starring the popular romantic character Misery, Paul Sheldon (James Caan) has a traffic accident in the snowy Colorado wilderness and is rescued by his number one fan (Kathy Bates), a woman with a dark past. The director who made Stand by Me (1986) such an enjoyable experience takes on Stephen King once again. Clearly the author is having fun with a fantasy about what might be a writer’s greatest nightmare, and the movie delivers both laughs and thrills thanks to Bates’s frightening breakthrough performance. Wintry locations add to the sense of isolation in this exciting cat-and-mouse game between nurse and patient.
1990-U.S. 107 min. Color. Produced by Rob Reiner, Andrew Scheinman. Directed by Rob Reiner. Screenplay: William Goldman. Novel: Stephen King. Cinematography: Barry Sonnenfeld. Cast: James Caan (Paul Sheldon), Kathy Bates (Annie Wilkes), Richard Farnsworth (Buster), Frances Sternhagen, Lauren Bacall, Graham Jarvis.
Trivia: Later a stage play. Jack Nicholson was allegedly considered for the part of Paul; Anjelica Huston as Annie.
Oscar: Best Actress (Bates). Golden Globe: Best Actress (Bates).
Last word: “I felt those things coming off ‘All in the Family’ and being a sitcom actor because in those days actors who were on television I mean they were looked down upon by the movie people. There was a big separate between movies and television in those days. Now there’s crossover all over the place and they”re making movies out of television shows and all that stuff. But in those days there was television, which was the second class citizen and there was movies which were the kings and queens were making movies. So I couldn”t get over there and I knew what it felt like to be trapped. And so I related to [Paul Sheldon]. I understood what he was feeling in wanting to write something else and wanting to kill Misery off and all that stuff. So that”s why I did it.” (Reiner, Uproxx)