Fatal Attraction is a 1987 American psychological thriller film
Adrian Lyne and written by James Dearden. It is based on
Dearden's 1980 short film Diversion. Featuring a cast of Michael
Douglas, Glenn Close,
Anne Archer and Ellen Hamilton Latzen, the film
centers on a married man who has a weekend affair with a woman who
refuses to allow it to end and becomes obsessed with him.
The film was a massive box office hit, finishing as the
second-highest-grossing film of 1987 in the United States and the
highest-grossing film of the year worldwide. Critics were enthusiastic
about the film, and it received six
Academy Award nominations,
including Best Picture (which it lost to The Last Emperor), Best
Actress for Close, and Best Supporting Actress for Archer. Both lost
Cher and Olympia Dukakis, respectively, for Moonstruck.
3.2 Alternate ending
4.1 Academic analysis
5 Home media
6 In other media
6.2 TV series
7 See also
9 External links
Dan Gallagher is a successful, happily married
Manhattan lawyer whose
work leads him to meet Alexandra "Alex" Forrest, an editor for a
publishing company. While his wife, Beth, and daughter, Ellen, are out
of town for the weekend, Dan has an affair with Alex. Though it was
initially understood by both as just a fling, Alex starts clinging to
Dan spends a second unplanned evening with Alex after she persistently
asks him over. When Dan tries to leave, she cuts her wrists in a
suicide attempt. He helps her bandage the cuts and then leaves. He
thinks the affair is forgotten, but she shows up at various places to
see him. She waits at his office one day to apologize and invites him
to a performance of Madame Butterfly, but he politely turns her down.
She then continues to call him until he tells his secretary that he
will no longer take her calls. Alex then phones his home at all hours,
claiming that she is pregnant and plans to keep the baby. Although he
wants nothing to do with her, she argues that he must take
responsibility. After he changes his home phone number, she shows up
at his apartment (which is for sale) and meets Beth, feigning interest
as a buyer. Later that night, Dan goes to Alex's apartment to confront
her, which results in a scuffle. In response, she replies that she
will not be ignored.
Dan moves his family to Bedford, but this does not deter Alex. She has
a tape recording delivered to him filled with verbal abuse. She stalks
him in a parking garage, pours acid on his car, and follows him home
one night to spy on him, Beth, and Ellen from the bushes in their
yard; the sight of their content family literally makes her sick to
her stomach. Her obsession escalates further when Dan approaches the
police to apply for a restraining order against Alex (claiming that it
is "for a client"). The lieutenant claims that he cannot violate her
rights without probable cause, and that the "client" has to own up to
At one point, while the Gallaghers are not 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 supposed pregnancy. Enraged, she demands
that Dan leave. Before he goes, Dan calls Alex to tell her that Beth
knows about the affair. Beth gets on the phone and warns Alex that if
she persists, she (Beth) will kill her. Without Dan and Beth's
knowledge, Alex picks up Ellen from school and takes her to an
amusement park. Beth panics when she realizes that she does not know
where Ellen is. She drives around frantically searching and rear-ends
a car stopped at an intersection. Beth gets injured and is then
hospitalized. Alex later takes Ellen home, asking her for a kiss on
the cheek. Following Beth's release from the hospital, she forgives
Dan and they return home.
Dan barges into Alex's apartment and attacks her, choking her and
coming close to strangling her. He stops himself, but as he does, she
lunges at him with a kitchen knife. He overpowers her but decides to
put the knife down and leave, while Alex is leaning against the
kitchen counter, smiling. The police begin to search for her after Dan
confronts them about having her arrested.
Beth prepares a bath for herself when Alex suddenly appears, again
with the kitchen knife. She starts to explain her resentment of Beth,
nervously fidgeting (which causes Alex to cut her own leg) and then
attacks Beth. Dan hears the screaming, rushes 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 the Gallaghers' house. As Dan finishes delivering his
statement to the police, he walks inside, where Beth is waiting for
him. They embrace and proceed to the living room as the camera focuses
on a picture of them and Ellen.
Glenn Close in 2012
Michael Douglas as Dan Gallagher
Glenn Close as Alexandra "Alex" Forrest
Anne Archer as Beth Rogerson Gallagher
Ellen Hamilton Latzen as Ellen Gallagher
Stuart Pankin as Jimmy
Ellen Foley as Hildy
Fred Gwynne as Arthur
Meg Mundy as Joan Rogerson, Beth's mother
Tom Brennan as Howard Rogerson, Beth's father
Lois Smith as Martha, Dan's secretary
Mike Nussbaum as Bob Drimmer
J. J. Johnston as O'Rourke
Michael Arkin as Lieutenant
Jane Krakowski as Christine, the babysitter
The film was adapted by
James Dearden with some help from Nicholas
Meyer from Diversion, an earlier 1980 short film by Dearden for
British television. In Meyer's book "The View from the Bridge:
Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood", he explains that in
late 1986 producer
Stanley R. Jaffe asked him to look at the script
developed by Dearden, and he wrote a four-page memo making suggestions
for the script including a new ending for the movie. A few weeks later
he met with director
Adrian Lyne and gave him some additional
suggestions. Ultimately Meyer was asked to redraft the script on the
basis of his suggestions, which ended up being the shooting script.
Alex Forrest was originally scripted slashing her throat at the film's
end with the knife Dan had left on the counter, so as to make it
appear that Dan had murdered her. After seeing her husband being taken
away by police, Beth finds a revealing cassette tape that Alex sent
Dan in which she threatens to kill herself. Upon realizing Alex's
intentions, Beth takes the tape to the police, which acquits Dan of
the murder. The last scene shows, in flashback, Alex taking her own
life by slashing her throat while listening to Madame Butterfly.
Alex was killed by a gunshot during the three-week reshoot of the
action scene. Alex's murder by Beth juxtaposes the relationship
between the two characters; with Alex being victimized and Beth
violently protecting her family.
In the 2002
Special Edition DVD, Close comments that she had doubts
about re-shooting the film's ending because she believed the character
would "self-destruct and commit suicide". Close eventually gave in
on her concerns, and filmed the new sequence after having fought
against the change for two weeks. The film was initially released
Japan with the original ending. The original ending also 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.
In the earlier phase of the film when it was under the title
"Diversion", Alex committed suicide in the end. After showing this
version to a test audience, they felt this was not a good enough way
for her to go. Instead, the producers decided to shoot the last scene
as a more vengeful and violent death for Alex.
After spending $1.3 million, Alex's death and Beth's survival was
determined to be the official ending of the film. However, this
presented a more traditionalist message to the audience. This new
ending gave the idea that a professional woman and a wife/mother are
two very divided choices. With Alex being shot by Beth, this is viewed
as death to the bad woman (a career woman), and a win for the good
woman (a wife/mother). 
After its release,
Fatal Attraction engendered much discussion of the
potential consequences of infidelity. Some feminists, meanwhile, did
not appreciate what they felt was the depiction of a strong career
woman who is at the same time psychopathic. Feminist Susan Faludi
discussed the film in Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American
Women, 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".
Feminist scholars have also stated that in many ways the film has used
its correlation of career woman to psychopathy to create its horror
element. As described by Deborah Jermyn, the use of the
"monstrous-feminine" as a tool in the 1980s horror genre was a way to
portray a man's worst fears', where a woman has rejected familial
values and gone to hysteria, questioning the true values of woman and
what it means to be feminine. Interestingly, there are also many
ways that Alex (Close) also portrays womanhood in a more traditional
light, with the character befriending her lover's wife and drinking
tea in their home, while contrastingly, his wife slowly turns more
assertive and violent, monstrous if you will. The fluidity of these
female characters' monstrous and fearful tendencies is what makes the
"fear" more real, according to feminist study. The fact that any day
the woman who rejects traditional womanhood for a more career-based
lifestyle can swap in just a matter of moments to the "housewife", and
vice-versa, provides the horror that this movie begs.
The film has also left an indelible impression on male viewers. 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
The film spent eight weeks at #1 in the U.S. and eventually grossed
$156.6 million domestically, making the film the
second-highest-grossing film of 1987 in the U.S. behind Three Men and
a Baby. It also grossed $163.5 million overseas for a total gross of
$320.1 million, making it the biggest film of 1987 worldwide. This
in turn led to several similarly-themed psychological thrillers being
made throughout the late 1980s and 1990s.
Overall, the film received positive reviews from critics. Rotten
Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 78% based on reviews from 46
critics, with the site's consensus "A potboiler in the finest sense,
Fatal Attraction is a sultry, juicy thriller that's hard to look away
from once it gets going." On Metacritic, the film has a rating of
67/100 based on reviews from 16 critics.
The character of Alex Forrest has been discussed by psychiatrists and
film experts, and has been used as a film illustration for the
condition borderline personality disorder. The character displays
the behaviors of impulsivity, emotional lability, frantic efforts to
avoid abandonment, frequent severe anger, self-harming, and changing
from idealization to devaluation; these traits are consistent with the
diagnosis, although generally aggression to the self rather than
others is a more common feature in borderline personality
disorder. Some have instead considered the character to be a
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,
The popular term "bunny boiler", often used to describe an obsessive,
spurned woman, derives from the scene where it is discovered that Alex
has boiled the pet rabbit.
Stanley R. Jaffe and Sherry Lansing
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Supporting Actress
Best Film Editing
Michael Kahn and Peter E. Berger
Best Edited Feature Film
Michael Kahn and Peter E. Berger
Top Box Office Films
Peter E. Berger
Casting Society of America
Best Casting for Feature Film, Drama
Risa Bramon Garcia
David di Donatello
Best Foreign Actor
Best Foreign Actress
Directors Guild of America
Outstanding Directing – Feature Film
DVD Exclusive Award
Original Retrospective Documentary, Library Release
Golden Globe Awards
Best Motion Picture – Drama
Stanley R. Jaffe
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Golden Camera for Best International Actor
Golden Camera for Best International Actress
Best Album Written for a Motion Picture or Television
Top Ten Films
People's Choice Award
Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture
Writers Guild of America
Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
American Film Institute
American Film Institute recognition
AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills—#28
AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains: Alex
Special Collector's Edition of the film was released on
2005. Paramount released
Fatal Attraction on
Blu-ray Disc on June
9, 2009. The
Blu-ray release contained several bonus features from
the 2005 DVD, including commentary by director Adrian Lyne, cast and
crew interviews, a look at the film's cultural phenomenon, a
behind-the-scenes look, rehearsal footage, the alternate ending, and
the original theatrical trailer.
In other media
Fatal Attraction (play)
A play based on the movie opened in London's West End at the Theatre
Royal Haymarket in March 2014. It was adapted by the movie's
original screenwriter James Dearden.
On July 2, 2015, Fox announced that a TV series based on the film is
being developed by
Mad Men writers Maria and Andre Jacquemetton.
On January 13, 2017, it was announced that the project was
List of films featuring home invasions
Mental illness in film
Fatal Instinct, a 1993 film parody
Film in the United States portal
^ "Fatal Attraction". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-09-18.
^ Meyer, Nicholas (2009). The View from the Bridge: Memories of Star
Trek and a Life in Hollywood. Penguin Books.
^ a b c d e Remembering
Fatal Attraction 2002
Fatal Attraction (
Special Collector's Edition) (1987)". Amazon.com.
Retrieved 14 February 2012.
^ a b Bromley, Susan; Hewitt, Pamela. "Fatal Attraction: The Sinister
side of Women's Conflict about Career and Family". The Journal of
Popular Culture. 26 (3): 17–23.
^ See "Fatal and Foetal Visions: The
Backlash in the Movies", Chapter
5 of Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, published by
Chatto & Windus, 1991
^ Jermyn, D (1996-10-01). "Rereading the bitches from hell: a feminist
appropriation of the female psychopath". Screen. 37 (3): 251–267.
doi:10.1093/screen/37.3.251. ISSN 0036-9543.
^ "Close says boiling that bunny saved marriages". The Times.
2008-01-06. Retrieved 2010-07-16.
^ "Fatal Attraction". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-08-05.
Fatal Attraction (1987)". Rotten Tomatoes.
Fatal Attraction Reviews". Metacritic. 18 September 1987.
^ Robinson, David J. (1999). The Field Guide to Personality Disorders.
Rapid Psychler Press. p. 113. ISBN 0-9680324-6-X.
^ 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.
^ Kamir, Orit (2001). Every Breath You Take: Stalking Narratives and
the Law. University of Michigan Press. p. 256.
^ Singh, Anita. "Fatal Attraction: My sympathy for the bunny-boiler".
The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
^ "The meaning and origin of the expression: Bunny boiler".
^ "America's Most Heart-Pounding Movies" (PDF). AFI. Retrieved 14
^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains". AFI. Retrieved 14
Fatal Attraction (
Special Collector's Edition) [DVD] (2005)".
Amazon.com. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
Fatal Attraction [Blu-ray]". Retrieved 2 November 2012.
Fatal Attraction and Strangers On A Train head to West End stage".
bbc.co.uk/news. BBC News. 20 September 2013. Retrieved 22 September
^ "'Fatal Attraction' to become a stage play, will debut in London".
latimes.com. Los Angeles Times. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 23
^ Leane, Rob. "
Fatal Attraction TV series in development".
denofgeek.com. Retrieved 21 January 2016. [permanent dead link]
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Films directed by Adrian Lyne
The Table (1973)
Mr Smith (1976)
9½ Weeks (1986)
Fatal Attraction (1987)
Jacob's Ladder (1990)
Indecent Proposal (1993)