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Michael Douglas in Fatal Attraction (1987)

Michael Douglas and Glenn Close play illicit lovers in the 1987 movie thriller Fatal Attraction. I’m not gonna be ignored, Dan!

Fatal Attraction one sheet movie poster image courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries

Director Adrian Lyne and Paramount Pictures delivered the harrowing Fatal Attraction to movie theaters in 1987. Michael Douglas plays the married lawyer, with Glenn Close as his psychotic lover.

Adrian Lyne Directs Fatal Attraction

Fatal Attraction is based on the 1980 short film Diversion, written and directed by James Dearden for British television. Dearden and Nicholas Meyer later revised the script, which became Affairs of the Heart, Lethal Attraction and finally Fatal Attraction.

The film project was originally offered to John Carpenter and Brian De Palma, both of whom turned it down because they felt it was too similar to Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty for Me(1971). According to Hollywood folklore, more than 18 other directors passed on the movie as well, with Adrian Lyne, who had gotten his start in television commercials, finally agreeing to take on the project.

Stanley R. Jaffe and Sherry Lansing produced Fatal Attraction for Paramount Pictures. Maurice Jarre created the eerie music score and Howard Atherton served as cinematographer.

Michael Douglas and Glenn Close Head Fatal Attraction Cast

Michael Douglas (Dan Gallagher) and Glenn Close (Alex Forrest) head the cast. Other players include 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), Mike Nussbaum (Bob Drimmer) and Michael Arkin (Lieutenant).

Barbara Hershey, Jamie Lee Curtis, Miranda Richardson and Debra Winger had all turned down the role of Alex Forrest. When Glenn Close’s agent called inquiring about the part, Adrian Lyne was incredulous, voicing the opinion that the 40-year-old Close was “the last person on Earth” to play the vengeful book editor. Nonetheless, Close won the role, running the script by a pair of psychiatrists in order to garner their opinion regarding the authenticity of her Alex character.

Fatal Attraction Filmed in New York

Budgeted at $14 million, Fatal Attraction was filmed on location in New York State.  Locales included Midtown Manhattan and the cities of Bedford, Mt. Kisco, Ossining, Rye and Valhalla. Mr. Chow of New York Restaurant, located at 324 East 57th Street in Manhattan, served as the location where Dan and Alex first meet. Alex’s  grungy apartment in a converted warehouse was located at 657 Hudson Street in New York City.

During the reshoot of the ending, Glenn Close, like her movie character, was several months pregnant with her daughter.

Fatal Attraction: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

Fatal Attraction opens at a book party in Midtown Manhattan, attended by lawyer Dan Gallagher and his wife Beth. At the party Dan meets the attractive Alex Forrest, who works as an associate book editor at Robbins and Hart. The meeting is brief, but one senses that some kind of connection was made between the two professionals.

With Dan’s wife and six-year-old daughter Ellen out of town visiting her parents, Dan is left alone for the weekend. He meets Alex Cross once again in a business meeting, with the two repairing to a restaurant and later spending the night together at Alex’s apartment.

The seemingly normal Alex turns out to be anything but, slashing her wrists in the bathroom following a second tryst with Dan. The next day, an embarrassed Alex shows up at Dan’s office, apologizing for what had happened. “I was going through a bad time…But I’m fine. I’m really all right,” she explains.

Alex later corners Dan, telling him that she is pregnant. When Dan offers to pay for an abortion, Alex adamantly refuses, telling her lover that she wants this baby.

Alex gradually ratchets up her harassment campaign against the hapless Dan, repeatedly phoning him, showing up at his home and trashing his car. Finally, Dan has to tell his wife of his illicit affair and the possible danger they’re in from his spurned lover. Beth eventually forgives her husband, and when Alex calls one evening she doesn’t mince her words, “This is Beth Gallagher. If you ever come near my family again, I’ll kill you.”

But the psychotic Alex remains undeterred, stalking the Gallaghers with a vengeance. When Alex shows up at the house and lunges at Beth with a butcher knife, Dan wrestles her to the ground, smashing her in the face and drowning her in the bathtub. Or so he thinks…

Fatal Attraction Opens in New York City

Fatal Attraction opened at New York City’s Paramount, Tower East and 34th Street Showplace theaters on September 18, 1987.

“Fatal Attraction…is a thoroughly conventional thriller at heart, but its heart is not what will attract notice. As directed by Mr. Lyne…it has an ingeniously teasing style that overrules substance at every turn,” reported Janet Maslin of The New York Times (9/18/87).

“Fatal Attraction is a spellbinding psychological thriller that could have been a great movie if the filmmakers had not thrown character and plausibility to the winds in the last minutes to give us their version of a grown-up Friday the 13th,” observed Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times (9/18/09).

Fatal Attraction Box Office, Academy Award Nominations, Trivia, DVD

  • Fatal Attraction – the movie nobody wanted to direct – grossed $156.645 million at the American box office, earning the #2 position on the list of the top moneymaking films of 1987.
  • Six Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Close), Best Supporting Actress (Archer), Best Film Editing (Michael Kahn, Peter E. Berger), Best Screenplay (Dearden).
  • Most controversial scene: The “bunny boiler,” where a demented Alex Cross boils a pet rabbit belonging to the little Gallagher girl.
  • Dan’s law firm: Miller, Goodman and Hurst.
  • The Gallagher’s dog is named Quincy.
  • Alex wants to treat Dan to a performance of Madame Butterfly.
  • Fatal Attraction’s original ending: Alex commits suicide dressed in white, making it look as if Dan had murdered her. A shaken Dan is arrested and led away by police. This ending did not sit well with test audiences, so producers filmed another one featuring a more balanced sense of justice.  
  • On DVD: Fatal Attraction Special Collector’s Edition (Paramount, 2002).

“Well, what am I supposed to do? You won’t answer my calls, you change your number. I mean, I’m not gonna be ignored, Dan!” Alex Cross informs her weekend lover. 

And take it from the twisted Alex herself, don’t ignore Fatal Attraction, either…

  

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