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    Hollywood Memarees: Fatal Attraction 25 Years Later

    Slate Magazine discusses the cultural impact of the film.

    Next to the stud horse whose decapitated head winds up in the bed in The Godfather, the most famous mistreated pet in the history of film may be the white rabbit in Fatal Attraction. Those who saw the movie when it was released 25 years ago this week will recall how the crazy bitch stalking the married man kills his kid’s bunny and sets it boiling on the stove. The good wife lifts the lid of the pot to a pretty tasteful reveal—a clipped overhead shot of fur, a discreet dab of blood—and she screams, along with the audience, even though everyone surely knew what was coming.

    The “bunny boiler” remains a potent archetype of a dangerous, predatory woman, her mental state as screwy as the coils of her permed hair. Don’t believe her when she claims she’s just after a night of mutual pleasure. This vagina dentata will ruin your life and is emphatically not worth the five minutes of sizzling sex at the kitchen sink.

    Fatal Attraction was nominated for six Oscars (including best picture), earned more than $150 million, and was the subject of intense debate about whether its message was offensively sexist. You’d think that a quarter-century later the movie’s melodrama about the dangers of straying would have badly dated. You’d be wrong. Fatal Attraction still expresses our Puritan queasiness about sexual desire much better than the swarm of stalker rip-offs that it has spawned—as well as our insistence on blaming the skank for any threat to marital fidelity.
    One subsequent viewings of this film, as much as I enjoy Glenn's wonderful OTT performance (she got robbed at the Oscars IMO), what bothers me is how Dan Gallagher doesn't really suffer - it's the women in his life that pay the price for his actions.

    Spoiler

    The wife almost loses her life becuase of the mistress' actions. Even his young daughter is traumatized by the death of her pet, and left bewildered and confused as to the hows and whys. What does Dan get, other than a couple of knees to the groin and some knife cuts? He gets to screw around and deceive his wife. He gets steak at home and goes out for hamburger. And why does Dan cheat in the first place when he has such a sexy (and conventionally beautiful) wife? Does it prove that men, when given the opportunity, screw anything that moves?

    When Lyne revisited the theme of superbad, A-on-the-forehead adultery in 2002 in the far less successful Unfaithful—this time the wife cheats, with equally disastrous results—Richard Gere plays the Everyman. What woman in her right mind would betray such a soulful-yet-sexy guy? And with a sleazy Frenchman, no less?
    I actually thought Unfaithful was a better film. Not as blatantly manipulative and certainly more nuanced.

    But do you think FA has held up well? Discuss.

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    I think the film scared a generation of men, really. Alex was extraordinarily atypical, to put it mildly, of women who get involved with married men, who tend to be more pitiful than predatory IMO. But as garish and melodramatic as the movie was, the casting was terrific and Douglas was a great stand-in for the average, what-the-hell kind of guy.

    I think it had societal impact way out of proportion to the actual artistic worth of the movie.
    "Youth and vigor is no match for age and deceit." -- Prancer

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    Quote Originally Posted by PRlady View Post

    I think it had societal impact way out of proportion to the actual artistic worth of the movie.
    Didn't impact me; I've never seen it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PRlady View Post
    I think the film scared a generation of men, really. Alex was extraordinarily atypical, to put it mildly, of women who get involved with married men, who tend to be more pitiful than predatory IMO. But as garish and melodramatic as the movie was, the casting was terrific and Douglas was a great stand-in for the average, what-the-hell kind of guy.

    I think it had societal impact way out of proportion to the actual artistic worth of the movie.
    re: your last sentence. Sort of like Indecent Proposal had an impact.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex View Post
    But do you think FA has held up well? Discuss.
    I hated, HATED "Fatal Attraction" back when it was released. I rooted for Glenn Close the whole movie (who cares if she was a psycho?), and I probably would have liked it better had they released it with the original ending. (Apparently now available on the Blu-Ray disc). I would rank it as one of the least deserving Best Picture nominees with "Ghost" ever.
    I meant to take the high road.... but I missed the exit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peibeck View Post
    I hated, HATED "Fatal Attraction" back when it was released. I rooted for Glenn Close the whole movie (who cares if she was a psycho?), and I probably would have liked it better had they released it with the original ending. (Apparently now available on the Blu-Ray disc). I would rank it as one of the least deserving Best Picture nominees with "Ghost" ever.
    I have to admit, it was not BP material, but I thought it should have won Best Actress. There were a lot of sensational moments in it (and sensational does not always mean artistically sound), from the wild elevator sex, Alex slitting her wrists, the aforementioned "bunny boiler" scene and of course the ending. It was manipulative as all get out, and extremely crowd-pleasing.

    When they made Suspicion nearly 45 years earlier, Alfred Hitchcock allegedly changed the ending because audiences didn't want to see Cary Grant as a wife-killer. It's all about what the public wants I guess.

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    I didn't like the movie very much at the time. But I did like that the women in the triangle were the actors vs. the guy who was kind of hapless and easily led.

    Not that I think that's very realistic about how these things normally go.
    Actual bumper sticker series: Jesus is my co-pilot. Satan is my financial advisor. Budha is my therapist. L. Ron Hubbard owes me $50.

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    Quote Originally Posted by emason View Post
    Didn't impact me; I've never seen it.
    If it impacted society, then it impacted you, just indirectly.
    Actual bumper sticker series: Jesus is my co-pilot. Satan is my financial advisor. Budha is my therapist. L. Ron Hubbard owes me $50.

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    Glenn Close was scarily like some "uber-obsessed with getting a guy" women I knew at the time the film was released. But AFAIK none of their "attachments" ended up like the one in the movie did.

    I agree with Rex about how Michael Douglas' character was treated - it was like he was this decent guy who made this one little mistake, and then all the women in his life suddenly went sideways. So his problems were all their fault, apparently....
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex View Post

    When they made Suspicion nearly 45 years earlier, Alfred Hitchcock allegedly changed the ending because audiences didn't want to see Cary Grant as a wife-killer. It's all about what the public wants I guess.
    I don't know if it was Hitchcock or the studio, but, yes, that is essentially what happened. IIRC, in the book she realizes what a psycho her husband is and deliberately allows him to kill her because she is pregnant and doesn't want to bring evil spawn of evil husband into the world. Something like that; I hope I am not misremembering. It's been many, many years since I read the book.

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    Loved Glenn Close and loved the movie. But Cher was magnificent in Moonstruck too. I can watch Moonstruck over and over and over.

    The "I won't be ignored" line also has a part in pop culture too.

    And Fatal Attraction is hardly the worst Oscar nomination for Best Film ever. I'll take FA over, say, Braveheart any day.
    Last edited by manhn; 09-20-2012 at 10:07 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    Glenn Close was scarily like some "uber-obsessed with getting a guy" women I knew at the time the film was released. But AFAIK none of their "attachments" ended up like the one in the movie did.

    I agree with Rex about how Michael Douglas' character was treated - it was like he was this decent guy who made this one little mistake, and then all the women in his life suddenly went sideways. So his problems were all their fault, apparently....
    He was one of the producers of the film IIRC. Of course he's gonna make his character look good. I just never got his hotness I guess. Had it been Harrison Ford as his peak, oh hell yeah. But not chicken-legged Michael Douglas.

    And I have to give props to Play Misty For Me and Leave Her to Heaven. They did it first. But the ladies didn't touch Glenn performance-wise. She was scary. I think she's the one who turned me gay .

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    Quote Originally Posted by manhn View Post
    And Fatal Attraction is hardly the worst Oscar nomination for Best Film ever. I'll take FA over, say, Braveheart any day.
    Oh yes. Braveheart, watched it once and have never thought it was worth it to re-watch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex View Post
    He was one of the producers of the film IIRC. Of course he's gonna make his character look good. I just never got his hotness I guess. Had it been Harrison Ford as his peak, oh hell yeah. But not chicken-legged Michael Douglas.

    And I have to give props to Play Misty For Me and Leave Her to Heaven. They did it first. But the ladies didn't touch Glenn performance-wise. She was scary. I think she's the one who turned me gay .

    I'd forgot about Play Misty for Me, that was a good one. No, Michael Douglas doesn't do it for me, so his part was weak imho. Glen Close made it totally believable, but it would have been a stronger movie with a different actor. She made that movie.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex View Post
    They did it first. But the ladies didn't touch Glenn performance-wise. She was scary. I think she's the one who turned me gay .
    Don't let the fundies hear you say that! It's an orientation, remember, not a choice!

    I thought Michael Douglas was a good, sexy everyman in a bunch of those films around then. Basic Instinct? Sharon Stone got the ink but Douglas kept the picture together. Also underrated in Wall Street and ....the one with Demi Moore where he was the victim of sexual harassment.

    THAT film bothered me because the ratio of women harassing men in the workplace is about 1/100th of the other way around. But it was a very watchable movie.
    "Youth and vigor is no match for age and deceit." -- Prancer

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    I thought the audience should have been given some reason for Dan having a fling. His life was too perfect--gorgeous wife, cute kid, nice home, great career, close friends, happy home life. Why would he suddenly have an affair? No offense to Glen Close, but Alex is not some bomb beauty that Dan simply couldn't resist!

    Still, even if there were supposed to have been something sexually magnetic about Alex, there was no apprehension on Dan's part. He went at Alex as if he hadn't had sex in years! He then went back the next day (with the dog!) and spent the whole day with her. There was no remorse afterwards--only when Alex turned psycho. It being Dan's first affair, I never thought his actions made sense.

    I always thought the movie would have been better if Dan's character was more of a cad. Alex should have been one of many affairs, and one to finally bite him in the butt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PRlady View Post
    Don't let the fundies hear you say that! It's an orientation, remember, not a choice!
    LOL, please! How else would I have noticed Michael Douglas' stick legs? I'm a leg man, and was before I came out - even then. When this movie came out, I was providing logistical support to Navy SEALs - trust me, after seeing those guys run around in those tiny UDT shorts, no way could Michael's legs past muster.

    Quote Originally Posted by duane View Post
    I thought the audience should have been given some reason for Dan having a fling. His life was too perfect--gorgeous wife, cute kid, nice home, great career, close friends, happy home life. Why would he suddenly have an affair? No offense to Glen Close, but Alex is not some bomb beauty that Dan simply couldn't resist!

    Still, even if there were supposed to have been something sexually magnetic about Alex, there was no apprehension on Dan's part. He went at Alex as if he hadn't had sex in years! He then went back the next day (with the dog!) and spent the whole day with her. There was no remorse afterwards--only when Alex turned psycho. It being Dan's first affair, I never thought his actions made sense.

    I always thought the movie would have been better if Dan's character was more of a cad. Alex should have been one of many affairs, and one to finally bite him in the butt.
    You know how men are . A lot of them don't care; for many, it's about opportunity.

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    Well, that's one of the most realistic parts of the movie, imo. People like to think that there has to be a reason why there spouse would cheat, that if they are the bestest spouse in the whole world with a perfect family their spouse will stay faithful. That's not always true, it never has been. He cheated because he wanted to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by duane View Post
    Still, even if there were supposed to have been something sexually magnetic about Alex, there was no apprehension on Dan's part. He went at Alex as if he hadn't had sex in years!
    I haven't seen the film, but what kind of sex life did Dan have with his wife? Maybe they projected the "perfect family" in the exterior but underneath they both either sleep in separate beds or both are just always "too tired" to do it. Alex probably was the type of women that was very adventurous in the bedroom (or on the kitchen sink, LOL) and that turned on Dan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by orbitz View Post
    I haven't seen the film, but what kind of sex life did Dan have with his wife? Maybe they projected the "perfect family" in the exterior but underneath they both either sleep in separate beds or both are just always "too tired" to do it. Alex probably was the type of women that was very adventurous in the bedroom (or on the kitchen sink, LOL) and that turned on Dan.
    There was a scene, after his encounter with Alex Forrest, with Dan and Beth in their bedroom. She's clad only in her underwear and she's playing with her hair and sitting at her mirror. He's watching her and getting very turned on. He walks up to her and starts feeling her up, kissing her neck and all that, telling her how beautiful she is. Just as they are about to get busy, the doorbell rings - it's her parents or their friends or something. His approach of her was passionate, but tender - nothing like the animalistic groping he did with Alex. It was very interesting. Apparently they did have a good sex life, but social and family demands kept them from getting busy when they wanted? I dunno, YMMV.

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    Quote Originally Posted by duane View Post
    I thought the audience should have been given some reason for Dan having a fling. His life was too perfect--gorgeous wife, cute kid, nice home, great career, close friends, happy home life. Why would he suddenly have an affair? No offense to Glen Close, but Alex is not some bomb beauty that Dan simply couldn't resist!
    IME with guys who cheat--thankfully not many but some of my friends have not been so lucky--it isn't about what's better, it's about what's convenient. I don't know that there is a reason why men cheat.

    I've known guys who have cheated with a women were neither as appealing physically or personality-wise than the one waiting at home.

    I mean, look at Arnold Schwarzenegger. He cheated on Maria Shriver--a Kennedy--with this. Look at Clinton--have any of his mistresses actually been prettier than Hilary? Younger yes. More attractive? Not in my opinion.
    "The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play." –Olympic Charter

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