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Theatrical release poster by Olga Kaljakin
Directed by Norman Jewison
Produced by Norman Jewison
Patrick Palmer
Written by John Patrick Shanley
Starring Cher
Nicolas Cage
Olympia Dukakis
Vincent Gardenia
Danny Aiello
Music by Dick Hyman
Cinematography David Watkin
Edited by Lou Lombardo
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s)
  • December 16, 1987 (1987-12-16) (New York)
  • December 18, 1987 (1987-12-18) (United States)
Running time 102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million[1]
Box office $91,640,528[2]

Moonstruck is a 1987 American romantic comedy film directed by Norman Jewison and written by John Patrick Shanley. It stars Cher, Nicolas Cage, Danny Aiello, Vincent Gardenia, and Olympia Dukakis.

The film was released on December 16, 1987 in New York City, and then nationally on December 18, 1987. Receiving largely positive reviews from critics, it went on to gross $91,640,528 at the North American box office, making it the fifth highest-grossing film of that year.[3]

Moonstruck was nominated for six Oscars at the 60th Academy Awards, winning for Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress.[4]


Thirty-seven-year-old Loretta Castorini (Cher), a Sicilian American widow, is an accountant for a few local businesses in Brooklyn Heights, New York. In the Italian tradition, she lives in her family's large, comfortable home with her father Cosmo (Vincent Gardenia) who is a successful plumber, her mother Rose (Olympia Dukakis), and her grandfather, Cosmo's father. Her boyfriend, Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello), proposes to her over dinner in a neighborhood restaurant, The Grand Ticino, before leaving for Sicily to attend to his dying mother. She agrees, but only after asking him to kneel when presenting the ring because she believes her first marriage was cut short due to bad luck caused by not following tradition. Once the wedding date is set, Johnny asks Loretta to invite his estranged younger brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage) to the wedding. Loretta drives Johnny to the airport, then stops at a liquor store for a bottle of champagne, where she hears the proprietors bickering. The wife accuses the husband of being "a wolf."

At home, Cosmo is brooding and listening to Vicki Carr's recording of "It Must Be Him." Loretta brings him into the kitchen and pours two drinks to share her news. Cosmo points out that she was married before and it didn't work out. Loretta says that her husband was hit by a bus because the couple didn't have a real wedding. Cosmo had not approved or given Loretta away, and they had gotten married at City Hall, with no party, dress, no cake, no nothing... and had bad luck. He agrees. She tells him she has to have a "real" wedding this time. They wake Rose to tell her the news. She asks Loretta if she loves Johnny. Loretta says no, but she likes him. Rose says that is good, "When you love them they drive you crazy because they know they can."

The next morning as Loretta and Rose have breakfast, Johnny calls from Sicily. He hasn't told his dying Mother about the engagement yet. Loretta urges him not to wait until she is dead and Johnny reminds her to invite Ronny to the wedding. At first, Loretta calls Ronny at the bakery but he hangs up on her. When she goes to the bakery in person, her news enfuriates him, and in dramatic fashion, he explains the reason for the bad blood: Ronny had been engaged to a woman, and during that time Johnny had come in one day to buy bread. Ronny talked to Johnny as he sliced the bread and distracted him, causing him to lose his hand in the slicer. His fiancée then left him because he was "maimed." Loretta tells him she has not come to upset him but to talk. She follows him to his apartment upstairs and cooks a meal while they drink whiskey and talk. Loretta tells Ronny that he is a "wolf" who allowed himself to lose his hand rather than be caught in a trap. Anger turns to passion and Ronny sweeps Loretta into bed and they make love.

That night, an amazing full moon shines over all the couples in the story - it was a magical night. But in the morning, Loretta comes back to reality and tells Ronny they can never see each other again. He admits he's fallen in love but agrees to never see her again on one condition - that she attend the opera with him that night because then he would have had the two things he loves most, the opera and Loretta. She agrees to meet him at the Met.

That day, Loretta goes to a beauty salon and has her hair colored and styled and her eyebrows plucked -- a complete makeover. She then passes by a dress shop and goes in to buy the beautiful gown and shoes that were in the window. She stops at the church to go to confession, telling the priest that she has slept with her fiancé's brother. The priest urges her to "consider her life." She then talks to Rose who is unexpectedly in the church. Rose tells her that Cosmo is seeing another woman but Loretta doesn't believe her. Meanwhile, Cosmo is having lunch at a fancy restaurant with his mistress Mona (Anita Gillette) where he presents her with a gold bracelet.

There is a scene that evening where Loretta plays romantic music as she leisurely dresses for the opera and then takes a cab to meet Ronny at the Met. He is wearing a tux and they are both transformed. Loretta is deeply moved by her first opera, Puccini's La Bohème.

That night Rose dines alone at The Grand Ticino and witnesses a dramatic breakup between a young coed and a college professor named Perry (John Mahoney). She invites Perry to dine with her; afterwards he walks her home. She knows her husband has a mistress but refuses to be unfaithful and doesn't take Perry's suggestion that she invite him in "because I know who I am."

As Loretta and Ronny leave the opera, she sees Cosmo with Mona. Both Loretta and Cosmo are shocked to see the other cheating but they agree to keep it a secret. Loretta and Ronny stop at a bar for a drink where she reveals that she is upset about Cosmo's infidelity and feels guilty for being with Ronny. She explains to him how a person can decide to change and do things differently but he passionately and desperately persuades her into another tryst.

Meanwhile, Johnny's mother has made a miraculous recovery after being told of his plans to marry Loretta. He has returned from Sicily unexpectedly, stopping at Loretta's house on his way back from the airport. Rose tells him that Loretta is out and that she doesn't know where. While they have the opportunity to talk, Rose asks him why men cheat. At first, he suggests that it might have something to do with Adam looking for his missing rib, but Rose lays out her opinion that the real reason is fear of death. While they are talking, Cosmo returns from his date with Mona. Rose says to him, "I just want you to know no matter what you do, you're gonna die just like everyone else."

Loretta arrives home the following morning, having spent another night with Ronny. Rose is alone in the kitchen and tells her that Johnny is back and will be there soon and remarks that Loretta has a love bite on her neck. As they wait, Ronny arrives. Rose lets him in and looks at his neck where he has a love bite also. Rose invites Ronny to stay for breakfast, and he accepts before Loretta can stop him. Cosmo and the grandfather come down for breakfast. Cosmo's father tells him that he must pay for Loretta's wedding this time, and sits down. As they all sit around the table, Rose asks Cosmo if she has been a good wife, and when he tells her yes, she tells Cosmo that she wants him to stop seeing his mistress. After hesitating and pounding the table, he agrees to, but complains that his life is "built on nothing." Rose counters that his life is not built on nothing - she loves him. While the group waits for Johnny, Rose's brother Raymond Cappomaggi (Louis Guss) and his wife Rita (Julie Bovasso) stop by because Loretta, who does their books, forgot to make the bank deposit from their delicatessen while she was getting her makeover. With one dilemma resolved and everyone introduced to Ronny, the group awaits Johnny's arrival.

When Johnny finally arrives, he explains to Loretta that if he marries her, his mother will die. Loretta, forgetting momentarily that this is good news, chastises Johnny for breaking his promise and throws the engagement ring at him. Seizing the moment, Ronny asks Loretta to marry him; he borrows Johnny's ring and Loretta accepts. Rose asks Loretta if she loves him, and when Loretta says, "I love him awful," Rose comments that that's too bad. The family shares a bottle of champagne to celebrate and the grandfather insists that Johnny join in the toast because he will now be one of the family as well.


Critical and commercial reception[edit]

Moonstruck was a major critical and commercial success. The film generated 93% on Rotten Tomatoes with this consensus:

Led by energetic performances from Nicolas Cage and Cher, Moonstruck is an exuberantly funny tribute to love and one of the decade's most appealing comedies.

According to TIME:

John Patrick Shanley's witty, shapely script puts an octet of New Yorkers under a lunar-tuney spell one romantic night. Cher shines brightest of all.

According to Roger Ebert, who later added the film among his "Great Movies" list:

Reviews of the movie tend to make it sound like a madcap ethnic comedy, and that it is. But there is something more here, a certain bittersweet yearning that comes across as ineffably romantic, and a certain magical quality.[5]

According to Gene Siskel, writing for the Chicago Tribune:

Our Flick of the Week is Moonstruck, which is being sold as a romance but actually is one of the funniest pictures to come out in quite some time. [...] You will not easily forget this incredibly robust family, created by writer John Patrick Shanley and directed by Norman Jewison, who makes a comeback with this uproarious film.[6]

It appeared on both critics' Top 10 lists for 1987.[7]

On its wide release, the film opened at #3 and spent 20 nonconsecutive weeks in the top 10 and finally grossed $80,640,528[2] on a budget of $15 million.

Awards and honors[edit]

Award Category Name Outcome
Academy Awards Best Actress Cher Won
Best Supporting Actress Olympia Dukakis Won
Original Screenplay John Patrick Shanley Won
Best Picture Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Vincent Gardenia Nominated
Best Director Norman Jewison Nominated
Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear for Best Director Norman Jewison Won[8]
British Academy Film Awards Best Actress Cher Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Olympia Dukakis Nominated
BAFTA Award for Best Film Music Dick Hyman Nominated
BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay John Patrick Shanley Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress Cher Won
Best Supporting Actress Olympia Dukakis Won
Best Picture - Musical or Comedy Nominated
Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Nicolas Cage Nominated
Best Screenplay John Patrick Shanley Nominated
Writers Guild of America Best Original Screenplay John Patrick Shanley Won

In June 2008, AFI revealed its "Ten top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Moonstruck was acknowledged as the eighth best film in the romantic comedy genre.[9][10] The film is also number 72 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies," and number 41 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs.

American Film Institute recognition

Influential film critic Roger Ebert entered the film to his "Great Movies" collection in June 2003.[14]


Song Artist Notes
That's Amore Dean Martin Harry Warren, Jack Brooks
Canzone Per Loretta/Addio, Mulberry Street Jack Zaza (mandolin) Dick Hyman
Mr. Moon Dick Hyman
It Must Be Him Vikki Carr Gilbert Bécaud, Mack David, Maurice Vidalin
Old Man Mazurka Dominic Cortese (accordian) Dick Hyman
Lament for Johnny's Mama Dick Hyman
Che Gelida Manina Ed Bickert (guitar) Giacomo Puccini
Donde Lieta Usci Renata Tebaldi Giacomo Puccini
Canzone Per Loretta Dick Hyman
O Soave Fanciulla Carlo Bergonzi, Renata Tebaldi Giacomo Puccini
Musetta's Waltz Moe Koffman (alto saxophone) Giacomo Puccini
Musetta's Entrance Nora Shulman (flute) Giacomo Puccini
La Bohème Renata Tebaldi, Carlo Bergonzi Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Giacosa, Luigi Illica
(In Loretta's Bedroom) Gettin' Ready Moe Koffman (alto saxophone) Dick Hyman
Brooklyn Heights Stroll Dick Hyman
Beautiful Signorina Dick Hyman
Moonglow Eddie DeLange, Will Hudson, Irving Mills
Canzone Per Loretta Dominic Cortese (accordian) Dick Hyman
Gioventu Mia, Tu Non Sei Morta (Finale) Carlo Bergonzi, Cesare Siepi, Ettore Bastianini, Fernando Corena, Gianna D'Angelo, Renata Tebaldi, Renato Cesari Giacomo Puccini

Soundtrack references: [15][16]


  1. ^ Box Office Information for Moonstruck. The Wrap. Retrieved April 4, 2013
  2. ^ a b Box Office Information for Moonstruck. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 4, 2013
  3. ^ Moonstruck Box Office Mojo Retrieved 2010-2-26
  4. ^ Moonstruck Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Retrieved 2010-2-26
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 15, 1988). "Review of Moonstruck". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 1999-03-02. 
  6. ^ Gene Siskel (1988-01-15). "Flick Of Week: Comedy Is King In 'Moonstruck'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  7. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20010605232324/http://tvplex.go.com/buenavista/ebertandthemovies/best_worst.html
  8. ^ "Berlinale: 1988 Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  9. ^ American Film Institute (2008-06-17). "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  10. ^ American Film Institute (2008-06-17). "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  11. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees
  12. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees
  13. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot
  14. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 22, 2003). "Moonstruck". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  15. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093565/soundtrack
  16. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/moonstruck-mw0000195746

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Academy Award winner for

Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress

Succeeded by
The Piano

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonstruck — Please support Wikipedia.
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