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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
Music by Dick Hyman
Cinematography David Watkin
Edited by Lou Lombardo
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • 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 in Brooklyn Heights, New York, where she lives with her family: her father Cosmo (Vincent Gardenia) who is a successful plumber, her mother Rose (Olympia Dukakis), and her paternal grandfather (Feodor Chaliapin, Jr). Her boyfriend, Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello) proposes to her before leaving for Sicily to attend to his dying mother; she accepts, but is insistent that they carefully follow tradition as she believes her first marriage was cursed by her failure to do so, resulting in her husband's death when he was hit by a bus. They plan to marry one month later, and Johnny asks Loretta to invite his estranged younger brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage) to the wedding. Loretta returns home and informs her parents of the engagement. Cosmo dislikes Johnny and is reluctant to commit to paying for the "real" wedding Loretta insists on, while Rose is pleased that Loretta likes Johnny but does not love him; she believes that one can easily be driven crazy by a partner whom one loves.

The next day, Loretta goes to see Ronny at his bakery after he refuses to speak to her on the phone. He reveals that he has a wooden prosthetic hand, and he explains that he blames Johnny for the loss of his hand and his own fiancée; Ronny became distracted while talking to Johnny as he cut bread for him, his hand was mangled in the slicer, and his fiancée left him. Loretta insists that they discuss the matter upstairs in his apartment, where she cooks for him and then tells him that she believes he is a "wolf" who cut off his own hand to escape the trap of a bad relationship. Ronny reacts furiously and passionately, sweeping Loretta up in his arms and carrying her to his bed where they make love.

That evening, Rose's brother Raymond (Louis Guss) and his wife Rita (Julie Bovasso) join Rose and Cosmo for dinner, and they all wonder where Loretta is. Raymond recalls that when he was a boy and Cosmo was courting Rose, he thought that a particularly bright moon one night was somehow brought to the house by Cosmo because of his love for Rose. That night, Loretta remains at Ronny's apartment and sees such a moon; Raymond sees it as well, and it leads him and Rita to make love. The next morning, Loretta tells Ronny they can never see each other again. She slaps him when he claims to be in love with her, and he agrees to never see her again if she will attend the opera (his other great love) with him that night. She agrees. After closing out the cash register in Raymond and Rita's store, Loretta impulsively has some long-neglected beauty treatments, including having the gray removed from her hair, and buys a glamorous evening gown. She then goes to church and confesses her infidelity. She unexpectedly sees her mother there, and Rose tells her that Cosmo is having an affair; Loretta is doubtful, but Cosmo is in fact dining with his mistress Mona (Anita Gillette) at that moment, and giving her jewelry.

Loretta and Ronny (wearing a tuxedo) meet at Lincoln Center, and each is impressed with the other's appearance. Loretta is deeply moved by her first opera, Puccini's La bohème. But as they leave, Loretta sees Cosmo and Mona and she confronts her father. He sees that she is with Ronny, and he suggests that they simply agree that they didn't see each other at all, but Loretta is conflicted. Loretta then intends to return home alone, but Ronny leads her back to his apartment where he passionately and desperately persuades her into another tryst. The same night, Rose dines alone at a restaurant and sees a college professor, Perry (John Mahoney), being dramatically dumped by a female student, a similar scene having played out with a different girl the night Johnny proposed to Loretta. Rose invites Perry to dine with her, and she shares with him her belief that men pursue women because they fear death. Perry walks Rose home and tries to convince her to invite him in; she refuses, citing the fact that she knows herself. Later, Johnny unexpectedly returns from Sicily after his mother's "miraculous" recovery and goes to Loretta's house; Rose explains that she's not there, so he plans to return in the morning.

In the morning, Loretta returns home in a reverie but is then distressed to learn from Rose that Johnny will be there soon. Ronny then arrives, and Rose notes their matching "love bites" and invites him for breakfast over Loretta's objections. Cosmo and his father emerge from upstairs, and the older man cajoles Cosmo into agreeing to pay for Loretta's wedding. Rose then confronts Cosmo and, after he acknowledges that she has been a good wife, demands that he end his affair; he is upset but agrees, and they affirm their love for each other. Raymond and Rita also arrive to find out why Loretta didn't make the previous day's bank deposit; they are relieved to learn that she merely forgot and still has the money. When Johnny finally arrives, he breaks off the engagement, superstitiously believing that their marriage would cause his mother's death. 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 borrows the ring and asks Loretta to marry him; she accepts. To Rose's chagrin, Loretta declares that she loves Ronny. The family toasts the couple with champagne and a befuddled Johnny joins in at the grandfather's urging, as he will now be part of the family after all.


Critical and commercial reception[edit]

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

According to TIME:

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

According to Gene Siskel, writing for the Chicago Tribune:

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 (accordion) 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 (accordion) 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

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