9½ Weeks

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9½ Weeks
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Adrian Lyne
Produced by Mark Damon
Sidney Kimmel
Zalman King
Antony Rufus-Isaacs
Screenplay by Sarah Kernochan
Zalman King
Patricia Louisanna Knop
Based on 9½ Weeks 
by Elizabeth McNeill
Starring Kim Basinger
Mickey Rourke
Music by Jack Nitzsche
Cinematography Peter Biziou
Edited by Caroline Biggerstaff
Ed Hansen
Tom Rolf
Mark Winitsky
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
February 20, 1986 (1986-02-20)
Running time
112 minutes (Theatrical cut)
117 minutes (Video)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $17 million
Box office $106,734,844

9½ Weeks is an 1986 erotic romantic drama film directed by Adrian Lyne and starring Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke. It is based on the memoir of the same name by Elizabeth McNeill, about a New York City art gallery employee who has a brief yet intense affair with a mysterious Wall Street broker. The film was completed in 1984 but not released until February 1986.

The film was a box office disappointment in the United States, grossing only less than $7 million at the box office on a $17 million budget. It also received mixed to negative reviews at the time of its release. However the film was a huge success internationally, particularly in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom making $100 million worldwide[1] and acquired a large fanbase on video/DVD.[2]

The film spawned two direct-to-video sequels, Another 9½ Weeks (1997) and The First 9½ Weeks (1998).


The title of the film refers to the duration of a relationship between Wall Street arbitrageur John Gray (Mickey Rourke) and divorced SoHo art gallery employee Elizabeth McGraw (Kim Basinger). John initiates and controls the various experimental sexual practices of this volatile relationship to push Elizabeth's boundaries. In doing so, Elizabeth experiences a gradual downward spiral toward emotional breakdown.

Elizabeth first sees John in New York City China Town where she grocery shops with her co-worker Molly (Margaret Whitton). She sees him again at a street market in Greenwich Village where she decides against buying an intricately patterned French scarf priced beyond what she was willing to pay. John wins her heart when he eventually produces that scarf and wraps it around her lovingly. They start dating, and Elizabeth is increasingly subjected to John's behavioral peculiarities; he blindfolds Elizabeth, who is at first reluctant to comply with his sexual fantasy demands. Yet she sees him as loving and playful as she is seduced by his lavish spending patterns; he gives her an expensive gold watch, and instructs her to use it to think about him at 12 p.m. She takes this imperative even further by masturbating at her workplace at the designated time. John also masterminds an extended erotic food play sequence. However, he ultimately confuses Elizabeth by communicating his reluctance to meet her friends despite the intimacy of their sexual relations.

Elizabeth's confusion about John increases when he leaves her alone at his apartment. She examines the individual compartments of his unusually well-organized closet till she discovers a photograph of him with another woman. John calls her from a pay phone booth. He asks her if she went through his stuff, declaring that he will punish her if he hears that she has done so. Their ensuing altercation escalates into sexual assault till she blissfully concedes to his violent struggle to overpower her. Their sexual intensity grows as they start having sex in public places.

Elizabeth's heightened need for psychosexual stimulation drives her to stalk John to his office in the New York Stock Exchange and to obey his injunction to cross-dress herself in men's corporate attire for a rendez-vous at an upscale restaurant. On leaving the establishment, two men mistake them for a gay couple and shout "Faggot!" from their vehicle. A fight ensues. Elizabeth picks up a knife that one of their assailants had dropped. She stabs one of them in the buttocks and both attackers flee. Elizabeth and John have sex onsite with intensely visceral passion. After this incident, John's sexual games acquire sadomasochistic elements: he buys a horse whip which Elizabeth uses in an extended striptease sequence for John's voyeuristic pleasure.

Rather than satisfying or empowering Elizabeth, such experiences intensify her emotional vulnerability instead; when she sees her ex-husband on her art gallery's opening show day, her ambivalence about him makes her exceptionally receptive to a message from John on her answering machine telling her to meet him at a hotel room. John blindfolds her at the room. A Hispanic prostitute enters. She starts caressing Elizabeth, telling her in Spanish to relax as John observes them. The prostitute removes Elizabeth's blindfold and starts working on John. Elizabeth violently intervenes, and flees the hotel, John pursuing her hotly. They run till they find themselves in an adult entertainment venue. He spots her in a crowd of men watching a pornographic show. She sees John and starts kissing a random man in the crowd. Moments later, John and Elizabeth gravitate towards each other, finding themselves interlocked in each other's seemingly inescapable embrace.

Elizabeth spends the night at John's apartment. The following morning, John senses that he will never see her again. He volubly attempts to share with her details about his life: He tells her he has five brothers. His mother used to be a check-out girl at a grocery store. Elizabeth tells him that it is too late as she leaves the apartment. John begins his mental countdown to 50, hoping she will come back by the time he is finished.



In a preview screening of the film for 1,000 people, all but 40 walked out. Of the 40 who filled out cards, 35 said they hated it.[3]

9½ Weeks has a mixed 64% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 22 reviews.[4] Roger Ebert praised the film, giving it three and a half stars, stating: "A lot of the success of 9½ Weeks is because Rourke and Basinger make the characters and their relationship convincing." He further elaborated by saying that their relationship was believable, and unlike many other characters in other erotic films at that time, the characters in this movie are much more real and human.[5]

The film was nominated for three categories at the 1986 Golden Raspberry Awards, Worst Actress (Kim Basinger, who lost to Madonna for Shanghai Surprise), Worst Original Song ("I Do What I Do" by Jonathan Elias, John Taylor, Michael Des Barres, which lost to "Love or Money" from Under the Cherry Moon), and Worst Screenplay (Patricia Louisianna Knop, Zalman King, Sarah Kernochan, which lost to Howard the Duck).

Soundtrack and score[edit]

The main single released from the 9½ Weeks: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was "I Do What I Do", performed by Duran Duran bassist John Taylor, giving his first solo singing performance during a hiatus in Duran Duran's career. The song reached #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #42 on the UK Singles Chart. Music for the score was composed by Taylor and Jonathan Elias. Original music for the movie was also written by Jack Nitzsche, but his compositions are not included on the soundtrack.

The soundtrack also included tracks from Luba, Bryan Ferry, Dalbello, Corey Hart, Joe Cocker, Devo, Eurythmics and Stewart Copeland. Winston Grennan's reggae "Savior" as well as Jean Michel Jarre's "Arpegiator", played during the sex scene on the stairs in the rain, were not included on the record.

Sequel and prequel[edit]

In 1997, a sequel appeared direct-to-video called Another 9½ Weeks, starring Mickey Rourke and Angie Everhart and directed by Anne Goursaud. In 1998, a straight-to-video prequel was made called The First 9½ Weeks that did not include any original actor.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Zalman King, creator of sort-core films, dies at 70 New York Times 2012
  2. ^ Rabin, Nathan (2002-04-04). "Another 9½ Weeks". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2009-01-12. 
  3. ^ “Zalman King, Creator of Soft-Core Films, Dies at 70”, New York Times, February 8, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/09/arts/television/zalman-king-creator-of-soft-core-films-dies-at-70.html?hpw
  4. ^ 9½ Weeks at Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-05-10.
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (1986-02-21). "9½ Weeks". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  • Briggs, Joe Bob (2005). Profoundly Erotic: Sexy Movies that Changed History. New York: Rizzoli. ISBN 0-7893-1314-6. 

External links[edit]