Hero (1992 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stephen Frears
Produced by Laura Ziskin
Written by David Webb Peoples
Based on story 
by Laura Ziskin
Alvin Sargent
David Webb Peoples
Starring Dustin Hoffman
Geena Davis
Andy García
Music by George Fenton
Cinematography Oliver Stapleton
Edited by Mick Audsley
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • October 2, 1992 (1992-10-02)
Running time
117 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $42 million
Box office $66.5 million

Hero (released in the UK and Ireland as Accidental Hero) is a 1992 comedy-drama film directed by English film director Stephen Frears, written by David Webb Peoples and based on a story by Laura Ziskin, Alvin Sargent and David Webb Peoples. The film stars Dustin Hoffman, Geena Davis, Andy García, Joan Cusack and an uncredited Chevy Chase. Following the critically acclaimed The Grifters (1990), Hero was the second of the American feature films by Frears.


"Bernie" LaPlante (Dustin Hoffman) is a pickpocket and petty criminal who anonymously rescues survivors of an aircraft crash, losing a shoe in the process. He later meets a homeless Vietnam veteran, John Bubber (Andy Garcia), tells him about the rescue at the crash site and gives him his remaining shoe. When a television station offers $1 million to the "Angel of Flight 104", Bernie cannot claim the reward, due to his incarceration. John, however, uses the single shoe to take credit for the act. Bernie tries to tell people that John is a fake, but the media has sensationalized the heroic Bubber, and everyone wants to believe in him rather than Bernie.

TV reporter Gale Gayley (Geena Davis), one of the crash survivors, considers herself to be in John's debt and soon grooms his public image. She finds herself falling in love with him even though she has questions about his authenticity, and he finds himself in an ethical dilemma since his lies are inspirational to countless people. Meanwhile, Bernie continues to aggravate ex-wife Evelyn (Joan Cusack) and fails to bond with his son (James Madio), who is now enamored with the "hero" John Bubber. Bernie begins to feel that if his son is going to idolize anyone, perhaps John is the better choice.

A detective tells Gale her credit cards were recovered (although she originally said they were burned up at the crash site). They were stolen by Bernie who had purloined the reporter's purse as he was rescuing her, drawing accusations that Bernie might be attempting to blackmail John. Gale and her cameraman, Chucky (Kevin J. O'Connor), break into Bernie's apartment with the help of the landlord, Winston (Maury Chaykin). While searching for evidence to incriminate Bernie, Gale finds a stolen Silver Microphone Award that she won in New York City, the night before the crash. Bernie arrives only to be confronted by Gale and an argument ensues. They are interrupted by Winston, who says Bubber, as seen on television, is about to jump from a high-rise skyscraper. Gale rushes there and brings Bernie along, threatening to have Bernie prosecuted if Bubber leaps to his death. In addition, she demands Bernie apologize for the attempted blackmail.

When they arrive, Bernie goes out on the ledge, hatching a scheme to milk the media attention for all its worth. Ultimately, he and Bubber agree that the world needs a hero. Bernie pretends that he is going to commit suicide, and John pulls him up to safety, a hero once more. When she sees Bernie's face with dirt on it, as on the night of the crash, Gale realizes it was Bernie who saved her. She confronts him "off the record" with her supposition, but Bernie insists that John was the hero. As she leaves, however, she thanks him for saving her life; Bernie replies, "You're welcome." Gale tells Bernie to tell his son the truth. Bubber agrees to continue playing the part of public hero. While on an excursion to the zoo, Bernie decides to tell his son the true story of the crash. After he does so, a lady cries out that her daughter has fallen into the lion's cage. Bernie's son pleads with him to help, to which he sighs, slips off his shoes, and heads off to see what he can do.



A pivotal scene in Hero involved an airliner crashing with 54 passengers and crew trapped aboard.

Principal photography on Hero began shooting October 30, 1991 in Chicago, Illinois, with studio work at Sony Pictures Studios, Culver City, California and Los Angeles, California. The film wrapped on March 20, 1992.[1] Mariah Carey originally recorded her #1 hit single "Hero" for the film but her Columbia Records label did not want to give the power ballad away and chose to drop out of the project. Instead, Luther Vandross sang the theme "Heart of a Hero".[2]


Hail the Conquering Hero (1944) is a film on a similar theme by Preston Sturges. Many reviewers referred to the obvious similarities between Hero and Sturges' screwball comedy works. The classic Frank Capra film Meet John Doe (1941) was also cited as a model for Laura Ziskin who both produced and supplied the story for Hero.[3]


Hero was met with generally mixed to positive critical reviews, although the film was not a box office success. Columbia lost $25.6 million on the film.[4] Roger Ebert noted: " It has all the ingredients for a terrific entertainment, but it lingers over the kinds of details that belong in a different kind of movie. It comes out of the tradition of those rat-a-tat Preston Sturges comedies of the 1940s, and when Chevy Chase, as a wise-guy TV boss, barks orders into a phone, it finds the right note."[5] Desson Howe, film reviewer for the Washington Post said: "At the heart of this is a thoroughly appealing, old-fashioned screwball caper – the kind they used to make."[6]Hero currently holds a 68% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 19 reviews.[7]

American Film Institute recognition:

Home media[edit]

Hero debuted at No. 3 in home media market.[9] Hero was released on VHS on April 15, 1993. Another version presented in widescreen was also released on VHS. The DVD was also released on May 25, 1999 and was later re-released in 2004 by Sony Pictures. Special features for the 1999 DVD only included liner notes and theatrical trailers. The DVD was also a flipper disc and was presented in widescreen (side A) and full-screen (side B). The only special feature for the 2004 DVD included theatrical trailers and was only presented in full-screen. Mill Creek Entertainment had recently picked up the DVD distribution rights for the film. The DVD was re-released in 2012 (20 years after the film was released). Unlike the first two DVD releases by Sony, this DVD includes no special features and is presented in widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1.[10]



  1. ^ Joan's sister, Susie Cusack appears as Donna O'Day in an uncredited role in the large all-star cast; Jeff Garlin was seen as a news vendor.[11]


  1. ^ "Misc Notes: Hero (1992). Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: November 22, 2014.
  2. ^ "Hero". Mariah Carey Songfacts Retrieved: November 23, 2014.
  3. ^ Turan, Kenneth. "A Reluctant 'Hero'." Los Angeles Times, October 2, 1992.
  4. ^ Griffin and Masters 1996, p. 345.
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Hero". Rogerebert.com, October 2, 1992. Retrieved: November 22, 2014.
  6. ^ Howe, Desson. "Hero". Washington Post, October 2, 1992. Retrieved: November 22, 2014.
  7. ^ "Hero". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved: November 22, 2014.
  8. ^ "Bernie Laplante". AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains Nominees. Retrieved: November 22, 2014.
  9. ^ Hunt, Dennis. "National Video Rentals: Star Power Pushes 'Hero' Up Chart." The Los Angeles Times, May 14, 1993. Retrieved: January 1, 2011.
  10. ^ "Accidental Hero". dvd.net.au. Retrieved: November 23, 2014.
  11. ^ "Full cast & crew: Hero (1992)". IMDb. Retrieved: November 23, 2014.


  • Griffin, Nancy and Kim Masters. Hit and Run. New York: Touchstone, a Simon & Schuster company, 1996. ISBN 978-0-68483-266-1.

External links[edit]