It Could Happen to You (film)
|It Could Happen to You|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Andrew Bergman|
|Produced by||Mike Lobell|
|Written by||Jane Anderson|
|Music by||Carter Burwell
|Editing by||Barry Malkin|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Release dates||July 29, 1994|
|Running time||101 minutes|
It Could Happen to You is a 1994 American romantic comedy-drama film starring Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda. It is the story of New York City police officer (Cage) who wins the lottery and splits his winnings with a waitress (Fonda). This basic premise was inspired by a real-life incident.
Isaac Hayes has a role as undercover reporter and photographer Angel Dupree, while also being the film's narrator.
Policeman Charlie Lang (Nicolas Cage) is a kind and generous man who loves his job and the Queens borough of New York City where he lives. His wife Muriel (Rosie Pérez) works in a hairdressing salon and, unlike Charlie, is selfish, greedy and materialistic, constantly complaining about their situation in life. Waitress Yvonne Biasi (Bridget Fonda), is bankrupt because her husband Eddie (Stanley Tucci), whom she could not yet afford to divorce, emptied their joint checking account and spent all the money without her permission, while also leaving her with a credit card debt of over $12,000. Charlie meets Yvonne when she waits on him at the diner where she works. Since Charlie doesn't have enough money to pay the tip, he promises to give her either double the tip or half of his prospective lottery winnings the next day. He wins $4 million (in 21 annual payments) in the lottery the next day and keeps his promise, despite the protests of his wife. He and Yvonne become stars almost immediately. Yvonne buys the diner she was working in. She sets up a table with Charlie's name at which people who cannot afford food can eat for free. In another development, Charlie becomes a hero for foiling an attempted robbery at a grocery store but gets wounded in the process, forcing him to take leave from the police force.
At a gathering on a chartered boat for the lottery winners and other members of high society, Muriel gets to know the newly rich Jack Gross. She flirts with him and develops a strong liking for him, which is mutual. Meanwhile, Charlie and Yvonne spend a lot of time together, on one occasion paying for the train journeys of passengers of the subway, and on another treating the children of his neighbourhood to a day out at Yankee Stadium, about which the media report. Muriel gets fed up with Charlie's constant donations and overall simplicity and throws him out of their apartment, asking for a divorce. That same evening, Yvonne leaves her apartment after her husband shows up and threatens to stay until he gets $50,000 from her. Quite innocently, Charlie and Yvonne run into each other at the Plaza Hotel and, unintentionally, end up spending the night together.
During divorce proceedings between Muriel and Charlie, Muriel demands all the money that Charlie won for herself. Charlie doesn't mind giving his share of the money but Muriel also wants the money he gave Yvonne, and Charlie's steadfast unwillingness to do so causes Muriel to take the case to court. The jury decides in her favor. Yvonne, feeling guilty at costing Charlie all his money, runs out of court in tears and tries to keep away from him. But the cop, by now hopelessly in love with the waitress, finds her at the diner and tells her that the money means nothing to him, and they declare their love for each other. While ruminating about their future at the diner and considering a possible move to Buffalo, they are gracious enough to provide a hungry and poor customer some soup, which he eats at the special table. The poor customer is none other than the disguised Angel Dupree, who takes photos of the couple and in the next day's newspapers publicly eulogises their willingness to feed a hungry and poor man even in their darkest hour. Just as Charlie and Yvonne are moving out of town, the citizens of New York City, no doubt touched by the generosity of the couple, send "the cop and the waitress" thousands of letters with tips totaling over $600,000, enough to help pay their debts.
After Muriel gets remarried, her new husband Jack Gross flees the country with all the money from their checking account, revealing himself to be a con man. She then has no option but to move in with her mother in the Bronx and go back to her old manicure job. Eddie Biasi, now divorced from Yvonne, ends up becoming a taxi driver. Charlie happily returns to the police force and Yvonne reclaims the diner. At the film's end, Charlie and Yvonne get married and begin their honeymoon by taking off from Central Park in a hot air balloon that bears the New York Post headline "Cop Weds Waitress", just before the closing credits roll.
- Nicolas Cage as Charlie Lang
- Bridget Fonda as Yvonne Biasi
- Rosie Pérez as Muriel Lang
- Wendell Pierce as Bo Williams
- Isaac Hayes as Angel Dupree
- Stanley Tucci as Eddie Biasi
- Victor Rojas as Jesu
- Seymour Cassel as Jack Gross
- J.E. Freeman as Sal Bontempo
- Red Buttons as Walter Zakuto
- Richard Jenkins as C. Vernon Hale
- Beatrice Winde as Judge
|This section requires expansion. (February 2010)|
The film received generally positive reviews from critics. The film holds a 71% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a "Certified Fresh" rating with a score of 71% based on reviews from 34 critics.
The soundtrack album was released by Sony Records on July 19, 1994.
- "Young at Heart" - Tony Bennett and Shawn Colvin
- "They Can't Take That Away From Me" - Billie Holiday
- "Now It Can Be Told" - Tony Bennett
- "Swingdown, Swingtown" - Wynton Marsalis
- "She's No Lady" - Lyle Lovett
- "Always" - Tony Bennett
- "Overture" - Carter Burwell
- "I Feel Lucky" - Mary Chapin Carpenter
- "Round of Blues" - Shawn Colvin
- "The Search" - Carter Burwell
- "Young at Heart" - Frank Sinatra
In 1984, Phyllis Penzo was a waitress at a pizzeria commonly frequented by Yonkers, New York, police officers. In March of that year, Officer Robert Cunningham, a regular patron and longtime friend of Penzo, suggested that the two split a lottery ticket, each of them choosing three of the six numbers, in lieu of his leaving her a tip. Penzo agreed, and though she subsequently forgot about it, when Cunningham discovered that the ticket had won a $6 million prize, he chose to honor their agreement and split the money evenly with Penzo.
Beyond this basic premise, the film is entirely fictional, with the backgrounds of the film's characters and the events depicted in the film subsequent to their lottery win bearing no resemblance to the actual lives of Penzo and Cunningham. As a result, neither Penzo nor Cunningham were required to authorize the film, nor were they entitled to collect royalties from its proceeds.
The diner where Yvonne works in the film was constructed in a parking lot at the corner of N. Moore St. and West Broadway in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan. The film was called “Cop Gives Waitress Million Dollar Tip” when it was shot there.
- Mark, Lois Alter. (1994, July 29). "Winning Personalities", Entertainment Weekly
- David, Will. (2004, June 26). "Lottery spouse dies in roof fall", The Journal News
- Boyle, Wickham, "Hollywood returns to Tribeca’s ‘Enchanted’ corner", downtown express, June 16-22, 2006 (19:5). Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- It Could Happen to You at the Internet Movie Database
- It Could Happen to You at Box Office Mojo
- It Could Happen to You at Rotten Tomatoes