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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 before leaving for Sicily to attend to his dying mother (to whom he is clearly overly attached). Once the wedding date is set, Johnny asks Loretta to invite his estranged younger brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage) to the wedding.

At home, Loretta shares her news with her father. Cosmo mocks Johnny as "a big baby" and points out that Loretta was married before and it didn't work out (Loretta's husband had been hit by a bus and killed). Loretta says she and her late husband had had bad luck: Cosmo had not approved or given Loretta away, and they were married at City Hall. Loretta insists on a "real" wedding this time. They wake Rose to tell her the news. Rose asks Loretta if she loves Johnny. Loretta says no, but she likes him. Rose says that's good, because (glancing at her husband), "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 and reminds Loretta to invite Ronny to the wedding. Loretta calls Ronny at the bakery where he works, but he snaps at her and hangs up (Loretta exclaims, "Animal!"). When she visits Ronny at the bakery, her news infuriates him, and in dramatic fashion, he explains the reason for the bad blood: Ronny had been engaged, and during that time Johnny came in one day to buy bread. Johnny talked to Ronny as he sliced the bread and distracted him, causing Ronny to get his hand caught in the bread slicer (Ronny displays his wooden prosthetic hand to Loretta), after which Ronny's fiancée left him. Loretta convinces Ronny to go up to his apartment with her so they can talk. After cooking Ronny a meal and sharing some whiskey with him, Loretta tells Ronny he is a "wolf" who lost his paw (hand) rather than be caught in the trap of the wrong love. Ronny reacts furiously and passionately, sweeping Loretta up in his arms and carrying her to his bed where they make love.

The next morning, Loretta tells Ronny they can never see each other again. He admits he's in love with her but agrees to never see her again on one condition - that she attend the opera with him that night. She agrees.

On her way home from running an errand, Loretta goes to a beauty salon for a makeover and then buys a glamorous dress and shoes. She stops at church to go to confession. When Loretta comes out of the confessional, she sees her mother kneeling in the pews and joins her. Rose, distressed, tells Loretta that Cosmo is having an affair, which Loretta doesn't believe. Meanwhile, Cosmo is dining at a fancy restaurant with his mistress Mona (Anita Gillette) and presents her with a gold bracelet.

Back home, Loretta prepares for the opera, relaxing to romantic music as she leisurely dresses and then takes a cab to meet Ronny who looks dashing in a tuxedo. Loretta is deeply moved by her first opera, Puccini's La Bohème.

That night Rose dines alone at a neighborhood restaurant and witnesses a dramatic breakup between a young coed and a professor named Perry (John Mahoney). Perry was seen earlier in the movie being dumped in similar fashion by another coed. Rose invites Perry to dine with her; afterwards he walks her home. Perry is attracted to Rose, but although her husband has a mistress, Rose gently tells Perry she won't invite him in "because I know who I am."

As Loretta leaves the Met with Ronny, she sees her father and Mona. Loretta and Cosmo are shocked to see each other, but they both agree to keep their respective affairs a secret. Loretta tells Ronny how upset she is about her father's infidelity, but she also feels guilty for being with Ronny when she's engaged to his brother. On their way home, Loretta tries to break it off with Ronny but he passionately and desperately persuades her into another tryst.

Johnny returns unexpectedly from Sicily, stopping at Loretta's house on his way back from the airport. His mother made a "miraculous recovery" after Johnny told her of his engagement. Rose asks Johnny a serious question: why do men chase women? Johnny relates the story of God creating Eve from Adam's rib, saying "Perhaps a man is just not complete without a woman." When Rose then asks why a man would want more than one woman, Johnny replies, "I don't know, perhaps because he fears death." Rose enthusiastically agrees. When Cosmo walks in, Rose dryly remarks, "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, clearly "moonstruck" over Ronny. Her mother meets her in the kitchen, announces (to Loretta's distress) that Johnny has returned, and notes that Loretta has a love bite on her neck. As they wait, Ronny arrives. Rose lets him in and notices his matching love bite. Rose invites Ronny to stay for breakfast, and he accepts before Loretta can stop him. Cosmo and his father come downstairs for breakfast and the group is joined by Rose's brother Raymond and sister-in-law Rita. As they sit around the table, Rose asks Cosmo if she has been a good wife; when he says yes, she replies, "I want you to stop seeing her... and go to confession." Cosmo is upset but guiltily agrees.

When Johnny finally arrives, he tells Loretta he can't marry her - "if I do, my 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 (much to Johnny's shock); he borrows Johnny's ring and Loretta accepts. Rose asks Loretta if she loves Ronny, and when Loretta says, "I love him awful," Rose says, "That's too bad." The family toasts the couple with champagne and a befuddled Johnny finally joins in.


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. ^
  8. ^ "Berlinale: 1988 Prize Winners". Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  9. ^ American Film Institute (2008-06-17). "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres". Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  10. ^ American Film Institute (2008-06-17). "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres". 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. ^
  16. ^

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Academy Award winner for

Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress

Succeeded by
The Piano