Needful Things (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Fraser C. Heston|
|Produced by||Jack Cummins|
|Screenplay by||W.D. Richter|
|Based on||Needful Things by
|Starring||Max von Sydow
J. T. Walsh
|Music by||Patrick Doyle|
|Editing by||Rob Kobrin|
|Studio||Castle Rock Entertainment
New Line Cinema
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Release date(s)||August 27, 1993|
|Running time||120 min.|
|Box office||$15,185,672 (USA)|
Needful Things is a 1993 horror film, and an adaptation of Stephen King's 1991 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Fraser C. Heston, the son of actor Charlton Heston. It stars Max von Sydow, Ed Harris, Bonnie Bedelia and J. T. Walsh.
Plot summary 
A mysterious proprietor named Leland Gaunt, claiming to be from Akron, Ohio, opens a new antiques store called "Needful Things" in the small town of Castle Rock, Maine. The store sells various items of great personal worth to the residents (some of which, like a pendant that eases pain or a toy which predicts the outcome of horse races, are clearly supernatural), and Gaunt demands payment both in cash and in small "favors", usually pranks played by his customers on their neighbors. Gaunt seems to have an innate knowledge of the townspeople and their history, and the pranks exploit their previous rivalries and prejudices, causing them to attack each other. When the normally peaceful townsfolk begin to commit acts of violence and murder, Sheriff Alan Pangborn investigates Gaunt and becomes convinced that his machinations are the source of the unrest. Gaunt is revealed to be the Devil, traveling from place to place, manipulating people into destroying themselves. Acting primarily through a corrupt boat salesman and gambler named Danforth Keeton, Gaunt succeeds in sparking a riot in the town square.
Pangborn manages to stop the violence before the town destroys itself, and the townspeople admit their pranks, exposing Gaunt's web of manipulation. Keeton, despondent at the death of his wife earlier in the film, blows up Needful Things with Gaunt inside. Defeated, the mysteriously impervious Gaunt emerges completely unharmed from the burning wreckage of his store, predicts he will encounter Pangborn's grandson in 2053, exclaims "Bob will be his name", then departs, presumably to continue his vicious, evil work. He leaves in the same sinister black car (revealed as similarly supernaturally indestructible in the extended cut), in which he arrived at the beginning of the film.
- Max von Sydow as Leland Gaunt/The Devil
- Ed Harris as Sheriff Alan J. Pangborn
- Bonnie Bedelia as Polly Chalmers
- Amanda Plummer as Netitia 'Nettie' Cobb
- J. T. Walsh as Danforth 'Buster' Keeton III
- Ray McKinnon as Deputy Norris Ridgewick
- Valri Bromfield as Wilma Wadlowski Jerzyck
- Shane Meier as Brian Rusk
- W. Morgan Sheppard - Father Meehan
- Don S. Davis - Reverend Rose
Differences from the novel 
- The film takes an immediate left turn in the beginning when Alan Pangborn and Mr. Gaunt meet during his opening day. In the novel the two do not meet until the climax as Mr. Gaunt takes careful measure to avoid any face to face with the sheriff.
- Danforth Keeton replaces John "Ace" Merrill, who was Gaunt's helper in the novel and does not appear in the movie.
- Most of the characters in the novel either do not appear in the movie or are much less prominently featured, undoubtedly due to time constraints.
- Brian Rusk (Gaunt's first customer) succeeds in his suicide attempt in the novel, but is said to survive in the movie.
- Polly Chalmers owns a sewing shop called the "You Sew and Sew" in the novel it is hinted that her profession caused her arthritis; in the film, she is a diner owner.
- Polly Chalmers breaks the necklace in the novel and must fight the rapidly-growing spider-like creature within. In the film, she merely throws it down.
- Alan J. Pangborn is in mourning for his wife and son in the novel. This plotline was dropped for the movie, as was a plot about Polly's dead son and decision to leave town when pregnant and return later.
- In the novel, the sheriff refuses to give Gaunt his bag, which contains the souls of all those he has tricked into committing sins. Pangborn opens the bag and something is released and a furious Gaunt reveals his true monstrous form as he drives off.
- In the novel's end, Gaunt boards a Tucker Talisman that transforms into a medieval peddler's horse-drawn wagon and rides off into the night sky. In the movie ending, he drives a black Mercedes-Benz Type 300 limousine that mysteriously vanishes after leaving Castle Rock. Though the book ends with a premonition that Gaunt is opening yet another cursed store called "Answered Prayers" elsewhere in the U.S., the movie does not.
- In the movie, Gaunt leaves, predicting he will meet Pangborn's grandson in the distant future. This relationship between a local law officer, his son, and a mythical antagonist was later revisited more deeply in King's Storm of the Century.
- "Official website of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.". MGM.com. 2002-08-27. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
- Needful Things at the Internet Movie Database
- Needful Things at AllRovi
- Yahoo! Movies entry
- Needful Things at Rotten Tomatoes