The Witches of Eastwick (film)

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The Witches of Eastwick
Witches moviep.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by George Miller
Produced by Neil Canton
Jon Peters
Peter Guber
Screenplay by Michael Cristofer
Based on The Witches of Eastwick 
by John Updike
Starring Jack Nicholson
Cher
Susan Sarandon
Michelle Pfeiffer
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Vilmos Zsigmond
Edited by Hubert C. de la Bouillerie
Richard Francis-Bruce
Production
company
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • June 12, 1987 (1987-06-12)
Running time 118 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $63,766,510[1]

The Witches of Eastwick is a 1987 American comedy-fantasy film based on John Updike's novel of the same name. Directed by George Miller, the film stars Jack Nicholson as Daryl Van Horne, alongside Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon as the eponymous witches.

Plot[edit]

Alexandra Medford (Cher), Jane Spofford (Susan Sarandon), and Sukie Ridgemont (Michelle Pfeiffer) are three dissatisfied women living in the picturesque town of Eastwick, Rhode Island. Alexandra is a sculptress and single mother of one daughter; Jane is a newly divorced music teacher incapable of having children; and Sukie is an extremely fertile woman with six daughters, who also works as a journalist at the "'Eastwick Word." Besides an everlasting friendship, these three women also share the similar misfortune of losing their husbands (Alex's is deceased, Jane's divorced her, and Sukie's abandoned her). Unaware that they are witches, the women unwittingly form a coven where they have weekly get-togethers and share their fantasies about ideal men.

The day after one such gathering, a mysterious man (Jack Nicholson) arrives in the town and immediately stirs up trouble by buying the town's landmark property: the Lennox Mansion. The arrival of this enigmatic stranger causes fascination among the townsfolk, all except local townswoman Felicia Alden (Veronica Cartwright), the devoutly religious wife of newspaper editor, Clyde Alden (Richard Jenkins), who is also Sukie's boss. Although Felicia is not a witch, she is somehow able to sense that this man (whose name is easily forgotten) is up to no good. One night, at one of Jane's music recitals, the strange man appears and makes a spectacle of himself, which leads to more gossip among the people. After the recital, Jane receives a bouquet of flowers with the initial "D" written on it. This sparks Sukie's memory, finally revealing the man's name as Daryl Van Horne. However, as chaos over Daryl's name spreads throughout the crowd, Sukie’s beaded necklace inexplicably breaks and falls to the floor, causing Felicia (who had mocked Daryl's name) to trip down a large staircase and break her leg.

The following day, as Daryl sets out to seduce the women one by one, he begins with the self-assured Alexandra, who is at first appalled by Daryl's arrogance, but later falls in love with him. The next morning, Daryl visits Jane, who is considered very insecure and shy. As the two sit down and share polite conversations, Jane explains to Daryl how the Lennox Mansion was built on the same location where alleged witches were burned at the stake. Later that night, Daryl encourages Jane to stop living a life of doubt and learn to enjoy herself by living recklessly. Taking his advice to heart, Jane begins living carelessly by letting her hair down and indulging in alcohol, drugs, and sex. The following week, Daryl invites all three of the women over to his mansion, which finally allows him to set his sights on Sukie. Later, as envy and rivalry emerge among the women, they inadvertently cause a tennis ball to levitate. Finally aware of their magical abilities, the women agree to share Daryl, spending more and more time with him at his mansion.

Later, as the women continue their presence at Daryl's mansion, Felicia begins spreading rumors about the three women's indecency. Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie become social outcasts within the town. As the witches begin to question their loyalty to Daryl, the diabolical tycoon kills Felicia by causing the girls to unknowingly cast a spell against her. Later that night, as Felicia rants to her husband about Daryl being the Devil, she begins to gradually vomit cherry stones. Because he cannot bear to watch his wife's illness progress, Clyde beats Felicia with a fire poker, killing her.

Following the death of Felicia, the three women become fearful of their powers and agree not to see or speak to each other or Daryl until the situation has quieted down. Upset with the witches for abandoning him, Daryl uses his own powers against them by bringing their worst fears to life. Alexandra awakens to a bed full of snakes; Jane transforms into an old hag; and Sukie is forced to feel excruciating pain. Realizing the only way to be rid of Daryl is by using witchcraft against him, the women reunite in order to seduce and ultimately vanquish him.

The next morning, as Daryl sets out to buy groceries, Alex creates a voodoo doll in his image out of wax and the women proceed to torture the doll. Once the spell begins to take effect and Daryl suffers excruciating pain, he races home to punish the girls for their betrayal. Terrified of Daryl's dominance over them, the witches toss the voodoo doll into a fire. Daryl vanishes.

Eighteen months later, the three women are living together in Daryl's mansion, each with a new baby son in addition to their existing children. The three baby boys are playing together when Daryl appears on the television set and invites them to come and "give Daddy a kiss." Before they can do so, Alex, Jane, and Sukie appear in the room and switch off the television.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The Witches of Eastwick was filmed on location in Ipswich, Marblehead, Cohasset and Scituate, Massachusetts, USA.[2] A small woodcarving shop in Scituate, Massachusetts was commissioned to hand-carve all the wooden signs for the shops shown in the movie, including the newspaper where Michelle Pfeiffer's character worked - The Eastwick Word. After filming, the sign for The Eastwick Word was converted into a coffee table for one of the executives involved with the film.

Critical reception[edit]

The Witches of Eastwick currently holds a rating of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus "A wickedly funny tale of three witches and their duel with the Devil, fueled by some delicious fantasy and arch comedic performances."[3] The Washington Post wrote that "Hollywood pulls out all the stops here, including a reordering of John Updike's original book to give you one flashy and chock-full-o'-surprises witches' tale."[4] Janet Maslin in The New York Times commended the "bright, flashy, exclamatory style."[5] Variety described it as a "very funny and irresistible set-up."[6]

Some critics thought that the last part of the film spiraled into ridiculousness. The Washington Post wrote that the second half "lost its magic and degenerated into bunk."[4] According to The New York Times, "beneath the surface charm there is too much confusion, and the charm itself is gone long before the film is over."[5] Time Out wrote that "the last 20 minutes dive straight to the bottom of the proverbial barrel with a final crass orgy of special effects."[7] Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times acknowledged that "the movie's climax is overdone."[8]

The majority of critics saw the film as a showcase for the comic talents of Jack Nicholson. The Chicago Sun-Times thought it "a role he was born to fill... There is a scene where he dresses in satin pajamas and sprawls full length on a bed, twisting and stretching sinuously in full enjoyment of his sensuality. It is one of the funniest moments of physical humor he has ever committed."[8] The New York Times wrote that although "the performers are eminently watchable... none of them seem a match for Mr. Nicholson's self-proclaimed 'horny little devil'."[5] Variety called it a "no-holds-barred performance", and wrote that the "spectacle of the film is really Nicholson".[6] The Washington Post wrote that Nicholson was "undisputably the star of The Witches of Eastwick, despite formidable competition from his coven played by Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon", although even more praise was reserved for Veronica Cartwright in an eccentric scene-stealing supporting role.[9]

Awards[edit]

The Witches of Eastwick was nominated for two Academy Awards in the categories of Best Original Score (for John Williams' music) and Best Sound, winning neither. The film won a BAFTA Award, however, in the category of Best Special Effects, and received a nomination for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. Williams was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Album of Original Instrumental Background Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television, and won a BMI Film Music Award.[10]

Jack Nicholson won a Saturn Award for Best Actor, and the film received nominations in a further six categories: Best Fantasy Film, Best Actress (Susan Sarandon), Best Supporting Actress (Veronica Cartwright), Best Writing (Michael Cristofer), Best Music (John Williams), and Best Special Effects.[10]

Jack Nicholson also won Best Actor awards from the New York Film Critics Circle (for his work in Witches, Ironweed and Broadcast News) and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (for Witches and Ironweed), the latter shared with Steve Martin for Roxanne (1987).[10]

Awarding body Award Nominee Result
Academy Awards[11] Best Original Score John Williams Nominated
Best Sound Wayne Artman
Tom Beckert
Tom E. Dahl
Art Rochester
Nominated
BAFTA Awards Best Special Visual Effects Michael Lantieri
Michael Owens
Ed Jones
Bruce Walters
Won
Grammy Awards Best Album of Original Instrumental Background Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television John Williams Nominated
Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Actor Jack Nicholson Won
(tied with Steve Martin)
New York Film Critics Circle Best Actor Jack Nicholson Won
Saturn Awards Best Fantasy Film Nominated
Best Actor Jack Nicholson Won
Best Actress Susan Sarandon Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Veronica Cartwright Nominated
Best Writing Michael Cristofer Nominated
Best Music John Williams Nominated
Best Special Effects Michael Lantieri Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Witches of Eastwick at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ "The Witches of Eastwick (1987) - Filming locations". imdb.com. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  3. ^ "The Witches of Eastwick Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  4. ^ a b Howe, Desson (June 12, 1987). "The Witches of Eastwick (R)". The Washington Post. 
  5. ^ a b c Maslin, Janet (June 12, 1987). "Movie Review - The Witches of Eastwick - Film". movies.nytimes.com. 
  6. ^ a b "The Witches of Eastwick Review - Read Variety's Analysis Of The Movie". Variety. June 12, 1987. 
  7. ^ "The Witches of Eastwick Review, Movie Reviews - Film - Time Out London". timeout.com. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  8. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (June 12, 1987). "The Witches of Eastwick". rogerebert.suntimes.com. 
  9. ^ Kempley, Rita (June 12, 1987). "The Witches of Eastwick (R)". The Washington Post. 
  10. ^ a b c "The Witches of Eastwick (1987) - Awards". imdb.com. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  11. ^ "The 60th Academy Awards (1988) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 

External links[edit]