|Directed by||Adrian Lyne|
|Based on||Nine and a Half Weeks|
by Ingeborg Day
|Music by||Jack Nitzsche|
|Distributed by||MGM/UA Entertainment Co. (United States)|
PSO International (Internationally)
|Box office||$100 million|
9½ Weeks is a 1986 American erotic romantic drama film directed by Adrian Lyne, and starring Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke. Basinger portrays a New York City art gallery employee who has a brief yet intense affair with a mysterious Wall Street broker, played by Rourke. The screenplay by Sarah Kernochan, Zalman King and Patricia Louisianna Knop is adapted from the 1978 memoir of the same name by Austrian-American author Ingeborg Day, under the pseudonym "Elizabeth McNeill".
The film was completed in 1984, but did not get released until February 1986. Considered too explicit by its American distributor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the film was heavily edited for release in the United States, where it was a box office bomb, grossing $6.7 million on a $17 million budget. It also received mixed reviews at the time of its release. However, its soundtrack sold well and the film itself became a huge success internationally in its unedited version, particularly in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, making $100 million worldwide. It has also acquired a large fanbase on video and DVD and has developed a cult following.
This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (January 2023)
SoHo art gallery employee Elizabeth McGraw first sees Wall Street arbitrageur John Gray in New York City at a Chinese grocer, and later at a street fair where she decides against buying an expensive scarf. John finds her and produces the scarf and the two go on a date. They start dating and Elizabeth is increasingly subjected to John's behavioral peculiarities; as he increases the sense of danger and pushes her normal boundaries. He gives her an expensive gold watch, and instructs her to use it to think about him touching her every day at noon. She takes this imperative even further by masturbating at her workplace at the designated time.
Elizabeth wants to include John in her life and have him meet her friends, but he makes it clear he only wishes to see her in the evenings and instructs her to see her friends in the daytime. Elizabeth is then left alone at his apartment in the evening. She examines his closet until she discovers a photograph of him with another woman, April Tover. John calls her and asks her if she went through his things, declaring that he will punish her. She admits that she has. When he returns home he tells her to face the wall and receive a spanking. Elizabeth attempts to leave but finds the door locked, she shouts at him and he slaps her, she slaps him back. He then rapes her.
John begins to control all aspects of Elizabeth's life, such as picking out what she should wear and choosing what she will eat, brushing her hair and feeding her. Elizabeth becomes increasingly dependent on John for mental and emotional stability as she loses her sense of self. She follows him to work one day and brings him lunch. She mentions to him that she would like to "be one of the guys". As a surprise, John contrives for her to crossdress for a rendezvous at a bar. On leaving the establishment, two men hurl an insult when they mistake John and Elizabeth for a gay couple. The men chase them and a fight ensues. The two men begin assaulting John and drop a knife. Elizabeth picks up the knife and stabs one of the attackers in the buttocks and both attackers flee. Elated from her triumph, Elizabeth exclaims she loves John. They strip and she reveals a wet tank-top and the two have passionate sex at the site of the crime.
Following this encounter John begins to make the BDSM-style relationship dynamic more obvious in public. During a visit to a bed store, he asks Elizabeth to "spread your legs for daddy" in front of the sales woman. They visit a store for equestrian accessories and John whips Elizabeth on the leg with a riding crop before telling the salesman, "I'll take this one". At his apartment, John asks Elizabeth to crawl on the floor and pick up money as he throws it on the ground. Elizabeth reluctantly obliges before stopping and saying "This is stupid, John". John insists that she crawl and pick up the money and takes off his belt, whipping items in the apartment. Elizabeth says, "John, don't play with me like that", but John continues to insist that she crawl. Elizabeth protests that "It's only a game" before John unexpectedly begins whipping the ground directly next to Elizabeth demanding that she crawl. Scared, she screams, "No! Don't touch me!" and begins to cry. John continues to tell her to crawl and pick up the money, grabbing her. Elizabeth shouts "I don't want to pick up the money!" John continues to tell her to pick up the money. She eventually grabs the money around her, crying, before John declares, "Elizabeth you love this game, don't you?" and sits beside her with grin on his face. Elizabeth says, "I hate it" and throws the money in his face.
Elizabeth is shown as confident and sexy at home with John, but increasingly withdrawn at work and ruminates over her previous lover. She goes to the countryside to visit an artist named Farnsworth and secure an exhibit.
Elizabeth is asked to meet John at a hotel room. There he phones her and asks her to wear what is in the drawers. She opens the drawer to discover a scarf to be used as a blindfold. Elizabeth removes her dress and waits for John. He arrives and says "It was a simple thing that I asked you to do, now do it" referring to the blindfold. Elizabeth reluctantly puts on the blindfold with his help. John touches her briefly before a woman enters the room speaking Spanish and starts caressing Elizabeth as John observes them. Elizabeth shows signs of anxiety and the woman tries to reassure Elizabeth and removes her blindfold. John then takes the woman into the next room, in sight of Elizabeth and begins to remove her clothes. As he attempts to kiss her neck, Elizabeth violently intervenes and then flees the hotel, with John in pursuit. They run until they find themselves in an adult entertainment venue. Elizabeth enters a room where a group of men are watching a couple have sex on the ground. Elizabeth, visibly upset, notices John watching her and she starts kissing the man next to her. John moves towards her and they embrace.
During a successful opening night, Elizabeth's gallery exhibits Farnsworth's work. The humanity and reclusivity of Farnsworth is a clear contrast with the frenzy of the partying crowd. Farnsworth, clearly uncomfortable at the party, sees Elizabeth as she retreats to a corner in tears. Dependent on John for her emotional stability, Elizabeth phones him. She wears a large cuff-like, metal bracelet. The following morning, we see Elizabeth has spent the night at John's. She gets up and opens his closet, clinging to the suits she finds there for a moment and cries as she looks over at him asleep. She begins to collect her things and John awakes. Realizing she is leaving, he attempts to bring her back by sharing some details of his family before saying "I want you to know there's been lots of other girls, lots of women, but I never felt anything like this before". Elizabeth tells him that it is too late as she leaves the apartment. John begins a mental countdown from 50, hoping she will come back by the time he is finished. As in the beginning of the movie, Elizabeth is shown walking among the crowd, although this time she is crying.
- Kim Basinger as Elizabeth McGraw
- Mickey Rourke as John Gray
- Margaret Whitton as Molly
- David Margulies as Harvey
- Christine Baranski as Thea
- Karen Young as Sue
- William DeAcutis as Ted
- Dwight Weist as Farnsworth
- Roderick Cook as Sinclair
- Olek Krupa as Bruce
- Michael Margotta as Michael
- Victor Truro as Gallery Client
- Julian Beck as Dinner Guest
- Dan Lauria as Janitor
Kim Basinger said the audition was grueling - she was called upon to act like a prostitute groveling for money in an elaborate sexual game devised by the male protagonist. Basinger said she left the audition crying and feeling humiliated. She told her agent that she never wanted to hear about the film again and would definitely not do it even if she were chosen. When she returned home, she found two dozen roses with a card from Adrian Lyne and Mickey Rourke. Lyne continued to pursue her for the part and eventually she changed her mind and decided to take it on.
Source material for the film
The film was a significant departure from the much darker tone of the novel it was based upon. In 9½ Weeks: A Memoir of a Love Affair, John engages in criminal behavior and coerces Elizabeth into committing a violent mugging in an elevator. The book culminates in a quasi-rape scenario that leaves an increasingly permissive Elizabeth in mental anguish, and he takes her to a mental hospital–never to return to her again. The film ends on a somber tone, and there is no mention of the psychiatric breakdown that John inflicted upon her, though her mental anguish is frequently implied, especially near the end of the film.
The main single released from the 9+1⁄2 Weeks: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was "I Do What I Do", performed by Duran Duran bass guitarist John Taylor, giving his first solo singing performance during a hiatus in Duran Duran's career. The song reached No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #42 on the UK Singles Chart. Music for the score was composed by Taylor and Jonathan Elias. Original music for the movie was also written by Jack Nitzsche, but his compositions are not included on the soundtrack.
The soundtrack also included tracks from Luba, Bryan Ferry, Dalbello, Corey Hart, Joe Cocker ("You Can Leave Your Hat On"), Devo, Eurythmics and Stewart Copeland. Winston Grennan's reggae "Savior" as well as Jean Michel Jarre's "Arpegiateur", played during the sex scene on the stairs in the rain, were not included on the record.
9+1⁄2 Weeks has a 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 25 reviews. The critical consensus reads: "9 1/2 Weeks' famously steamy sex scenes titillate though the drama unfolding between the beddings is relatively standard for the genre." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C−" on an A+ to F scale.
The film was championed by some critics. Roger Ebert praised the film, giving it three and a half stars out of four, stating: "A lot of the success of 9+1⁄2 Weeks is because Rourke and Basinger make the characters and their relationship convincing." He further elaborated by saying that their relationship was believable, and unlike many other characters in other erotic films at that time, the characters in this movie are much more real and human.
Over time, some critics have warmed to the film and audiences gave it somewhat of a legacy thanks to its success in the rental market. It performed very well in Europe, particularly in Italy, France and also in Latin America. Its success in France was so strong that it played for five years at a Paris cinema, earning approximately $100 million. In São Paulo, Brazil, it played for 30 months in the cult movie house Cine Belas Artes from 1986 to 1989.
The film was nominated for three categories at the 1986 Golden Raspberry Awards, Worst Actress (Kim Basinger, who lost to Madonna for Shanghai Surprise), Worst Original Song ("I Do What I Do" by Jonathan Elias, John Taylor, Michael Des Barres, which lost to "Love or Money" from Under the Cherry Moon), and Worst Screenplay (Patricia Louisianna Knop, Zalman King, Sarah Kernochan, which lost to Howard the Duck). The film gained a huge following on home video, and in spite of its reception, both Basinger and Rourke became huge stars.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- The film was the inspiration behind the band Soda Stereo’s 1986 song "Persiana Americana".
- The film was the inspiration behind J-pop singer Akina Nakamori's 1986 album Cross My Palm and K-pop singer Sunmi’s 2018 release "Heroine".
- The film was mentioned in Joaquín Sabina’s song “Y si amanece por fin” from his 1990 album Mentiras Piadosas.
A parody of the original film, 9+1⁄2 Ninjas!, was released in 1991.
- "NINE 1/2 WEEKS (18)". British Board of Film Classification. February 17, 1986. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
- Martin, Douglas (February 8, 2012). "Zalman King, Creator of Soft-Core Films, Dies at 70". The New York Times.
- "Before 'Fifty Shades,' How '9 1/2 Weeks' Director Put S&M Onscreen", by Seth Abramovitch; The Hollywood Reporter, Feb. 12, 2015. (retrieved October 12, 2019)
- "9 1/2 Weeks (1986)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
- Rabin, Nathan (April 4, 2002). "Another 9½ Weeks". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 12, 2009.
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- "9 1/2 Weeks". Movie-Censorship.com. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
- 9+1⁄2 Weeks at Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2023-01-03.
- "Find CinemaScore" (Type "9 1/2 Weeks" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
- Ebert, Roger (February 21, 1986). "9½ Weeks". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved July 11, 2010.
- "9 1/2 Weeks: the original Fifty Shades of Grey". thetelegraph.uk. February 13, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
- "'Medos Privados em Lugares Públicos' completa três anos em cartaz". abril.com.br.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 17, 2017. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
- "Sunmi explains she was inspired to write 'Heroine' after watching a movie". Allkpop.
- Hal Erickson (2015). "9 ½ Ninjas!". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 23, 2015.
- Briggs, Joe Bob (2005). Profoundly Erotic: Sexy Movies that Changed History. New York: Rizzoli. ISBN 0-7893-1314-6.