A Dangerous Woman (1993 film)

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A Dangerous Woman
A Dangerous Woman.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal
Produced by Naomi Foner
Kathleen Kennedy
Screenplay by Naomi Foner
Based on A Dangerous Woman 
by Mary McGarry Morris
Starring Debra Winger
Barbara Hershey
Gabriel Byrne
Music by Carter Burwell
Cinematography Robert Elswit
Edited by Angelo Corrao
Harvey Rosenstock
Amblin Entertainment
Rollercoaster Productions
Distributed by Gramercy Pictures (USA)
Island World (International)
Release dates
  • December 3, 1993 (1993-12-03)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1,497,222

A Dangerous Woman is a 1993 film directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal. The screenplay was written by his then wife Naomi Foner, loosely based on the award winning novel of the same name by Mary McGarry Morris. The feature was co-produced by Amblin Entertainment and Gramercy Pictures and stars Debra Winger, Barbara Hershey, Gabriel Byrne and Gyllenhaal and Foner's two children, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, both of whom would later go into acting.

Debra Winger was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her performance and also won Best Actress at the Tokyo International Film Festival.[1]

The film has never been released on Region 1 DVD. The film was once released on video in the United Kingdom by First Independent Films.


Martha Horgan (Winger) struggles to have a normal life in spite of being mentally challenged. She is fired from a job at the local dry-cleaner's after accusations of stealing from the cash register, something she believes the boyfriend of her work colleague Birdie (Chloe Webb) has been doing.

Depressed, she returns to the home of Aunt Frances (Hershey) and discovers that a handyman (Gabriel Byrne), looking for work in any capacity, has been hired to fix the porch of the main house before the residence hosts a gala event for a local politician. The politician's wife (Laurie Metcalf) has damaged the porch by driving a car into it, irate over her husband's affair with Frances.

Mackey, the handyman, is kind to Martha, offering her a ride into town as well as defending her from Birdie's boyfriend Getso (David Strathairn), a bully who insults her, by breaking the windshield on Getso's van. Martha becomes increasingly fond of Mackey as time goes on. Mack recognizes Martha's feelings but he honorably abstains from engaging in sexual intercourse.

One night, however, Mack returns to Martha's home drunk, lets himself in and proceeds to initiate coitus with a more than willing Martha on her couch. He later sleeps with Martha's aunt, who is drunk and despondent following the gala, during which her love interest, the local politician, reconciles and leaves with his ex-wife.

Mack leaves as soon as the porch job is done, feeling guilt of being unfaithful to Martha. Still desperate to clear her name at work, Martha proceeds alone to enter the home of Birdie, her former co-worker. Getso is there. He confronts Martha and attempts to shoo her away before he calls the police. Martha feels cornered and stabs Getso to death with a sandwich knife.


Actor Role
Debra Winger Martha Horgan
Barbara Hershey Frances Beechum
Gabriel Byrne Mackey
Laurie Metcalf Anita Bell
John Terry Steve Bell
Maggie Gyllenhaal Patsy Bell
Jake Gyllenhaal Edward (as Jacob Gyllenhaal)
Chloe Webb Birdie
David Strathairn Getso

Critical reception[edit]

Janet Maslin of The New York Times had praise for the film, especially Winger's acting and Gyllenhaal's direction but found the film to be more akin to melodrama than true drama:


  1. ^ Staff report (October 3, 1994). Winger wins with 'Dangerous Woman.' Buffalo News
  2. ^ Maslin, Janet (1993-12-03). "Movie Review - A Dangerous Woman - Review/Film; The Turning Point for a Plain Jane - NYTimes.com". Movies.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 

External links[edit]