Butterfly (1982 film)

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Directed by Matt Cimber
Produced by Matt Cimber
Written by Matt Cimber
John F. Goff
Based on The Butterfly
by James M. Cain
Starring Stacy Keach
Pia Zadora
Ed McMahon
Orson Welles
Music by Ennio Morricone
Cinematography Eduard van der Enden
Distributed by
  • Analysis Film Releasing Corporation
  • Cinema Epoch (DVD Reissue)
Release date
  • February 5, 1982 (1982-02-05)
Running time
108 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,000,000 (est.)

Butterfly is a 1982 film directed by Matt Cimber, based on the 1947 novel The Butterfly by James M. Cain. The starring cast includes Stacy Keach, Pia Zadora, Lois Nettleton, Ed McMahon, and Orson Welles. The original music score was composed by Ennio Morricone. The film was financed by Zadora's husband, Israeli multimillionaire Meshulam Riklis, at an estimated cost of US$2 million.

It received 10 nominations for the 1982 Golden Raspberry Awards including "Worst Picture", with Zadora winning "Worst Actress" and "Worst New Star", and McMahon winning "Worst Supporting Actor". Nevertheless, Zadora won "Best Female Newcomer" at the Golden Globes for her role, over Elizabeth McGovern and Kathleen Turner. This occurred after her husband flew members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to Las Vegas to watch Pia sing, producing accusations that the award had been "bought".[1]

This English language movie was filmed in color and ran for 108 minutes. It received a MPAA rating of R. The movie was distributed by Analysis Film Releasing Corporation.


In 1937, in a small Nevada mining town, Jess Tyler is the caretaker of a disused silver mine. His wife, Belle Morgan, deserted him 10 years earlier, and took their daughters, Janey and Kady with her when she ran off with another man, Blue Moke. Kady, now 17, shows up at Jess's place, saying her mother ran a boarding house, that provided services of a brothel. Kady says she got pregnant and has a son, Danny.

The father of Danny, Wash Gillespie, is the son of the wealthy mine owner, refused to marry her. Kady is money hungry and has returned home to steal silver from the mine. Jess, intially adamantly opposed to stealing silver from the mine, relents and says they can take small scraps after she seduces him. They work in the mine together, afterwards, while Kady takes a bath, Jess ends up giving her a massage, but stops when a line is crossed.

One day, they arrive home and Janey and baby Danny are there. Janey tells them that Wash told her he wants to marry Kady. He shows up the next day and meets both, Jess and Danny, for the first time. He proposes to Kady, and plans are made for them to be married.

Blue Moke, Ed Lamey, and Belle show up at the house. Belle, who is suffering from a lung disease says she wants to see Kady get married. Belle collapses and coughs up blood, and is tended by Jess. Later, Blue talks about the price of silver, and telling Wash they could reopen it, giving just enough detail that Jess realizes he knows about the theft.

Back in the house, Belle stabs Blue with a hat pin. The others rush in and Belle is on the floor dead. At Belle's funeral, Ed shows up and grins at Jess. Jess realizes how Blue learned the detail about the thefts.

Back at the mine, Blue is pillaging it for Silver when Jess confronts him. Blue taunts him saying that Jess is "too good" to shoot him. Jess sees a birthmark near his navel that is similar to one on baby Danny, and thinks that Blue is the father of Kady's son. Enraged, Jess. shoots him. Before Jess leaves him to die, Blue reveals that Kady is his daughter.

Jess meets with Wash and his parents, still uneasy about all the things that have happened. Jess lies to them saying that Danny is Moke Blue's son. Wash wants to talk to Kady himself, but Jess talks him out of it. Kady excitedly gets ready for her wedding, and Jess goes along with the ruse, not telling her about his visit with the Gillespies. Wash's car never comes.

Jess still doesn't let on that he knows what's up, until Janey says she plans to go talk to them. Jess tells her not to. Kady agrees, saying that she'll go back to her original plan to get the silver, as Jess touches her thigh underneath the table. They head into the mine, making out along the way when Ed sees them. They have sex in the mine. The police come out with warrants for the arrests of Jess and Kady, and they are charged with incest.

At a hearing, Judge Rauch calls it "a crime against nature, shocking and repulsive to every basic sense of propriety, decency, and good citizenship." Jess pleads guilty, saying he forced her, so that Kady won't be punished. Jess is sentenced to 10 years in prison. Kady objects saying she was never forced, and the judge threatens her with reform school and 10 years in prison, as well as Danny being a ward of the state. Jess reveals that Moak Blue her real father and the proof is the "butterfly" birth mark. Ed Lamey reveals he is Moak Blue's half-brother and has the same birth mark and did not tell her because of the silver. The case is dismissed.

Wash is waiting outside the courthouse for Kady, who, realizing what Jess did is Angry, but quickly forgives him. She says she loves him, but differently than she loves Wash. She chooses Wash because of the life he can provide for Danny.



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