Chances Are (film)

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Chances Are
Chances are poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byEmile Ardolino
Produced byMike Lobell
Written byPerry Howze
Randy Howze
Music byMaurice Jarre
CinematographyWilliam A. Fraker
Edited byHarry Keramidas
Distributed byTriStar Pictures
Release date
  • March 10, 1989 (1989-03-10)
Running time
108 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$16 million
Box office$16,278,590[1]

Chances Are is a 1989 American romantic comedy film directed by Emile Ardolino and starring Cybill Shepherd, Robert Downey Jr., Ryan O'Neal and Mary Stuart Masterson. The original music score was composed by Maurice Jarre.[2]


Louie Jeffries, a young district attorney, is hit by a car and dies in 1964, but manages to slip by the pearly gates and is instantly reborn. In 1987, 23 years later, his widow Corinne still misses him, ignoring the frustrated devotion of his best friend Phillip Train, who has pretty much raised Louie's only daughter Miranda as his own. Miranda, while a student at Yale University, meets Alex Finch, who works in the library but is about to graduate.

After graduation, Alex heads to Washington, D.C., where he makes his way to the offices of The Washington Post. His first attempts to meet with Ben Bradlee thwarted, Alex schemes his way into Bradlee's office by pretending to be a delivery man. Alex walks into Bradlee's office, with Phillip behind him. Confounded by the young man, Bradlee asks who Alex is. When Alex attempts to remind him of their meeting at Yale, Phillip vouches for him, which changes Bradlee's mind about giving him a meeting. Unfortunately, Bradlee feels Alex needs more time working on smaller papers before he can offer him a job. Feeling defeated, Alex leaves his office. Phillip finds Alex downstairs in the lobby. Alex offers Phillip a ride, during which Phillip invites Alex to meet the Jeffries family over dinner. Alex begins to have flashbacks that take place in the Jeffries home, a home to which he's never been. Freaked out, he begins to act crazed and confused. Putting the pieces together, Alex realizes he is Louie Jeffries, Corinne's dead husband, reincarnated.

His memories of his life as Louie return just as Alex begins a romantic involvement with Louie's (i.e., his own) daughter Miranda. Instead, Louie then spurns his daughter's advances and begins romancing his widow Corinne, frustrating Phillip's attempts to court Corinne, and resulting in a number of comic mixups.

However, Alex/Louie soon realizes Phillip and Corinne should be together and arranges things so they can realize their love and he can get out of their way.

Alex/Louie bursts into the courtroom accusing the judge of accepting a bribe (Louie remembers taking a photograph of the then younger judge taking the bribe) and reveals the location of the camera with the pictures of the judge. Alex falls down the stairs, hits his head, and ends up in the hospital. While unconscious, Alex is administered a special injection he should have received at the pearly gates 23 years previous, to make him forget his past life as Louie. When he wakes, he tells Miranda that the last thing he remembers is their kissing in the corner of the refrigerator. He happily resumes romantic interest in Miranda, which she gladly accepts, having never been informed of his other identity by anyone. Newspaper headlines show the judge charged with accepting the bribe. Alex accepts a job offer as a reporter. His and Miranda's relationship continues with Phillip and Corinne's full knowledge and approval, although neither of them has forgotten "Louie" lives on in Alex.



Cybill Shepherd inside the "Smithsonian Castle" during the filming of Chances Are, where she plays a Smithsonian curator. She is presented with an honorary Resident Associate Program membership, by (l.) National Museum of American History (NMAH) Curator Edith Mayo and NMAH Director of External Affairs, Marilyn Lyons

The film was known prior to production as Life After Life and Unforgettable.[3]

It was Cybill Shepherd's first film in a number of years. Her profile had risen since she starred in the television series Moonlighting. She made the film during a production hiatus for Moonlighting.

Many scenes were filmed in Georgetown, along the Mall, Glen Echo Park, Smithsonian museums, and other parts of Washington, D.C.


Chances Are received generally positive reviews from critics, but did not do well at the box office. As of October 2019, the film holds a rating of 67% on Rotten Tomatoes from 30 reviews.[4]


The soundtrack included the Billboard's Top 10 single hit song "After All" (composed by Tom Snow and lyrics by Dean Pitchford) performed by Cher and Peter Cetera. The song peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May 1989 and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Another is the song of the same title as the film sung by Johnny Mathis. Although the film contains other songs, a soundtrack album has never been released.


  1. ^ Chances Are at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Doniger, Wendy (2005), "Chapter 6: Reincarnation", The woman who pretended to be who she was: myths of self-imitation, Oxford University Press, pp. 112–136 [128–31 & 135], ISBN 0-19-516016-9
  3. ^ Cinefile: [Home Edition] Klady, Leonard. Los Angeles Times 14 Aug 1988: 32.
  4. ^

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