Color of Night

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Color of Night
Color of night.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRichard Rush
Produced byBuzz Feitshans
David Matalon
Andrew G. Vajna
Screenplay byBilly Ray
Matthew Chapman
Story byBilly Ray
Music byDominic Frontiere
CinematographyDietrich Lohmann
Edited byJack Hofstra
Thom Noble (uncredited)
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • August 19, 1994 (1994-08-19)
Running time
121 minutes
139 minutes (Director's cut)
CountryUnited States
Budget$40 million[1]
Box office$19.7 million[2]

Color of Night is a 1994 American erotic mystery thriller film produced by Cinergi Pictures and released in the United States by Hollywood Pictures. Directed by Richard Rush, the film stars Bruce Willis and Jane March.

The cast also features Ruben Blades, Lesley Ann Warren, Brad Dourif, Lance Henriksen, Kevin J. O'Connor and Scott Bakula. It is one of two well-known works by director Rush, the other being The Stunt Man 14 years before.

Color of Night flopped at the box office and won a Golden Raspberry Award as the worst film of 1994. Nonetheless, it became one of the 20 most-rented films in the United States home video market in 1995.[3] Maxim magazine also singled the film out as having the Best Sex Scene in film history.[4]

In 2018, Kino Lorber (under license from Disney) released a special edition Blu-ray of the film; it contains an audio commentary by director Richard Rush.[5]


Dr. Bill Capa, a New York psychiatrist, falls into a deep depression after an unstable patient commits suicide in front of him by jumping from his office window. The sight of the bloody body clad in a bright green dress causes Bill to suffer from psychosomatic color blindness, taking away his ability to see the color red. Bill travels to Los Angeles to stay with a friend, fellow therapist Dr. Bob Moore, who invites him to sit in on a group therapy session. However, Bob is violently murdered in the office and Bill is plunged into the mystery of his friend's death.

Lt. Hector Martinez considers everyone in Moore's therapy group, including Bill, as suspects in the murder. Bill continues to live in Bob's house and begins an affair with Rose, a beautiful but mysterious young woman who comes and goes. Bill takes the therapy group, which includes: Clark, a temperamental OCD sufferer, Sondra, a nymphomaniac and kleptomaniac, Buck, a suicidal ex-cop, Casey, who paints sado-masochist images, and Richie, a 16-year old trans woman with social anxiety and a history of drug use.

After Casey is found violently murdered, Bill becomes the target of several attempts on his life. He discovers that all but one of his patients have been romantically involved with Rose. He eventually learns that "Richie" is really Rose, and the murders were the work of her deranged brother, Dale. They once had an actual brother named Richie, who was molested by his child psychiatrist along with Dale.

After Richie committed suicide, Dale abused Rose into playing the part of their brother. Rose began to re-emerge during therapy and, under another personality named "Bonnie", started relationships with the other patients. Dale proceeded to kill them, fearing that they would soon link Rose to Richie.

Bill confronts them and is overpowered by Dale, who is about to kill him with a nail gun but is instead killed by Rose. Deeply traumatized, she then tries to commit suicide. Bill is able to stop her, bookending the story with two suicide attempts, one at the beginning, resulting in Bill's loss of color vision, and one at the end, thwarted and resulting in his regaining it.



Richard Rush turned his cut of the film over to producer Andrew Vajna in late 1993. Vajna was concerned about the film's commercial prospects and demanded a recut, something Rush refused. Nonetheless, Vajna mandated he had final cut per contractual obligation, and insisted on testing his own version of the film. After both versions were given a number of test screenings, Vajna determined that his cut would be released and fired Rush in April 1994.

This ultimately escalated into a battle between Rush and Vajna that received coverage in the Los Angeles trades. Rush commented that his version tested higher than Vajna's cut; his statements were defended in Variety and by film critic Bill Arnold, who attended a test screening of Rush's version in Seattle, Washington. The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, defended Vajna, stating that Rush stubbornly refused any input from the studio. The Directors Guild of America attempted to intervene on the matter.

The battle ultimately ended when Rush suffered a near-fatal heart attack and became hospitalized. Months later, after Rush recovered, he compromised with Vajna that the producer's cut would be released theatrically and that the director's cut would see a video release.[6][7][8]


Critical response[edit]

The film received mostly negative reviews around the time of its release. Rotten Tomatoes retrospectively gave it a score of 21% based on 47 reviews, with an average rating of 3.98/10. The site's consensus reads, "Bruce willie shot aside, the only other things popping out in Color of Night are some ridiculous plot contortions and majorly camp moments".[9] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C" on an A+ to F scale.[10]

Referring to the film as "memorably bizarre," Janet Maslin in her August 19, 1994 The New York Times review wrote: "The enthusiastically nutty Color of Night has the single-mindedness of a bad dream and about as much reliance on everyday logic." She also cited the revelation of the murderer, "whose disguise won't fool anyone, anywhere."[11] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "I was, frankly, stupefied. To call it absurd would be missing the point, since any shred of credibility was obviously the first thing thrown overboard. It's so lurid in its melodrama and so goofy in its plotting that with just a bit more trouble, it could have been a comedy."[12] Luke Y. Thompson of The New Times praised March's performance and wrote: "Minority opinion here, I know, but I found the sex scenes hot and March's performance truly impressive." Brian McKay of stated the film was a "Mediocre L.A. noir thriller made more tolerable by Jane March disrobing frequently."[citation needed] Ken Hanke of the Mountain Xpress (Asheville, North Carolina) wrote the film was "Underrated, but far from great."[citation needed]

The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.[13]

Box office[edit]

The film opened at #4, grossing $6,610,488 its opening weekend playing at a total of 1,740 theaters.[14] The film ended up a box office failure, grossing only $19,750,470—far below its $40 million production budget. The film was also a noteworthy failure internationally, grossing only $1,454,085 in the UK, $565,104 in Sweden, $112,690 in Austria, $4,725,167 in Germany, and $364,939 in Argentina.[15]


Color of Night won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture, and was also nominated in eight other categories including Worst Actor (Bruce Willis also for North), Worst Actress (Jane March), Worst Director (Richard Rush), Worst Screenplay, Worst Original Song ("The Color of the Night"), Worst Screen Couple ("Any combination of two people from the entire cast"), Worst Supporting Actor (Jane March as Richie) and Worst Supporting Actress (Lesley Ann Warren). At the 1994 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, Bruce Willis won the award for Worst Actor (also for North) while Jane March received a mere nomination for Worst Actress.

On more positive notes, Color of Night did win a Golden Globe nomination in the category Best Original Song — Motion Picture for its theme song "The Color of the Night", performed by Lauren Christy, where it lost to "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from The Lion King.[citation needed] Maxim magazine also praised Color of Night for having the Best Sex Scene in film history.[16]


The soundtrack to Color of Night as composed by Dominic Frontiere, with songs from Lauren Christy, Jud Friedman, Brian McKnight, and Lowen & Navarro was released on August 9, 1994 by Mercury Records.


  1. ^ "Color of Night (1994)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Color of Night - Box Office Data, DVD Sales, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 2012-12-20.
  3. ^ Billboard vol 108 #1 (1/6/1996) p.54.
  4. ^ "Top Sex Scenes of All-Time". Extra (U.S. TV program). December 6, 2000. Retrieved July 9, 2009. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  5. ^
  6. ^ Eller, Claudia (1994-04-23). "Who's Got the Right to 'Color' Final Cut? : Director Richard Rush and Producers Battle Over Fate of Bruce Willis Thriller". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ Klady, Leonard (1994-04-25). "'Color of Night' stuck in DGA arbitration". Variety.
  8. ^ Arnold, William (February 9, 1995). "Director's cut changes meaning of 'Color of Night'". Toledo Blade. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Color of Night". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
  10. ^ "CinemaScore".
  11. ^ Maslin, Janet (1994-08-19). "Movie Review - Color of Night - FILM REVIEW; Of Murder, Psychology and Fruitcakes -". Retrieved 2013-12-04.
  12. ^ Mozaffar, Omer M. (1994-08-19). "Color Of Night Movie Review & Film Summary (1994) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved 2013-12-04.
  13. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0.
  14. ^ David J. Fox (August 23, 1994). "Weekend Box Office : 'Forrest Gump' in Top Spot--Again". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
  15. ^ "Color of Night (1994) - Box office / business". IMDb.
  16. ^ "Top Sex Scenes of All-Time". Extra (U.S. TV program). December 6, 2000. Retrieved July 9, 2009. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)

External links[edit]