Curly Sue

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For the song, see Curly Sue (song).
Curly Sue
Curly Sue (movie poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Hughes
Produced by John Hughes
Written by John Hughes
Starring Jim Belushi
Kelly Lynch
Alisan Porter
John Getz
Fred Dalton Thompson
Music by Georges Delerue
Cinematography Jeffrey L. Kimball
Edited by Peck Prior
Harvey Rosenstock
Hughes Entertainment
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • October 25, 1991 (1991-10-25)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million[1]
Box office $33.6 million

Curly Sue is a 1991 American romantic comedy-drama film and starred Jim Belushi, Kelly Lynch and Alisan Porter as the titular character. It was the final film directed by John Hughes and the only John Hughes film distributed by Warner Bros. Its music was composed by Georges Delerue, along with the end title song "You Never Know" performed by Ringo Starr.[2]


Bill Dancer and his young companion Curly Sue are the archetypal homeless folks with hearts of gold. Their scams are aimed not at turning a profit, but at getting enough to eat. After moving from Detroit to Chicago, the duo cons the rich divorce lawyer Grey Ellison into believing she backed her Mercedes into Bill, in hopes of a free meal. When Grey accidentally collides with Bill for real, she insists on putting the two up for the night, even over the objections of her snotty fiance Walker McCormick. After a confrontation with Bill exposing the truth of the con, Grey lets them stay for as long as they need when she understands the precarious position the homeless pair are in. One night, Bill tells Grey that he's not Sue's father, he met Sue's mother one night in Florida. After Sue's mother died, Bill raised her himself, growing to love her like his own, thus when they lost their home and money, Bill couldn't find it in his heart to give Sue up and put her into an orphanage, so he took Sue with him. Grey, thinking Bill has been neglecting and abusing Sue by using her in his cons and scams, suggests Sue stay with her when he leaves, but this only angers Bill, who says that after all the years he's looked after her, if he gave up Sue now, people would make fun of her for being on welfare. He tells her that he is not neglecting or abusing Sue; he cares about Sue and his cons are to provide for Sue. However when it becomes apparent that Sue is completely unable to read or write (despite spelling a difficult word earlier in the film), Grey begins to push even harder for Bill to leave Sue with her. Eventually Bill realizes that this is where she belongs - in a home, cared for by someone that can give her the advantages that his homeless, nomadic existence lacks. The film culminates with Sue and Grey returning to their apartment where they discover a tiny ring, which Sue takes as a sign that Bill has chosen to leave her behind with Grey. (Throughout the film it is implied that Bill had pawned a ring left to Sue by her mother, which he would return to her when it came time for the two to part forever.) However the ring is accompanied by a note that says that he is in another room. Sue happily turns to find Bill, realizing that the ring is not a sign that he will leave her but a sign that he is going to abandon his old lifestyle in order to give Sue the home she needs and in order to pursue a romance with Grey.



The film debuted at No. 2 at the box office[3] and grossed $33,691,313 in the U.S.[4] Warner Home Video released it on DVD on June 1, 2004 with commentary and an introduction by Alisan Porter as special features.


The film received mostly negative reviews from critics. Leonard Maltin gave it one and a half stars out of four in his Movie Guide, and called it "A John Hughes formula movie where the formula doesn't work".[5] The staff of Halliwell's Film Guide called it "Gruesomely sentimental and manipulative".[6] Nigel Andrews of the Financial Times declared, "John Hughes here graduates from the most successful comedy in film history to scripting and directing a large piece of non-biodegradable tosh."[6] Curly Sue holds a 14% rating according to Rotten Tomatoes based on 14 reviews.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Curly Sue (1991) - Soundtracks
  3. ^ "House Party 2` Tops At Box Office". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-11-12. 
  4. ^ "Box office information for Curly Sue". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  5. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2008). "Curly Sue". Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide 2009. Signet Books. p. 304. ISBN 978-0-452-28978-9. 
  6. ^ a b Gritten, David, ed. (2007). "Curly Sue". Halliwell's Film Guide 2008. Hammersmith, London: HarperCollins Publishers. p. 276. ISBN 0-00-726080-6. 

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