Hero (1992 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stephen Frears
Produced by Laura Ziskin
Screenplay by David Webb Peoples
Story by Laura Ziskin
Alvin Sargent
David Webb Peoples
Music by George Fenton
Cinematography Oliver Stapleton
Edited by Mick Audsley
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • October 2, 1992 (1992-10-02)
Running time
117 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $42 million[1]
Box office $19.5 million[2]

Hero (released in the United Kingdom and Ireland as Accidental Hero) is a 1992 American comedy-drama film directed by Stephen Frears. It was written by David Webb Peoples from a story written by Peoples, Laura Ziskin and Alvin Sargent. The film stars Dustin Hoffman, Geena Davis, Andy García, Joan Cusack and an uncredited Chevy Chase. Following the critically acclaimed The Grifters (1990), Hero was the second American feature film by British filmmaker Frears.


"Bernie" LaPlante is a pickpocket and petty criminal who anonymously rescues survivors of an aircraft crash, in order to steal some of their purses and wallets – losing a shoe in the process. He later meets a homeless Vietnam veteran, John Bubber, tells him about the rescue at the crash site and gives him his remaining shoe. When a television station offers $1 million to the "Angel of Flight 104", Bernie cannot claim the reward, due to his arrest while fencing credit cards he stole from the people he rescued. Bubber, however, uses the single shoe to take credit for the act. Bernie tries to tell people that Bubber is a fake, but the media has sensationalized the heroic Bubber, and everyone wants to believe in him rather than Bernie.

TV reporter Gale Gayley, one of the crash survivors, considers herself to be in Bubber's debt and soon grooms his public image. He turns out to be a decent person, using his notoriety and reward money to help the homeless and sick children. She finds herself falling in love with him even though she has questions about his authenticity, and he finds himself in an ethical dilemma since his lies are inspirational to countless people. Meanwhile, Bernie continues to aggravate ex-wife Evelyn and fails to bond with his son, who is now enamored with the "hero" Bubber. Bernie begins to feel that if his son is going to idolize anyone, perhaps Bubber is the better choice.

A detective tells Gale her credit cards were recovered during Bernie's arrest. Gale and her cameraman, Chucky, break into Bernie's apartment with the help of the landlord, Winston. While searching for evidence to incriminate Bernie, Gale finds a stolen Silver Microphone Award that she won in New York City, the night before the crash. Bernie arrives only to be confronted by Gale, who concludes that Bubber stole her purse in a moment of weakness during the rescue, sold it to Bernie, and accuses Bernie of attempting to now blackmail Bubber. They are interrupted by Winston, who says Bubber is on television, about to jump from a high-rise skyscraper. Gale rushes there and brings Bernie along, threatening to have Bernie prosecuted if Bubber leaps to his death. In addition, she demands Bernie apologize for the attempted blackmail. Bernie's wife and son rush there as well, with Evelyn reminiscing how Bernie is selfish and cynical, but always becomes a great human being in a crisis.

When they arrive, Bernie goes out on the ledge, hatching a scheme to milk the media attention for all its worth. Ultimately, he convinces Bubber that the world needs a hero, and that Bubber is clearly the right guy for the job, though he does negotiate a discreet share of the $1 million. When Bernie slips off the ledge, Bubber grabs him and pulls him to safety, a (true) hero once more. When she sees Bernie's face with dirt on it, as on the night of the crash, Gale realizes it was Bernie who saved her. She confronts him "off the record" with her supposition, but Bernie insists that Bubber was the hero. As she leaves, however, she thanks him for saving her life; Bernie finally replies, "You're welcome." Gale tells Bernie to tell his son the truth. Bubber agrees to continue playing the part of public hero. While on an excursion to the zoo, Bernie decides to tell his son the true story of the crash. After he does so, a lady cries out that her daughter has fallen into the lion's cage. Bernie's son pleads with him to help, to which he sighs, slips off his shoes, and heads off to see what he can do.



A pivotal scene in Hero involved an airliner crashing with 54 passengers and crew trapped aboard.

Principal photography on Hero began shooting October 30, 1991 in Chicago, Illinois, with studio work at Sony Pictures Studios, Culver City, California and Los Angeles, California. The film wrapped on March 20, 1992.[4] Mariah Carey originally recorded her #1 hit single "Hero" for the film but her Columbia Records label did not want to give the power ballad away and chose to drop out of the project. Instead, Luther Vandross sang the theme "Heart of a Hero".[5]


Hail the Conquering Hero (1944) is a film on a similar theme by Preston Sturges. Many reviewers referred to the obvious similarities between Hero and Sturges' screwball comedies. The classic Frank Capra film Meet John Doe (1941) was also cited as a model for Laura Ziskin who both produced and supplied the story for Hero.[6]


Hero was met with generally mixed to positive critical reviews, although the film was not a box office success. Columbia lost $25.6 million on the film.[7] Roger Ebert noted: "It has all the ingredients for a terrific entertainment, but it lingers over the kinds of details that belong in a different kind of movie. It comes out of the tradition of those rat-a-tat Preston Sturges comedies of the 1940s, and when Chevy Chase, as a wise-guy TV boss, barks orders into a phone, it finds the right note."[8] Desson Howe, film reviewer for the Washington Post said: "At the heart of this is a thoroughly appealing, old-fashioned screwball caper – the kind they used to make."[9]Hero currently holds a 68% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 19 reviews.[10]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Home media[edit]

Hero debuted at No. 3 in home media market.[13] Hero was released on VHS on April 15, 1993. Another version presented in widescreen was also released on VHS. The DVD was also released on May 25, 1999 and was later re-released in 2004 by Sony Pictures. Special features for the 1999 DVD only included liner notes and theatrical trailers. The DVD was also a flipper disc and was presented in widescreen (side A) and full-screen (side B). The only special feature for the 2004 DVD included theatrical trailers and was only presented in full-screen. Mill Creek Entertainment had recently picked up the DVD distribution rights for the film. The DVD was re-released in 2012 (20 years after the film was released). Unlike the first two DVD releases by Sony, this DVD includes no special features and is presented in widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1.[14]



  1. ^ Joan's sister, Susie Cusack appears as Donna O'Day in an uncredited role in the large all-star cast; Jeff Garlin was seen as a news vendor.[3]


  1. ^ http://www.the-numbers.com/movie/Hero
  2. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=hero.htm
  3. ^ "Full cast & crew: Hero (1992)". IMDb. Retrieved: November 23, 2014.
  4. ^ "Misc Notes: Hero (1992). Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: November 22, 2014.
  5. ^ "Hero". Mariah Carey Songfacts Retrieved: November 23, 2014.
  6. ^ Turan, Kenneth. "A Reluctant 'Hero'." Los Angeles Times, October 2, 1992.
  7. ^ Griffin and Masters 1996, p. 345.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Hero". Rogerebert.com, October 2, 1992. Retrieved: November 22, 2014.
  9. ^ Howe, Desson. "Hero". Washington Post, October 2, 1992. Retrieved: November 22, 2014.
  10. ^ "Hero". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved: November 22, 2014.
  11. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-14. 
  12. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-14. 
  13. ^ Hunt, Dennis. "National Video Rentals: Star Power Pushes 'Hero' Up Chart." The Los Angeles Times, May 14, 1993. Retrieved: January 1, 2011.
  14. ^ "Accidental Hero". dvd.net.au. Retrieved: November 23, 2014.


  • Griffin, Nancy and Kim Masters. Hit and Run. New York: Touchstone, a Simon & Schuster company, 1996. ISBN 978-0-68483-266-1.

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