Malice (film)

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Malice
Malice.jpg
Original poster
Directed by Harold Becker
Produced by Harold Becker
Charles Mulvehill
Rachel Pfeffer
Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
Scott Frank
Story by Aaron Sorkin
Jonas McCord
Starring Alec Baldwin
Nicole Kidman
Bill Pullman
Peter Gallagher
Bebe Neuwirth
Josef Sommer
Anne Bancroft
George C. Scott
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Gordon Willis
Edited by David Bretherton
Production
company
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
October 1, 1993
Running time
106 minutes
Country United States
Canada
Language English
Budget $20 million (estimated)
Box office Domestic:
$46,405,336

Malice is a 1993 American psychological thriller film directed by Harold Becker. The screenplay by Aaron Sorkin and Scott Frank is based on a story by Jonas McCord. It stars Alec Baldwin, Nicole Kidman and Bill Pullman.

Plot[edit]

Andy (Bill Pullman) and Tracy Safian (Nicole Kidman) are a newlywed couple living in a Victorian house that they are restoring in Western Massachusetts. He is an Associate Dean at a local college, while his wife teaches art to children. When a student is attacked by a serial rapist, her life is saved by Dr. Jed Hill (Alec Baldwin), a brilliant surgeon who has recently joined the staff of the area hospital. Money is tight, so Andy invites him to rent the third floor of his home with Tracy in order to finance the new plumbing. With his propensity to bring home sexual partners and to party late into the night, Jed quickly proves himself to be a less-than-ideal tenant.

When Paula Bell (Gwyneth Paltrow), one of Andy's students, is attacked and killed by the serial rapist, Andy is the one to find her body, prompting police Detective Dana Harris (Bebe Neuwirth) to view him as a possible suspect. Harris asks Andy to come to the police station and submit a semen sample to clear his name. While at the police station, Andy learns that Tracy has been hospitalized and is being operated on by Jed. In removing one of Tracy's ovaries, which has ruptured due to a cyst, Jed discovers Tracy is pregnant, but the stress of the procedure causes the fetus to abort.

Another doctor notices that Tracy's other ovary is torsed and appears necrotic. Jed consults with Andy and advises him to agree to the removal of Tracy's second ovary, rather than risk her life. Andy painfully agrees, since this will mean that Tracy can never have children. Jed overrules the protests of other doctors that the ovary might still be healthy and he removes it. After the removal, it is confirmed that the ovary was, in fact, healthy. With this knowledge, Tracy and Andy decide to sue Jed and the hospital.

Jed delivers a deposition in which he launches into a monologue about his own infallibility as a surgeon, concluding with the assertion that he is literally God. Fearful of the negative publicity that would result from a civil trial, the hospital and Jed's insurance company settle with Andy and Tracy for $20 million. Tracy leaves Andy, telling him that she can't forgive him for the loss of her ability to have children.

The serial rapist (Tobin Bell) is arrested, clearing Andy's name. In the aftermath of the arrest, Dana informs Andy that his semen sample indicated that he was sterile, and that he couldn't have fathered Tracy's child. Andy confronts Tracy's lawyer, Dennis Riley (Peter Gallagher), accusing him of having impregnated Tracy; Riley protests his innocence, but tells Andy that Tracy's mother — whom she had indicated was deceased — can answer all of his questions.

Andy tracks down Mrs. Kennsinger (Anne Bancroft), who tells Andy that Tracy is a life-long con artist. As a younger woman, she had an affair with a wealthy man, who paid for her to have an abortion; Tracy kept the money and had it done at a clinic, beginning her career as a con woman. Mrs. Kennsinger identifies Tracy's partner as a corrupt doctor, whom Andy correctly identifies as Jed.

Andy ultimately learns that Tracy arranged for Jed to move into the house so that he could begin overdosing her with a fertility drug which causes ovarian cysts when taken in excess amounts. An angry Andy confronts Tracy and tells her he wants half of the settlement money. Suspecting that she might try to murder him, Andy tells her that their next-door neighbor, an adolescent boy, has already agreed to testify that he witnessed Jed injecting Tracy on multiple occasions.

Jed tells Tracy to give Andy what he wants, but Tracy instead suggests murdering the boy. Jed refuses to kill a child, so Tracy shoots him to death. That night, she slips into the neighbor's house and attempts to suffocate the boy, only to see that the figure she had seen sitting by his bedroom window was in fact a mannequin. Detective Harris appears and arrests her, revealing that his supposed confession was part of a sting operation to catch her in the act of attempted murder. As Tracy is led away in handcuffs, the real boy and his mother return home; as she is put into the police car, Tracy sees that the boy is, in fact, blind.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Malice was shot on location in Boston, Amherst, Holyoke, and Northampton in Massachusetts. Smith College was the setting used for Andy's college.

Michael Hirsh and Patrick Loubert, two of the co-founders of Canadian animation studio Nelvana, worked as executive producers on the film.[1]

Malice opened on 1,431 screens in the U.S. on October 1, 1993 and grossed $9,232,650 during its opening weekend, ranking #1 at the box office. It eventually earned a total of $46,405,336 in the US.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Malice earned mixed reviews from critics, holding a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 21 reviews.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film "one of the busiest movies I've ever seen, a film jampacked with characters and incidents and blind alleys and red herrings. Offhand, this is the only movie I can recall in which an entire subplot about a serial killer is thrown in simply for atmosphere." He added, "I can't go into detail without revealing vital secrets. Yet after the movie is over and you try to think through those secrets, you get into really deep molasses . . . Malice was directed by Harold Becker, whose credits include the splendid films The Onion Field and Sea of Love, and he milks this material for a great deal more than it is worth." [3]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone observed, "Goaded on by writer Aaron Sorkin, who could run a red-herring factory, the actors work to keep you guessing long after you've caught on. No one shows any shame about going over the top, especially Anne Bancroft in an Oscar-begging cameo as Tracy's mother. Perhaps director Harold Becker thought flashy acting could distract us from the gaping plot holes. Becker gets so intent on confusing us, he forgets to give us characters to care about . . . It's got suspense but no staying power." [4]

Timothy M. Gray of Variety said, "The immaculately crafted Malice is a virtual scrapbook of elements borrowed from other suspense pix, but no less enjoyable for being so familiar. [It] should tickle audiences who want to be entertained without being challenged . . . Some of the plotting gets plodding . . . but on the whole, the script does what it set out to do, and if the filmmakers didn't worry about these things, neither should you . . . After listless performances in such pics as Days of Thunder and Far and Away, Aussie Kidman, who here uses a flawless American accent, proves her strengths as an actress, and Baldwin mixes menace, sex and humor in another terrific performance." [5]

Cultural impact and references[edit]

Despite its' poor critical reception, the film became iconic throughout the remainder of the 1990s for Alec Baldwin's grandiose deposition speech, which concludes with the lines "You ask me if I have a God complex. Let me tell you something: I am God." The scene has since been referenced and parodied in a number of mediums. In 2005, the speech was nominated for recognition by the American Film Institute as part of their AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes.[6]

In the 30 Rock episode "St. Valentine's Day", Jack Donaghy, portrayed by Baldwin, confesses to a priest that he once said "I am God" during a deposition. This is a reference to a famous line by Jed Hill, Baldwin's character in this film.[7]

In the episode "Terms of Endearment" of the animated television series Drawn Together, the character Wooldoor Sockbat recites the closing lines of Baldwin's speech verbatim.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Adilman, Sid (October 6, 1993). "Toronto producers share movie gravy". Toronto Star. Torstar Corporation. p. D.2. Retrieved August 15, 2010. (registration required (help)). 
  2. ^ "Box office information for Malice". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 15, 2010. 
  3. ^ Chicago Sun-Times review
  4. ^ Rolling Stone review
  5. ^ Variety review
  6. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees
  7. ^ Jack Burditt, Tina Fey, writers; Don Scardino, director (February 12, 2009). "St. Valentine's Day". 30 Rock. Season 3. Episode 11. NBC. 
  8. ^ "Terms of Endearment". Drawn Together. Season 2. Episode 8. January 25, 2006. 

External links[edit]