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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rob Reiner|
|Screenplay by||William Goldman|
|Based on||Misery by Stephen King|
|Music by||Marc Shaiman|
|Edited by||Robert Leighton|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$61.3 million|
Misery is a 1990 American psychological thriller film based on Stephen King's 1987 novel of the same name and starring James Caan, Kathy Bates, Lauren Bacall, Richard Farnsworth, and Frances Sternhagen about a psychotic fan who holds an author captive and forces him to write her stories.
Directed by Rob Reiner, the film received critical acclaim for Bates's performance as the psychopathic Annie Wilkes, and Bates won the 1990 Academy Award for Best Actress for her role, making Misery, as of 2016, the only Stephen King adaptation to be an Oscar-winning film. A scene in the film was ranked #12 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments.
Famed novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is the author of a successful series of Regency romance novels featuring a character named Misery Chastain. Wanting to focus on more serious stories, he writes a manuscript for a new novel that he hopes will launch his post-Misery career. While traveling from Silver Creek, Colorado to his home in New York City, he is caught in a blizzard and his car goes off the road, rendering him unconscious. Paul is rescued by a nurse named Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), who brings him to her remote home. When Paul regains consciousness he finds himself bedridden, with both his legs broken as well as a dislocated shoulder. Annie claims she is his "number one fan" and talks a lot about him and his novels. As a reward for saving him, Paul gives Annie his new manuscript which she saved from the wreckage. While feeding him, she is angered by the profanity in the new manuscript and spills soup on him but regains control and apologizes. She buys a copy of Paul's most recently published book, Misery's Child, giving glowing praise to Paul as she progresses through the book. However, when Annie discovers that Misery dies at the end of the book she flies into a rage, almost smashing a table on Paul's head. She reveals that she lied about calling his agent and the authorities; nobody knows where he is. Annie leaves and Paul tries to escape from his room, but she has locked the door.
The next morning, Annie forces Paul to burn his latest manuscript. When he is well enough to get out of bed, she insists he write a new novel entitled Misery's Return, in which he brings the character back to life. Paul complies, believing Annie might kill him otherwise. He also tells her he will use Annie's name in the book in appreciation of her nursing him back to health. However, having found a way of escaping his room, he sneaks out when Annie is away and begins stockpiling his painkillers. He tries poisoning Annie during a candlelit dinner, but fails when she accidentally spills her drugged wine. During another venture out of his room, Paul finds a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about Annie's past. He discovers that she was suspected and tried for the deaths of several infants, but the trial crumbled due to lack of evidence. Paul also learns that Annie quoted lines he had written in his Misery novels during her trial. Annie later drugs Paul and straps him to the bed. When he wakes, she tells him that she knows he has been out of his room and breaks his ankles with a sledgehammer to prevent him from trying to escape again.
The local sheriff, Buster (Richard Farnsworth), is investigating Paul's disappearance. When a shopkeeper informs the sheriff he has sold Annie considerable quantities of typing paper, Buster surmises Paul must be at the Wilkes farm. Buster pays Annie a visit, who permits the sheriff to inspect the residence. When Buster finds Paul drugged and hidden in the basement, Annie fatally shoots Buster and tells Paul that they must die together. He agrees, on the condition that he must finish the novel in order to "give Misery back to the world". While she gets his chair, Paul conceals a can of lighter fluid in his pocket.
When the book is done, he reminds Annie it is his practice to have a single cigarette and a glass of champagne after finishing a novel. When Annie gives these things to Paul, he tells her that this time, he will need a second glass, for her. As Annie gets a second glass, Paul soaks the manuscript in the lighter fluid. When Annie returns with the glass he sets the manuscript on fire, giving him the chance to hit Annie over the head with the typewriter. Paul and Annie fight and Annie is killed.
Eighteen months later, Paul, now walking with a cane, meets his publishing agent Marcia (Lauren Bacall) in a restaurant in New York City. The two discuss his first non-Misery novel. Marcia tells him about the positive early buzz which Paul does not care about, saying he wrote the novel for himself. Marcia asks if he would consider a non-fiction book about his captivity, but Paul declines. While at the restaurant, he imagines the waitress as Annie. The waitress says she is his "number one fan", to which Paul uncomfortably responds "That's very sweet of you".
- James Caan as Paul Sheldon
- Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes
- Richard Farnsworth as Buster
- Frances Sternhagen as Virginia
- Lauren Bacall as Marcia Sindell
- Graham Jarvis as Libby
- Jerry Potter as Pete
- Tom Brunelle as Anchorman
- June Christopher as Anchorwoman
- Julie Payne as Reporter #1
- Archie Hahn III as Reporter #2
- Gregory Snegoff as Reporter #3
- Rob Reiner (uncredited) as Helicopter Pilot
- J.T. Walsh (uncredited) as State Trooper Sherman Douglas
Producer Andrew Scheinman read Stephen King's novel Misery on an airplane, and later recommended it to his director partner at Castle Rock Entertainment, Rob Reiner. Reiner eventually invited famed writer William Goldman to write the film's screenplay. Given that Reiner was a director with a career of comedies, once he read the novel he identified with the theme of "a guy who needed a new challenge, who needs to push himself and grow". King had refused to sell the novel's adaptation rights because of how other works of his were mishandled in film translations, but eventually let Reiner do Misery after his 1986 adaptation of Stand by Me.
Reiner worked closely with Goldman on the screenplay, with the director explaining that "We got rid of the most gory and horrific parts. I wanted to concentrate on the idea of this chess match between the artist and his fan."
In the original novel, Annie Wilkes severs one of Paul Sheldon's feet with an axe. Goldman loved the scene and argued for it to be included, but Reiner insisted that it be changed so that she only breaks his ankles. Goldman subsequently wrote that this was the correct decision as amputation would have been too severe.
The part of Paul Sheldon was originally offered to William Hurt (twice), then Kevin Kline, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Richard Dreyfuss, Gene Hackman, and Robert Redford, but they all turned it down. Warren Beatty was interested in the role, wanting to turn him into a less passive character, but eventually had to drop out as post-production of Dick Tracy extended. Eventually someone suggested James Caan, who agreed to play the part. Caan commented that he was attracted by how Sheldon was a role unlike any other of his, and that "being a totally reactionary character is really much tougher."
- American Film Institute Lists
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills (Nominated) 
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains — Annie Wilkes (Villain – #17)
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes — "I am your number one fan." (Nominated) 
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received an 89% rating; the consensus reads, "Elevated by standout performances from James Caan and Kathy Bates, this taut and frightening film is one of the best Stephen King adaptations to date."
|Film score by Marc Shaiman|
|Released||July 1, 1999|
The film's score was composed by Marc Shaiman.
William Goldman also adapted the book for the theatre. His play version premiered in 2012 at Bucks County Playhouse.  The adaption would later transfer to Broadway from November 2015 to February 2016, starring Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf. The play received mixed to average reviews from theatre critics. Willis was widely criticized for his portrayal as Paul Sheldon with reviewers saying that while the actor tried his best, he "lacked emotion" as the captured character. However, on a more positive side, Metcalf was met with unanimous critical acclaim for her performance as Annie and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play.
- "MISERY (18)". British Board of Film Classification. January 7, 1991. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
- Box Office Information for Misery. The Wrap. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- "Awards for Kathy Bates". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
- "The Best and Worst of Stephen King's Movies – MSN Movies News". Movies.msn.com. 2012-10-20. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved 2014-01-11.
- "Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments". listology.com. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Barone, Matt & Rodriguez, Ross Scarano & Aquino, Tara (May 5, 2013). "The 50 Most Hard-to-Watch Scenes in Movie History - #13. Hobbling, Movie: Misery (1990)". Complex.com.
- Goldman, William. Which Lie Did I Tell?, p. 37
- Goldman p 40
- Goldman p 42-44
- Goldstein, Patrick (1990-04-29). "Rob Reiner Takes On 'Misery' : The director follows his hit comedy 'When Harry Met Sally . . . ' with a chiller, his second film taken from a Stephen King novel – Page 2 – Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2014-01-11.
- Finke, Nikki (1990-11-29). "James Caan Enjoying His 'Misery' : Hollywood's Reputed Bad Boy Resurfaces in the Rob Reiner-Directed Psychological Thriller – Page 2 – Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2014-01-11.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills Nominees" (PDF). American Film Institute. 2002. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees" (PDF). American Film Institute. 2005. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
- Misery at Rotten Tomatoes
- Ebert, Roger (1990-11-30). "Misery :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2009-09-12.
- "A Look at the Top 10 Claustrophobic Horror Movies!". bloody-disgusting.com. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Stephen King, Stephen King Goes To The Movies, page 579 (Hodder & Stoughton, 2009). ISBN 978-0-340-98030-9
- "Weekend Box Office Results for November 30 – December 2, 1990". Box Office Mojo. 1990-12-02. Retrieved 2014-01-11.
- "Exclusive InDepth InterView: William Goldman & Will Frears Discuss MISERY Onstage – Is Broadway Next?" Broadway World 26 November 2012 accessed 2 June 2013
- "William Goldman Adapts Stephen King's Misery for the Stage; Bucks County Playhouse Will Premiere Thriller" By Kenneth Jones Playbill20 Sep 2012 accessed 2 June 2013
- Ted Otten, "Bucks County Playhouse presents stage version of Stephen King's 'Misery'", NJ.com November 23, 2012 accessed 2 June 2013
- "thenisai.com - This website is for sale! - thenisai Resources and Information.". thenisai.com. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
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