Peggy Sue Got Married

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Peggy Sue Got Married
Peggy Sue Got Married.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFrancis Ford Coppola
Produced byPaul R. Gurian
Written byJerry Leichtling
Arlene Sarner
Music byJohn Barry
CinematographyJordan Cronenweth
Edited byBarry Malkin
Distributed byTriStar Pictures
Release date
  • October 10, 1986 (1986-10-10)
Running time
103 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$18 million
Box office$41.4 Million

Peggy Sue Got Married is a 1986 American fantasy comedy-drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola starring Kathleen Turner as a woman on the verge of a divorce, who finds herself transported back to the days of her senior year in high school in 1960. The film was written by husband-and-wife team Jerry Leichtling and Arlene Sarner.

The film was a box office success and received positive reviews from critics. It was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Actress (Turner), Best Cinematography, and Best Costume Design. In addition, Turner was nominated for Best Foreign Actress at the Sant Jordi Awards.


In 1985, wearing a dress she wore in high school in 1960, Peggy Sue Bodell sets off for her 25-year high school reunion. Although she has some reservations, she attends anyway, accompanied by her daughter Beth instead of her high-school sweetheart husband Charlie, since the two are separated because of his infidelity. She and Charlie were married right after graduation, when Peggy Sue got pregnant, and because of this she is afraid of being questioned about his absence.

When she arrives at the reunion, she is happy at having the chance to reconnect with Maddy and Carol, her old best friends. However, an awkward scene begins to play out as Charlie arrives unexpectedly and Peggy Sue proceeds to ignore him. This awkwardness continues until the event's MC announces the reunion's “king & queen” — Richard Norvik, the former class geek turned billionaire inventor, and Peggy Sue. Peggy Sue’s demeanor is quite normal until they wheel out the reunion cake, at which time she promptly faints.

Peggy Sue awakens to find herself still in the same location (the high school gym where the reunion was taking place) but 25 years in the past. It is now 1960, during her senior year of high school, where she’s just passed out after having donated blood. She wakes up stunned to find that all her middle-aged friends, whom she was just with at the reunion, are now their younger, teenaged selves. Still in shock, she allows herself to be taken home, all the while noticing that things aren’t how she knows them to be in 1985, but how she knew them to be 25 years prior. After a rough first night, she decides to accept her circumstances, behave as if everything is normal and have some fun while she’s at it. The only difference is that since she knows how she and Charlie will end, when given the chance to break up with him she thinks it might be best.

Hoping that Richard Norvik might be able to shed light on her situation, she befriends him. At lunch she ignores Charlie, causing him to become jealous, and instead uses the time to arrange a meeting with Richard after school to discuss time travel. She chooses to tell Richard her secret, which he at first doesn’t believe, until he realizes that only someone from the future could know what she knows about him and the world at large. It is around this time that Peggy Sue makes the decision to break up with Charlie, surely knowing that between them she’s the only one who wants that outcome.

Even with that decision made, she decides to sleep with Charlie one night after a party, but he panics, and reminds her of how she rebuffed him the weekend before. Thinking that she’s playing mind games with him, he abruptly takes her home but instead of going inside, she walks to an all-night café. As she walks past the café, she looks in and sees Michael Fitzsimmons, the artsy loner at school she always wished she’d slept with, and goes inside to talk to him. During the conversation she learns that they have more in common than she thought so she decides to leave with him. They ride off on his motorcycle, eventually stopping in a field, where they smoke marijuana and discover more about each other. At one point, Michael asks if she’s going to marry Charlie, to which she replies that she’s already done that and will not be doing it again. After talking and smoking, he recites some of his poetry for her and the two end up having sex.

Some time later, Michael reveals that he wants Peggy Sue to go to Utah with him and another woman to join them in a polygamous marriage, where the two women can support him raising chickens while he writes. She tells him that he should go to Utah and that he should use their night together as the topic he writes about. During their conversation she hears someone singing and, recognizing the voice, she looks towards the stage to find that it’s Charlie. It’s at that moment that she realizes there is more to Charlie than she thought there was. Michael notices where her attention is drawn, becomes upset and, thinking that this means she is declining his offer so she can be with Charlie, is ready to leave.

After Peggy Sue and Michael leave, Charlie auditions for a music agent and is rejected outright. The next day, when Peggy Sue tries to talk to him he lashes out at her, but ignoring his anger, she gives him a song she "wrote" for him, which is actually the song "She Loves You" by the Beatles. She leaves to say goodbye to Richard, stating that she wants to stop ruining her life and everyone's around her, especially Charlie's, since the reason he stopped singing is because she got pregnant with their daughter. Richard then proposes, but she refuses his proposal, thinking about how she doesn't want to marry anyone at this point and knowing he must become valedictorian. Confused, she visits her grandparents for her 18th birthday and, upon learning that her grandmother can see the future, she tells them her story. Her grandfather takes her to meet with his lodge buddies, where they perform a strange séance ritual to send her back to the year 1985.

Peggy Sue then disappears from the lodge, having been picked up and carried away by Charlie, leaving everyone at the lodge thinking that the séance has worked. He tells her that he informed his dad that he gave up singing and was given 10% of the business so he can support her. He then proposes and gives her the locket she is seen wearing at the beginning of the film. When she looks inside the locket, she sees baby pictures of her and Charlie, which resemble their children. At this moment, Peggy Sue realizes just how much he truly loves her, and she him, and they kiss. They start to make love, which will ultimately lead to Peggy becoming pregnant and marrying Charlie.

In the next instant, Peggy Sue awakens in a hospital back in 1985, with Charlie at her side. He is deeply regretful for his adultery, and tells her he wants her back. When she questions him about his girlfriend Janet, he swears to her that it is over. It seems there is hope for a happy reconciliation when Peggy Sue looks at Charlie with new eyes and, citing a reference from her grandfather, who claimed it was her grandmother's strudel that kept the family together, tells him, "I’d like to invite you over to your house for dinner on Sunday with your kids. I’ll make a strudel."




The film was originally going to star Debra Winger and be directed by Jonathan Demme. They had creative differences and Demme left the project, to be replaced by Penny Marshall, who would be making her feature directorial debut. Then Marshall had creative differences with the writers and left the project. Winger then quit out of loyalty to Marshall. Rastar, the production company, offered the film to Francis Ford Coppola hoping to entice Winger back to the project.[3] In the end, Kathleen Turner became the star.


Kathleen Turner stated that Francis Ford Coppola was contractually obligated to finish the film on time or lose final cut privilege. Accordingly the cast and crew worked twenty hours a day, six days a week to deliver the movie to the studio on time.[4]

Turner has spoken numerous times about the difficulty of working with co-star Nicolas Cage. In her 2008 memoir, she wrote that:

"He caused so many problems. He was arrested twice for drunk-driving and, I think, once for stealing a dog. He'd come across a chihuahua he liked and stuck it in his jacket. On the last night of filming, he came into my trailer after he'd clearly been drinking heavily. He fell on his knees and asked if I could ever forgive him. I said, "Not right now. I have a scene to shoot. Excuse me," and just walked out. Nicolas didn't manage to kill the film, but he didn't add a lot to it, either. For years, whenever I saw him, he'd apologize for his behavior. I'd say: "Look, I'm way over it." But I haven't pursued the idea of working with him again."[5]

Turner also criticized Cage for his decision to adopt a nasal fry for his character (Cage said he based it on Pokey from The Gumby Show), and to wear false teeth. In response to Turner's claims that he had driven drunk and stolen a Chihuahua, Cage sued her for defamation and won.[6] In exchange he received a public apology from Turner, admission from her publisher that the claims were false and defamatory, and a pledge that Turner and the publisher would make a substantial donation to charity.[7]

During an interview in 2018, Turner commented on Cage's nasal voice that:

"It was tough to not say, 'Cut it out". But it wasn't my job to say to another actor what he should or shouldn't do. So I went to Francis [Ford Coppola]. I asked him, 'You approved this choice?' It was very touchy. He [Nicolas Cage] was very difficult on set. But the director allowed what Nicolas wanted to do with his role, so I wasn't in a position to do much except play with what I'd been given. If anything, it [Cage's portrayal] only further illustrated my character's disillusionment with the past. The way I saw it was, yeah, he was that asshole."[8]

Release and reception[edit]

Peggy Sue Got Married gained a positive reaction from critics, as it currently holds an 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 28 reviews.

The film opened with $6,942,408 and ended up grossing $41,382,841 in the U.S. It was the first box-office success for Coppola since The Outsiders.[9]

Kathleen Turner won the 1986 award for Best Actress from the U.S. National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.[10] The film ranked number 17 on Entertainment Weekly's list of "50 Best High School Movies".[11]

This film appeared on Siskel and Ebert's best of 1986 lists.[12]

American Film Institute lists

Musical adaptation[edit]

The film was adapted by Leichtling and Sarner into a full-length musical theater production which opened in London's West End theatre district in 2001. Despite receiving solid reviews[15] and a several million pound advance, 9/11 forced the show to close early.


  1. ^ "PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED (15)". British Board of Film Classification. September 29, 1986. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  2. ^ Jim Catalano (1995). "Interview: Marshall Crenshaw". Retrieved June 2, 2011.
  3. ^ IS 'PEGGY SUE' NEAR THE ALTAR WITH COPPOLA?: FILM CLIPS London, Michael. Los Angeles Times 28 Nov 1984: h1.
  4. ^ Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen (November 12, 2019). After Show: Kathleen Turner Turned Down This Sharon Stone Role. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  5. ^ Katherine Thomson (March 28, 2008). "Nicolas Cage Sues Kathleen Turner over Dog-napping Tale". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  6. ^ Katherine Thomson (March 28, 2008). "Nicolas Cage Sues Kathleen Turner over Dog-napping Tale". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  7. ^ SkyNews (April 4, 2008). "Kathleen Turner Apologizes to Nicolas Cage Over Dog Theft Allegation". Fox News. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  8. ^ David Marchese (August 7, 2018). "In Conversation: Kathleen Turner". Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  9. ^ "''Peggy Sue Got Married'' at Box Office Mojo". December 30, 1986. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  10. ^ "1986 Award Winners". National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. 2016. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  11. ^ "Entertainment Weekly's 50 Best High School Movies". Archived from the original on September 5, 2008. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  12. ^ "Siskel and Ebert Top Ten Lists (1969-1998)". May 3, 2012. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  13. ^ "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Laughs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  14. ^ American Film Institute. "AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot" (PDF). Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  15. ^ "Peggy Sue Got Married - the Musical, a CurtainUp review". Retrieved May 20, 2011.

External links[edit]