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This article is about the 1989 film. For the 1957 film, see She Devil (1957 film). For the 1918 film starring Theda Bara, see The She-Devil. For other uses, see she devil.
Film poster
Directed by Susan Seidelman
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on The Life and Loves of a She-Devil 
by Fay Weldon
Narrated by Roseanne Barr
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Oliver Stapleton
Edited by Craig McKay
Distributed by Orion Pictures (film)
Release dates
  • December 8, 1989 (1989-12-08)
Running time
99 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $15.4 million (US)[1]

She-Devil is a 1989 American black comedy film directed by Susan Seidelman and written by Barry Strugatz and Mark R. Burns. It stars Meryl Streep, Ed Begley, Jr., and Roseanne Barr in her film debut. A loose adaptation of the 1983 novel The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by British writer Fay Weldon, She-Devil tells the story of Ruth Patchett, a dumpy, overweight housewife who exacts devilish revenge on her philandering husband after he leaves her and their children for glamorous, best-selling romance novelist Mary Fisher.

The second adaption of Weldon's novel after a BBC TV mini series was first broadcast in 1986, the film was shot amid the first season break of Barr's highly successful ABC sitcom Roseanne in New York City throughout spring and summer 1989. For a while, Streep, who was one of the first actresses to read the script, because she and director Susan Seidelman shared the same agent, considered taking the part of Ruth herself but later opted to play Fisher instead as she felt she had dealt with a similar subject in her previous film Evil Angels (1988).

Produced by Orion Pictures, She-Devil was released on December 8, 1989, and grossed $15.5 million at the box office. Critics praised both Barr and Streep's performances but criticized the film for its tone. Streep earned a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy the following year.


Ruth is a frumpy, overweight wife and mother, who tries desperately to please her husband Bob, an accountant trying to boost his business. After Bob meets Mary Fisher, a romance novelist, at a dinner party, they begin an affair. Ruth, aware of the affair, confronts Bob while his parents are visiting, and Bob leaves her. As he packs his suitcase, he says his assets are his home, his family, his career, and his freedom. Angry, Ruth vows revenge on him and Mary. Ruth writes a list titled "Bob's Assets", with the four assets that Bob stated. She crosses off each one when it is destroyed. With Bob away at Mary's and the kids at school, she sets the house on fire, which is destroyed in a gigantic explosion. She drops the children off with Bob (now living with Mary) and tells him that she will not be returning. However, she is still working behind the scenes to destroy Bob's remaining assets. It is revealed that Bob's second asset, his family, is being destroyed, too, as Mary's selfish refusal to learn how to be a mother causes tension in her relationship with Bob.

Ruth takes a job at a nursing home under the pseudonym and disguise Vesta Rose, where she befriends Mary's foul-mouthed estranged mother, and arranges for her to return to Mary's life at an inopportune moment. She also meets Nurse Hooper, a woman who has worked for the nursing home for twenty-two years and put aside her earnings for a considerable life savings. They form a partnership and start an employment agency for downtrodden women who have been rejected by society and need a second chance. The agency is a success, and women who Ruth has helped assist her in getting revenge on Bob.

Mary writes a new novel loosely based on her romance with Bob, which her publisher considers strange and off putting, because of its focus on laundry and protagonists' name, Bob. An attractive but ditzy young blonde applies to the agency, and Ruth finds her a position as Bob's secretary. He soon starts sleeping with her and several other women. When his secretary proclaims her love, he dumps her. The secretary reveals to Ruth that Bob is a fraudster who cons money out of his clients. Ruth exposes this to his superiors and the police, thus destroying his career.

Mary's career goes downhill, too. As she is being interviewed for a puff piece by People, her mother reveals embarrassing secrets about Mary that are reported in the article. Bob throws a party for Mary to cheer her up, which goes well until state troopers appear with a warrant for Bob's arrest. Bob's lawyer bribes a judge and unknowingly informs Mary that Bob stole from her account. As Mary leaves Bob, he realizes what he did to Ruth has happened to him and he has ended up with nothing because of his greed. A woman who gained employment thanks to Ruth's agency as a court clerk pays Ruth back by reassigning Bob's case to an unbiased judge. Bob is convicted of embezzlement and sent to prison, thus destroying his fourth and final asset, his freedom. Meanwhile, Mary sells her mansion when her novel fails, while Ruth's business thrives.

Ruth and her children visit a greatly reformed Bob, who says he is looking forward to spending more time with Ruth and the children upon release. Ruth ends by saying she believes a person can repent as has Bob, but not everyone, as the final scene shows Ruth at a book signing for Mary's new novel – in which she tells all about her affair. Ruth asks Mary to make the autograph out to Ruth, and Mary does a double take. Next in line after Ruth is a man whom Mary clearly tries to become more personal with, indicating she has not changed her ways. The film ends with Ruth, a smile on her face as she walks down a busy street in Manhattan, accompanied by women from her firm.



The musical score for She-Devil was composed by Howard Shore. A soundtrack album was released on November 15, 1989, by Mercury Records.[2] Shore's score was later released in a limited edition of 1,000 copies by Music Box Records.[3]


the film holds a 41% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 17 reviews; the average rating is 4.5/10.[4]

Streep was nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a musical or comedy.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "She-Devil at Box Office Mojo". Retrieved October 4, 2010. 
  2. ^ "She-Devil Soundtrack (1989)". Soundtrack.Net. Retrieved April 24, 2015. 
  3. ^ "She-Devil - Howard Shore - CD". Music Box Records. Retrieved April 24, 2015. 
  4. ^ "She-Devil (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 8, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Meryl Streep | Golden Globes Awards". Golden Globes. Retrieved October 8, 2015. 

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