The Long Kiss Goodnight

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The Long Kiss Goodnight
Long kiss goodnight ver1.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRenny Harlin
Written byShane Black
Produced by
CinematographyGuillermo Navarro
Edited byWilliam Goldenberg James Coblentz
Music byAlan Silvestri
  • Forge
  • The Steve Tisch Company
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release date
  • October 11, 1996 (1996-10-11)
Running time
120 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$65 million
Box office$95.5 million

The Long Kiss Goodnight is a 1996 American spy action thriller film co-produced and directed by Renny Harlin, and produced by Shane Black and Stephanie Austin with screenplay written by Black. The film, starring Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Amandes, Yvonne Zima, Brian Cox, Patrick Malahide, Craig Bierko and David Morse, follows an amnesiatic schoolteacher who sets out on a journey to find out who she is with the help of a private detective until they discover a dark conspiracy.

Released by New Line Cinema on October 11, 1996, The Long Kiss Goodnight grossed almost $95 million against a budget of $65 million, and gained a strong cult following.[1][2]


Samantha Caine (Geena Davis) is a schoolteacher in small-town Honesdale, Pennsylvania, living with her boyfriend Hal (Tom Amandes) and her daughter Caitlin (Yvonne Zima). Eight years earlier, she was found washed ashore on a New Jersey beach, pregnant with Caitlin and totally amnesiatic. Having never remembered her real name, "Samantha" has hired a number of ineffective private investigators to discover her past, the latest being a lowlife named Mitch Henessey (Samuel L. Jackson). During the Christmas holidays, Samantha is involved in a car accident and suffers a brief concussion; when she recovers, she finds she possesses skills with a knife that she cannot explain. Shortly thereafter, the family home is broken into by "One-Eyed Jack" (Joseph McKenna), a convict who escaped from jail after seeing Samantha's face on television. Samantha demonstrates her fighting prowess by killing Jack bare-handed. Worried that she poses a danger to Hal and Caitlin, Samantha leaves with Mitch, who has found a suitcase belonging to her, to seek out answers.

The suitcase contains a note directing them to Dr. Nathan Waldman (Brian Cox). They arrange to meet at a train station, unaware that government agents are tapping the doctor's calls. En route, Samantha discovers the bottom of the suitcase contains a disassembled sniper rifle which she can expertly reassemble, along with other weapons. When Samantha and Mitch go to meet Waldman at the station, they are attacked by a team of agents who shoot numerous bystanders, but the two escape with Waldman's help. The doctor informs Samantha that she is really an expert CIA assassin, Charlene Elizabeth "Charly" Baltimore, who had disappeared eight years prior. Unsure if they can trust Waldman, Samantha and Mitch leave him behind and seek another contact named on a note in the suitcase, Luke (David Morse), believing he may be Charly's fiancé.

Waldman catches up with them and tries to warn them that Luke is actually Charly's last assassination target, "Daedalus". However, Luke kills Dr. Waldman, then straps Samantha to a waterwheel and tortures her by repeatedly submerging her in cold water. After being tortured, she is finally jolted into remembering her past life. Samantha frees herself, kills Luke, and escapes with Mitch. Samantha completes her physical transformation back to Charly, cutting her hair and dying it platinum blonde. Charly realizes that her "Samantha Caine" personality was a cover to get near to Daedalus eight years earlier.

A psychological-operations specialist named Timothy (Craig Bierko), with whom Charly once had a romantic relationship, kidnaps Caitlin. Charly and Mitch learn about Daedalus' involvement in "Project Honeymoon", which she disrupted on her mission, resulting in One-Eyed Jack's incarceration; "Project Honeymoon" was intended to be a false flag chemical bomb detonation in Niagara Falls, planned by the CIA in an attempt to blame Islamic terrorists and secure more funding. Charly realizes that Timothy and a new group is plotting to restage the attack, led by CIA Director Leland Perkins (Patrick Malahide). In Niagara Falls, where Timothy has taken Caitlin, he captures Mitch and Charly. She tells Timothy that he is Caitlin's biological father and implores him not to hurt their daughter, but Timothy is ultimately unmoved, locking Charly and Caitlin in a freezer to kill them.

Charly and Caitlin break out of the freezer by detonating barrels of kerosene and then freeing Mitch, who helps Charly attack the staging area. This forces Timothy to launch the attack early; meanwhile, Caitlin locks herself in a cage on the truck carrying the bomb. Charly chases the truck, overpowers its driver, diverts it from a Christmas parade, and overturns it on the Niagara Falls International Bridge leading to Canada. Charly frees Caitlin but they cannot get away from the bomb, which is about to explode, as Timothy and his agents attack them from a helicopter. Mitch suddenly arrives in a car, picking up Charly and Caitlin and entering Canada just before the bomb explodes, which kills Timothy and his forces and destroys the bridge.

In an epilogue, Charly has returned to her assumed identity of Samantha Caine, moving with Caitlin and Hal to a remote farmhouse and declining an offer from the president to join the state department (which could imply rejoining the CIA). Mitch enjoys the publicity attracted by his role in the crisis and is interviewed by Larry King on television about Perkins, who was indicted for treason.



New Line Cinema paid a record $4 million for Shane Black's script.[3]

In an early cut of the film, Mitch Henessey dies, but during a test screening, an audience member shouted: "You can't kill Sam Jackson!" Harlin accordingly changed the final cut so that Jackson's character survives.[4]

On February 27, 1996, during filming at the 127-year-old Windermere House in Ontario, Canada, a fire broke out, leaving only the stone verandah intact.[5] There was speculation that the fire was caused by high-intensity lighting;[6] however, it may have been a short circuit. Filming at the time of the fire was being carried out on the ice-covered lake, whilst the house was lit from the inside so as to be seen in the background of the shots.[7] It is unknown whether the fire was directly associated with filming, but the building was otherwise closed for winter.[8] Ironically, some of the scenes they were meant to shoot at that location involved fire, but the fire prevented the remaining scenes from being shot there. Film crews helped to evacuate nearby homes, although the fire did not spread beyond the one building.[9]


Box office[edit]

In the film's opening release, it grossed $9,065,363 from 2,245 theaters, placing third for the films that released that weekend. In the United States and Canada, the film grossed $33,447,612. Internationally it earned $62,009,149 for a total worldwide gross of $95,456,761.[10]

Renny Harlin blamed the film's poor performance on confusing advertising, but Shane Black wondered whether it might have been more successful if it were about a man: 'It might have made more money, they told me, but it had to be a woman. The lead had to be female.' It has also been suggested that the film's poor advertising campaign and lukewarm reception amongst critics may have been carry-over effect from Renny Harlin and Geena Davis's previous collaboration, Cutthroat Island, which was released just 10 months earlier, and became one of the biggest box office bombs of all time.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

The Long Kiss Goodnight received mainly positive reviews. It holds a 70% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 56 reviews. The site's consensus states: "Smart, sharp-witted, and fueled by enjoyably over-the-top action, The Long Kiss Goodnight makes up in impact what it lacks in consistent aim."[12] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a median grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[13]

Christine James, from Boxoffice, gave the film 3 and a half out of 5 stars, calling it "a lot of fun", but believing that there were some weaknesses in the script.[14] Roger Ebert gave the film 2 and a half out of 4 stars, stating, "I admired it as an example of craftsmanship, but what a lot of time and money to spend on something of no real substance."[15] In 2014, Time Out polled several film critics, directors, actors and stunt actors to list their top action films.[16] The Long Kiss Goodnight was listed at 82nd place on this list.[17]

Samuel L. Jackson has stated that The Long Kiss Goodnight is his favorite movie to watch which he has been in.[18] Of all the films he’s made, Renny Harlin says The Long Kiss Goodnight is his favorite:

"It is definitely. For me its just very simple. Its a movie that had a really good screenplay which meant that I was able to get really good actors and its always challenging to make a movie but it sure makes it easier when you have a good screenplay like in that one. When you have characters that are complex and you have good drama, and have some humour, and some good action, you kind of have all the ingredients. When you have that you don't even need some crazy special effects you just need to let the characters do their thing. It was a great experience."[19]


Originally, the last page of Black's original 1994 script stated that there would be a sequel called The Kiss After Lightning, which never happened.

A possible sequel has been in the works since 2007,[20] but nothing definite had been reported as of 2021.


  1. ^ "The Best Movie You Never Saw: The Long Kiss Goodnight". Archived from the original on 2021-06-27. Retrieved 2021-03-09.
  2. ^ ""Chefs do that": The underappreciated holiday joy of "The Long Kiss Goodnight"". Archived from the original on 2021-03-02. Retrieved 2021-03-09.
  3. ^ "Robert Shaye". Daily Variety (61st anniversary ed.). January 12, 1995. p. 28.
  4. ^ Jordan, Pat (April 26, 2012). "How Samuel L. Jackson Became His Own Genre". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 25, 2020. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  5. ^ "History". Windermere House. Archived from the original on 25 March 2020. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  6. ^ "Up in Flames: The History of Fire in Muskoka Region". Virtual Museum. Archived from the original on 29 June 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  7. ^ Phillips, Paige (February 26, 2016). "'I can't believe it's been 20 years'". Huntsville Forester. Archived from the original on March 25, 2020. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  8. ^ Brennan, Judy (March 1, 1996). "Windermere Fire Apparently Won't Affect 'The Long Kiss'". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ "A piece of Muskoka gone". Bracebridge Weekender. March 1, 1996. Archived from the original on March 25, 2020. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  10. ^ "The Long Kiss Goodnight". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on July 2, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2010.
  11. ^ Page, Priscilla (June 2, 2016). "The Spy and the Private Eye And THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT". Birth. Movies. Death. Archived from the original on October 12, 2017. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  12. ^ The Long Kiss Goodnight Archived 2020-09-17 at the Wayback Machine Rotten Tomatoes profile
  13. ^ "CinemaScore". Archived from the original on 2019-12-10. Retrieved 2021-07-02.
  14. ^ James, Christine (2008-08-01). "The Long Kiss Goodnight". Boxoffice. Archived from the original on 2010-02-05.
  15. ^ Ebert, Roger (1996-10-11). "The Long Kiss Goodnight". Archived from the original on 2020-04-01. Retrieved 2020-02-27.
  16. ^ "The 100 best action movies". Time Out. Archived from the original on November 6, 2014. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  17. ^ "The 100 best action movies: 90-81". Time Out. Archived from the original on November 7, 2014. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  18. ^ "Samuel L. Jackson Goes Undercover on Reddit, Twitter, and Wikipedia". Archived from the original on 2019-07-26. Retrieved 2018-10-22 – via YouTube.
  19. ^ "Renny Harlin looking for someone to write Long Kiss Goodnight 2". Archived from the original on 2021-07-02. Retrieved 2021-03-09.
  20. ^ Flynn, Gaynor (2009-03-14). "Harlin talks Long Kiss Goodnight 2 – Moviehole". Archived from the original on 2020-02-27. Retrieved 2020-02-27.

Further reading[edit]

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