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Home video release poster
Directed by Sam Pillsbury
Produced by
  • William Warren Blaylock
  • Eyal Rimmon
Written by Mari Kornhauser
Music by Pray for Rain
Cinematography Walt Lloyd
Edited by Michael Horton
Electric Pictures
Distributed by Artisan Entertainment
ITC Entertainment (overseas distribution)[1]
Release dates
  • July 18, 1991 (1991-07-18)
Running time
104 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English

Zandalee is a 1991 American erotic thriller/romantic tragedy which was shot entirely in New Orleans, released in 1991, starring Nicolas Cage, Judge Reinhold, Erika Anderson, Marisa Tomei, Joe Pantoliano, Viveca Lindfors, Aaron Neville, and Steve Buscemi. The film was directed by Sam Pillsbury.

Although the film played theatrically in some countries, it was released straight to video in the United States. The film steals liberally from the novel and play by Émile Zola entitled Thérèse Raquin.


Zandalee Martin is a young boutique store owner living in New Orleans who is sexually frustrated and feeling unfulfilled with her marriage to Thierry Martin, and eventually gets tangled in a passionate, sensual and torrid affair with her husband's mysterious and free spirited old friend Johnny Collins. Zandalee and Thierry's marriage has hit a snag and seems to be eroding due to his lack of passion. Zan needs to explore, while Thierry wants to withdraw, and has become more and more distant and impotent in their relationship. He used to be a poet, but now has taken over the family’s communications business after the death of his father. As time goes on, Thierry has to sell the business and become basically a (vice president) figurehead. He is emotionally adrift as his dreams give way to disillusionment.

Johnny, an artist painter by trade, has been working for Thierry's business to help support his paintings. His only religion is self-gratification. Johnny also sells and mules cocaine for a local drug dealer as another source of income for himself. Sensing Zandalee's frustration and vulnerability, Collins takes advantage and moves in by seducing her. Their sexual liaisons occur in various places. Thierry soon suspects the two are having an affair.

As the affair intensifies, Johnny asks Zandalee to leave her husband. However, Zandalee feels that she must never abandon her true love Thierry, and quickly ends her affair with Johnny. She and Thierry re-commit themselves to each other, but Johnny, now obsessed with her, will not be brushed off that easily. He tracks them to their vacation spot in the Bayou. All of this puts the three on a destructive collision course with a tragic sequence of events.

When Thierry figures out that Johnny has indeed been having an affair with Zandalee, he becomes drunk and confrontational leading to him becoming reckless when he takes Zan and Johnny for a speedboat ride on the Bayou, which ends when he falls off the boat and drowns, refusing to be saved by either Zan or Johnny who dive into the water to save him. Both Zandalee and Johnny become distraught by Thierry's death and begin to isolate themselves with Zan jogging for long periods and Johnny trying to work on his paintings, but becoming more self-destructive. He also consumes some of the cocaine he is supposed to sell, which gets him in trouble with his supplier.

When Johnny meets with Zandalee with the hopes to re-start their romance and have a possible future together now that Thierry is out of the picture, she remains emotionally distant and instead goes for a walk along the Old Quarter with Johnny following her. But in the final scene, when Johnny's drug supplier attempts to kill him in a drive-by shooting outside the church that Zandalee frequents, she sees what is about to happen and shields Johnny, getting fatally shot in the process. The drug dealer flees from the scene of the crime, leaving behind Johnny, now alone, as he cradles and holds Zandalee's dead body.



Zandalee was released in the United States on July 18, 1991 as a video premiere. Other countries releasing the film were Germany, on May 9, 1991, the United Kingdom on May 10, 1991, Hong Kong on May 16, 1991, the Netherlands on November 15, 1991 and Australia on Feb. 13th, 1992.


Originally rated NC-17 by the Motion Picture Association of America, Zandalee had its rating surrendered before release. There is both the original "unrated and uncut" version and an "R rated" version. The international version has a few more scenes which help explain the characters a bit better than the U.S. versions. Some versions have enhanced color as well. One German version of the movie was titled "Love Affair," but it is the same movie.

Critical reception[edit]

The film received generally negative reviews, currently holding a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[3]

In popular culture[edit]

The film was mentioned in an episode of Clerks: The Animated Series by Randal Graves as an attempted bribery of being Dante Hicks' lawyer by telling the "honorable" Judge Reinhold that he [Randal] has seen all of his movies including Zandalee and Vice Versa.


External links[edit]