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Fatal Attraction is a 1987 thriller film about a married man who has a weekend affair with a woman who refuses to allow it to end and who becomes obsessed with him. It stars Michael Douglas, Glenn Close and Anne Archer. It was directed by Adrian Lyne. The film was adapted by James Dearden and Nicholas Meyer from an earlier short film by Dearden for British television Diversion (1980).

Fatal Attraction was a smash hit, becoming the second highest grossing film of 1987 in the United Statesmarker and hugely popular internationally. Critics were enthusiastic about the film, and it received six Academy Award nominations, including that for Best Picture. The character of Alex Forrest has been cited as a notable film example of a person with borderline personality disorder.


Daniel Gallagher is a successful, happily married New Yorkmarker attorney living in Manhattanmarker when he meets Alex Forrest, an editor from a publishing company, through business. While his wife and daughter are out of town for the weekend, Dan has a brief affair with Alex. What Dan thought would be a simple fling turns into a dangerous sequence of events when Alex begins to obsessively cling to him.

Alex Forrest's mental instability first surfaces when she attempts suicide after Dan explains to her that he must go home and get on with his life. Dan thinks the affair is forgotten, but Alex begins to show up at various places to see him. She is waiting for him at his office one day to apologize and invite him to the opera Madame Butterfly, but he turns her down. She then begins to call Dan's office until he tells his secretary he will no longer take her calls. Alex then starts calling Dan's home at all hours and then informs Dan that she is pregnant and planning to keep the baby. Although Dan wants nothing to do with her, she argues that he must take responsibility. Alex then shows up at Dan's apartment (which is for sale) and meets his wife, Beth, feigning interest as a buyer. Later that night, he goes to her apartment to confront her about her actions. In response, she replies, "Well, what am I supposed to do? You won't answer my calls, you change your number, I'm not going to be ignored, Dan!"

Dan moves his family to the New York village of Bedfordmarker (which was actually filmed in Mount Kiscomarker). However, this doesn't deter Alex, who continues to stalk him fervently. She has a voice recording delivered to Dan and follows him home one night to spy on him, his wife Beth, and their daughter Ellen from the bushes in his yard; the sight of their family life literally makes her sick to her stomach. Alex's obsession, which grows stronger as time goes on, eventually turns into madness. Dan approaches the local police to apply for a restraining order against Alex (lying that it is "for a client"), to which a police lieutenant claims that he cannot violate Alex's rights without probable cause and that the adulterer has to own up to his adultery (arguably one of the few men to confront Dan about "what goes around comes around").
At one point, while the Gallaghers are away from home, Alex kills Ellen's pet rabbit, and puts it on their stove to boil.

After this, Dan tells Beth of the affair and Alex's pregnancy; Beth becomes angry with Dan and asks him to leave. Before he goes, however, Dan calls Alex to tell her that Beth knows all about the affair. Beth then gets on the phone and warns Alex over the phone that if she persists, Beth will kill her. Alex kidnaps Ellen from school and takes her to an amusement parkmarker and buys her ice cream, as well as taking her on a rollercoaster. Meanwhile, Beth is injured in a car accident while searching in a panic for her child. Dan once again approaches the police about having Alex arrested. The police still say they lack cause to take action against her, although they can drive by his residence to watch for any intruders. Beth is briefly hospitalized and soon released. By this time, Beth has forgiven Dan and he returns home.

Finally, Alex becomes determined to eliminate what she sees as her main obstacle: Beth. While Beth is in the bathroom, Alex suddenly appears behind her. As she attacks Beth with a chef's knife, Dan hears the screaming and runs in, wrestles Alex into the bathtub and seemingly drowns her. She suddenly emerges from the water, swinging her knife. Beth, who had gone in search of Dan's recently-purchased gun, appears in the doorway and shoots Alex in the chest, killing her. The final scene shows police cars outside Dan and Beth's house, as Dan finishes up talking with the cops, he walks inside, where is wife is waiting for him at the foyer. They embrace and proceed upstairs. The camera then zooms in on a picture on the table of Dan, Beth, and their daughter Ellen.


The script and screenplay were written around 1985, and many studios were offered the screenplay. It was eventually purchased by Paramount Pictures. James Dearden wrote the script.

The initial title was Affairs of the Heart.

Filming began on September 29, 1986 and ended on October 31, 1986. The ending was reshot between June and July 1987.


After its release, Fatal Attraction engendered much discussion of the potential consequences of infidelity. Feminists did not appreciate the depiction of Alex as a strong career woman who is at the same time profoundly psychotic. Feminist Susan Faludi discussed the film in her book "Backlash", arguing that major changes had been made to the original plot in order to make Alex wholly negative, while the carelessness and the lack of compassion and responsibility shown by Dan raised no discussion, except for a small number of fundamentalist men's groups who said that Dan was eventually forced to own up to his irresponsibility in that "everyone pays the piper".

The film has also had an effect on men. Glenn Close was quoted in 2008 as saying, "Men still come up to me and say, 'You scared the shit out of me.' Sometimes they say, 'You saved my marriage.'"

The film grossed US$156.6 million and was the 2nd highest grossing film of 1987 behind Three Men and a Baby.

Much of the movie's plot was spoofed in the 1993 comedy Fatal Instinct.

The movie is referred to in the 1993 romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle. Jonah Baldwin wants his widowed father Sam, played by Tom Hanks, to go to New York to meet Annie (Meg Ryan), but Sam refuses because he has weekend plans with another woman (whom Jonah dislikes). In a heated argument, Sam tells Jonah there is no way he will fly to New York to meet a woman who could be a "crazy, sick lunatic". Sam then asks Jonah if he saw Fatal Attraction, to which Jonah replies, "You wouldn't let me!" Sam then continues, "Well I saw it! It scared the shit outta me! It scared the shit outta every man in America!"

Alternative ending

Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) was originally scripted to commit suicide at the end of the movie by slashing her throat. Her plan was to make it look as if Dan (Michael Douglas) had murdered her, for which he would be arrested. Although Beth saves the day by finding a revealing tape that Alex had sent Dan and taking it to police, test audiences did not respond well. They felt Beth deserved revenge, particularly in view of her threat to kill Alex if she came near the family again.

This resulted in a three-week reshoot for the action-filled sequence in the bathroom and Alex's death by gunshot. Her shooting by Beth juxtaposes the two characters, with Alex becoming the victim and Beth taking violent action to protect her family. The apparent death in the bath device was inspired by the French film ‎Les Diaboliques (1954).

In the 2002 Special Edition DVD, Close comments that she had concerns re-shooting the movie's ending because she believed, and was backed by psychiatrists, that the character would "self-destruct and commit suicide." She gave in on her concerns, however, and recorded the new sequence after having fought against the change for two weeks. The movie was initially released in Japanmarker with the original ending. The original ending first appeared on a special edition VHS and LaserDisc release by Paramount in 1992, and was included on the film's DVD release several years later.

Blu-ray Release

Paramount released Fatal Attraction on blu-ray on June 9, 2009 with several bonus features including commentary by director Adrian Lyne, cast & crew interviews, a look at the cultural phenomenon of the movie, a behind-the-scenes look, rehearsal footage, alternate ending (in HD) and original theatrical trailer (in HD).


The film was nominated for 6 Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Glenn Close), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Anne Archer), Best Director (Adrian Lyne), Best Film Editing (Peter E. Berger and Michael Kahn), Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (James Dearden), and Best Picture.[19494]

Psychiatric diagnosis

The film's main character has been discussed by psychiatrists and film experts, and has been used as a film illustration for the condition erotomania. As referenced in Orit Kamirs' Every Breath You Take: Stalking Narratives and the Law, "Glenn Close's character Alex is quite deliberately made to be an erotomaniac". Gelder reports that Glenn Close "consulted three separate shrinks for an inner profile of her character, who is meant to be suffering from a form of obsessive condition known as de Clérambault's syndrome (Gelder 1990, 93 - 94)". It is also noted she displays characteristics of a psychiatric condition known as borderline personality disorder. The character displays the behaviors of impulsivity, emotional lability, fear of abandonment, idealization/devaluation and self-mutilation consistent with the diagnosis, although generally aggression to the self rather than others is a more usual feature in borderline personality disorder.



The film was listed at #28 on the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Thrills in 2001 and the character of Alex Forrest was listed as the seventh greatest movie villain on AFI's 100 Greatest Movie Heroes & Villains in 2003. The film also appears at #59 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments for the moment where Glenn Close suddenly rises from the bath tub.

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