|Cher in her best role.|
The 37-year-old Brooklyn bookkeeper had "bad luck" with her marriage when her husband died in a car accident seven years earlier. Having lost her soulmate, Loretta is willing to settle for something less than love and accepts a proposal from Johnny (Danny Aiello). She doesn't love him, but, as she tells her mother, she likes him and he's a good man.
Prior to the nuptials, Danny tells Loretta that he must go to Sicily for a final visit with his dying mother. During his absence, he asks that Loretta personally invite his estranged brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage) to the wedding. Ronny, who works in the bowels of a brick oven bakery, blames his brother for ruining his life. Apparently, Danny distracted Ronny, who accidentally cut off his left hand and subsequently lost the woman he loved.
|Cage almost wasn't cast.|
Moonstruck, one of the best romantic comedies of the 1980s, seems as fresh today as it was almost 30 years ago. It's the kind of film where everything comes together almost magically--from the opening song to the superb cast, the script's gentle whimsical qualities, and even the title. It could have easily been a disaster, though.
|Olympia Dukakis was an unknown to|
Nicolas Cage almost didn't play Ronny. Indeed, according to some sources, his screen test went badly and Cher convinced the producers to keep him. Inexplicably, he failed to garner the same stellar reviews as his co-stars. He holds his own quite nicely. Granted, his performance is more broad than the others, but then that's how it should be. Part of Loretta's attraction to Ronny is that he is madly passionate and yet still sensitive.
Originally, Moonstruck was to be called The Bride and the Wolf (yikes!) and the music behind the opening credits was La bohème. While that made sense from a plot standpoint (it's Ronny's favorite opera), preview audiences thought they were watching an art film. So Puccini's classic opera music was replaced with Dean Martin crooning "That's Amore." It turned out to be the perfect marriage of music and movie.
|Director Norman Jewison said the final scene--with eight people crammed|
into the small kitchen--was one of the hardest he ever filmed.
Shanley's script provides an ideal canvas for the cast, with its twin tales of new and old love. Loretta's grandfather (Feodor Chaliapin) acts as a Greek chorus, muttering comments here and there with his pack of dogs nearby. And, like many fine romances, there's a touch of magic on the screen--in this case, it's provided by a big romantic moon that "hits your eye like a big pizza pie." Sadly, Shanley, who also won an Oscar, failed to replicate his success (although there is some quirky charm in The January Man and Joe vs. the Volcano).
That just shows to go that that every once in awhile all the pieces come together for a movie. That's the case with Moonstruck. And that, my friends, results in cinematic amore.