Moonstruck (1987) – Norman Jewison (Friday’s Finest)

Loretta Castorini: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been two months since my last confession.

Priest: What sins have you to confess?

Loretta Castorini: Twice I took the name of the Lord in vain, once I slept with the brother of my fiancé, and once I bounced a check at the liquor store, but that was really an accident.

Priest: Then it’s not a sin. But… what was that second thing you said, Loretta?

When I was a teenager, Moonstruck was one of family’s favourite movies. We watched it together so often. I purchased the soundtrack on cassette and listened to it to death. It is such a great montage of Italian music. The film borders on art-house because its steeped in cultural content and style distinct from that seen in mainstream film. It’s quirky and certainly brash in terms of performance delivery and writing. Any questions about whether Cher could act were put to bed by her outstanding performance here where she was awarded the Oscar for best actress in 1988.

IMDB Storyline: No sooner does Italian-American widow Loretta accept a marriage proposal from her doltish boyfriend, Johnny, then she finds herself falling for his younger brother, Ronny. She tries to resist, but Ronny lost his hand in an accident he blames on his brother, and has no scruples about aggressively pursuing her while Johnny is out of the country. As Loretta falls deeper in love, she comes to learn that she’s not the only one in her family with a secret romance.

I included Moonstruck in my Friday’s-Finest choices because it has been largely forgotten when people recount some of the great movies of 80’s cinema. It currently sits at No 46 on my 100 favourite movies of all time. I’ve never seen it presented on cable. What I think is so special about Moonstruck is how it is centred on family and its values. And all of these characters are past their prime and in some ways bitter and torn, but they are emboldened and enriched by the family unit. They have each other’s back. Some of the most compelling parts are the conversations around the family kitchen table. The mother who is magnificently played by Olympia Dukakis is one of my favourite minor characters in cinema. It’s under her roof that we hear some outstanding dialogue….’I am not a violent person, but “Old man . . . you give those dogs another piece of my meat and I’ll kick ya til ya dead!

I like how IMDB user yayamagic described it: These characters TALK about what’s on their minds. You want to know where the Met is located? You ask your hairdresser. You think your husband is flirting with another woman? You tell him that while you’re both working behind the wine counter – in front of a customer. You’re mad at your brother, you want to know why men need more than one woman, you want your son to pay for the wedding of his only daughter? If you really want to know, if you really want results or answers, you speak up!

Every character is peculiarly delightful and memorable. The movie touches on the complexities of loving relationships in a meaningful way, but never lectures. The script is never condescending towards any character, not even the hapless Johnny. I think it has one of the most charming and enduring endings in all of cinematic history. That reminds me I must watch this again.

Moonstruck Trivia:

* Nicolas Cage’s screen test didn’t impress the studio, and they wanted to get someone else to play Ronny. But Cher insisted that Cage was the one to play that role, and threatened to quit unless he was hired. After a few days, the studio relented.

* Director Norman Jewison was fined by the actors’ union for not allowing his actors to go to lunch until they perfected the moods of their characters for the climax scene in the kitchen.

* While filming between takes, Cher motioned to Olympia Dukakis that the movie was going to be a dud. She originally thought that she was giving a bad performance. She went on to win the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Actress.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Movies and TV
4 comments on “Moonstruck (1987) – Norman Jewison (Friday’s Finest)
  1. Angélica says:

    Si realmente quiere saber, si realmente quiere resultados o respuestas, ¡hable!
    Ese creo ha sido en todos los tiempos un gran problema en todo tipo de relaciones…callar

  2. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    It’s been a while Matt but I liked this movie when I saw it. It has been at least since the 90s. I don’t like Cher as a singer very much but as an actress I do.

  3. It’s such a rewatchable movie, but like you, it has been many years since I have seen it. Well over 2 decades. I agree, I’m not a big fan of her music, but she is a great actress. But I did like her performance in Divas Las Vegas. Did you see her in Mask?

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