Produced in 1990 and directed by Rob Reiner, this underrated thriller is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. The screenplay was written by William Goldman and it stars James Caan as writer, Paul Sheldon, Kathy Bates as crazed fan, Annie Wilkes, and Lauren Becall as agent, Marcia Sindell. Although the film has often been criticized as having a rather shallow plot, Kathy Bates positively steals the show and is almost single-handedly responsible for its ultimate success. James Caan is adequate as the trapped and injured writer with nowhere to go, but his performance is lackluster compared to Bates, who won a “Best Actress Oscar” for her work. Her character, Annie Wilkes, is so disturbed that her madness shines from a well too deep for anyone to ever reach her. Bates’ portrayal is highly polished, riveting and completely believable.
Bates’ character is a fan of author, Paul Sheldon, and has read al of his best-selling books. When he is in a near-fatal car accident, she digs him out of the snow, transports him to her home and begins to nurse him back to health. As the story progresses, we learn that she was following him before he had his accident, hoping to get a chance to meet “her number one author.” But a shadow begins to grow between them when she discovers that the author’s heroine, “Misery,” whom she adores, is going to die in his newest novel, which he is forced to re-write while incapacitated in her home.
The character of Paul Sheldon, (which really isn’t all that developed), was originally offered to Jack Nicholson, Kevin Kline, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro, Gene Hackman, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Redford and Warren Beatty, all of whom turned it down. Caan does the best he can with the part, but he does not shine in this film.
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