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James Caan, Kathy Bates, Frances Sternhagen, Richard Farnsworth, Lauren Bacall ... see more see more... , Graham Jarvis , J.T. Walsh , Tom Brunelle , Archie Hahn III , Janet Hirshenson , Jane Jenkins , Pig: Misery , Jerry Potter , June Christopher , Julie Payne , Greg Snegoff , Wendy Bowers , Rob Reiner

Adapted from a Stephen King novel, Rob Reiner's Misery cast James Caan as a writer at a career crossroads. The film opens with Paul Sheldon (Caan) completing work on his latest novel, a break from his... read more read more... popular series of novels featuring the character Misery Chastain. He gets into a severe car accident and is saved by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), a reclusive woman who nurses him back to health. Annie is a huge fan of the Misery novels, and she finishes reading the new one while Paul is convalescing. She becomes enraged when she discovers that Paul has killed off Misery. Annie injures Paul's foot severely so that he is unable to leave her house, and forces him to write a new Misery novel. A local sheriff (Richard Farnsworth) and Paul's agent (Lauren Bacall) both attempt to track down what happened to the missing author. Misery shot the relatively unknown Kathy Bates to stardom, winning her one of the few Best Actress Oscars ever bestowed for portraying an evil character. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi

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89% liked it

175,171 ratings


88% liked it

60 critics

R, 1 hr. 47 min.

Directed by: Rob Reiner

Release Date: November 30, 1990

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DVD Release Date: December 22, 1998

Stats: 8,191 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (8,191)

  • September 27, 2013
  • January 16, 2013
    When it comes to adapting a Stephen King horror story, some films tend to miss the mark, and others deliver a tense, terrifying and ultimately bone chilling unforgettable experience. This is the case with the 1990 King adaptation of Misery. The film follows closely the story of t... read morehe novel, and it's one of those rare screen adaptations that is well adapted from the novel. James Caan is excellent as Paul Sheldon, the imprisoned author held captive by Annie Wilkes played by Kathy Bates. Both are superb in their respective roles, and Kathy Bates is one of the most disturbing and memorable screen villains in horror history, and her performance is one of the standouts of the film. The film is a fine blend of psychological horror and psycho horror. This picture still delivers after all these years and is hard to match in terms of telling a truly chilling story. If you want one of the better Stephen King adaptation's, then give this film a shot. With a great cast, great directing and an engaging plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish, Misery remains of the defining genre films. This film has some truly intense scenes that are not for the faint of heart, and you simply can't turn away from Kathy Bates's performance that earned her a well deserved Oscar win. Like I stated earlier, King adaptations can sometimes be a little sketchy in terms of interesting material and effective plot, but Misery is a strong movie that is a must see for Stephen King fans looking for a well adapted film.
  • October 22, 2011
    Wow, didn't know Kathy Bates had been acting this long....this and Dolores Claiborne are the best films I've seen her in...she's spectacular as the villain! James Caan is good also. Very suspenseful and full of thrills as you wonder if the famous author is ever going to escape. I... read more'm a huge fan of Stephen King movies, and this shot to near the top of the my best-of list the first time I saw it!
  • October 21, 2011
    Annie Wilkes: Now the time has come. I put two bullets in my gun. One for me, and one for you. Oh darling, it will be so beautiful. 

    "Paul Sheldon used to write for a living. Now he's writing to stay alive."

    Every time I watch Misery, I like it more and more. There's just so mu... read morech talent involved here. First off, there's the source material from Stephen King. Misery is one of his finest stories. Then there's screenwriter William Goldman who does a good job of writing the story for the screen. Barry Sonnenfeld as cinematographer and of course Rob Reiner. Reiner knows how to make great adaptions of King's books; Stand By Me and Misery speak for themselves. And you can't forget about two stunning performances given by James Caan and Kathy Bates(who took home an Oscar for her psycho performance). There's just too much greatness for Misery to not be good.

    As in many of King's stories, the protagonist is a writer. This time he is actually a successful one to boot. He has a long running franchise of Misery books, and he's just finished his last one. He is deciding to move on from Misery and decides to kill her off. While driving home from his regular writing spot in Colorado; he gets into a blizzard and crashes. "Luckily" for him, a nice woman, who just happens to be his number one fan, pulls him from the wreckage and takes him home. At first she seems like the nicest woman in the world, but she has an angry side and quite a past as well.

    The movie works well in many genres. At times it is just a drama, then it's a thriller and it even has moments of pure horror. There are scenes of high tension. My favorite scene is where Annie leaves the house and Paul wheels himself around the house. As he explores, we see Annie getting closer and closer to home. What will happen? Well that is just part of that high tension.

    Misery is regarded as one of the best King adaptions ever, and that claim is totally justified. Through the picture perfect pacing and the magnificent performances, we are shown the true brilliance of King's story just about as well as it could have been done. Kathy Bates plays a mood swinging psychopath to perfection. Her fits of rage are simply astounding. Caan does a good job in performance, where for the most part, he is either laying on his back or sitting in a wheel chair at a typewriter. 

    While there's other King films I like more, this is still an all-time classic. Rich in character and in plot, it works like magic; putting in the viewer in the same helpless state that Paul is in. Misery is a must see.
  • fb729949618
    September 24, 2011
    So one day I found Misery laying around the house, and had no clue what it was or what it was about. One of the best choices and discoveries i've ever made; what an awesome film, Kathy Bates is amazing.
  • September 7, 2011
    Misery is a stroke of pure horror genius. The plot is scary and keeps your attention the whole time. The cast is great, Kathy Bates is one of the greatest sociopaths performances ever. Misery is a great horror, and is one of the best horror films to this date.
  • fb100000257973100
    July 27, 2011
    Stephen King. What can one say? He has had the most adaptions from his work, written countless novels, and even directed one film that was God Awful. But, on the adaptations, it is sad to say that most of them are just terrible (some exceptions include Carrie, The Shining, The Gr... read moreeen Mile, and The Shawshank Redeption). But, when it comes to the best, there is one that should always be on the list. This is that one film. Now, other then the aspects, there are two reasons why I say that this is one of the best adaptations of King's work. The first is that this film is scary as hell. I am not joking. Think about it like this: you are popular, all the ladies love you, but one kidnaps you and tortures you so you have to stay with her. With that in mind, this film become purely real to such a point that you feel sick due to one disturbing scene that works wonders in this film. The second reason is due to this film being, in all honesty, a love story. Not the traditional way that you find normally, but in the way that one person is in love with someone and willing to do anything for that person. In a way, the character of Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) is the perfect example of being love struck. She loves Paul Sheldon (James Caan) so much it is frightening. Now, enough of me talking, let's get to the basics. For the directing, Rob Reiner directs this film with such force you could swear that he was born for this film. Well, he did direct such films as Stand By Me (Another adaption of a King story), The American President, and The Princess Bride, so he does have a lot of great talent with this film as he brings the characters to life. For acting, the most anyone can talk about is Caan and Bates with them being the only two characters we see the majority of the time. Now, there is only one person I need to talk about and that is Kathy Bates. All I can say is that she is scary as hell in this role. She makes every celebrities nightmare come true and her performance is worthy of her Academy Award she won. Acting is, overall, impressive. For the screenplay, about 80% takes place between both Caan and Bates and the scenes and dialogue is all brilliant and natural. It is hard to find a script that is this good and, for this film, it is needed. Finally the score. This being an early work done by Marc Shaiman, I am guessing that I will excuse the low quality of the score. Now, Marc is great at composing award winning scores (i.e. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut), but this one is just not memorable at all. Kind of disappointing. But, at least there are other factors that make it all up. Overall, this is a scare film that, for once, has great performances.
  • July 17, 2011
    Although as a die hard Stephen King fan I felt this movie was lacking in a lot of what made the book so scary, I think for the time it was made it delivered superbly. One of my all time favourite books and I can happily say well up there in my list of favourite movies. I would al... read moreso like to add that you have never seen excruciating pain acted as superbly as it is in this bad boy! Ouch!
  • July 4, 2011
    Paul Sheldon used to write for a living. Now, he's writing to stay alive.

    Great movie! The story was very good and disturbing. From now on every time I see Kathy Bates on a film I'll remember her from this movie. She acted so well and psychotic that she won the Oscar for Best Ac... read moretress in 1991. I was very impress how she took it to another level completely. Kathy Bates can go from nice and cheerful to downright crazy like someone turning on a light switch. While watching James Caan suffer through the torture that Bates puts him through, you can't help but sympathize with the guy. Rob Reiner presents us with the problem, and he slowly escalates the tension and the dread that creeps over the movie. Great movie from Rob Reiner.

    In this darkly humorous thriller, James Caan portrays Romantic novelist Paul Sheldon, famously renowned for his trademark character, the film's namesake 'Misery' Chastaine. shortly after finishing his latest book, he drives of back to New York from the Silver Creek lodge. After a while, his car swerves off the icy road in a blizzard. In the car, he has a flashback in which he is talking to his agent (portrayed by Lauren Bacall) about his last Misery book. He is rescued by nurse Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) who takes him back to her house for two days and reveales that she is his number one fan, hence the infamous quote "I'm your number one fan". When Annie asks if she can read his new book (in manuscript form) she proves to be more than a little eccentric when she lashes out in a fit of rage over the swearing in his book. When she leaves the room he seems fraked out and looks like he wants to leave quickly. The next day, Annie brings home a copy of the final Misery book and over the days reveals how many pages she has read. During which, she introuces him to her pet sow, Misery.

    The following night, she nearly kills him over the fact that he has killed Misery in his final book, tells him that she never called the local hospital (which she said she had) and threatens to kill him if anything happens to her. He immediately tries to escape but fails. The next day, Annie seems happy and tries to persuade him to burn the manuscript to which he seems reluctant. Later, she reveals she wants him to write a new book in which Misery comes back to life. When he sees a hairpin on the floor, he has an idea to buy time, he asks Annie to buy some different paper because his current paper smudges, to which she responds with another fit of rage. Whilst she is out shopping, Paul uses the hairpin to unlock his bedroom door and escape. However, he soon finds out that the front door is locked as well. He makes a visit to her living room and medicine closet. In the living room he accidentally knocks a small ceramic penguin off the table and puts it back the wrong way (this will become important later). He also realises that Annie's phone is a fake one, cancelling his chances of contacting the outside world. In the medicine closet, he takes some of the pills the Annie had been giving him for his fracture. He also tries to escape through her back door in the kitchen but cannot open it (I forgot to mention that he was bedridden for a few days and currently in a wheelchair). Soon, he hears Annie returning and immediately races back to his room. Fortunately, he gets back to his room in time just when she opens the door. She gets him back into bed and gives him a notepad and his pills (which he pretends to swallow).

    The following night, he saves up a lot of powder from the pills. In the morning, an argument starts between Paul and Annie about the book, which escalates into a humorous fit of rage about her growing up in Bakersfield watching chapter plays. Meanwhile, the local authorities find Sheldon's '65 Mustang buried in the snow. When Annie reads some of Paul's new manuscript she responds happily. Paul requsts that Annie have dinner with him to celebrate Misery's return. At the dinner, Paul makes a toast to Misery's return but asks if she has any candles. Whilst Annie is looking for them, Paul puts the powder in her wine. When she returns she almost makes the toast but drops her drink in the process, ruining Paul's plan.

    The next scene shows a line of clips of Paul writing the book. In the last clip, Annie gives him his pills and talks about committing suicide. When she leaves the house, he goes out of his room again and reads her scrapbook. It includes many newspaper clippings, revealing that she killed her father, her college roommate and many patients in hospitals. He grabs a knife from the kitchen and wheels himself to his room. Later, he awakens to the sight of Annie as she forcibly sedates him. In the morning, she ties him to the bed and reveals that she knows that he has been out of his room (the scrapbook, the ceramic penguin, the hairpin). Then, she 'hobbles' him (puts a block of wood betwen his feet and hits them with a sledgehammer)

    In the next scene, 'Buster' the local sheriff sees an emotional outburst in the town and researches her history. Later, he pays a visit to her house to look around. When he leaves, he hears a noise and goes back inside to find Paul in the basement and is shot by Annie. When she says she wants to kill him then herself, he requests finishing the book first. later, he is writing the book and requests 3 things: a cigarette, matches, and Dom Perignon champagne. When Annie returns, he also requests two glasses. whilst she is out of the room, he pours flammable liquid onto the manuscript and burns it, which escalates into a brawl resulting in Annie's death.

    18 months later, Paul is seen in a restaurant with his agent, refusing to write a book about his experiences. He mistakes a waitress for Annie in a haunting vision as she repeats Annie's line: "I'm your number one fan".
  • April 30, 2011
    I think the book was better, but Kathy Bates does a sharp job looking all menacing and everything.

Critic Reviews

Desmond Ryan
August 12, 2013
Desmond Ryan, Philadelphia Inquirer

Bates turns Wilkes into the nastiest nurse to reach the screen since Louise Fletcher tormented Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Full Review

Dave Kehr
August 12, 2013
Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune

Like any good work of popular culture, Rob Reiner's film of Stephen King's best-selling book Misery functions on more than one level. Full Review

Richard Schickel
October 14, 2008
Richard Schickel, TIME Magazine

Popular moviemaking -- elegantly economical, artlessly artful -- doesn't get much better than this. Full Review

Variety Staff
September 25, 2007
Variety Staff, Variety

Bates has a field day with her role, creating a quirky, memorable object of hate. Full Review

Jonathan Rosenbaum
September 25, 2007
Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

A skillfully pared-down (if psychologically thin) horror thriller. Full Review

June 24, 2006
Time Out

Reiner captures just the right level of physical tension, but for the most part wisely emphasises the mental duels. Terrific. Full Review

Vincent Canby
May 20, 2003
Vincent Canby, New York Times

Misery is a blunt instrument that fractures the kneecaps more often than it tickles the funnybone. Full Review

Rita Kempley
January 1, 2000
Rita Kempley, Washington Post

A weak handshake of a movie, it is slightly repellent -- hardly gripping, much less knuckle-whitening. Full Review

Roger Ebert
January 1, 2000
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

It is a good story, a natural, and it grabs us. Full Review

Owen Gleiberman
November 30, 1990
Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Kathy Bates has a gift for playing cheerily hostile, paranoid misfits. Full Review

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    • Waitress: Excuse me I didn't mean to interrupt but are you Paul Sheldon?
    • Paul Sheldon: Yes I am.
    • Waitress: I just want to let you know, I'm your number one fan.
    • Paul Sheldon: That's very sweet of you.
    • Annie Wilkes: I thought you were good, Paul. But you're not good. You're just an old dirty birdy.
    • Paul Sheldon: Eat it till ya choke, you sick, twisted fuck!
    • Annie Wilkes: He didn't get out of the COCKADOODIE CAR!
    • Annie Wilkes: He didn't get out of the COCKADOODIE CAR!
    • Annie Wilkes: I call it 'operation hobble'.

Misery : Watch Free on TV

Misery Trivia

  • What was the name of the author Kathy Bates held captive in the movie Misery?  Answer »
  • What did James Caan knock of the table,which led to Kathy Bates realising he had been out of his room,in the film Misery  Answer »
  • In which film does james caan star as an author held against his will by actor kathy bates?   Answer »
  • which one of stephen kings novels was the first to win an academy award  Answer »

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