Moonstruck is a 1987 American romantic comedy film directed by Norman Jewison and written by John Patrick Shanley. It is about a widowed, 37-year-old, Italian-American woman who falls in love with her fiancé's estranged, hot-tempered younger brother.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byNorman Jewison
Produced by
  • Norman Jewison
  • Patrick Palmer
Written byJohn Patrick Shanley
Music byDick Hyman
CinematographyDavid Watkin
Edited byLou Lombardo
Distributed byMGM/UA Communications Co.
Release date
  • December 16, 1987 (1987-12-16) (New York City)
  • December 18, 1987 (1987-12-18) (United States)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[1]
Box office$80.6 million[2]

The film was released on December 16, 1987 in New York City, and then nationally on January 15, 1988. It was nominated for six Oscars at the 60th Academy Awards, winning for Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress (Cher), and Best Supporting Actress (Olympia Dukakis).[3]


Thirty-seven-year-old Loretta Castorini, an Italian-American widow, lives in Brooklyn Heights, New York, with her family: father Cosmo; mother Rose; and paternal grandfather. Her boyfriend, Johnny Cammareri, proposes to her before leaving for Sicily to be with his dying mother; Loretta is insistent that they carefully follow tradition as she believes her first marriage was cursed by her failure to do so, resulting in her husband's death after two years. Johnny asks Loretta to invite his estranged younger brother Ronny to the wedding. Loretta returns home and informs her parents of the engagement. Cosmo dislikes Johnny and is reluctant to pay for the "real" wedding that Loretta insists on, while Rose is pleased that Loretta likes Johnny but does not love him; she believes that one can easily be hurt by a partner whom one loves.

When Loretta goes to see Ronny at his bakery, he reveals that he has a wooden prosthetic hand and blames Johnny for his loss in a moment of inattention, after which his fiancée left him. Loretta insists that they discuss things in his apartment, where she cooks a meal and then tells him that she believes he is a "wolf" who cut off his own hand to escape the trap of a bad relationship. Ronny reacts furiously and passionately, kissing Loretta and then carrying her to his bed where they make love.

That evening, Rose's brother Raymond and his wife Rita join Rose and Cosmo for dinner and they wonder where Loretta is. Raymond recalls a particularly bright moon like the one shining now that he thought long-ago was brought to the house when Cosmo was courting Rose. The next morning, Loretta tells Ronny they can never see each other again but agrees to go with him to the opera (his other great love) that night. She then goes to church and confesses her infidelity and afterwards calls at Raymond and Rita's store to close out the cash register. On leaving, she impulsively goes to the hair salon and buys a glamorous evening gown and shoes.

Loretta is deeply moved by her first opera, Puccini's La bohème. But as they leave, she sees Cosmo together with his girlfriend Mona and confronts her father. Since Loretta is with Ronny, he suggests that they agree that they did not see each other at all. Loretta had meant to return home, but Ronny desperately persuades her into another tryst. That same night, Rose decides to dine alone at a restaurant and sees a college professor, Perry, being dramatically dumped by a female student. Rose invites him to dine with her instead, allowing him to walk her home but refusing to invite him in "because I’m married". Later, Johnny unexpectedly returns from Sicily after his mother's "miraculous" recovery and calls at the house; since Loretta is not there, Rose asks him instead why men chase women and agrees that it is because they fear death.

Returning home next morning, Loretta is distressed to learn from Rose that Johnny will be there soon. But it is Ronny that arrives, and Rose invites him for breakfast over Loretta's objections. Cosmo and his father emerge from upstairs, and the older man insists that Cosmo agree to pay for Loretta's wedding. Rose then confronts Cosmo and demands that he end his affair; he is upset but gives in and, at Rose’s insistence, also agrees to go to confession. Both then affirm their love for each other. Now Raymond and Rita arrive, concerned that Loretta had not deposited the previous day's takings at the bank, and are relieved to learn that she merely forgot and still has the money. When Johnny finally arrives, he breaks off the engagement, superstitiously believing that their marriage would cause his mother's death. Loretta berates Johnny for breaking his promise and throws the engagement ring at him. Seizing the moment, Ronny borrows the ring and asks Loretta to marry him, to which she agrees. The family toasts the couple with champagne and Johnny joins in at the grandfather's urging, since he will now be part of the family after all.


Critical and commercial reception

Moonstruck was a major critical and commercial success. Receiving largely positive reviews from critics, it went on to gross $80 million at the North American box office, making it the fifth highest-grossing film of its year in North America.[2] The film holds an approval rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the site's consensus reading, "Led by energetic performances from Nicolas Cage and Cher, Moonstruck is an exuberantly funny tribute to love and one of the decade's most appealing comedies." On Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, the film has a score of 83 out of 100, based on 17 critics.[4]

Time wrote, "John Patrick Shanley's witty, shapely script puts an octet of New Yorkers under a lunar-tuney spell one romantic night. Cher shines brightest of all." Roger Ebert, who later added the film among his "Great Movies" list, said: "Reviews of the movie tend to make it sound like a madcap ethnic comedy, and that it is. But there is something more here, a certain bittersweet yearning that comes across as ineffably romantic, and a certain magical quality".[5]

According to Gene Siskel, writing for the Chicago Tribune: "Moonstruck, which is being sold as a romance but actually is one of the funniest pictures to come out in quite some time. [...] You will not easily forget this incredibly robust family, created by writer John Patrick Shanley and directed by Norman Jewison, who makes a comeback with this uproarious film."[6]

It appeared on both critics' Top 10 lists for 1987.[7]

On its wide release, the film opened at #3 and spent 20 nonconsecutive weeks in the top 10 and finally grossed $80,640,528[2] on a budget of $15 million. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[8]

Awards and honors

Award Category Name Outcome
Academy Awards Best Actress Cher Won
Best Supporting Actress Olympia Dukakis Won
Best Original Screenplay John Patrick Shanley Won
Best Picture Norman Jewison, Patrick Palmer Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Vincent Gardenia Nominated
Best Director Norman Jewison Nominated
Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear for Best Director Norman Jewison Won[9]
British Academy Film Awards Best Actress Cher Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Olympia Dukakis Nominated
Best Film Music Dick Hyman Nominated
Best Original Screenplay John Patrick Shanley Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Cher Won
Best Supporting Actress Olympia Dukakis Won
Best Picture - Musical or Comedy Nominated
Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Nicolas Cage Nominated
Best Screenplay John Patrick Shanley Nominated
Writers Guild of America Best Original Screenplay John Patrick Shanley Won

In June 2008, AFI revealed its "Ten top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Moonstruck was acknowledged as the eighth best film in the romantic comedy genre.[10][11] The film is also number 72 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies," and number 41 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs.

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Influential film critic Roger Ebert entered the film to his "Great Movies" collection in June 2003.[19]


That's AmoreDean MartinHarry Warren, Jack Brooks
Canzone Per Loretta/Addio, Mulberry StreetJack Zaza (mandolin)Dick Hyman
Mr. MoonDick Hyman
It Must Be HimVikki CarrGilbert Bécaud, Mack David, Maurice Vidalin
Old Man MazurkaDominic Cortese (accordion)Dick Hyman
Lament for Johnny's MamaDick Hyman
Che gelida maninaEd Bickert (guitar)Giacomo Puccini
Donde lieta uscìRenata TebaldiGiacomo Puccini
Canzone Per LorettaDick Hyman
O soave fanciullaCarlo Bergonzi, Renata TebaldiGiacomo Puccini
Musetta's WaltzMoe Koffman (alto saxophone)Giacomo Puccini
Musetta's EntranceNora Shulman (flute)Giacomo Puccini
La bohème (instrumental excerpts)Giacomo Puccini
(In Loretta's Bedroom) Gettin' ReadyMoe Koffman (alto saxophone)Dick Hyman
Brooklyn Heights StrollDick Hyman
Beautiful SignorinaDick Hyman
MoonglowEddie DeLange, Will Hudson, Irving Mills
Canzone Per LorettaDominic Cortese (accordion)Dick Hyman
Gioventù mia, tu non sei morta (La bohème, act 2)Carlo Bergonzi, Cesare Siepi, Ettore Bastianini, Fernando Corena, Gianna D'Angelo, Renata Tebaldi, Renato CesariGiacomo Puccini

Soundtrack references: [20][21]


  1. Box Office Information for Moonstruck. TheWrap. Retrieved April 4, 2013
  2. "Moonstruck". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  3. Moonstruck Archived 2013-10-29 at the Wayback Machine Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Retrieved 2010-2-26
  4. "Moonstruck Reviews". Metacritic (CBS Interactive). Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  5. Ebert, Roger (January 15, 1988). "Review of Moonstruck". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 1999-03-02.
  6. Gene Siskel (1988-01-15). "Flick Of Week: Comedy Is King In 'Moonstruck'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2013-12-02.
  7. "Ebert & Roeper and the movies - Best & Worst". 5 June 2001. Archived from the original on 5 June 2001. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  8. "CinemaScore".
  9. "Berlinale: 1988 Prize Winners". Retrieved 2011-03-06.
  10. American Film Institute (2008-06-17). "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres". Retrieved 2008-06-18.
  11. American Film Institute (2008-06-17). "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres". Retrieved 2008-06-18.
  12. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  13. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  14. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  15. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  16. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  17. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees (10th Anniversary Edition)" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  18. "AFI's 10 Top 10: Top 10 Romantic Comedy". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  19. Ebert, Roger (June 22, 2003). "Moonstruck". Chicago Sun-Times.
  20. "Moonstruck (1987)". Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  21. "Moonstruck - Original Soundtrack - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
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