Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Fatal Attraction (1987)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Fatal Attraction (1987)

Adrian Lyne's cautionary horror-thriller about sexual carelessness was perfect for the AIDS-epidemic era. Its explicit sexuality, besieged white male protagonist after infidelity, and popcorn-slasher/horror elements were perfect for the era. [Note: Savvy director Lyne had already had a string of big commercial hits during this decade, including Flashdance (1983), and the sexy 9 1/2 Weeks (1986).]

Acclaimed by critics and the public alike, it received six Academy Awards nominations (including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Director). but came away winless. Nonetheless, it was a massive hit - on a budget of $14 million, it took in $156.6 million (domestic) and $320.1 million (worldwide). Only one film grossed higher domestically - Three Men and a Baby (1987).

However, it was also criticized as being misogynistic for treating the philandering husband as a victim and excusing his callous behavior, while demonizing his tempting, discarded mistress. One tabloid at the time disparaged the adulteress and downplayed the legitimate reason for her resentful anger, calling her "THE MOST HATED WOMAN IN AMERICA." The film's title became a well-known buzz-word: "fatal attraction" - meaning a lethally dangerous romantic relationship.

  • there were a number of wild, libidinous and passionate sex scenes (in her kitchen, her apartment's elevator and in her bedroom) over two days between mistress Alexandra "Alex" Forrest (Glenn Close), a career woman and frizzy-haired literary book editor who turned into a predatory, terrorizing, stalking, obsessed, unbalanced psychopath and femme fatale when scorned or jilted, and happily-married (for 9 years) yet philandering Manhattan lawyer/husband Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) with a family

(l to r): Dan (Michael Douglas) and Beth Gallagher (Anne Archer)

First Encounter: Dan and Alex Forrest (Glenn Close)

Dan's Very Attractive Wife Beth

Book Editor Alex Forrest (Glenn Close)

Obvious Flirtations with Dan

Dinner Between Alex and Dan Gallagher
  • while Dan's wife Beth (Anne Archer) and their six year-old daughter Ellen (Ellen Hamilton Latzen) were away for the weekend in the country with her parents, Dan and Alex had a Saturday night dinner in a fancy restaurant after work; there, Alex told Dan: "We were attracted to each other at the party. That was obvious. You're on your own for the night. That's also obvious. We're two adults." They retreated to her place, where she sat on the countertop of her kitchen. They both hurriedly stripped off their underwear to their ankles before he penetrated her. She used the tap water from the sink behind herself to cool down and dampen her blouse and exposed nipple while he ravaged her. Still joined to her, he carried her into the bedroom where they had passionate and sweaty sex together. Following sex, she asked: "Are you feeling energetic?" - and they went dancing
  • afterwards, when they were returning to her place, she asked: "Have you ever done it in an elevator?" On the way up to her apartment in a semi-public elevator, he pulled her dress half-way off to expose her breasts and suck on them. She stopped the carriage mid-5th floor to administer fellatio to him
  • the next day on Sunday when they met together again, they first went to the park, and then returned to her apartment for home-cooked dinner; he insisted: "I think you're terrific, but I'm married"; they again had sex in her bedroom when there were the first hints of her possessiveness when he was leaving after love-making and she objected: "I don't think I like this...The way you run away after every time we make love...; she became sarcastic: "'Be reasonable. What? Thank you. Good-bye. Don't call me. I'll call you'"; she made further condemnations: "You thought you'd have a good time. You didn't stop for a second to think about me....What rules?...Please don't justify yourself. It's pathetic. If you told me to f--k off, I'd have more respect for you"
  • when he was leaving, she asked for a 'friendly' kiss - then broke down and smothered him with kisses before showing her slit and bloody wrists that she had just attempted suicide; he rinsed her wrists in the sink, then wrapped them, and was forced to spend another night to tend to her
  • Alex became nightmarishly vindictive, pathological, obsessed, and scorned through repeated discussions and other actions. She sought vengeance against Dan and his family for being slighted and ignored, by many increasingly-desperate tactics and strategies
  • soon after, she visited Dan at his office to apologize for her behavior, and with an invite to performance of Madame Butterfly; there were also repeated phone calls to his office, ultimately also refused by Dan's secretary after he told Alex: "I don't think it's a good idea if we talk to each other anymore"; she also called his home in the middle of the night, demanding: "If you refuse to take my phone calls at the office, you leave me no choice....I've gotta see you"; the next day when he met with her, he insisted: "Do you get it? It's over. There's nothing between us," but she wouldn't listen
  • she claimed she was pregnant and didn't want an abortion that he was willing to pay for: ("What makes you think I want an abortion?...I want this child. It has nothing to do with you. I want it whether you're gonna be a part of it or not...I was hoping that you would want to be a part of it...I'm 36 years old. It may be my last chance to have a child...It's a big thing, but it doesn't have to be a problem. Really, it doesn't. You play fair with me, I'll play fair with you"); ; ultimately, Dan changed their telephone number to an unlisted one
  • she insinuated herself into Dan's life with an awkward visit to his wife Beth in their NYC apartment (to express an interest as a buyer) since the family was moving to a new suburban home in Bedford; it was a way to tell Dan's wife that she was pregnant and to retrieve Dan's new phone number
  • angered by her insinuations into his life, Dan visited her where she asserted that she would continue to harass him with terrorizing threats and demands, although she also asked Dan to hurt her: "It's gonna go on and on until you face up to your responsibilities....I'm pregnant. I'm going to have our child....I'm not gonna be ignored, Dan...What are you so afraid of?...Go ahead, hit me. If you can't f--k me, why don't you just hit me?...Don't you ever pity me, you smug bastard...I won't allow you to treat me like some slut you can just bang a couple of times and throw in the garbage. I'm gonna be the mother of your child. I want a little respect"; she pressured him to agree to take responsibility for the baby
  • and then when she threatened to tell his wife, he burst into anger: "You tell my wife, I'll kill you"

"I'm pregnant"

"I want this child"

Afternoon Tea Meeting with Beth

"I'm pregnant. I'm going to have our child"

"I'm not gonna be ignored, Dan"

"You tell my wife, I'll kill you!"
  • she stalked him at work, and poured acid on the hood of Dan's car in his parking garage
  • as he drove to the country in a rented car (with her following in her car not far behind), he played an audio-taped message that she had sent to him that was filled with verbal abuse, and labeled "Play me":

    "Hello, Dan. Are you surprised? This is what you've reduced me to. I guess you thought you'd get away with it. Well, you can't. 'Cause part of you is growing inside of me, and that's a fact, Dan, and - you'd better start learning how to deal with it. 'Cause you know, I-I feel you. I taste you. I think you. I touch you. Can you understand? Can you? I'm just asking you to acknowledge your responsibilities. Is that so bad? I don't think so. I-I don't think it's unreasonable. And, you know, another thing is that you thought that you could just walk into my life, and turn it upside down, without a thought for anyone but yourself. You know what you are, Dan? You're a cock-sucking son of a bitch. I hate you. I bet you don't even like girls, do you? Ha! You disappoint me, you f--kin' faggot!" (Dan played more of the tape later that evening, with additional threats: "I bet you don't even like girls, do you? They probably scare you. I know I do. So you're scared of me, aren't you? You're f--kin' frightened of me. You're afraid. You're afraid, aren't you? You gutless, heartless, spineless f--king son of a bitch. I hate you. You deserve everything you get"); her drastic, psychotic transformation undercut her strong, businesswoman character as a liberated, single career woman with a free spirit
  • she parked outside their new suburban home that night and spied on the family through a window as young Ellen received a gift of a white rabbit in a cage from her father; the family's pet bunny (named Whitey) was kept in a hutch in the yard
  • in a horrifying sequence, Beth discovered the family's bunny boiling in a pot on the kitchen stove at their country Bedford home after they returned - it was the result of Alex's predatory revenge on the Gallaghers, by making 'hare stew' (filmed with suspenseful cut-aways of the child running to the empty rabbit hutch and screaming out: "Whitey's gone!")
  • as a result, Dan confessed his affair (and Alex's alleged pregnancy) to Beth; she immediately demanded that Dan leave ("Get out! I want you out of here!...How could you do this? I hate you!"), and also called Alex (who was also alerted by Dan) to warn that she would kill her if the terrorizing behavior persisted ("If you ever come near my family again, I'll kill you. You understand?")
  • Alex temporarily kidnapped Dan's six year-old daughter from her school and took her to the Playland Amusement Park (Rye, NY) for a few hours; during her frantic search for her daughter, Beth suffered an injury in a rear-ender car accident and was briefly hospitalized
  • Dan retaliated by attacking Alex in her apartment, and almost strangled her to death; she counter-assaulted with a kitchen-knife that he wrestled from her, but then he decided to not use the knife on her - she gave him an enigmatic smile as he left
  • in the final climactic confrontational scene in the Gallagher's bathroom, Beth was preparing a hot bath for herself. As she wiped the mirror of condensation, the crazed Alex appeared behind her wielding the large kitchen knife - and very upset that Beth was standing in the way of her 'happiness' with Dan - in the film's final lines of dialogue ("You're trying to move him into the country, and you're keeping him away from me. And you're playing happy family. Aren't you? You wouldn't understand that because you're so selfish...You're a stupid, selfish bitch!"). Downstairs, Dan was alerted to trouble when the bathtub began to overflow and he heard Beth's screams.
"Return From the Dead" Shock Ending
  • Dan came upon Beth being vengefully assaulted and a massive brawl broke out. Although he was slashed a few times, he grabbed Alex around the neck and submerged her in the hot water in the bathtub to again strangle and drown her. Alex's eyes turned white and she stopped struggling and went limp, but then suddenly and explosively although half-drowned, she jolted back to life.
  • With a deep breath, she rose up resurrected from the bathtub to strike again, but her rampage was finally subdued for good when shot in the chest by Beth at the doorway. The killing was depicted as justified punishment for her seductive transgressions.

The 'return from the dead' scene paid homage to a similar bathtub scene in the French film Les Diaboliques (1955, Fr.).

[Note: In the original ending, Alex killed herself, leaving Dan to be framed for her murder. The victimized husband was led away after being arrested by police on suspicion of murder. The scorned pregnant Alex had committed suicide with a knife (with Dan's fingerprints on it) while dressed in white, to the tune of "Madame Butterfly". When preview audiences demanded a more satisfying and catharctic ending, a new ending (the current theatrical ending) was reshot. Its crowd-pleasing new ending was determined by focus groups and preview audiences and substituted for the original version found in the script and filmed earlier - demonstrating how test audiences can have a profound effect on the movies.]

Kitchen and Bedroom Sex in Alex's Apartment

Elevator Sex with Alex

Alex: "I don't think I like this"

After Bedroom Sex - Signs of Alex's Possessiveness

Alex's Slit Wrists

Visiting At Dan's Office

Young Ellen at Hutch with Her New Rabbit in the Country

Boiling Pot on Stove

Empty Rabbit Hutch

Whitey: "Hare Stew"

Dan's Near-Strangulation of Alex in Her Apartment

Alex's Knife Attack on Dan in Her Apartment

Enigmatic Smile

Alex Threatening Beth with a Knife in Her Bathroom

Beth's Fatal Gunshot at Doorway


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z