Ruthless People (1986)
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Let’s go back to 1986, Danny DeVito, Bette Midler, Judge Reinhold, Helen Slater a very young Bill Pullman and others in this hilarious dark comedy.
Danny DeVito was at the top of his game throughout the 80’s and this movie is no exception.
Millionaire Sam Stone (Danny DeVito) hates his wife Barbara (Bette Midler). He plans on murdering her to gain control of her $15 million family fortune and run off with his mistress Carol (Anita Morris). He goes home to murder his wife, but he can’t find her. The phone rings and an anonymous man tells him that Barbara has been kidnapped and if Sam informs the media or the police, or if any of their detailed demands are not met, they will kill his wife.
Overjoyed, Sam informs the media and the police and deliberately disobeys all of the kidnapper’s demands, believing this will ensure his wife’s death. The kidnappers are Ken (Judge Reinhold) and Sandy Kessler (Helen Slater), who want revenge on Sam for stealing Sandy’s fashion designs, along with the Kesslers’ life savings. Barbara is imprisoned in the Kesslers’ basement, where she proves difficult to the amateur kidnappers. Sam doesn’t show up with the ransom on several occasions, even when the price is dropped, and it becomes obvious that Sam really wants his wife dead.
Carol, having learned of Sam’s plan to kill Barbara, secretly intends to blackmail Sam, with the help of her handsome but dim-witted boyfriend Earl (Bill Pullman). Knowing Sam plans to dump his wife’s body in the Hollywood Hills at night, Carol has Earl lie in wait with a video camera. He mistakenly films a rendezvous between a prostitute and her client performing noisy sex in the front seat of a car. Earl, hearing the woman’s screams, thinks the murder is happening right in front of him.
A bonus for fans of Luther Vandross… “Give Me The Reason” was one of his first crossover hits that made it to ‘white radio’.
The movie was budgeted at about 9 million dollars and brought in over 71 million dollars at the box office.
Source: Sal Amato