Color of Night

Last updated

Color of Night
Color of night.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Rush
Produced by Buzz Feitshans
David Matalon
Andrew G. Vajna
Screenplay by Billy Ray
Matthew Chapman
Story byBilly Ray
Music by Dominic Frontiere
Cinematography Dietrich Lohmann
Edited byJack Hofstra
Thom Noble (uncredited)
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures (North America/South America)
Cinergi Productions (International)
Release date
  • August 19, 1994 (1994-08-19)
Running time
121 minutes
139 minutes (Director's cut)
CountryUnited States
Budget$40 million [1]
Box office$19.7 million [2]

Color of Night is a 1994 American erotic mystery thriller film produced by Cinergi Pictures and released in the United States by Buena Vista Pictures (though its Hollywood Pictures label). Directed by Richard Rush, the film stars Bruce Willis and Jane March.


The cast also features Ruben Blades, Lesley Ann Warren, Brad Dourif, Lance Henriksen, Kevin J. O'Connor and Scott Bakula. It is one of two well-known works by director Rush, the other being The Stunt Man 14 years before.

Color of Night flopped at the box office and won a Golden Raspberry Award as the worst film of 1994. Nonetheless, it became one of the 20 most-rented films in the United States home video market in 1995. [3] Maxim magazine also singled the film out as having the best sex scene in film history. [4]

In 2018, Kino Lorber (under license from Disney) released a special edition Blu-ray of the film; it contains an audio commentary by director Richard Rush. [5]

It is also the first Disney film release to carry the NC-17 rating by the Motion Picture Association of America.


Dr. Bill Capa, a New York psychiatrist, falls into a deep depression after an unstable patient dies by suicide in front of him by jumping from his office window. The sight of the bloody body clad in a bright green dress causes Bill to suffer from psychosomatic color blindness, taking away his ability to see the color red. Bill travels to Los Angeles to stay with a friend, fellow therapist Dr. Bob Moore, who invites him to sit in on a group therapy session. However, Bob is violently murdered in the office and Bill is plunged into the mystery of his friend's death.

Lt. Hector Martinez considers everyone in Moore's therapy group, including Bill, as suspects in the murder. Bill continues to live in Bob's house and begins an affair with Rose, a beautiful but mysterious young woman who comes and goes. Bill takes the therapy group, which includes: Clark, a temperamental OCD sufferer; Sondra, a nymphomaniac and kleptomaniac; Buck, a suicidal ex-cop; Casey, who paints sado-masochist images; and Richie, a 16-year old with social anxiety and a history of drug use.

After Casey is found violently murdered, Bill becomes the target of several attempts on his life. He discovers that all but one of his patients have been romantically involved with Rose. He eventually learns that "Richie" is really Rose, and the murders were the work of her deranged brother, Dale. They once had an actual brother named Richie, who was molested by his child psychiatrist along with Dale.

After Richie committed suicide, Dale abused Rose into playing the part of their brother. Rose began to re-emerge during therapy and, under another personality named "Bonnie", started relationships with the other patients. Dale proceeded to kill them, fearing that they would soon link Rose to Richie.

Bill confronts them and is overpowered by Dale, who is about to kill him with a nail gun but is instead killed by Rose. Deeply traumatized, she then tries to commit suicide. Bill is able to stop her, bookending the story with two suicide attempts, one at the beginning, resulting in Bill's loss of color vision, and one at the end, thwarted and resulting in his regaining it.



Richard Rush turned his cut of the film over to producer Andrew Vajna in late 1993. Vajna was concerned about the film's commercial prospects and demanded a recut, something Rush refused. Nonetheless, Vajna mandated he had final cut per contractual obligation, and insisted on testing his own version of the film. After both versions were given a number of test screenings, Vajna determined that his cut would be released and fired Rush in April 1994.

This ultimately escalated into a battle between Rush and Vajna that received coverage in the Los Angeles trades. Rush commented that his version tested higher than Vajna's cut; his statements were defended in Variety and by film critic Bill Arnold, who attended a test screening of Rush's version in Seattle, Washington. The Los Angeles Times , meanwhile, defended Vajna, stating that Rush stubbornly refused any input from the studio. The Directors Guild of America attempted to intervene on the matter.

The battle ultimately ended when Rush suffered a near-fatal heart attack and became hospitalized. Months later, after Rush recovered, he compromised with Vajna that the producer's cut would be released theatrically and that the director's cut would see a video release. [6] [7] [8]

Eventually, four versions were released: [9]

(Among them, international theatrical release version also contains numerous scenes that are not included in the Unrated Director's Cut.) [9]


Critical response

Rotten Tomatoes retrospectively reported that 22% of 50 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 4.45/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Bruce willie shot aside, the only other things popping out in Color of Night are some ridiculous plot contortions and majorly camp moments." [10] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 36 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". [11] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C" on an A+ to F scale. [12]

Referring to the film as "memorably bizarre," Janet Maslin in her August 19, 1994 The New York Times review wrote: "The enthusiastically nutty Color of Night has the single-mindedness of a bad dream and about as much reliance on everyday logic." She also cited the revelation of the murderer, "whose disguise won't fool anyone, anywhere." [13] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "I was, frankly, stupefied. To call it absurd would be missing the point, since any shred of credibility was obviously the first thing thrown overboard. It's so lurid in its melodrama and so goofy in its plotting that with just a bit more trouble, it could have been a comedy." [14] Luke Y. Thompson of The New Times praised March's performance and wrote: "Minority opinion here, I know, but I found the sex scenes hot and March's performance truly impressive." [15] Brian McKay of stated the film was a "Mediocre L.A. noir thriller made more tolerable by Jane March disrobing frequently." [15] Ken Hanke of the Mountain Xpress (Asheville, North Carolina) wrote the film was "Underrated, but far from great." [15]

The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made. [16]

Box office

The film opened at #4, grossing $6,610,488 its opening weekend playing at a total of 1,740 theaters. [17] The film ended up a box office failure, grossing only $19,750,470—far below its $40 million production budget. The film was also a noteworthy failure internationally, grossing only $1,454,085 in the UK, $565,104 in Sweden, $112,690 in Austria, $4,725,167 in Germany, and $364,939 in Argentina. [18]

Year-end lists


Color of Night won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture, and was also nominated in eight other categories including Worst Actor (Bruce Willis also for North ), Worst Actress (Jane March), Worst Director (Richard Rush), Worst Screenplay, Worst Original Song ("The Color of the Night"), Worst Screen Couple ("Any combination of two people from the entire cast"), Worst Supporting Actor (Jane March as Richie) and Worst Supporting Actress (Lesley Ann Warren). At the 1994 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, Bruce Willis won the award for Worst Actor (also for North) while Jane March received a mere nomination for Worst Actress.

On more positive notes, Color of Night received a Golden Globe nomination in the category Best Original Song Motion Picture for its theme song "The Color of the Night", performed by Lauren Christy. [21]

Maxim magazine also awarded Color of Night for having the Best Sex Scene in film history; [4] Rush was especially proud of the award, and he kept the award in his bathroom. [22]


The soundtrack to Color of Night as composed by Dominic Frontiere, with songs from Lauren Christy, Jud Friedman, Brian McKnight, and Lowen & Navarro was released on August 9, 1994 by Mercury Records. [23]

Color of Night - From the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
1."Love Theme"Dominic Frontiere4:44
2."Color Blind"Dominic Frontiere2:10
3."Sessions"Dominic Frontiere5:22
4."Rain"Lauren Christy5:27
5."The Color Of The Night"Jud Friedman, Lauren Christy, Dominic Frontiere (cantonese: Karen Tong)3:55
6."The Color Of The Night [Instrumental version]"Brian McKnight2:59
7."Rose's Theme"Dominic Frontiere3:33
8."Etude For Murder"Dominic Frontiere3:33
9."The Photograph"Dominic Frontiere2:23
10."Just To See You"Lowen & Navarro3:55
Total length:34:11

Related Research Articles

<i>Natural Born Killers</i> 1994 film by Oliver Stone

Natural Born Killers is a 1994 American crime film directed by Oliver Stone and starring Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Sizemore, and Tommy Lee Jones. The film tells the story of two victims of traumatic childhoods who became lovers and mass murderers, and are irresponsibly glorified by the mass media.

<i>Charlies Angels: Full Throttle</i> 2003 American film directed by McG

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle is a 2003 American action comedy film directed by McG and written by John August, and Cormac and Marianne Wibberley. It is the sequel to 2000's Charlie's Angels and the second installment in the Charlie's Angels film series, which is a continuation of the story that began with the television series of the same name by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts.

<i>Bad Santa</i> 2003 film directed by Terry Zwigoff

Bad Santa is a 2003 American Christmas crime comedy film directed by Terry Zwigoff. The film stars Billy Bob Thornton, with a supporting cast of Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, Brett Kelly, Lauren Tom, John Ritter and Bernie Mac. This was John Ritter's last live-action film appearance before his death on September 11, 2003; the film was dedicated to his memory. The Coen brothers are credited as executive producers. The film was released in the United States on November 26, 2003, and was screened out of competition at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. It received positive reviews and was a commercial success.

<i>The Lawnmower Man</i> (film) 1992 film by Brett Leonard

The Lawnmower Man is a 1992 science-fiction thriller-horror film directed by Brett Leonard, written by Leonard and Gimel Everett, and starring Jeff Fahey as Jobe Smith, an intellectually disabled gardener, and Pierce Brosnan as Dr. Lawrence "Larry" Angelo, a scientist who decides to experiment on him in an effort to give him greater intelligence. The experiments give Jobe superhuman abilities, but enhance his aggression, turning him into a man obsessed with evolving into a digital being.

Jane March Horwood is an English film actress and former model.

<i>Elektra</i> (2005 film) 2005 Canadian-American superhero film directed by Rob Bowman

Elektra is a 2005 superhero film directed by Rob Bowman. It is a spin-off from the 2003 film Daredevil, starring the Marvel Comics character Elektra Natchios. The story follows Elektra, an assassin who must protect a man and his prodigy daughter from another assassin who was hired by The Hand.

<i>Alexander</i> (2004 film) 2004 film

Alexander is a 2004 epic historical drama film based on the life of the Ancient Macedonian general and king Alexander the Great. It was directed by Oliver Stone and starred Colin Farrell. The film's original screenplay derived in part from the book Alexander the Great, published in 1973 by the University of Oxford historian Robin Lane Fox. After release, while it performed well in Europe, the American critical reaction was negative. It grossed over $167 million worldwide against a $155 million budget, becoming a box-office bomb.

<i>Liebestraum</i> (film) 1991 film by Mike Figgis

Liebestraum is a 1991 American mystery film written and directed by Mike Figgis and starring Kevin Anderson, Pamela Gidley, Bill Pullman, Zach Grenier, Alicia Witt and Taina Elg, with Kim Novak in her last film role.

<i>Live Free or Die Hard</i> 2007 US action film directed by Len Wiseman

Live Free or Die Hard is a 2007 American action-thriller film and the fourth installment in the Die Hard film series. The film was directed by Len Wiseman and starred Bruce Willis as John McClane. The film's name was adapted from New Hampshire's state motto, "Live Free or Die". In the film, McClane attempts to stop cyber-terrorists who hack into government and commercial computers across the United States with the goal of starting a "fire sale" that would disable key elements of the nation's infrastructure. The film was based on the 1997 article "A Farewell to Arms" written for Wired magazine by John Carlin.

<i>Basic Instinct 2</i> 2006 erotic thriller film by Michael Caton-Jones

Basic Instinct 2 is a 2006 erotic thriller film and the sequel to 1992's Basic Instinct. The film was directed by Michael Caton-Jones and produced by Mario Kassar, Joel B. Michaels, and Andrew G. Vajna. The screenplay was by Leora Barish and Henry Bean. It stars Sharon Stone, who reprises her role of crime mystery author Catherine Tramell, and David Morrissey. The film is an international co-production of German, British, American, and Spanish producers.

<i>Cant Stop the Music</i> 1980 film

Can't Stop the Music is a 1980 American musical comedy film directed by Nancy Walker. Written by Allan Carr and Bronté Woodard, the film is a pseudo-biography of disco's Village People that only vaguely resembles the actual story of how the group formed. It was produced by Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment, and distributed by independent distributor Associated Film Distribution (AFD). The film was released after disco's peak and was subsequently a box office flop, winning two of the first ever Razzie Awards for Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay.

Richard Rush (director) American film director

Richard Rush was an American film director, scriptwriter, and producer. He is known for directing The Stunt Man, for which he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Director. His film Color of Night won a Golden Raspberry Award as the worst film of 1994, but Maxim magazine also singled the film out as having the best sex scene in film history. Rush, whose directing career began in 1960, also directed Freebie and the Bean, a police buddy comedy/drama starring Alan Arkin and James Caan. He co-wrote the screenplay for the 1990 film Air America.

<i>Stay Alive</i> 2006 American film directed by William Brent Bell

Stay Alive is a 2006 American supernatural slasher film directed by William Brent Bell, who co-wrote it with Matthew Peterman. The film was produced by Joseph McGinty Nichol, and released on March 24, 2006 in the United States. It was the first film in five years released by Hollywood Pictures, and also Disney's only slasher film to date.

Cinergi Pictures Film production company

Cinergi Pictures Entertainment Inc. was an independent production company that was founded by Andrew G. Vajna, after he had sold his interest in his first production company, Carolco International Pictures, in 1989. The company had a number of major hit films, most notably Tombstone, Die Hard with a Vengeance and Evita. However, the majority of their films lost money. A string of box office bombs – including Renaissance Man, Color of Night, Judge Dredd, The Scarlet Letter, Nixon, Shadow Conspiracy, Deep Rising and An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn – ultimately undid the company, and it was dissolved in 1998. Cinergi Pictures' library is now owned by Disney.

<i>Jade</i> (film) 1995 American erotic thriller film by William Friedkin

Jade is a 1995 American erotic thriller film written by Joe Eszterhas, produced by Robert Evans, directed by William Friedkin, and starring David Caruso, Linda Fiorentino, Chazz Palminteri, Richard Crenna, and Michael Biehn. The original music score was composed by James Horner based on a song composed by Loreena McKennitt. The film was marketed with the tagline "Some fantasies go too far."

<i>Sunset</i> (1988 film) 1988 American film by Blake Edwards

Sunset is a 1988 American crime mystery Western film written and directed by Blake Edwards and starring Bruce Willis as Western actor Tom Mix, who teams up with lawman Wyatt Earp, portrayed for the second time in a theatrical film by James Garner. Based on an unpublished novel by Rod Amateau, the plot has Mix and Earp team up to solve a murder in Hollywood in 1929.

<i>Postal</i> (film) American–German action comedy film

Postal is a 2007 American–German action comedy film co-written and directed by Uwe Boll, and starring Zack Ward, Dave Foley, Chris Coppola, Jackie Tohn, J.K. Simmons, Verne Troyer, Larry Thomas, David Huddleston and Seymour Cassel.

<i>House at the End of the Street</i> 2012 film by Mark Tonderai

House at the End of the Street is a 2012 American psychological thriller film directed by Mark Tonderai that stars Jennifer Lawrence. The film's plot revolves around a teenage girl, Elissa, who along with her newly divorced mother Sarah, moves to a new neighborhood only to discover that the house at the end of the street was the site of a gruesome double murder committed by a girl named Carrie-Anne who disappeared without a trace. Elissa then starts a relationship with Carrie-Anne's brother, Ryan, who lives in the same house.

<i>Evil Dead</i> (2013 film) 2013 film by Fede Álvarez

Evil Dead is a 2013 American supernatural horror film directed by Fede Álvarez, in his feature directorial debut, written by Rodo Sayagues and Álvarez and produced by Robert Tapert, Sam Raimi, and Bruce Campbell. The fourth installment in the Evil Dead franchise, it serves as a soft reboot and continuation of the original series. The film stars Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, and Elizabeth Blackmore. The film follows a group of five people being haunted and killed by supernatural entities in a remote cabin in the woods.

<i>Rock the Kasbah</i> (film) 2015 film directed by Barry Levinson

Rock the Kasbah is a 2015 American comedy film directed by Barry Levinson and written by Mitch Glazer. The film stars Bill Murray as a talent manager sent to Afghanistan for a USO tour, Kate Hudson as his partner in country, Bruce Willis as his armed protection and book client, and Leem Lubany as his musical discovery. Open Road Films released the film on October 23, 2015.


  1. "Color of Night (1994)". Box Office Mojo . Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  2. "Color of Night - Box Office Data, DVD Sales, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved December 20, 2012.
  3. Billboard vol 108 #1 p.54.
  4. 1 2 "Top Sex Scenes of All-Time". Extra (U.S. TV program). December 6, 2000. Archived from the original on June 28, 2012. Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  5. "Color of Night (1994) (2-Disc Special Edition)" via
  6. Eller, Claudia (April 23, 1994). "Who's Got the Right to 'Color' Final Cut? : Director Richard Rush and Producers Battle Over Fate of Bruce Willis Thriller". Los Angeles Times.
  7. Klady, Leonard (April 25, 1994). "'Color of Night' stuck in DGA arbitration". Variety.
  8. Arnold, William (February 9, 1995). "Director's cut changes meaning of 'Color of Night'". Toledo Blade. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  9. 1 2 "Color of Night (Comparison: International Theatrical Version - Unrated Director's Cut) -".
  10. "Color of Night (1994)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  12. "CinemaScore".
  13. Maslin, Janet (August 19, 1994). "Movie Review - Color of Night - FILM REVIEW; Of Murder, Psychology and Fruitcakes -". Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  14. Roger Ebert (August 19, 1994). "Color Of Night (1994)". Chicago Sun-Times . Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  15. 1 2 3 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 10, 2019. Retrieved November 10, 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN   0-446-69334-0.
  17. David J. Fox (August 23, 1994). "Weekend Box Office : 'Forrest Gump' in Top Spot--Again". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved January 11, 2011.
  18. "Color of Night (1994) - Box office / business". IMDb.
  19. Howe, Desson (December 30, 1994), "The Envelope Please: Reel Winners and Losers of 1994", The Washington Post, retrieved July 19, 2020
  20. Craft, Dan (December 30, 1994). "Success, Failure and a Lot of In-between; Movies '94". The Pantagraph . p. B1.
  21. "Color of Night".
  22. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 28, 2019. Retrieved March 28, 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. "Dominic Frontiere - Color Of Night (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". Discogs. Retrieved May 7, 2020.