Last updated
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Norman Jewison
Produced by
  • Norman Jewison
  • Patrick Palmer
Written by John Patrick Shanley
Music by Dick Hyman
Cinematography David Watkin
Edited by Lou Lombardo
Distributed by MGM/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]

Moonstruck is a 1987 American romantic comedy film directed and co-produced by Norman Jewison, written by John Patrick Shanley, and starring Cher, Nicolas Cage, Danny Aiello, Olympia Dukakis, and Vincent Gardenia. The film follows Loretta Castorini, a widowed Italian-American woman who falls in love with her fiancé's estranged, hot-tempered younger brother.


Moonstruck was theatrically released on December 16, 1987 in New York City, and then nationally on January 15, 1988 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to critical and commercial success. Reviewers praised its screenplay, direction and performances of the cast (particularly of Cher and Dukakis), while the film grossed $80.6 million on a $15 million budget, becoming the 5th highest-grossing film of 1987 in North America. It received 6 nominations at the 60th Academy Awards including Best Picture, winning three; Best Actress (for Cher), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress (for Dukakis). [3]


Thirty-seven-year-old Loretta Castorini, an Italian-American widow, works as a bookkeeper and lives in Brooklyn Heights 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. Ronny promises to never bother Loretta again if she attends an opera at the Met with him. She goes to church to confess her infidelity and afterwards calls at Raymond and Rita's store to close out the cash register. Upon leaving, she impulsively goes to a hair salon and buys a glamorous evening gown and shoes at a boutique next door.

Loretta is deeply moved by her first opera, Puccini's La bohème . As they leave, she sees her father, Cosmo, together with his girlfriend, Mona, and confronts him. As Loretta is with Ronny, he suggests that they agree that they did not see each other at all. Loretta attempts 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 she is loyal to her marriage. Later, Johnny unexpectedly returns from Sicily after his mother's "miraculous" recovery and arrives at the Castorini house; as Loretta is not there, Rose asks him instead why men chase after 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. Ronny arrives, and Rose invites him for breakfast over Loretta's objections. Cosmo and his father emerge from upstairs; Grandpa 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 reaffirm their love for each other. 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 Grandpa's urging, since he will now be part of the family after all.



Box office

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.

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 94% based on reviews from 64 critics, with an average score of 7.9/10. The site's consensus read, "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." [4] On Metacritic the film has a score of 83% based on reviews from 17 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". [5] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale. [6]

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."[ citation needed ] 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". [7] Film historian Leonard Maltin seemed to agree, giving the picture 4 out of 4 stars. [8]

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." [9]

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


Academy Awards Best Picture Norman Jewison and Patrick PalmerNominated
Best Director Norman JewisonNominated
Best Actress Cher Won
Best Supporting Actor Vincent Gardenia Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Olympia Dukakis Won
Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen John Patrick Shanley Won
American Comedy Awards Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role)CherNominated
Funniest Supporting Male Performer – Motion Picture or TVVincent GardeniaNominated
Funniest Supporting Female Performer – Motion Picture or TVOlympia DukakisWon
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top Box Office Films Dick Hyman Won
Berlin International Film Festival [11] Golden Bear Norman JewisonNominated
Best Director Won
British Academy Film Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role CherNominated
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Olympia DukakisNominated
Best Original Screenplay John Patrick ShanleyNominated
Best Film Music Dick HymanNominated
Casting Society of America Best Casting for Feature Film – ComedyHoward FeuerWon
David di Donatello Awards Best Foreign Actress CherWon
Best Foreign ScreenplayJohn Patrick ShanleyNominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy MoonstruckNominated
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Nicolas Cage Nominated
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy CherWon
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Olympia DukakisWon
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture John Patrick ShanleyNominated
Japan Academy Film Prize Outstanding Foreign Language Film MoonstruckNominated
Jupiter Awards Best International ActressCherNominated
Kansas City Film Critics Circle AwardsBest FilmMoonstruckWon
Best ActressCherWon
Best Supporting ActressOlympia DukakisWon
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actress Won
Best Screenplay John Patrick ShanleyNominated
Nastro d'Argento Best Foreign ActressCherWon
Best Female DubbingLudovica Modugno (for dubbing Cher)Won
National Board of Review Awards Best Supporting Actress Olympia DukakisWon
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Sant Jordi Awards Best Foreign ActressCherNominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Comedy – Written Directly for the Screen John Patrick ShanleyWon

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. [12] [13] 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. [21]


That's Amore Dean Martin Harry Warren, Jack Brooks
Canzone Per Loretta/Addio, Mulberry Street Jack Zaza (mandolin) Dick Hyman
Mr. MoonDick Hyman
It Must Be Him Vikki Carr Gilbert Bécaud, Mack David, Maurice Vidalin
Old Man MazurkaDominic Cortese (accordion)Dick Hyman
Lament for Johnny's MamaDick Hyman
Che gelida manina Ed Bickert (guitar) Giacomo Puccini
Donde lieta uscì Renata Tebaldi Giacomo Puccini
Canzone Per LorettaDick Hyman
O soave fanciulla Carlo Bergonzi, Renata TebaldiGiacomo Puccini
Musetta's Waltz Moe 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
Moonglow Eddie 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: [22] [23]

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