Reiner says he took most of the gore out of Stephen King's 'Misery'

Movies

November 29, 1990|By Lou Cedrone

Director Rob Reiner, reported to have said that ''Misery'' wasn't his kind of film, admits he was accurately quoted.

''But I wasn't attracted to the story because of its violence,'' he said. ''I'm not interested in making violent films.

''The movie is 106 minutes long, and there is very little horror. We intentionally tried to de-gore it. That's not my thrust. I was more interested in the fact that this is also a story about an author who has had great success with a certain genre, hopes to leave it and wonders if he will lose his audience if he does.

''The book was much heavier. What we now have is a film about a novelist who runs off the road in his car and is rescued by a woman who takes him to her home and nurses him back to health.

''Of course, she's crazy. She wants this guy to herself, and she is going to keep him prisoner in her home, which she can do because the guy's legs have been broken. When they begin to heal, she takes action that will force him to remain in her custody.''

Stephen King wrote the book, and it was he who wanted Reiner to do it as a film.

''He liked what I had done with 'Stand By Me','' said Reiner. ''He felt it was better than any of the other films that were made of his books, and he offered it to my company with the understanding that I would either produce or direct the film.

Reiner, who directed ''Spinal Tap,'' ''Stand By Me,'' ''The Princess Bride'' and ''When Harry Met Sally,'' can relate to the male character in the book.

''He is locked to his success with the 'Misery' stories,'' he said. ''I'm not locked to anything, but I have had four successful films, and that's a burden of a kind. It's better than having four flops in a row, but it is a load to carry. You know you'll fail at one point. It will come. You can't get through life without failure.''

Right now, though, failure is not something Reiner knows. So far, he has had one success after another. ''A parking attendant recognized me and said, 'Geeze, four films and no flops.' Another guy said, 'Keep making movies like 'When Harry Met Sally'.''

Reiner, who played Archie Bunker's son-in-law in ''All in the Family,'' says he has been totally wrong about all his movies. ''I didn't think anybody would want to see 'Stand By Me','' he said. ''It was just a movie about a group of young kids walking around and talking to each other. I thought it would do about $15 million at the box office.

''I didn't think 'When Harry Met Sally' would do as well as it did. I thought it might do $30 or $35 million. However, I thought 'Princess Bride' would do extremely well. It did nicely but not as well as I expected. It tested well with teen-agers, but we couldn't get them into theaters to see it. It may have been the title.''

Reiner is part of a directing dynasty. His father is Carl Reiner (''Sibling Rivalry''), and his ex-wife, Penny Marshall (''Big''), is brother to Garry Marshall (''Pretty Woman'').

''Actually, we've got three in the immediate family,'' he said. ''My brother Lucas has directed a film called 'Spirit of '76.' I will be released very soon.''

Reiner says it wasn't easy breaking into films. ''I finished as Archie Bunker's son-in-law in 'All in the Family'' in 1978, but at the time, the movie people looked down on the television people. They wanted to protect their little club. They thought of television people as second class. Meanwhile, I was being offered enormous sums to do a spinoff with Sally Struthers.''

In the end, it was luck, said Reiner. ''I took 'Spinal Tap' to all the studios, and no one was interested. Avco Embassy had it when Norman Lear, producer of ''All in the Family,'' bought the studio. Usually, the buyers get rid of the old guard and all their projects but because Norman knew me, he said 'go ahead.' The movie was finished in 1982 and was released in 1984.''

Reiner said that he looked at a lot of horror movies before he did ''Misery.''

''I studied. I did some homework,'' he said.

Wasn't he in danger of being influenced by those films?

''Well, I do use one of the horror things, but on a cheese ball scale, it is minor. Major cheese ball is the ending of 'Fatal Attraction' in which Glenn Close, who has stopped breathing, rises from that bathtub.''

Marshall, Reiner's ex, has directed a film called ''Awakenings.''

''We talked,'' he said. ''She thought her film and mine would be released on the same day, and she really didn't want that. She didn't want to be part of a contest. Fortunately, her film will be released a little later. She's done very well. I'm very happy for her.''

James Caan plays the author in ''Misery.'' Kathy Bates is the madwoman who removes him from that automobile. Caan is well known. Bates is not. She has appeared in a few films, ''Men Don't Leave'' among them, but she is primarily a stage actress.

''We wanted someone unknown for the role,'' said Reiner. ''If you use a well-known actress, she is expected to do certain things. Bates is new. She was our first and only choice.''

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