Skip to main content


20 YEARS AGO: THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE

Twenty years ago this month, one film was responsible for the surge in nanny-cam sales across America: The Hand That Rocks The Cradle.

Directed by Curtis Hanson, who would later go on to helm critically-acclaimed dramas like L.A. Confidential, Wonder Boys, and In Her Shoes, the film starred Rebecca De Mornay as Peyton Flanders, a vengeful widow who infiltrates a happy Seattle family in order to wreak havoc on Claire Bartel (Annabella Sciorra), the woman responsible for ruining her husband's life (he was a gynecologist molesting his patients, so he had it coming). And to make matters worse, Peyton suffers a miscarriage and goes off the deep end, becoming hellbent on making Claire's family hers.

Fans of Julianne Moore will be happy to see the redheaded actress in her early years - before she became Julianne Freakin' Moore - playing the role of Marlene Craven, Friend Who Learns A Deadly Secret And Pays The Price. The feisty, chain-smoking real estate agent, who also gets the titular line in a dinner scene ("The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world"), has an unfortunate run-in with several panes of glass in a greenhouse halfway through the film, a booby-trap intended for the asthmatic Claire. However, Psycho Nanny's got a conveniently wicked back-up plan: she empties all of the medicated inhalers in the house, so when Claire finds Marlene's bloody body, she nearly suffocates and dies herself. Peyton's got all the bases covered. *PS - check out that car phone!

I first saw the movie with my father during a weekend matinee at Bay Plaza in the Bronx when I was 11. It was the second R-rated film I ever saw in a theater, and the audience couldn't have made it a more memorable experience. When Solomon (Ernie Hudson, finally getting some work after Ghostbusters 2), returns in the end to rescue little Emma from the delusional nanny from hell, a man sitting in our row jumped up and hollered at the screen. And when Peyton finally gets her due (SPOILER ALERT) and is pushed out the attic window, falling onto the family's white picket fence, the theater erupted in cheers. It was as if we were watching a ballgame over at Shea Stadium. *Remember: this was the Bronx.



The Hand That Rocks The Cradle was produced on a budget of $7 million and went on to gross over $88 million at the U.S. box office. If you ask me, that buys a lot of baby food and breast pumps.

And my favorite scene? Peyton goes up to a 5-year-old bully in a playground, twists his arm, and snarls, "Leave Emma alone. If you don't, I'm gonna rip your fucking head off."

Now there's something you won't see in an anti-bullying PSA.

H.P.M.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog


13 Things You Probably Didn't Know About 'The Golden Girls'

When one nostalgically binges on all seven seasons of The Golden Girls like me (I swear I have a life), you pick up on a few things. Certain patterns appear as you continuously witness the consumption of countless cheesecakes inside a fictitious Miami kitchen and hear one St. Olaf story too many.

Here's what I noticed after playing my DVDs of this 80s classic over the past several months (and if you're already familiar with the following factoids, excuse me for underestimating your fanaticism)...

1. Actor Harold Gould, who played Rose's long-term boyfriend Miles Webber from Season 5 to Season 7 (and throughout most of the short-lived spinoff, The Golden Palace), also appears in the first season as Arnie Peterson, Rose's first serious beau after her husband's death.

2. The same can be said for Sid Melton, who played Sophia's deceased husband Sal (in flashbacks and dream sequences). He also appears in a Season 6 episode as a jester in a medieval-themed restauran…

Dream Casting the New "Death on the Nile"

Earlier this year, when the trailer for the most recent Murder on the Orient Express remake was dropped, I was hoping that someone at 20th Century Fox would have the foresight to concoct an Agatha Christie Cinematic Universe. After all, this is the world we now live in -- where every property coveted by a major studio must have the potential to be milked for all it's worth. Plus, as a former child raised by an Agatha Christie fan, I am somewhat familiar with this world, and experiencing new renditions of these titles as an adult is exciting.

And now that Kenneth Branagh's version of the Hercule Poirot mystery has been released (and raking in $150 million-and-counting worldwide), it seems like my prayers are being answered. The studio is going ahead with a "sequel" in the form of a remake of Death on the Nile, another death-filled destination about the Belgian detective taking a river cruise in Egypt and coming across another corpse and another group of suspects.

The…

Just Because: 9 Music Videos That Take Place in Laundromats

It's one of the biggest music video tropes that's rarely explored in pop culture.

The public laundromat has become a go-to location for artists when making a music video for a single they wish to sell to the masses.

But WHAT IS IT about a space where ragtag groups of strangers gather to fluff and fold their delicates? Is it the obvious metaphor of dirty versus clean? The scintillating possibility of people stripping off their clothes for a wash?

I was feeling a little nostalgic (as usual) and took a look at some of the vids that have fallen under the spell of spin cycles over the past 30 years...

"EVERY HEARTBEAT" / AMY GRANT (1991)

Back in the early 90s, the Christian pop tart followed up her massively successful "Baby Baby" with "Every Heartbeat," a personal childhood favorite of yours truly (the Body & Soul Mix, of course). In one of the two vignettes featured in the video, a laundry-toting hottie attempts to flirt with a young woman who re…