I am a sucker for love stories. I adore how they make me feel. I enjoy being reminded of those looks lovers often give one another. You know those looks. They are random, intense, lust-filled, and locked eye to eye. They are unexplainable. It’s as if both lovers can see deep within the other’s soul. It simply takes your breath away, and your vision becomes so blurred, narrow, small, and focused. I have been lucky to be on the receiving end of those mind-boggling moments. Whew, there is power in those stare-downs. Is it possible to be undressed in that second? Is it realistic to see your future love life flash before you? I say…yes. When I first met my husband, he used to flash his baby blues deep into my hazels, and I could not think straight. Here I was, a professional, with a Master’s Degree, in charge, reduced to mush. Exciting and humbling. But then, I did not have a writer creating one of the best comeback lines in film history. Maybe if I had blurted back, “Snap out of it,” my life would be different. I will never know for sure, but I was just as MOONSTRUCK.
MOONSTRUCK was one of Norman Jewison’s favorite movies he ever directed. He kept the intent light, quirky, and extremely Italian. It was like being a part of an Italian family deep within an Italian community. It was fun and felt natural to hear two expressive languages interspersed. Audiences knew from the moment the opening credits rolled, we would be treated to a unique love story. After listening to the lyrics of Dean Martin’s rendition of THAT’S AMORE and taking a visual tour of New York’s famous attractions, the movie sets viewers in the streets of Little Italy for the opening. I could hardly wait for the first lines. I was already hooked.
MOONSTRUCK was basically about love and romance in different stages. First and foremost, Loretta (Cher) showed us acceptable love for Johnny (Danny Aiello) and then passionate over-the-moon love. Both have a place in our society. Loretta was willing to settle until she met Ronny (Nicholas Cage.) Sweaty from working the bread ovens, wearing a banger t-shirt, and having a wooden hand, Loretta didn’t have a chance. The theme is a “bride without a head, a wolf without a foot.” Can we all howl with ecstasy now? He grabs her. He kisses her as she yells, “Wait a minute, wait a minute.” Then Loretta kisses Ronny. He takes her to his bed. Awesome scene. I giggle when she yells, “Take your revenge out on me. Leave nothing behind but my bare bones.” There was so much chemistry that it was palatable. Cher only wanted Nicholas as her lover. She was right. Cher was awarded the Oscar for Best Actress and a Golden Globe.
Olympia Dukakis played Rose (Loretta’s Mom.) she was going through a tough time with her husband, Cosmo (Vincent Gardenia), who she suspected was cheating after decades of marriage. I adored her straight, no-nonsense facial expressions. She is a crack-up throughout the entire film, but especially when she asks every man she encounters one infamous question, “Why do men cheat?” The answer she received, I believe, was the truth. Men are obvious. Olympia’s portrayal of Rose won her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and a Golden Globe. She was magnificently real and funny as the heart and head of the family.
One of my favorite scenes was Loretta’s transformation as she went to the Met for the first time with Ronny. Simply stunning. Of course, the “La Luna” helped tremendously with the background cinematography. Toss in an irascible grandfather, five rambunctious, howling dogs, an aunt, and an uncle, and you have “La Familia.” It puts our lives into a simple perspective. The writing was genius, and that’s why MOONSTRUCK won its third Oscar for Best Screenplay in 1987.
MOONSTRUCK is romantic/comedy gold. The film does not bombard audiences with gag jokes. Instead, it is based on a slice of Italian Americana featuring a hilarious story. It is delightful, clever, and a true gem. It melts our hearts with charm. Hollywood does not often create a movie that envelops and sweeps us away within this niche of Italian ethnicity. Bravo. It is timeless and a cherished classic. I am MOONSTRUCK every time I rewatch it. Bellissimo. My champagne glass is raised high, and I even remembered to add the sugar cube. La Familia!
MOONSTRUCK is available to rent or purchase.