Loretta Castorini (Cher – Silkwood, Mask) is a 37-year-old widowed bookkeeper. She has been dating Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello – Do The Right Thing, Lucky Number Slevin) for a while. He proposes to her and she accepts even though she does not love him. Suddenly, Johnny has to go to Sicily to be with his dying mother and they decide to get married in one month, after he returns. Before he leaves Johnny asks Loretta to call his brother Ronny (Nicholas Cage – The Weather Man, Leaving Las Vegas), who he has not spoken to in 5 years, and invite him to the wedding. Feeling that the reason why her first husband was killed by a bus was because the marriage was cursed because they did it all wrong (got married at City Hall), Loretta decides to do it right this time.
Loretta calls Ronny and tries to invite him to the wedding, but he hangs up on her. She then goes to the bakery where he works to try and convince him to come. He shows her that he has a wooden hand and he blames his brother for it; he will not come to the wedding. They go upstairs to his apartment and one thing leads to another and they end up spending the night together. Loretta is unsure what to do as Johnny will be back soon. Johnny is a sure thing and Ronny is completely the opposite; he is emotional and passionate. On top of this she has to deal with her mother, Rose (Olympia Dukakis – Steel Magnolia, Mighty Aphrodite), who thinks her father, Cosmo (Vincent Gardenia – Little Shop of Horrors, Heaven Can Wait) is having an affair and her father who refuses to pay for her wedding. Nothing is simple in this New York Italian family.
Cher won a well-deserved Academy Award for her portrayal of Loretta, the Italian woman driven crazy by the moon (la bella luna) and her family. In one of his earliest roles, Nicholas Cage brings a crazy energy to his portrayal of Ronny and it, to this day, remains one of his best acting jobs. He is not as wooden as he was to become in his later films.
The acting by the entire cast and directing of Norman Jewison (Fiddler on the Roof, The Hurricane) is top notch. Canadian (yay!) Jewison definitely had a feel for the pacing of the film and how this 'small' story should be told. Moonstruck was billed as a 'small' film but it is anything but. All the emotions (passion, anger, laughter, etc.) are larger than life. It unfolds like a comedic opera (there is actually plenty of opera music within the film) with brothers competing for the same woman, people doing crazy things because of the moon for love, over-the-top humour, and one of the main characters having to make an impossible decision.
When you watch it you realize how much of the film is still quoted now, 19 years later. We have all said or heard someone use the famous Cher line after she slaps Nicholas Cage "Snap out of it!" and it really was a rebirth for the Dean Martin version of the song "That's Amore". The script, written by John Patrick Shanley (Alive, Joe Versus the Volcano), is full of funny, well-written moments that make you fall in love with all of the characters, despite their flaws. Moonstruck is a film that accurately portrays the average Joe without ever being condescending or boring. The film will charm you with its music, passion and portrayal of this eccentric hilarious Italian family.
-Collectible Booklet created by LIFE magazine
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