M = Misery (A-Z Challenge)

“But I didn’t cheer. I stood right up and started shouting, ‘This isn’t what happened last week. Have you all got amnesia? They just cheated us. This isn’t fair! He didn’t get out of the COCKADOODIE CAAAAR!'” — Annie Wilkes, Misery (movie)

Misery cover

***Please note that all quotes contained in this entry are cited from memory (and are not my property, paraphrased, etc…duh.). A few words may be misplaced, but I have opted to show my love for the movie by reciting totally from my memory.

So, as a huge movie buff I am occasionally asked what my favorite movie is. It’s a difficult question to answer. What is my favorite movie of all time? Childhood movie? The one that has affected me the most? The best/most traumatizing? (Probably Requiem for a Dream, incidentally) Current favorite? Or is the question more about which movie can I literally watch every day of the week, read the book for, devour the audio book for, and never get sick of?

Well, then that gives us Misery, starring Kathy Bates and James Caan. (Costarring Frances Sternhagen and Richard Farnsworth as the lovely police couple, and guest starring Lauren Bacall)

Well, honestly speaking, there are several movies like this: Clue, most of the Harry Potters, X2 (X-Men United), several Disney movies, any of the Lord of the Rings movies, Silence of the Lambs, etc. As you can see, my taste is rather eclectic and somewhat random.

But the one I keep returning to is Misery. It’s about Paul Sheldon, a bestselling writer of romance novels who gets into a terrible car accident during a snowstorm. All but paralyzed by his injuries, he is rescued by Annie Wilkes, who happens to be a nurse, Paul’s number one fan, and, uh, a little unstable. When she finds out that he has killed off bubble-headed Misery, the heroine of his novels, Annie decides to “convince” Paul to write Misery back to life. Her motivation tools include codeine-based narcotics, drugs, a barbeque (as a fledgling writer-ish, I can tell you that this scene hurts very, very much), and a sledgehammer — making for one of the least gory but most horrifying scenes in any movie…ever. In the book, she also employs an axe, an electric kitchen knife, and a “birthday” cake.

"The operation was called hobbling."

“The operation was called hobbling.”

James Caan was absolutely amazing as Paul Sheldon, but he was truly outclassed by Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes. She won an Oscar for her portrayal, beating out Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. (Unfortunately, Julia would go on to rob Ellen Burstyn of the Oscar she deserved for Requiem for a Dream, but that’s another matter.)

“‘What’s the matter’? I’ll tell you ‘what’s the matter’! I go out of my way for you! I do everything to try and make you happy: I feed you, I clean you, I dress you…and what thanks do I get? ‘Oh, you bought the wrong paper, Annie. I can’t write on THIS paper, Annie.’ Well, I’ll get your stupid paper, but you’d just better start showing me a little more appreciation around here, Mister Man!” *slams the full pack of paper onto Paul’s wounded legs* — Annie Wilkes, Misery (movie)

Paul's sexy legs.

Paul’s sexy legs.

Annie Wilkes was a paranoid, evil, manic depressive, terrifying villain. She tortured him both physically and psychologically. The first real sign (in the movie) of this seemingly beatific, life-saving nurse’s deep-rooted issues was when she discusses the profanity in Paul’s most recent non-Misery novel. Annie — whose idea of swearing is using words and phrases like oogie, dirty bird, cockadoodie, and fidledefoof — gets so worked up at the implication Paul makes (that “everyone” uses real profanity — he means in the slums, she takes it to mean everyone) that she spills soup all over the bedspread and blames Paul for it. In the book, she hurls the bowl across the room, comes to her senses, cleans the stain for hours while Paul writhes in pain, then gives him his pain pills…making him take them with the soapy, dirty water from her cleaning.

"Now I must rinse." --Annie Wilkes, Misery (book)

“Now I must rinse.” — Annie Wilkes, Misery (book)

Stephen King, who was dealing with addiction at the time he wrote this novel, later said that Annie was a manifestation of the drugs for his writing: a rampaging lunatic who imprisoned Paul and forces him to write what she wanted, using whatever means necessary. Further — and probably the most terrifying thing — is that Annie was likely based on a real person. Genene Jones. If you have read the book or seen the movie, look this scary bitch up. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genene_Jones) If not, don’t read it just yet, or you will find a clue to Annie’s, uh, colorful past. (Then again, if anyone is reading this, I doubt that you don’t know anything about Annie.)

Annie makes you look at super fans of anything with even more horror and suspicion than before. It makes you look at that lovely Midwestern woman who refuses to swear with doubt and stink eye. It’s a damn good movie, and for everything Annie does to Paul in the movie, she does something worse in the book. If you haven’t experienced one or the other (or either), I suggest that you pick them up immediately.

“You see, I started by only loving the part of you that wrote such wonderful stories, because that’s the only part I had. The rest of you I didn’t know anything about…but after a while I came to know the rest of Paul Sheldon, and I hope you don’t mind me saying so, but I have come to love the rest of him, too.” — Annie Wilkes, Misery (book)


Alternate letter considerations: Mikado (operetta), Maleficent (hard not to choose).


~ by Darren Endymion on May 15, 2014.

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