5.9/10
5,486
38 user 24 critic

The Morning After (1986)

A washed up, alcoholic actress who is prone to blackouts wakes up next to a murdered man. Did she kill him and, if not, is she in danger?

Director:

Sidney Lumet

Writer:

James Cresson (as James Hicks)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jane Fonda ... Alex Sternbergen
Jeff Bridges ... Turner Kendall
Raul Julia ... Joaquin Manero
Diane Salinger ... Isabel Harding
Richard Foronjy ... Sergeant Greenbaum
Geoffrey Scott ... Bobby Korshack
James 'Gypsy' Haake James 'Gypsy' Haake ... Frankie
Kathleen Wilhoite ... Red
Don Hood ... Hurley
Fran Bennett Fran Bennett ... Airline Clerk
Michael Flanagan Michael Flanagan ... Airline Supervisor
Bruce Vilanch ... Bartender
Michael Prince Michael Prince ... Mr. Harding
Frances Bergen ... Mrs. Harding
José Angel Santana José Angel Santana ... Driver (as José Santana)
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Storyline

Alex Sternberg wakes up with a hangover and no memory of how she ended up in bed with a dead man. She flees, convinced that she has had another blackout and stabbed someone. Her only support, Turner, an ex cop and recovering alcoholic who is unsympathetic to her plight. She could believe that it is as simple as a violent act committed while drunk, except that the body keeps re-appearing. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Last night she drank to forget. Today she woke up to a murder. Is he her last hope or the last man she should trust? See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

25 December 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A la mañana siguiente See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,069,926, 28 December 1986

Gross USA:

$25,147,055

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$25,147,055
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Geoffrey Scott: As pin-up girl publisher murder victim Bobby Korshack appearing on television. See more »

Goofs

The taxi driver tells Alex that it is Thursday November 28, 1986. However, November 28, 1986 was a Friday. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Turner Kendall: Never did see that damn trick done right.
Alex Sternbergen: And you never will.
Turner Kendall: Whatever makes you happy.
Alex Sternbergen: You, oh you make me happy.
See more »

Connections

References On the Waterfront (1954) See more »

Soundtracks

Solo saxophone performed by George Howard
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Two Great Performances Buried in Gaping Plot Discrepancies
17 November 2010 | by jzappaSee all my reviews

The Morning After opens with an extraordinarily effective scene prototypical of director Sidney Lumet's pared-down building of tension. As Jane Fonda crawls out of bed, we sense her hangover, one of those inordinately miserable mornings when nothing about you is sufficiently functional, and we also sense how accustomed she's become to these mornings as she is not only passably functional but also recognizes herself in the mirror and indeed spills some gin into a glass, speculating about the guy in her bed. Who is he? She doesn't comprehend the true gravity of her predicament until she turns him onto his back. She sees no cop is going to buy her story, so she attempts to remove all the evidence of her stopover. And then she rambles back out, into the intense Los Angeles light. And in a shot from high overhead, she seems like a lab rat, ensnared in some sort of a experiment. It's so well directed that we almost forget how preposterous it is to think this frame-up would ever work. This beginning promises an exceptional thriller. Alas, The Morning After never matches its initial potential, not as a thriller, at least. The narrative has some gaping disparities in it, and thrillers need to be impermeable. This one chalks various elements up to pure coincidence, the ultimate motives are flimsy at best and the fact that the body keeps reappearing like a cartoon or a take-off on The Trouble with Harry brings the movie too close to qualifying as '80s schlock for one to become seriously absorbed in the plot. But The Morning After merits a look anyhow, owing to the characters that it cultivates, and the performances of Fonda and Jeff Bridges in the two leads. She plays an alcoholic actress long past her heyday. He plays an ex-cop who happens to be fixing his car right where she topples into his back seat and implores him to get her away from there, quick. Bridges stays in a petty, manufactured shed, where he repairs appliances. This is all Fonda needs. She's a veteran of the live-fast-die-young subscription, her friends all bartenders and drag queens, her separated husband Raul Julia the most upmarket hairdresser in Beverly Hills. Nevertheless Bridges is reliable and sound, and she could do with a friend. Naturally it's axiomatic that they fall in love. The plot of The Morning After is not nearly as well captured or interesting as the day-by-day grinds of these characters. Actually, I can picture a movie that would omit the murder and just trail the genuine human development between Fonda and Bridges. The thriller filler isn't needed, although given that they used it, couldn't they have made it credible? The entire murder plot gets such slapdash treatment that perhaps I oughtn't have been startled by the big scene in which the killer's exposed. I've seen innumerable revelations in innumerable thrillers, but seldom one as transparent as this one, where the surprises are just announced in an improbable monologue. Indeed, the fact that nearly every opinion I've heard or read of this film seems unanimous in terms of James Hicks' script, including mine, even down to the 'It starts off well but then it gets really forced and jerry-built' gist, it seems pretty clear-cut what makes the film not quite work, though it'd be a misstep to write this movie off simply because the story is so rickety. It's worth making an allowance for due to the performances. Fonda and Bridges are superb in the film, and their rapport, founded on skeletons in the cupboard, bitterness and ulterior motives, gets especially remarkable. They create tangible unspoken feelings together, and they have some dialogue that feels more alive than most starry-eyed chatter in the movies. Before the schmaltzy final scene, not even close to prototypical of Lumet, there's a single shot in which all Bridges and Fonda do is face each other, and we know, and fee, that they want to have sex with each other. It's just energy, and it works wonders. I also admire how Lumet reinforces every color. Living in Los Angeles is part of the debilitating influence on the character played by Jane Fonda. All color is exaggerated: red redder, blue filters, orange hazes. He creates an L.A. comprised of vast flat surfaces of pastels and aggressively sunlit exposed areas. He traps the inebriated Fonda on this landscape like a helplessly insignificant insect sought for squashing by unknown feet, and the imagery makes the whole first hour of the movie much more ominous than it merits. Too bad they couldn't have take steps with the script.


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