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The Witches of Eastwick (film)

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Title: The Witches of Eastwick (film)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 15th Saturn Awards, Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, George Miller (director), List of awards and nominations received by Jack Nicholson
Collection: 1980S Comedy Films, 1980S Fantasy Films, 1987 Films, 1987 Horror Films, American Comedy Horror Films, American Fantasy-Comedy Films, American Films, English-Language Films, Female Buddy Films, Film Scores by John Williams, Films Based on Fantasy Novels, Films Directed by George Miller, Films Set in Massachusetts, Films Set in Rhode Island, Films Shot in California, Films Shot in Massachusetts, The Witches of Eastwick, Warner Bros. Films, Witchcraft in Film
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Witches of Eastwick (film)

The Witches of Eastwick
Theatrical release poster
Directed by George Miller
Produced by
Screenplay by Michael Cristofer
Based on The Witches of Eastwick 
by John Updike
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Vilmos Zsigmond
Edited by
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • June 12, 1987 (1987-06-12)
Running time
118 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $22 million[2]
Box office $63.8 million[3]

The Witches of Eastwick is a 1987 American Jack Nicholson as Daryl Van Horne, alongside Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon as the eponymous witches.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Filming 3.1
    • Props 3.2
    • Differences from novel 3.3
  • Critical reception 4
  • Awards 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Alexandra Medford (Cher), Jane Spofford (Susan Sarandon), and Sukie Ridgemont (Michelle Pfeiffer) are three dissatisfied women living in the picturesque town of Eastwick, Rhode Island. Alex is a sculptor and single mother of one daughter; Jane is a newly divorced music teacher unable to have children; while Sukie has six daughters and works as a columnist for the Eastwick Word. The three friends have all lost their husbands (Alex's died, Jane's divorced her, and Sukie's abandoned her). Unaware that they are witches, the women unwittingly form a coven where they have weekly get-togethers and share their fantasies about ideal men.

A mysterious man (voodoo doll in his image out of wax and the women begin to harm the doll. As the spell takes effect, Daryl suffers excruciating pain. He runs inside a church and begins a misogynistic rant and curses women as a whole. He races home to punish the witches for their betrayal. Realizing their plot to make Daryl leave was ineffective, they toss the voodoo doll into a fire. Daryl vanishes as a result.

Eighteen months later, the women are living together in Daryl's mansion, each with a new baby son. The boys are playing together when Daryl appears on the television set and invites them to "give Daddy a kiss." Before they can do so, Alex, Jane, and Sukie appear and switch off the television.


At one point, Bill Murray was considered for the role of Daryl Van Horne.[4][5]



Principal photography took place in Ipswich, Marblehead, Cohasset and Scituate, Massachusetts, USA.[6]


A small woodcarving shop in Scituate, Massachusetts was commissioned to hand-carve all the wooden signs for the shops shown in the movie, including the newspaper where Michelle Pfeiffer's character worked - The Eastwick Word. After filming, the sign for The Eastwick Word was converted into a coffee table for one of the executives involved with the film.

Differences from novel

While the film follows the basic structure of the novel, several major developments are dropped, with the book being darker in tone. The setting of both is Rhode Island, but the novel sets the time during the late 1960s. In the novel, Daryl is more devil-like: less of an enabler and more of a selfish, perverse predator and architect of mayhem: The three women share Daryl in relative peace until he unexpectedly marries their young, innocent friend, Jenny, on whom they resolve to have revenge by giving her cancer through their magic. The witches then doubt their judgment after Jenny's death when Daryl flees town with her younger brother, Chris, as his lover. In his wake, Daryl leaves their relationships strained and their sense of self in doubt until each witch eventually summons her ideal man and leaves Eastwick.[7]

Critical reception

The Witches of Eastwick received positive reviews. It currently holds a rating of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus "A wickedly funny tale of three witches and their duel with the Devil, fueled by some delicious fantasy and arch comedic performances."[8] On Metacritic, based on 10 critics, the film has a 68/100 rating, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[9]

The Washington Post wrote that "Hollywood pulls out all the stops here, including a reordering of John Updike's original book to give you one flashy and chock-full-o'-surprises witches' tale."[10] Janet Maslin in The New York Times commended the "bright, flashy, exclamatory style."[11] Variety described it as a "very funny and irresistible set-up."[12]

Some critics thought that the last part of the film spiraled into ridiculousness. The Washington Post wrote that the second half "lost its magic and degenerated into bunk."[10] According to The New York Times, "beneath the surface charm there is too much confusion, and the charm itself is gone long before the film is over."[11] [13] Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times acknowledged that "the movie's climax is overdone."[14]

The majority of critics saw the film as a showcase for Nicholson's comic talents. The Chicago Sun-Times thought it "a role he was born to fill... There is a scene where he dresses in satin pajamas and sprawls full length on a bed, twisting and stretching sinuously in full enjoyment of his sensuality. It is one of the funniest moments of physical humor he has ever committed."[14] The New York Times wrote that although "the performers are eminently watchable... none of them seem a match for Mr. Nicholson's self-proclaimed 'horny little devil'."[11] Variety called it a "no-holds-barred performance", and wrote that the "spectacle of the film is really Nicholson".[12] The Washington Post wrote that Nicholson was "undisputably the star of The Witches of Eastwick, despite formidable competition from his coven played by Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon", although even more praise was reserved for Veronica Cartwright in an eccentric scene-stealing supporting role.[15]

Ruth Crawford wrote: "This film includes many fantasy elements. By far the most fantastic of them is the depiction of a single mother of five, who has to work for living and still has plenty of time and energy left to engage in wild adventures of sex and magic. If being a witch gives you the ability to do that, quite a few women I know would be very happy to sign up at the nearest coven".[16]


The film was nominated for two Academy Awards in the categories of Best Original Score (for John Williams' music) and Best Sound, winning neither. The film won a BAFTA Award, however, in the category of Best Special Effects, and received a nomination for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. Williams was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Album of Original Instrumental Background Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television, and won a BMI Film Music Award.[17]

Jack Nicholson won a Saturn Award for Best Actor, and the film received nominations in a further six categories: Best Fantasy Film, Best Actress (Susan Sarandon), Best Supporting Actress (Veronica Cartwright), Best Writing (Michael Cristofer), Best Music (John Williams), and Best Special Effects.[17]

Jack Nicholson also won Best Actor awards from the New York Film Critics Circle (for his work in Witches, Ironweed and Broadcast News) and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (for Witches and Ironweed), the latter shared with Steve Martin for Roxanne (1987).[17]

Awarding body Award Nominee Result
Academy Awards[18] Best Original Score John Williams Nominated
Best Sound Wayne Artman
Tom Beckert
Tom E. Dahl
Art Rochester
BAFTA Awards Best Special Visual Effects Michael Lantieri
Michael Owens
Ed Jones
Bruce Walters
Grammy Awards Best Album of Original Instrumental Background Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television John Williams Nominated
Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Actor Jack Nicholson Won
(tied with Steve Martin)
New York Film Critics Circle Best Actor Jack Nicholson Won
Saturn Awards Best Fantasy Film Nominated
Best Actor Jack Nicholson Won
Best Actress Susan Sarandon Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Veronica Cartwright Nominated
Best Writing Michael Cristofer Nominated
Best Music John Williams Nominated
Best Special Effects Michael Lantieri Nominated


  2. ^ "The Witches of Eastwick - PowerGrid". Retrieved August 23, 2015. 
  3. ^ The Witches of Eastwick at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ Locke, Greg W. (26 August 2011). "The Top 25 Roles Bill Murray Didn’t Take". Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  5. ^ Evans, Bradford (17 February 2011). "The Lost Roles of Bill Murray". Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  6. ^ (1987) - Filming locations"The Witches of Eastwick". Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  7. ^ .The New York Times Review by Margaret Atwood, May 13, 1984. The Witches of EastwickBooks:
  8. ^ Movie Reviews, Pictures"The Witches of Eastwick".  
  9. ^ "The Witches of Eastwick".  
  10. ^ a b Howe, Desson (June 12, 1987). (R)"The Witches of Eastwick".  
  11. ^ a b c Maslin, Janet (June 12, 1987). - Film"The Witches of Eastwick"Movie Review - . 
  12. ^ a b Review - Read Variety's Analysis Of The Movie"The Witches of Eastwick". Variety. June 12, 1987. 
  13. ^ Review, Movie Reviews - Film - Time Out London"The Witches of Eastwick". Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  14. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (June 12, 1987). "The Witches of Eastwick". 
  15. ^ Kempley, Rita (June 12, 1987). (R)"The Witches of Eastwick".  
  16. ^ Ruth M. Crawford, "The Reality of Women's Lives as Compared to Media Depictions" in Dr. Sarah Bresford (ed.) "Interdisciplinary Round Table on the Condition of Women's Issues at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century"
  17. ^ a b c (1987) - Awards"The Witches of Eastwick". Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  18. ^ "The 60th Academy Awards (1988) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-10-16. 

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