Stephen King Wiki
Directed by Rob Reiner
Produced by Rob Reiner

Screenplay by

Andrew Scheinman

William Goldman

Based On Misery by Stephen King
Starring James Caan
Kathy Bates
Lauren Bacall
Richard Farnsworth
Frances Sternhagen
Music by Marc Shaiman
Cinematography Barry Sonnenfeld
Editing by Robert Leighton
Studio Castle Rock Entertainment
Nelson Entertainment
Distributed by

Columbia Pictures (Originally)

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Currently)

Release date(s) November 30, 1990
Running time 107 minutes
Country United States
Budget $20,000,000
Box office $61,276,872

Misery is the film based on a novel with the same name by Stephen King. It is a 1990 American psychological horror film. Fans often regard the film as one of the best Stephen King adaptations, praising the acting of the two leads, Kathy Bates and James Caan.

For her performance as Annie Wilkes, Kathy Bates won the Academy Award for Best Actress and the Golden Globe for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama. In 2003, the American Film Institute named Annie Wilkes the seventeenth greatest villain in motion picture history in their "100 Years...100 Heroes and Villians" list.


In the beginning of the film, famed novelist Paul Sheldon has finished his newest untitled novel in the Silver Creek Lodge in Silver Creek, Colorado. Paul is the writer of a successful series of Victorian Era romance novels, revolving around a heroine character, Misery Chastain. After finishing the book, Paul drives back home, but is caught in a snowstorm, causing him to lose control of the car, and swerve off the road, breaking his legs and dislocating his shoulder. There is a flashback where Paul is talking to his publishing agent, Marcia Sindell, who scolds him for killing off the main character in his newest book, Misery's Child. Paul states that, if he had not killed Misery, he would have ended up writing her forever, and states he's leaving for Colorado to finish the new book. Back in the present, Paul is rendered unconscious, but is saved by Annie Wilkes, a former nurse who lives just outside of Silver Creek, who takes him to her isolated home. Using her nursing skills, stockpiled food, and a stash of codeine-based painkillers called Novril, Annie slowly nurses Paul back to health. She proclaims herself to be Paul's "number one fan," and talks a lot about him and his novels.

Meanwhile, Marcia, having not heard from Paul, suspects that he's missing, and calls the Silver Creek sheriff, Buster to report it. Buster states that nothing's been heard around there, but he will put Paul's name through the system and will keep in touch with Marcia. Marcia, however, is unaware the Silver Creek constabulatory is more primitive than the NYPD, and Buster's "system" is tacking a post-it on the wall to remind himself of Paul Sheldon.

When Annie is shaving is Paul's face, she asks if she can read Paul's newest book (which she saved from the wreckage). Paul agrees. While she is feeding him soup, Annie states that the book is great, but that she dislikes the excessive use of profanity. She becomes angered and spills his soup, but immediately regains her cool and apologizes.

One day, on a car ride, Buster and his wife Virginia are driving down the same road that Paul was driving before he crashed, and find a tree with a broken limb. Buster climbs down the hill a little to look around, but climbs back up when he sees nothing (the car is completely covered by snow, out of sight, except for one tire, which Buster can't see anyway). As they are getting back in the car to go to the newspaper office, Annie passes them in her car.

Back at the house, Annie shows Paul that she bought Misery's Child. Paul asks if the roads are open, but Annie replies that only the one to town is. She says that she called the hospital and told them about Paul and what happened, and that she also called the agent. Paul asks if the phone's working, but Annie says that hers is still out, but the ones in town are working. Paul worries about his daughter, and that it was her birthday, but Annie states that the publisher said she would tell her he was okay.

As Annie progressed through the book, she gives Paul glowing praise, giving him good food, and introducing him to her pet pig, Misery. At one point, she tells Paul that, when her husband left her, she dove into work at the hospital, where she found out about Misery.

Annie finishes Misery's Child and, upon finding out Misery has died in childbirth, she flies into a rage , threatening to hit him with a small table. She smashes it against the wall above his head instead. As she's about to leave, she reveals that she never called the doctors, his agent, or his family, and no one knows where he is. She also says the he should hope nothing happens to her "because if I die, you die," then leaves, roaring off in her Jeep. Paul gets out of bed, slamming his legs painfully on the floor and tries to escape, but finds the door locked.

The next morning, Buster has put a section in the newspaper about Paul being missing. He is talking to Marcia, but tells her that nothing has been reported yet. Virginia was on another line and tells Buster that she asked for a credit check on Paul Sheldon. His most recent use of a credit card was when he paid his bill at the Silver Creek Lodge.

Annie comes back after an indeterminate amount of time and helps Paul get back in bed. She is apologetic for leaving him alone and uncared for but she refuses to do anything to help him until he completes a specific task: he must burn his untitled manuscript as a penence for killing her favorite character. After some reluctance, and having Annie squirt charcoal lighter fluid on his bed, he burns it. Afterwards, a helicopter with Buster looking for Paul passes overhead. Annie gives Paul his Novril, then leaves with the charred remains of the manuscript. Paul begins to stockpile his pain medication afterwards.

Once Paul is well enough to get out of bed, Annie sets up a little table, and brings in a typewriter, (one missing it's "N" key) and announces that Paul will write a new novel titled Misery's Return, which will bring the character back from the dead. She also proclaims that it will be a book in her honor for saving his life and nursing him back to health. However, Paul states that she bought a brand of paper that smudges, and Annie becomes enraged, slams the paper on his lap, causing the pain in his legs to erupt horribly. She scolds him further and storms out to get him some better paper.

However, Paul finds one of her bobby pins on the floor, and uses it to unlock the door and find a way to escape. He tries the front door, which is locked. He tries the phone in the living room, only to find it gutted. While going through the living room, he knocks a ceramic penguin off the table, which he catches, but sets it back on facing a different direction. He finds a small closet containing dozens of sample boxes of Novril and takes a packet. When trying to get to a door in the kitchen the wheelchair won't fit through and he is forced to crawl to it, only to find it locked. While there, he sees a set of knives. He hears Annie's car approaching, and rushes and manages to get back in his room before Annie enters the house.

Meanwhile, Paul's car has been found, and police assume that Paul is dead, however Buster still has his doubts after seeing dents on the door (left when Annie used a crowbar to pry it open) and says that Paul didn't crawl out, concluding someone pulled him out.

Back in bed, Paul uses a piece of paper from a pad of paper Annie had provided for him to make a little pocket. He pours the contents of several Novril capsules into the pocket, enough he hopes will knock Annie out. Afterwards, he begins writing the book, believing that Annie will kill him if he doesn't. However, she doesn't accept his first attempt, comparing it to a cheated cliffhanger called Rocketman from her childhood. Paul attempts to write it a second time, this one Annie both accepts and enjoys, then states she's putting on her Liberace records. Paul invites Annie to dinner, to which she accepts.

Meanwhile, Buster has bought several Misery novels, stating that, if he can't find Paul, he can find out what he wrote about. His wife jokingly teases him, claiming he'd bought them for another woman.

During dinner, Paul suggests that he and Annie have a toast to Misery. He sends Annie off to find a candle. While she's gone, he poisons her wine with the pill powder. When she returns and lights the candle, they begin the toast, but Annie knocks over the candle and, in the rush to pick it up, spills her poisoned wine. She profusely apologizes, pours more (unpoisoned) wine, and they do the toast. Paul is crestfallen but continues.

Paul continues writing, progressing in the book with Annie reading the finished chapters to "Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto #1" by Liberace. Annie also fills in the missing Ns as he completes each chapter. She's delighted by what he's completed, giddily begging him to reveal the ending, but he happily refuses.

One night, Annie comes in rather depressed, and states how she loves Paul, and how she is afraid to lose him. Paul asks why he would lose her, and she replies that the book is almost finished, and his legs are getting better, and that he would be wanting to leave. Paul states that he likes it there, but Annie says she bets it isn't true. She pulls out a pistol, says she thinks about using it, then leaves the house, shambling out into the rain. While she is gone, Paul escapes his room once again, and gets a knife from the kitchen to kill Annie. On his way back, he finds a scrapbook full of newspaper clippings that suggest she is a serial killer. She was suspected and tried for the murder of several infants as a maternity nurse, but the trial crumbled due to lack of evidence. Paul then gets back to his room and lays in bed, the knife hidden in the sling for his arm, and waits for Annie to come. When she finally does come, she heads upstairs and starts watching TV. Paul hides the knife under the mattress, and goes to sleep.

During the night, Annie drugs Paul with a hypodermic injection and straps him to the bed. When he awakens, Annie reveals that she knows of his excursions from his room, mainly because of the ceramic penguin ("he always faces south"). She tells him of what happened to miners who stole diamonds in the Kimberly Diamond Mines of South Africa: hobbling, which was a punishment to prevent escape, but also not to impair their work ability. Afterwards, she breaks his ankles with a sledgehammer.

The next day, Buster, after seeing Annie going into the general store and yelling at a driver who cut her off, goes to the library and looks through a book of old newspaper stories, and finds stories of the baby deaths and Annie's trial. He also finds a quote from a Misery novel he had written down that she said to the reporters. He goes to the general store, and talks to the proprietor, Pete, who tells him that Annie has bought considerable quantities of typing paper. Buster surmises that Paul is at the Wilkes farm, and drives out there. Before he gets there, Annie drugs Paul again with an injection and hides him in the basement. Buster looks around the house, and is about to leave when he finds nothing, but hears the grill in the basement fall over from Paul waking up. When he finds Paul, Annie shoots and kills Buster with a Double-barreled shotgun. She tells Paul that they must die together. Paul agrees, but on the condition that they finish the book. After some reluctance, Annie agrees, and goes to get his wheelchair. Paul smuggles a can of charcoal lighter fluid from the basement.

Charles Parker Double-barreled shotgun - 12 gauge

As Paul is finishing the book, he tells Annie that he needs a cigarette, a match, and a glass of champagne, a tradition that Annie knows about and is happy to oblige. When Annie gives Paul these things, he says they need a second glass for her. Overjoyed, she goes to get the second glass. Paul soaks the manuscript with lighter fluid, and, when Annie returns, sets it on fire with the match in front of her. While she tries to put out the fire, Paul slams the typewriter down on her head. Paul and Annie engage in a violent struggle, with Paul stuffing her mouth full of the burning pages. She gets up and steps forward to attack him, but Paul trips her and she hits her head on the typewriter, knocking her out cold. Paul crawls out of the room, but Annie wakes up and tries to pull him back in. Paul grabs a nearby door stopper shaped like a pig and hits her in the head, finally killing her.

Some months later, Paul is New York City, walking with the aid of a cane. (In the book, it is a prosthetic foot.) He has released a new book, titled The Higher Education of J. Philip Stone. Marcia indicates that the critics are giving good reviews and that it has a chance at winning some prizes. Paul is happy, but insists he wrote the book for him. Marcia wants him to write a non-fiction book on his experiences with Annie Wilkes, but Sheldon refuses, as he is obviously suffering some kind of psychological trauma from his experiences, and often suffers nightmares and hallucinations of Annie coming to get him for revenge. Just as he says that, Paul sees Annie and reacts with horror. However, it is only an hallucination, when in actuality it was a waitress, who tells Paul she is a big fan of his. Paul meekly replies "That is very sweet of you."




Robert De Niro, (he was busy with Goodfellas) Micheal Douglas, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beaty, (he was busy with Dick Tracy), and Morgan Freeman, were considered to Play Paul.