USA 1998

Reviewed by Chris Darke


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

Gloria, a mob moll, is released from a Florida jail after serving three years. In New York, the head of the Nunez family entrusts a computer disc that implicates the Mafia in corruption to his seven-year-old son Nicky, who escapes moments before a hitman arrives and shoots the entire family. Gloria arrives in New York and goes to her apartment where her mobster-boyfriend Kevin and his crew are now staying. They've caught Nicky and are planning to kill him. Discovering Kevin has reneged on the deal he made to compensate her when she served time for him, Gloria flees with Nicky and the disc. Ruby, the mob capo, gives Kevin 48 hours to retrieve the disc.

Gloria takes Nicky back to his apartment only to witness bodies being extracted from the building. Unaware his family's dead, Nicky explains his father told him to go to his uncle Manny, but Gloria finds him killed as well. They book into a hotel where Nicky hears on television that his family's dead. Distraught, he flees, but Gloria catches up with him. Gloria sees a priest who arranges to place Nicky in a school upstate, but the boy is immediately snatched by Kevin's henchmen. Through Diane, a friend from her past, Gloria sets up a meeting with Ruby who agrees an exchange: the boy for the disc. Gloria takes Nicky to the school but, having deposited him, has a change of heart. She retrieves him and the couple fly off to Miami together.


You wouldn't know it either from the Gloria's credits or its press material, but Sidney Lumet's Sharon Stone-vehicle is a remake of John Cassavetes' 1980 film which starred Gena Rowlands as Gloria Swenson, the Mob moll turned reluctant surrogate mother. Cassavetes never considered Gloria as much more than a debt-paying exercise: "I wrote the story to sell, strictly to sell," he admitted. It was shot at the tail-end of the 70s, the decade in which Cassavetes had made his most groundbreaking features and cemented with his wife and lead actress one of the key actress-director relationships in American cinema.

Cassavetes has been thoroughly airbrushed out of the remake's production history - there isn't even a reference to his having scripted the original, here reworked by Steve Antin. Even with Stone in the lead, it's a little harder to work the same disappearing act on Gena Rowlands, this new film's other crucial haunting presence. From the opening, where Stone exits the huge looming edifice of a Florida jail barely draped in a fabulously slinky dress, it's clear that she's more Ginger than Gena, playing a variation on her character in Scorsese's Casino. In this respect, the film's condensed time-scheme - Gloria's got seven days to secure sanctuary for Nicky before she has to return to Miami to meet her parole officer - helps Stone draw on and develop that element of Ginger that was far more than simply a scene-stealing sulphurous blonde. In Casino, Stone played Ginger's appetites and opportunism with self-destructive vulnerability; her Gloria takes the actress into a new realm of harried resourcefulness. But she has to work harder with the role than Rowlands did. Cassavetes often found the compassionate, maternal element in Rowlands performances - hardly suprising, given that so many of his films with her were about ideas of family. But Stone is not an actress whose persona has anything near the skittish warmth that Rowlands exuded. That said, she plays the sassy surrogate mother to Nicky - the would-be macho homunculus whose mantra is "I'm the Man" - in a gentle register of mocking comedy.

For a director so throughly associated with New York, its streetlife and institutions, it's not hard to see why Lumet was attracted to the project. Much of the film takes place at street level with the odd couple diving in and out of delicatessens, pawnshops and hotels pursued by Mob hitmen run by Gloria's former boyfriend Kevin. The criminal backstory is actually the film's weakest element, despite the brutality with which Nicky's family is slayed. One can't help the feeling it's precisely that brutality Lumet needs to make us fear for Gloria and Nicky. It's a gamble that doesn't pay off though. The gang is never as fearsome as they should be, which probably accounts for George C. Scott's presence as Ruby, the local Mob boss. It's a cameo, but performed with such a compelling combination of autumnal authority and slyness Scott lazily steals all his scenes. Had Scott been given anything more than a cameo, he'd probably have stolen the film right from under Stone's satisfying interpretation of judiciously chosen role.


Gary Foster
Lee Rich
Steven Antin
Director of Photography
David Watkin
Tom Swartwout
Production Designer
Mel Bourne
Howard Shore
©Mandalay Entertainment.
Production Companies
Mandalay Entertainment presents
an Eagle Point production
Executive Producers
G. Mac Brown
Chuck Binder
Josie Rosen
Associate Producers
Donald J. Lee Jr
Amberwren Briskey-Cohen
Production Office Co-ordinator
Patty Willett
Unit Production Manager
Donald J. Lee Jr
Location Manager
Randy Sokol Sweeney
Post-production Supervisor
Lilith Jacobs
2nd Unit Director
Jack Gill
Assistant Directors
David Sardi
Maggie Murphy
Mike Smith
2nd Unit:
Vebe Borge
Louis Guerra
Script Supervisor
Martha Pinson
Lou DiGiamo
Stephanie Corsalini
Brett Goldstein
2nd Unit Director of Photography
Ken Ferris
Camera Operators
Harald K. Ortenburger
Gabor Kover
Steadicam Operator
Jim McConkey
Special Effects Co-ordinator
Steve Kirshoff
Special Effects
Wilfred Caban
Art Director
Carlos A. Menéndez
Set Decorator
Laura Lambert
Scenic Artist
Michael Zansky
Costume Designers
Dona Granata
Sharon Stone:
Judianna Makovsky
Wardrobe Supervisors
Tommy Boyer
Hartsell Taylor
Bernadette Mazur
John Quaglia
Titles Design/Production
Balsmeyer & Everett, Inc
Music Supervisor
Susan Jacobs
Executive Music Consultant
Budd Carr
Music Editor
Dan Evans Farkas
Recording Engineer
John Kurlander
"Pegaso" by Efrain Duarte, performed by The Latin Brothers; "Laughing Wolf/Mountain Madness" by/performed by Alasdair Fraser, Paul Machlis; "Puerto Rico" by/performed by Frankie Cutlass; "Guajira Controversial" by Morrie Pelsman, performed by Descargas; "Croatian Croquette"; "A San Francisco" by G. Hernandez, L.A. Silva, performed by Chano Martinez Sextet; "Mi Reina" by Orlando Santiago, performed by La Makina; "Volver a verte" by Willy Chirino, performed by Oscar D'Leon; "Pumpin'" by John G. Wilson, performed by Proyecto Uno; "Vengo cayendo" by/performed by Los Pleneros de la 21; "Questa o quello" by Giuseppe Verdi, performed by Enrico Caruso
Production Sound Mixer
Christopher Newman
Re-recording Mixers
Richard Portman
Ron Bochar
Dialogue Editors
Philip Stockton
Nicholas Renbeck
Deborah Wallach
Stunt Co-ordinator
Jack Gill
Sharon Stone
Jeremy Northam
Cathy Moriarty
Jean-Luke Figueroa
Nicky Nunez
Mike Starr
Sarita Choudhury
Angela Nunez
Miriam Colon
Bobby Cannavale
George C. Scott
Barry McEvoy
Don Billett
Jerry Dean
Tony DiBenedetto
Teddy Atlas
Desiree F. Casado
Davenia McFadden
female guard
Chuck Cooper
male guard
Antonia Rey
Sidney Armus
John Heffernan
hotel clerk
James Lally
Freddie the pawnbroker
Lillias White
Terry Alexander
transit cops
John DiResta
radio cop
Lou Cantres
José Rabelo
Dominican men
Lisa Louise Langford
Ray Garvey
police detective
Nicole Brier
young blonde 1
Laura Wachal
other young woman
Elle Alexander
blonde 3
Donald J. Lee Jr
Father Paul
Don Clark Williams
video reporter
Nick Oddo
Uncle Manny
Timothy K. Rail
priest with students
Martha Rentas
bus driver
Bonnie Bedelia
Entertainment Film Distributors Ltd
9,698 feet
107 minutes 45 seconds
Colour/Prints by Technicolor
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011