Template:Infobox Film

Basic Instinct.png

Basic Instinct (released March 20, 1992) is an American erotic mystery film directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Joe Eszterhas. It stars Sharon Stone, Michael Douglas, Jeanne Tripplehorn and George Dzundza.

The film was highly successful upon release, becoming one of the highest grossing films of 1992, and due to its major success, has been spoofed many times in television and film. As of 2006, the film has grossed $353 million worldwide.

Plot Summary

Template:Spoiler Set in San Francisco, the plot concerns detective Nick Curran (played by Michael Douglas) investigating the novelist Catherine Tramell (played by Sharon Stone) on suspicion of murder. A torrid affair ensues, and more people end up dead as the investigation progresses, making everyone a suspect of murder. Template:Endspoilers Template:Stub-section


Reception and Box Office

The film was nominated for two Academy Awards and two Golden Globes. Jerry Goldsmith, the composer, was nominated for both awards for his original score. Frank Urioste was nominated for an Academy Award for his film editing skills and Sharon Stone was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Actress. The film has a great success at the box-office, making 117.7 million $ in US and 235 million $ overseas making it 352.7 million $ worldwide. [1]

Portrayal of homosexuals

The film was controversial due to its overt sexuality and graphic violence—a characteristic found in many of Verhoeven's movies—and was protested by gay rights activists who felt that the film followed a pattern of negative depiction of gay and lesbian people in the film industry. A April 29, 1991 Los Angeles Times article documents activists' protests, and the book Family Values: Two Moms and Their Son by Phyllis Burke (New York: Random House, 1993. ISBN 0-679-42188-2) covers the protests over several chapters. Members of the lesbian and bisexual activist group LABIA protested against the film on its opening night. The group GLAAD released a statement protesting the film's stereotypical and homophobic portrayal of gays and lesbians. The film also received criticism from those who feel it portrays bisexuals as insatiable, untrustworthy, and homicidal (in the film, Tramell is an openly bisexual woman). Outspoken bisexual writer Camille Paglia, however, has not only defended Basic Instinct, but called it her "favorite film", even providing an audio commentary track on the DVD release. Author and feminist movement figure Naomi Wolf has also defended the film.

NC-17 rating

The film was nearly assigned an NC-17 rating by the MPAA; this was again because of the nudity, overt sexuality and graphic violence. One scene in particular was cited as the reason for the rating. At one point in the film, Sharon Stone's character is interrogated by a panel of police officers, all of them male. During the scene, Stone uncrosses and then re-crosses her legs. The camera angle allowed the audience to briefly get a glimpse up Stone's skirt, showing that she was not wearing any underwear. The lighting setup allowed the audience to get a reasonably clear view of Stone's genitalia.

File:Basic instinct 001.jpg

A moment from the infamous interrogation scene.

The movie was eventually edited to receive an "R" rating for its U.S. release with other sex scenes in the film also edited to reduce the level of explicitness. In the end, 42 seconds were cut to earn the film its R rating. The unedited version was released in the rest of the world. Years later, the "Unrated" edition of the film was released in VHS and Laserdisc, then later on DVD in the U.S., with the removed images restored. Stone complained during an interview for Playboy Magazine that American censorship was more complacent with the violent content than with the sexual one, a common criticism towards MPAA.




  • The screenplay sold for $3 million, the highest bid for a spec screenplay at the time.
  • The up-skirt leg-crossing shot was copied directly from the 1965 The Avengers episode titled "Two's a crowd".
  • Kim Basinger (Douglas's choice), Ellen Barkin, Geena Davis and Julia Roberts were all considered for the role of Catherine Tramell (Basinger portrayed a similar character in the Richard Gere film Final Analysis).
  • Sharon Stone, still a relative unknown until the success of this movie, was paid $500,000 for her role as Catherine Tramell. Stone was later paid $13.6 million for Basic Instinct 2.
  • Paul Verhoeven met Stone on the set of Total Recall, where she played a two-faced wife.
  • The unidentified blonde in the opening scenes of the movie is actually Sharon Stone and not a body double or another actress. She was identified by name by Verhoeven in the audio commentary track of the DVD.
  • The infamous sex scene took a week to shoot. No body doubles were used and the scene was done "au naturel".
  • Verhoeven initially fought for a lesbian love scene to be added to the script over the objection of Joe Eszterhas, who thought such a scene would be gratuitous. Verhoeven eventually agreed with Eszterhas and apologized to him for forcing the issue.
  • Gary Goldman replaced Joe Eszterhas as writer; however, after 5 months of rewrites, Verhoeven went back to the original script.
  • According to initial storyboards of the love scene between Nick and Catherine in Catherine's apartment, the scene would have been even longer and more explicit than the version finally shot and included in the movie. The stars and director thought the sexual acrobatics were too long and extreme to be believed and the scene was scaled back to the existing version.
  • The design of the club setting was inspired by the Limelight club in New York with its church like interior.
  • Douglas reportedly complained that the "Catherine" character got too many good lines; that he was the star, yet she outsmarts him in almost every scene. He also stated, "All the focus was on Sharon, although I was in almost every scene"
  • Douglas drove up the steps on Kearney street four nights by himself in preparation for the car chase scene. When residents complained, $25,000 was donated to their community center.
  • The construction site where Roxy's car is wrecked is the site of the current Moscone Center in San Francisco.
  • The unrated laserdisc edition released by Pioneer has a different commentary track from Paul Verhoeven than the unrated DVD released by Artisan/Lions Gate, due to licensing issues.
  • Sharon Stone's costumes were designed to contrast with Jeanne Tripplehorn's. Stone's costumes are always light and cream-colored, while Tripplehorn's are dark brown and black.
  • Ezsterhas and Verhoeven later collaborated on Showgirls.
  • Jerry Goldsmith composed the score. He tried out three main themes before finding one that worked. For inspiration Verhoeven had Goldsmith listen to the Vertigo theme.
  • This film was released totally uncut in South Africa, a move which partly led to the total relaxation of censorship in that country ~ South Africa had, up until that point, the harshest censorship system in the world.

Spoofs and references

  • The interrogation scene is parodied in The Simpsons episode #2F20, "Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part Two." The 'Catherine Trammel' role is, in this case, taken by Groundskeeper Willy, who is being question in relation to whether he shot Charles Montgomery Burns. Wearing a kilt, he uncrosses and re-crosses his legs in a similar fashion to the movie - much to the disgust of the interrogating officers.
  • When Sharon Stone hosted Saturday Night Live in 1993, her monologue was taken from the infamous interrogation scene, but she stands up before she can uncross her legs. In the same episode, there was a Pat sketch where Pat crosses and uncrosses his/her legs, but because he/she is wearing pants, the interrogators are still clueless as to his/her real gender.
  • In 2007 on Family Guy, Sharon Stone kills her lover after sex, as she did in the movie. She kills the man in the fashion of a praying mantis.
  • In 2005, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) made a commercial for Wrestlemania 21 that parodied the famous interrogation scene. It featured Stacy Keibler, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Jason Reso (Christian). In the commercial, Keibler is being interrogated by the men and revealing her upcoming and past fights with perceived innuendo.
  • WWE spoofed the Basic Instinct interview in 2001 also on January 14 edition of "Heat." Commentator Michael Cole interviewed Trish Stratus regarding her relationship with owner Vince McMahon. Stratus avoided answering the questions, and appeared to be coming onto Cole with perceived innuendo also. Stratus also wore all white, as did Stone.
  • In an episode of The Nanny Fran Fine is interrogated, and is dressed in the same clothes and has the same hair style that Sharon Stone wore in the famous interrogation scene.
  • The National Lampoon film Loaded Weapon 1 contains a similar interrogation scene. As Kathy Ireland uncrosses and re-crosses her legs, she is replaced by a beaver with the caption "Gratuitous Beaver Shot".
  • The 1994 French comedy La Cité de la Peur also features a spoof of the interrogation scene.
  • In the "Miss Galaxy" episode of Tripping the Rift, Babette and T'nuk both did the interrogation scene for the talent show portion of the Miss Galaxy contest.
  • In an episode of The O.C., Julie Cooper is on a date with Dr. Neil Roberts, dressed identically to Sharon Stone in the famous interrogation scene. She also crosses and uncrosses her legs, however the camera is placed high enough to conceal her genitalia.
  • Bill Hicks discusses the film in his 1997 album, Arizona Bay. During this segment Hicks calls the movie a "piece of shit", but comically admits to watching it numerous times. He also mentions the cut lesbian sex scene because, according to Bill, because, "the test audience was turned off by it. Boy, is my finger not on the pulse of America...that was the only reason I went to that piece-of-shit film."
  • Sharon Stone reprised the role of Catherine for a very brief cameo in the movie Last Action Hero. She is seen in the same outfit from the interrogation scene and lighting a cigarette as she passes Jack Slater and Danny on their way into LAPD headquarters.
  • On an episode of Rove Live, a spoof video was made advertising Basic Instinct 2. In a comical take on the age of Sharon Stone in the sequel, she has been replaced by an old woman.
  • The shocking opening scene was parodied in Hot Shots! Part Deux.
  • The infamous interrogation scene was imitated by Beyoncé in her video, "Ring the Alarm".
  • The plot and title of the spoof comedy film Fatal Instinct (1993), is a direct parody of Basic Instinct.
  • In the video game "Tekken 2", Nina William's scene in the opening movie is very reminiscent of the interrogation scene.


After many years of false starts and legal battles, in April 2005 production began in London, England on a sequel to Basic Instinct, (Basic Instinct 2). None of the original cast and crew returned except for Sharon Stone and Mario Kassar. This film was released on March 31, 2006, to critical disdain and bombed at the box office.

External links

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