That Scene From ‘Misery’ (1990)

“Hey, have you seen this movie? What did you think about THAT SCENE?!” We have all used that phrase at one point during our discussions of movies with the other person’s eyebrows raising, “Oh yea, THAT SCENE!” You go on to pick that memorable scene apart by listing what you loved or didn’t like, how it made you feel and the impression it left on you. 

In this series, we will do just that. We will take a scene from a movie and discuss its impact on us. Some of these scenes may be frightening, weird, iconic, controversial, hilarious and everything in between. Let us know your impression of the scene and the impact it left on you the first time you watched it down below in the comments. Enjoy!

 *Warning: Contains Spoilers*

Misery (1990)

Scene: The Hobbling

Misery is about a successful romance writer Paul Sheldon, played by James Caan (The Godfather, Thief), who is in a car accident in the middle of nowhere and just so happens to be rescued by his “number one fan” Annie, Kathy Bates. The accident leaves him bedridden from broken legs and a dislocated shoulder with Annie, who is a nurse, taking care of him in her home. Out of gratitude, he decides to let Annie read his latest manuscript. When Annie discovers that her favorite character, Misery Chastain, is being killed off, she flies into a fit of rage letting Paul know that no one knows where he is and locks him in the room. With Annie in complete control, she forces Paul to burn the manuscript and begin writing a new one which keeps Misery alive. Paul firmly believes that Annie might kill him, so he complies with her wishes.

As Paul begins to heal and get better, he attempts to rescue himself. First with a failed attempt to poison Annie and then sneaking out of his room knocking one her ceramic figures, a penguin, off a table but catching it before placing it back in its spot. During all this he discovers that Annie had been on trial for the murder of several infants, however, was acquitted due to lack of evidence. One day Annie drugs Paul and straps into the bed which brings us to our scene.

I’m sure you all figured out which scene it is the moment you read the movie title. The sheer thought of this scene sends shivers up my spine. I’m not the biggest Kathy Bates fan but can recognize that she deserved the Oscar she won for this role and the evidence is in the scene alone.

Paul awakens to Annie letting him know she is aware that he has been out of his room. When Paul denies this, Annie reveals even more to her crazed madness. Annie has seemed in control the entire time of Paul’s stay but with one simple line, she lets us all know that she is an out of control mess with extreme OCD.  “Paul, my little ceramic penguin in the study always faces due south.” Gulp! As Paul continues to deny this and feeling under his mattress, Annie lets him know that she is onto him by revealing his picklock and the knife he is currently searching for. “Last night it came so clear. You just need more time. You’ll come to accept the idea of being here.” Then Annie informs Paul of a practice administered to native workers who were caught stealing from the mine they were working at and that the practice was called “hobbling”. Um, what? Like many of you and Paul, I began squirming in my seat when Annie places the wooden block between Paul’s feet. As Paul begs, Annie lifts a sledgehammer to her face and tells him, “Shhh Darling. Trust me. It’s for the best.” and whack. Annie smashes Paul foot with the sledgehammer breaking his ankle and while Paul screams in agony, Annie gets set up to break the other ankle letting him know “Almost done. Just one more.” And another whack. We zoom in on Annie’s face as she stares at Paul, “God, I love you.”

Simply excruciating, right? Just kill me please and thank you. I mean with how calm Kathy Bates plays this scene, the subtle piano music playing in the background and the trepidation James Caan conveys, this is just a tremendous scene that is extremely unsettling. Even more impressive is how short of a time we even see his foot contorting around the block after the impact. I mean it’s literally a split second, but it is etched in your mind as if you were watching the bending of it in slow motion for an hour straight. We don’t even see the second hit but the guttural impact of the whole thing is just masterfully done. But what’s even more sickening is that the book version of this scene is even worse. Annie cuts Paul’s foot off with an ax and cauterizes the wound with a propane torch…

Author: Vincent Kane

I hate things.