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The Lonely Lady

The Lonely Lady
File:The lonely lady.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Sasdy
Produced by Robert R. Weston
Screenplay by Ellen Shepard
Based on The Lonely Lady 
by Harold Robbins
Music by Charlie Calello
Cinematography Brian West
Edited by Keith Palmer
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
September 30, 1983
Running time
92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5 million
Box office $1,223,000 (USA)

The Lonely Lady is a 1983 American film, which was directed by Peter Sasdy and adapted for the screen by Ellen Shepard, who worked from the novel written by Harold Robbins. (The novel itself was believed to have been based on Robbins' memories of Jacqueline Susann.) The original music score was composed by Charlie Calello. The cast includes Pia Zadora in the title role, Lloyd Bochner, Bibi Besch, Jared Martin, and in an early film appearance, Ray Liotta. The movie was the last adaptation of one of Robbins' best selling novels before he died in 1997, and, to date, the last such adaptation of any of his works.


Jerilee Randall (Pia Zadora) is an innocent schoolgirl living in the San Fernando Valley area of California with dreams of becoming a famous screenwriter. Shortly after winning a trophy for her creative writing, she meets Walt (Kerry Shale), the son of famous screenwriter Walter Thornton (Lloyd Bochner), at a party. She goes home with him, along with some other friends, and during a late evening pool party, one of Jerilee's friends (played by Ray Liotta in one of his first roles) beats her, slaps her and then sexually assaults her with a garden hose nozzle.

Walter arrives after the assault has taken place and saves Jerilee from further attacks. A friendship, then a love affair, develops between them, and they soon marry, despite the disapproval of Jerilee's mother (Bibi Besch). The marriage begins to fall apart when Jerilee rewrites one of Walter's scripts and is told she had improved it greatly. (She had actually only added the word, "Why?") Despite this, the revised script works well for the actress delivering the line and she thanks Walter for it.

Divorce is inevitable when Walter scorns Jerilee during an argument and accuses her of enjoying having been raped all those years ago. After the divorce, Jerilee has several love affairs while trying to get her own screenplay produced, using her sexual charms to pave the way to recognition, with revenge thrown in the end for good measure. One affair leads her with actor George Ballantine (Jared Martin) which quickly ends with her being pregnant and when realizing he would not support her on it, she is forced to have an abortion. While meeting club owner Vincent Dacosta (Joseph Cali), who has contacts to agents who can help produce a screenplay, Jerilee ends up working for him as a waitress for a short time. Eventually she has an affair with him as well, and when visiting the agent he had promised would possibly approve of, she realizes that she has been had and that he sent her there to have sex with him and another woman. After confronting Vincent about this, he gives Jerilee her screenplay back, laughing about it while on drugs with two other women. Jerilee finally has a nervous breakdown in a sequence wherein she sees the callous people of her past appear as faces on the keys of her typewriter.

After spending a few days in a mental facility, Jerilee rewrites her screenplay. Upon meeting director Guy Jackson (Anthony Holland), he does help her get her screenplay produced successfully. At the live awards telecast, Jerilee ultimately wins a prestigious award for her screenplay of a film titled The Hold-Outs. On stage, she admits to her ex-husband Walter Thornton that she has never learned "the meaning of self-respect". Jerilee then refuses to accept the award, and walks out of the auditorium with her newfound dignity.



The Lonely Lady was hugely panned by critics. The film was nominated for 11 Golden Raspberry Awards and won six: Worst Actress, Worst Director, Worst Musical Score, Worst Original Song ("The Way You Do It"), Worst Picture, and Worst Screenplay. It was also nominated for a Razzie as Worst Picture of the Decade, but lost to Mommie Dearest, and as Worst Drama of the Razzies' First 25 Years, but lost to Battlefield Earth.

Zadora won Worst New Star of the Decade for this film along with Butterfly. She was also nominated for Worst Actress of the Century, but lost to Madonna.

The movie was nominated for a Stinkers Bad Movie Awards for Worst Picture.[1]


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Preceded by
Razzie Award for Worst Picture
4th Golden Raspberry Awards
Succeeded by