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Death Becomes Her (1992)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Fantasy  |  31 July 1992 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 73,115 users  
Reviews: 166 user | 39 critic

When a woman learns of an immortality treatment, she sees it as a way to outdo her long-time rival.


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Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Psychologist (as Alaina Reed Hall)
Vivian Adams
William Frankfather ...
Mr. Franklin
Opening Man
Opening Woman
Second Man


In 1978, in Broadway, the decadent and narcissist actress Madeline Ashton is performing Songbird, based on Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth. Then she receives her rival Helen Sharp, who is an aspiring writer, and her fiancé Ernest Menville, who is a plastic surgeon, in her dressing-room. Soon Menville calls off his commitment with Helen and marries Madeline. Seven years later, Helen is obese in a psychiatric hospital and obsessed in seeking revenge on Madeline. In 1992, the marriage of Madeline and Menville is finished and he is no longer a surgeon but an alcoholic caretaker. Out of the blue, they are invited to a party where Helen will release her novel Forever Young and Madeline goes to a beauty shop. The owner gives a business card of the specialist in rejuvenation Lisle Von Rhuman to her. When the envious Madeline sees Helen thin in a perfect shape, she decides to seek out Lisle and buys a potion to become young again. Further, she advises that Madeline must take care of ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In one small bottle... The fountain of youth. The secret of eternal life. The power of an ancient potion. Sometimes it works... sometimes it doesn't. See more »


Comedy | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some nudity and off-color humor | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

31 July 1992 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La muerte le sienta bien  »

Box Office


$55,000,000 (estimated)


$58,422,650 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the scene where Helen sits down onto a shovel handle, she didn't sit in the way she was expected to do, so the SFX people had to morph the image to make it look like the shovel handle was pushing up into her chest. See more »


When Helen gets out of the fountain after being shot, she is soaking wet from head to toe. Just a few minutes later when she and Madeline engage in their shovel battle, Helen's hair is completely dry. See more »


Ernest Menville: 'Til death do us part! Well, you girls are dead. And I'm parting.
See more »


Written by Geoffrey Aymar
Lyrics by Martin Donovan & David Koepp
Arranged by William Ross
Performed by Meryl Streep (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

Witty satire cleverly done
11 February 2004 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

I must have seen this film about 15 or so times now. I love the vain, shallow characters of Madeline and Helen who are the ultimate example of what might happen if you took the advice of our "obsessed-with-perfection" media to its illogical conclusion. Meryl and Goldie play their parts with unrestrained enthusiasm, pushing them to the limit to emphasise that these two who believe they are truly beautiful are, after all, just caricatures of perfection.

Like Icarus, Mad and Hell take no advice and pursue the unattainable regardless of the cost. That they see every mountainous obstacle as a mere minor inconvenience helps reinforce the humour of the film. Bruce Willis is marvellous as Ernest, the unhappy mouse caught in the middle of their game; the voice of reason amid lunacy.

The writing is witty and sometimes painfully sharp, emphasising in almost every scene that beauty does not equal happiness, and the closer you come to attaining an obsessively pursued physical perfection, the further you get from real happiness and fulfillment. Stylistically our attention is focused on this concept over and over again, with mirrors and reflections used very creatively throughout the film.

We don't see a lot of clever satire these days, which is a pity. This is a fabulous film.

107 of 121 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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