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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 73,169 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


Some people will go to any lengths to stay young forever. But Madeline Ashton and her old friend Helen Sharp are about to go TOO far. 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?


At one point Lisle Isabella Rossellini asks Madeline Meryl Streep how old she thinks she is. Streep answers 38, to which Rossellini gives a dirty look. Rossellini was in fact 39 at the time of filming. See more »


When Madeline and Helen meet in Madeline's dressing room, they kiss one another on the cheek. Madeline leaves a large bright red lip print on Helen's upper cheek. In the next shot, the print has moved down toward her chin area. See more »


Madeline: [From trailer] Dead? Ernest is dead? Everybody's dead!
See more »


Referenced in The Game: Death Becomes Her (2011) 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

From The Sublime To The Ridiculous
12 March 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

There is so much greatness in this unexpected Hollywood comedy that the cheap shots are really cheap and, quite frankly, unbearable. Buried somewhere between the special effects (extraordinary by the way) is one the wittiest satires to come out of Hollywood in many, many moons. Meryl Streep is sensational and Bruce Willis is, I swear, unrecognizable in the best possible way. The movie hits the highest moments when, for instance, Meryl asks Isabella Rossellini how much the magic potion costs and Isabella replays: "Oh the sordid topic of coin" sublime, exquisite, funny but with enormous regard for its audience. But when Bruce calls Goldie Hawn to explain the "incident" at home he goes through a TV style monologue that seems to belong to a sit-com and not to the elegant vulgarity of this three sad, magnificent wannabees. The dialog, for the most part, is the best in any American serious comedy since Billy Wilder. The structure of the script is flawless and inventive. The costumes are atrocious and certain scenes seem directed by a 3rd assistant. I don't know how to explain it. However, I have it, I own it and sometimes I put it on with my finger in the fast forward. What's good is so good that makes the whole thing really worth it.

133 of 143 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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