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Death Becomes Her (1992)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror | 31 July 1992 (USA)
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 3 wins & 12 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 | Horror

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:

1.85 : 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 »


After the shovel fight Mad confronts Hel and says: "Admit you thought I was Cheap". As she says this, Mad points her finger towards Hel, but as the take changes Mad's facial expression is completely different. See more »


Lisle Von Rhuman: [Lisle is about to give Madeline a potion that grants eternal youth and beauty] But you must make me a promise. The secret that we share must never become public. You may continue your career for ten years. Ten years of perfect, unchanged beauty. But at the end of that time, before people start to become suspicious, you have to disappear from public view forever. You can retire, you can stage your own phony death, or... as one of my clients simply said, I want to be alone.
Madeline Ashton: No. She...
Lisle Von Rhuman: [Lisle nods]
See more »


Referenced in RuPaul's Drag Race: Snatch Game (2014) See more »


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

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User Reviews

A Cult Classic
10 November 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I never saw "Death Becomes Her" when it first come out because of a review I had read somewhere. The review was dismissive and made a lot of sense, so I decided to give it a miss. What a terrible mistake! This is a movie I would love to see on a big screen. The script is so brilliantly clever. Disguised as a silly comedy there is a world of serious themes executed by a knowing cast. Meryl Streep in particular, playing convincingly an actress without talent. I remember the bad review criticized the writers for setting the story in a rainy, stormy Los Angeles when California was going through a drought. Imagine if a comedy about magic potions should worry about the accuracy of the weather. In fact the Los Angeles of "Death Becomes Her" feels more like Los Angelers than most realistic movies and it does it with nerve and wit. "In 12 years in Los Angeles have you ever seen a neighbor?" screams Meryl to his mousy Bruce. An absolute delight. Other hidden treasures are a cameo from Sidney Pollack and a very funny and very sexy "76 years old" Isabella Rossellini. A new cult classic and a total must.

92 of 97 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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