Permanent Midnight (1998)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama, Romance  |  23 April 1999 (Iceland)
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Comedy writer Jerry Stahl, whose $6000-a-week heroin habit had him taking his infant daughter along on his drug runs and doing smack during TV script conferences. Departing detox, Stahl ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jerry Stahl
Phoenix Punk
Brad / Tim from Mr. Chompers
Craig Ziffer
Jerry at 16
Mary Thompson ...
Grandma Whittle
Allen from Mr. Chompers
Jana Farmer


Comedy writer Jerry Stahl, whose $6000-a-week heroin habit had him taking his infant daughter along on his drug runs and doing smack during TV script conferences. Departing detox, Stahl explores memories with survivor Kitty, who listens patiently to Stahl's flashback. Other women in Stahl's life are his British wife Sandra and his agent Vola. For the TV series "Mr. Chompers" (inspired by ALF), Stahl meets with sitcom exec Craig Ziffer and puppeteer Allen. For freaky freebasing, Stahl hangs with mumbler Nicky and druggie Gus. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive graphic drug use, strong sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

23 April 1999 (Iceland)  »

Also Known As:

A nap árnyékos oldalán  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$260,562 (USA) (18 September 1998)


$1,166,199 (USA) (6 November 1998)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Jerry Stahl:  The real Jerry Stahl has a cameo as Dr. Lazarus. ("Lazarus" is on his name plate on his white coat.) See more »


After Jerry picks up his daughter from Sandra to babysit her (at approximately [1:01:40]), he can be seen driving down the road sitting on the right hand side of the car. This is not consistent with other scenes in the movie and furthermore, the driver is clearly not Ben Stiller. See more »


[first lines]
Jerry: You know what's mortifying? Smack is like the leisure suit of the nineties. Instead of wrecking dad's Buick on prom might, these little suburban fucks are coping habits and OD'ing in the rec room.
Kitty: And you're different, because?
Jerry: I never got to the prom.
See more »


Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Nightdreams (2011) See more »


Performed by Spring Heel Jack
Written and Produced by John Coxon and Ashley Wales
Published by Singmetal Ltd./Chrysalis Music (ASCAP)
Courtesy of Trade 2/Island Records Ltd.
By Arrangement with PolyGram Film & TV Music
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User Reviews

Ben Stiller Takes a Good Dramatic Turn
5 March 2003 | by (Washington, DC) – See all my reviews

Poor little rich kid, Jerry Stahl, an actual TV screenwriter in 1980s Hollywood, p***es all his good fortune away through a hefty heroin habit. Jerry then hits bottom, recovers, and writes his autobiography. "Permanent Midnight" chronicles Jerry's fall from Hollywood hotshot to junkie bum. Besides such an unpleasant subject, and an equally unsympathetic main character, "Permanent Midnight" still entertains, in a morbid sort of way. It's told in flashback (at the beginning of the movie Jerry's just finished rehab and is about to return to his old LA haunts), so we kind of know where the movie will take us. There's no mystery, we're going to watch Jerry's self-destructive crash and burn in close-up. We're a little in the dark about what will happen after the movie catches up with itself, but there's really not a lot of tension. It's like watching a car wreck in very slow motion.

Ben Stiller does an excellent job portraying Jerry, with his craving for the drug rising above, and then destroying, all that's good in his life. It's quite a frightening portrayal. Elizabeth Hurley, as his girlfriend, is a bit of a stretch for both her acting talent and in the casting. But the rest of the cast does fine work. I think the major detriment to this movie is that the audience knows beforehand how it will all end. This is a very dramatic subject, but with no drama in the screenplay. And that is a drag.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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