ByKory Glover, writer at
Professional Geek and Charmer. I mean c'mon, look at that hat and youthful smile
Kory Glover

Misery stands tall in the horror genre not just as a suspenseful film, but also as Stephen King's favorite adaptation of his work. James Caan was great as the imprisoned author Paul Sheldon, who escape confinement in his own hell while Kathy Bates gives an Oscar-winning performance as the bitterly sweet Annie Wilkes, who just can't accept the death of her favorite fictional character.

There is a lot to remember and love about this movie, but the one scene that continually forces audiences turn in disgust is the infamous hobbling scene. After Annie Wilkes discovers that Paul Sheldon has been leaving his room to plot an escape, she does the unthinkable — she gives him the same punishment that the workers received in the early years of the Kimberley diamond mine: hobbling. Wilkes then proceeds to break Sheldon's ankles with a sledgehammer, rendering him completely immobile.

While the tension and bone-shattering sound effects are enough to make any person look away in fear, this scene played out very differently in the original novel. In the novel, Wilkes actually cut off one of Paul's feet with an axe and then cauterized the wound with a blowtorch. There was much debate whether they should keep the foot-cutting scene in the final film or scrap it for something else. The debate ended up costing the film a director.

Believe it or not, George Roy Hill (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting) was set to direct but unfortunately stepped down over his disagreement with the foot-cutting scene staying in the movie. Hill simply stated that he couldn't handle directing such a gruesome scene.

“I was up all night. And I just could not hear myself saying, ‘Action!’ on that scene.”

'Misery' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]
'Misery' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]

Even Bette Midler, who was originally offered the role of Annie Wilkes, said that she turned it down because she didn't want to saw someone's foot off, a decision she would later regret. Rob Reiner eventually decided that he would just direct the film himself. However, Reiner was on the fence about the foot-cutting scene as well, and after conducting a survey with the people at Castle Rock, decided that it would be more effective to break the character's ankles instead of lopping off the foot.

While screenwriter William Goldman, did admit in his book, Four Screenplays with Essays, that it was the right decision, Kathy Bates didn't agree. Bates has stated in previous interviews that she was initially disappointed in the sudden change because she liked the book's version more.

"I was disappointed because I had read the book and in the book, she chops his feet off."

This is especially funny and bizarre because both Bates and Caan have admitted that Bates had a hard time dealing with all the violence in the film. Bates even admitted to breaking down crying before shooting the infamous scene and the brutal final fight sequence.

Regardless of the sudden change from the original book, the hobbling scene from Misery is still one of the most tension-filled and thrilling scenes in a film. For a film to accomplish that 27 years down the line, that's not too bad.

What was your reaction to Misery's hobbling scene?


Latest from our Creators