Indecent Proposal

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Indecent Proposal
Indecent proposal.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAdrian Lyne
Produced bySherry Lansing
Michael Tadross
Screenplay byAmy Holden Jones
Based onIndecent Proposal
by Jack Engelhard
Music byJohn Barry
CinematographyHoward Atherton
Edited byJoe Hutshing
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • April 7, 1993 (1993-04-07)
Running time
118 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$38 million
Box office$266.6 million

Indecent Proposal is a 1993 American drama film based on the novel of the same name by Jack Engelhard, in which a married couple's relationship is put into turmoil by a stranger's offer of a million dollars for the wife to spend the night with him. It was directed by Adrian Lyne and stars Robert Redford, Demi Moore, and Woody Harrelson.[1][2] The film was a box-office success, despite earning mostly negative reviews from critics, grossing nearly $267 million worldwide on a $38 million budget.


David and Diana Murphy are married high school sweethearts, living in California. Diana works as a real estate agent, while David hopes to establish himself as an architect by designing their dream home. The couple invest everything they have in David's project, purchasing beachfront property in Santa Monica and beginning construction, but the recession leaves Diana without houses to sell and David without a job. In desperate need of $50,000 to save their land from being repossessed, they travel to Las Vegas, determined to win the money.

At a casino, Diana catches the eye of billionaire John Gage, while David wins over $25,000 at craps. Reveling in their winnings, Diana assures David that she loves him regardless of the money. The next day, they lose everything at roulette; leaving the casino, they notice a crowd gathered to watch Gage play poker. Gage asks Diana to join him for good luck, and she makes a winning craps roll on his $1 million bet. As thanks, Gage insists on paying for the Murphys' stay, gifting them a lavish hotel suite and a dress he saw Diana admire. After an enjoyable evening together, Gage offers the couple $1 million to allow him to spend a night with Diana, but she and David refuse.

After a sleepless night, the Murphys agree to Gage's proposal, and David reaches out to his lawyer, who prepares a contract for the arrangement. Leaving Diana with Gage, David has a change of heart and races to stop them, but arrives just as they depart by helicopter. Gage flies Diana to his private yacht, and offers her a chance to void their deal and return to her husband if he loses a toss of his lucky coin. He wins the toss, and Diana spends the night with him.

Agreeing to forget the incident, the Murphys return home, and learn their property was foreclosed and resold. Overcome with jealousy, David accuses Diana of continuing to see Gage after finding his business card in her wallet, which she denies knowing about. Discovering that it was Gage who bought out their land, Diana angrily confronts him, and rejects his attempts to pursue her. When she informs David, their tension reaches a breaking point and they separate; Diana later tells him to keep all the money.

Weeks later, Gage visits Diana at work and renews his advances. Initially resistant, she eventually consents to spending time with him, and a romance develops between them. Haunted by happy memories of his wife, David hits rock bottom, leading to a public confrontation with Gage and Diana. He pulls his life back together and finds a teaching position, and Diana files for divorce. Finding her at a zoo benefit with Gage, David donates the entire $1 million in a charity auction bid, then makes his peace with Diana and signs their divorce papers.

Realizing that Diana will never love him the way she loves her husband, Gage lies to her that she is merely the latest member of his "million-dollar club" of women. Seeing through his deception, she gratefully ends their relationship; before parting ways, he gives her his lucky coin, which is revealed to be double-headed. Diana returns to the pier where David proposed to her seven years earlier, finding him there. Repeating their unique declaration of love, they join hands.



Box office[edit]

The film was a box office success, earning $106,614,059 in the U.S. and $160,000,000 internationally for a worldwide total of over $266,000,000.[6][7]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received generally negative reviews from critics at the time of its release.[8] Gene Siskel gave the film thumbs down. Roger Ebert, however, gave it thumbs up on Siskel & Ebert,[9] and also wrote a positive print review.[10] Susan Faludi, a feminist writer, objected to the movie's positioning of the female character. Another feminist characterized it as a “woman in prison” film.[11] Today, it maintains a 35% "rotten" rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 46 reviews, with an average rating of 4.67/10. The consensus reads, "Lurid but acted with gusto, Indecent Proposal has difficulty keeping it up beyond its initial titillating premise."[12]

Indecent Proposal was nominated for seven Razzie Awards in 1994 including Worst Actor (Robert Redford), Worst Actress (Demi Moore), Worst Director and Worst Original Song ("In All the Right Places"). It would ultimately win three trophies for Worst Picture, Worst Supporting Actor (Woody Harrelson) and Worst Screenplay. The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of the 100 Most Enjoyably Worst Movies Ever Made.[13] At the 1993 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, Redford and Moore were nominated for Worst Actor and Actress respectively.

Audience response was less negative, with those polled by CinemaScore giving an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[14]

Differences between novel and film[edit]

Engelhard's novel contained cultural friction that the screenwriter left out of the movie: the main character, named Joshua, is Jewish, and his billionaire foil is an Arab. In a review of the novel, The New York Times summarized its themes as "the sanctity of marriage versus the love of money, the Jew versus significant non-Jews such as shiksas and sheiks, skill versus luck, materialism versus spirituality, Israel versus the Arab countries, the past versus the future, and the religious world versus the secular one."[15]


The soundtrack was released on April 6, 1993, by MCA Records. "In All the Right Places" by Lisa Stansfield was released as the album's lead single on May 24, 1993, and is the film's theme song. Sheena Easton makes a cameo appearance in the movie performing "The Nearness of You" at a pivotal part of the movie. The length of the soundtrack is 60 minutes and 37 seconds. "No Ordinary Love" by English band Sade was also prominently featured in the film, though it was not included on its soundtrack album.

In 2015 Intrada Records released an album of John Barry's score.

Indecent Proposal: Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
1."I'm Not in Love" (The Pretenders)Graham Gouldman, Eric StewartTrevor Horn3:50
2."What Do You Want the Girl to Do" (Vince Gill featuring Little Feat)Allen ToussaintTony Brown5:07
3."If I'm Not in Love With You" (Dawn Thomas)ThomasScott Sheriff3:38
4."Out of the Window" (Seal)SealHorn5:35
5."Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (Bryan Ferry)Gerry Goffin, Carole KingRobin Trower4:15
6."The Nearness of You" (Sheena Easton)Hoagy Carmichael, Ned WashingtonPatrice Rushen3:16
7."In All the Right Places" (Lisa Stansfield)John Barry, Stansfield, Ian Devaney, Andy MorrisDevaney5:42
8."Instrumental Suite from Indecent Proposal"BarryBarry25:20
9."A Love So Beautiful" (Roy Orbison)Jeff Lynne, OrbisonLynne3:31
Chart (1993) Peak
Australia (ARIA Charts)[16] 67
Dutch Albums Chart[17] 71
US Billboard 200[18] 137

Cultural references[edit]

  • The 1993 Mad About You episode "Pair of Hearts" in the last scene has Jamie and Paul at the gambling table when a stranger offers Paul $1M to sleep with Jamie. Unlike the movie (which also premiered in 1993) there's no angst here and they both readily agree.[19][better source needed]
  • A 1993 episode of Married... with Children had Vanna White playing an ex-girlfriend of Al's, who is now a cosmetics mogul, offering Peg $250,000 for one night with him. In a more comedic copy of the film, Peg shows a rare instance of morality and cannot bring herself to adulterate a marriage. Promos for the episode played on the film by showing an ad claiming "Now this is really indecent! Who would pay $250,000 for a night of shame with Al? Would you believe, Vanna White?!"
  • The 2002 episode "Half-Decent Proposal" of The Simpsons parodies and follows the story of the film loosely.[20]
  • The episode "Conference" of UK comedy series Peep Show references the central concept of the film, where one of Mark's bosses offers Jeremy £530 to spend the night with Jeremy's past girlfriend "Big Suze".
  • In season one episode four of Mike Tyson Mysteries Robert Redford appears and proposes to give the team one million dollars to gamble on in exchange for some time with Yung Hee.
  • In season two, episode twenty-two of Community, millionaire Pierce Hawthorne offers Troy and Abed $1000 to buy the rights to their secret handshake. Recognizing the similarity to the premise of Indecent Proposal, the two film buffs accept the offer.
  • In the episode "Dennis' Double Life" from season 12 of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Frank suggests they make a "Decent Proposal" to buy off the mother of Dennis's child. However, Frank insists $1 million is too much money to spend for a night with a woman, and instead offers the woman $5,000.
  • Impractical Jokers featured a punishment inspired by Indecent Proposal in the Season 7 episode of the same name. In that episode, Sal must make an indecent proposal to several couples at a dance class while acting as an instructor.
  • The 1996 film Kingpin parodies the proposal in which an unnamed gambler in Reno, Nevada proposes to Roy Munson (also played by Woody Harrelson) one million dollars cash to sleep with his friend Ishmael (Randy Quaid), which he has a fantasy about accepting, playing with the money in his hotel room, but ultimately declines.
  • In a 1996 episode of Pinky and the Brain titled "Brain's Song", the Brain approaches Bruce Willis to star in his new movie, but he turns the offer down because Demi Moore (who was his wife at the time) wants him to stay at home with their children. In response, Brain quips, "If I dressed up like Robert Redford and gave her a million dollars, do you think she'd go away?"
  • During the final season of Californication, wealthy film producer and ex-husband Stu offers Charlie and Marcy a million dollars for a contractualized, one-night sexual engagement between Stu and Marcy. The characters repeatedly refer to it as an "indecent proposal."[21]
  • The video for Phoebe Bridgers's song "Demi Moore" (from 2017's Stranger in the Alps) is composed of clips from the film, though the lyrics have little resonance with the story.
  • Season one of Netflix's What/If (2019) has been described as a gender-swap of Indecent Proposal.[22] As a way of acknowledging this inspiration, in the first episode, after the proposal is made, Jane Levy's character says “This whole idea was ripped out of a bad Nineties movie”, to which Renée Zellweger's character replies “I thought that movie was quite decent”.


On July 30, 2018, Paramount Players announced that a remake of the film is currently in development, with the screenplay being written by Erin Cressida Wilson.[23][24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Galbraith, Jane (1993-05-01). "Movies: While feminists, columnists and the public argue the merits of 'Indecent Proposal,' the film's grosses keep climbing". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
  2. ^ "Baldwin In Line For 'Indecent Proposal'". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
  3. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (1993-04-18). "For Some, the Signs Are Unsettling". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
  4. ^ Goodall, Nigel (2000). Demi Moore - The Most Powerful Woman in Hollywood. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 978-1840182699.
  5. ^ Willis, John A. (2000). Screen World 1993. 44 (1st ed.). Lanham, Maryland: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. ISBN 978-1557831750.
  6. ^ "Indecent Proposal". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-05-29.
  7. ^ Wells, Jeffrey (1993-04-13). "Movies: The reviews panned 'Indecent Proposal,' but the box office generated $24 million in five days. Star power didn't hurt". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (1993-04-25). "Moviegoers take pleasure in fantasy". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
  9. ^ Siskel, Gene, Ebert, Roger. Review (Television production). United States: Archived from the original on 2008-12-21. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger (1993-04-07). "Indecent Proposal". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
  11. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (1993-04-18). "MOVIES : A flurry of recent women-as-barter movies looks like a disturbing trend to feminists, but these films are finding an audience--'Indecent Proposal' earned $24 million in five days. Are these movies merely a manifestation of the fantasies of the men who run the studios--or do they represent something much more serious? : For Some, the Signs Are Unsettling". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-15.
  12. ^ "Indecent Proposal (1993)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  13. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0.
  14. ^ "Cinemascore :: Movie Title Search". 2018-12-20. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  15. ^ New York Times Book Review. "From the Author", as presented by Retrieved on 2010-07-23.
  16. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  17. ^ "Soundtrack - Indecent Proposal". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2013-04-23.
  18. ^ "Original Soundtrack: Indecent Proposal". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2013-04-23.
  19. ^ ""Mad About You" A Pair of Hearts (TV Episode 1993)",, retrieved 2017-09-01
  20. ^ Jean, Al. (2010). Commentary for "Half-Decent Proposal", The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  21. ^ Herzog, Kenny. "Californication: "Grace"". TV Club.
  22. ^ "Indecent Proposal, What/If and Hollywood's 'sex-bartering' obsession". May 28, 2019.
  23. ^ "Indecent remake". The Telegraph India. August 3, 2018. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  24. ^ "'Indecent Proposal' Remake In Development By Paramount Players". Forbes. 30 July 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2018.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Shining Through
Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture
14th Golden Raspberry Awards
Succeeded by
Color of Night