‘Misery’ Mix-up

It’s not uncommon for filmmakers to lodge protests with critics who take shots at their films. But in the case of Vincent Canby’s critique of “Misery,” an irate Rob Reiner called the New York Times before the review was even in print.

Reiner, who had obtained an advance computer printout copy of Canby’s negative review (through undisclosed means), was angered by the critic’s descriptions of scenes that, while vivid enough in the Stephen King novel upon which the movie was based, were not included in the movie at all . Reiner alerted New York Times culture editor Paul Goldberger to the confusion the night before the review was to run.

According to Goldberger, Canby “willingly and eagerly” corrected his mistakes. Then, due to a “production error,” the incorrect version was printed in the 225,000-copy national edition on Friday, Nov. 30. The next day, the revised version appeared in the national edition, along with a correction announcement, giving “Misery” the distinction of being reviewed twice in two days in the same paper.

Ironically, while decrying the “sadism” of the movie, the most violent scenes Canby cites in his early review are found only in the book. And in both versions, he describes an event in the book that was actually only in the movie.


At the “Misery” West Coast premiere the night before the review ran, Reiner expressed anger about the mix-up, but last week he declined to discuss it. A spokesman for Reiner’s Castle Rock Ent. said that Reiner was satisfied with the paper’s understanding and quick response.

As for having essentially the same negative review of the movie published in back-to-back editions of the New York Times, the spokesman said, “Well, it’s a little bit better than a sharp stick in the eye. But just a little.”