Color of Night
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRichard Rush
Screenplay byBilly Ray
Matthew Chapman
Story byBilly Ray
Produced byBuzz Feitshans
David Matalon
Andrew G. Vajna
CinematographyDietrich Lohmann
Edited byJack Hofstra
Thom Noble (uncredited)
Music byDominic Frontiere
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution (North America/South America)
Cinergi Productions (International)
Release date
  • August 19, 1994 (1994-08-19)
Running time
121 minutes
139 minutes (Director's cut)
CountryUnited States
Budget$40 million[1]
Box office$46.7 million[2]

Color of Night is a 1994 American erotic mystery thriller film produced by Cinergi Pictures and released in the United States by Buena Vista Pictures (through its Hollywood Pictures label). Directed by Richard Rush, the film stars Bruce Willis and Jane March.

The cast also features Rubén Blades, Lesley Ann Warren, Brad Dourif, Lance Henriksen, Kevin J. O'Connor and Scott Bakula. It is one of two well-known works by director Rush, the other being The Stunt Man 14 years before.

Color of Night flopped at the box office and won a Golden Raspberry Award as the worst film of 1994. It later, however, became one of the 20 most-rented films in the United States home video market in 1995.[3] Maxim magazine also singled the film out as having the best sex scene in film history.[4] It is noted for its style, akin to the Italian giallo genre, and has gone on to achieve cult status.[5]

In 2018, Kino Lorber (under license from Disney) released a special edition Blu-ray of the film; it contains an audio commentary by director Richard Rush.[6] In 2023, the film was streamed on the Criterion Channel.[7]


Dr. Bill Capa, a New York psychologist, falls into a deep depression after Michelle, an unstable patient, commits suicide in front of him by jumping from his office window. The sight of the bloody body clad in a bright green dress causes Bill to suffer from psychosomatic color blindness, taking away his ability to see the color red. Bill travels to Los Angeles to stay with a friend, fellow therapist Dr. Bob Moore, who invites him to sit in on a group therapy session. However, Bob is violently murdered in the office and Bill is plunged into the mystery of his friend's death.

Lt. Hector Martinez considers everyone in Bob's therapy group, including Bill, as suspects in the murder. Bill continues to live in Bob's house and begins an affair with Rose, a beautiful but mysterious young woman who comes and goes. Bill takes over the therapy group, which includes: Clark, a temperamental OCD sufferer; Sondra, a nymphomaniac and kleptomaniac; Buck, a suicidal ex-police officer; Casey, who paints sado-masochistic images; and Richie, a 16-year old with gender dysphoria and a history of drug use.

After Casey is murdered, Bill becomes the target of several attempts on his life. He discovers that all but one of his patients have been romantically involved with Rose. He eventually learns that "Richie" is really Rose, and the murders were the work of her deranged brother, Dale. They once had an actual brother named Richie, who hanged himself after being molested by his child psychiatrist Dr. Niedelmeyer, who also abused Dale.

After Richie committed suicide, Dale abused Rose into playing the part of their brother. Rose began to re-emerge during therapy and, under another personality named "Bonnie", started relationships with the other patients. Dale proceeded to kill them, fearing that they would soon link Rose to Richie.

Dale kidnaps Rose, and tries to kill Capa and Martinez with a nail gun when they arrive to rescue her. At the last moment, however, Rose frees herself and kills Dale. Deeply traumatized, she tries to commit suicide, but Capa convinces her to keep living. As they kiss, Capa regains the ability to see the color red.




The soundtrack to Color of Night as composed by Dominic Frontiere, with songs from Lauren Christy, Jud Friedman, Brian McKnight, and Lowen & Navarro was released on August 9, 1994, by Mercury Records.[8]

Color of Night - From the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
1."Love Theme"Dominic Frontiere4:44
2."Color Blind"Dominic Frontiere2:10
3."Sessions"Dominic Frontiere5:22
4."Rain"Lauren Christy5:27
5."The Color Of The Night"Jud Friedman, Lauren Christy, Dominic Frontiere (cantonese: Karen Tong)3:55
6."The Color Of The Night [Instrumental version]"Brian McKnight2:59
7."Rose's Theme"Dominic Frontiere3:33
8."Etude For Murder"Dominic Frontiere3:33
9."The Photograph"Dominic Frontiere2:23
10."Just To See You"Lowen & Navarro3:55
Total length:34:11



Richard Rush turned his cut of the film over to producer Andrew Vajna in late 1993. Vajna was concerned about the film's commercial prospects and demanded a recut, something Rush refused. Nonetheless, Vajna mandated he had final cut per contractual obligation, and insisted on testing his own version of the film. After both versions were given a number of test screenings, Vajna determined that his cut would be released and fired Rush in April 1994.

This ultimately escalated into a battle between Rush and Vajna that received coverage in the Los Angeles trades. Rush commented that his version tested higher than Vajna's cut; his statements were defended in Variety and by film critic Bill Arnold, who attended a test screening of Rush's version in Seattle, Washington. The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, defended Vajna, stating that Rush stubbornly refused any input from the studio. The Directors Guild of America attempted to intervene on the matter.

The battle ultimately ended when Rush suffered a near-fatal heart attack and became hospitalized. Months later, after Rush recovered, he compromised with Vajna that the producer's cut would be released theatrically and that the director's cut would see a video release.[9][10][11]

Eventually, four versions were released:[12]

(Among them, international theatrical release version also contains numerous scenes that are not included in the Unrated Director's Cut.)[12]


Box office

The film opened at number 4 at the US box office, grossing $6,610,488 its opening weekend playing at a total of 1,740 theaters.[13] The film grossed only $19,750,470 in the United States and Canada[14] but grossed $27 million internationally for a worldwide total of $46.7 million[2] compared to its $40 million production budget.

Critical response

Rotten Tomatoes retrospectively reported that 22% of 51 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 4.4/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Bruce willie shot aside, the only other things popping out in Color of Night are some ridiculous plot contortions and majorly camp moments."[15] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 36 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[16] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C" on an A+ to F scale.[17]

Referring to the film as "memorably bizarre," Janet Maslin in her August 19, 1994 The New York Times review wrote: "The enthusiastically nutty Color of Night has the single-mindedness of a bad dream and about as much reliance on everyday logic." She also cited the revelation of the murderer, "whose disguise won't fool anyone, anywhere."[18] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "I was, frankly, stupefied. To call it absurd would be missing the point, since any shred of credibility was obviously the first thing thrown overboard. It's so lurid in its melodrama and so goofy in its plotting that with just a bit more trouble, it could have been a comedy."[19] Luke Y. Thompson of The New Times praised March's performance and wrote: "Minority opinion here, I know, but I found the sex scenes hot and March's performance truly impressive."[20] Brian McKay of stated the film was a "Mediocre L.A. noir thriller made more tolerable by Jane March disrobing frequently."[20] Ken Hanke of the Mountain Xpress (Asheville, North Carolina) wrote the film was "Underrated, but far from great."[20]

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 Bad Movies Ever Made.[21]


Color of Night won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture, and was also nominated in eight other categories including Worst Actor (Bruce Willis also for North), Worst Actress (Jane March), Worst Director (Richard Rush), Worst Screenplay, Worst Original Song ("The Color of the Night"), Worst Screen Couple ("Any combination of two people from the entire cast"), Worst Supporting Actor (Jane March as Richie) and Worst Supporting Actress (Lesley Ann Warren). At the 1994 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, Bruce Willis won the award for Worst Actor (also for North) while Jane March received a nomination for Worst Actress.

Color of Night received a Golden Globe nomination in the category Best Original Song — Motion Picture for its theme song "The Color of the Night", performed by Lauren Christy.[22]

Maxim magazine also awarded Color of Night for having the Best Sex Scene in film history;[4] Rush was especially proud of the award, and he kept it in his bathroom.[23]

Year-end lists


  1. ^ "Color of Night (1994)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Worldwide rentals beat domestic take". Variety. February 13, 1995. p. 28.
  3. ^ Billboard vol 108 #1 p.54.
  4. ^ a b "Top Sex Scenes of All-Time". Extra (U.S. TV program). December 6, 2000. Archived from the original on June 28, 2012. Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  5. ^ Vasquez, Zach (April 10, 2023). "The Beautifully Bonkers Pleasures of Color of Night". Crooked Marquee.
  6. ^ "Color of Night (1994) (2-Disc Special Edition)". Archived from the original on September 28, 2023. Retrieved September 24, 2020 – via
  7. ^ "Criterion Collection on Instagram: "Evening viewing recommendation? Watch the deliriously over-the-top psychosexual sizzler COLOR OF NIGHT (1994) in our Erotic Thrillers collection on the Criterion Channel!"".
  8. ^ "Dominic Frontiere - Color Of Night (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". Discogs. 1994. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  9. ^ Eller, Claudia (April 23, 1994). "Who's Got the Right to 'Color' Final Cut? : Director Richard Rush and Producers Battle Over Fate of Bruce Willis Thriller". Los Angeles Times.
  10. ^ Klady, Leonard (April 25, 1994). "'Color of Night' stuck in DGA arbitration". Variety.
  11. ^ Arnold, William (February 9, 1995). "Director's cut changes meaning of 'Color of Night'". Toledo Blade. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Color of Night (Comparison: International Theatrical Version - Unrated Director's Cut) -".
  13. ^ Fox, David J. (August 23, 1994). "Weekend Box Office : 'Forrest Gump' in Top Spot--Again". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
  14. ^ "Color of Night - Box Office Data, DVD Sales, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved December 20, 2012.
  15. ^ "Color of Night (1994)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 22, 2022.
  16. ^ "Color of Night". Metacritic.
  17. ^ "CinemaScore".
  18. ^ Maslin, Janet (August 19, 1994). "Movie Review - Color of Night - FILM REVIEW; Of Murder, Psychology and Fruitcakes". The New York Times. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  19. ^ Ebert, Roger (August 19, 1994). "Color Of Night (1994)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 4, 2013 – via
  20. ^ a b c "Color of Night - Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on November 10, 2019. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  21. ^ Wilson, John J.B. (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. New York City: Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0.
  22. ^ "Color of Night".
  23. ^ "Interview: Director Richard Rush » We Are Cult". September 30, 2017. Archived from the original on March 28, 2019. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  24. ^ Howe, Desson (December 30, 1994), "The Envelope Please: Reel Winners and Losers of 1994", The Washington Post, retrieved July 19, 2020
  25. ^ Craft, Dan (December 30, 1994). "Success, Failure and a Lot of In-between; Movies '94". The Pantagraph. p. B1.
  26. ^ Ross, Bob (December 30, 1994). "Versed in the worst". The Tampa Tribune (Final ed.). p. 18.