Madonna was originally cast as Barbara Stone. The role later went to Bette Midler because of artistic differences between Madonna and the director.
Bette Midler claims that Danny DeVito called her twice after the premiere of this film: once to congratulate her, and a second time, twenty minutes after the first call, during which he and Midler both broke down in a nervous frenzy over how terrible the movie was, and how both of their careers were over. The film went on to become a box-office smash.
Shares similarities with the O. Henry story, “The Ransom of Red Chief,” a turn-of-the century fable about two con men who kidnap the rambunctious 10-year-old son of a widowed businessman for ransom. The businessman refuses to pay the ransom, happy to have his unruly son gone, and the son proves to be a difficult captive. The criminals decide to return the boy to his father, rather then collect the ransom. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, writer Dale Launer stated: “I certainly read O. Henry as a kid, and I don’t remember consciously lifting it.”
Debut cinema movie of actor Bill Pullman.
The value of the Stone family estate was $15 million. The varying amounts of the ransom money demanded were $10,000, $50,000, $500,000, $2 million and $2.2 million. There appears that there may have been a scene deleted as the ransom jumps from $2 million to $2.2 million without an explanation.
There are some references to the Walt Disney world: Ken and Sandy Kessler are wearing duck masks (presumably Donald’s nephews Huey and Dewey) as Barbara Stone says a few minutes later when they first uncover Barbara’s face. When Sam Stone visits his lover Carol’s house, he’s singing “Zip-a-dee Doo-Dah” from Song of the South (1946). Ruthless People (1986) was released under Disney’s Touchstone Pictures label, which was created so the studio could release more adult-oriented fare.
Final film [to date, August 2013] directed by the directing team trio of Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and David Zucker.
One of two 1986 movies starring actress-comedian Bette Midler. The other film was Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986). Both were made by Touchstone Pictures. In both flicks, Midler’s character was first named Barbara, Barbara Stone in this movie and Barbara Whiteman in the other film.
One of a mid-late 1980s mini-cycle of movie comedies which starred Bette Midler that were all produced by the then new adult Walt Disney brand of Touchstone Pictures. The films include Big Business (1988), Ruthless People (1986), Outrageous Fortune (1987) and Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986).
Debut produced screenplay of screenwriter Dale Launer.
According to Rating the Movies, “Dale Launer’s screenplay contains clever commentary on the culture of Los Angeles’ nouveaux riche”. Interestingly, the script of Bette Midler other 1986 movie, Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), did the same.
Earl Mott (Bill Pullman) named his fish Crockett and Tubbs, after the lead characters from Miami Vice (1984).
First of two films [to date, August 2013] that director Jim Abrahams has made with actress-comedian Bette Midler. The second would be Big Business (1988)which was made and first released about a couple of years after this film.
Actor Bill Pullman sports peroxided blond hair in this picture.
Principal photography on this picture commenced during January 1986.
Helen Slater also played Supergirl in the movie of the same name
Near the end of the credits is the line “I Love Wrong Numbers”, referring to a scene earlier in the movie where Sam Stone gets a wrong number on the phone and plays a vulgar prank to it.
According to the screenwriter, Dale Launer, he got the idea for Ruthless People from the Patty Hearst kidnapping of the 1970’s.