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Prelude to a Kiss

Prelude to a Kiss title card

Year - 1992
Studio - Twentieth Century Fox
Stars - Alec Baldwin, Meg Ryan, Kathy Bates, Ned Beatty, Patty Duke, Richard Riehle, Stanley Tucci, Sydney Walker
Director - Norman René
Writing Credits - Craig Lucas (play and screenplay)
Music - Howard Shore


Peter Hoskins (Alec Baldwin) meets Rita Boyle (Meg Ryan) at a party, and is fascinated by her claim that she has had virtually no sleep since she was fourteen years old. She has a pessimistic view of the world, and frets that life is too precarious to bring children into. They begin spending all their time with each other and, after a few weeks, Peter asks Rita to marry him. She says yes, and takes him to meet her parents (Ned Beatty and Patty Duke), where he is immediately accepted.

At the wedding reception, the guests see an old man (Sydney Walker) who no one recognizes. Rita's father asks him who he is, and the man replies that he only wants to wish the newlyweds well and to, perhaps, kiss the bride. Rita says that she'd be honored - they kiss, just as the sun goes behind clouds. After the kiss, both Rita and the old man seem a little shaken.

Prelude to a Kiss poster

Peter and Rita go on their honeymoon in Jamaica. Although Peter sees that Rita is clearly enjoying herself, she seems completely different than the person he fell in love with. She dresses differently, sleeps soundly, talks about how it is wonderful to be young, and tells him she wants to have children.

After they return from the honeymoon, Peter confronts Rita and accuses her of being possessed by a stranger. She can only stare at him. Later, when Peter arrives home, Rita's father is there collecting her clothes and possessions, informing Peter that she has left him because he is delusional.

He goes to a neighborhood bar and sees the old man staring at him curiously. Peter, beginning to realize the truth, asks him if he is "Rita', and the old man confirms that he (or she) is.

Peter and the old man return to his home, and communicate with each other as Peter and the physical Rita. They develop a ruse to get the "other" Rita to return to the house. When she arrives, Peter attempts to tie her to a chair so that the old man can kiss her, reversing the spell. Rita doesn't resist, but the kiss, nevertheless, doesn't change anything. Rita and the old man describe how, when they first saw each other at the wedding reception, that for a moment they wished they could be the other person. As the two talk, practically in unison, they achieve a simultaneous insight into their states and, as the room darkens from a passing cloud, their souls are again exchanged.

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