On this day in horror history, The Crucible with Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder opened in 1996. Arthur Miller penned the script based on his play inspired by the Salem witchcraft trials. Nicholas Hytner (The Madness of King George) directed.
Day-Lewis stars as a married man who ends his affair with his young lover (Ryder). She then leads local girls in an occult rite to wish death upon his wife (Joan Allen).
Produced by Robert A. Miller and David V. Picker, filming took place on Hog Island in Massachusetts. Rated PG-13 for intense depiction of the Salem witch trials, The Crucible wasn’t a box office success, snagging just $7.3M in the U.S.
That said, Joan Allen earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Allen also earned a Golden Globe nomination for her work in the film.
Paul Scofield also earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor as Judge Thomas Danforth. This was Scofield’s final film before his death on March 19, 2008, at the age of 86. Miller earned a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Bruce Davison (The Lords of Salem, X-Men) co-stars as Reverend Parris with Karron Graves (The Good Shepherd, Minor Premise) as Mary Warren.
Emma Thompson (Harry Potter) was originally set to play Elizabeth Proctor with Kenneth Branagh (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) directing. Sarah Michelle Gellar auditioned for Mary Warren. And Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, and Drew Barrymore were considered for Abigail Williams.
It sports a 68% on Rotten Tomatoes with a Critics Consensus that reads: This staid adaptation of The Crucible dutifully renders Arthur Miller’s landmark play on the screen with handsome production design and sturdy performances, if not with the political anger and thematic depth that earned the drama its reputation.