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Wild Orchid (film)

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Wild Orchid
Theatrical release poster
Directed byZalman King
Written byPatricia Louisianna Knop
Zalman King
Produced byMark Damon
Tony Anthony
CinematographyGale Tattersall
Edited byMarc Grossman
Glenn Morgan
Music bySimon Goldenberg
Geoff MacCormack
Distributed byTriumph Releasing
Release dates
  • December 22, 1989 (1989-12-22) (Italy)
  • April 27, 1990 (1990-04-27) (United States)
Running time
105 minutes
111 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$7 million
Box office$11,060,485

Wild Orchid is a 1989 American erotic film directed by Zalman King and starring Mickey Rourke, Carré Otis, Jacqueline Bisset, Bruce Greenwood, and Assumpta Serna.

A sequel, Wild Orchid II: Two Shades of Blue, was released in 1991.


Emily Reed travels to New York City to interview with a law firm, which offers her a job if she flies to Rio de Janeiro the following morning. Emily agrees and is introduced to Claudia Dennis, one of the firm's top executives. They arrive in Rio to finalize the purchase of a hotel, but Claudia must fly to Buenos Aires to meet the owner. Claudia instructs Emily to cover her date that night. The date is a wealthy man named James Wheeler. They have dinner accompanied by Wheeler's bodyguards.

Wheeler intrigues Emily; he is quiet and asks personal questions without being demanding or rude. After dinner, they attend a street carnival; Emily leaves after a masked man who looks like Wheeler tries seducing her. The next morning, Emily wakes to find Wheeler watching her. He gives her a bouquet of orchids and denies making advances to her the previous evening. As an apology, he offers to show her the city. They attend a party with a married couple they noticed in the restaurant. Navy sailors at the party make advances on the wife; Wheeler fights them and he, Emily, and the couple leave in his limousine. The married couple is having problems because of the wife's infidelity. She wants to reconcile with her husband. Wheeler encourages the couple to have sex in the limo. Emily finds their actions disturbing. Emily and Wheeler visit the hotel that her firm wants to buy, and she tells Wheeler that she fears he would disappear if she touched him. When Emily hugs Wheeler, he pulls away, telling her he does not like being touched.

That night, Emily dresses up for the carnival festivities and is propositioned by a man in a mask, who offers her his room key. Wheeler encourages her to accept. She realizes Wheeler is incapable of acting upon his own emotions and tries experiencing passion through others. Emily agrees to the stranger's proposal and has sex with him.

Claudia returns to Rio with the hotel's owner and arranges a meeting at the airport. Emily is humiliated when she discovers that Jerome, the owner's attorney, is the stranger she slept with; Jerome uses their encounter to intimidate Emily to get a better deal. Claudia discovers the truth and uses the information to threaten Jerome; if he does not complete the deal, she will tell his wife about the affair. After the meeting, Claudia asks Emily about Wheeler. She tells Emily that Wheeler was an only child who stuttered, and is a self-made man. Claudia confides that she has long been obsessed with Wheeler, but he has never touched her. Claudia's assistants tell her a man bought the deed to the hotel before the deal was finalized; both women realize it was Wheeler, who confirms it. Claudia proceeds with the hotel's sale, hoping to circumvent James' actions.

Claudia arranges a party to commemorate the sale of the hotel. The next morning, she invites a young surfer to her room, and asks Emily to translate what the Portuguese surfer says. Claudia and the surfer are about to have sex (implying that Emily is free to join them) when Wheeler interrupts. Emily accuses Wheeler of setting people up to disappoint him and then throwing them aside. He responds that he never sets anybody up; they disappoint him of their own accord. A package is later delivered to Emily's room; Wheeler has signed over the hotel's deed, saving the deal. Emily finds Wheeler and tells him she loves him, but leaves when he does not respond.

That night, Emily returns to her room, where Wheeler is waiting for her. He tells Emily that after he had accumulated wealth, women became attracted to him and he started playing games to keep things interesting. The games became a way of life and he cannot stop playing them. Emily encourages James to reach out to her, offering him her love if he makes an effort to touch her. At first he resists, but reaches out and holds her when he thinks she will leave him. The two embrace and have sex. They later ride away on a motorcycle together.



The film was shot in Salvador, Bahia, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. King's original version of the film was deemed too sexually graphic for an R-rating and the MPAA threatened to release it with an X-rating, limiting its commercial potential. King reluctantly removed part of a love scene between Otis and Rourke to comply with the R-rating. The scene was widely rumored in the media to have shown the two actors—who had become romantically involved during production of the film—actually having intercourse. Both actors denied this, but the director was ambiguous.


Wild Orchid had its world premiere on December 21, 1989 in Rome, Italy. The film opened in Los Angeles on April 27, 1990 and New York on April 28, 1990.


Wild Orchid received negative reviews from critics around the time of its release, currently maintaining a 10% rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on 30 reviews. It was nominated for two Razzie Awards, including Worst Actor (Mickey Rourke) and Worst New Star (Carré Otis). On its opening week in Italy, it grossed $403,210 from 10 screens in six cities. The film was a box-office flop.


Wild Orchid (Music From The Motion Picture)
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedApril 24, 1990
LabelSire / London/Rhino
Wild Orchid (Music From The Motion Picture)
1."Main Title"Simon Goldenberg / Geoff MacCormackParadise3:13
2."Elejibo"Tropicalia Ytthamar / Rey ZuluMargareth Menezes4:17
3."Dark Secret"Andy Paley / Paul Pesco / David Rudder / Jeff VincentDavid Rudder4:52
4."Shake the Sheikh"Marlon Klein / Uwe MullrichDissidenten4:42
5."I Want to Fly/Slave Dream"Bezalel Aloni / Aharon Amram / Ofra HazaOfra Haza7:03
6."Bird Boy"Naná VasconcelosNaná Vasconcelos4:33
7."Love Song"Bezalel AloniOfra Haza2:28
8."Twistin' with Annie"Hank Ballard / Andy PaleyHank Ballard1:29
9."Magic Jewelled Limousine"MomoNASA5:03
11."Children of Fire (Call of Xango)"Andy Paley / Paul Pesco / David Rudder / Jeff VincentDavid Rudder3:24
12."Promised Land"Karl Hyde / Rick Smith / Alfie ThomasUnderworld5:23
13."Flor Cubana" Simone Moreno2:50
14."Wheeler's Howl"John Wesley HardingRhythm Methodists4:23
15."Love Theme"Simon Goldenberg / Geoff MacCormackParadise4:11
16."Just a Carnival"David RudderDavid Rudder5:17
17."Dark Secret"Andy Paley / Paul Pesco / David Rudder / Jeff VincentMargareth Menezes / David Rudder4:49
Total length:01:10:40

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Wild Orchid". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  2. ^ Wild Orchid at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ Turan, Kenneth (May 8, 1992). "MOVIE REVIEW : Failing Grade for High School Romance". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Cunha, Roberto (February 2, 2013). "10 filmes sensuais dos anos 80". AdoroCinema (in Portuguese). AlloCiné. Archived from the original on February 26, 2020. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  5. ^ Wild Orchid review summary from The New York Times
  6. ^ "'Orchid' blossoms in Italy". Variety. January 3, 1990. p. 26.

External links