American Dreamer (1984)

American Dreamer (1984)

Taglines: She was an ordinary housewife until her trip to Paris turned into an extraordinary adventure.

Frustrated housewife / writer Cathy Palmer ghostwrites a story about Rebecca Ryan, a dashing international spy, and wins a trip to Paris. While there, she is involved in an accident, and awakens in the hospital believing she IS Rebecca Ryan. Much craziness ensues as she meets the writer of the Rebecca Ryan books, thwarts real international spies, and eventually gets her memory back.

American Dreamer is a 1984 American film starring JoBeth Williams, Tom Conti, Giancarlo Giannini, Coral Browne, James Staley, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Jean Rougerie and Katia Tchenko. It was directed by Rick Rosenthal from a script by Ann Biderman, David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf.

About the Story

A voice over says, “No, that’s not right.” The scenario is repeated with adjustments until the voice is eventually satisfied. The screen fades to Cathy Palmer (JoBeth Williams) sitting at a typewriter, finishing up the story. She seals it in an envelope and sends it off. Later, her husband, Kevin (James Staley), comes home and she tells him about entering a contest to write a short story following the “Rebecca Ryan” series of novels. Kevin is patronizing, telling her, “The important thing, kid, is that you’re doing something you like to do”.

American Dreamer (1984)

Cathy is notified by mail that she has won the contest, including an all-expense paid trip to Paris for two, an Award ceremony and a meeting with the author of the “Rebecca Ryan” novels. Kevin is uninterested in the trip and tries to persuade her to decline, but she goes on the trip alone. While sightseeing in Paris, her purse is snatched. Chasing the thief, she runs into a street where she is knocked down by a car.

The accident leaves Cathy with amnesia; she thinks she is the detective, Rebecca Ryan. She escapes from the hospital and assumes Rebecca’s dashing persona, lavish wardrobe, and residence at the Hôtel de Crillon. When she returns to her apartment, she is greeted by Alan McMann (Tom Conti), who thinks she is a clerical assistant he has requested from an agency. Rebecca ignores all of the tasks he assigns her, instead believing that Alan is Rebecca’s sidekick, Dimitri.

Rebecca is convinced that she must save Victor Marchand (Giancarlo Giannini), the leader of the opposition party, from an assassination plot. Rebecca and Alan chase Victor around Paris in an attempt to protect him from the (fictitious) murder plot, with Victor instead getting injured several times from Rebecca’s rescues. They are also running from a shadowy figure. Rebecca and Alan flee to Alan’s mother’s house. While there, Alan and Rebecca consummate their relationship. But there’s a shadowy figure outside the window…

Kevin enters the house and meets Rebecca & Alan coming down the stairs. Kevin punches Alan. Rebecca doesn’t see Kevin, she and Alan run off to save Victor on the train. Once they “save” Victor from the train, which he jumps off. Rebecca and Alan come face to face with Kevin and that is when Cathy gets her memory back. She wakes in the hospital.

While recovering at a hospital, Cathy apologizes to Alan for her delusions and bids him goodbye. At the airport, she realizes that she does not want to go home with Kevin. She leaves Kevin at the airport, and returns to the hotel to find Alan. They embrace, and are soon kidnapped.

American Dreamer Movie Poster (1984)

American Dreamer (1984)

Directed by: Rick Rosenthal
Starring: JoBeth Williams, Tom Conti, Giancarlo Giannini, Coral Browne, James Staley, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Jean Rougerie, Katia Tchenko
Screenplay by: Ann Biderman, David Greenwalt
Production Design by: Brian Eatwell
Cinematography by: Jan de Bont, Giuseppe Rotunno
Film Editing by: Anne Goursaud
Costume Design by: Michael Kaplan
Set Decoration by: Carlos Conti, Gregory Garrison
Art Direction by: Marc Frédérix, Jeffrey L. Goldstein
Music by: Lewis Furey
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: October 26, 1984