Ruthless People 

Last Updated on: June 26th, 2024

Ruthless People movie

“Ruthless People” is a dark comedy film released in 1986, directed by Jim Abrahams and David Zucker. The movie stars Danny DeVito, Bette Midler, and Judge Reinhold in the lead roles, with a supporting cast that includes Helen Slater and Bill Pullman.

The story revolves around Sam Stone (Danny DeVito), a wealthy and ruthless businessman who cares more about his money than anything else. Sam is married to Barbara Stone (Bette Midler), a wealthy and unfaithful woman who despises her husband and is planning to leave him for her lover, a sleazy Hollywood producer named Carol (Bill Pullman).

In an attempt to free herself from her loveless marriage, Barbara devises a plan to have Sam kidnapped and held for ransom. However, her plan goes awry when her would-be kidnappers, Ken (Judge Reinhold) and Sandy (Helen Slater), inadvertently kidnap the wrong person. Instead of Sam, they abduct his mistress, a sweet and naive young woman named Sandy Kessler.

Unaware of the mistake, Barbara decides to take advantage of the situation and refuses to pay the ransom, hoping that the kidnappers will eliminate the annoying Sandy. However, Sam is overjoyed that his mistress is missing and refuses to pay the ransom as well.

As the plot unfolds, the characters find themselves entangled in a series of comedic and suspenseful misadventures, with numerous twists and turns leading to a satisfyingly chaotic climax.

“Ruthless People” is known for its sharp wit, clever writing, and stellar performances from its ensemble cast. Danny DeVito shines as the devious and unscrupulous Sam Stone, while Bette Midler delivers a standout performance as the cunning and determined Barbara.

The film received positive reviews from critics and was a commercial success, cementing its place as a beloved touchstone in the comedy genre. “Ruthless People” remains appreciated for its dark humor, clever plot, and memorable characters, making it a timeless classic for fans of black comedies and farcical storytelling.

Additional Details


  • Danny DeVito: Sam Stone
  • Bette Midler: Barbara Stone
  • Judge Reinhold: Ken Kessler
  • Helen Slater: Sandy Kessler
  • Anita Morris: Carol Dodsworth
  • Bill Pullman: Earl Mott
  • William G. Schilling: police chief Henry Benton
  • Art Evans: Lt. Bender
  • Clarence Felder: Lt. Walters
  • E. Freeman: Bedroom Killer
  • Gary Riley: Heavy Metal Kid
  • Phyllis Applegate: Loan officer


  • Directors: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker
  • Producer: Michael Peyser
  • Writer: Dale Launer

Movie Trailer:

About the Author

Craig Smith
I am founder and editor of My passion for all things Disney goes pretty far back to my first trip to Walt Disney World in the mid-80's. I have since returned to the magical place more than 20 times. I started this site when I came to the realization that I spent a significant portion of my day reading articles about Disney and watching Disney content with my 8-year old, so it made sense that I would start sharing some of what I read and see and building a little community around it. Other interests include 80's nostalgia, vintage toys, video games, LEGO, Star Wars and tech gadgets. Other site isDMR.