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Bette Midler and Shelley Long star in this female buddy picture from 1987. Long plays Lauren Ames, an actress whose ambition far outweighs her success despite her many years of taking classes; Midler plays Sandy Brozinsky, a fast-talking, foul-mouthed waitress from the wrong side of the tracks who horns her way into Lauren's exclusive drama class on a lark. Unbeknown to each other, Sandy and Lauren are both seeing the same impossibly perfect man, Michael Santers (Peter Coyote). When Michael inexplicably fakes his death, Sandy and Lauren wind up joining forces to track him down. A wacky, cross-country caper ensues, and both women discover that there's a lot more to the man they love--not to mention their suspiciously homicidal Russian acting coach--than they ever imagined.

Tropes used in Outrageous Fortune include:


  • Adults Dressed as Children: Lauren and Sandy sneak into a whorehouse thinking they're convincingly disguised as men; the madame takes them for thirteen-year-old boys. Our intrepid heroines run with it.
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 Madame: Does your daddy know you're here?

Lauren (in cowboy accent): Hell, yes, he told us where to come! Come, git it?

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  • Bad Bad Acting: Practiced by all of Stan's students, as he enjoys pointing out.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Lauren, fed up with the mystery, kicks open a crackhouse door, waves a toy gun around (back in a day when toy guns looked real), and starts impersonating a cop. Even Sandy is shocked.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Or, rather, a cute, ducky-emblazoned lunchbox full of money.
  • Butt Monkey: Frank. Also, anyone who takes Stanislav Korzenowsky's acting class.
  • Calling Your Orgasms: Michael's telltale chant of, "Oh God. Oh God. Ohhh God. Ohhhgod--OHHHGOD!!!"
  • Cheap Costume: The ladies are forced to improvise quite frequently.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The film is made of this. The climax, in fact, centers around pretty much everything we saw Lauren doing in her acting and ballet classes at the very beginning. (Also, Sandy's stolen Christmas tree ornament comes in pretty handy.)
  • Cold War
  • Comically Missing the Point: Lauren holds a gun to Stan after he tries to kill her, then proceeds to berate him for making a mockery of the New York acting community.
  • Daddy's Girl: Lauren is this, as we see when she tries to borrow money for Korzenowsky's class from her parents. Her mother won't let her in the door; her father throws her a check from the window of their high-rise.
  • Defector From Commie Land: Stan's way of avoiding repercussions back in Mother Russia. He is even able to bargain for perks, including a condo on the Potomac and Redskins season tickets.
  • Disguised in Drag
  • Eighties Hair: Bette Midler's character. It's not teased or anything, but it is as wide as her shoulder-padded shoulders.
  • Fake Nationality: Robert Prosky is an American playing a Russian who, at one point, disguises himself as an American.
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  Stan (removing his mask): So. Some of us who teach can also do.

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  • Gag Penis: Michael's defining physical characteristic, which is how Lauren and Sandy know the burned corpse at the morgue isn't him.
  • Groin Attack: Threatened by Sandy ("I'll shoot it off, Stan").
  • Gratuitous Russian
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Murphy Brown's housepainter is dealing drugs!
  • Literary Allusion Title: It's derived from Hamlet.
  • Lovely Angels
  • Mugged for Disguise: Lauren and Sandy appropriate Frank's clothes. (At least they're nice enough to leave him their skirts and blouses.)
  • The Ophelia: Well, in a literal way: Sandy plays Ophelia in the production of Hamlet at the end.
  • The Power of Acting: It turns out that Lauren's many years of studying the theater pay off in tracking down Michael and foiling the bad guys.
  • Ransacked Room: The film plays this straight, then spoofs it. First, the two women go to Lauren's apartment while it's being ransacked. After a daring escape, they head to Sandy's place to find it a complete mess as well. Lauren cries, "Oh, no, they've been here!" and tries to run, but Sandy grabs her and says, "Nobody's been here. This is normal."
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Sandy is red, and Lauren is blue.
  • Rogue Agent: What Michael turns out to be.
  • Scary Black Man: Lauren and Sandy's cab driver.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Sort of. Stan's name is almost the reverse of real-life actor Constantin Stanislavsky.
  • Shakespearean Actors: What Lauren aspires to be. Her ambition is to play Hamlet, which she finally accomplishes at the end of the film.
  • Stoners Are Funny: Especially when they're played by George Carlin.
  • Teeny Weenie: The unfortunate fellow at the morgue, falsely identified as Michael, as Sandy tries to explain to the cops.
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  Sandy: Do the words "needle-dick," "the bugfucker" mean anything to you?

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  • The Eighties: Check out those opening credits.
  • Universal Poison: What Michael stole. Specifically, a green toxin that will destroy all vegetation around the world with just a few drops.
  • We Need a Distraction: How about emptying an entire lunchbox filled with money into a crowd of waiting airline passengers?
  • Wham! Line: "Nine years of ballet, asshole!"
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