AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Director: Norman Jewison (Dir)
Release Date:   16 Dec 1987
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles and New York openings: 16 Dec 1987
Production Date:   early Dec 1986--13 Feb 1987 in New York City, Brooklyn, and Toronto
Duration (in mins):   104
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Cast:   Cher (Loretta Castorini)  
    Nicolas Cage (Ronny Cammareri)  
  Starring: Vincent Gardenia (Cosmo Castorini)  
    Olympia Dukakis (Rose Castorini)  
  and Danny Aiello (Mr. Johnny Cammareri)  
  Co-starring: Julie Bovasso (Rita Cappomaggi)  
    John Mahoney (Perry)  
    Louis Guss (Raymond Cappomaggi)  
    Feodor Chaliapin (Old man)  
  [and] Anita Gillette (Mona)  
  Featuring: Nada Despotovich (Chrissy)  
    Joe Grifasi (Shy waiter)  
    Gina DeAngeles (Old crone)  
    Robin Bartlett (Barbara)  
    Helen Hanft (Lotte)  
    David S. Howard (Irv)  
    Robert Weil (Bobo)  
    Amy Aquino (Bonnie)  
    Tony Azito (Conti)  
    Frankie Gio (Florist)  
    Ann McDonough (Nancy)  
    John Christopher Jones (Lowell)  
  [and] Frankie Gio (Florist)  
    Leonardo Cimino (Felix)  
    Paula Trueman (Lucy)  
    Lisa Howard (Patricia)  
    Cynthia Dale (Sheila )  
    Anthony Messuri (Priest)  
    Martha Collins (Mimi)  
    John Fanning (Rodolfo)  
    Antonia Minella (Vesta)  
    Nicholas Pasco (Eddie)  
    Al Therrien (Bob)  
    Lou Pitoscia (Mook)  
    Gilberto Godoy (Rocco)  
    Louis Di Bianco (Jimmy)  
    Betti Orsatti (Woman in hair salon)  
    Michael Barbaro (Pietro)  
    Antonio Pariselli (Franco)  
    Corrado Gianna (Old man)  
    Tommy Hollis (Parking attendant)  
    Matt Myers (Cab driver)  
    Michael Dunster (P.A. announcer)  
    Stella Bruno (Old woman)  
    Mimi Cecchini (Old woman)  
    Mimi Lizio (Ruby)  
    Tim Koetting (Al)  
    Gerardo Flannery (Harvey)  
    Robert Payson (Man at bar)  
    Catherine Scorsese (Customer at bakery)  
    Jack Tsirakis (Bar patron)  

Summary: Italian-American widow Loretta Castorini walks to her bookkeeping jobs in New York City. That evening, at Grand Ticino restaurant, businessman Johnny Cammareri nervously proposes to the thirty-seven-year-old Loretta, who insists he bend on one knee and present her with his pinky ring. However, she warns that her previous marriage was cursed with bad luck because there was no proper ceremony. Loretta then drives Johnny to the airport, where he is leaving to visit his dying mother in Sicily, Italy. While Loretta insists on setting a wedding date, Johnny is unsure when he will return, but they agree to wed in exactly one month. Before getting on his plane, Johnny gives Loretta the business card of his estranged brother, Ronny Cammareri, whom he wants to invite to the wedding. Returning to her family home in Brooklyn with a bottle of champagne, Loretta tells her father, Cosmo, about the engagement, but he warns that Loretta is unlucky in love. Although she insists her luck will change if she has a proper ceremony, Cosmo is suspicious of Johnny and refuses to support the marriage. When Cosmo awakens his wife, Rose, to tell her the news, she is relieved to learn that Loretta does not truly love her future husband. The following day, Cosmo’s aged father walks his five dogs to a local cemetery and regales his comrades with family woes, since Cosmo still refuses to pay for the wedding. One friend chimes in that there will be a full moon that evening, and the elder Castorini declares that the lunar event will provoke romance. In the morning, Johnny telephones Loretta from his mother’s deathbed in Sicily and reminds her to find Ronny. However, Loretta is more concerned about Johnny’s failure to announce the marriage to his mother. Still, she telephones Ronny at the family business, the Cammareri Bros. Bakery, but is unable elicit his sympathy. She walks to the bakery and finds Ronny in the cellar, stoking the oven fires. Seething with rage, Ronny reports that his brother, Johnny, robbed him of his life and reveals his prosthetic left hand. Five years ago, Ronny was also engaged, but Johnny distracted him with a bread order, and Ronny accidentally ran his hand through a slicer. In turn, his fiancée left him for another man. Although Loretta points out that Johnny was not at fault, Ronny fumes that his brother should not be entitled to the same joy of marriage that he was denied. However, he agrees to talk to Loretta in his apartment above the bakery. There, Loretta cooks him a steak and reveals that her deceased husband was hit by a bus. Loretta argues that Ronny is not a victim, but rather a wolf that felt trapped by his pending marriage five years ago; he mangled his hand intentionally, just as a wolf would chew off its own foot, to break free from a snare. Ronny counters that Loretta is losing her head by marrying Johnny out of convenience instead of love. He knocks over the kitchen table, kisses Loretta passionately, and carries her to his bed to make love. Meanwhile, Loretta’s philandering father, Cosmo, presents his mistress, Mona, with a gold bracelet. Sometime later, at the Castorini home, Loretta’s uncle, Raymond Cappomaggi, reminisces about a moonlight courtship he witnessed years ago, between Cosmo and his sister, Rose. However, Cosmo dismisses the conversation, and Rose senses her husband’s infidelity. In the morning, Loretta awakens in Ronny’s bed but insists on going through with her marriage to Johnny. When Ronny declares his love, she slaps his face, ordering him to “snap out of it.” Ronny promises to stay away from Loretta on condition she join him at the Metropolitan opera that evening. After confessing her sins in church, Loretta sees her mother praying. Rose reveals her belief that Cosmo is having an affair. On her way home, Loretta stops at a salon to have her grey hair dyed and her face made up. She then purchases an evening gown and red stiletto-heeled shoes. That night, at Lincoln Center, Loretta and Ronny watch La Bohème while Rose dines alone at Grand Ticino restaurant. There, a regular customer named Perry is humiliated when his date throws her drink in his face. Rose sparks a conversation with Perry, invites him to join her table, and declares that men chase women because they fear death. As Perry walks Rose home arm in arm, they run into Cosmo’s father, who does not acknowledge his daughter-in-law but assumes she is having an affair. Although Perry propositions Rose, she remains loyal to Cosmo. Back at the Met, Loretta catches her father with his mistress, Mona. Cosmo is equally distressed to see his daughter with a man other than her fiancé. After the opera, Ronny walks Loretta home and reflects that she is unwittingly attracted to his wolf-like qualities; a safe marriage to Johnny will kill her bold spirit. Realizing that Ronny has led her back to his apartment, Loretta insists on staying true to Johnny because the wedding will reverse her bad luck. In response, Ronny declares that love is not an ideal of perfection, but rather a purveyor of pain, heartbreak, and ruin. Unable to restrain her passion, Loretta reaches out for Ronny’s prosthetic hand. Meanwhile, Johnny returns to New York City and takes a taxicab to Loretta’s home. Discovering Loretta missing, Johnny tells Rose that his mother miraculously recovered. Rose is still pondering her husband’s affair and asks Johnny why men chase women? In response, he refers to the Bible; ever since God took a rib from Adam to create Eve, men have felt a void near their hearts, and long to recover the loss. When Rose demands to know why men need more than one woman, Johnny confirms her belief that men fear death. The next morning, Loretta saunters home to receive the alarming news of Johnny’s return. Ronny arrives at the Castorini brownstone unexpectedly, and insists on meeting Loretta’s family as they convene at the breakfast table for oatmeal. When Rose asks Cosmo to stop seeing his mistress, he hits the table in anger, but agrees. Soon after, Johnny comes to the house and is shocked to see his brother; he assumes Ronny is there to “make peace.” Johnny announces that his mother revived as soon as she learned about the pending marriage, but now he cannot go through with the wedding because he is suspicious that the ceremony will provoke his mother’s death. Loretta is furious about the broken promise and grudgingly returns Johnny’s pinky ring. Just then, Ronny proposes to Loretta. She demands the ring back from Johnny, and declares her love for Ronny. Champagne glasses are filled for a toast to “the family.” 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (An MGM/UA Communications company)
  [in association with] Star Partners, Ltd.  
Production Text: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents
A Patrick Palmer & Norman Jewison production
A Norman Jewison film
Distribution Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (An MGM/UA Communications company)
Director: Norman Jewison (Dir)
  Roger Paradiso (Unit prod mgr, New York crew)
  Lewis Gould (1st asst dir, New York crew)
  Gregory Palmer (2d asst dir, New York crew)
  Stephen Wertimer (2d asst dir, New York crew)
  Ann Petrie (2d unit dir, New York crew)
  Susan Fellows (D.G.A. trainee, New York crew)
  Bonnie Palef-Woolf (Prod mgr, Toronto crew)
  David McAree (1st ast dir, Toronto crew)
  Andrew Shea (2d asst dir, Toronto crew)
Producer: Patrick Palmer (Prod)
  Norman Jewison (Prod)
  Bonnie Palef-Woolf (Assoc prod)
Writer: John Patrick Shanley (Wrt)
Photography: David Watkin (Dir of photog)
  Harald Ortenburger (Cam op, Prod staff)
  Gabor Kover (1st asst cam, New York crew)
  Vincent Galindez (2d asst cam, New York crew)
  Jurgen Vollmer (Still photog, New York crew)
  Frank Schultz (Chief lighting tech, New York crew)
  Tim Guinness (Best boy, New York crew)
  Ken Goss (Key grip, New York crew)
  Bill Reinhardt (Dolly grip, New York crew)
  Thom Ryan (1st asst cam, Toronto crew)
  David Sheridan (2d asst cam, Toronto crew)
  Eric Gerard (Cam trainee, Toronto crew)
  David Whittaker (Still photog, Toronto crew)
  Randy Tambling (Key grip, Toronto crew)
  Robert Daprato (Dolly grip, Toronto crew)
  Rae Thurston (Chief lighting tech, Toronto crew)
  Steve Ferrier (Best boy, Toronto crew)
  Ferco New York (Cam equip by)
  William F. White Toronto (Cam equip by)
Art Direction: Philip Rosenberg (Prod des)
  Siv Sandstrom (Art dept coord, Prod staff)
  Barbra Matis (Art dir, Prod staff)
  Dan Davis (Art dir, Prod staff)
  Anthony Matteo (Art dept trainee, Toronto crew)
Film Editor: Lou Lombardo (Film ed)
  John Hill (Standby ed, New York crew)
  Kathleen Gibson (Asst ed, New York crew)
  Lee Michael Searles (1st asst ed, Toronto crew)
  Rosmary Conte (2d asst ed, New York crew)
  Michael Jewison (Ed trainee, Toronto crew)
  T.A.B. Inc. (Negative cutting)
Set Decoration: Philip Smith (Set dec, New York crew)
  Michael Bird (Set dresser, New York crew)
  Tony Gamiello (Set dresser, New York crew)
  Jimmy Raitt (Prop master, New York crew)
  Billy Bishop (Asst prop master, New York crew)
  Nikita Knatz (Sketch artist, New York crew)
  Jon Linder (Scenic artist, New York crew)
  Hank Bauer (Const supv, New York crew)
  Richard Reseigne (Const des coord, Toronto crew)
  Jaro Dick (Set dec, Toronto crew)
  Elena Kenney (Set dresser, Toronto crew)
  Mike Harris (Set dresser, Toronto crew)
  J. Tracy Budd (Prop master, Toronto crew)
  Bruno De La Celle (Asst prop master, Toronto crew)
  Weits Jekel (Const supv, Toronto crew)
  Guenter Bartlik (Scenic artist, Toronto crew)
Costumes: Theoni V. Aldredge (Cost des)
  Guy Tanno (Men's costumer, New York crew)
  Rose Trimarco Cuervo (Women's costumer, New York crew)
  Arthur Rowsell (Costumer, Toronto crew)
  Ursula Brooke (Ward asst, Toronto crew)
  Goldin Feldman (Miss Gillette's furs by)
Music: Dick Hyman (Mus comp and adpt by)
  Carl Zittrer (Supv mus ed, Toronto crew)
  Judy Kemeny (Asst mus ed, Toronto crew)
Sound: Dennis L. Maitland (Sd mixer, Prod staff)
  Steve Balzarini (Boom op, New York crew)
  Kim Maitland (Sd asst, New York crew)
  Michael O'Farrell (Supv sd ed, Toronto crew)
  Sharon Lackie (Supv sd ed, Toronto crew)
  James L. Thompson (Boom op, Toronto crew)
  Alison Clark (Sd eff ed, Toronto crew)
  Andrew Malcolm (Foley ed, Toronto crew)
  Alison Grace (Dial ed, Toronto crew)
  Anke Bakker (Asst sd ed, Toronto crew)
  Ross Carter (Asst sd ed, Toronto crew)
  Paul Durand (Asst sd ed, Toronto crew)
  Alison Fisher (Asst sd ed, Toronto crew)
  Joe Grimaldi (Re-rec mixer, Toronto crew)
  Don White (Re-rec mixer, Toronto crew)
  Michael DiCosimo (Dolby Stereo consultant)
Special Effects: David Lemmem (Spec eff, Toronto crew)
  Eion Sprott (Mr. Cage's hand des)
  Mark Vargo (Visual eff supv, Moon opt by)
  Ron Moore (Opt supv, Moon opt by)
  Bruno George (Plate cam, Moon opt by)
  Matt Beck (Plate cam, Moon opt by)
  Theo Dimson Design Inc. (Titles des by)
  Film Effects Toronto, Canada (Opt by)
Make Up: Renate Leuschner (Cher's hair stylist, Prod staff)
  Leonard Engelman (Cher's makeup artist, Prod staff)
  Bob Grimaldi (Hair stylist, New York crew)
  Ed Jackson (Makeup artist, New York crew)
  Ann Brodie (Makeup artist, Toronto crew)
  James Brown (Hair stylist, Toronto crew)
Production Misc: Howard Feuer (Casting)
  Jan A. Campbell (Prod accountant, Prod staff)
  Lynn Elston (Asst prod accountant, Prod staff)
  Christopher Cook (Prod assoc, Prod staff)
  Suzanne Rothbaum (Asst to the prod, Prod staff)
  Kelley Baker (Asst to Mr. Jewison, Prod staff)
  Elizabeth Broden (Asst to Mr. Jewison, Prod staff)
  Paul Pettigrew (Prod asst, Prod staff)
  Deborah Paull (Asst to Cher, Prod staff)
  Julie Bovasso (Dial coach, Prod staff)
  Dawn Animal Agency New York (Dogs owned and trained by, Prod staff)
  Steven Schottenfeld (Loc mgr, New York crew)
  Jeff Flach (Asst loc mgr, New York crew)
  Michael Fruhling (Loc asst, New York crew)
  Renee Bodner (Scr supv, New York crew)
  Jackie Martin (Prod coord, New York crew)
  Tina Hong (Asst prod coord, New York crew)
  Ann Petrie (Prod observer, New York crew)
  Thomas A. Imperato (Asst accountant, New York crew)
  Stephen Auerbach (Prod asst, New York crew)
  Sam Bruskin (Prod asst, New York crew)
  Vince Burns (Prod asst, New York crew)
  Mike DeCasper (Prod asst, New York crew)
  Laura Gross (Prod asst, New York crew)
  Peter Hume (Prod asst, New York crew)
  Stacie Rauch (Asst to Mr. Chaliapin, New York crew)
  Peggy Siegal Company (Pub, New York crew)
  Harry Leavey (Transportation coord, New York crew )
  Jim Sweeney (Transportation capt, New York crew)
  Sam Broomall (Casting asst, New York crew)
  Sylvia Fay Casting (Extras casting, New York crew)
  Gregory Palmer (Unit talent coord, Toronto crew)
  Susanna David (Scr supv, Toronto crew)
  Beth Boigon (Loc mgr, Toronto crew)
  Valley Via Reseigne (Prod coord, Toronto crew)
  Lofti Mansouri (Opera seq by, Toronto crew)
  Toni Blay (Asst prod coord, Toronto crew)
  Roberta Mayer (Asst accountant, Toronto crew)
  Jeff Woolnough (Prod observer, Toronto crew)
  Stefani Brown (Prod asst, Toronto crew)
  Jeremy Podeswa (Prod asst, Toronto crew)
  Peter Watson (Prod asst, Toronto crew)
  Stuart Aikins Casting Inc. (Casting, Toronto crew)
  Blanca Jansuzian (Extras casting, Toronto crew)
  Gino Empry (Unit pub, Toronto crew)
  Darryl Wright (Unit pub, Toronto crew)
  Joanne Tickle (Asst to Mr. Chaliapin, Toronto crew)
  Katherine Broadfoot (Caterer, Toronto crew)
  J. C. Canadian Catering (Caterer, Toronto crew)
  Alexia Beach (Craft service, Toronto crew)
  Nick Sweetman (Transportation coord, Toronto crew )
  Craig Kohne (Transportation capt, Toronto crew)
Color Personnel: Bob Hausler (Col timer)
  Technicolor Film Lab in New York (Col by)
  Medallion Film Lab in Toronto (Col by)
MPAA Rating: PG
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "That's Amore," words by Jack Brooks, music by Harry Warren, performed by Dean Martin, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.; "It Must Be Him," by Gilbert Bécaud and Maurice Vidalin, performed by Vicki Carr, courtesy of Liberty Records; "La Bohème," by Giacomo Puccini, performed by Renata Tebaldi and Carlo Bergonzi, courtesy of Polygram Special Projects, a division of Polygram Records, Inc.
Composer: Gilbert Bécaud
  Jack Brooks
  Giacomo Puccini
  Maurice Vidalin
  Harry Warren
Source Text:

PCA NO: 28740
Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby Stereo® in selected theatres
  col: Technicolor Film Lab in New York and Medallion Film Lab in Toronto
  Prints: Technicolor and Medallion

Genre: Romantic comedy
Subjects (Major): Courtship
  Family relationships
Subjects (Minor): Bakers and bakeries
  Breach of promise
  Death and dying
  Italian Americans
  Long-lost relatives
  Love affairs
  New York City
  New York City--Brooklyn
  Proposals (Marital)

Note: End credits include the following acknowledgements: “The Producers wish to thank: Metropolitan Opera House, Mayor’s Office for New York Film, Canadian Opera Company, Toronto Film Office, Roger Sherman, Leonard Brooke, Jeannine Edmunds, Gilberto Godoy, Joey Violante, Finn Quinn, Ron Meyer, Dominic Cortese, Larry Auerbach, Lynn Lombardo,” and, “Special thanks to the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Inc.”
       A 20 Nov 1986 DV article announced that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.,
(M-G-M) was remedying a year-long decline in finances and infrastructure with “an ambitious slate of 24 new feature films,” including Moonstruck, which was scheduled to begin principal photography on 1 Dec 1986. According to the 9 Dec 1987 HR, producer-director Norman Jewison first brought John Patrick Shanley’s original script to M-G-M chief executive officer Alan Ladd, Jr., at the 1985 Toronto Film Festival. Although Jewison was in the midst of signing a contract with Columbia Pictures at the time, and was therefore required to give the studio a “first-look” option, Columbia head David Puttnam permitted Jewison to show the property to other studios, and M-G-M requested a deal within twenty-four hours. One day after M-G-M’s 20 Nov 1986 comeback announcement, the 21 Nov 1986 DV reported that Nicolas Cage had been cast in the $11.5 million picture. The production was scheduled to spend five weeks of location shooting in New York City’s Little Italy and Brooklyn before moving to Jewison’s hometown of Toronto, Canada, on 3 Jan 1987, to film interiors. However, a 23 Jan 1987 Back Stage article, which stated that the production was currently underway in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn, noted that the cast and crew were scheduled to move to Toronto the following day, on 24 Jan 1987. The last night in Brooklyn was focused on a scene between “Ronny Cammareri” and “Loretta Castorini,” in which Ronny attempts to lure Loretta to his apartment. Before shooting began that evening, Jewison told Back Stage that he was concerned about the actors being too cold, and that their discomfort would make it impossible to convey authentic emotions.
       Back Stage noted that the production included a prop moon, nicknamed “Wendy,” which was made out of “196 fey lights attached to a giant cherry picker.” The prop depicted the moon rising at night, and was also “perched over the set,” illuminating cast members. The moon was first invented by British director of photography David Watkin, when he was filming Hanover Street (1979, see entry), and the device was engineered at Shepperton Studios in England. Benefits for filmmakers included its mobility, ability to light sets evenly, and capacity to cast only one shadow. Additionally, the intensity of the light made its crane invisible to the camera. Watkin recalled the first time he used the moon on location; a local boy presumed it was an unidentified flying object.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, actress Julie Bovasso, who portrayed “Rita Cappomaggi,” was also hired as dialogue coach based on her experience working in that capacity on John Huston’s Prizzi’s Honor (1985, see entry).
       New York City locations included the Casa Italian Bakery on Ninth Avenue, the Grand Ticino restaurant in the West Village, the TWA terminal at Kennedy Airport, and the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Square. The Metropolitan Opera scenes were reportedly filmed with over 300 background actors, while hundreds of real-life Lincoln Center audience members filed out of the theater after an actual performance. However, the scene in which Ronny and Loretta attend the opera, Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème, was shot at the Markham Theatre in Markham, Ontario, Canada. Other New York locations included a working bakery in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, which stood in for Ronny Cammareri’s shop. There, a regular bakery customer barged onto the set, demanding a loaf of bread, and Jewison directed Cher to grant the man’s request and accept his $8 payment.
       In Toronto, the filmmakers converted an empty warehouse into a studio and built interiors of the Castorini family brownstone home, a replica of Grand Ticino restaurant, and Ronny’s apartment above the bakery. Principal photography concluded 13 Feb 1987, coincidentally the night of a full moon. In a 10 Dec 1987 HR article, Jewison stated that the production ultimately spent five weeks in New York, followed by six weeks in Toronto, and the film was completed for nearly $10.7 million.
       Moonstruck opened in New York City, Toronto, and Los Angeles, CA, on 16 Dec 1987 to critical acclaim. As noted in the 9 Dec 1987 HR, M-G-M timed the early release for Academy Award consideration, and a nationwide opening was planned for 22 Jan 1988 in 500-600 additional theaters. However, an 8 Jan 1988 DV article announced the picture would be released one week early, on 15 Jan 1988, due to its positive reviews and five Golden Globe nominations. The film reportedly grossed $213,901 its first week of release, but showed a marked increase in the following weeks, earning $307,523 its second week, and $362,342 in its third.
       On 2 May 2001, DV reported that John Patrick Shanley was currently adapting Moonstruck into a musical.
       Moonstruck was nominated for three Golden Globe awards for Best Performance by and Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical, Best Screenplay – Motion Picture, and Best Motion Picture Comedy/Musical, and won two Golden Globe awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Olympia Dukakis). The film was nominated for Academy Awards in the following categories: Actor in a Supporting Role (Vincent Gardenia), Directing, and Best Picture. It won Academy Awards for Actress in a Leading Role, Actress in a Supporting Role (Olympia Dukakis) and Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen). Moonstruck ranked #8 on AFI’s list of “Top 10 Romantic Comedies.”

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Back Stage   23 Jan 1987   p. 1, 24.
Daily Variety   20 Nov 1986   p. 1, 18.
Daily Variety   21 Nov 1986.   
Daily Variety   8 Jan 1988.   p. 36.
Daily Variety   2 May 2001.   
Hollywood Reporter   9 Dec 1987.   
Hollywood Reporter   9 Dec 1987   p. 3, 19.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Dec 1987.   
Los Angeles Times   16 Dec 1987   p. 1.
New York Times   16 Dec 1987   p. 22.
Variety   16 Dec 1987   p. 10.

Display Movie Summary
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