26 Curious Facts About ‘The Hand That Rocks the Cradle’

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (1992) endures because of the shocking horror of accidentally inviting a sick predator into your home and giving them unfettered access to your family.

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992) is an important babysitter horror movie.

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is a 1992 psychological thriller starring Rebecca De Mornay, Annabella Sciorra, and Matt McCoy. The plot revolves around an obstetrician who kills himself after being accused of sexual assault. His vengeful wife seeks revenge against one of her husband’s accusers by infiltrating their family while posing as a nanny. Here are 26 facts about the film, including spoilers.

Influences

Ernie Hudson and Rebecca De Mornay in this suspenseful early 90s movie.

1. The film’s title is derived from an 1865 poem by William Ross Wallace called “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Is the Hand That Rules the World.” The poem’s main theme is that motherhood is the guiding force of all progress.

2.  A 1917 silent film called The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is about a doctor’s wife whose efforts to spread information about birth control is suppressed by the police.

3. Mercedes Lynch Maloney published a 1985 book called The Hand That Rocks the Cradle: Mothers, Sons, and Leadership. Maloney, a mother of five, sought to prove the influence of mothers on historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill.

Impact

Rebecca De Mornay (right) applies for a nanny job, but with ulterior motives.

4. In a February, 1992 episode of the Wayans Brothers’ TV show In Living Color, they parodied the film with a skit called “The Fist That Rocks the Cradle.” 

5. In 1993, the movie’s plot was recreated in the Hindi Film Khal Nayika (Skin Heroine). Anu Agarwal portrayed the nanny character, Jaya Prada was the wife, and Jeetendra played the husband.

6. The same plot was reproduced in a 2009 Telugu film called Kavya’s Diary (2009) featuring Charmi and Manjula Ghattamaneni.

7. In a March, 2011 episode of Family Guy, the movie was parodied in an episode called “The Hand That Rocks the Wheelchair.”

8. The Disney Channel mystery/comedy show Gravity Falls had a 2012 episode called “The Hand That Rocks the Mabel.”

9. In Doctor Sleep, Stephen King’s 2013 sequel to his novel The Shining, he wrote, “the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” Concidentally, Rebecca De Mornay, who portrayed Mrs. Mott in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, starred in the 1997 miniseries version of The Shining.

Actors and Actresses

Michael Bartel (Matt McCoy) and Claire Bartel (Annabella Sciorra) portray a couple whose life is disrupted by a depraved woman.

10. Rebecca De Mornay only auditioned for The Hand That Rocks the Cradle after she’d lost the role of Tinkerbell in 1991’s Hook to Julia Roberts. She initially auditioned for the role of Claire Bartel but was happy to land the role of the sinister, revenge-seeking Mrs. Mott.

11. Cybill Shepherd was offered, but rejected, the role of Mrs. Mott after deciding that the character would not complement her feminist beliefs.

12. Filmmakers initially sought actors Hugh Grant, Richard E. Grant, Christopher McDonald, and Kevin Spacey for the role of husband Michael Bartel, but it was eventually given to Matt McCoy, former star of Police Academy 5 and 6.

Continuity Problems

Children in the Bartel family are terrorized by a nanny who is hell-bent on revenge.

13. The sirens from ambulances that are called after Claire collapses on her front porch are European sirens, although the film was made and set in the United States.

14. Toward the end of the film as the children are rushing into the closet to hide, the baby is heard crying, although its face is completely still.

15. In the scene where Mrs. Mott asks Claire if she has batteries for Joe’s baby monitor, she is heard saying, “You think Solomon has some in his cart?” but her mouth is clearly saying something else.

16. Mrs. Mott says, “It’s a shame Michael’s not here, he’s gonna miss it” while baking a soufflé, but her mouth doesn’t move.

17. While Claire is packing a bag, she tells Emma that they are leaving for a few days, but her mouth doesn’t move while saying this.

18. Although the news broadcasts the name and picture of a sexual assault victim in one scene, this is illegal.

19. In the scene where Emma is carrying baby Joe into the closet to hide from Mrs. Mott, it’s evident she’s holding a doll rather than a baby.

20. Toward the end of the movie, Mrs. Mott is shown to be breathing, although she is supposedly dead at that point.

21. Claire’s car has Massachusetts plates, although the film is supposedly based in Tacoma, WA.

22. In the scene where Claire punches Mrs. Mott in the face for the first time, you can see blood on Mrs. Mott’s face. But when Mrs. Mott stands back up after being punched, the blood has vanished.

Misc.

Julianne Moore portrays Claire’s close friend, Marlene Craven.

22. A repeated musical motif throughout the film is the melody from “Poor Wandering One” from the Gilbert & Sullivan musical The Pirates of Penzance. Both that musical as well as Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore involve themes of baby-swapping.

23. In the scene where Michael Bartel calls the police, he tells them their address is 808 North Yakima Avenue in Tacoma, WA. This is the actual address of the house where most of the movie was filmed.

24. In an early draft of the script that was abandoned, Emma Bartel gets caught in the greenhouse trap and survives, whereas Mrs. Mott kills Marlene by rigging her car so that it explodes when Marlene lights a cigarette.

25. Michael’s workplace in the film was Bio Techniques Laboratories in Redmond, WA, which was razed to the ground a few years after filming to make room for an expansion of Microsoft’s office buildings.

26. Although filmed on a budget of only $12 million, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle took in $7.7 million during its opening weekend, dislodging Steven Spielberg’s Hook from the top position. It stayed on top for four weeks and eventually earned box-office receipts of $140 million.

Meet The Author

Chrissy Stockton

Chrissy is the co-founder of Creepy Catalog. She has over 10 years of experience writing about horror, a degree in philosophy and Reiki level II certification.

Chrissy Stockton