The Executioner's Song (1982) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Executioner's Song (1982)

The Executioner's Song





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

This film covers the last nine months of wanton killer Gary Gilmore's life, beginning with his release from prison in 1976. Linking up with teenage divorcee Nicole Baker, Gilmore makes a half-hearted effort to go straight but ends up embarking on a robbery spree that culminates in two cold-blooded murders.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Television
Directed By:
Written By: Norman Mailer
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 5, 2008
Viacom Productions

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Tommy Lee Jones
as Gary Gilmore
Rosanna Arquette
as Nicole Baker
Eli Wallach
as Uncle Vern Damico
Christine Lahti
as Brenda Nicol
Steven Keats
as Larry Samuels
Walter Olkewicz
as Pete Galovan
Michael Le Clair
as Rikki Wood
Pat Corley
as Val Conlan
John Dennis Johnston
as Jimmy Poker-Game
Kenneth W. O'Brien
as Spencer McGrath
Jim Youngs
as Sterling Baker
Grace Zabriskie
as Kathryne Baker
Richard Venture
as Earl Dorius
Rance Howard
as Lieutenant Nelson
Kenneth White
as Warden Smith
John Chappell
as Ron Stanger
Charles Cyphers
as Noall Wootton
Susan French
as Bessie Gilmore
Grant Gottschall
as Mikal Gilmore
Robert Boon
as Doctor #1
H.E.D. Redford
as Norman Fulmer
Russ McGinn
as First Patrolman
Oscar Rowland
as Judge #1
Jay Bernard
as Prison Official
Thomas A. Carlin
as Speaker #1
Jenny Wright
as April Baker
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Executioner's Song

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Audience Reviews for The Executioner's Song

What seems to circulating in rental is the 135 minute 2008 Director's Cut release. Despite statements elsewhere to the contrary, it does NOT contain the significant full-frontal work by then-23-year-old Rosanna Arquette that appeared in the European release. Rather, verbal obscenities and explicit violence form the minor amount of incremental content.

A true-crime sleeper that provokes much contemplation in the more intellectual viewer. Norman Mailer's 1979 best-seller novel earned a Pulitzer plus a screenplay Emmy nod, Rosanna Arquette earned a Emmy nod and Tommy Lee Jones took home an Emmy for this portrayal of murderer Gary Gilmore, who demanded his own execution and so marked the turning away of the American legal system from capital punishment as cruel and unusual.

Gilmore arrives in Utah paroled into the custody of his cousin (Lathi). Institutionalized by juvenile detention and adult incarceration, he is unable to adapt to freedom's smallest challenges.

He finds his angel in Arquette, who's also been unable to pull herself above the sorriest station in society and/or her lifetime of miseries. Together they form a dysfunctional life raft on the mere fact each now has someone that doesn't entirely victimize them.

Unable to cope, Gilmore quickly turns back to his life of petty crime. When convicted of murder, Gilmore's suddenly at the center of the battle for/against capital punishment and associated media sensationalism. Jones and Arquette, on the foundation of Mailer's meticulous research, develop ever-richer and more complex characterizations as the film progresses.

The duo are pathetic yet admirable, hopelessly adrift yet standing tall as true individualists, deserving of their due yet clearly were entitled to a better chance at some decent life ? rather than the life the world had imposed upon them.

RECOMMENDATION: Ignoring any issue that the film lionizes a killer, the film's recommended on the basis of its factual storyline, rich characters and solid acting.

TonyPolito Polito

pretty good movie true story I once worked for Spencer MaGrath,1988-1990 Gilmore's boss. Kinda spooky to hear the real stories


Sure would like to find the uncut version of this movie. Saw it when it was new. Bought it awhile back and some of the best parts were cut out. First time I ever saw Rosanna.

Biggie Little

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