The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Bonfire of the Vanities Videos

The Bonfire of the Vanities Photos

Movie Info

Brian De Palma's Hollywood sanitization of Tom Wolfe's scabrous satire stars Tom Hanks as Sherman McCoy, the "master of the universe," a shallow Wall Street investor who makes millions while enjoying the good life and the sexual favors of Maria Ruskin (Melanie Griffith), a Southern belle golddigger. Sherman and Maria are driving back to Maria's apartment from the airport when Maria takes a wrong turn on the expressway and the two find themselves in the South Bronx. She sees a black youth approaching Sherman's car and Maria, frightened, guns the engine, running over the teenager and killing him. The two drive away and decide not to report the accident to the police. Meanwhile, indigent alcoholic journalist Peter Fallow (Bruce Willis), anxious for a story to make good with his editor, comes upon the hit-and-run tale through local black community activist, Reverend Bacon (John Hancock). Bacon plans to use the hit-and-run case as a rallying point for the black community, while Fallow recognizes the press coverage inherent in prosecuting the callow Sherman. As Sherman is brought to his knees, the New York community fragments into different factions who use the case to suit their own cynical political purposes. Finally, Sherman is left without any allies to support him except for the sympathetic Judge White (Morgan Freeman) and the remorseful Fallow. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi
R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Warner Home Video

Watch it now


Tom Hanks
as Sherman McCoy
Bruce Willis
as Peter Fallow
Melanie Griffith
as Maria Ruskin
Kim Cattrall
as Judy McCoy
Saul Rubinek
as Jed Kramer
Morgan Freeman
as Judge White
F. Murray Abraham
as Abraham Weiss
John Hancock
as Rev. Bacon
Kevin Dunn
as Tom Killian
Clifton James
as Albert Fox
Louis Giambalvo
as Ray Andruitti
Barton Heyman
as Det. Martin
Norman Parker
as Det. Goldberg
Donald Moffat
as Mr. McCoy
Alan King
as Arthur Ruskin
Patrick Malone
as Henry Lamb
Beth Broderick
as Caroline Heftshank
Kurt Fuller
as Pollard Browning
Brian DePalma
as Prison Guard
Adam LeFevre
as Rawlie Thorpe
Richard Libertini
as Ed Rifkin
Andre Gregory
as Aubrey Buffing
Geraldo Rivera
as Robert Corso
Mary Alice
as Annie Lamb
Robert Stephens
as Sir Gerald Moore
Marjorie Monaghan
as Evelyn Moore
Rita Wilson
as Public Relations Woman
Kirsten Dunst
as Campbell McCoy
Troy Winbush
as Roland Auburn
Emmanuel Xuereb
as Filippo Chirazzi
Scotty Bloch
as Sally Rawthrote
Hansford Rowe
as Leon Bavardage
Elizabeth Owens
as Inez Bavardage
Malachy McCourt
as Tony, Doorman
John Bentley
as Bill, Doorman
William Clark
as Eddie, Doorman
William Woodson
as Gene Lopwitz
Fanni Green
as Prostitute
Shiek Mahmud-Bey
as Lockwood
Stewart J. Zully
as Court Clerk
Helen Stenborg
as Mrs. McCoy
Timothy Jenkins
as Billy Cortez
Sam Jenkins
as Fox's Assistant
Vito D'Ambrosio
as Intercom Man
Paul Bates
as Buck
O. Laron Clark
as Cecil Hayden
Louis P. Lebherz
as `The Commandatori'
Joyce Walker
as Bobby Shaflet/'Don Giovanni'
Anatoly Davydov
as Boris Karlevskov
Adina Winston
as Female Guest
Richard Belzer
as TV Producer
W.M. Hunt
as Nunally Voyd
Jon Rashad Kamal
as French Waiter
Channing Chase
as Shocked Woman
Barry Michlin
as Funeral Director
Connie Sawyer
as Ruskin Family Member
Johnny Crear
as Manny Leerman
Sherri Paysinger
as Anchorwoman
Kathryn Danielle
as Public Relations Assistant
Oliver Dixon
as Diplomat
Jennifer Bassey
as Diplomat's Wife
Katrina Braque
as Diplomat's Daughter
Jeff Brooks
as Bondsman
T.J. Coan
as Bondsman
Don R. McManus
as Bondsman
James Lally
as Bondsman
Marcia Mitzman
as Bondsman
Camryn Manheim
as Poe Picketer
J.D. Wyatt
as Poe Picketer
Edye Byrde
as Poe Picketer
David Lipman
as Poe Picketer
George Merritt
as Poe Picketer
Nancy McDonald
as Media Jackal
Ray Iannicelli
as Media Jackal
Daniel Hagen
as Media Jackal
Kimberleigh Aarn
as Media Jackal
Walter Flanagan
as Media Jackal
Mike Hodge
as Media Jackal
Ernestine Jackson
as Media Jackal
Nicholas Levitin
as Media Jackal
Novella Nelson
as Media Jackal
Noble Lee Lester
as Media Jackal
Hal England
as French Restaurant Patron
Joy Claussen
as French Restaurant Patron
John Fink
as French Restaurant Patron
Judith Burke
as French Restaurant Patron
Staci Francis
as Gospel Singer
Barbara Gooding
as Gospel Singer
John Blythe Barrymore
as Restaurant Manager (uncredited)
Kathleen Murphy Palmer
as Gospel Singer
Lorraine Moore
as Gospel Singer
Doris Leggett
as Gospel Singer
Richard Gilbert-Hill
as Weiss' Aide
Marie Chambers
as Weiss' Aide
Virginia Morris
as Weiss' Aide
Barry Niekrug
as Weiss' Aide
George Plimpton
as Well Wisher
Susan Forristal
as Well Wisher
Barry Neikrug
as Aides to Weiss
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Bonfire of the Vanities

All Critics (51) | Top Critics (13)

If you're interested in a faithful visual adaptation of Wolfe's novel, be assured that this isn't it.

Full Review… | June 28, 2013
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

What a mess.

Full Review… | June 28, 2013
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

On film, Bonfire achieves a consistency of ineptitude rare even in this era of over-inflated cinematic air bags.

Full Review… | June 28, 2013
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

If you loved Wolfe's book, you may very well hate the movie. If you simply liked the novel, you may be simultaneously entertained and disappointed by what De Palma and Cristofer have done to it.

Full Review… | June 28, 2013
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Certainly Wolfe's canvas might lend itself to a broad approach, but broad like Dr. Strangelove, not broad like the Three Stooges.

Full Review… | June 28, 2013
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

The film was cast wrong and written shallowly.

Full Review… | June 28, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Bonfire of the Vanities

From Brian De Palma comes the satirical comedy The Bonfire of the Vanities. Based on an acclaimed novel, the story follows a Wall Street bond trader who's involved in a hit and run accident that becomes sensationalizes by a muckraker journalist. The cast includes Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith, and Morgan Freeman, who all give solid performances. However, the tone of the film is inconsistent, as is the humor; it's not dark enough to be a dark comedy and it's not goofy enough to be a screwball comedy. Yet The Bonfire of the Vanities delivers some good laughs and is an enjoyable film overall.

Dann Michalski
Dann Michalski

Super Reviewer


Bonfire of the Vanities is not the tumbling shit-fest you've been told it is. In fact the film is pretty funny and shot really nicely. It's not without it's flaws, Hanks is a bit mis cast and Kim Cattrall is downright terrible. It's no American Psycho, but if you're in the mood for a bit of 80's satire, I'd say check it out.

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

In no way is it the disaster that most people claim it to be. In fact, it’s actually a very well done criticism of the 80s yuppie lifestyle as well as racism, sex and politics. You have to feel sorrow for Tom Hanks’ Sherman McCoy, who accidentally gets himself into the biggest scandal of the time. While he might be prejudiced, in no way does he deserve to be put through all the anguish that he is subjected to. I love the idea of the Jewish District Attorney trying to win the minority vote by charging an innocent man as well as his assistant who has no shame in getting all the false evidence he can gather. Melanie Griffith was amazing as an incredibly over the top seductress and Bruce Willis plays a great drunk. Brian De Palma does a great job creating a captivating set of shots that are both original and fun to watch.

Conner Rainwater
Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer

The Bonfire of the Vanities Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Bonfire of the Vanities on our Movie forum!

News & Features