The Executioner's Song

1982

The Executioner's Song

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74%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 565
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Movie Info

Tommy Lee Jones won an Emmy for his searing performance as wanton killer Gary Gilmore in The Executioner's Song. The film covers the last nine months of Gilmore's life, beginning with his release from prison in 1976. Linking up with teen-age divorcee Nicole Baker (Rosanna Arquette), Gilmore makes a half-hearted effort to go straight, but ends up embarking on a robbery spree that culminates in two cold-blooded murders. Arrested and sentenced to be executed, Gilmore insists upon being put to death (Utah law required a firing squad for this); he spends his final days as a poster boy for anti-death penalty activists and as a "client" for an entrepreneur (Steven Keats) who wants to make a film of Gilmore's life. Adapted by Norman Mailer from his own book, The Executioner's Song originally aired in two parts on November 28 and 29, 1982. It has since been boiled down to a 97-minute theatrical film for European consumption, with additional scenes of violence and nudity.

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Cast

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
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Critic Reviews for The Executioner's Song

All Critics (1) | Top Critics (1)

  • Although the quality of the book's dialogue gives the film its distinctive style, that kind of literary magic is not readily transferrable from page to screen.

    Dec 13, 2017 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Executioner's Song

  • Jun 03, 2011
    I loved Norman Mailers book and the television adaption, which he wrote the screenplay for, is pretty tremendous for a television film. It speaks on the death penalty, maybe if the public saw how brutal capital punishment is they wouldn't support it, and this film does a decent job at bringing that idea up. Jones is great as Gilmore, stunningly making the viewer almost feel empathy for the guy who has been ruined by the broken prison system and is released into public, and it helps that despite his actions Gilmore does take full responsibility and utters the infamous line 'Let's do this'. Gilmore's story is more complex than a TV movie can show, or his legacy at least, as his call for death did help bring back the death penalty and as a result countless innocent people have been murdered by their own government there to 'protect' them and give them 'justice'. Overall an excellent film with intriguing writing and performances and quality photography from Francis.
    Jonny B Super Reviewer

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