The Executioner's Song (1982)

The Executioner's Song





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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 … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Television
Directed By:
Written By: Norman Mailer
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 5, 2008
Viacom Productions



as Gary Gilmore

as Nicole Baker

as Uncle Vern Damico

as Brenda Nicol

as Larry Samuels

as Pete Galovan

as Rikki Wood

as Val Conlan

as Jimmy Poker-Game

as Spencer McGrath

as Sterling Baker

as Kathryne Baker

as Earl Dorius

as Lieutenant Nelson

as Warden Smith

as Ron Stanger

as Noall Wootton

as Bessie Gilmore

as Mikal Gilmore

as Doctor #1

as Norman Fulmer

as First Patrolman

as Judge #1

as Prison Official

as Speaker #1

as April Baker
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Executioner's Song

There are no critic reviews yet for The Executioner's Song. Keep checking Rotten Tomatoes for updates!

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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