The Onion Field (Campo de Cebollas) (1979)

TOMATOMETER

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

This film is based on an actual 1963 case. L.A. plainclothesmen John Savage and Ted Danson routinely investigate a pair of suspicious types. Unexpectedly, one of the men kills Danson in cold blood. Savage manages to escape and the men are arrested. But that is not that.
Rating:
R
Genre:
Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
AVCO Embassy Pictures

Cast

James Woods
as Gregory Ulas Powell
Christopher Lloyd
as Jailhouse
John Savage
as Karl Hettinger
Ted Danson
as Ian Campbell
Michael Pataki
as District Attorney Dino Fulgoni
Ronny Cox
as Sgt. Pierce Brooks
Richard Herd
as Beat Cop
David Huffman
as District Attorney Phil
Steve Conte
as 1st Prison Guard
Priscilla Pointer
as Chrissie Campbell
Bradford English
as Redhaired Cop
K Callan
as Mrs. Powell
Richard Venture
as Glenn Bates
Ned Wilson
as LAPD Captain
Pat Corley
as Jimmy's 1st Lawyer
Franklyn Seales
as Jimmy Smith
Sandy McPeak
as Mr. Powell
Raleigh Bond
as 2nd Judge
Stanley Grover
as Greg's 2nd Lawyer
Phillip R. Allen
as District Attorney Marshall Schulman
Lee Weaver
as Billy
Jack Rader
as IAD Captain
Diane Hull
as Helen Hettinger
Le Tari
as Emmanuel McFadden
Phillip Richard Allen
as District Attorney Marshall Schulman
Beege Barkett
as Greg's Woman
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Onion Field (Campo de Cebollas)

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (4)

The Onion Field is a serious and most uncompromising movie. It lacks, however, the sort of disciplined craft that might have made it a powerful and affecting one.

Full Review… | September 10, 2011
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

James Woods as the near-psychotic Powell is chillingly effective, creating a flakiness in the character that exudes the danger of a live wire near a puddle.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Variety
Top Critic

It's the usual heavy Wambaugh brew: police procedure closely observed without a trace of romanticism, suggesting simply that life in the force is psychological hell.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The film is generally crisp and at times exciting, but it's also full of incidents that are only sketchily explained, and minus the all-important narrative thread that might have provided a clear point of view.

May 8, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Brutal, even sordid, but compulsive viewing.

Full Review… | September 10, 2011
Film4

Good acting and careful direction by Becker make it worth seeing, but the violence and the language may be too graphic for some tastes.

Full Review… | September 10, 2011
TV Guide

Audience Reviews for The Onion Field (Campo de Cebollas)

The Onion Field is a serious and most uncompromising movie. It lacks, however, the sort of disciplined craft that might have made it a powerful and affecting one.

Greg Wood
Greg Wood

"The Onion Field" features a complex narrative and well-developed characters, but ultimately, it never goes anywhere. The scenes that are meant to provoke emotion fall flat, the final twenty minutes or so are unnecessary, and the pacing is slow and unbalanced. James Woods delivers a strong performance, but that's about it. There's nothing noteworthy about this film other than that.

Stephen Earnest
Stephen Earnest

Super Reviewer

The Onion Field has real potential to be a very compelling film. There are tons of great character pieces with a complex plot, but it all somehow just doesn't go anywhere. This film is based on true events, but I'm wondering if the actual events were portrayed as is, and if so, did they need to be so true to them? I'm not going to spoil the entirety of the film, nor am I going to get into a discussion on dramatic character development and satisfactory story, but it basically winds down to nothing. Dramatic tension tries its hardest to kick in at times with little to no pay-off. This, to me, seemed more suited to be a Broadway production rather than a film. Two hours of complex plot and emotionally unsatisfying events make for a very dull film, despite the talent behind it.

Tim Salmons
Tim Salmons

Super Reviewer

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