Straight Time (1978) - Rotten Tomatoes

Straight Time (1978)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Straight Time Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Paroled criminal Max Dembo (Dustin Hoffman) is compelled to withstand the calculated cruelties of slimy parole officer Earl Frank (M. Emmet Walsh). The more Max tries to go straight, the more he is defeated by circumstance or hectored by the sadistic Frank. It becomes clear after a while that neither Max nor his fellow ex-cons will be able to survive looking for legitimate work. Max is too "far gone" as a human being to succeed at anything other than crime. He goes back to his old thieving ways, inveigling reformed crook Jerry Schue (Harry Dean Stanton) into helping him. A climactic "big caper" goes tragically awry, thanks in great part to the tragic flaws in Max's personality. Based on a novel by Edward Bunker, Straight Time is possibly the most realistic cinematic probe into the sociopathic psyche of the career criminal. Famed theatrical director and instructor Ulu Grosbard directed, with an uncredited assist from star Hoffman; it was their second film together, after Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?more
Rating: R
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Alvin Sargent, Jeffrey Boam, Edward Bunker, Eddie Bunker
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 22, 2007
Warner Bros. Pictures


Dustin Hoffman
as Max Dembo
Theresa Russell
as Jenny Mercer
Harry Dean Stanton
as Jerry Schue
Gary Busey
as Willy Darin
M. Emmet Walsh
as Earl Frank
Kathy Bates
as Selma Darin
Fran Ryan
as Cafe Owner
Rita Taggart
as Carol Schue
Jacob Busey
as Henry Darin
Tina Menard
as Hotel Manager
David Kelly
as Counter Man
Kit Wong
as Grocer
Peter Kwong
as Grocery Clerk
Betty Jane Howarth
as Employment Clerk
Michael Blakley
as 1st Beach Boy
John C. Colton
as 2nd Beach Boy
John Colton
as 2nd Beach Boy
John Gilgreen
as Bank Guard
Mary Craven
as Bank Teller
Peter Jurasik
as Bank Teller
Enid Hendershot
as Girl at Bank
James Ray
as Jewelry Store Manage...
Stuart I. Berton
as 1st Salesman
Barry Cahill
as 2nd Salesman
Susan Sherman
as Saleslady
Francesca Drown
as Saleslady
Ernest Taylor III
as Job Applicant
Bob Jarvis
as Police Officer
Corey Rand
as Carlos
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Straight Time

Critic Reviews for Straight Time

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (4)

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Dustin Hoffman finally gave the unquestionably great performance everyone had been expecting from him. Unfortunately, few people saw it.

Full Review… | April 9, 2007

Straight Time packs a punch--thanks to the intense and well-modulated performance by Dustin Hoffman.

Full Review… | January 24, 2004
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for Straight Time

Based on a novel by Edward Bunker, Straight Time is possibly one of the most realistic cinematic probes into the sociopathic psyche of the career criminal. Great cast, strong script and solid direction by Ulu Grosbard. Not for a moment are you allowed to suspect that hoodlums might be smart or attractive, or that crime pays. Thanks to mjgildea for recommending this, it may have stayed under the radar much longer.

El Hombre Invisible

Super Reviewer

I watch a lot of movies and most of them are decent. A lot of the time I've got to convince myself that I didn't just waste a couple hours of my time or I'll have to dig for reasons as to why I liked a particular movie but whatever. But I'll endure long stretches of mediocrity because I know there are movies like Straight Time out there. I know there are obscure and unheard of gems that for one reason or another have been forgotten. This isn't to say Straight Time is a perfect movie. David Shire's hokey and dated score and a slow buildup work against it but this is easily one of Dustin Hoffman's best performances and the rest of the cast is nothing short of brilliant. Once Hoffman's character makes his choice to go back to a life of crime after the first hour, the story just creeps and creeps on you and doesn't let up. Written by Eddie Bunker (Mr. Blue from Reservoir Dogs), who spent much of his life in prison, this movie also gives what I'm guessing is a pretty accurate and definitely gritty portrayal of an ex-con's life. By the time it's over all you can do is as yourself why the hell you haven't seen it before or why Straight Time isn't as celebrated as it should be.

Michael Gildea

Super Reviewer

A hidden jewel that shows 70s gritty and raw cinematic power. Perfect Hoffman characterization of Max Dembo, a man who sees crime as the main engine of his existence.

Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

Straight Time Quotes

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