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The Iceman Cometh (1973)

PG | | Drama | 10 November 1973 (USA)
A salesman with a sudden passion for reform has an idea to sell to his barfly buddies: throw away your pipe dreams. The drunkards, living in a flophouse above a saloon, resent the idea.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Hildy Brooks ...
Pearl (as Nancy Juno Dawson)
Evans Evans ...
Martyn Green ...
John McLiam ...
Stephen Pearlman ...
Tom Pedi ...


It's 1912 and the patrons of 'The Last Chance Saloon' have gathered for their evening of whiskey to contemplate their lost faith and dreams, when Hickey (Lee Marvin) arrives. Hickey is out to convince everyone that he can help them all find peace of mind by ridding them of the foolish dreams and by bringing them back to reality. Hickey is working especially hard on Larry Slade (Robert Ryan) a former anarchist who has lost his will for life and is awaiting the eventuality of death. Larry is not affected by the cajolings of Hickey but his young companion Parritt (Jeff Bridges) is strangely affected and this leads to revelations about his own mother and feelings of betrayal and loss. As the night wears on the mood changes as everyone has the their faith and dreams slowly destroyed by Hickey. As the anger builds everyone turns on Hickey about his wife and the iceman. This leads to more revelations and with Hickey having the faint questioning of his own new found convictions. Written by Dr pepper <j0468@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


They drank and they dreamed...tomorrow they would conquer the world...then along came Hickey.




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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

10 November 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Buzcu Geliyor  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Sorrell Booke, who played Hugo Kalmar in the 1960 television version of The Iceman Cometh (1960), repeats his role here. See more »


Hugo Kalmar: The days grow hot, O Babylon! Tis *cool* beneath thy willow trees!
See more »


Referenced in Newhart: The Snowmen Cometh (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

27 October 2003 | by (Chicago, Il) – See all my reviews

Can I tell you that I have waited 30 years to see this movie? When I was in my late teens, I received a brochure in the mail advertising the American Film Theater series. One of the films in the series that made my eyes pop was the promise to show Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh". I was a big fan of O'Neill's work, but felt cheated by AFT's disastrous marketing concept of showing it's films to season subscribers only, and then only giving them two days to see the film. I was forced to take a pass, but mourned my loss ever since.

This play is rarely performed. At four hours, it would task most theater companies, and Hickey's 25 minute soliloquy in the last act requires only the best actors to pull off. I was fortunate to have seen this play, once in my life, performed on the stage. This was Chicago's Goodman Theater production starring Brian Dennehy as Hickey in 1990. I felt fortunate, but came away from that production dissatisfied. Dennehy was a "good" Hickey, but not a great one, and the rest of the cast left me a little shallow.

How glad I was then to discover that this film had been re-released. By pure chance, I saw a notice in the paper that this film would be showing at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago. I couldn't let this opportunity pass by a second time. I attended the screening and was absolutely stunned. It exceeded my expectations.

First of all, the cast was stellar. Robert Ryan played his last film role here, and it was perfect. I don't say something like that very often. I cannot imagine a better Larry.

Fredric March played his last role here too, as Harry Hope. Also an excellent performance.

The question everyone would be asking about is Hickey, played by Lee Marvin. Was he up to the role? To my surprise, Marvin couldn't have been a better choice.

Hickey was a salesman, and a rare one at that. He was the type of salesman that could knock on your door and convince you that what he had to sell was what you needed. A salesman like that had to exude a sense of complete self confidence. They would have to be totally sure of themselves and show it. Lee Marvin did that perfectly.

The tragedy of Hickey was that he was his own best customer. He was a tortured soul until he came across a solution that made him feel that he could live with himself again, thus creating his own pipedream. His mistake was to think he found a solution that would save humanity.

Unfortunately, in Harry Hope's dive, pipe-dreams and illusions were the only thing the patrons had to live for. Tampering with that created disaster.

Lee Marvin convinced me that he was Hickey, and in a play like this, that is quite an accomplishment.

By the way, I discovered that this film is now available on VHF and DVD. I am getting a copy.

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this film is so dark, I wonder if the writer thought FlorenceLawrence
Tom Pedi also reprised!! mickeyv007
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