Killer of Sheep (1978)

 |  Drama  |  20 June 2008 (UK)
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Stan works in drudgery at a slaughterhouse. His personal life is drab. Dissatisfaction and ennui keep him unresponsive to the needs of his adoring wife, and he must struggle against ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Stan (as Henry Gayle Sanders)
Stan's Wife
Charles Bracy ...
Stan's Daughter
Eugene Cherry ...
Stan's Son
Delores Farley
Dorothy Stengel
Tobar Mayo
Chris Terrill
Lawrence Pierott
Russell Miles
Homer Jai
Johnny Smoke


Stan works in drudgery at a slaughterhouse. His personal life is drab. Dissatisfaction and ennui keep him unresponsive to the needs of his adoring wife, and he must struggle against influences which would dishonor and endanger him and his family. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

20 June 2008 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Matador de ovejas  »

Box Office


$100,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$31,728 (USA) (6 April 2007)


$339,884 (USA) (19 October 2007)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Library of Congress has declared "Killer of Sheep" as a national treasure and one of the first fifty on the National Film Registry. The National Society of Film Critics selected it as one of the "100 Essential Films" of all time. However, since the film was made without the proper legal permits and rights acquisition (due to the expense of the music rights) the film was never shown theatrically or made available on video. It had only been seen on poor quality 16mm prints at a scant few museums and film festivals. Thirty years after it's premiere the new 35mm print of Killer of Sheep was brilliantly restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive. In addition, all rights were secured for the music, allowing the film to be shown on the film festival circuit, theaters, and nationally broadcast by Turner Classic Movies. The film is also available on DVD. See more »


After Stan and his friend load the engine block on the truck, they drive away and it falls out, and a car is then seen parked along the curb. The car was not there when they carried the engine out. See more »


Man: [first lines]
Man: [to his older son] You let anyone jump on your brother again, and you just stand and watch - boy, I'll beat you to death! I don't care who started what, or whether he was winnin' or losin'; well, you get a thick oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, a goddam brick, get *anything*, and you knock the shit out of whoever fightin' your brother! 'Cause if anything was to happen to me or your mother, you ain't got nobody except your brother. And this goes for him, too - and he knows! You're the one that keep ...
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User Reviews

A piece of humanity
13 April 2008 | by (Los Angeles, CA) – See all my reviews

It's not about blacks, it's not even necessarily about the poor, it's a piece of humanity through the eyes of a sensitive filmmaker, and as such is a subtle and delicate thing. Unfortunately, all the 'hooplah' (Library of Congress, student film, etc.) about the movie I think basically buries the beauty of this movie for many viewers.

The beauty of this movie are in the subtle details that Burnett catches. The film has been described as being 'documentary' in style, but to call it that misses the deeper beauty of many of the scenes. To call it a 'slice of life' may be a bit more accurate, but even that doesn't sit well with me- it implies a sort of haphazard, random, cutesy story meant to seem ordinary but 'mean' more, or end up wrapping itself around a common Hollywood plot and message (love conquers all, try hard and don't give up, etc.) This movie is more like a wonderfully telling and sensitive and subtle piece of poetry. Without a significant plot line, all there may be are details, but the devil is in the details. Details captured from real life, not clumsy metaphors to assigned like a color-by-number picture.

I don't like giving ratings, especially too soon after I see a movie. But I'll rate it a 9 for now, and perhaps revise later (though I doubt I will ever lower my score.) A movie like this can be challenging to watch. There's no parts to piece together or 'figure out', there are no big character arcs or big dramatic moments. I'll leave it to each own's opinion whether this is a good or bad thing, but all the hyperbole aside, in my opinion this is a great movie.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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