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The Deer Hunter (1978)

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An in-depth examination of the ways in which the U.S. Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of people in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania.

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Writers:

(story), (story) | 3 more credits »
Popularity
952 ( 173)
Top Rated Movies #153 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 26 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Chuck Aspegren ...
Shirley Stoler ...
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Pierre Segui ...
Mady Kaplan ...
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Mary Ann Haenel ...
Richard Kuss ...
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Storyline

Michael, Steven and Nick are young factory workers from Pennsylvania who enlist into the Army to fight in Vietnam. Before they go, Steven marries the pregnant Angela, and their wedding party also serves as the men's farewell party. After some time and many horrors, the three friends fall in the hands of the Vietcong and are brought to a prison camp in which they are forced to play Russian roulette against each other. Michael makes it possible for them to escape, but they soon get separated again. Written by Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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Winner of 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture 1978 See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

|

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

23 February 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Man Who Came to Play  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As the Oscars drew near, the backlash against the film gathered strength. When the limos pulled up to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on April 9, 1979, they were met by demonstrators, mostly from the Los Angeles chapter of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The demonstrators waved placards covered with slogans that read "No Oscars for racism" and "The Deer Hunter a bloody lie" and thrust pamphlets berating Deer Hunter into long lines of limousine windows. Deric Washburn, nominated for Best Original Screenplay, claims his limousine was pelted with stones. According to Variety, "Police and The Deer Hunter protesters clashed in a brief but bloody battle that resulted in 13 arrests." See more »

Goofs

The level of Michael's beer while he is leaning against the post at the wedding reception goes up after he drinks. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Michael: Hey, watch out, Axel. We'll be calling him old fireballs after tonight.
Axel: Fuckin' A.
Michael: Not bad.
See more »

Crazy Credits

We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of our Thai crew in the production of "The Deer Hunter" See more »

Connections

Referenced in 40,000 Years of Dreaming (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

God Bless America
(1918) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin
Sung by all in the final scene
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
As great as ever
12 June 2002 | by (Old Lyme, CT) – See all my reviews

I've now seen this film three times with a decade or more between viewings, and every time I see it I come away feeling that movies can't get any better than this. People always comment on the Viet Nam scenes, and it's true that they are as powerful and intense as any war scenes ever filmed. The Russian-roulette betting game, in both its up-river and Saigon venues, may be the most riveting, shattering plot device ever invented, as measured by the pounding of the heart.

But it's the 'home front' scenes that stick with me through the years. I think all the steel town scenes are nearly perfect, untoppable. And that very much includes the Eastern Orthodox wedding and its sequel. When anyone tells me they were bored I just shake my head. There's no arguing with short and shallow attention spans. You're either capable of appreciating art or you're not.

I do have a quibble or two. The deer-hunting scenes looked like nowhere I've ever seen in Pennsylvania, or anywhere else East of the Rockies. I think Cimino deliberately picked an ethereal location above the clouds as a contrast to the steel town. When John Cazale and the others get loaded and act like jerks it jars on Michael, because they have brought the stupid distractions of ordinary life to an extraordinary place. This would matter less if the 'genius loci' were not so strongly present in the other home front scenes. I wish he had used the soft, green forested hills of Pennsylvania for the hunting.

And some of the dialogue--Meryl Streep's in particular--wouldn't work on the page, and only first-rate acting by an inspired ensemble--has there ever been a better cast of young actors?--pulls it off. But these are forgivable errors in one of the finest films ever made.


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