6.9/10
3,768
42 user 19 critic

The Onion Field (1979)

Greg Powell is a disturbed ex-con who recruits Jimmy Smith (aka Jimmy Youngblood), a petty thief, as his partner in crime. Powell panics one night when the two of them are pulled over by a ... See full summary »

Director:

Writers:

(book), (screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Det. Karl Francis Hettinger
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Gregory Ulas Powell
Franklyn Seales ...
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Det. Ian James Campbell
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Det. Sgt. Pierce R. Brooks
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Dist. Atty. Phil Halpin
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Jailhouse lawyer
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Helen Hettinger (as Diane Hull)
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Chrissie Campbell
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Greg's woman (as Beege Barkett)
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Beat Cop
Le Tari ...
Emmanuel McFadden
Richard Venture ...
Det. Glenn Bates
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Billy
Pat Corley ...
Jimmy's Lawyer #2

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Storyline

Greg Powell is a disturbed ex-con who recruits Jimmy Smith (aka Jimmy Youngblood), a petty thief, as his partner in crime. Powell panics one night when the two of them are pulled over by a pair of cops for broken brake-lights. Powell decides to kidnap the cops and Smith, as always, reluctantly goes along with Powell's crazy scheme. The group drives out to a deserted onion field in Bakersfield, California and one officer is shot while the other escapes. The remainder of the film explores the nature of the American justice system, as well as the devastating psychological effects of this event and the trial on the surviving officer. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

neo noir | trial | police | thief | robbery | See All (70) »

Taglines:

A True American Tragedy Captured on Film! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 March 1980 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Anthropokynigi sto Los Angeles  »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As part of research for the script, co-writer Eric Roth went out on police cruises with the LAPD only to have the car he was riding in shot at by a gang member on one outing. See more »

Goofs

When Karl Hettinger is talking into the patrol car microphone, the microphone is turned around and he is actually talking into the back of it. See more »

Quotes

Det. Sgt. Pierce R. Brooks: Has your conscience ever bothered you? Like feeling - guilty?
Jimmy Smith: Mr. Brooks... I believe... I think that is something that rich white guys dreamed up to keep guys like me down. I honestly don't believe there is such a thing... such a feeling. Guilty? That's just something the Man says in court when your luck runs out.
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User Reviews

 
Intrigruing, gripping, and emotionally entertaining!
18 April 2005 | by (WILMINGTON, NC) – See all my reviews

Fact-based movie are always interesting to me. I'm surprised this happened way before the Kennedy assassination. WOW! The true story about "The Onion Field" murder in California mysteriously got my interest for some strange reason. I quickly read the book when I was in college, and I imagined myself in 1963 when the horrible crime took place. When I got the chance to see the movie after 15 years, I was stoked, I was filled with wonder and awe, in what Campbell's partner(Officer John Hettinger) was going through. He has a wife, he has a family, DON'T THROW IT AWAY!, I said to myself. Only the baby's cry saved him from total destruction. John Savage played the role very well in this movie, and James Woods and the late Franklyn Seales(Dexter Stuffins on the 80's cult "Silver Spoons") did their parts well as Powell and Smith. I would like to give thanks for former LAPD Joseph Wambaugh for the book and his courage for doing such a thing. I wished this movie would get a Oscar for it. It was outstanding! 5 STARS!


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