6.9/10
3,751
42 user 18 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 »

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

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

What Happened In The Onion Field Is True. But The Real Crime Is What Happened After. 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

This movie was made and released about six years after its source novel of the same name by Joseph Wambaugh was first published in 1973. Wambaugh wrote the screenplay as he would do the next year for his The Black Marble (1980). 'The Onion Field' was Wambaugh's third book. See more »

Goofs

When Jimmy is seen watching television at Greg's house he is watching "General Hospital". This scene takes place in early March 1963 while "General Hospital" debuted April 1, 1963. See more »

Quotes

[repeated line]
Jimmy Smith: Jumpin' Jesus!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Scene of the Crime: An Interview with John Savage (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Good first half, poor second half
7 September 2014 | by (NY) – See all my reviews

Most people have commented here about the film being let down by a rather slow, poor and melodramatic second half. I agree but won't dwell on it since it's already discussed by better reviewers.

So let's discuss the acting. James Woods is very good as Powell, the main villain so to speak. Danson is very good as one of the detectives. Unfortunately, Savage (who plays the other detective) is a mediocre actor, and Seales (the other criminal) is awful and seems to have walked out of a 1930s theater with his hamming (there's no other word for it).

The direction is tight in the first half but pretty much loses it in the second. I give it points for honesty and not going for gimmicks etc, but it doesn't do the truthful storytelling very well. The director should have known his limitations and tried to go for a more entertaining angle. It'd have been nice to see more of the early Powell and his attempts at crime, and a longer set up of the post crime events and how the two come to be caught. This could have been a much better movie.


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