6.9/10
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42 user 20 critic

The Onion Field (1979)

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

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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:
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Franklyn Seales ...
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Jailhouse Lawyer
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Helen Hettinger (as Diane Hull)
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Greg's Woman (as Beege Barkett)
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Beat Cop
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Emmanuel McFadden
Richard Venture ...
Det. Glenn Bates
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Billy
Pat Corley ...
Jimmy's Lawyer #2
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Storyline

Gregory Ulas Powell is a disturbed ex-con who recruits Jimmy Lee "Youngblood" Smith, 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>

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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 »

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Details

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Release Date:

17 March 1980 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Polisbil 6-Z-4 svarar inte  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$9,890,597
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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The bagpipe tune Detective Campbell is playing in the cells is the Piobaireachd (classical lament) Cha till MacCruimein (MacCrimmon shall never return). According to (unverifiable) legend, it was composed circa 1745 by the personal piper to the Chief of the Clan MacLeod, Donald Ban MacCrimmon, who had a premonition of his own death in battle. In January of the next year, during the Second Jacobite Rebellion, there was a minor skirmish known as the Rout of Moy, where the only man killed was a piper with the MacLeods, who were serving with the Hanoverian (government) forces. 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

[the two are eating at a diner]
Det. Karl Hettinger: You feel like another piece?
Det. Ian Campbell: Nah, I just got my weight below 200.
Det. Karl Hettinger: At least you're tall enough to carry it. Married life's making me feel like an avocado with feet.
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Connections

Referenced in Sneak Previews: Going to the Movies (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A powerful movie.
11 October 2005 | by See all my reviews

Ted Danson usually is found jokin' and schmoozin' in sit-coms. But there's no jokin' or schmoozin' in this movie. Here, Mr. Danson plays a police officer who is brutally murdered by two no-account thugs while his partner, completely terrified, looks on and does nothing and then is methodically hunted and only by sheer luck escapes. Remember, the two thugs actually kidnap and terrorize not two hapless civilians, but two police officers armed with their weapons. The message of this movie to me is clear: if this can happen to two police officers, it can happen to anyone, so beware. This is a powerful movie, not only because of the story, which is intense and provocative, but also because of the acting, which offers chilling portrayals of two psychopathic criminals who offer no apologies for their wanton and heinous acts and of an emotionally shattered police officer who is experiencing a nervous breakdown secondary to post-traumatic stress exacerbated by his overwhelming feelings of guilt over having done nothing to save his partner's life. This movie also shows how the criminal justice system reduces this act of terrorism to the level of being just another case as the case drags on for years in the courts. Indeed, the tragedy and terror of the event soon becomes eclipsed by the sheer mountain of legal paperwork it generates in the courts. This is a great movie which is based on an excellent book, which in turn is based on an actual event.


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