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Winter Kills (1979)

R | | Drama, Thriller | 11 May 1979 (USA)
3:19 | Trailer

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The Pickering Commission concluded that a lone gunman killed the US President in 1960, in Philadelphia, but 19 years later a dying man confesses to be one of the real hit-men who killed President Kegan, sparking an investigation.



(book), (written for the screen)



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nick Kegan
Pa Kegan
John Cerruti
Joe Diamond
Z.K. Dawson
Emma Kegan
Frank Mayo
Yvette Malone
Gameboy Baker
Miles Garner
Captain Heller One
Michael Thoma ...
Ray Doty
Ed Madsen ...
Captain Heller Two


19 years after President Timothy Keegan was assassinated, his brother Nick discovers a dying man claiming to have been the gunman. While trying to avoid his wealthy and domineering father's attempts to control his actions, Nick follows the clues that have been handed to him. As he progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to discern the real trails from the dead ends, and increasing dangerous as unknown parties try to stop Nick from uncovering the truth. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Nick Kegan's brother was the President of the United States. Nick is next in line... if he lives that long. Last week, even the maid tried to murder him... See more »


Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

11 May 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Traficantes de poder  »

Box Office


$6,500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Elizabeth Taylor: Uncredited, as Lola Comante, who says only one word of dialogue. See more »


When Yvette refuses Nick's marriage proposal, she puts her right hand on his face. When the angle changes she suddenly has both hands on his face. See more »


John Cerruti: I'm so glad you're here! I receive so few outsiders. Who to trust? Who to trust? All of the nerves, but none of the flesh.
See more »


Featured in Who Killed 'Winter Kills'? (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

18 May 2001 | by (Queens, New York) – See all my reviews

William Richert's "Winter Kills" is a strange, offbeat film, to say the least. It begins seriously, but then changes tones and becomes a searing black comedy. I felt a little guilty about enjoying the film so much, considering that it's about a political assassination cover-up.

But, then I changed my mind. After all, this, "Prizzi's Honor" and the great "The Manchurian Candidate" were all based on novels written by the same author, Richard Condon. The one thing these films all have in common are that they are savage comedies about serious subjects. So perhaps that was the tone Condon was going for. The humor will escape some, but those who can appreciate dark humor will love it.

The film also contains a gallery of great performances by top talent. The cast includes Jeff Bridges, John Huston (a great actor as well as a great writer and great director), Anthony Perkins, Sterling Hayden, Richard Boone, Eli Wallach and in a cameo, Elizabeth Taylor. They make the most of this material and play it very straight. This is the key to the film's success. If they had played it slyly, it may not have worked as well.

But it's not fair to praise the cast only. William Richert also deserves praise for maintaining such uneven shifts between tones and for telling such a potentially confusing storyline with style and grace. It's such a solid script and such strong direction that he should have received Oscar nods for his work.

"Winter Kills" exists in two versions. In 1980, Magnetic Video briefly released the theatrical cut, which was edited to deemphasize the comedy and rush-released by Avco Embassy. However, in 1983, Richert was given the green light to re-edit his film. This version, with the original ending restored and many of the comic moments restored, was released by Embassy Home Entertainment in 1984.

My rating applies to the 1983 re-edit, although I would really like to see the original 1979 edit. If anyone out there has a copy of the 1980 Magnetic Video release, e-mail me.

**** out of 4 stars (1983 re-edit)

18 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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