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Winter Kills (1979)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  11 May 1979 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 1,331 users  
Reviews: 36 user | 29 critic

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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Something funny is happening in WINTER KILLS. Take it seriously! 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?


Debut theatrical feature film of director William Richert. See more »


Pa Kegan: I'm all that's standing between you and darkest night, son. The other side of me, there's Chaos.
See more »


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

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User Reviews

Very underrated
29 June 2005 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

"Winter Kills" is based on a novel by Richard Condon ("The Manchurian Candidate") about a man who confesses to having killed the President on his death bed. The President's brother (Jeff Bridges) witnesses the confession and stumbles upon a conspiracy plot involving more murder and silencing.

This movie somehow slipped under the radar years ago. Whereas "Manchurian Candidate" got the attention it rightfully deserved, "Winter Kills" was killed by its controversy and production faults.

It was allegedly filmed in 1975 and only released in 1979, although I can't find any evidence to back this up. What I do know is that it was given an X rating in the UK, and when a movie in the UK gets an X rating, you know something's wrong.

I'm not sure why it received such a harsh rating but evidently that had something to do with its box office failure. I suppose its themes (clear allusion to the JFK assassination) were too heavy - not to mention the violence was rather explicit.

Seen today, this movie is an underrated gem. John Huston delivers a great performance as Bridges' father, while Bridges is equally great. The music in the film is eerie and tense - without it, I doubt the film would be quite as good as it is.

It was directed by William Richert (who played the gay Bob Pigeon in "My Own Private Idaho") and he does a fine job. The movie builds its suspense well; the only segment I didn't like too much was when Bridges goes to visit his father for the first time. I felt it went on too long and was out of place.

Other than that, this is a very good film and a sadly underrated conspiracy theory movie that never got its chance to make a mark.

18 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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