Down 108 this week

The Ninth Configuration (1980)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Horror  |  29 February 1980 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.3/10 from 3,777 users  
Reviews: 92 user | 34 critic

A new commanding officer arrives at a remote castle serving as an insane asylum for crazy and AWOL U.S. Army soldiers where he attempts to rehabilitate them by allowing them to live out ... See full summary »


(novel), (screenplay)
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

Celebrate IMDb's 25th Anniversary with Photos We Love

IMDb turns 25 on October 17! To celebrate, we put together a gallery of some of our favorite movie, TV, and event photos from the last 25 years.

See the Photos We Love

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 25 titles
created 11 May 2011
a list of 46 titles
created 12 Oct 2012
a list of 41 titles
created 02 Apr 2013
a list of 46 titles
created 30 Jun 2014
a list of 22 titles
created 7 months ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: The Ninth Configuration (1980)

The Ninth Configuration (1980) on IMDb 7.3/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Ninth Configuration.
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A police lieutenant uncovers more than he bargained for as his investigation of a series of murders, which have all the hallmarks of the deceased 'Gemini' serial killer, lead him to question the patients of a psychiatric ward.

Director: William Peter Blatty
Stars: George C. Scott, Ed Flanders, Brad Dourif
Horror | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A Harvard scientist conducts experiments on himself with a hallucinatory drug and an isolation chamber that may be causing him to regress genetically.

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A woman reports that her young daughter is missing, but there seems to be no evidence that she ever existed.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Keir Dullea, Carol Lynley, Laurence Olivier
Saturn 3 (1980)
Adventure | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5/10 X  

Two lovers stationed at a remote base in the asteroid fields of Saturn are intruded upon by a retentive technocrat from Earth and his charge: a malevolent 8-ft robot. Remember, in space no one can hear you scream.

Directors: Stanley Donen, John Barry
Stars: Farrah Fawcett, Kirk Douglas, Harvey Keitel
Last Embrace (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Harry breaks down and loses his job after his wife is assassinated - could it be his turn next ?

Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Roy Scheider, Janet Margolin, John Glover
Crime | Mystery | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Three stories of murder and the supernatural. In the first, a museum worker is introduced to a world behind the pictures he sees every day. Second, when two lifelong friends fall in love ... See full summary »

Directors: David Eady, George More O'Ferrall, and 2 more credits »
Stars: Orson Welles, John Gregson, Elizabeth Sellars
The Driver (1978)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

"The Driver" is a specialist in a rare business: he drives getaway cars in robberies. His exceptional talent prevented him from being caught yet. After another successful flight from the ... See full summary »

Director: Walter Hill
Stars: Ryan O'Neal, Bruce Dern, Isabelle Adjani
Wolfen (1981)
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A New York cop investigates a series of brutal deaths that resemble animal attacks.

Director: Michael Wadleigh
Stars: Albert Finney, Diane Venora, Edward James Olmos
Thief (1981)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Becoming closer to his dream of leading a normal life, a professional safecracker agrees to do a job for the mafia, who have other plans for him.

Director: Michael Mann
Stars: James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson
Miracle Mile (1988)
Action | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A young man hears a chance phone call telling him that a nuclear war has started and missiles will hit his city in 70 minutes.

Director: Steve De Jarnatt
Stars: Anthony Edwards, Mare Winningham, John Agar
Possession (1981)
Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A woman starts exhibiting increasingly disturbing behavior after asking her husband for a divorce. Suspicions of infidelity soon give way to something much more sinister.

Director: Andrzej Zulawski
Stars: Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill, Margit Carstensen
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.7/10 X  

A girl once possessed by a demon finds that it still lurks within her. Meanwhile, a priest investigates the death of the girl's exorcist.

Director: John Boorman
Stars: Richard Burton, Linda Blair, Louise Fletcher


Cast overview, first billed only:
Lt. Frankie Reno
Maj. Marvin Groper
Capt. Fairbanks
Maj. Nammack
Lt. Bennish
Joe Spinell ...
Lt. Spinell
Alejandro Rey ...
Lt. Gomez
Sgt. Krebs
Steve Sandor ...
1st Cyclist (Stanley)
2nd Cyclist (Richard)
Gordon Mark ...
Sgt. Gilman
Highway Patrolman


A new commanding officer arrives at a remote castle serving as an insane asylum for crazy and AWOL U.S. Army soldiers where he attempts to rehabilitate them by allowing them to live out their crazy fantasies while combating his own long-suppressed insanity. Written by Matt Patay

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Don't blink for a second, because nothing is what it seems. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

29 February 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (re-issue) | (combined extended) | (1982)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording) (5.0) (L-R)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Joe Spinell's character of 'Spinell', a patient at the castle-hospital, was not in the novel or original script. Spinell had begged to writer-director William Peter Blatty, a close friend of his, to cast him in a small role as the sidekick to Jason Miller's character of Lt. Reno. Since there was no part for Spinell in the movie, his character was given the same last name. Nearly all of Spinell's dialogue was ad-libbed. See more »


[Captain Cutshaw stomps in wearing scuba flippers]
Captain Cutshaw: Take me to the beach.
Colonel Kane: It's night, and it's raining.
Captain Cutshaw: I see you're determined to start an argument.
See more »


References Superman (1978) See more »


Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life
Music by Victor Herbert
Lyrics by Rida Johnson Young
Performed by Walter Scanlan
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

God a giant foot? 'Hamlet' acted by dogs? A soldier dressed as a nun exorcising a vending machine? You've seen nothing like this before!!!
4 July 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

William Peter Blatty will be better known to most as the writer of 'The Exorcist', and here he makes his sterling directorial debut with what is (once the abomination of 'The Exorcist 2' is exorcised) the spiritual sequel to that consummate horror. Having said that, lest the reader get the impression that you're in for more supernatural shenanigans (and pea soup) it should be said that this movie is a million miles away from the horror genre. What's more, 'The Ninth Configuration' is virtually unclassifiable as far as traditional genre categories go and will leave you reeling from the barrage of bizarre images, comedic one-liners, theological debates, and a bar room brawl to end them all!

William Peter Blatty wrote 'The Exorcist' as the first part of a trilogy of novels, the other installments being 'Twinkle twinkle killer Kane' and 'Legion'. 'Twinkle twinkle killer Kane' was adapted to the screen by Blatty as 'The Ninth Configuration' and where 'The Exorcist' explored the argument for the existence of God through the palpable presence of evil, 'The Ninth Configuration' continues the argument through exploring the presence of good in a universe purported by science to be empty, blindly deterministic, and amoral.

At the start of the film we are introduced to a motley band of members of the military who, in the course of the Vietnam War, have all suffered various kinds of mental breakdown and for their treatment have been sent to a reconstructed European castle in some remote American mountains (the film was actually shot in Hungary). Chief among these is the astronaut Capt. Billy Cutshaw (Scott Wilson) whose illness is seen as somehow key in that it is clearly not feigned due to cowardice as he was never scheduled for combat. This introduction sets the tone for the first part of the film and the portrayal of mental illness is somewhat zany and comedic and continues as we are introduced to the other main character, the psychiatrist Colonel Kane (Stacy Keach). Col. Kane, with the support of fellow psychiatrist Col. Fell (Ed Flanders), then institutes an unorthodox treatment which indulges the fantasies of the inmates in an attempt to invoke a catharsis…which is when all (comedic) hell breaks loose and it is against this anarchic backdrop that Cutshaw argues with Kane for the absurdity of believing in God in a world in which undue suffering proliferates.

The light-hearted whacky tone gives way in the second half as Kane and Cutshaw's arguments become more penetrating (although not completely, as Cutshaw's choice of wardrobe to a Christian Mass will testify!) and the climax of the film is a double-whammy of a plot reveal that casts the performance of Ed Flanders as Col. Fell in a pathos infused light (which can only be fully appreciated with repeat viewings), as well as a bar room fight that will have you stuck to your screen as the tension builds and builds to an explosive finale.

Unfortunately, owing to the fact that a theological tragi-comedy is not the stuff the popcorn and soda crowd really go for, 'The Ninth Configuration' has fallen into the "cult" film category, which is a shame as another film with as fine a plot carried off by as fine a cast (not to mention a wealth of quotable one-liners) you are unlikely to see. However, while the film clearly deserves wider recognition (especially given it's conceptual relationship to 'The Exorcist'), those that seek it out, or fortuitously stumble upon it , are in for a real treat!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Bar Scene doubt nun_luz
Meaning of the Title dorphley
Anyone seen the full bar room scene? trashface
Best completely comical moment? Skragg
Does anyone want to discuss this remarkable movie? JimSpy
Needs to direct again mastrmeb
Discuss The Ninth Configuration (1980) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: