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Americana (1981)

PG | | Drama | 27 June 1986 (Portugal)
In a small town in rural Kansas, a troubled veteran attempts to restore an old merry-go-round ride.



(story), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
The American Soldier
Jess's daughter
Mike the garageman
Arnold Herzstein ...
Old Storekeeper
Sandy Ignon ...
John / Jack (as John Barrymore III)
Greg Walker ...
Bruce Carradine ...
Glenna Walters ...
Old Lady
David Kern ...
Wrecking Yard Man
Claire Townsend ...
Rick Van Ness ...
Grateful Dead Fan
Buz Storch ...
New Storekeeper
Jake (as Dan Haggarty)


In a small town in rural Kansas, a troubled veteran attempts to restore an old merry-go-round ride.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


There's a dark horse in the American Dream.




PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

27 June 1986 (Portugal)  »

Also Known As:

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Filming began in 1973 and continued intermittently over the years, owing to a combination of financial problems and David Carradine's taking other acting jobs to help pay for it. It was finally completed and released in 1983. See more »


This may or may not be an error, but his beret is brown at the start of the film and becomes green before he loses it. But maybe he had two. It also is worn in a style that is most definitely not U.S. military. But maybe that's intentional. Paratroopers in the service (he's supposed to be former 101st Airborne) wore maroon berets, not brown or green. Special Forces wore green ones. But again, maybe that's all intentional. See more »


Let Me Take You Around
Written by David Carradine
Sung by Calista Carradine and David Carradine
See more »

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User Reviews

It had to be made
29 August 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Americana is a good movie about a Vietnam veteran—played by the film's director, David Carradine—who drifts around the country after returning from the war. We get the idea that he basically just walks the earth, wandering from town to town until he finds someone or something that could use his help. It turns out that the thing that makes him stop in a dried-up little town in rural Kansas is an old, dilapidated carousel.

The drifter stops in the town to fix the thing. He makes it his mission to get it back up and running, stopping at nothing. He sleeps in the tall grass in the field where the carousel has been left to rust and he even gets a job to help pay for the parts and equipment he needs. He meets several of the locals and he wants to make the people of this town happy again by fixing their carousel. After all he's been through in war and in life, that is his goal, to bring happiness to a bunch of strangers who are his family on this earth he wanders that is his home.

But not everyone is happy that he's there. He's laughed at and hated by some bullies who don't understands him and want him gone. In the end, they force him into a compromising situation which causes him to question his principles and weigh his goals against his morals.

I think one of the reasons I enjoyed this film so much is because the basic idea has always been one that appealed to me. A mysterious drifter stops in a lonely town and stays for a while. He makes a few friends and some enemies as well. We don't know much about him, but we know that he's a man of morals and he's been through some stuff and he's not going anywhere until he finishes what he started. He's not going to let anyone down again like he may have done in his past, least of all himself.

It's a simple story and one we've seen many times before, but I feel like I had never before seen it done really well. Usually we see it on TV in shows like Then Came Bronson or Route 66, but television shows rarely measure up to good movies in terms of quality. Furthermore, I felt the episodes in those shows eventually became forced and too similar to each other, and the main characters quickly became boring and predictable as we got to know them too well, episode after episode. I wanted a character who we only see for a bit, just for this one chapter of his life. We don't know much about him and we don't learn much about him, but we do learn a thing or two from him and from his situation.

I even began writing my own story along these lines, as I felt one needed to be told, but I ended up putting it on hold when I couldn't think of anything good to add to it. So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Americana. I didn't know much about it—other than that its star and director were David Carradine—and when I realized that the story was eerily similar to the one I'd been trying to tell and wanting to see, it made me happy. I didn't feel like I'd lost my idea; I felt like someone had made my movie, only better than I could have ever hoped for!

Americana might not be for everyone, but it was very good for me, and I'm glad I got to see it. It's just the sort of thing I'd been looking for.

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