The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper (1981)

PG  |   |  Adventure, Crime, Thriller  |  13 November 1981 (USA)
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A speculation on the fate of the famous hijacker who parachuted with his ransom and disappeared in the mountains, has Cooper following a meticulous plan to disappear into anonymity despite ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Howard K. Smith
Ramon Chavez ...
El Capitan
Stacy Newton ...
Pat Ast ...
Horse Lady
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Drinking Buddy


A speculation on the fate of the famous hijacker who parachuted with his ransom and disappeared in the mountains, has Cooper following a meticulous plan to disappear into anonymity despite the best efforts of a dogged cop. Written by Keith Loh <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Who says you can't take it with you ?


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

13 November 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pursuit  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Universal Pictures, as part of the publicity campaign for the film, said that if anyone could come up with information leading to the capture of the real Cooper, the studio would give them a $1-million reward. No one ever got the money. See more »


During the chase, the left wheel is wrenched off the biplane after D.B. uses it to pierce the roof of a car. But in later scenes, the biplane appears with its right wheel missing. See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits says Possum - Marsoupial See more »


Referenced in Abominable (2006) See more »


Maybe He Knows About You
Sung by Rita Coolidge
Written by Enid Levine
Songs of Bandier-Koppelman, Inc (ASCAP)
Chappel Music (ASCAP)
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User Reviews

Not As Well Organized As Was Its Subject.
17 May 2005 | by (Mountain Mesa, California) – See all my reviews

The subject of this work is the infamous D. B. Cooper, who high jacked a jet over Washington state in 1971 by utilizing a bogus bomb, collected $200,000 from the airline company, and then parachuted toward ostensible oblivion, evading one of the most extensive collections of law enforcement personnel in United States history. The production, burdened with serious problems from its outset, with directors John Frankenheimer and Buzz Kulik being replaced in turn by Roger Spottiswoode, is marked by obvious re-shooting as continuity is at times seemingly abandoned. Nonetheless, although flaws abound and logic is sparse, the film succeeds as entertainment, and since the fate of Cooper may ever remain unknown, recounting his story from whole cloth is suitable, with this version fashioned from American poet J. D. Reed's debut novel, "Free Fall". As action opens, Cooper (Treat Williams) is preparing to leap to hoped-for safety into forested Washington (played by Oregon), and he is seen as he eludes state troopers by hiding his bagged stash of 20 dollar bills inside of a freshly slain buck (Cooper jumped with, among his supplies, a collapsible rifle within his pack, and it is deer hunting season). Apparently, the only man capable of tracking the fugitive is Bill Gruen (Robert Duvall), the victim airlines' insurance company investigator and coincidentally the former Army Ranger instructor of Cooper, whose actual name is Jim Meade, and soon Gruen has trailed Meade to his home where he has joined his wife Hannah (Kathryn Harrold). Jim and Hannah head for Mexico, with Gruen close behind, as is one Remson (Paul Gleason), another former Ranger mate of Meade, with an agenda of his own, and subsequent events are stuffed with outrageous incident including a dangerous raft pursuit through Wyoming's Snake River rapids. As is no novelty, Duvall gathers in the acting laurels here with his nuanced reading as a persistent insurance company investigator. Because of its false starts, the film has too much dross to be effectively tidied up by Spottiswoode, but scoring by James Horner is consistently interesting, a musical blend featuring battling banjos, along with jew's harps, dobros, and other instruments of folkish characteristics that highlight British grounded whirligig dances. The D. B. Cooper high jacking is an incomplete story because there is no certainty as to his fate, and a variety of tales may be invented as a result; this one, in spite of its weaknesses, may be enjoyed on its own terms as it provides solid entertainment and a correctly ambiguous ending.

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