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The Executioner's Song (1982)

The story of Gary Gilmore, a convicted murderer who lobbied for his own execution.



(screenplay), (book)

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Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Steven Keats ...
Jordan Clarke ...
Richard Venture ...
Michael LeClair ...
Pat Corley ...
Mary Ethel Gregory ...
Norris Mailer ...
Lu-Ann (as Norris Church)
Kenneth O'Brien ...


Based on the true story of murderer Gary Mark Gilmore, spanning the last nine months of his life (May 1976-January 1977) in which at age 35, after being released for serving a long prison term in Utah for armed robbery, the unstable Gilmore murdered two men in two seperate and senseless robberies in which after a brief public trial in October, he was sentenced to death by firing squad which drew a lot of media attention when Gilmore insisted that his execution be carried out and he became the first man to be executed in the USA since the government reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Written by Matthew Patay

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Crime | Drama


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

28 November 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Canção do Carrasco  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The part of "Prison Guard #4", portrayed by Deputy Warden David Franchina, was originally supposed to be played by John Robert Mallernee, who was a Correctional Supervisor (i.e., prison guard).

However, due to the snowstorm, filming was behind schedule, so John Robert Mallernee had to go on duty, and can be seen at the window of the watchtower (Tower #2) when Gary Mark Gilmore, portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones is being taken to the vehicle that will transport him to his execution.

Even though he did not actually perform the role of "Prison Guard #4", because John Robert Mallernee had been signed to a contract, he still received a royalty check, and subsequent residual checks.

John Robert Mallernee, an amateur singer/songwriter and disabled war veteran, is a resident in the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, Mississippi. See more »


When they are releasing the straps from Gilmore after he is dead you can see his hand move. In addition the arm is closer to the leg than depicted in the previous shot. See more »


Gary Mark Gilmore: Go down on me, partner... I need it
Nicole Baker: Don't call me partner.
Gary Mark Gilmore: No, darlin'... I love it... I love it
Nicole Baker: Yeah, you and seven other motherfuckers.
See more »


Referenced in Cremaster 2 (1999) See more »


Talk Good Boogie
Written and Performed by Waylon Jennings
Produced by Chips Moman
Music Coordinator: Marylou Hyatt
See more »

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User Reviews

The Three Versions
21 June 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

There seems to be a little confusion regarding the various versions of The Executioner's Song. I read the book written by Norman Mailer in 1980 and looked forward to seeing the film. The original film version was a made for TV mini series which aired in 1982. That version was much longer and also had numerous period songs included. Those songs were listed in the credits at the end. The TV mini-series version did not contain any profanity or full nudity. Some scenes were darkened and some were eliminated while extra scenes with additional dialogue were included. The second version was aired on cable television. It was the same version that was released in Europe in 1985. It was also released on "USA Home Video" on VHS tape. That version was much shorter; however it contained profanity, more violence and several nude scenes of Rosanna Arquette and Tommy Lee Jones. Those scenes seemed a little bit dark however. Also, several period songs were removed from the film even though they are still listed in the credits. The newest version of the film which I watched on Net Flix recently is also referred to as "The Director's Cut". I own the original 1985 "Big Box" VHS tape of the European version and compared those two versions scene by scene. The newest version includes all of the profanity, violence and all of the nude scenes from the European version. The content is exactly the same. The main difference in the two versions is that the newer DVD is much brighter, has more clarity and the colors are superior by far. The nude scenes are not darkened at all. The sound is a bit louder on the old VHS version though. The period songs that were taken out of the film are no longer listed in the end credits with the exception of one Neil Young song only. Waylon Jennings is given credit for all of the original songs he wrote for the film. I do not own the original TV mini-series version from 1982 and have to rely upon my memory to compare it to the newer versions. With that said, I prefer the new high quality version to the older, longer made for TV mini-series and also to the inferior quality European VHS release. Basically what you get with the newest release is a much higher quality European version. Did I mention that a much younger Rosanna Arquette is nude in several scenes?

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