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The Executioner's Song (1982)

TV Movie  |  Unrated  |   |  Biography, Crime, Drama  |  28 November 1982 (USA)
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The story of Gary Gilmore, a convicted murderer who lobbied for his own execution.



(screenplay), (book)
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Title: The Executioner's Song (TV Movie 1982)

The Executioner's Song (TV Movie 1982) on IMDb 7.3/10

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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 »


Version of Shot in the Heart (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

director's cut
25 July 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"The Executioner's Song" from 1982 was a TV movie, and on Netflix, I believe they send out the director's cut. It has lots of Roseanna Arquette's breasts and other body parts.

Based on the book by Norman Mailer (who also wrote the screenplay), this is the story of Gary Gilmore, who became famous by demanding that the state of Utah go ahead with his execution. It was the first execution in the US since the 1960s and the first since 1972 when the Supreme Court ruled that death sentences prior to that date were unconstitutional, which is why the Manson group was not executed.

Gilmore, who requested to face a firing squad, became kind of a cause celebre. As a hero of some sort, I suppose he fits in well with today's idea of a celebrity. He was basically a loser who always chose the easy way out. When he was released on parole for robbery, he had the help and support of his cousin (Christine Lahti) and his uncle (Eli Wallach), but he was unable to hold down a job and became obsessed with a 19-year-old (Arquette) with two children.

He then returned to the robbery business and for no good reason shot and killed two people after he robbed them.

I believe this was a TV movie in two parts, so what I saw was shortened. As a result, to make way for Arquette's body, there was quite a bit cut, making it jerky.

My main problem was getting any sympathy going for Gilmore or Arquette. Tommy Lee Jones did a terrific job, but even though Gary's family loved him and just hated the things he did, I as an audience member didn't share their feelings. As far as I'm concerned, he wanted to die because he didn't want to stay in prison. He robbed so he could pay for a truck and didn't have to work. Same old story - the easy way out.

This story was described as "tragic." The tragedy is that the Arquette character had two children. She was a whack job who tried to commit surgery so that she and Gary could continue their affair in heaven. It said at the end of the movie that she moved and started over. I hope for the sake of her kids that she made it. I have no doubt with her figure she met somebody. Let's hope it wasn't another loser.

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