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At Close Range (1986)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  18 April 1986 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 10,280 users  
Reviews: 87 user | 32 critic

In 1978 rural Pennsylvania an absentee father is reacquainted with his estranged teenage sons and they become intrigued with romanticized life of crime.



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2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tommy (as Christopher Penn)
Tony Pine
J.C. Quinn ...
Mary Sue
Jake Dengel ...


Based upon the true story of Bruce Johnston Sr., his son, and his brothers; together, they constituted one of suburban Philadelphia's most notorious crime families during the 1970's. Their criminal activities ranged from burglary, theft... and ultimately, murder. Written by LizFL

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Yesterday, Brad was nobody. Today, he's front-page news. See more »


Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

18 April 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Auf kurze Distanz  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$6,500,000 (estimated)


$2,347,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Eileen Ryan (Grandma) is the real life mother of Sean Penn (Brad Whitwood, Jr.) and Chris Penn (Tommy Whitewood) but played their grandmother. See more »


Reflected in passenger-side window of truck when Brad, Sr. brings Terry to the motel. See more »


Jill: You got a name?
Brad Whitewood Jr.: Brad?
Jill: You don't sound so sure.
See more »


Written by Tom Elliott
See more »

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User Reviews

Will Mercilessly Break Your Heart!
4 July 2005 | by (Puerto Rico) – See all my reviews

AT CLOSE RANGE is one of the bleakest, coldest, scariest, and most depressing films I have ever seen...it was made even more depressing when I learned at the end that it was based on a true story. A very young but already magnetic Sean Penn is heartbreakingly convincing and predictably terrific in the lead role of a tough but generally good kid with family problems that range from a poor home with his mother and grandmother to having a lowlife, evil-to- the-asshole scumbag for a father. As the father, Christopher Walken, in what may be the greatest performance of his career, gives one of the most despicable, hateful, and frightening in it's believability performances in the history of film. He is the epitome of an evil person who has turned amoral with a lot of practice. I can't remember the last time I hated a character in a film as much as I despised Walken. The remarkable final confrontation scene between him and Penn, after a tragedy has happened, is an example of how limitless the raw power that film can evoke truly is when it is in the hands of amazing character actors who get inside their characters in such an awe-inspiring way that they make you feel like you are watching a documentary. The scene makes you so sad and angry at the same time that it just breaks your f**king heart! It is one of the very best scenes of both actors' stellar careers, and it is a scene that I'm sure will be shown every time either actor receives a Career Achievement Award in their future. Mary-Stuart Masterson, a talented actress who unfortunately seems to have gotten lost in the Bermuda Triangle after FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, is also touching and convincing as Penn's underage girlfriend. After watching GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS and now this, I think James Foley is clearly one of the modern masters when it comes to directing and setting the stage for great acting. It's not an entertaining movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a powerful, honest, unmercifully human one that will be hard to forget. B+

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