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Hard Choices (1985)

 |  Crime, Drama  |  16 May 1986 (USA)
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A teenaged boy goes for a ride with his brother and the brother's friends, who proceed to rob a store and murder the clerk. They are caught and, despite the young boy's protestations, he is... See full summary »



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Title: Hard Choices (1985)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Margaret Klenck ...
Laura Stephens
Gary McCleery ...
Bobby Lipscomb
John Seitz ...
Sheriff Mavis Johnson
Deputy Anderson
Terry Norfolk
John P. Connolly ...
Willey Reynolds ...
Horton (as Wiley Reynolds III)
Ruth Miller ...
Mrs. Lipscomb
Richard Allen ...
Judge I
Geraldine Bartlett ...
Judson Camp ...
Charles Chalmers ...
Larry Farrell


A teenaged boy goes for a ride with his brother and the brother's friends, who proceed to rob a store and murder the clerk. They are caught and, despite the young boy's protestations, he is convicted of murder and sent to prison. A female social worker assigned to the boy's case not only believes him, but begins to fall in love with him, and determines to either help him prove his innocence or escape. Written by

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Crime | Drama


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Release Date:

16 May 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Era tarde para parar  »

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Production Co:

,  »
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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Film debut of Martin Donovan. See more »

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User Reviews

Surprisingly realistic, well written and acted
31 March 2003 | by (LA, CA) – See all my reviews

Starting at 40 minutes in, this movie did something that doesn't happen often - it surprised me again and again.

The movie begins generically enough: three drug addicted brothers living in a rural Tennessee town have no money for drugs. They decide to rob a pharmacy. The youngest brother, 15 years-old, is the lookout. He has a walkie-talkie to warn the others, however, the walkie-talkie fails when a cop shows up. The cop enters the pharmacy to investigate, surprises the two older brothers. One of them has a shotgun, and when startled, he fires, killing the officer.

The three brothers flee but are eventually caught by the tough local sheriff. Once they reach the jail, the brothers are `roughed up' by the hard-ass deputy bent on revenge. The youngest brother is charged as an adult, despite being a juvenile and only having been an accessory. There is a female social worker whose cause is keeping juveniles out of the adult criminal system and has close ties with a drug smuggler/kingpin.

The set-up may sound generic, as do the characters, but they are anything but generic. They were written realistically and portrayed with a depth that refuses to dehumanize them into stereotypes. There is no `bad' person in this movie and there is no `good' person, just people who find themselves in situations both in and out of their control.

The local sheriff runs the jail `his way' and he is not going to do any favors for the 15-year-old cop killer, but he has a deep respect for human dignity, and even has depth and emotion enough to realize that this boy still has a chance for a life. So much so, that once it's been determined the boy will be tried as an adult, he encourages, even advises, the social worker on ways to help the boy. This sheriff sees the difference between law and justice, and while his job is to maintain the former, he has an enlightened understanding of the latter and has remorse for his inability to affect justice and shows great empathy and sympathy for those caught in between.

The social worker works to protect juveniles who are being charged as adults. She cares too much for the people she represents, and has given her life to her cause. One of her main benefactors is a drug smuggler. This presents an interesting moral dilemma, as he admits his main reason for helping is because he wants "...those kids back on the street, they're my customers 'bout five steps down the line," while sublimely giving us the feeling there is more to it than that -- maybe he secretly cares, maybe he subconsciously feels guilty, maybe he is in love with the woman, more likely a combination of all three - realistic. She happily accepts his money because she feels the ends justify the means. We also find out that she likes to recreationally use cocaine, but only when visiting him because it's free and she is too poor to afford it on her own.

The drug dealer is also a surprise, he is intellectual and actually seems like a nice guy, separate from the bad things he does and the even worse things he probably has to do in the course of his job.

Soon after this the movie takes a turn that I will not reveal, I will only say that these people make hard choices, as the title implies. They make both bad decisions and good decisions, in a more realistic way then I have seen in a long time, and the ending is anything but predictable.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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