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Based on the life of successful poet Charles Bukowski and his exploits in Hollywood during the 60s, 70s, and 80s.


Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
J.C. Quinn ...
Gloria LeRoy ...
Harry Cohn ...
Joe Rice ...
Old Man in Bar
Julie 'Sunny' Pearson ...
Hooker in Bar
Donald L. Norden ...
Man in Alley


Henry Chinaski never cared for the American dream, the thought of needing to become 'something' and fit into the system disgusts him. He believes that life is free and yours to live like you see fit, and if that in some cases involves copious amounts of whiskey then so be it. Henry spends his days drinking and listening to the radio, and he spends his nights drinking and fighting against Eddy who he thinks personifies shallowness and shameless self promoting. Sometimes in the middle of this he finds the time to jot down a few lines of poetry or a short story. After fighting Eddy and winning for a change Henry is thrown out of his regular bar where Eddy is a bartender. This leads him to seek another watering hole where he happens to find Wanda who is a barfly, in her own words "if another man came along with a fifth of whiskey, I'd go with him". Henry is not fazed by this thou and moves in with her. Of course Wanda immediately goes off and sleeps with Eddy, but after some clothes ... Written by Erik Wallen <erik.wallen@bluetie.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

bar | whiskey | radio | poet | bartender | See All (69) »


Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.


Comedy | Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

16 October 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bar kelebegi  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)


$3,221,568 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Contrary to popular belief, Charles Bukowski thought that Rourke's performance was 'mis-done' to begin with, but grew to like his depiction of Chinaski as the production continued. Verified in the booklet accompanying 'The Charles Bukowski Tapes' on DVD. See more »


Henry calls an ambulance and gives address of apartment building as 334, while in scene earlier that day building is clearly marked 360. See more »


Tully: Do you need a drink?
Henry: Yeah, like a spider needs a fly.
See more »


Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #33.10 (2016) See more »


Poem of Ecstasy
By Alexander Scriabin
Courtesy of Supraphon Records, Prague
See more »

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User Reviews

One of Mickey Rourke's best performances in a darkly funny film
15 January 2006 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

"Barfly" was a fairly successful film when it was released and garnered generally favorable reviews. Roger Ebert gave it four out of four, and along with "Angel Heart," it helped solidify 1987 as the Year of Mickey Rourke.

However, almost twenty years later it isn't talked so much about anymore, and I feel it deserves to be. Rourke gives one of his finest performances as Henry, a loner who walks hunched over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Henry works at a bar as a runner - delivering orders and such. But he's always getting into drunken brawls with the bartender, usually losing.

One day Henry's life takes a turn when he meets a downtrodden woman (Faye Dunaway) and they embark on a relationship.

"Barfly" is a great film. Rourke was vocal later on in his career about his dislike of director Barbet Schroeder, but Schroeder's direction is part of what makes this film so good.

However, the absolute best aspect of the movie is Rourke's performance. Embodying the late writer Charles Bukowski (whose work this was based upon, and who had a brief cameo in the film), Rourke is unrecognizable

  • like Billy Bob Thornton in "Sling Blade," his entire demeanor and

physicality seems to change.

I highly recommend "Barfly" - it's funny, dark, witty, touching and downright enjoyable. One of the best films of the '80s.

52 of 59 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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