The Dead (1987)

PG  |   |  Drama  |  17 December 1987 (USA)
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Reviews: 61 user | 45 critic

Gabriel Conroy and wife Greta attend an early January dinner with friends at the home of his spinster aunts, an evening which results in an epiphany for both of them.



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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Helena Carroll ...
Cathleen Delany ...
Ingrid Craigie ...
Rachael Dowling ...
Marie Kean ...
Frank Patterson ...
Maria McDermottroe ...
Sean McClory ...
Mr. Grace
Miss Furlong (as Katherine O'Toole)
Maria Hayden ...
Miss O'Callaghan
Bairbre Dowling ...
Miss Higgins


John Huston's last film is a labor of love at several levels: an adaptation of perhaps one of the greatest pieces of English-language literature by one of Huston's favorite authors, James Joyce; a love letter to the land of his ancestors and the country where his children grew up; and the chance to work with his screenwriter son Tony and his actress daughter Anjelica. The film is delicate and unhurried, detailing an early January dinner at the house of two spinster musician sisters and their niece in turn-of-the-century Ireland, attended by friends and family. Among the visiting attendees are the sisters' nephew Gabriel Conroy and his wife Gretta. The evening's reminiscences bring up melancholy memories for Gretta concerning her first, long-lost love when she was a girl in rural Galway. Her recounting of this tragic love to Gabriel brings him to an epiphany: he learns the difference between mere existence and living. The all-Irish cast and careful period detail give the piece richness... Written by Russ W. <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A vast, merry, and uncommon tale of love.




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Release Date:

17 December 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

John Huston's The Dead  »

Box Office


$4,370,078 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


| (DVD edition)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The picture's closing credits declare that "this film was made on location in Valencia, California and Dublin Ireland". See more »


[last lines]
Gabriel Conroy: [voice over] One by one, we're all becoming shades. Better to pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. How long you locked away in your heart the image of your lover's eyes when he told you that he did not wish to live. I've never felt that way myself towards any woman, but I know that such a feeling must be love. Think of all those who ever were, back to the start of time. And me, transient as they, flickering out ...
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Referenced in Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010) See more »


The Lass of Aughrim
Traditional Irish ballad
Sung by Frank Patterson
See more »

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User Reviews

They just don't make them like this anymore!
17 January 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

An exquisite film. They just don't make them like this any more! We eavesdrop on an upper middle class family in Dublin in the early part of the 20th century. They are hosting an after Christmas dinner for their friends and relatives. Their table talk is just idle chatter but it is so well written that one is engrossed. Away from the dinner table some fine piano playing helps to create an intimate atmosphere as if one were there as one of the guests. Perhaps a bit too perfect for an amateur player, the odd mistake here and there would have added to the magic of this film. No real story but real entertainment and an object lesson for up and coming film makers.

16 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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