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Ironweed (1987)

R  |   |  Drama  |  February 1988 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 5,877 users  
Reviews: 41 user | 24 critic

A schizophrenic drifter spends Halloween in his home town after returning there for the first time in decades.



(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jake Dengel ...
Laura Esterman ...
Hy Anzell ...


Albany, New York, Halloween, 1938. Francis Phelan and Helen Archer are bums, back in their birth city. She was a singer on the radio, he a major league pitcher. Death surrounds them: she's sick, a pal has cancer, he digs graves at the cemetery and visits the grave of his infant son whom he dropped; visions of his past haunt him, including ghosts of two men he killed. That night, out drinking, Helen tries to sing at a bar. Next day, Fran visits his wife and children and meets a grandson. He could stay, but decides it's not for him. Helen gets their things out of storage and finds a hotel. Amidst their mistakes and dereliction, the film explores their code of fairness and loyalty. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

February 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tallo de hierro  »

Box Office


$27,000,000 (estimated)


$7,393,346 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


A special feature on the movie's DVD states that due to the earlier film Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), which was this film's director Hector Babenco's previous picture, that "its success ensured major Hollywood studio support for Ironweed (1987)". See more »


As noted, this film takes place in 1938; but a billboard is seen advertising the Marx Brothers film "At the Circus" which is a 1939 release. See more »


Helen: What if I did drink too much wine? Whose business is that anyway? Who knows how much I didn't drink, huh?
See more »


Referenced in The Simpsons: Homer the Moe (2001) See more »


He's Me Pal
Performed by Meryl Streep
See more »

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User Reviews

Grim And Wonderful
20 November 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Cold, desolate in the surface and an uncomfortable warmth in the inside. Meryl Streep leads in a way that is difficult to explain. She provides a truly magic movie moment when she sings "He's My Pal" for her supper. For a moment we live her fantasy. Her moment is our moment, that's why as the song and the fantasy ends something inside me cracked. I felt tears running down my face and, I swear, I wasn't ready for that. The humanity of Meryl Streep, the actress, filters through the devastating circumstances of her character. Circumstances that, by the time we meet her, are already a way of life. At the beginning of the film, when somebody asks her how is she, her reply is "Delightful". Trying to adjust to this character I listen to her stained, tired voice, trying to be heard and I did, heard her. I love Meryl Streep.

32 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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