IMDb > Ironweed (1987)
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Ironweed (1987) More at IMDbPro »

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Up 7% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
William Kennedy (novel)
William Kennedy (screenplay)
View company contact information for Ironweed on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
February 1988 (USA) See more »
A schizophrenic drifter spends Halloween in his home town after returning there for the first time in decades. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations See more »
(67 articles)
Breaking: Streep & Blunt Trading Places
 (From FilmExperience. 2 October 2014, 6:52 AM, PDT)

Meryl Streep's Singing in 1977 Will Blow Your Mind
 (From Hitfix. 24 June 2014, 12:08 PM, PDT)

Get ready for Meryl Streep to rock out in 'Ricki and the Flash'
 (From Hitfix. 1 April 2014, 4:13 PM, PDT)

User Reviews:
a bleak vision of depression-era America, which means its honest to start See more (37 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Jack Nicholson ... Francis Phelan

Meryl Streep ... Helen Archer

Carroll Baker ... Annie Phelan

Michael O'Keefe ... Billy Phelan

Diane Venora ... Margaret 'Peg' Phelan

Fred Gwynne ... Oscar Reo

Margaret Whitton ... Katrina Dougherty

Tom Waits ... Rudy
Jake Dengel ... Pee Wee

Nathan Lane ... Harold Allen

James Gammon ... Reverend Chester

Will Zahrn ... Rowdy Dick
Laura Esterman ... Nora Lawlor

Joe Grifasi ... Jack
Hy Anzell ... Rosskam

Bethel Leslie ... Librarian
Richard Hamilton ... Donovan
Black-Eyed Susan ... Clara
Louise Phillips ... Flower Girl
Marjorie Slocum ... Elderly Woman
Lena Spencer ... Slatternly Woman

Lola Pashalinski ... Fat Woman with Turkey
Paul A. DiCocco Jr. ... Bus Driver
Priscilla Smith ... Sandra
James Dukas ... Finny
Jared Swartout ... Guard Captain

Ted Levine ... Pocono Pete
Martin Patterson ... Foxy Phil Tooker
Terry O'Reilly ... Aldo Campione
Michael O'Gorman ... Strike Leader

Frank Whaley ... Young Francis Phelan
Jordan Valdina ... Youth at Strike
Louis St. Louis ... Piano Man
John Wright ... Goblin
Robin Wood-Chappelle ... Goblin
Nicole Weden ... Goblin
Peter Pryor ... Goblin
Duane Scholz ... Goblin

Matt McGrath ... Goblin
Lois Barden Stilley ... Mrs. Dillon

Cori Irwin ... Young Girl
Pamela Payton-Wright ... Mother

Boris McGiver ... Clerk
Phyllis Gottung ... Old Woman
James Yoham ... Bald Man
Ean Egas ... Danny Phelan
Nebraska Brace ... Andy
Jeff Morris ... Michigan Mac
William Duell ... Moose
George Rafferty ... Raider
Robert Manion ... Raider
Pat Devane ... Nurse
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Paulie DiCocco III ... Homeless Boy on Street (uncredited)
John Farnan ... Strike Leader's Right Hand Man (uncredited)

Luke L. Hansen ... Baseball Player (uncredited)

Robert Sky McDougall ... Businessman (uncredited)
Michael Trout ... Hooverville Resident (uncredited)

Directed by
Hector Babenco 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
William Kennedy  novel
William Kennedy  screenplay

Produced by
Keith Barish .... producer
Denis Blouin .... executive producer
Rob Cohen .... executive producer
C.O. Erickson .... co-producer
Sean H. Ferrer .... associate producer: prep only
Joseph H. Kanter .... executive producer
Gene Kirkwood .... co-producer
Marcia Nasatir .... producer
David Weisman .... creative producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
John Morris 
Cinematography by
Lauro Escorel 
Film Editing by
Anne Goursaud 
Casting by
Bonnie Timmermann 
Production Design by
Jeannine Oppewall 
Art Direction by
Robert Guerra 
Set Decoration by
Leslie A. Pope  (as Leslie Pope)
Costume Design by
Joseph G. Aulisi 
Makeup Department
Milton Buras .... hair stylist: Mr. Nicholson
Victor DeNicola .... hair stylist (as Victor De Nicola Jr.)
David Forrest .... makeup supervisor (as David Craig Forrest)
J. Roy Helland .... hair stylist: Ms. Streep
J. Roy Helland .... makeup artist: Ms. Streep
Dorothy J. Pearl .... makeup artist: Mr. Nicholson (as Dorothy Pearl)
Marie-Ange Ripka .... key hair stylist
Toni Trimble .... makeup artist
Production Management
Myron Adams .... unit production manager
Nick Anderson .... post-production supervisor
C.O. Erickson .... unit production manager
Sue Bea Montgomery .... post-production supervisor (as Sue Bea Belknap)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Sarah M. Brim .... second second assistant director
Robert Roda .... second assistant director
Albert M. Shapiro .... first assistant director (as Albert Shapiro)
Art Department
Tommy Allen .... property master (as Thomas C. Allen)
Jeff Balsmeyer .... storyboard artist
Joan Brockschmidt .... greensperson
Thomas E. Brown .... paint foreman
Teresa Carriker-Thayer .... assistant art director (as Teresa M. Carriker)
Anthony Dunne .... installation foreman
Richard Galante .... installation foreman
Nancy Gilmore .... set dresser
Susie Goulder .... set dresser (as Susan M. Goulder)
Bruce Lee Gross .... head set dresser
Sandy Hamilton .... assistant property master
Betsy Klompus .... second set dresser
George Kouzoujian .... installation foreman
Beth Kuhn .... assistant art director
Leigh Kyle .... set dresser
Ben Massi .... master set painter
Octavio Molina .... set dresser
Ken Nelson .... shop foreman
Jonathan O'Connell .... master set painter (as Jon O'Connell)
Elaine O'Donnell .... second set decorator
Joseph Petruccio Sr. .... construction coordinator
Enno Poersch .... assistant art director
John Root .... signwriter supervisor
Clare Scarpulla .... assistant art director
Berta Segall .... assistant to production designer
Denis Zack .... set dresser (as Denis A. Zack)
David H. Allen .... picture car coordinator (uncredited)
John Alvin .... poster artist (uncredited)
Mark Harrington .... on-set prop assistant (uncredited)
Eric Matheson .... carpenter (uncredited)
Sound Department
Barbara Barnaby .... dialogue editor
Kevin B. Barron .... assistant sound editor (as Kevin L. Poor)
Mark Boisseau .... assistant sound editor
Virginia Cook-McGowan .... dialogue editor (as Virginia A. Cook-McGowan)
Tommy Dorsett .... apprentice sound editor
Juno J. Ellis .... adr editor
Julia Evershade .... sound effects editor
John P. Fasal .... sound effects recordist (as John Paul Fasal)
Linda Folk .... foley editor
Sukey Fontelieu .... sound effects editor
Kimberly Harris .... sound effects editor
Ellen Heuer .... foley artist
Robert J. Litt .... sound re-recording mixer
Danny Michael .... sound recordist
Greg Orloff .... foley mixer
Jayme S. Parker .... dialogue editor
Stephen Purvis .... adr editor
Brenda Ray .... boom operator
John Roesch .... foley artist
Victoria Rose Sampson .... supervising sound editor
Solange S. Schwalbe .... foley supervisor (as Solange Schwalbe Boisseau)
B. Tennyson Sebastian II .... sound re-recording mixer
Elliot Tyson .... sound re-recording mixer
Carolyn Tapp .... foley recordist (uncredited)
Special Effects by
William D. Harrison .... special effects assistant (as William Dale Harrison)
Steven Kirshoff .... special effects coordinator (as Steve Kirshoff)
Visual Effects by
Paul Boyington .... visual effects supervisor
Mark Moore .... visual effects production head (uncredited)
Alan Gibbs .... stunt coordinator
Andy Gill .... stunts
Rick Avery .... stunts (uncredited)
Richard Epper .... stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Arthur Blum .... dolly grip
Jim Crispi .... camera operator: second unit
Claudio Edinger .... still photographer
Pamela Katz .... second assistant camera
Richard C. Kerekes .... dolly grip
Michael Leonard .... assistant Steadicam operator
Mitchell Andrew Lillian .... key grip (as Mitchell Lillian)
Constantine Makris .... camera operator
Larry McConkey .... Steadicam operator
Edward J. Pei .... camera operator: second unit (as Edward Pei)
Carl Peterson .... best boy grip (as Carl N. Peterson)
Toby Phillips .... Steadicam operator
Rick Raphael .... Steadicam operator
Michael Slovis .... gaffer
John Thomas .... best boy (as John A. Thomas)
Jeffery J. Tufano .... additional first assistant camera
Joel David Warren .... still photographer (as Joel Warren)
Paul Weller .... vtr operator
Zachary Winestine .... first assistant camera
James Donahue .... electrician (uncredited)
Casting Department
Aleta Chappelle .... location casting (as Aleta Wood-Chappelle)
Lisa Parks .... location casting
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Elin Bjorkman .... wardrobe supervisor (as Ellie Bjorkman)
Alba Censoplano .... costumer: Ms. Streep
Barbara Hause .... wardrobe supervisor
Barbara Matera .... costumes executed by
Eric H. Sandberg .... costumer: men
Heidi Shulman .... wardrobe assistant
Miki Stedile .... wardrobe assistant
Lloyd K. Waiwaiole .... wardrobe assistant
Editorial Department
Donah Bassett .... negative cutter
Craig Conwell .... first assistant film editor
Bob Noland .... negative timer
Jimmy Sandoval .... assistant film editor
Lisa Trachtenberg .... post-production coordinator
Lisa M. Varney .... apprentice film editor
Music Department
Toby Fitch .... music researcher
Jack Hayes .... orchestrator
Gary Leib .... music researcher
Eugene Marks .... music editor
Armin Steiner .... music scoring mixer
Transportation Department
Paulie DiCocco .... driver: Jack Nicholson
Colleen Kahl Robilotto .... transportation captain
Ken Lubin .... transportation coordinator (as Kenneth Lubin)
Raymond K. Greene .... transportation captain (uncredited)
Other crew
Vibeke Arntzen .... assistant location manager
Laurie A. Bailey .... accounting assistant
Jenny Bancroft .... assistant: Mr. Barish
Daniel Bickel .... production coordinator
Dawn LeDuke Calcaterra .... assistant: Mr. Barish
Donald Carpentier .... consultant: historic design (as Donald Carpenter)
Christina Cassidy .... production office assistant
Albert Cho .... production assistant
Robert Dawson .... production consultant
Robert Dawson .... title designer: main titles
Karen Gordon .... production accountant
Dwight D. Hill .... location projectionist
John K. Hill .... location projectionist
Janice Irwin .... production office assistant
Katherine Kennedy .... assistant production coordinator (as Katherine A. Kennedy)
Michael Klastorin .... unit publicist
Andrew Lipson .... production assistant
Maria Marini .... assistant production accountant (as Maria A. Marini)
Annie Marshall .... assistant: Mr. Nicholson
David Martino .... production office assistant
Stan Mendoza .... location manager
Sue Bea Montgomery .... assistant: Mr. Babenco (as Sue Bea Belknap)
Karen Morris .... liaison: Los Angeles
Paul Andrew O'Bryan .... craft service
S. Bernard Parè .... assistant: Mr. Blouin
Tony Payne .... assistant: Mr. Babenco
Dana Rafferty .... production assistant
Danis Regal-O'Connell .... production coordinator
Pattee Roedig .... representative: Cine Guarantors
Cornelia 'Nini' Rogan .... script supervisor (as Cornelia Rogan)
Tamara Weiss .... assistant: Ms. Streep
Paul Byrne Prenderville .... production assistant (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
143 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Jack Nicholson's contract included a clause which allowed him to leave the shooting location to attend all Los Angeles Lakers basketball games.See more »
Anachronisms: 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 »
Francis Phelan:By God, Helen, that's as good as it gets. You were born to be a star.See more »
Movie Connections:
He's Me PalSee more »


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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful.
a bleak vision of depression-era America, which means its honest to start, 4 March 2008
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States

Ironweed is the kind of film that pierces right through my senses, to the point where I'm left to no other alternative but to sob at the end of it all. I felt that at the end of such films as Requiem for a Dream, Mystic River, United 93, and a good few Bergman works. Ironweed, as with those films, doesn't cheat the audience with anything that seems dishonest. Even the schizophrenia (if that is what it is definitively) that Francis (Nicholson) has throughout where he sees visions of all the dead that he either caused- in self-defense or otherwise- or saw happen, doesn't have that kitschy sentimental beat to it. This goes without saying it won't be for all moviegoers, and the most recent DVD release is misleading: we see Nicholson's trademark grin, as if this might be a *cheerful* movie about those in even deeper squalor than most in 1938 Albany, New York.

Sure, there might be a few lines here or there that bring a chuckle, like a line Francis has about needing turkey since he has no duck. But for the most part this is a drama that is deep into its artistic intentions to be frank with the story at hand. Director Babilco doesn't shy away with his camera from the material in William Kennedy's script, and neither do the cast. A good thing to: there needs to be a formidable handle on the pain and misery that Francis, Helen (Streep), and Rudy (Waits) have to deal with every day and especially at night. They could die any moment- Rudy reveals that he has terminal cancer almost with a strange, ambiguous grin (which, coming from Waits, has a lot of meaning to that)- but there's just enough hope with whatever few bucks can come around.

If for no other reason should you see the film it's for the cast, as it's above all else an actor's film. While the director and writer have their immense contributions to the proceedings (the direction is patient, sometimes tense, occasionally even poetic even with the slightly sappy music score, and the writing is not compromised in the adaptation from Pulitzer prize winning source), Nicholson, Streep, and everybody all make this a vital and potent take on those, ultimately, marginalized. Whether Streep or Nicholson take more of the meaty drama for their characters can be debated till dawn's break, but if I did have to really choose I'd say Nicholson was greater, one of the high points in a career chock full of them. Perhaps he does have more though to have a hold of; Streep's Helen has a background of a failed pianist career, odd ties to those still in Albany, and a perpetual self-hatred. It goes without saying she carries her end of the log well as the star-cum-lumberjack, particularly in a perfect scene in the midway through involving a song in a bar.

But with Francis Nicholson goes into real "actor" mode (i.e. Passenger, Cuckoo's Nest, Chinatown, Carnal Knowledge), delving into this man who has many past ghosts, from his crimes of passion to his ultimate sin involving his baby's death. Any thoughts that Nicholson can't get into sorrow, regret, and ultimately a form of madness, and yes even tears, can be squashed watching this. But at the same time is he forceful and intense in handling the regret and anger Francis has, there's also great subtlety, underplaying it just enough for what the scenes often require, which is subtext, such as the scenes at her old family's house where what isn't spoken speaks even more than what is. Throw in some extra supporting work that clicks excellently, such as a possible best-yet Tom Waits performance, a singing Ed Gwynn, and Diane Verona among others, and it's assuredly one of the best crops of performances in 80s American film. It deserves, some twenty years or so later, to get rediscovered.

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