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

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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 »
User Reviews:
Being Down and Out in America Illustrates What America is Really All About 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?

For the streetcar scenes, one block of new track was laid, and the streetcar itself was borrowed from the Branford Trolley Museum.See more »
Anachronisms: When Francis returns to his wife's house, the kitchen floor has 12-inch vinyl composite tiles (VCT tiles). While VCT did exist in the 1930s, they were only in the 9 inch size. 12 inch VCTs were not made until the 1970s.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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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful.
Being Down and Out in America Illustrates What America is Really All About, 8 October 2006
Author: writerasfilmcritic from western US

"Ironweed" is a good movie and a scathing indictment of life in modern America. Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep effectively portray a pair of homeless bums on the cold late October streets of Albany, New York during the Great Depression. Their day to day existence revolves around simple survival in the most difficult of circumstances -- how to keep from going hungry, where to score a few hours work or a few drinks, and where to "flop" come nightfall in order to avoid being beaten and robbed or freezing to death. You don't have to be a bum to understand this list of priorities, although certainly, spending any time without a conventional home will clue you in like nothing else can. There are, you see, several levels of homelessness, street people of various kinds occupying the lowest tier. A level above that are the people who live in their cars, camping at the curb or crashing with friends, some of them duly employed while others are "between jobs." Then there are those who spend months or even years living in recreational vehicles of one sort or another and migrating with the seasons. These are the elite of the homeless crowd, ranging from truly adventurous souls who occasionally go without enough food to those with substantial bank accounts and second homes. Nonetheless, most if not all of them understand something about being kicked around and shown the door, just like the bums in this flick. Certainly, they all understand what its like on occasion not to know where you will end up spending the night, why authority figures are to be avoided, and why conventional people are nearly always the enemy, whether they know it or not.

"Ironweed" puts a human face on the kinds of people society scorns the most -- street people, who live in filth and seldom wash, who often abuse alcohol or drugs yet haven't enough to eat and may dig through garbage searching for an abandoned morsel. They often live this way for a reason and not only because they have no choice. Frank has a choice but he is convinced that to go home "won't work out." He's a luckier bum than his fellows, who seem to have no choice at all. Oddly, it's pride just as much as eccentricity, incipient insanity, or alcoholism that keeps them where they are. Helen was a successful singer before her life went on the skids. Too much wine, a slump in her career, and being robbed of her inheritance seemed to signal her inevitable slide into oblivion. Now she barks at passersby and sleeps with whomever will tolerate her presence -- at a price, of course. Sandra is a drunk, an ex-whore, and in terrible shape when the others discover her passed out against a lamppost in freezing weather. They get her a blanket and some hot soup and prop her against a wall, but obviously, she is not long for this world. Rudy's a good sport, a bum's true friend, and he just scored a new gray suit, but he's been given six months to live and soon enough his new threads are grimy and tattered, just like the old ones. And so goes it. Only the strongest survive. All the while the comfortable bourgeoisie look upon the suffering of these brave souls with contempt, disgust, and often, unbridled hostility, hoping to avoid them and occasionally making them pay dearly for the inconvenience. Although the bums seem to scurry at the margins of society like rats on the prowl for scraps, they are, in a way, truly living. For however unenviable their precarious lot may be, they are on the edge, so unlike the predictable, dull, and hypocritical existence of the conventional folk around them. At times, one either knows or suspects that the bums are being romanticized or their foibles somewhat exaggerated, but nonetheless, the story comes off as reasonably authentic. And the acting in it is superb. One criticism, however -- the soft focus effect throughout. I take it the director was attempting to blur further the distinction between fantasy and reality, posing as it did a continuing problem for the main characters, who often dreamed of some simple connection to dignity, comfort, and security while in the throes of their unrelenting misery. Nonetheless, I would have preferred a sharp focus. Otherwise, I found this flick to be very inspired.

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