Catchfire (1990)

R  |   |  Action, Comedy, Crime  |  3 April 1990 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 2,493 users  
Reviews: 40 user | 12 critic

A witness to a mob assassination flees for her life from town to town, switching identities, but cannot seem to elude Milo, the chief killer out to get her.


(as Alan Smithee)


(story), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Greek (as G. Anthony Sirico)
Frank Gio ...
Clifford Bartholomew ...
Fed #2
Kevin Bourland ...


An artist (Foster) witnesses a Mafia hit and calls the police. At the police station she realizes that the Mafia has a man in the force, so she runs. Trailed by the police, who need her testimony, and a hitman (Hopper) hired by the Mafia, she goes to Mexico, where eventually she meets the hitman, who has become infatuated after studying her art and life to prepare for the hit. Written by Ed Sutton <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

mafia | hitman | mob | witness | artist | See All (75) »


When murder is your business, you'd better not fall in love with your work.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, sensuality and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

3 April 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Backtrack  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(director's cut) | (theatrical)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Vestron Pictures were unhappy with director Dennis Hopper's original 180 minutes cut of the film and re-edited it without his knowledge. Hopper was so enraged he sued the company, but they had already gone bankrupt. He nevertheless insisted on the anonymous Alan Smithee credit. See more »


The shadow of a cameraman is briefly visible during the opening credits when Anne pulls to the side of the road. See more »


Milo: There's something going on here that I really don't understand, but I like it.
See more »


Referenced in Who Is Alan Smithee? (2002) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Even a hit man needs love...
14 February 1999 | by (Tokyo, Japan) – See all my reviews

This film mixes some features rarely found together: mob violence, guns, murder, chases and crashes, a woman in jeopardy... AND some understated humor, would-ya-believe romance and kindness to animals, and a happy ending of sorts.

Dennis Hopper took his name off the cut version, which apparently omits, among others, parts of scenes featuring Jodie Foster's nudity. This is the version I saw, and even thus cut I give the film a 7.

The plot is straightforward: a hitman (Dennis Hopper) hired to kill a woman (Jodie Foster) who witnessed a mob murder gives her the option of staying alive and being "his." Then, since he defaulted on his assignment, they must flee mob reprisal.

My relatively high rating is based on Hopper's direction and on the acting, principally of the two main stars. (Joe Pesci and Dean Stockwell contribute wryly amusing mafioso figures.)

This is certainly not a comedy or romance film, nor is it intended to be. Nor is it "warm human drama." It's not at all slapstick or maudlin.

What impressed me most were Hopper's characterization and the scenes of their developing relationship. Hopper's Milo is a professional killer, a man of little polish (contrasting the wheelchair-ridden Vincent Price as the mob boss).

But a man's a man, for all that. Especially good is a scene early in their relationship, in which the hitman expresses his awed smittenness for his then-captive. His plain-spoken awkwardness shows, low-key, the loneliness and vulnerability of a man who has not experienced much love in his life.

And if you think a woman in such a situation could never respond favorably (albeit gradually), you don't know much about women -- and I don't mean the Stockholm Syndrome(?), that phenomenon of hostages warming up to their captors. The dynamics of their relationship -- the gradual, subtle shifting of their feelings and reactions -- are masterfully but quietly, almost incidentally, portrayed by Foster and especially Hopper. This film is certainly in the European style.

Still, you action fans shouldn't stay away; though not much gore, there is a sufficiency of sinister dread, gratuitous violence, and crashings and burnings.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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