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The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  21 December 1990 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 16,926 users  
Reviews: 112 user | 31 critic

After his mistress runs over a young teen, a Wall Street hotshot sees his life unravel in the spotlight, and attracting the interest of a down and out reporter.


(as Brian DePalma)


(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jed Kramer
John Hancock ...
Reverend Bacon
Tom Killian
Albert Fox
Louis Giambalvo ...
Ray Andruitti
Barton Heyman ...
Det. Martin
Norman Parker ...
Det. Goldberg
Mr. McCoy
Arthur Ruskin


Financial "Master of the Universe" Sherman McCoy sees his life unravel when his mistress Maria Ruskin hits a black boy with his car. When yellow journalist Peter Fallow enflames public opinion with a series of distorted tabloid articles on the accident, the case is seized upon by opportunists like Reverend Bacon and mayoral candidate D.A. Abe Weiss. Written by Jon Reeves <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Take one Wall Street tycoon, his Fifth Avenue mistress, a reporter hungry for fame, and make the wrong turn in The Bronx...then sit back and watch the sparks fly. See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 December 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La hoguera de las vanidades  »

Box Office


$47,000,000 (estimated)


$15,691,192 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


John Cleese was offered the role of Peter Fallow but turned it down (in the original novel, Fallow is English). See more »


While Reverend Bacon is accusing District Attorney Abe Weiss, the TV remote control that Weiss is using switches hands between shots. See more »


Sherman McCoy: There's one thing I can do. I want to see the truth come out, and burn every one of them, and there's only one way to do that.
Mr. McCoy: And what is that?
Sherman McCoy: Lie.
Mr. McCoy: Oh... you know I have always been a great believer in the truth. I have lived my life as honestly as I can. I, I believe in the truth as an essential companion to a man of conscience. A beacon in this vast and dark wasteland, that is our modern world. And yet...
Sherman McCoy: Yes.
Mr. McCoy: this case, if the truth won't set you free, then lie.
See more »


Referenced in Backfire! (1995) See more »


That's Life
Written by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

This is what I call an honest movie.
1 May 2005 | by (Riga, Latvia) – See all my reviews

After reading a large number of negative reviews, it finally became clear to me why this movie is so widely hated - because it honestly depicts the modern biased race-based American society, in which uneducated crowds are ready to devour an honest person, and punish him for a crime he didn't commit. The acting is great, Tom Hanks does an admirable job, however,it isn't acting which makes the movie great. The superb directing, creating realistic and horrible scenes of dirty political games and black (literally) PR, capture my attention. So, to sum up, a brilliant political satire. The movie could make a laughable comedy, if it wasn't so terrifying...

83 of 98 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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racist movie ap1704
Worst adaptation of a book I have ever seen. deadlyledley
Bruce Willis ashamed of 'Bonfire of the Vanities' chrish2
This movie is SO underrated fbeato
One of the three most underrated films of all time prognathous
What is your favorite scene? seilcho7
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