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The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)

 -  Comedy | Drama  -  21 December 1990 (USA)
5.4
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 15,295 users  
Reviews: 106 user | 28 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.

Director:

(as Brian DePalma)

Writers:

(screenplay), (novel)
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Title: The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)

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Cast

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
...
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Storyline

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 <jreeves@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

An Outrageous Story of Greed, Lust and Vanity in America See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 December 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Bonfire of the Vanities  »

Box Office

Budget:

$47,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$15,691,192 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jack Nicholson turned down the role of Peter Fallow. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

Pollard Browning: Hello, Sherman.
Sherman McCoy: Good evening, Pollard.
Pollard Browning: It's raining, you know.
Sherman McCoy: I did notice, yes.
Pollard Browning: [on Sherman's dog] Ah, Sherman, a true friend to man's best friend.
Sherman McCoy: Pollard, you old phrase-maker.
Pollard Browning: I beg your pardon?
Sherman McCoy: Is that the best you can do? Is that as witty as we get?
Pollard Browning: I don't know what you're talking about. Furthermore, if you're wet when you return, take the service elevator.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Directors: The Films of Adrian Lyne See more »

Soundtracks

Am I Living In Vain?
Written by E. Twinky Clark
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Misfire full of inanities
20 February 2004 | by (St. Louis, Missouri) – See all my reviews

Bonfires of the Vanities is a film drenched in flop sweat. I can recall no film that has tried so hard to be so unrelentingly outrageous, provocative and important, yet failed so consistently across the board. It is like a stand up comic who's not getting laughs, but can't leave the stage. The harder the film tries, the louder each attempt at a laugh results in a resounding thud. The desperation the film displays is so glaring it almost rouses pity for all those involved.

The film achieves laugh-out-loud status only twice. Once is in the sight of Geraldo Rivera playing an obnoxious, arrogant and amoral TV tabloid journalist -- which is funny only because he apparently doesn't realize he is playing himself. The other scene that deserves to be laughed at is the film's final "big moment," wherein the judge played by Morgan Freeman delivers the sanctimonious lecture about what morality is ("it's what your mama taught ya!"). The pomposity of the moment is insulting to the point of being absurd.

Yet, one must admit it is a noble effort. It does have a good, if poorly cast, band of actors, who try to make characters out of cardboard thin caricatures. The film looks professionally made and the little cinematic flourishes that director Brian DePalma just loves are apparent, if not particularly effective. But the film, which apparently wishes to be a commentary on modern morals and ethics, never arises above the level of cartoon. Satire requires style. Farce requires energy. Even sitcom requires timing. But the best Bonfires can muster is desperation. In the end, you don't want to laugh, you just want to turn away.


41 of 74 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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