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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 16,914 users  
Reviews: 111 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


An Outrageous Story of Greed, Lust and Vanity in America 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?


In the opening tracking shot, when Bruce Willis gets in the elevator, Brian De Palma can be seen, dressed up as a waiter. It was technically impossible for the camera crew and the director to stay off camera in that shot, so De Palma chose to do a cameo there. To be unrecognizable, he shaved off his trademark beard. See more »


When McCoy gets off the subway, we see he is riding the number 1 train and he gets off at 77th Street station. First of all, the number 1 train runs on the west side of Manhattan, no where near his Park Avenue residence on the east side, and second, there are no 77th Street stops on the number 1 line. See more »


Judge Leonard White: [to court room] Racist? You dare call me racist? Well I say unto you, what does it matter the color of a man's skin if witnesses purjure themselves. If a prosecutor enlists the perjurers. When a district attorney throws a man to the mob for political gain, and men of the cloth, men of God, take the prime cuts? Is that justice?
Judge Leonard White: I don't hear you...
Judge Leonard White: Let me tell you what justice is. Justice is the law, and the law is man's feeble attempt to set down the principles of decency. Decency! And decency is...
See more »


Referenced in The Player (1992) See more »


Don Giovanni
Serenade in G (Eine Kleine Nachtmusik)
Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
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?

Message Boards

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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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