The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  21 December 1990 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 17,051 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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1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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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?


Kevin Costner was considered for the role of Sherman McCoy. See more »


Before cuckold Arthur Ruskin dies in the restaurant, his cocktail glass alternates from between his hands to outside his hands. See more »


Sherman McCoy: I want you to meet Aubrey Buffing.
Judy McCoy: Who?
Sherman McCoy: Aubrey Buffing. The poet. He's on the short list for the Nobel Prize, he has AIDS, you'll love him!
Judy McCoy: Sherman, we are standing alone in the middle of the room, a married couple talking to each other. You simply don't do it. Go on and mingle! Please.
See more »


Referenced in Awkward.: Bonfire of the Vanities (2014) See more »


Pennies From Heaven
Written by Johnny Burke and Arthur Johnston
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Brilliant, under-rated movie
11 December 2003 | by (London, UK) – See all my reviews

(NB - I have not read the book.) Unfairly chastised by the press on release, and too easy to tar as a weak link in De Palma's ouevre, BOTV is better than Wall Street, Working Girl et al. and is still very relevant.

This is an OTT opera where every character is a cynic trying to work an angle, and every action (in a complex story about contacts, smear campaigns, politics and pawns) has an obvious and (most of the time) greedy motivation. BOTV also confronts sex, racism and class clashes with a frankness that most Hollywood movies run a mile from - it is suprisingly frank in it's depiction of these (The exception being that the New York judge had to be, of course, black [Morgan Freeman]. This is something dramatists do to make some of their social opinions seem less controversial since they are being spouted by a man of colour in a white forum.)

On par with His Girl Friday and The Sweet Smell of Success, and possessing an oddball universe Preston Sturges would've been proud of creating, this film is all the more powerful when you actually live in a world kind of like this (and I meet these kinds of people all the time - this is REAL!).

PS - Half an hour was lopped off by the studio after disasterous preview screenings. This movie deserves a DVD director's cut release.

42 of 55 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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racist movie ap1704
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Worst adaptation of a book I have ever seen. deadlyledley
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