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The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  21 December 1990 (USA)
5.4
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 16,817 users  
Reviews: 109 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.

Director:

(as Brian DePalma)

Writers:

(screenplay), (novel)
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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:

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 »

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:

La hoguera de las vanidades  »

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

Steadicam operator Larry McConkey coordinated the complex the near 5-minute opening camera tracking sequence that included a cramped ride in a service elevator. This was McConkey's first of a number of memorable collaborations with Brian De Palma as his steadicam operator. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Maria Ruskin: [while on Bronx] Sherman, I'm coming from the South and I'm starting to not like this very much!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Bad Movie Beatdown: Hudson Hawk (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

That's Life
Written by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon
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.


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