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Sling Blade (1996)

R | | Drama | 14 March 1997 (USA)
1:52 | Trailer

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Karl Childers, a simple man hospitalized since his childhood murder of his mother and her lover, is released to start a new life in a small town.



(play), (screenplay)
1,488 ( 52)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Natalie Canerday ...
Karl's Father
Rick Dial ...
Melinda (as Christy Ward)
Sarah Boss ...
Kathy Sue Brown ...
Wendell Rafferty ...
Bruce Hampton ...
Morris (as Col. Bruce Hampton Ret.)


A partially handicapped man named Karl is released from a mental hospital, about 20 years after murdering his mother and another person. Karl is often questioned if he will ever kill again, and he shrugs in response saying there is no reason to. Now out of the mental institution, Karl settles in his old, small hometown, occupying himself by fixing motors. After meeting a young boy named Frank, who befriends him, Karl is invited to stay at Frank's house with his mother Linda, who views Karl as a strange but kind and generous man. However, Linda's abusive boyfriend, Doyle, sees things differently in the way rules ought to be run- normally insulting Linda's homosexual friend Vaughan as well as Karl's disabilities, and having wild parties with his friends. As Karl's relationship with Frank grows, he is watchful of Doyle's cruel actions. Written by commanderblue

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Sometimes a hero comes from the most unlikely place. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language, including descriptions of violent and sexual behavior | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

14 March 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Resplandor en la noche  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$890,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$36,644 (USA) (29 November 1996)


$24,475,416 (USA) (25 July 1997)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Robert Duvall appearing as Karl's father was a kind turn to Billy Bob Thornton, who would play a small role in Duvall's The Apostle (1997) for free in exchange. See more »


When Doyle drives to the county line to get more alcohol, they're in a "crew cab dually pickup", yet Doyle, Karl, and Vaughan ride in the front seats, the rest of the crew rides in the bed, and no-one rides in the back seats. See more »


Doyle: Frank's a weak little kid. His daddy taught him how to be a pussy.
Frank: Stop it, Doyle! Don't talk about my daddy.
Doyle: "Don't talk about my daddy". Go on and get up outta here. Go out to the garage and let me be. Go on now, get!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Dedicated to Jimmy Don Thornton See more »


References The Simple-Minded Murderer (1982) See more »


Soul Dressing
Written by Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Al Jackson Jr., Lewie Steinberg (as Lewis Steinberg)
Performed by Booker T. & the M.G.s
Under license from Warner Special Products & Irving Sounds
See more »

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User Reviews

Absolutely Amazing!
18 April 2005 | by (South Bend, IN) – See all my reviews

I can't believe it took me so long to finally see this movie and I must admit I had never seen any work by Billy Bob Thornton. Without a doubt, Sling Blade is one of the finest pieces of work ever put on film. Billy Bob's performance as Karl Childers is absolutely riveting! I found myself completely fascinated by this character. The entire ensemble of characters are superbly cast. The child actor who plays Frank is talented beyond his years. This story unfolds in many layers, with friendship and love woven between bigotry and cruelty. It begins with a somewhat horrible description of the double murder of Karl's mother and her lover, but yet is tastefully done with words, no cheap views of blood and gore. It shows how the lack of parental love and understanding can form an individual, but also how the human heart can still have the capacity to be open, as in the relationship between Karl and Frank. You'll feel completely drawn into this little family with its pain and problems.

This is a masterpiece of superb acting, writing and directing! If you haven't seen it yet, please don't deny yourself the opportunity of viewing one of the most amazingly touching movies you will ever see. Even in the company of great performances by Tom Hanks and Dustin Hoffman, I think Sling Blade leaves Forrest Gump and Rain Man in the dust!

122 of 138 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Sling Blade about racism? sean-conley89
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Why didn't Doyle get up? longlivepeewee
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