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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?


Cameo by Col. Bruce Hampton Ret. of Aquarium Rescue Unit and Code Talkers during Doyle's band scene. Col. Bruce is the Tambourine player and can be seen blowing his trademark "Smokeless Smoke Ring" in a close up shot. See more »


When Randy, one of the guitarists, reacts to Doyle's demands to leave, Randy is seen from behind putting on his coat. However, when he walks out the door, the coat is draped over his arm. See more »


Doyle: Now get the fuck out now before I get too mad to turn back!
Terence: What about our instruments?
Doyle: Come here, you little prick. Come here, you little fucking prick!
[Wheels him right into the door]
Doyle: Get out! All y'all, get the fuck out! Come on, you motherfuckers!
[Nobody moves]
Doyle: Get the fuck out! Randy, you tuning son of a bitch, go fucking practice, Randy!
[Noody moves]
Doyle: Come on, Morris, you fucking genius, get the fuck up and get the fuck out of here, Goddammit!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Dedicated to Jimmy Don Thornton See more »


Spoofed in Animaniacs: Hooray for North Hollywood: Part 2 (1998) See more »


The One I Love
Written by Ali Jennings and Daniel Lanois
Performed by Ali Jennings
Courtesy of Daniel Lanois, Ali Jennings Songs/Socan, Daniel Lanois Songs/Socan
See more »

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User Reviews

The one that made Billy.
3 January 2002 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Thornton plays victim to a cruel society where he is released from a long stint in prison and becomes a guardian angel for a young boy who is abused by his mother's lover. A slow sombre piece that gives you time to enter the mental state of Thornton's character. Once you are in there, you realise the humanity that justifies the end actions. Theatrical in style with powerful performances and a haunting music score.

33 of 49 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Sling Blade about racism? sean-conley89
One thing changes the whole idea behind the character of 'Karl'... MikeDopeLess
Delete your post, Doyle Hargraves style. ocwritin
What scene made you cry? sagal702-3
Why didn't Doyle get up? longlivepeewee
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