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Sling Blade (1996)

R  |   |  Drama  |  14 March 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 69,159 users   Metascore: 84/100
Reviews: 308 user | 103 critic | 26 from Metacritic.com

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.



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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
Melinda (as Christy Ward)
Sarah Boss ...
Kathy Sue Brown ...
Wendell Rafferty ...
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


A simple man. A difficult choice. 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?


When Doyle tells Linda that "retards" make him sick, he adds that the same is true for antique furniture and midgets. Billy Bob Thornton has been quoted as saying that two of his phobias are antique furniture and midgets. 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 »


Vaughan Cunningham: Listen, everyone, I've had a few glasses of wine and that tends to make me emotional. It came over me in a rush. I just want you to know that I care about each and every person at this table.
Linda: Thank you, Vaughan. We care about you too, don't we?
MelindaFrankAlbert: Yes.
Karl: Yes, Sir.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Dedicated to Jimmy Don Thornton See more »


Version of Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade (1994) See more »


Written and Performed by Bambi Lee Savage
Courtesy of Daniel Lanois, Bambi Lee Savage Music Inc./BMI, Daniel Lanois Songs/Socan
See more »

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User Reviews

Convincing and thought provoking.
1 March 2004 | by (Washingtin, DC) – See all my reviews

Sling Blade is a very well acted, well displayed, and interesting masterpiece. I just loved it from beginning to end.

First I would like to comment on the excellent acting across the board, especially the late John Ritter and Billy Bob Thornton's ensemble portrayal of Karl. I could not help but feel very attached to Karl from the opening scene, his release from the mental institution, his struggles with the outside world, and how he related to the town people. Sling Blade is one of those movies that I would love to sit down and talk about for hours with a friend. I would also love to hear others' perspectives about what made this movie great.

It seems that every scene was worked to perfection. From the lighting and camera's viewpoint to the acting and music. I enjoyed every scene, but thought that three really stood out. Without giving too much away, they are as follows. No spoilers here:

1. Inside the house after band practice where Karl does not move from the couch.

2. When Karl is visited at work and we see him make eye contact for the first time.

3. The scene where Karl is in the garage late at night. The chilling music really captures the mood. My heart was pounding during this one!

I hold Mr. Thornton to a very high respect. He created a masterpiece that is emotional, thrilling, dramatic, humorous, and entertaining.

91 of 108 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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The acting?? shahatboy
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