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A Time to Kill (1996)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  24 July 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 91,615 users   Metascore: 54/100
Reviews: 232 user | 69 critic | 21 from Metacritic.com

A young lawyer defends a black man accused of murdering two men who raped his 10-year-old daughter, sparking a rebirth of the K.K.K.



(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 7 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Carla Brigance
Tonya Hailey (as RaéVen Larrymore Kelly)
Darrin Mitchell ...
Skip Hailey
LaConte McGrew ...
Slim Hailey


In Canton, Mississippi, 10-year-old Tonya Hailey is viciously brutalized by two white racist rednecks -- James Louis "Pete" Willard and Billy Ray Cobb. Almost immediately after Tonya is found and rushed to a hospital, Pete and Billy Ray are found at a roadside bar, where they had been bragging about what they did to Tonya. Tonya's understandably distraught and enraged father, Carl Lee Hailey, remembers a case from a year ago, when four white men raped an African-American girl in a nearby town, and got acquitted. Carl is determined to not let that happen in this case. While deputy Dwayne Powell Looney is escorting Pete and Billy Ray up a flight of stairs to a court room, Carl emerges from the building's basement with an assault rifle, and he kills Pete and Billy Ray for what they did to Tonya. Carl is later arrested at his house by African-American sheriff Ozzie Walls, and Carl is scheduled to be placed on trial. Despite the efforts of the NAACP and local African-American leaders to ... Written by Todd Baldridge

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A lawyer and his assistant fighting to save a father on trial for murder. A time to question what they believe. A time to doubt what they trust. And no time for mistakes.


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and some graphic language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 July 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tiempo de matar  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$19,630,000 (USA) (26 July 1996)


JPY 419,223,800 (Japan) (24 January 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Bruce Dern was the original choice for the role of Judge Noose, but he had other commitments. See more »


During the picnic at the end of the movie, a black youth with a dark scarf on his head stands in the yard. In the next aerial shot of the picnic, the same youth is coming down the front porch steps. See more »


[On Ellen Roark]
Harry Rex Vonner: Got to love the Lord for making things like that.
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Referenced in Conan: A Time to Kill Time (2013) See more »


Written by Richard Paddison
Performed by Jesse Johnson
Courtesy of Dinosaur Entertainment
See more »

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User Reviews

Very well done
17 April 2001 | by (Montreal) – See all my reviews

I'm not sure why I didn't see this film when it came out, but I watched it for the first time last week and was blown away. "A time to kill" is not only very well done, but it shows the way racism is dealt with in an intertesting way. Every character is not only well developed, but the actors playing them make it totally believable.

Kevin Spacey and Samuel L. Jackson, who remain two of the finest American actors are definetly one of the best parts of the film. I'm not really sure how this film was received when it was released, but I consider it to be one of the most well done films I've seen recently.

65 of 87 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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