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Palmetto (1998)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  20 February 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 6,475 users   Metascore: 43/100
Reviews: 52 user | 50 critic | 20 from

A recently released ex-con gets involved in a fake kidnapping scheme that turns very real.


(as Volker Schlondorff)


(novel), (screenplay)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mrs. Donnelly / Rhea Malroux
Rolf Hoppe ...
Felix Malroux
Odette (as Chloe Sevigny)
John Renick
Miles Meadows
Joe Hickey ...
Ralph Wilcox ...
Peter Paul DeLeo ...
Bartender (as Peter Paul Deleo)
Hal Jones ...
Salvador Levy ...
Richard Booker ...
Billy Holden
Alda renick (as Mikki McKeever)


After being released from prison on a bum charge, Harry Barber is out for some payback to regain the two years he has lost. He is hired by Mrs. Malroux to fake the kidnapping of her stepdaughter (the daughter of a dying millionaire). He discovers that he is being set up on multiple levels and will soon face a longer prison sentence if he does not prove the truth to the police. Written by Jason Ihle <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In a town this bad, it's hard to be good...

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

20 February 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Just Another Sucker  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$2,876,753 (USA) (20 February 1998)


$5,840,581 (USA) (15 May 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When on the beach, walking to the right of the screen, you can see a camera man carrying his equipment. See more »


[first lines]
[palmetto bug chirping over typical prison sounds]
Harry Barber: They're not as bad as you might think. In fact, sometimes they're pretty good company.
Harry Barber: And you can get used to just about anything in prison, even a palmetto bug.
Harry Barber: I tried writing again. Nothing came out that didn't sound bitter and cynical. And there's nothing worse than a writer who doesn't have anything to say.
Harry Barber: Well... that's me, Harry Barber.
See more »


Written by Guy Fixsen and Margaret Fiedler
Performed by Laika
Courtesy of Too Pure Records (Beggars Banquet)
See more »

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User Reviews

Okay Thriller With Tons of Sizzling Sex!
12 October 2006 | by (Troy, NY) – See all my reviews

Woody Harrelson plays Harry Barber, a wise guy reporter who just did some jail time for a dirty deal that wasn't his fault. When he gets out of the slam, he just wants his life back. But bad breaks and shifty women soon send him right back into the seamy, sexy world of double deals and decadent rich folks, in a steamy Florida town called PALMETTO.

The plot of this movie is okay, and the story moves along at a slow, but steady pace. But what really makes it work is the sexual subtext of a man fighting to maintain both his moral high ground and his sexual potency while surrounded by a trio of luscious, dangerous women.

At first, Harry Barber's biggest problem is finding a job. When he gets out of jail, his loyal girl friend Nina (Gina Gershon) is waiting to meet him. Dark-eyed Nina is the ideal best pal -- friendly, loving, and supportive. Not only does she take Harry in, she's more than willing to pay for his expenses and keep him on as her "assistant" until he finds a job. The sizzling tension between them is that Nina wants a docile and submissive male concubine while Harry is too macho to accept the pleasures Nina can provide. He's clearly the kind of man who feels that it's emasculating for a woman to have too much money or power in a relationship. Still, Nina is so stunningly attractive and so clearly besotted with him that he almost unwillingly sinks into dependence. Watch the early morning scene where he makes coffee for Nina and tensely waits for her approval!

It's pure Neanderthal male pride that drives Harry to accept a "dirty job" from blonde temptress Rhea Malroux. Elisabeth Shue has never, ever been more radiant than in this classic noir role of the black widow. The sex scenes are sizzling precisely because Rhea is using Harry and preparing to feed on him. Yet when her spoiled step daughter, Odette, appears, Harry is forced to pleasure not one but two of the most dangerous women in Palmetto!

Frankly, the ending of this movie is not very satisfying -- Harry does not really triumph in the end, nor does he learn the value of Nina's loyalty and support. In the end it's more of a paranoid male fantasy than a real classic thriller, but still worth watching just for the sizzling sexual subtext between Harry and his three witches!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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