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In the Valley of Elah (2007)

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A retired military investigator works with a police detective to uncover the truth behind his son's disappearance following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq.



(screenplay), (story) | 1 more credit »
3,881 ( 283)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sgt. Dan Carnelli
Arnold Bickman
Corporal Steve Penning
Spc. Gordon Bonner
Spc. Ennis Long
Mike Deerfield
Detective Nugent
Private Robert Ortiez (as Victor Wolf)
Detective Hodge


In Monroe, Tennessee, Hank Deerfield, an aging warrior, gets a call that his son, just back from 18 months' fighting in Iraq, is missing from his base. Hank drives to Fort Rudd, New Mexico, to search. Within a day, the charred and dismembered body of his son is found on the outskirts of town. Deerfield pushes himself into the investigation, marked by jurisdictional antagonism between the Army and local police. Working mostly with a new detective, Emily Sanders, Hank seems to close in on what happened. Major smuggling? A drug deal gone awry? Credit card slips, some photographs, and video clips from Iraq may hold the key. If Hank gets to the truth, what will it tell him? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Sometimes finding the truth is easier than facing it. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent and disturbing content, language and some sexuality/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 September 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Death and Dishonor  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$133,557 (USA) (14 September 2007)


$6,777,589 (USA) (15 February 2008)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to Paul Haggis, Clint Eastwood helped get this film the green light. See more »


Evie (aka "Madame") identifies Penning in the photo with Mike with the photo in the middle of a pile and under some other photos. In a the longer shot, she is seen to have her finger on a photo which is on top of all the others and which actually has three soldiers in the photo. See more »


[first lines]
Spc. Gordon Bonner: What are you doing? Get back in the fucking vehicle man! Mike, get back in the fucking vehicle. Let's go, Mike, now!
See more »


Referenced in Argo (2012) See more »


This Mess
Written by Joel Byrne
Performed by Wolf & Cub
Courtesy of 4AD Ltd/Remote Control/Dot Dash Recordings
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Valley of Elah is a good Murder mystery
15 September 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Paul Hagas's "In the Valley of Elah" follows carefully and closely all the long held and well affirmed standards of any good murder mystery. For anyone who really enjoys this Genre you won't be disappointed.

That being said I believe the performances also strengthen this story. Tommy Lee Jones hands in a subdued yet internally complex performance the like I've never seen him do before. He is tough and yet has the sensitivity necessary to drive the character along to where it needs to go. Susan Sarandon gives a strong performance as the mother of a missing soldier. She is placed in the position of an actress having to create a great role from a small part and pulls it off by tapping what must be very heartfelt emotions.

Ms. Theron is good and carries off her part well. She is once again not afraid to look bad in order to carry a role. It is a good performance...that's all. I'm not writing home to Mom over it though. The rest of the cast is very strong and gives me great hope for the future of Film making in this country. The cast works well together and makes a compelling story.

The part of this film that is the Star and center piece is Paul Hagas's script. He sets up the characters and situations in a direct and fast manner. The storyline is consistent and flows well and as I mentioned he follows the correct direction that any good murder mystery should. He also makes us aware of the growing struggles of our soldiers and what is going on as a result of this war in Iraq. Please see this film and look at it for what it is...a good mystery with great performances.

49 of 82 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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