7.4/10
5,268
36 user 91 critic

Killer of Sheep (1978)

Set in the Watts area of Los Angeles, a slaughterhouse worker must suspend his emotions to continue working at a job he finds repugnant, and then he finds he has little sensitivity for the family he works so hard to support.

Director:

Charles Burnett

Writer:

Charles Burnett

On Disc

at Amazon

3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry G. Sanders ... Stan (as Henry Gayle Sanders)
Kaycee Moore ... Stan's Wife
Charles Bracy Charles Bracy ... Bracy
Angela Burnett ... Stan's Daughter
Eugene Cherry Eugene Cherry ... Eugene
Jack Drummond ... Stan's Son
Slim Slim
Delores Farley Delores Farley
Dorothy Stengel Dorothy Stengel
Tobar Mayo Tobar Mayo
Chris Terrill Chris Terrill
Lawrence Pierott Lawrence Pierott
Russell Miles Russell Miles
Homer Jai Homer Jai
Johnny Smoke Johnny Smoke
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Storyline

Stan works in drudgery at a slaughterhouse. His personal life is drab. Dissatisfaction and ennui keep him unresponsive to the needs of his adoring wife, and he must struggle against influences which would dishonor and endanger him and his family. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 November 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Matador de ovejas See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$100,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$31,728, 6 April 2007, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$404,508

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$456,459
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Library of Congress has declared "Killer of Sheep" as a national treasure and one of the first fifty on the National Film Registry. The National Society of Film Critics selected it as one of the "100 Essential Films" of all time. However, since the film was made without the proper legal permits and rights acquisition (due to the expense of the music rights) the film was never shown theatrically or made available on video. It had only been seen on poor quality 16mm prints at a scant few museums and film festivals. Thirty years after it's premiere the new 35mm print of Killer of Sheep was brilliantly restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive. In addition, all rights were secured for the music, allowing the film to be shown on the film festival circuit, theaters, and nationally broadcast by Turner Classic Movies. The film is also available on DVD. See more »

Goofs

After Stan and his friend load the engine block on the truck, they drive away and it falls out, and a car is then seen parked along the curb. The car was not there when they carried the engine out. See more »

Quotes

Man: [first lines]
Man: [to his older son] You let anyone jump on your brother again, and you just stand and watch - boy, I'll beat you to death! I don't care who started what, or whether he was winnin' or losin'; well, you get a thick oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, a goddam brick, get *anything*, and you knock the shit out of whoever fightin' your brother! 'Cause if anything was to happen to me or your mother, you ain't got nobody except your brother. And this goes for him, too - and he knows! You're the one that keep ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Featured in These Amazing Shadows (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

This Bitter Earth
Written by Clyde Otis (uncredited)
Performed by Dinah Washington
See more »

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User Reviews

 
slum reality
26 January 2008 | by mukava991See all my reviews

One of the things I found interesting and original about this film was the ironic and off-kilter use of music. The underscoring includes whistling and other disconcerting sounds that go against the standard, traditional cinematic grain. While black children play in the desolate Los Angeles cityscape we hear on the soundtrack Paul Robeson's recording of "The House I Live In," a song from 1945 that deals with the ideal of racial harmony in America; what a contrast between this high-minded song and the brutal reality of 30 years later. A scene of children throwing rocks at a passing train looks like a newsreel from one of any number of modern African countries in the grip of civil war and poverty. Director Charles Burnett faithfully and accurately captures the texture of daily life in a 70s slum where life is merely existence sustained by a vague but constant hope that things will improve one way or another. The domestic scenes are painful to watch, so barren and stunted are the characters' lives. Similar territory has been explored surrealistically by David Lynch (ERASERHEAD), satirically by John Waters (PINK FLAMINGOS) and with wry formality by Jim Jarmusch (STRANGER THAN PARADISE) but Burnett treats it as cinema verite.

Unfortunately the technical level of this film is only so-so (yes, I realize this was a student thesis project). Although the shots are interestingly composed, usually starting with a close up that makes you wonder what you are looking at and then widening to give you a context, the uneven sound recording and poor diction of several performers distance the viewer.

I think that for showing us the reality of this particular cluster of humanity at this particular time in history KILLER OF SHEEP deserves the attention it has been getting,


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