1,160 user 144 critic

The Deer Hunter (1978)

2:45 | Trailer
An in-depth examination of the ways in which the U.S. Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of people in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania.


Michael Cimino


Michael Cimino (story), Deric Washburn (story) | 3 more credits »
944 ( 162)
Top Rated Movies #184 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 19 wins & 27 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert De Niro ... Michael
John Cazale ... Stan
John Savage ... Steven
Christopher Walken ... Nick
Meryl Streep ... Linda
George Dzundza ... John
Chuck Aspegren ... Axel
Shirley Stoler ... Steven's Mother
Rutanya Alda ... Angela
Pierre Segui Pierre Segui ... Julien
Mady Kaplan ... Axel's Girl
Amy Wright ... Bridesmaid
Mary Ann Haenel ... Stan's Girl
Richard Kuss ... Linda's Father
Joe Grifasi ... Bandleader


Michael, Steven and Nicky are 3 best friends who enjoy going deer hunting quite often. These men get enlisted to head to Vietnam to fight for their country and celebrate with a farewell party, as well as Steven marrying a pregnant woman named "Angela." After the horrors during the war and edge-grabbing games of Russian Roulette that these men are forced to play, Michael returns home and realizes that his deer hunting outings aren't the same as they used to be, because of the war and he eventually finds out that Steven is handicapped and Nicky hasn't returned from Vietnam, and in response, he heads back to Vietnam to rescue him. Written by Koen Versieck

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Best Picture 1978 See more »


Drama | War


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


According to Michael Cimino, he would call Deric Washburn while on the road scouting for locations and feed him notes on dialogue and story. Upon reviewing Washburn's draft, Cimino said, "I came back, and read it, and I just could not believe what I read. It was like it was written by somebody who was mentally deranged." Cimino confronted Washburn at the Sunset Marquis in Los Angeles about the draft, and Washburn supposedly replied that he couldn't take the pressure, and had to go home. Cimino then fired Washburn. Cimino later claimed to have written the entire screenplay himself. Washburn's response to Cimino's comments were, "It's all nonsense. It's lies. I didn't have a single drink the entire time I was working on the script." See more »


When Michael comes back from Vietnam he has a full beard while in uniform. He would not have been able to leave Vietnam in uniform until haircut and facial hair complies with uniform regulation AR 670-1. See more »


[first lines]
Michael: Hey, watch out, Axel. We'll be calling him old fireballs after tonight.
Axel: Fuckin' A.
Michael: Not bad.
See more »

Crazy Credits

We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of our Thai crew in the production of "The Deer Hunter" See more »

Alternate Versions

The Region 2 Spain DVD is cut for violence. See more »


Spoofed in The Kirk Show: Punchstarter (2013) See more »


Tattletale Eyes
(1976) (uncredited)
Written by Jody Emerson
Performed by George Jones and Tammy Wynette
See more »

User Reviews

Overlong and not as deep as it thinks but still a very good film
5 July 2003 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Three steel workers from a small town in Pennsylvania prepare to go to war in Vietnam. The night before they go, Steven is married, sparking a large celebration. The next morning they go deer hunting one last time in the woods before they leave. Time passes and the three meet up again in Vietnam as prisoners of war. Brutal mental torture affects them in different ways before they escape and are separated again. Back in Pennsylvania Michael realises the extent to which the war has not only affected him but devastated the lives of his friends in different ways.

I have seen this film several times and I'll admit that I always assume that it is a classic film mainly because I saw it twice when I was in my early teens and was blown away by parts of it. I say this because I want to acknowledge that it may not be as great a film as many critics lists believe it to be, but at the same time I still watch it occasionally as I find it to be a moving story and a good film. The plot is moving if it is viewed on it's surface as a tale of three men whose lives are deeply affected by the war. Going past that to deeper themes I always feel that the film doesn't manage to be as deep as it thinks it is, so I try not to linger too long on these.

The breakdown of the film gives significantly more time to events in the home town rather than Vietnam. This is as it should be – for many people the war was a fleeting thing that has stayed with them for much longer than they were actually involved. The wedding scene is a little overlong but it does serve as a chance to get to see the characters in their setting before we quickly move to the events that changed them and the people they become. The time in Vietnam is quite short but very memorable (many people who have never seen the film will still know these scenes) and the final hour or so of the film is moving even if it takes things to an extreme to make it's point.

The cast make the film work as well, if not more, than the material itself. De Niro is the rock on which it all stands and is pretty good. The only weakness in his performance was that he was the one who had to be `the hero' type who does what he can. Walken gets the lion share of praise for his is the role that changes the most significantly throughout the film. It is easy to forget that he was not anywhere near as famous as De Niro at this time and it is amazing in that regard to see him hold his own. Savage gives a good performance and support is strong in the form of such actors as Cazale, Dzundza and Aspegren. Even Streep gives a performance refreshingly free of sentiment or forced accents.

The film is a little overlong and could easily have lost 30 minutes (although not all from one place) to give it a tighter feel. Some scenes feel stretched beyond their useful duration leading to the feel that the film wanted to be 3 hours long, rather than being cut back to 3 hours long. Despite this though I still think this is a good film that is a powerful story at it's heart. I personally don't think it would make my top 50 (were I ever to do one) but I will watch it again.

30 of 49 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 1,160 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »


Official Sites:

Official site



Release Date:

23 February 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Man Who Came to Play See more »

Filming Locations:

Mingo Junction, Ohio, USA See more »


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints) (as Dolby System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed