6.8/10
4,264
43 user 21 critic

The Onion Field (1979)

An LA police officer is murdered in the onion fields outside of Bakersfield. However, legal loopholes could keep his kidnappers from receiving justice, and his partner is haunted by overwhelming survivor's guilt.

Director:

Harold Becker

Writers:

Joseph Wambaugh (book), Joseph Wambaugh (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Savage ... Karl Hettinger
James Woods ... Gregory Powell
Franklyn Seales ... Jimmy Smith
Ted Danson ... Ian Campbell
Ronny Cox ... Pierce Brooks
David Huffman ... District Attorney Phil Halpin
Christopher Lloyd ... Jailhouse Lawyer
Dianne Hull ... Helen Hettinger (as Diane Hull)
Priscilla Pointer ... Chrissie Campbell
Beege Barkette ... Greg's Woman (as Beege Barkett)
Richard Herd ... Beat Cop
Le Tari ... Emmanuel McFadden
Richard Venture Richard Venture ... Glenn Bates
Lee Weaver ... Billy
Pat Corley ... Jimmy's Lawyer #2
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Storyline

Gregory Ulas Powell is a disturbed ex-con who recruits Jimmy Lee "Youngblood" Smith, a petty thief, as his partner in crime. Powell panics one night when the two of them are pulled over by a pair of cops for broken brake lights. Powell decides to kidnap the cops, and Smith, as always, reluctantly goes along with Powell's crazy scheme. The group drives out to a deserted onion field in Bakersfield, California, and one officer is shot while the other escapes. The remainder of the film explores the nature of the American justice system, as well as the devastating psychological effects of this event, and the trial on the surviving officer. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A True American Tragedy Captured on Film! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 February 1980 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Onion Field See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$9,890,597

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$9,890,597
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joseph Wambaugh was a California policeman for fourteen years. At the age of thirty, he began to write novels about the police force. See more »

Goofs

When Karl Hettinger is talking into the patrol car microphone, the microphone is turned around and he is actually talking into the back of it. See more »

Quotes

Gregory Ulas Powell: Don't waste bullets!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Sneak Previews: Take 2: Going to the Movies (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

A disappointment
29 September 1999 | by NedwardSee all my reviews

Watching the Onion Field is like being in the trial it portrays. Overlong, boring and ultimately unsatisfying the film drags on until its uninteresting ending which resolves nothing and leaves you wishing you hadn't wasted the last two hours of your life. The opening of the film has some promise. The characters seem to have some potential but after the plotless first half hour you begin to care less and less. Then, after the first 45 minutes almost an entirely new cast of characters is introduced badly and for the rest of the film we really have no reason to care about them. The characters who were introduced early on suddenly disappear into the background and resurface occasionally in scenes that have little or no impact. The film is filled with unnecessary scenes which neither advance the plot or the characters and simply make the film drag moreso. The only character we are really introduced to and care about is Ted Danson and when he's gone the rest of the characters are strangers to us. Overall the film doesn't go anywhere and in the end you know little of what happened after the shooting and in the end you really don't care.


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