6.9/10
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42 user 20 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.

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Det. Karl Francis Hettinger
... Gregory Ulas Powell
Franklyn Seales ... Jimmy Lee 'Youngblood' Smith
... Det. Ian James Campbell
... Det. Sgt. Pierce R. Brooks
... Dist. Atty. Phil Halpin
... Jailhouse Lawyer
... Helen Hettinger (as Diane Hull)
... Chrissie Campbell
... Greg's Woman (as Beege Barkett)
... Beat Cop
... Emmanuel McFadden
Richard Venture ... Det. Glenn Bates
... Billy
... 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 »

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

17 March 1980 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Polisbil 6-Z-4 svarar inte  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$9,890,597
See more on IMDbPro »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Several cast and crew members worked on this movie and the Joseph Wambaugh adaptation The Black Marble (1980). 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

Det. Karl Hettinger: [while in the onion field seeing his partner crying] That's the onions. It makes you eyes water.
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Connections

References The Night of the Hunter (1955) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Amzaing
21 February 2004 | by See all my reviews

I never saw James Woods in a film before the Onion Field. To this day I have never forgotten his performance. Whenever I see him, I think of The Onion Field. He often is cast as the bad guy, and he usually pulls it off very well. He was excellently bad in Once Upon a Time in America, The Getaway, Ghosts of Mississippi, Casino, and others. The Onion Field was, however, absolutely a masterpiece performance by Woods. Greg Powell was an evil person, and Woods nails the role. This film does not seem to be on TV often any more, but is worth looking for. It is truly chilling.


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