The story of Gary Gilmore, a convicted murderer who lobbied for his own execution.


Lawrence Schiller


Norman Mailer (screenplay), Norman Mailer (book)
Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Tommy Lee Jones ... Gary Gilmore
Christine Lahti ... Brenda Nicol
Rosanna Arquette ... Nicole Baker
Eli Wallach ... Vern Damico
Steven Keats ... Larry Samuels
Jordan Clarke ... Johnny Nicol
Richard Venture ... Earl Dorius
Jenny Wright ... April Baker
Walter Olkewicz ... Pete Galovan
Michael LeClair Michael LeClair ... Rikki Wood
Pat Corley ... Val Conlan
Mary Ethel Gregory Mary Ethel Gregory ... Ida Damico
John Dennis Johnston ... Jimmy Poker-Game
Norris Mailer Norris Mailer ... Lu-Ann (as Norris Church)
Kenneth O'Brien Kenneth O'Brien ... Spencer McGrath


Based on the real life case of murderer Gary Mark Gilmore, spanning the last nine months of his life (May 1976-January 1977) in which at age 35, after being released for serving a long prison term in Utah for armed robbery, the unstable Gilmore murdered two men in two separate and senseless robberies in which after a brief public trial in October, he was sentenced to death by firing squad which drew a lot of media attention when Gilmore insisted that his execution be carried out and he became the first man to be executed in the USA since the government reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Written by matt-282

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Crime | Drama


Unrated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


According to Lawrence Schiller, Debra Winger was strongly favored for Nicole Baker, but was turned down after being considered "too urban" for the role. Tatum O'Neal also read for the role. See more »


In the movie you see that Gary Gilmore shot himself in the left hand, but in real life he shot the right hand. See more »


Gary Mark Gilmore: Go down on me, partner... I need it
Nicole Baker: Don't call me partner.
Gary Mark Gilmore: No, darlin'... I love it... I love it
Nicole Baker: Yeah, you and seven other motherfuckers.
See more »

Alternate Versions

A 135 minute so-called "director's cut" released on DVD in 2008 in the United States still has many of the nude scenes missing that were shown in Europe. See more »


Featured in At the Movies: Tommy Lee Jones (1993) See more »


Are You Ready For the Country
by Neil Young
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User Reviews

When The Executioner sings his song its of death and violence and Justice.
23 July 2015 | by feakesSee all my reviews

The Executioner's song is based on the Gary Gilmore case. Gary Gilmore murdered two innocent men in cold blood and when the courts found him guilty he was sentenced to death. When the chance of a appeal comes up giving Gilmore only 30 years. He decides to fight against it and accept his Execution in front of a Utah firing squad. Gilmore Wanted his freedom but if he could not have that then he wanted to die.

Gary Gilmore was on 35 when he was paroled from prison after doing a 12 year sentence. By then Gilmore had spent more then half his life behind bars . When is released into his cousin Brenda's custody Gilmore finds Life on the outside to be different and difficult. Gilmore finds himself in a hurry . He wants money he wants love and he wants it NOW ! Gary only understands the way things work in prison. To him life on the outside is harder. When he meets Nicole a flighty blonde with kids and a woman who decides Gary is worth fighting for only then does his life start to turn around. But Gary has a issue of violence and of fear of losing the only sane thing in his life.When things don't start going right for them only then does Gary fall back on old habits and he adds a new weapon to his arsenal. Gary murders two men in cold blood after Nicole leaves him in terror fearing for her life. When Gary is arrested. He goes to court where he is found guilty .and sentenced to die the method is chosen by Gary and he chooses firing squad .When the lawyers file a appeal Gary becomes famous arguing that he wants to die. despite the people who argue that want him to live. Gary Gilmore finally gets his wish and pays for his crimes in Jan 1977 .by the Utah firing squad.

Tommy Lee Jones always excellent in every role he takes Shines as Gary Gilmore. bring Gilmore's Jekyall and Hyde persona to life. Eli Wallach does a wonderful turn as Uncle Vern who at first wants to give Gary a chance then realizes Gary is nothing more then a rabid dog. Rosanna Arquette does such a god job here its hard to believe she was never a major star this movie shows her potential If you are a fan of the true crime genre . This one is a must watch classic and for very good reason. Its compelling and stays with you long after its over .

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Release Date:

28 November 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Executioner's Song See more »

Filming Locations:

Orem, Utah, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (Original Version)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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