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
Actress Debra Winger was strongly considered for the role of Nicole Baker that eventually went to Rosanna Arquette. Had Winger taken the role, she and actress Grace Zabriskie would have been reunited as a mother and daughter once again since that same year they had played mother and daughter in the movie "An Officer and a Gentleman". See more »
When they are releasing the straps from Gilmore after he is dead you can see his hand move. In addition the arm is closer to the leg than depicted in the previous shot. See more »
I thought this was a very good dramatization of Mailer's huge book. Tommy Lee Jones does an excellent job of portraying psychopathic killer Gary Gilmore and Rosanna Arquette is terrific as his teenage girlfriend, Nicole. While it was a made for TV movie, some R-rated footage was added in when the movie had a European release. If you can get that version on tape, do so. Rosanna is dynamite in the more adult scenes.
Christine Lahti (who later won a short-film Oscar as a filmmaker) and Eli Wallach provide solid support. Jones shows the same brooding intensity that years later translated into an Oscar for him in "The Fugitive." Look for Ron Howard's father, Rance Howard, in a small part as the police detective who first interrogates Gilmore after his arrest.
It says something about the culture when a loser like Gilmore can be transformed into a sort of folk legend which is what the book and movie ultimately do. He had an enormous impact in 1977 by demanding that Utah go forward with his execution, the first execution in the US since the 1960s and the first since 1972 when the Supreme Court ruled that all death sentences prior to that date were unconstitutional. After Gilmore faced the firing squad hundreds of executions have been carried out. I would wager though that most Americans couldn't name more than two or three of those who have been executed but they will remember the small-time loser Gary Gilmore.
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