6.3/10
796
13 user 2 critic

The River Rat (1984)

After serving time for a theft he didn't commit, all Billy wants to do is to reconnect with his daughter. However, some loose ends, like the whereabouts of the stolen loot, just won't let him go.

Director:

Thomas Rickman (as Tom Rickman)

Writer:

Thomas Rickman
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tommy Lee Jones ... Billy
Martha Plimpton ... Jonsy
Brian Dennehy ... Doc Cole
Shawn Smith ... Wexel
Nancy Lea Owen ... Vadie
Norman Bennett ... Sheriff Cal
Tony Frank Tony Frank ... Poley
Angie Bolling ... Joyce
Roger Copeland Roger Copeland ... Young Billy
Tommy Burlison Tommy Burlison ... Whitey
Tamara Hartley Tamara Hartley ... Young Joyce
Louise Anderson Louise Anderson ... Wexel's Aunt
Melissa Hart Melissa Hart ... Peggy
Mary Harper Mary Harper ... Old Woman
James Hurt James Hurt ... Motorist
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Storyline

After serving time for a theft he didn't commit, all Billy wants to do is to reconnect with his daughter. However, some loose ends, like the whereabouts of the stolen loot, just won't let him go.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

independent film | See All (1) »

Taglines:

After thirteen years in prison, Billy McCain thought he'd met up with everything, until he met up with his own daughter Jonsy. See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 September 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La barca del infierno See more »

Filming Locations:

Clinton, Kentucky, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$441,466, 23 September 1984

Gross USA:

$1,142,944

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,142,944
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color (Technicolor)
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Many of the the Missisippi River sequences were filmed on the Ohio River at Smithland, Kentucky, which had previously been used for the river scenes in How the West Was Won (1962). See more »

Goofs

Wexel puts his branch into the fire twice. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Until September (2019) See more »

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User Reviews

Nice relationship drama
10 December 2001 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Jonsy is a pre-teen girl who lives by the Mississippi river with her grandmother. When her father Billy is released early from prison she tries to become close to him. However when Doc emerges from Billy's past looking for the money he stole things become more urgent.

This is essentially the story of a father and daughter trying to bond after never being together. The story may take a more sinister turn as Doc takes them on a river journey to find the stolen money, but it's still a family drama for the most part. The family drama is well observed with good characters - only the boy Wexel comes across as a slight Southern stereotype. However Doc's introduction doesn't take away from this side, rather it adds a darker level involving murder, revenge and eventual redemption. But over all this it works as a nice, non-sentimental relationship drama.

The film is the one that gave Martha Plimpton to the world and, while that may not be a good thing, she is good here - a child actress that isn't annoying. Also a pre-fame Tommy Lee Jones gives a strong performance as Billy who is slowly won over by fatherly concern for his daughter. Also giving a good show is Brian Dennehy (long before he started specialising in TV movies about crooked cops), here his bad guy slowly develops a tragic feel about him - just as his poison ivy wounds develop more to entrap him.

The film is a clever relationship drama with a grisly edge to it. It's worth watching for it's simplicity and for it's good performances. Don't expect a masterpiece but it's a refreshing little drama.


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