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A Killing Affair (1986)

The story of a widow (in West Virginia) who takes in a drifter who she believes killed her husband. She begins to fall for him but cannot be sure if she should trust him.


David Saperstein


Robert Houston (novel), David Saperstein (screenplay)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Weller ... Baston Morris
Kathy Baker ... Maggie Gresham
John Glover ... Sheb Sheppard
Bill Smitrovich ... Pink Gresham
Rhetta Hughes Rhetta Hughes ... Vinia
Amy Fields ... Bessie Gresham
Richard Westrick Richard Westrick ... Warren Gresham
Trevor Jackson Trevor Jackson ... Eldridge
Susie Hall Susie Hall ... Blanche
Sandi Brannon Sandi Brannon ... Sara
Bob Hannah ... Stillwell
Joel Simon Joel Simon ... First Man at Mill
Edward Potter Haggard Edward Potter Haggard ... Second Man at Mill
Curt Walters Curt Walters ... Sherrif of Parrish
Mert Hatfield Mert Hatfield ... Sheriff of Oakman


The story of a widow (in West Virginia) who takes in a drifter who she believes killed her husband. She begins to fall for him but cannot be sure if she should trust him. Written by Scott Lane <rslane@ix.netcom.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The dogs of hell walk the earth and the Devil strides beside [video cover]


Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

9 February 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Prisioneira See more »

Filming Locations:

Juliette, Georgia, USA


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,337, 17 July 1988

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Tomorrow Entertainment See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



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Did You Know?


Filmed in 1983, but not released until 1986. See more »

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User Reviews

deserves to be among the greatest movies of all time,
10 March 2016 | by nzpedalsSee all my reviews

It's a real story, and I know who the characters are immediately. But the best part is the superb acting by Kathy Baker. This is her movie from start to finish. Sure, the others, (Weller, Smitrovich ) are good, but nothing in comparison to Baker.

Her voice, the tone, the pauses, the eyes, the gestures, combine to tell the exact emotion, in an emotion-packed story. There is worry, doubt, fear, a tiny bit of joy - it's all there, compassion too. Not much to laugh about, in fact nothing at all, but that's not necessary in such a gripping story.

Set in small-town USA in the forties, where the mill is supposedly short of able-bodied men. Flashbacks tell of the background as the horrible foreman acquires a wife from the distraught and stupid son of another horrible person who had locked his wife in a share-croppers shack for two years.

As he is led away after being caught, he shouts "She's my wife, she belongs to me", and that seems to be the attitude of his son Sheb (John Glover) who later becomes a Baptist minister and proclaims the same horrible code. Maggie (Kathy Baker) is his sister. Sheb callously gives her to Pink Gresham, the Parrish Mill foreman. Pink cheats on his workers - deducting $5 *more* from their pay packet than usual (that would be a huge amount in today's money), but the workers are powerless to complain. Pink cheats on his wife too, spending the night with cute Sara (rather oddly, the credits say "Sarah's father"? (Danny Nelson) who doesn't say a word. His face says it all - disapproval, but powerless to interfere.

Someone else that Pink has hurt is Baston Morris, (Weller) with whom Pink had stayed for a week whilst looking for workers to replace men who have been drafted or enlisted in the war. Pink buys gifts for the Morris children and especially their mother (another actor who doesn't say a word). The wife says (in a letter that Baston finds) that she will leave Baston and go to live with Pink. Needless to say, that upsets Morris so much that he comes after Pink. And gets him.

When Morris shows up at the Gresham house, on the other side of the river with no road access, Maggie is effectively held hostage. She tries to get help from a neighbor, but fails. To add to the fear and danger, there are a pack of wild dogs in the area. Morris deals to them and threatens to do the same to Maggie unless she agrees to help him escape.

There are a couple of very short scenes, half a second long, that need to be noticed and their relevance understood. That might take a second or third viewing of the DVD, well worth it. The neighbor's young son has seen a critical event between Maggie and Morris. That leads to the arrival of the Sheriff, and the inevitable conclusion.

Great writing, lots of memorable lines, great direction and production. My only complaint might be the title, OK, there is a bit of killing, but that's not the main story, so perhaps "Hostage Affair" might have been better.

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