7.7/10
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98 user 45 critic

Running on Empty (1988)

PG-13 | | Crime, Drama, Music | 9 September 1988 (USA)
The eldest son of a fugitive family comes of age and wants to live a life of his own.

Director:

Sidney Lumet

Writer:

Naomi Foner
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Christine Lahti ... Annie Pope
River Phoenix ... Danny Pope
Judd Hirsch ... Arthur Pope
Jonas Abry Jonas Abry ... Harry Pope
Martha Plimpton ... Lorna Phillips
Ed Crowley ... Mr. Phillips
L.M. Kit Carson ... Gus Winant
Steven Hill ... Donald Patterson
Augusta Dabney Augusta Dabney ... Abigail Patterson
David Margulies ... Dr. Jonah Reiff
Lynne Thigpen ... Contact at Eldridge St.
Marcia Jean Kurtz ... School Clerk
Sloane Shelton ... Mrs. Phillips
Justine Johnston Justine Johnston ... Librarian
Herb Lovelle ... Hospital Clerk
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Storyline

The Popes are a family who haven't been able to use their real identity for years. In the late sixties, the parents set a weapons lab afire in an effort to hinder the government's Vietnam war campaign. Ever since then, the Popes have been on the run with the authorities never far behind. Today, their eldest son wants a life of his own although he is aware that would mean that his parents would either get caught or he will never see them again. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In 1971, Arthur and Annie Pope blew up a napalm lab to protest the war... Ever since then they have been on the run from the FBI. They chose their lives. Now their son must choose his.

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Music | Romance

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 September 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Flucht ins Ungewisse See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$215,157, 11 September 1988

Gross USA:

$2,835,116

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,847,941
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film, which stars Judd Hirsch, was inspired by the 1970 bombing of Sterling Hall at the University of Wisconsin. In the TV episode Numb3rs: Protest (2006), Hirsch's character Alan Eppes is revealed to have a history of protesting (albeit peacefully) the Vietnam war, and a bombing suspect in that episode is named Matt Stirling. See more »

Goofs

In the sequence when Danny discovers the Fed's cars following him and he sends the dog with his shoe to get his brother Harry, a person's left arm can be seen in the open door of the porch and it quickly moves back behind the door. Possibly the dog's handler; it doesn't seem to be Harry waiting to come out since he would have had his props in hand and the arm's height and size gives the impression of a person larger than Harry. See more »

Quotes

Michael: Now, I have no right in telling this to you. It's dangerous for you and it's dangerous for them, but i'm sorry i just couldn't stop myself. You can do what you want to, you can tell your dad; anything, i don't care. I just needed you to know... I don't know what i'm doing, and i love you.
See more »

Connections

Featured in American Masters: By Sidney Lumet (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Oh Pretty Woman
Written by Roy Orbison & Bill Dees
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sensitive, Touching Film
29 January 2000 | by jjh6519See all my reviews

Possibly the finest and most underappreciated film by Sidney Lumet, this movie has moments which grab you by the throat -- they are so powerful. The cast, which is outstanding (Judd Hirsch, Christine Lahti, and River Phoenix in particular), is part of the reason for its power. The characters are totally convincing. The young man played by River Phoenix is someone we must sympathize with: his dilemma is a lifelong choice between never seeing his loved ones again or continuing to grow as a very talented pianist. The choice is agonizing, and the ending is sure to bring tears to many eyes of people who are part of a close-knit family. One scene is particularly powerful and makes me tear up every time I watch it: The luncheon meeting between Annie, the mother (Christine Lahti) and her father, played by Steven Hill. The dialog during this scene is so convincing, and the acting is perfect. But River Phoenix is the main reason to see this beautiful film, and this simply underscores the tragedy of his death at an early age. He had already proved he was a talent of considerable promise with in Stand By Me and in Mosquito Coast. I fully recommend this film to all thinking people with feelings about the inevitable conflict between family and individuality. This is a small film -- what I call "a little gem" -- most of which are small budget films with great acting and centered around the subjects of families and their values. Also see Crossing Delancey, another "little gem".


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