Running on Empty ()

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The eldest son of a fugitive family comes of age and wants to live a life of his own.

  • Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 6 nominations.
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Cast verified as complete

Annie Pope
Danny Pope
Arthur Pope
Jonas Abry ...
Harry Pope
Lorna Phillips
Mr. Phillips
Gus Winant
Donald Patterson
Abigail Patterson
Dr. Jonah Reiff
Contact at Eldridge St.
School Clerk
Mrs. Phillips
Justine Johnston ...
Hospital Clerk
Bobo Lewis ...
Home Ec Teacher
Ronnie Gilbert ...
Mrs. Taylor
Leila Danette ...
Music Girl
William Foeller ...
Man at Meeting
Carol Cavallo ...
Woman at Meeting
Mrs. Powell
Joey Thrower ...
Thomas Fraioli ...
Burke Pearson ...
Juilliard Man
Juilliard Woman
English Teacher
Daniel Dassin ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Christian Daugherty ...

Directed by

Sidney Lumet

Written by

Naomi Foner ... (written by)

Produced by

Griffin Dunne ... producer
Naomi Foner ... executive producer
Burtt Harris ... executive producer
Amy Robinson ... producer

Music by

Tony Mottola

Cinematography by

Gerry Fisher

Film Editing by

Andrew Mondshein

Editorial Department

Dawn Chiang ... apprentice editor
Dennis McNeill ... color timer
Richard J. Rossi ... assistant editor

Casting By

Todd Thaler ... (as Todd M. Thaler)

Production Design by

Philip Rosenberg

Art Direction by

Robert Guerra

Set Decoration by

Philip Smith

Costume Design by

Anna Hill Johnstone

Makeup Department

Bob Grimaldi ... hair stylist
Toy Van Lierop ... makeup department head

Production Management

Joseph M. Caracciolo Jr. ... production manager (as Joseph M. Caracciolo)
Lilith Jacobs ... post-production supervisor

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director

Joseph M. Caracciolo ... second assistant director (as Joe Caracciolo)
Burtt Harris ... first assistant director
Andrew Mondshein ... second unit director
Drew Ann Rosenberg ... additional second assistant director
Glen Trotiner ... additional second assistant director

Art Department

Hank Bauer ... head carpenter
John R. Ford ... props
James V. Gartland ... construction grip
Robert Griffon Jr. ... property master
John Oates Jr. ... set dresser
Kevin Oates ... set dresser
Siv Sandstrom ... art department coordinator
William Sohmer ... stand-by scenic artist
Richard A. Ventre ... master scenic artist
Joan Winters ... graphic designer

Sound Department

Marko A. Costanzo ... foley artist
Tom Fleischman ... re-recording mixer
Frank Graziadei ... sound recordist
Jane McCulley ... adr editor
Bitty O'Sullivan-Smith ... sound editor
Mark Rathaus ... supervising sound editor
James Sabat ... sound mixer (as James J. Sabat)
Louis Sabat ... sound boom
Ahmad Shirazi ... sound editor


Mick O'Rourke ... stunt double

Camera and Electrical Department

Dan Brunner ... second assistant camera
Norman Buck ... key grip
Cary Fisher ... camera operator
Kerry Hayes ... still photographer
James Malone ... best boy
James McGrath ... dolly grip
William Ward ... gaffer
Ron Zarilla ... first assistant camera

Casting Department

Ed Arenas ... casting associate
Judie Fixler ... casting associate

Costume and Wardrobe Department

Lynette Bernay ... assistant costume designer
Bruce Catt ... wardrobe supervisor
Karen Whittaker ... wardrobe supervisor

Location Management

Stephen Danza ... location manager
Liza J. Harris ... location coordinator

Music Department

John Beal ... composer: trailer (uncredited)
Michael Farrow ... scoring mixer (uncredited)

Script and Continuity Department

Mary Bailey ... script supervisor

Transportation Department

Thomas Reilly ... transportation captain

Other crew

Emily Appelson ... assistant to producers
Kara Baker ... production assistant
Gar Berke ... piano consultant
Liza J. Harris ... driving double
Deborah D. Johnson ... production accountant
Adrienne Kahn ... production secretary
Mark R. Lindsay ... sales representative (as Mark Lindsay)
George Wild Markham ... production assistant
Jane Raab ... production office coordinator
Lisa Rhodes ... production assistant
Michael Sporn ... title designer
Tim Williams ... production assistant
Cheryl Hill Powell ... production assistant (uncredited)
Melissa Smith ... sales and marketing coordinator (uncredited)
Del Spiva ... distribution coordinator (uncredited)

Production Companies




Special Effects


Other Companies



Plot Summary

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

Plot Keywords
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. See more »
Parents Guide View content advisory »

Additional Details

Also Known As
  • À bout de course (France)
  • Die Flucht ins Ungewisse (Germany)
  • Un lugar en ninguna parte (Spain)
  • Üresjárat (Hungary)
  • 不設限通緝 (Taiwan)
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  • 116 min
Aspect Ratio
Sound Mix
Filming Locations

Box Office

Budget $7,000,000 (estimated)

Did You Know?

Trivia Director Sidney Lumet writes in his book "Making Movies" about an argument between River Phoenix and writer Naomi Foner. A scene in the movie concerns the character played by Phoenix being interrupted while practicing a classical piano solo. In the script, when he is caught, he breaks into a jazz riff to cover his "embarrassment" at being caught doing something serious. Phoenix fought hard against this, feeling that his character would never be embarrassed about working at the piano. Lumet was so impressed by the point Phoenix made, he shot the scene the way Phoenix wanted it. 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 »
Movie Connections Featured in Moon Over Parador/Eight Men Out/Running on Empty/The Thin Blue Line/Crossing Delancey (1988). See more »
Soundtracks Fire And Rain See more »
Quotes Annie Pope: Will you take him, dad? He want's to study music. He's good. They want him at Juilliard.
Donald Patterson: Just like they wanted you. Still have that practice board?
Annie Pope: So far. Danny learned to play piano on it.
Donald Patterson: So you taught him. There's some irony in this. Don't you think, Annie? Here you are, asking me to take Danny into a life that you ran from like a shot out of hell. This what he wants?
Annie Pope: I think so. Got himself an audition without telling me. He'll need money and people to care for him.
Donald Patterson: Don't you think this is too much to ask? We hardly know the boy. If we take him, there'd be FBI agents following us everywhere we go. You'd never be able to see him. We're too old for this.
Annie Pope: Yeah. I think it's too much to ask.
Annie Pope: I have another son, he's ten, Harry.
Donald Patterson: Yeah. Heard about it on the news.
Annie Pope: I plan to turn myself in when he doesn't need me anymore, when he's old enough.
Donald Patterson: And Arthur?
Annie Pope: I can't speak for him.
Annie Pope: Please think about this.
Annie Pope: Well, i should go...
Donald Patterson: Annie. He can come to us.
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