6.0/10
25,860
86 user 33 critic

Tequila Sunrise (1988)

A former L.A. drug dealer tries to go straight but his past and his underworld connections bring him into the focus of the DEA, the Mexican feds and the Mexican drug cartels.

Director:

Robert Towne

Writer:

Robert Towne

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mel Gibson ... McKussic
Michelle Pfeiffer ... Jo Ann
Kurt Russell ... Frescia
Raul Julia ... Carlos / Escalante
J.T. Walsh ... Maguire
Arliss Howard ... Lindroff
Arye Gross ... Andy Leonard
Gabriel Damon ... Cody McKussic
Daniel Zacapa ... Arturo (as Garret Pearson)
Eric Thiele Eric Thiele ... Vittorio
Tom Nolan Tom Nolan ... Leland
Dawn Martel Dawn Martel ... Sin Sister
Lala Sloatman ... Sin Sister #2 (as Lala)
Budd Boetticher ... Judge Nizetitch
Ann Magnuson ... Shaleen
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Storyline

Mac Mckussic is an unlikely drug dealer who wants to go straight. His old and best friend Nick Frescia is now a cop who is assigned to investigate and bring him to justice. Mac is very attracted to Jo Ann, the owner of a stylish restaurant. Nick gets close to Jo Ann attempting to know more about Mac's drug dealing plans and his connections with the Mexican dealer Carlos, who the police believe is coming to town to meet with him. Nick also falls for Jo Ann's charms and his friendship with Mac is in danger. Written by Sami Al-Taher <staher2000@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A business on the line. A friendship on the edge. A woman caught in the middle. [Video] See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

2 December 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Traición al amanecer See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$23,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,350,974, 4 December 1988, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$41,292,551

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$105,932,000, 31 December 1989
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Raul Julia, a trained singer, sings a few Spanish songs in the film. See more »

Goofs

When Pfeiffer is at the police station getting her chef released, Russell pulls up and parks directly in front of her car. When they leave the station, his car isn't there and Pfeiffer is able to drive away unobstructed. See more »

Quotes

Dale McKussic: Nobody wants me to quit. You know, don't quit, don't get caught, stay on top long enough for us to knock you off - I mean, that's the motto around here. Nobody wants me to quit. The cops want to bust me. The Colombians want my connections. My wife, she wants my money. Her lawyer agrees and mine likes getting paid to argue with him. Nobody wants me to quit. I haven't even mentioned my customers here. You know they don't want me to quit.
Jo Ann: That is completely paranoid.
Dale McKussic: Hey, I'm just talking here. ...
See more »

Connections

Featured in Here's Looking at You, Warner Bros. (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Dead On the Money
Written by Andy Taylor, Steve Diamond (as Steven Diamond) and Todd Cerney
Performed by Andy Taylor
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Classic 80's Noir
22 April 2011 | by Rodrigo_AmaroSee all my reviews

Three views on three different occasions and ages and it finally worked on the third time. Sounds like the divisions of a play and acts but it was just how my perception over "Tequila Sunrise" has changed over the years, and now I find it a excellent film, with many positive aspects. The screenplay is smart, confusing at times, it has many terrific things and the actors made this story even more interesting, exciting. This is a film-noir, but not in the traditional almost melodramatic sense, so if you're looking for gunshots, action and chase sequences it's better pick another movie to watch.

In Robert Towne's film everyone is divided between love (on someone or something) and friendship, and things isn't always what they appear. McKussic (Mel Gibson) and Nick Frescia (Kurt Russell) are long time pals who have opposite lines of work: Mac is a nice drug dealer who has a perfect ability of escape from problems, trying to retire himself from the "job"; while Nick is a cop investigating a huge drug shipment coming to the country and McKussic might be involved in it. But friendship worths more than anything in the world and one won't be after the other as long things don't turn into something illegal. In the middle of these two there's three things: Nick's FBI partner Maguire (J.T.Walsh) coordinating McKussic's investigation; Mac's friend the drug dealer Carlos (Raul Julia) coming from Mexico for a big drug operation; and the gorgeous Jo Ann Vallenari (Michelle Pfeiffer) owner of a successful restaurant where Mac is a regular costumer and both friends are interested in this woman who is divided between the love of both men. The audience must try to hold the pieces together and figure what happens next, who's telling the truth and who's lying in this intricate plot.

If the plot itself sometimes wanders a little bit, at least the characters are so well constructed and the performances go in the right direction that the film doesn't suffer one bit, but I must say that attention is required to follow everyone and everything, otherwise you lost yourself with no chance of getting back to the story, and you'll probably hate it. My earlier problems with "Tequila Sunrise" on other views was exactly that; it was right in front of me, this is a picture made exclusively with dialogs and they matter a lot, it is all well written out.

Now, this is a helluva film from the 1980's filled with elements all nostalgic fans from that decade love: Gibson in the peak of his career, Russell as well, Michelle beautiful as ever, Raul Julia stealing the show from everybody, Dave Grusin's jazzy music featuring David Sanborn sax solos with the love's theme, the spectacular cinematography from Conrad L.Hall (Oscar nominated for his work here) capturing fantastic sunny shots and the most beautiful sunsets ever captured on celluloid.

There's a strange magnetism about "Tequila Sunrise" that even before the time I like it, there was something good about it, and I'm glad for it because it always made me want more of it, something makes me watch it every time I can (even though I still don't understand the title. Towne played the enigmatic again with the title, remember "Chinatown"?). Here's a story about the value of love and friendship among unusual friends with more unusual types of work. 10/10


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