92 user 39 critic

Tequila Sunrise (1988)

1:27 | Trailer
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.


Robert Towne


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





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


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


A dangerous mix See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Mel Gibson drives a red GMC/Chevrolet dual axle pick up truck just like in the Lethal weapon series. See more »


When Mel Gibson and Arliss Howard are talking about Kurt Russell's character, Arliss Howard says "You guys meet at Orville and Wilbur's once a year. You're wearing a gold Rolex and he's wearing a Timex. If he wasn't a cop, he'd have to hate you." Throughout the movie, Kurt Russell is clearly wearing a Rolex. See more »


Carlos: I haven't seen any matador stand his ground like that since Abruza.
McKussic: He's a pussy.
Carlos: He's the finest matador in Mexico.
McKussic: He's a pussy, man.
Carlos: Why is that buddy?
McKussic: I don't know why. Look at him. Look at the matador, man. What does he fucking do? He dresses up in his... spangles and puts on his sequined jacket... and wraps that sash around his waist. Then he puts on his little pink stockings... and his hair up in a little pigtail. I mean, that's a pussy!
Carlos: Carlos: Ah! Woah!
McKussic: I mean... that's what a bullfight is......
See more »

Crazy Credits

As the end credits roll, the color of the text changes from dark orange (at the bottom of the screen) to yellow (at the top), mirroring the colors of a Tequila Sunrise cocktail. See more »


Referenced in The Benchwarmers (2006) See more »


Do You Believe In Shame?
Performed by Duran Duran
Courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc. & EMI Records, Ltd.
Written by John Taylor, Simon Le Bon (as Simon LeBon) & Nick Rhodes
See more »

User Reviews

Tequila Sunset
8 September 2003 | by paul2001sw-1See all my reviews

Legendary screenwriter Towne's thriller is a slick, watchable story about honour among friends involved (from various perspectives) in a big drug deal. Unfortunately, it's also a load of tosh. The characters are all beautiful (Michelle Pfiffer especially), but completely unconvincing, none more so than Kurt Russell's cop who never seems to do a single day of real police work. The moral complexities of the story lose out to gloss, and a ghastly soundtrack, at every point - even the cleverness of the plot has no impact, so intentionally flat are the characters. Fundamentally this film is all about aspiration - it sells you a lifestyle (good food, beautiful women, golden beaches) and the details are just a peg on which to hang the ad. Passes the time, but there's something fundamentally unpleasant in the whole conceit. A film of the 80s in every sense.

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English | Spanish

Release Date:

2 December 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tequila Sunrise See more »


Box Office


$23,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,350,974, 4 December 1988

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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