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Jacknife (1989)

R | | Drama | 10 March 1989 (USA)
A conflict develops between a troubled Vietnam veteran and the sister, with whom he lives, when she becomes romantically involved with the Army buddy who reminds him of the tragic battle ... See full summary »


David Hugh Jones (as David Jones)


Stephen Metcalfe (play), Stephen Metcalfe (screenplay)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert De Niro ... Megs (as Robert DeNiro)
Kathy Baker ... Martha
Ed Harris ... Dave
Sloane Shelton ... Shirley
Ivar Brogger ... Depot Mechanic
Michael Arkin Michael Arkin ... Dispatcher
Tom Isbell Tom Isbell ... Bobby Buckman
Kirk Taylor ... Helicopter Gunner
Jordan Lund ... Tiny
Charles S. Dutton ... Jake (as Charles Dutton)
Bruce Ramsay ... Corridor Student (as Bruce Ramsey)
Jessalyn Gilsig ... His Girlfriend
George Gerdes ... Tony
Josh Pais ... Rick
Lois Dellar Lois Dellar ... Cocktail Waitress


A conflict develops between a troubled Vietnam veteran and the sister, with whom he lives, when she becomes romantically involved with the Army buddy who reminds him of the tragic battle they both survived. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Three buddies in Vietnam. Two survived. Only one is really alive. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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USA | Canada



Release Date:

10 March 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bicska See more »

Filming Locations:

Connecticut, USA See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (in selected theatres)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Robert De Niro and actress Kathy Baker also appear together 4 years later in Mad Dog and Glory (1993). See more »


[first lines]
Joseph 'Jacknife' Megessey: Rise and shine cause it is time!
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Beat Me Up
Written by Dyna Brein
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User Reviews

Underrated Film and Performances
13 March 2009 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Jacknife (1989)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Powerful drama centers on a Vietnam vet (Robert DeNiro) who looks up an old war buddy (Ed Harris) but soon falls for his sister (Kathy Baker). There were a whole slew of war movies during this period but this here is the most overlooked and that's a real shame because it's one of the best. I've heard some refer to it as a continuation of THE DEER HUNTER and there might be a lot of truth to that because this film takes place fifteen years after the war and it's clear with our characters that the horror of Vietnam are still haunting them. The movie is very quiet as it doesn't preach nor does it try to scream some sort of message. Instead we just peek in on these three people's lives and how the Harris character is pretty much dead even though he survived the war. I think what works best here are the performances, which are all rather amazing. I called the film underrated but that's also true of DeNiro's performance, which to me is one of the better ones in his career. Once again DeNiro dives head first into a role and really comes away with a very memorable character thanks to his performance. For the most part his character is out going and energetic even though he has some demons inside him and DeNiro perfectly pulls this off. I especially loved him during his out going scenes where he's constantly moving and dancing around to let off all the positive energy he's trying to give off. Those are the scenes that worked best with me and the ones that the legendary actor pulled off the best. Harris is also wonderful in the film and manages to steal every scene he's in. He doesn't have too much dialogue so the majority of his acting is with his eyes and he really does a remarkable job. Just take a look at the scene where he goes to visit the parents of his friend who was killed in the war. Baker doesn't get enough credit as an actress but she too delivers the goods here. This film has a slow pace, which allows us to get to know the characters, feel their pain and understand how all three of them are trying to grow. The moving hits on some rather dark subjects and has an overall depressing tone. This might keep some people away but that would be a shame because they'd be missing out on a very impressive film with three excellent performances.

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