27 user 10 critic

Chattahoochee (1989)

In 1955 Florida, a Korean vet has a breakdown and is incarcerated in a "maximum security" mental health prison, where patients are abused.


Mick Jackson


James Cresson (as James Hicks)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Gary Oldman ... Emmett Foley
Dennis Hopper ... Walker Benson
Frances McDormand ... Mae Foley
Pamela Reed ... Earlene
Ned Beatty ... Dr. Harwood
M. Emmet Walsh ... Morris
William De Acutis William De Acutis ... Missy
Lee Wilkof ... Vernon
Matt Craven ... Lonny
Gary Howard Klar Gary Howard Klar ... Clarence (as Gary Klar)
Timothy Scott ... Harley
Richard Portnow ... Dr. Debner
William Newman ... Jonathan
Whitey Hughes ... Mr. Johnson
Wilbur Fitzgerald ... Duane


An American war hero attempts suicide and ends up in Chattahoochee State Mental Hospital. But he realizes that the doctors in the hospital are humiliating patients, and staff are murdering them. Written by Harun Mehmedinovic <Pkojovic@concentric.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


At the edge of insanity lies hope. See more »


Biography | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


One of three films that stars both Dennis Hopper and Gary Oldman. The others are: True Romance (1993) and Basquiat (1996). See more »


[first lines]
Emmett Foley: When you come back a certified hero, it kinda raises people's expectations. Makes 'em think you're a big guy.
Mae Foley: It started off like any other Sunday as far as I could see. I can't even remember what I did that morning. You always think, I guess, that, well, if you seen it coming, you coulda done something. But I don't know what it woulda been. He seemed normal enough the last time I seen him. A little tight around the eyes, but nothing worth mentioning. Kinda like maybe he looked ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The producers would like to thank the people of Columbia and Newberry, South Carolina for their generosity and support during the making of this film. See more »

User Reviews

Bad film that wastes strong performances
13 July 2004 | by federovskySee all my reviews

I'm not sure why anyone would really want to watch a movie like this. This film is generally getting good reviews, but these seem to be from Gary Oldman fans who would probably rave about him in anything. It's a grim account of life in a mental prison. The prisoners are kept in squalor (surprise, surprise), mistreated by brutal guards (ditto) until one man exposes the goings-on with the inevitable Hollywood denouement.

The film starts with an unnecessary voice-over from Oldman's character, but this technique is soon dropped leaving us disorientated - why does he go berserk? - perhaps we needed that voice over after all... A major weakness of the plot is that the hero is someone who at the beginning of the film runs amok in his neighborhood with a gun. Say what...? this is the hero...? Well, he has a tough job to endear himself to us after that, and he doesn't make it. This undermines the basic purport of the film, namely to make a hero out of Oldman's character. To further alienate us, Oldman is made to sport the most execrable beard in movie history for the whole second half of the film.

Presumably we are meant to get some satisfaction from the ending, but several decades after the event, does anyone really give a dang about it? We know conditions in these institutions, and everywhere else, were bad in the past. As this is a true story, the ending is also a foregone conclusion and is brought about very abruptly and clumsily in the last minute of the film. A movie of these credentials should not have you thinking at the end "oh, is that it then?".

There is not a single laugh in the movie (apart from Oldman's beard), which is a pity as it is crying out for some moments of levity to counterbalance the grimness. Oldman's character is relentlessly and often unpleasantly intense (surely the director's fault). The directing is sometimes messy (chaotic unfocused foregrounds, etc). On the plus side, if you find yourself unwittingly in the midst of this film, you can take some comfort from Dennis Hopper (playing a rare kindly role) and Frances McDormand, who is good as Oldman's wife.

The director and star may be British, but make no mistake, this is very much a Hollywood picture. There's the usual morality story and the usual pandering to American's obsession with their own (ever-imperfect) legal system in the form of a fight for justice (though thankfully, we don't pay a visit to any real courtrooms along the way).

On the whole, just a bad idea.

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Release Date:

20 April 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Chattahoochee See more »

Filming Locations:

Columbia, South Carolina, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$17,471, 22 April 1990

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hemdale See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (TV)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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