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Dead Presidents (1995)

A Vietnam vet adjusts to life after the war while trying to support his family, but the chance of a better life may involve crime and bloodshed.


(as The Hughes Brothers), (as The Hughes Brothers)


(story), (story) | 3 more credits »
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2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Anthony Curtis
... Kirby
... Skip
... Jose
... Juanita Benson
... Delilah Benson
Alvaleta Guess ... Mrs. Benson
... Mr. Curtis
... Mrs. Curtis
... Cutty
... Marisol
... Cowboy (as Terrence Dashon Howard)
Ryan Williams ... Young Revolutionary
Larry McCoy ... Nicky
Rodney Winfield ... Mr. Warren


This action film, directed by the Hughes brothers, depicts a heist of old bills, retired from circulation and destined by the government to be "money to burn." However, more broadly, it addresses the issues of Black Americans' involvement in the Vietnam War and their subsequent disillusionment with progress in social issues and civil rights back home in the United States, during the 1960's. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In this daring heist, the only color that counts is green See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong graphic violence, language, a sex scene and some drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

6 October 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alta Jogada  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Martin Sheen, who makes a cameo appearance as "The Judge" in Dead Presidents, would be in his son Emilio Estevez's feature film The Way (2010), also casted by Mary Vernieu, 15 years later as a protagonist. See more »


In the shootout with Kirby, Officer Brown fires at least nine shots with his six-shot revolver without reloading. See more »


Cleon: It's better to check out than to go home all fucked up.
See more »


Spoofed in Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain (2011) See more »


Written and Performed by Wally Brown
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

"Dead" "Presidents"
11 February 2005 | by See all my reviews

"Dead Presidents," the Hughes Brothers' ambitious 1995 follow-up to their equally ambitious debut, the gritty and ultraviolent 1993 drama "Menace II Society," is about as ambitious as most films can get, and in some ways it's better than their previous film, and in some ways it's not.

Many have taken note of co-directing team Allen and Albert Hughes' referencing to their cinema heroes like Martin Scorsese and the bloody gangster classic "Scarface." Indeed, observant viewers will note the explicit bloodshed that's prevalent in "Dead Presidents" as being homage to the graphic gangster pictures of yesteryear, and that doesn't make it bad.

"Presidents" takes a look at the role that the color green played in the lives young black men before and after Vietnam. In fact, on the killing fields of good old 'Nam, mankind is seen at its absolute lowest, where soldiers on both sides of the conflict commit horrific atrocities, including a scene where a black soldier decapitates a (dead) Viet Cong and keeps the head for good luck, or when an American soldier is gutted and castrated.

Obviously, the Hughes Brothers have some real big qualms about black mens' involvement in that conflict, and the film's central character, Anthony Curtis (Larenz Tate), finds little prospects awaiting him in the Bronx after doing two tours in Vietnam.

Before he left, however, he'd impregnated his girlfriend Juanita (Rose Jackson) and while in country, he doesn't permit himself to think of what he's left behind in America. So when Anthony's forced to leave his low-paying job as a meat cutter, it's not a surprise that he's already begun plans to knock off an armored truck to get some "dead presidents," which is street slang for dollar bills.

So, together with his two involuntarily enlisted Vietnam buddies Skip (Chris Tucker) and Jose (Freddy Rodriguez), Anthony's Uncle Kirby (Keith David), Juanita's radicalized sister Delilah (N'Bushe Wright) and Cleon (Bokeem Woodbine), they proceed to knock over the truck and make way with its valuable assets.

The film is most definitely a gritty look at the "black experience" during the Civil Rights era and the Hughes Brothers certainly pay a lot more attention to the details of the picture. It's not better than "Menace," but is certainly better-made, now that they have been given a more reasonable budget.


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