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Sling Blade (1996)

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Karl Childers, a simple man hospitalized since his childhood murder of his mother and her lover, is released to start a new life in a small town.

Director:

Billy Bob Thornton

Writers:

Billy Bob Thornton (play), Billy Bob Thornton (screenplay)
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Popularity
3,289 ( 4)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Billy Bob Thornton ... Karl Childers
Dwight Yoakam ... Doyle Hargraves
J.T. Walsh ... Charles Bushman
John Ritter ... Vaughan Cunningham
Lucas Black ... Frank Wheatley
Natalie Canerday ... Linda Wheatley
James Hampton ... Jerry Woolridge
Robert Duvall ... Karl's Father
Rick Dial Rick Dial ... Bill Cox
Brent Briscoe ... Scooter Hodges
Christine Renee Ward ... Melinda (as Christy Ward)
Sarah Boss Sarah Boss ... Marsha Dwiggins
Kathy Sue Brown Kathy Sue Brown ... Theresa Evans
Wendell Rafferty Wendell Rafferty ... Melvin
Bruce Hampton Bruce Hampton ... Morris (as Col. Bruce Hampton Ret.)
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Storyline

A partially handicapped man named Karl is released from a mental hospital, about 20 years after murdering his mother and another person. Karl is often questioned if he will ever kill again, and he shrugs in response saying there is no reason to. Now out of the mental institution, Karl settles in his old, small hometown, occupying himself by fixing motors. After meeting a young boy named Frank, who befriends him, Karl is invited to stay at Frank's house with his mother Linda, who views Karl as a strange but kind and generous man. However, Linda's abusive boyfriend, Doyle, sees things differently in the way rules ought to be run- normally insulting Linda's homosexual friend Vaughan as well as Karl's disabilities, and having wild parties with his friends. As Karl's relationship with Frank grows, he is watchful of Doyle's cruel actions. Written by commanderblue

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A simple man. A difficult choice. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language, including descriptions of violent and sexual behavior | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 March 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Resplandor en la noche See more »

Filming Locations:

Benton, Arkansas, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$890,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$36,644, 1 December 1996

Gross USA:

$24,475,416, 27 July 1997
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Miramax,Shooting Gallery See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When the film was in pre-production, Billy Bob Thornton envisioned John Ritter's character as having dyed blonde hair, thinking that Vaughan was a man who was transferred out of St. Louis for his job, where the film was set, and based his hairstyle on what he saw men sporting in GQ Magazine. Thornton, Ritter, and the film's hairstylist began experimenting with hairstyles on Ritter at the hotel where the cast and crew stayed. According to Thornton, Ritter was insistent that the hairstyle wasn't too drastic, as he had to go back to Los Angeles to shoot a Public Service Announcement. But when the hairstylist came up with, and applied the hairstyle that Ritter's Vaughan character would sport in the film, Thornton immediately approved. However, when Ritter finally got a look at his hair in the hotel room's bathroom mirror, he was infuriated at Thornton. Thornton said that when Ritter went back home to shoot the Public Service Announcement, he was wearing a baseball cap. See more »

Goofs

When Jerry and Karl walk up to Bill Cox's repair shop for the first time, the Steadicam operator's reflection can easily be seen in the right front hubcap of Jerry's car. He is visible during the entire shot, which lasts about 10 seconds. See more »

Quotes

Doyle: Hey is this the kind of retard that drools and rubs shit in his hair and all that, 'cause I'm gonna have a hard time eatin' 'round that kind of thing now. Just like I am with antique furniture and midgets. You know that, I can't so much as drink a damn glass of water around a midget or a piece of antique furniture.
Linda: Doyle, you're awful. You shouldn't be that way.
Doyle: I ain't saying it's right, I'm just telling the damn truth. He'll make me sick. I know it.
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Crazy Credits

Dedicated to Jimmy Don Thornton See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Jamie Foxx Show: You Ain't Gotta Go Home, But... (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Shenandoah
Performed by Emmylou Harris
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User Reviews

 
Absolutely Amazing!
18 April 2005 | by wdmickelSee all my reviews

I can't believe it took me so long to finally see this movie and I must admit I had never seen any work by Billy Bob Thornton. Without a doubt, Sling Blade is one of the finest pieces of work ever put on film. Billy Bob's performance as Karl Childers is absolutely riveting! I found myself completely fascinated by this character. The entire ensemble of characters are superbly cast. The child actor who plays Frank is talented beyond his years. This story unfolds in many layers, with friendship and love woven between bigotry and cruelty. It begins with a somewhat horrible description of the double murder of Karl's mother and her lover, but yet is tastefully done with words, no cheap views of blood and gore. It shows how the lack of parental love and understanding can form an individual, but also how the human heart can still have the capacity to be open, as in the relationship between Karl and Frank. You'll feel completely drawn into this little family with its pain and problems.

This is a masterpiece of superb acting, writing and directing! If you haven't seen it yet, please don't deny yourself the opportunity of viewing one of the most amazingly touching movies you will ever see. Even in the company of great performances by Tom Hanks and Dustin Hoffman, I think Sling Blade leaves Forrest Gump and Rain Man in the dust!


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