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The Day Reagan Was Shot (2001)

The 30th of March, 1981, the delusional John Hinckley Jr. tries to kill president Ronald Reagan. His life hangs on a thin thread at the hospital, while the Soviet Union is ready to invade a... See full summary »


Cyrus Nowrasteh


Cyrus Nowrasteh

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4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Dreyfuss ... Alexander Haig
Richard Crenna ... Ronald Reagan
Yannick Bisson ... Buddy Stein
Colm Feore ... Caspar Weinberger
Michael Murphy ... Michael Deaver
Kenneth Welsh ... James Baker
Leon Pownall Leon Pownall ... Ed Meese
Robert Bockstael Robert Bockstael ... Dick Allen
Beau Starr ... Special Agent Cage
Alex Carter ... Dr. Allard
Andrew Tarbet ... Dr. Gregorio
Holland Taylor ... Nancy Reagan
Christian Lloyd ... John Hinckley
Sean McCann Sean McCann ... Donald Regan
Jack Jessop Jack Jessop ... William Casey


The 30th of March, 1981, the delusional John Hinckley Jr. tries to kill president Ronald Reagan. His life hangs on a thin thread at the hospital, while the Soviet Union is ready to invade a Poland on the brink of a revolution. Based on actual events during the final stages of the cold war. Written by OJT

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

9 December 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A merénylet napja See more »

Filming Locations:

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Richard Dreyfuss felt he was miscast as Alexander Haig, but also felt it was nevertheless fun. See more »


The movie erroneously mentions Hinckley's arrest in Nashville in the previous year, Reagan was there campaigning with a cabinet member mentioning that Hinkley was very close to the president. The actual potential victim was president Jimmy Carter. See more »


Alexander Haig: Constitutionally, gentlemen, you have the President, the Vice President and the Secretary of State in that order, and should the President decide he wants to transfer the helm to the Vice President, he will do so. He has not done that. As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending return of the Vice President and in close touch with him. If something came up, I would check with him, of course.
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Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #22.82 (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

Belongs In the Allohistory genre
30 April 2006 | by stephenhowSee all my reviews

To history buffs, no matter what they say, Oliver Stone movies are a guilty pleasure. It's got to be fun knowing real history, and I mean the arcane stuff, then watch someone take it, distort certain aspects out of it, and package it up into pop culture. The Oliver Stone product is essentially the best allohistory out there. (Ok, Ian McKellan in "Richard III" (1995), placing the Shakespeare story in an fascist pre-war England is still the best, but there has to be something said for quantity. JFK (1991), Nixon (1995), Path To War (aka LBJ) (2002), and this gem add up to a lot of entertainment.)

Stone is only somewhat limited by the endpoint constraints of actual history (i.e., on the morning of March 30, 1981, Regan is shot, and by the evening, Vice President George H.W. Bush is back in Washington). But other than that, it's open season for counterfactuals. Yes, Haig was famous for his "Haig-isms", and was prone to make statements like the famous "I'm in charge here" gaff. He actually did take the lead in the control room. But I only wish he acted like the Dryefuss portrayal, which makes the attempted coup in the classic "Seven Days in May" (1964) look like an episode of "The West Wing". From the start, Dryefuss' Haig is clearly the villain, much more so than Hinkley, who appears relatively level-headed. Hinkley just wants to impress Jodie Foster. Haig wants to press the button.

Dryefuss barely uses any restraint in the character, and at times reminded me of his comic performance as Jay Trotter in "Let It Ride". Anyway, he goes screaming for the nuclear football, tries to invoke the 25th Amendment, in-fights with Cap Weinberger, negotiates with the Soviets over the hotline about an ICBM launch, while holding NORAD on the line. Meanwhile, I thought Richard Crenna did a great job of looking kind of like Reagan. (Actually, Dryefuss looks a lot like Haig himself.) And I thought Michael Murphy as Michael Deaver was brilliant casting. Also, I have no problem with their unflattering portrayal of Nancy Reagan. But, they went a little too far in the scene where they try to prop up Reagan in the hospital bed for a picture (note the blurred camera POV, and the where-am-I smile on Regan). That was comedy straight out of Woody Allen's Sleeper (1973) where Allen is just unfrozen after 200 years and they're trying to get him past the security agents.

It would have all been good fun, except then National Security Adviser Richard Allen made a tape of the whole affair, using a Sony recorder, and forgot about it for 20 years. It surfaced again just after the movie was filmed, but before it was released. The transcripts were published, and the cabinet secretaries had a reunion on the Larry King Show, to play back parts of the tape, and other media coverage of the day. Al Haig's behaviour that day was only a minor issue, and his old colleagues said nothing got out of control, and things went about as would be expected for that kind of crisis. Not exactly 13 days in October. Unless you're Oliver Stone.

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