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Burroughs: The Movie (1983)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Biography | 8 October 1983 (USA)
Burroughs: The Movie explores the life and times of controversial Naked Lunch author William S. Burroughs, with an intimacy never before seen and never repeated. The film charts the ... See full summary »


Howard Brookner

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Credited cast:
Francis Bacon Francis Bacon
Mortimer Burroughs Mortimer Burroughs
William S. Burroughs
Lucien Carr Lucien Carr
Jackie Curtis
Allen Ginsberg
John Giorno John Giorno
James Grauerholz James Grauerholz
Brion Gysin Brion Gysin
Lauren Hutton ... (archive footage)
Patti Smith
Terry Southern Terry Southern


Burroughs: The Movie explores the life and times of controversial Naked Lunch author William S. Burroughs, with an intimacy never before seen and never repeated. The film charts the development of Burroughs' unique literary style and his wildly unconventional life, including his travels from the American Midwest to North Africa and several personal tragedies. Burroughs: The Movie is the first and only feature length documentary to be made with and about Burroughs. The film was directed by the late Howard Brookner. It was begun in 1978 as Brookner's senior thesis at NYU film school and then expanded into a feature which was completed 5 years later in 1983. Sound was recorded by Jim Jarmusch and the film was shot by Tom DiCillo, fellow NYU classmates and both very close friends of Brookner's. Written by Pinball London

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

8 October 1983 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Color | Black and White (some scenes)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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Features William Buys a Parrot (1963) See more »

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User Reviews

A must for Burroughs fans, not so much for those who aren't.
20 May 2018 | by IanSee all my reviews

I love movies about artists, writers, musicians and so on and I really wanted to like this one, especially as most of the footage contains the man himself.

Always interested in the whys and wherefores of creativity, of particular interest was the blurb line: "...charts the development of Burroughs' unique literary style."

However, the movie is mostly about the life of the man, his friends and associates, than the development of his writing style. There are fascinating interviews with Ginsberg and other friends, and a fun cameo from Patti Smith who complains she couldn't get him into bed. Oh chuckle...

I came away not knowing much more about Burroughs than I did before, and certainly not more about his literary style or how it developed. It's tragic that the director, Howard Brookner, died so young. He spent five years putting the movie together.

In spite of the lack of deeper revelations, as there are scant movies about Burroughs, this is still worth watching.

Interesting to see that over 370 people have rated this movie but only one has bothered to review it! Make of that what you will.

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