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The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo (2017)

Film uncovers the true story behind legendary Chicano activist Oscar Zeta Acosta, the real-life inspiration for Hunter S. Thompson's "Dr. Gonzo"


Phillip Rodriguez


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Credited cast:
Dave Beaudrie ... Mr. Wilkie
Xavier Becerra Xavier Becerra ... Judge #2
Anahi Bustillos ... Lydia Lopez
Jesse Celedon ... Oscar Zeta Acosta
Tonantzin Esparza ... Connie Suarez
Patrick M.J. Finerty ... Tom Fike
Gaba Gavi Gaba Gavi ... David Felton
Mike Gerbi ... Ralph Moore
Jeff Harms Jeff Harms ... Hunter S. Thompson
Christa Haxthausen ... Ann Henry
Sam Hernandez ... Juan
Damien Landini ... Neil Herring
Steve Ledesma Steve Ledesma ... Young Oscar Zeta Acosta
Shiah Luna ... Teresa
Smokey Miles ... White Judge


Film uncovers the true story behind legendary Chicano activist Oscar Zeta Acosta, the real-life inspiration for Hunter S. Thompson's "Dr. Gonzo"

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

2018 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

City Projects See more »
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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?

Alternate Versions

"The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo" 5-part companion podcast series produced by Marcos Najera. PODCAST ONE: "Who the F Is That?" PODCAST TWO: "Hunting for Buffalo in Arizona" PODCAST THREE: "The Ladies in His Life" PODCAST FOUR: "A Vandalized Voice" PODCAST FIVE: "Law, Literature & Racism: Zeta Style" See more »

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User Reviews

Riveting storytelling
24 March 2018 | by futuretypeSee all my reviews

This PBS documentary "Sets out to right a historical wrong, giving Acosta his due place as an imperfect, but larger-than-life figure in American history. Relevant now more than ever, this urgent, untold story probes issues of racial identity, criminal justice, politics, police brutality and media representation, while revealing the personal story of a troubled but brilliant man coming to terms with his identity and finding meaning in the struggles of his people." I can't say it better than their summary. That Benicio del Toro was the Executive Producer appears only for an instant in the credits.

The execution is amazing. It took a while to realize actors were being used to represant these characters from the past and it wasn't historical footage. Jesse Celedon is fantastic as Oscar Zeta Acosta and Jeff Harms had me believing I was seeing actual footage of Hunter S Thompson. But I kept wondering how did they get this footage? Once I realized all the people "interviewed" appeared too young for events having occurred fifty years ago I appreciated how the story was presented captivating me in the telling.

Another revelation of having been a devotee of the writings of Hunter S Thompson in the 70s was that not only was the Gonzo lawyer real but he wasn't white (as portrayed by Peter Boyle in one movie). Too bad he did not get his due while Thompson's books were selling in the millions. I will seek out his book "The Revolt of the Cochroach People".

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