At Close Range

At Close Range

4.7 8
Director: James Foley, Sean Penn, Christopher Walken, Mary Stuart Masterson

Cast: James Foley, Sean Penn, Christopher Walken, Mary Stuart Masterson


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Amazingly, At Close Range was based on a true story. Bored teenager Sean Penn meets his prodigal father (Christopher Walken) for the first time in years. Though Penn is vaguely aware that his father is a criminal, he is nonetheless impressed by his dad's high life style and creature comforts. But Walken's veneer of charm is fragile indeed, and it becomes clear


Amazingly, At Close Range was based on a true story. Bored teenager Sean Penn meets his prodigal father (Christopher Walken) for the first time in years. Though Penn is vaguely aware that his father is a criminal, he is nonetheless impressed by his dad's high life style and creature comforts. But Walken's veneer of charm is fragile indeed, and it becomes clear that he is willing to kill anyone--even his family--if they get in his way. When Walken rapes Penn's girl friend (Mary Stuart Masterson) to keep the boy from cooperating with the DA, it is only a warm-up for the horrors to come. The screenplay for At Close Range was written by Nicholas Kazan, the son of prominent film director Elia Kazan.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
A superbly written and acted film based loosely on real-life events, this intense crime drama is a major artistic success for all concerned, especially stars Christopher Walken and Sean Penn in two of their best roles, as well as screenwriter Nicholas Kazan and director James Foley. The latter's style might strike some viewers as too cool, remote, or austere, but this nearly documentary-like approach allows the cast room to stretch and improvise while slyly emphasizing the picture's similarity to the classic In Cold Blood (1967). However, the film is definitely not a docudrama, the director reminding viewers of the emotionally potent subtext with subtle, symbolic transitions in which such incongruous, attention-getting images as bound chicken talons or singing lips suddenly appear. His is the art of transcending the establishing shot by going for something a little more penetrating. Walken and Penn are marvels of nuance employed in the arts of linguistic inflection and the physicality of inhabiting a character with one's entire body, from the way they laugh to how they walk. (Just watch Penn as he shifts from a cocky swagger that emanates down from his shoulders, moving like nothing so much as a suit buoyed by a massive hanger, to a defeated, slump-shouldered shuffle by the finale). Kazan goes light on dialogue but what's there is charged with unspoken meaning, while visual cues and arresting images tell the story. All of this shows the mark of a great screenwriter enjoying a meeting of the minds with a director who gets it. At Close Range (1986) is one of the best examples of its genre from the 1980s.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Tgg Direct
Region Code:
[Dolby Digital Stereo]

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Sean Penn Brad Whitewood, Jr.
Christopher Walken Brad Whitewood, Sr.
Mary Stuart Masterson Terry
Chris Penn Tommy Whitewood
Millie Perkins Julie Whitewood
Candy Clark Mary Sue
Eileen Ryan Grandmother
Alan Autry Ernie
R.D. Call Dickie Whitewood
Tracey Walter Patch
J.C. Quinn Boyd
David Strathairn Tony Pine
Jake Dengel Lester
Crispin Glover Lucas
Kiefer Sutherland Tim
Noelle Parker Jill
Marshall Fallwell Bartender
Charles Tatoo Jensen Older Guy
Stephen Geoffreys Aggie
Paul Herman Salesman
Gary Gober District Attorney
Doug Anderson Marshall
Nancy Sherburne Waitress
Terry Baker Customer
Michael Edwards 1st Car Slaesman
Myke R. Mueller 2nd Car Salesman
Bob McDivitt Farmer with Shotgun
bonita Hall Buxom Woman
Terri Coulter Barroom Dancer
Anna Levine Barroom Dancer
Janie Draper Stripper
E.R. Davies Detective Mosker
James Foley Assistant District Attorney

Technical Credits
James Foley Director
Richard Arrington Makeup
Risa Bramon Casting
Adams Calvert Special Effects
Burt Dalton Special Effects
John Daly Executive Producer
Derek Gibson Executive Producer
Don Guest Producer
Billy Hopkins Casting
Peter Jamison Production Designer
Nicholas Kazan Original Story,Screenwriter
Patrick Leonard Score Composer
Elliott Lewitt Original Story,Producer
Mark Ragland Set Decoration/Design
Hilary M. Rosenfeld Costumes/Costume Designer
Juan Ruiz-Anchia Cinematographer
Howard E. Smith Editor
Chuck Waters Stunts
R. Chris Westlund Set Decoration/Design


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At Close Range 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
goodgirl2 More than 1 year ago
wow he looked amazing in this film. the movie was really good and i liked the Madonna song Live To Tell . this movie was based on a true story wow! amazing is what i have to say. Sean Peem is the best so was Mary Stuart Matreson as his girlfriend. At Close Range a good thriller no a great thriller.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is not a great movie, but it is real life evil at its best (or worst.) The acting in it is tremendous, with Walken playing the real-life character of Bruce Johnson-an organized crime from a hillbilly family in Pennsylvania. Sean Pean does a great portrayal as a son basking in the light of his father's easy life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Top-notch acting all the way around in this fictionalized account of robbery, rape, and murder in a small Pennsylvania town. Filmed in Franklin, Tennessee, Christopher Walken's performance is nothing short of amazing. Sean Penn's no slouch either and the supporting cast (including Keifer Sutherland) is amazing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am interested in the actual story. Could you point in the right direction so I can read about it? Thanks
Guest More than 1 year ago
At Close Range is a great movie. One of Sean Penn's best performances. Its one of those movies you just can't forget.
Guest More than 1 year ago
"At Close Range" is one of those rare films that's perfect. The acting by Sean Penn and Christopher Walken Is truly magnificent. Director James Foley does an excellent in pacing and drawing great performances from his cast. Also Maddonna's title song is used to great effect. A masterpiece.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a tremendous movie! Excellent acting all around -- one of my favorite parts for Christopher Walken -- his portrayal is chilling. Sean and Chris Penn are both fantastic, though I actually think Chris had the edge and really captured the younger, less cared-for brother. Mary Stuart Masterson is wonderful. There is nothing negative I can say about this film, except the fact that these tragic events really happened. I saw it in the theatre when it came out, have watched it many times since, and it never fails to move me -- something new will strike at my heart each time -- last time it was the inward fight Sean Penn's character had with himself over the loyalty his father expected from his sons. Just top-notch! James Foley's direction is subtley perfect.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I live not far from where this story actually took place in Pennsylvania. My father actually knew the members of the gang and his girlfriend was actually one of the persons killed by the gang. This story really hits close to home for me and I believe it was acurately portrayed. Many people that watch this movie don't know the actual story and knowing the true story made the movie even better. The city at the beginning is supposed to be Oxford, PA. I don't live too far from there and it looks similar to the actual town. I think this movie is great and it is a joy to watch.