The Player

5.0 1
Director: Robert Altman

Cast: Robert Altman, Tim Robbins, Greta Scacchi, Fred Ward


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Robert Altman takes a scalpel to Hollywood ethics in the 1990s (or the lack thereof) in his acidic satire The Player, adapted from Michael Tolkin's novel. (Tolkin also wrote the screenplay.) The film concerns a sleek and smooth Hollywood studio executive who starts receiving death threats from a disgruntled writer because he has committed the ultimate Hollywood


Robert Altman takes a scalpel to Hollywood ethics in the 1990s (or the lack thereof) in his acidic satire The Player, adapted from Michael Tolkin's novel. (Tolkin also wrote the screenplay.) The film concerns a sleek and smooth Hollywood studio executive who starts receiving death threats from a disgruntled writer because he has committed the ultimate Hollywood sin -- he promised the writer he would call him back and he never did. This is particularly ironic because the studio executive, Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins), is considered "writer-friendly," spending his days listening to pitches from such noted screenwriters as Buck Henry, who is pushing "The Graduate, Part II" and Alan Rudolph, who is hawking a Bruce Willis action film described as "Ghost meets The Manchurian Candidate." But The Player finds Griffin's comfortable life style in danger of collapse. He is trying to find a way to unload his girlfriend (Cynthia Stevenson) whose independence and intelligence make her a poor candidate for a trophy wife. More importantly, it seems that Larry Levy (Peter Gallagher), a slippery executive from Twentieth Century Fox, is angling for his job. And then there are those nasty postcards and faxes from a screenwriter threatening to kill him. Altman cast over 65 stars in cameo roles as texture for his scabrous tale.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
Half the fun of The Player is watching director Robert Altman and screenwriter Michael Tolkin repeatedly and enthusiastically bite the hands that feed them -- or, in Altman's case, stopped feeding him: it was his first film for an American studio in seven years, marking his commercial and critical comeback after some interesting but inconsistent pictures following the box-office disappointment of Popeye (1980). The Player can be read as an indictment of the amorality of all American business in the 1980s and 1990s, but it's Hollywood that takes it on the chin, and the parade of movie notables in cameo roles suggests that plenty of people in town were sympathetic to the message. Like most of Altman's films, The Player features a superb cast that brings out the best in each other, notably a memorably slimy Tim Robbins , Greta Scacchi at her mysterious and seductive best, Vincent D'Onofrio as the suitably angry writer, and Richard E. Grant in a scene-stealing turn as a man who won't let his integrity get in the way of a deal. Also like Altman's best work, The Player twists and turns along the way, providing yet perverting all the elements of a successful Hollywood movie: violence, but against the wrong people; comedy, but mean-spirited and at the expense of the leads; major stars, but mostly for about a minute at a stretch; and a "happy" ending, which benefits a morally contemptible man who ought to be in jail. That The Player was a commercial success made the film's attack on the movie industry all the more ironic, but you get the impression that Altman must have seen the humor in that.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
New Line Home Video

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Tim Robbins Griffin Mill
Greta Scacchi June Gudmundsdottir
Fred Ward Walter Stuckel
Whoopi Goldberg Det. Susan Avery
Peter Gallagher Larry Levy
Brion James Joel Levison
Cynthia Stevenson Bonnie Sherow
Vincent D'Onofrio David Kahane
Dean Stockwell Andy Civella
Richard E. Grant Tom Oakley
Sydney Pollack Dick Mellen
Lyle Lovett Det. DeLongpre
Dina Merrill Celia
Angela Hall Jan
Leah Ayres Sandy
Paul Hewitt Jimmy Chase
Randall Batinkoff Reg Goldman
Jeremy Piven Steve Reeves
Gina Gershon Whitney Gersh
Frank Barhydt Frank Murphy
Mike E. Kaplan Marty Grossman
Kevin Scannell Gar Girard
Steve Allen Himself
Richard Anderson Himself
René Auberjonois Himself
Harry Belafonte Himself
Shari Belafonte Herself
Karen Black Herself
Michael Bowen Himself
Gary Busey Himself
Robert Carradine Himself
Charles Champlin Himself
Cher Herself
James Coburn Himself
Cathy Lee Crosby Herself
John Cusack Himself
Brad Davis Himself
Paul Dooley Himself
Thereza Ellis Herself
Peter Falk Himself
Felicia Farr Herself
Kashia Figura herself
Louise Fletcher Herself
Dennis Franz Himself
Teri Garr Herself
Leeza Gibbons Herself
Scott Glenn Himself
Jeff Goldblum Himself
Elliott Gould Himself
Joel Grey Himself
David Alan Grier Himself
Buck Henry Himself
Anjelica Huston Herself
Kathy Ireland Herself
Steve James Himself
Maxine John-James Herself
Sally Kirkland Herself
Jack Lemmon Himself
Marlee Matlin Herself
Andie MacDowell Herself
Malcolm McDowell Himself
Jayne Meadows Herself
Martin Mull Himself
Jennifer Nash Herself
Nick Nolte Himself
Alexandra Powers Herself
Bert Remsen Himself
Guy Remsen Himself
Patricia Resnick Herself
Burt Reynolds Himself
Jack Riley Himself
Julia Roberts Herself
Mimi Rogers Herself
Annie Ross Herself
Alan Rudolph Himself
Jill St. John Herself
Susan Sarandon Herself
Adam Simon Himself
Rod Steiger Himself
Joan Tewkesbury herself
Brian Tochi Himself
Lily Tomlin Herself
Robert Wagner Himself
Ray Walston Himself
Bruce Willis Himself
Marvin Young Himself
James Coburn Actor
Susan J. Emshwiller Detective Broom
Stephen James Actor
Margery Bond Witness
Brian Brophy Phil
Michael Tolkin Eric Schecter
Stephen Tolkin Carl Schecter
Natalie Strong Natalie
Peter Koch Walter
Pamela Bowen Trixie
Jeff Weston Rocco
Scott Shaw Himself (uncredited)

Technical Credits
Robert Altman Director
Stephen Altman Production Designer
Cary Brokaw Executive Producer
David Brown Producer
Scott Bushnell Co-producer
Susan J. Emshwiller Set Decoration/Design
Jerry Fleming Art Director
William S. Gilmore Producer
Maysie Hoy Editor
Alexander Julian Costumes/Costume Designer
Deborah Larsen Makeup
Jean Lepine Cinematographer
David Levy Associate Producer
Thomas Newman Score Composer
Geraldine Peroni Editor
John Pritchett Musical Direction/Supervision
Lydia Tanji Costumes/Costume Designer
Michael Tolkin Producer,Screenwriter
Nick Wechsler Producer

Scene Index

Commentary by director Robert Altman and writer Michael Tolkin ; Additional scenes; Feature one on one with Robert Altman ; Theatrical trailer


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The Player 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Player is a masterpiece from start to finish. This is Robert Altman in his finest form, and the film works on so many levels a simple review cannot do it justice. Tim Robbins anchors a stellar cast, with great cameos by famous Hollywood actors playing themselves. Lyle Lovett is also great in a bit role. A must see!