8 Million Ways to Die

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8 Million Ways to Die
8 Million Ways to Die Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Hal Ashby
Produced by Stephen J. Roth
Written by Lawrence Block
(novel)
Oliver Stone
David Lee Henry
Robert Towne(uncredited)
(screenplay)
Starring Jeff Bridges
Rosanna Arquette
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Stephen H. Burum
Editing by Robert Lawrence
Stuart H. Pappé
Distributed by PSO International
TriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • April 25, 1986 (1986-04-25)
Running time 115 min.
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1,305,114[1]

8 Million Ways to Die is a 1986 American crime film. This was the final film directed by Hal Ashby, and the first attempt to adapt the popular Matthew Scudder detective stories of Lawrence Block for the screen. The screenplay was written by Oliver Stone and David Lee Henry, with uncredited contributions by Robert Towne. The film starred Jeff Bridges, Rosanna Arquette, and, in a leading role for the first time, Andy Garcia.

Plot[edit]

An alcoholic Los Angeles Sheriff's Deputy, Matt Scudder (Bridges), takes part in a drug bust that results in his fatal shooting of a small-time dealer in front of the man's wife and kids. Scudder ends up in a drunk ward, suffering from booze and blackouts, ending his career, his marriage, and jeopardizing his relationship with his daughter.

After an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, a woman hands Scudder a note, which invites him to a private gambling club on a hill, owned by Chance Walker. At the club, Scudder is greeted by a call girl named Sunny (Alexandra Paul) who pretends that he is her boyfriend. He also meets regular Angel Moldonado (Garcia) who is infatuated with another call girl named Sarah (Arquette). Bewildered by Sunny's behavior, Scudder follows Sunny around all night, eventually ending up back at his place as she explains that she is frightened and needs his help. He agrees to help her escape prostitution for $5,000, the next day he goes to Chance Walker's club and offers him $2,500 to get him to allow Sunny to quit. Chance convinces an already sceptical Scudder that Sunny's story is untrue. Chance is insulted and insists that all he does is run the private club, paying the girls a flat salary to attend his parties. Any prostitution they do is up to them, and they keep their money. He tells Scudder that Sarah was Sunny's best friend, and Scudder seeks her out to find out who Sunny was so frightened of the day before she died. She hints at the fact that Moldonado was behind Sunny's fear.

The next day Sunny is kidnapped in front of Scudder and in the course of a chase she is murdered and thrown off a bridge. Scudder goes on a binge and wakes up in a drunk ward several days later. It transpires that he had given statements to detectives before getting drunk that have implicated himself and Chance in the murder. At the club that night, Scudder sees Moldonado wearing a ring with an emerald that matched the missing jewel in a necklace that Sunny owned. Convinced that Moldonado is Sunny's killer, he forces Sarah to leave the club with him, as Moldonado looks on. Scudder and Sarah spend the night together, she tries to initiate sex but is too drunk and vomits on his bed.

Later, Scudder sets up a meeting with Moldonado, where he pieces together that Moldonado is running a drug ring through Chance's businesses, and he was using Sunny to help infiltrate his gangsters into Chance's staff. Scudder lets Moldonado leave with Sarah, but he sets up a drug buy. Chance is furious that Moldonado has been using his club as a cover and that he killed Sunny, but Scudder convinces him to go through with the deal, in order to trap Moldonado.

At Moldonado's house, he charmingly talks to Scudder about Antoni Gaudí, putting off any talk of drugs. Maldonado taunts Scudder about Sunny's death and carefully implies she was killed to scare off others who would cross him. When Scudder presses him for the cocaine, Moldonado explains that he knows Scudder is a cop, and he refuses to be trapped into a sting. While at Maldonado's house Scudder notices a package with the label of one of Chance's grocery stores on it. Realizing that the drugs were all at the grocery store, Scudder and Chance go to the store and find all of the drugs. Scudder offers to return them in exchange for Sarah.

At an empty warehouse, Moldonado arrives with Sarah duct taped to a shotgun that one of his underlings is holding. Scudder has booby trapped the drugs and threatens to destroy them if Sarah is harmed. Eventually, Moldonado agrees to cut Sarah loose, but before he can secure his drugs, a shootout erupts. Moldonado manages to escape in the chaos, but Chance is killed. Sarah and Scudder head back to his club, and as they ride the funicular up to the house, they see Moldonado standing at the top, waiting for them. Scudder manages to kill him after a tense gunfight, and the closing scene shows Scudder at an AA meeting on the beach. He and Sarah stroll happily along the water as the film closes.

Cast[edit]

References[edit]

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