Get Shorty (film)

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Get Shorty
Get shorty.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
Produced by Danny DeVito
Michael Shamberg
Stacey Sher
Screenplay by Scott Frank
Based on Get Shorty 
by Elmore Leonard
Starring John Travolta
Gene Hackman
Rene Russo
Danny DeVito
Music by John Lurie
Cinematography Donald Peterman[1]
Edited by Jim Miller
Jersey Films
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • October 20, 1995 (1995-10-20)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30,250,000[2]
Box office $115,101,622[3]

Get Shorty is a 1995 crime thriller comedy film based on Elmore Leonard's novel of the same name. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and starring John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Rene Russo, and Danny DeVito, the plot remained true to the book except for a few minor details.

The sequel Be Cool began production in 2003 and was released in 2005. It was based on the novel of the same name published in 1999.

Two of the Get Shorty cast members, Dennis Farina and James Gandolfini, along with author Elmore Leonard all died within months of each other in 2013.


Chili Palmer, a loan shark based in Miami, clashes with another mobster, Ray "Bones" Barboni over a stolen coat. They have several confrontations, one of which leaves Barboni with a broken nose. But after Palmer's boss, Momo, dies of a heart attack, he finds himself working for Barboni, whose first order is for Palmer to collect a debt owed by Leo Devoe. Devoe was believed to have been killed in a fatal commercial airliner crash, but had actually gotten off the plane, and failed to re-board. After the plane crash, Devoe's wife identified his personal effects, and the airline offered her a check for $300,000. Chili visits her and discovers Leo is still alive, partying in Las Vegas.

While in Vegas, Palmer picks up a job from a casino manager to collect a debt from B-movie producer Harry Zimm. Palmer goes to Los Angeles and locates Zimm at the home of actress Karen Flores, breaking into her house. Zimm agrees to pay the money he owes in 90 days. Film fan Palmer then pitches an idea: a thinly veiled story of his own life, including the scam by Leo.

Zimm is interested, but he has financial problems: He owes $200,000 to mobster Bo Catlett, who also wants to be in the movie business. Palmer says he will help Zimm take care of it. Palmer tracks down Devoe and collects the $300,000 in insurance money and returns to LA. Catlett comes to Zimm's office for a progress report about the film he is supposedly financing, Freaks. Waiting for him there instead is Palmer, who tells Catlett that Zimm has a different project, Mr. Lovejoy, that he needs to finish first. Catlett and his partner Ronnie proceed to threaten Zimm, saying they want their money back and to get rid of Palmer or else.

Bo Catlett meets Columbian drug runner Yayo Portillo at the airport for a drug deal, and tells the courier that he has to pick up the money from a locker at the airport. However, the locker is under surveillance by the DEA, and Yayo refuses to get the money. Bo's bodyguard picks up the drugs at the luggage claim, and Bo, his partner Ronnie and Bear leave with the drugs. Later Yayo confronts Bo at his house in the Hollywood hills and demands his money - and in frustration Bo shoots him dead.

Meanwhile, Palmer returns to Karen's house, where he asks Karen on a date. Karen is the ex-wife of actor Martin Weir, which gives Palmer the idea that Weir should star in his movie. He and Karen go to Weir's home to pitch the story idea, Chili giving the actor tips on how to act like a loan shark.

Zimm has a meeting with Chili and Karen, but Catlett and Bear show up and offer to invest the $500,000 that is in a locker at the airport, which is the money owed to Columbian drug dealers that didn't get picked up by Yayo. Zimm agrees to sideline Chili just as Chili and Karen arrive for their meeting at the restaurant, and Catlett and Bear begin to leave, only to be confronted by Chili who throws Bear down the stairs and threatens Catlett. Zimm tells Chili and Karen about the money, and asks Chili to pick it up but Chili recognizes that it is a setup by Catlett and that there is a high probability that the money is being watched. He goes to the airport and creates a ruse that reveals that the DEA is looking for someone that will be trying to get the money, but Chili leaves without being connected with the cash.

Zimm makes a call to Ray Barboni in Miami, telling him Chili has recovered the money from Leo Devoe and speaking to him rudely on the phone. Barboni promptly flies to Los Angeles, confronts Zimm in his office, and beats him mercilessly when Zimm does not reveal the location of Chili and the money. Ronnie walks in and Ray shoots him, then puts the gun in Zimm's hand.

Doris, Zimm's girlfriend, whose late husband wrote Mr. Lovejoy, calls Karen and tells her that Zimm is in the hospital. When he is eventually released, Zimm must wear a neck brace and remains in agonizing pain, even as he endures Weir's arrogant behavior in a brief lunch meeting with Chili and Karen about their movie project.

Desperate for money after double crossing Colombian cartel lord Escobar, Catlett kidnaps Karen and demands the money that Chili has gotten back from Devoe. But after Chili gives him the money, Catlett reneges on their deal. Chili cuts a deal with Bear to double-cross Catlett. On a balcony at Catlett's home, where Karen is being held, Bear pretends to give Chili a beating, but it's a set-up. In the struggle, Catlett is pushed over a balcony rail that was previously loosened and falls to his death.

At his hotel, Barboni confronts Palmer, demanding the money. He finds an airport locker key and assumes the money is hidden in the locker. At the prospect of acquiring DeVoe's money without further incident, he expresses to Palmer a desire to bury the hatchet and forget all past transgressions. He heads to the airport and approaches the locker as the DEA agents alert one another and appear ready to move. Suddenly, we hear Martin Weir confront Barboni from off-camera. Barboni turns around, and is now being played by Harvey Keitel. Barboni fires at Weir, who attempts to fire back, but whose gun malfunctions and ejects the magazine. The director, Penny Marshall, yells cut, and we see that the scene is now a Hollywood set. As the set wraps for the day, we see Zimm is executive producer (accompanied by Doris nagging him), Chili and Karen as co-producers, and Bear as a technical consultant. And although he did get Weir to star in his movie, Chili already wants to replace him.




At the beginning of the film, Ray Bones has two thugs with him; one of them is played by actor Ernest "Chili" Palmer. Palmer was author Elmore Leonard's model for the character in the book. According to a newspaper article, he claims not to have been involved with gangsters or loan sharking. When the filmmakers found out from Leonard that there was a real "Chili" Palmer, they gave him a bit part in the film.[4]


Get Shorty received critical acclaim and currently holds an 86% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[5] The film was entered into the 46th Berlin International Film Festival.[6]

The film opened at #1 upon its release (10/20-22) with $12,700,007.[7] Get Shorty remained #1 for three consecutive weeks before being overtaken by Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.[8]

Awards and nominations[edit]

For his role as Chili Palmer, John Travolta received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. The film also a received a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

American Film Institute lists


  1. ^ "Perry Moore, 'Narnia' series executive producer, dies at 39; Don Peterman, Oscar-nominated cinematographer, dies at 79; Nancy Carr, network TV publicist, dies at 50". Los Angeles Times. 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  2. ^ "Box Office/Business for Get Shorty". IMDB. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "Get Shorty". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  4. ^ Anne E. Kornblut (November 5, 1995). "The Real Chili Palmer". New York Daily News. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Get Shorty at Rotten Tomatoes
  6. ^ "Berlinale: 1996 Programme". Retrieved 2012-01-01. 
  7. ^ Robert W. Welkos (24 October 1995). "Weekend Box Office : 'Shorty' Stands Tall in Ticket Sales". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "Weekend Box Office November 10–12, 1995". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  9. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees
  10. ^ AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot

External links[edit]