Gloria (1980 film)

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Gloria 1980 movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Cassavetes
Produced by Sam Shaw
Written by John Cassavetes
Starring Gena Rowlands
Julie Carmen
Buck Henry
John Adames
Music by Bill Conti
Cinematography Fred Schuler
Edited by George C. Villaseñor
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • October 1, 1980 (1980-10-01)
Running time
121 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English

Gloria is a 1980 American crime thriller film written and directed by John Cassavetes. It tells the story of a gangster's girlfriend who goes on the run with a young boy who is being hunted by the mob for information he may or may not have. It stars Gena Rowlands, Julie Carmen, Buck Henry, and John Adames.


The movie opens in a crowded city transit bus, we see Jack's twenty something daughter returning home. Jack, an accountant for the local mob, is hiding inside his apartment with two snub-nose revolvers. He's been skimming money off the top of their profits as well as acting as an informant for the FBI.

While Jack is hiding, a group of suit-wearing mobsters arrive. While the crew is in the lobby planning the hit, Jack's neighbor, Gloria, comes to the apartment to borrow some coffee. Jack and his wife try to persuade Gloria to take their six yr old young son Phil, which she does reluctantly.

While Phil is hiding in Gloria's apartment, the hit-men break into Jack's apartment and kill everyone. Gloria realizes that they cannot stay in the building and she packs up her belongings and runs away with Phil to a friend's apartment.

The next morning they sneak out of the apartment just as a group of gangsters close in on them. The gangsters, old friends of Gloria, confront Gloria on the side-walk outside and exhort her to give up Phil & the ledger. Gloria asks if they'll kill the 6 yr old & then in desperation empties her revolver into the car of 5 gangsters, which takes off & flips over.

As a result of her actions Gloria realizes that the fate of Phil and hers is now the same, and that they have to escape from New York. She goes to the bank to empty her safety-deposit box and after being refused at a fancy hotel, they settle for a $2.50 per night 'flop-house' in the 'bad part of town'.

She confronts another group of gangsters at a restaurant, she asks for impunity in exchange for the ledger, to which one mobsters says 'Only Mr. Tanzinni can agree to that' & so she takes some of their guns and flees.

The next day Gloria tells Phil that she plans to send him away to a boarding school. Offended by her intentions Phil claims that he is an independent grown man who can manage alone and Gloria decides to abandon him, and have a drink; but she is soon filled with guilt and rushes back to look for him; however he is captured by some wise-guys and Gloria is forced to rescue him, killing one thug in the process and then fleeing 2 other thugs in a taxi and the subway, where several by-standers help her escape from the two mobsters.

The two eventually make it to a hotel room, where Gloria laments the mafia's strength and ubiquitous presence, explaining to Phil that she was once the mistress of Tanzinni himself. Thus she meets with her ex-lover, relinquishes the ledger, and then flees killing one gangster, as another shoots down upon her elevator car... Phil waits the agreed upon three and a half hours, then flees to Pittsburgh via rail. At a cemetery Phil and Gloria, disguised as an old woman, reunite.



John Cassavetes did not originally intend to direct his screenplay; he planned merely to sell the story to Columbia Pictures. However, once his wife, Gena Rowlands, was asked to play the title character in the film, she asked Cassavetes to direct it.


Rowlands was nominated for the Academy Award and the Golden Globe Award for best actress, and the film won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival, tying with Atlantic City. The Boston Society of Film Critics selected Rowlands for their best actress award. The young boy Gloria was protecting, played by John Adames, tied with Sir Laurence Olivier (in The Jazz Singer) for the Worst Supporting Actor Razzie award of 1980.

Remakes and influences[edit]

The film was remade in 1999 under the same title with a screenplay by Steve Antin and directed by Sidney Lumet. It starred Sharon Stone and Jean-Luke Figueroa.

Other films inspired by Gloria include Ultraviolet (2006), which uses the premise of a woman on the run with a little boy and transposes the story to a Dystopian futuristic setting,[citation needed] and Erick Zonca's 2008 film Julia, starring Tilda Swinton.[2] Luc Besson's film Léon also was inspired by Gloria, with actor Jean Reno playing the accidental guardian of a young girl (Natalie Portman) whose family was murdered by a corrupt DEA agent (Gary Oldman).[citation needed]. A 2009 Brazilian film titled Verônica has a similar plot, changing the main character from a gangster's girlfriend to a teacher, who tries to save a student from criminals who killed his parents and are now chasing after him.


  1. ^ "GLORIA (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 1980-07-29. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  2. ^ Cockrell, Eddie (February 9, 2008). "Berlin review of Julia". Variety. Retrieved March 20, 2009. 
  • The film is rated PG in New Zealand for violence and coarse language.
  • Cassavetes, John and Raymond Carney (2001). "Chpt 10: Gloria (1978-1980)" in Cassavetes on Cassavetes. Macmillan. ISBN 0-571-20157-1.
  • Morris, George (1980). "Lady on the Lam," Texas Monthly. Vol. 8, No. 10. ISSN 0148-7736.

External links[edit]