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 city apartment. Jack, an accountant for the local mob, is hiding from his employers. He's been skimming money off the top of their profits as well as acting as an informant for the FBI. The mob has discovered his betrayal and are planning to kill him and his family.

While Jack is hiding, a group of hitmen arrive at his apartment and begin planning their attack on Jack and his family. 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 young son Phil. She at first refuses and then relents.

While Phil is hiding in Gloria's apartment, the hitmen 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 hotel.

The next morning they discover that a group of gangsters have found their location. The gangsters, old friends of Gloria, corner Gloria and try to persuade her to give up Phil. Gloria refuses and starts shooting at the group allowing them to escape.

As a result of her actions Gloria realizes that the fate of Phil and hers is the same, and that they have to escape from New York. She goes to the bank to withdraw all her savings and makes plans to catch a train to Pittsburgh.

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. But she is soon filled with guilt and rushes back to look for him. The two eventually make it to a hotel room and Gloria comes to the conclusion that the mafia is too strong. She tells Phil she was once the mistress of the head of the mob that is after them. She offers to meet with her ex-lover and beg for mercy. She tells Phil to stay in the hotel for three hours after she leaves, if she does not return, it means she's dead and he should run away with some money she will leave for him.

After waiting for Gloria to return Phil thinks she is dead and decides to run away with the money Gloria left. He goes to the train station, where he buys a ticket to Pittsburgh. He arrives by himself in the strange city, hires a taxi and asks to go to a nearby cemetery. In the cemetery, a car suddenly arrives and out comes Gloria dressed in black wearing a wig. Phil is excited when it turns out that Gloria was able to escape from New York City and the two joyously 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]