Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead

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Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Gary Fleder
Produced by Cary Woods
Written by Scott Rosenberg
Starring Andy García
Christopher Lloyd
William Forsythe
Bill Nunn
Treat Williams
Steve Buscemi
Gabrielle Anwar
Christopher Walken
Jack Warden
Fairuza Balk
Music by Michael Convertino
Cinematography Elliot Davis
Edited by Richard Marks
Woods Entertainment
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release date(s)
  • December 1, 1995 (1995-12-01)
Running time 112 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $8 million
Box office $529,677

Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead is a 1995 American neo-noir crime film directed by Gary Fleder from a screenplay written by Scott Rosenberg. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Andy García, Christopher Lloyd, Treat Williams, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, Fairuza Balk, and Gabrielle Anwar.

The film's title comes from a Warren Zevon song of the same name, recorded on his 1991 album Mr. Bad Example, which he allowed under the condition that the song be played during the end credits. The lead character's name, "Jimmy the Saint," comes from the Bruce Springsteen song "Lost in the Flood" from the album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. It is referred to by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum as one of several of Pulp Fiction's clones.[1] The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival.[2]


Jimmy "The Saint" Tosnia (Andy García) is a dapper ex-gangster living in Denver. Jimmy has left the criminal world, attempting to "go straight" with his "Afterlife Advice" business, where dying people videotape messages for loved ones. However, his business isn't doing well and his former boss, a local crime lord known as "The Man With The Plan" (Christopher Walken), has bought up his debt in order to command a favor from him.

The Man With The Plan was left a quadriplegic, years ago, from an attempt on his life. The only person he cares about now is his socially maladroit son, Bernard, who has recently suffered a heartbreaking separation from his girlfriend. Her current boyfriend will be arriving in Denver shortly and The Man With The Plan wants Jimmy to convince the man to break up with her, so Bernard can have a shot at resuming their relationship. Jimmy recruits several of his friends, all down on their luck ex-gangsters, to help with the scheme. These include Easy Wind (Bill Nunn), Pieces (Christopher Lloyd), Big Bear Franchise (William Forsythe), and the rage prone "Critical Bill" (Treat Williams). The plan is to have Pieces and Critical Bill waylay the boyfriend while posing as police officers. They will then take him to a secluded spot where the gang will beat him, until he agrees to break up with Bernard's ex. However, things go wrong when the boyfriend grows suspicious of the two men's identity and openly mocks them. An enraged Critical Bill stabs the man in the throat. The commotion wakes up Bernard's ex, who had been sleeping in the back of her boyfriend's van. Her appearance startles Pieces, who accidentally shoots her dead.

The Man With The Plan is furious at the outcome of their botched mission. He informs Jimmy that out of consideration for their past relationship, he will allow him to live. However, the other members of the team have been sentenced to "buckwheats", which in the slang of the film means assassination in a particularly gruesome and painful manner (an example is given in which a person is shot up the anus).

The group comes to terms with their own impending deaths as they are stalked by a mild-mannered, yet deadly hitman known as Mr. Shhh (Steve Buscemi). Pieces accepts his fate, to which Mr. Shhh provides a quick death. Easy Wind goes into hiding with a gang lord named Baby Sinister (Glenn Plummer), but is given up after Mr. Shhh infiltrates and kills most of Sinister's entourage. Because Franchise has a family to raise, Jimmy pleads with The Man With The Plan to spare Franchise's life. The Man With The Plan agrees to do so, but betrays Jimmy, as Franchise is killed while attempting to flee with his family. The betrayal makes Jimmy vengeful of The Man With The Plan; in turn, Jimmy also becomes a target.

Mr. Shhh finally locates Critical Bill holed up in his apartment, but is ambushed by Bill, and the two end up killing each other. In the wake of Mr. Shhh's death, the contract falls to a trio of Mexican brothers, who attempt to track down Jimmy. In his last days, Jimmy says goodbye to Dagney (Gabrielle Anwar), a woman he had fallen in love with. Knowing that he will most likely be killed, he murders Bernard for all the misery he indirectly brought upon the group. He also has sex with Lucinda (Fairuza Balk), a prostitute with whom he has long been acquainted, in order to fulfill her wish of becoming a mother. As he narrates in an Afterlife Advice video that he leaves as a farewell message for his unborn child, Jimmy realized that the only way he could exact revenge on The Man With The Plan is through his son. The trio of killers catch up to Jimmy and he takes his death with grace. The final scene shows Jimmy and his friends in the afterlife, having "boat drinks".



  1. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "The World According to Harvey and Bob (Smoke, The Glass Shield)", Chicago Reader, June 16, 1995.
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead". Retrieved 2009-09-07. 

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