Winter Kills (film)

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Winter Kills
Winter kills imp.jpg
Directed by William Richert
Produced by Daniel H. Blatt
Fred C. Caruso
Written by Richard Condon (novel)
William Richert (screenplay)
Starring Jeff Bridges
John Huston
Anthony Perkins
Eli Wallach
Sterling Hayden
Dorothy Malone
Tomás Milián
Music by Maurice Jarre
Cinematography Vilmos Zsigmond
Edited by David Bretherton
Distributed by AVCO Embassy Pictures
Release date(s) May 11, 1979 (USA)
Running time 97 min
Country USA
Language English
Budget $6,500,000 (estimated)
Box office $1,083,799 (USA)

Winter Kills is a 1979 film, directed by William Richert, based on the novel by Richard Condon. Its cast includes Jeff Bridges, John Huston, Anthony Perkins, Eli Wallach, Richard Boone, Toshirō Mifune, Sterling Hayden, Dorothy Malone, Ralph Meeker, Elizabeth Taylor, Berry Berenson and Susan Walden.

Most of the film was lensed by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, and the production designer was Robert Boyle, who cited the film as one of his favorites. The director, however, was a relative novice named William Richert.

The production went so far over budget that it was shut down three times and declared bankruptcy. The film had been produced by two wealthy marijuana dealers — Robert Sterling and Leonard Goldberg. Goldberg was murdered by the mafia in the middle of production, for failure to pay his debts, and Sterling was later sentenced to 40 years in prison for marijuana smuggling.[1] Richert and much of the cast went to Germany and filmed a comedy called The American Success Company which made enough money to fund a resumption of Winter Kills two years later.

Influential publications including the New York Times, Newsweek, and the New Yorker gave positive reviews, but it made little money when released. Condon and Richert hypothesized that distributor Embassy Pictures killed it deliberately in order to avoid threatening defense contracts elsewhere within the conglomerate. A later release (and distribution to video) fared better, and included scenes not shown on screen, with additional footage by Elizabeth Taylor.

The film simplifies the plot of the book somewhat, and emphasizes humor. It follows the events surrounding the assassination of President Kegan (patterned after John F. Kennedy). Several years later, the President's brother Nick (Bridges) discovers leads which suggest there may have been a plot to kill the Chief Executive. The ending of the movie is ambiguous, leaving it unclear whether President Kegan had been killed by his father (Huston), or the father's assistant, John Cerruti (Perkins).

Many of the film's interior scenes were shot in 1977 at the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, then home to the American Film Institute's film school.

Who Killed 'Winter Kills'? is a 2003, 38 minute documentary film about the production of Winter Kills.

Plot[edit]

Nick Kegan (Jeff Bridges) is the son of world famous tycoon Pa Kegan (John Huston) and the younger half-brother of the late President Timothy Kegan who was slain by a lone sniper 19 years earlier. When an ex-convict named Arthur Fletcher (Joe Spinell) makes a deathbed confession to Nick by claiming that he was the second of two riflemen who shot the president and was sub-contracted by an unknown agency, Nick sets off on a quest to discover the truth about his late brother's murder. Nick's search takes him from the scene of the crime in Philadelphia, to New York, to California, and Washington DC to uncover the conspiracy about President Kegan's murder. During his epic quest, Nick meets a slew of various people connected to President Kegan whom include; Dawson (Sterling Hayden) a billionaire war games fanatic; a mob boss known only as Gameboy (Ralph Meeker); a shady nightclub owner named Joe Diamond (Eli Wallach); a Cuban mafia kingpin named Frank Mayo (Tomas Milian); an eccentric computer developer named John Cerruti (Anthony Perkins); and a notorious Washington DC madame named Lola Comante (played by Elizabeth Taylor in an uncredited cameo). As the list of suspects takes Nick deeper into his late half-brother's life and business details, all of the people he meets with end up being murdered by unknown killers, while a mysterious woman on a bicycle always seems to be around at the time of the killings. Pa Kegan tries to get Nick to stop his investigation before he becomes a fatality, but Nick's determination to find out the truth may lead him into trouble that he may never get out of.

Cast[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Judge hits millionaire pot smuggler with 40-year sentence," UPI, October 23, 1982

External links[edit]