Betrayed (1988 film)

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Betrayed poster.jpeg
Marketing poster for Gavras' 1988 film Betrayed
Directed by Costa-Gavras
Produced by Irwin Winkler
Written by Joe Eszterhas
Music by Bill Conti
Cinematography Patrick Blossier
Edited by Joële Van Effenterre
Distributed by United Artists/MGM
Release dates
26 August 1988
Running time
127 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $19,000,000
Box office $25,816,139

Betrayed is a 1988 motion picture drama directed by Costa-Gavras, written by Joe Eszterhas and starring Tom Berenger and Debra Winger. The film is roughly based upon the White separatist terrorist activities of American neo-Nazi Robert Mathews and his group The Order.


A Jewish radio host in Chicago is murdered. FBI undercover agent Catherine Weaver (Winger), alias Katie Phillips, is assigned to infiltrate a farming community, suspected of harbouring those responsible.

After receiving a warm welcome from farmer Gary Simmons (Berenger), his two children and extended family, she is impressed by their affection for and devotion to each other. Katie goes to a Fourth of July celebration with Gary, taking pictures and claiming that they are for a scrapbook. Several acquaintances of Gary want to know, "When are we going hunting?" Katie notices some odd, unspoken tension with other locals. During the fireworks, she kisses Gary while his friend Wes (Levine) watches her suspiciously.

She reports back to her handler, Mike Carnes (Heard), who is also a former lover. Katie thinks Gary is too devoted to his family to be the leader of a white supremacist group. Carnes insists that Gary is the right suspect, and asks Katie to look for information about a group or plan called "ZOG". He informs her that Gary's first wife was killed and run over repeatedly by a truck.

Back undercover, Katie's romance blossoms with Gary, and she bonds with children Rachel and Joey. She gets her first real glimpse of Gary's dark side when he taunts a neighboring farmer about a birthmark on his neck, suggesting it was an AIDS sore that the farmer got from sex with other men.

Katie is invited to go hunting that night. She reluctantly agrees. Gary drives deep into the woods where they meet Wes, Shorty (Mahoney), and several other locals. They force a terrified black man out of a car and hand him a gun with ten bullets in it. They tell the man to run, then set their dogs after him. When they finally corner the man, Shorty offers the fatal shot to Katie since it is her first hunt. Wes's suspicion grows as Katie hesitates. He points his gun at her, but an enraged Gary steps in front of Katie to protect her, claiming she is simply scared by her first hunt.

Gary explains to Katie that he wants there to be no secrets between them. His previous wife could not accept this part of his life. Katie leaves her motel to meet her handlers, but Wes blocks her way in the parking lot. He ducks out of the way before she runs into the open door of his pickup truck. Carnes later tells her the FBI was unable to recover the body of the hunted man. Her eyewitness testimony would not be enough to put the men away for long, and besides, they are more concerned about a more sinister plot the supremacists are working on.

Katie reluctantly returns to Gary's farm. As she puts the kids to bed, Rachel asks if it is true that there are no more secrets between them anymore. Katie says yes, whereupon Rachel spouts conspiracy claptrap about "the niggers and the Jews" while Joey enthusiastically chimes in. Gary wants to marry Katie and begins to reveal more secrets. He explains that "ZOG" stands for "Zionist Occupied Government." He shows her a computer where he coordinates activities with other members of the group. A refrain that keeps popping up on his screen is "The Wind is Blowing."

Gary takes Katie and the kids camping to a gathering of other white supremacists. The homey vibe of campfires and sing-a-longs is interspersed with terrifying hate speech and quasi-military training. Katie pretends not to be able to shoot when Gary trains her on the range. Gary is enraged at some Neo-Nazis selling authentic Luger pistols, dismissing them as idiots.

Gary and Wes often go off for clandestine meetings concerning their larger plans. Left alone with Shorty, Katie asks how such a nice man could support evil and violence. Shorty says he has no choice since minorities are taking the country away from him.

Katie sneaks out of her tent to witness Gary supervising the delivery of military grade weapons. Wes sees her, deepening his suspicion. Before they leave the camp, Congressional candidate Jack Carpenter (Clennon) arrives to campaign for the support of the white supremacists. Gary confronts him as a hypocrite who will not support their cause in Washington. Carpenter's aide Flynn (DeMunn) confides in his old friend Gary that he will never let Carpenter betray their cause, implying that the politician is simply a pawn.

Gary reveals their plans to rob a bank in Chicago to fund their terrorist activity. He insists that Katie be involved. Inside the bank, a security guard emerges from hiding with his gun drawn, so Katie is forced to shoot him in the shoulder. As they flee, one of Katie's FBI handlers shoots and kills Wes, since he was close to revealing her identity as an undercover agent. Gary eventually admits that Wes had carried out the murder of his wife because she did not agree with their cause.

Gary reveals a hiding spot underneath his bedroom floorboards that contains a list of assassination targets and other information about the group's plot to initiate a race war. Katie brings the materials to Carnes, who still insists that it is only enough to prove a conspiracy. He demands Katie stick with her cover in order to catch the group in the course of committing a crime.

They go to Chicago for the assassination. Future plans include dressing as NYPD officers and shooting random black people in Harlem, as well as attacks on homosexuals in San Francisco and on Jews in Chicago. Flynn has secretly given Katie's FBI file to Gary. He remains conflicted about whether or not she truly loves him. As he aims his rifle at the arriving target, Gary reveals that he knows her true identity. Katie draws her pistol and orders Gary to surrender. A limousine arrives, and Carpenter emerges as the target of the assassination. Gary refuses to surrender, and Katie kills him. Carpenter is killed by another, unseen member of the group.

Carnes is thrilled with Katie's work, crowing that with the group's target list in hand the FBI will be able to round them all up. Knowing how vast the enterprise is and how deeply the supremacists are immersed in society, Katie surrenders her gun and insists that Carnes will never catch them all. She warns that the FBI has to stop waiting for them to commit crimes.

Katie goes back to Gary's house, looking for Rachel and Joey. She finds them coming out of a church service. The pastor calls her a "Jezebel" and orders her to leave, but Rachel insists that it is a free country and she hugs Katie. The girl waves goodbye to Katie with her right hand as Steve Earle's "The Devil's Right Hand" plays and Katie walks back to her car. The film ends on Katie looking tired and walking alone aimlessly in a trailer park at night, wondering what goes on in her neighbors' private lives.



The film was moderately successful with the movie review amalgamation site Rotten Tomatoes giving it a 56% rating.[1] The performance of Winger was praised by some reviewers, who felt she was successful in conveying complex and mixed emotions throughout. Critics of the film point to a muddled and sometimes unbelievable unravelling of the plot.

The opening sequence is loosely based on the 1984 murder of Denver DJ Alan Berg, who was murdered by white supremacists known as The Order.

In a 1996 interview, Tom Berenger named Betrayed as his favorite film, shrugging off any media criticism with the retort "It was exactly what it was meant to be".[2]

The film is mentioned in the 1997 Seinfeld episode "The Comeback"'.

Box office[edit]

The movie debuted at No.2 at the box office.[3]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]