Breaking In (1989 film)

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Breaking In
Breaking in poster.jpg
Directed byBill Forsyth
Produced byHarry Gittes
Written byJohn Sayles
Music byMichael Gibbs
CinematographyMichael Coulter
Edited byMichael Ellis
Distributed byThe Samuel Goldwyn Company
Release date
  • October 13, 1989 (1989-10-13)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$5.5 million[1]
Box office$1,877,618 (US)[2][3]

Breaking In is a 1989 American crime comedy film directed by Bill Forsyth, written by John Sayles, and starring Burt Reynolds, Casey Siemaszko and Lorraine Toussaint. The film is about how professional small-time criminals live and practice their trades.


Ernie Mullins (Burt Reynolds) is New York's old-pro safecracker, who is operating now in Portland, Oregon. Mike (Casey Siemaszko), is the "nosy, amiable kid" that Ernie takes on as his lookout and apprentice. Ernie is content to live in a tract home on the fringe of the city but the kid cannot resist flashing his new wealth.

Ernie maintains a steady, paying relationship with a prostitute, Delphine (Lorraine Toussaint), who fixes Mike up with her apprentice, Carrie (Sheila Kelley). The film also features a pair of retired crooks, Ernie's card-playing pals, Johnny (Albert Salmi) and Shoes (Harry Carey), and a pair of adversarial lawyers (Maury Chaykin and Stephen Tobolowsky).



It was Reynolds' first character role " "I've spent an entire career... making the characters me," he said." This is the first time I've done it the other way around." [1]

Reynolds worked for SAG scale because he was an admirer of the script and of Forsyth. John Sayles normally directed his own scripts but did not do this one because he did not feel he had the sense of humor to bring it off.[1]

Forsyth too, normally directed his own scripts, but took on Breaking In in an attempt to make contact with a larger mainstream audience:

I can't get away with making $6- or $7-million movies (e.g., "Local Hero" and "Housekeeping") with the kind of audience that my past movies have reached. I've just got to find an audience-or retreat. And I'm quite happy to retreat, I'm happy to go back to Scotland and make smaller movies"-e.g., "Gregory's Girl." "But at the same time, `Breaking In' seemed a comfortable experiment for me. Because although I say I'm trying to reach that audience or see how far that audience is from me, I don't think I'm going that far to get them. . . . You could read (the "Breaking In" script) very innocently as a kind of nice caper with nice characters. But underneath that there is so much compromise and so much duplicity and so much blackmail going on that it seemed to have lots of levels I could work on.[1]


Box office[edit]

The film was not a commercial success. It opened in 400 theaters at #12 in its opening weekend (10/13–15) with $679,200,[4] but returned less than $2 million in total box office receipts.[2]

Critical response[edit]

Critically, the feedback is positive. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 89% basedon reviews from 9 critics.[5]

Roger Ebert called the film "a well-written, well-directed picture. Reynolds has a comfortable screen presence and can act…he shows the warmth and quirkiness that made him fun to watch in the first place." [6]


  1. ^ a b c d MOVIES Burt Reynolds Does a Turn as an Old Man: [Home Edition] Chase, Donald. Los Angeles Times 11 Sep 1988: 21.
  2. ^ a b Breaking In (1989) Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ Gerry Molyneaux, "John Sayles, Renaissance Books, 2000 p 182
  4. ^ Breaking In (1989) – Weekend Box Office – Box Office Mojo
  5. ^ "Breaking In". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  6. ^ Breaking In (1989)

External links[edit]