Clay Pigeons

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This article is about the film Clay Pigeons. For the sport involving clay pigeons, see skeet shooting.
Clay Pigeons
Clay Pigeons.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by David Dobkin
Produced by Ridley Scott
Tony Scott
Chris Zarpas
Written by Matt Healy
Starring Joaquin Phoenix
Vince Vaughn
Janeane Garofalo
Music by John Lurie
Cinematography Eric Alan Edwards
Edited by Stan Salfas
Distributed by Gramercy Pictures
Release dates
  • September 25, 1998 (1998-09-25) (United States)
  • July 22, 1999 (1999-07-22) (Germany)
Running time
104 minutes [1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $8 million[2]
Box office $1.7 million[3]

Clay Pigeons is a 1998 crime-comedy film written by Matt Healy and directed by David Dobkin. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Vince Vaughn, and Janeane Garofalo.


Clay Bidwell is a young man in a small town who witnesses his friend, Earl, kill himself because of the ongoing affair that Clay was having with the man's wife, Amanda. Feeling guilty, Clay now resists the widow when she presses him to continue with their affair as if nothing has happened.

Clay's problems worsen when he inadvertently befriends a serial killer named Lester Long, who murders the nagging widow in an attempt to "help" his "fishing buddy". Clay is horrified, but does not go to the police for fear of his role in his friend's suicide coming to light. But that doesn't matter for the police, as well as for savvy female FBI agent Dale Shelby and her partner Reynard, who see Clay as their prime suspect. Yet Clay doesn't tell them of his "friend," who has confessed his crimes to him.



Clay Pigeons was developed under filmmakers Ridley and Tony Scott's company, Scott Free Productions.

Vaughn has described his character, Lester, as "a guy who isn’t necessarily from the West — that’s just an image he’s created of himself. Whatever his reality is — being badly hurt by women or whatever — he’s made it over, taking bits and pieces of things he’s seen in movies. He sees his life as a strange Western movie, with himself as the hero. He thinks he’s a sane person in an insane world."[4]

Dobkin said of the characters, "I wanted everyone to be different than what they appear to be — the FBI agent who smokes pot, the small town sheriff who seems slow but is the one who figures [the murders] out in the end."[5]


The film received mixed to positive reviews, holding a 63% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes,[6] and a 49/100 score on Metacritic, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[7]


  1. ^ "CLAY PIGEONS (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2003-01-28. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  2. ^ "Clay Pigeons (1998) - Box office / business". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  3. ^ Clay Pigeons at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ Flatley, Guy (n.d.). "Vince Vaughn — The Man Who Wanted to Be Norman Bates". Archived from the original on August 22, 2004. 
  5. ^ "Clay Pigeons Special". via 1998. Archived from the original on July 2, 2003. 
  6. ^ Clay Pigeons at Rotten Tomatoes
  7. ^ Clay Pigeons at Metacritic

External links[edit]