Heroes (1977 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byJeremy Paul Kagan
Produced byDavid Foster
Lawrence Turman
Written byJames Carabatsos
StarringHenry Winkler
Sally Field
Harrison Ford
Val Avery
Music byJack Nitzsche
CinematographyFrank Stanley
Edited byPatrick Kennedy
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • November 4, 1977 (1977-11-04)
Running time
112 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3.1 million[1]
Box office$33.5 million[2]

Heroes is a 1977 American drama film directed by Jeremy Paul Kagan[3] and starring Henry Winkler, Sally Field and Harrison Ford (in his first post-Star Wars role, but filmed before that movie's release).

Winkler plays a Vietnam War veteran with PTSD who sets about finding the men from his unit that had served in Vietnam. Field plays his at-first-reluctant girlfriend and Ford plays one of the former soldiers in his unit, now a dysfunctional stock car driver in Sedalia, Missouri, who keeps a stolen M16 rifle in the trunk of his car.


Jack Dunne (Winkler), an amnesiac Vietnam veteran most likely suffering from a severe case of PTSD , escapes a mental ward in New York City intent on starting a business as a worm farmer in Eureka, California.

At the bus station, he accidentally meets Carol Bell (Field), a woman unsure of her engagement to a man towards whom she has confused feelings. Initially annoyed by Jack, Carol gradually warms to him as they set off on a trip through middle America towards Northern California: during the journey she has time to reflect on her impending nuptials as Jack tries to locate his three war buddies hoping to enlist them in his dream to start a worm farm.

It becomes clear that the first two friends Jack and Carol locate are in too poor condition to do much work of any kind. When a visit to the parents of the third results in the disclosure that the friend had died in the war, Jack, who knew as much but was in denial, relives the battlefield trauma of his buddy's death. Finally, Carol's compassion and caring enable Jack to come to terms with reality.



The film was based on an original autobiographical script by James Carabatsos, a Vietnam veteran who also wrote such military-themed films as Heartbreak Ridge and Hamburger Hill. He sent it to the agent of Henry Winkler, then hugely popular because of Happy Days. Winkler loved the script and showed it to two producers, Lawrence Turman and David Foster, who wanted to work with him. They presented it as a package to Ned Tanen at Universal who agreed to finance the movie.[4] David Freeman did a rewrite of the film which was shot over 35 days.[5]


The film was difficult to sell owing to its subject matter and the fact Winkler was playing a character so different from the Fonz.[6]

Critical response[edit]

The movie received a mixed reception. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3 stars out of a possible 4.[citation needed]

Vincent Canby was far more negative, calling it "excruciatingly obvious" and "frighteningly bad", with "all of the magic of commercial television except canned laughter."[7]

On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 35 out of 100, based on 7 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[8]

When the movie was released on VHS/DVD, the ending song, "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas - their first Top 20 hit - was replaced by an instrumental song, as the rights to the song had not been obtained. This greatly diminished the emotional impact of the final scene. However, most TV airings still contain the original soundtrack, and, in fact, the inclusion of the Kansas song has allowed "Carry On Wayward Son" to remain popular since its release, being certified Gold in 1990, and frequently still heard on the radio.

Box office[edit]

The movie was a box office success, grossing $33.5 million on a $3.1 million budget, and opened at number 1 at the U.S. box office.


Henry Winkler received a Golden Globe award nomination for Best Actor in a Drama film.[9] He also received the corresponding BAFTA nomination. It received another BAFTA nomination, for Best Musical Score.[10][11]


  1. ^ "Once 'Secondary' Income Now 'Primary' In Production". Variety. May 31, 1978. p. 4.
  2. ^ "Heroes, Box Office Information". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 29, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Heroes". TCM database. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved February 27, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ MOVIE CALL SHEET: Aaaayyy! New Role for the Fonz Kilday, Gregg. Los Angeles Times 21 July 1976: g10.
  5. ^ Winkler Out of Fonz Furrow Kilday, Gregg. Los Angeles Times 13 Apr 1977: f14.
  6. ^ A Campaign for 'Heroes:' The Evolution of an Ad Wilson, John M. Los Angeles Times 16 Oct 1977: t40.
  7. ^ 'Heroes,' Excruciatingly Obvious Film, by Vincent Canby, in The New York Times; published November 5, 1977
  8. ^ "Heroes (1977) reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  9. ^ https://www.goldenglobes.com/person/henry-winkler
  10. ^ "HEROES: Fearless Fonz". Time. November 21, 1977. Retrieved 2010-09-01. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) (subscription required)
  11. ^ Canby, Vincent (1977-11-05). "Movie Review - Heroes - 'Heroes,' Excruciatingly Obvious Film - NYTimes.com". Movies.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2012-07-05. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]