Partners (1982 film)

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Partners 1982.jpg
Directed by James Burrows
Produced by
Written by Francis Veber
Music by Georges Delerue
Cinematography Victor J. Kemper
Edited by
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • April 30, 1982 (1982-04-30)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6 million[1]
Box office $6.1 million (US)[2]

Partners is a 1982 American gay-themed buddy comedy film, starring Ryan O'Neal and John Hurt as a mismatched pair of cops. The film was directed by James Burrows.


After a series of murders in Los Angeles's gay community, heterosexual police officer Sgt. Benson (O'Neal) is assigned to go undercover as half of a gay couple with Officer Kerwin (Hurt), a Records Clerk. Kerwin naively believes that he is closeted although the entire Department knows about his sexual identity. The pair discover an earlier murder and learn that both victims appeared in the same gay magazine. Each had received a call from a hoarse-voiced man asking them to model for him, only to turn up dead soon after. Benson models for the magazine and is approached by the same hoarse-voiced man; but, when another model turns up dead, the man is cleared as a suspect.

Benson grows close to Jill (Robyn Douglass), the photographer of his shoot, and plans a weekend getaway with her. Kerwin suspects her of the murders, but his superiors put it down to jealousy. Kerwin uncovers evidence implicating Jill; but, when the police move to apprehend her, they discover her corpse. Her death unknown to Benson, he arrives for his rendezvous with Jill; and Kerwin races to his aid. Jill's killer, a closeted man whom Jill and one of the victims were blackmailing, admits to Benson that he killed Jill and two of the men but insists that Jill killed her partner in crime. Realizing that Kerwin is outside, the killer shoots at Kerwin who returns fire. Kerwin is wounded, but the other man is killed.


"It's a comedy," said producer Russo. "It's a comedy that comes out of real situations, out of the tradition of French farce. I felt for both characters."[1]

The leading roles were originally offered to Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen. Eastwood expressed interest if Allen signed, but Allen declined.[1]

The film was one of six relatively low budgeted films rushed into production by Paramount in 1981 prior to an impending director strike, with budgets between $4-8 million. Paramount were interested to see what the results would be like on movies with a shortened pre-production process The other films were Some Kind of Hero, Jekyll and Hyde...Together Again, I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can, White Dog and An Officer and a Gentleman. A seventh film, Young Lust was "picked up" from another production company. Partners was championed within the studio by Don Simpson (Michael Eisner, also at the studio, said he "hated" the script.). Of all the seven films, Paramount executives were most enthusiastic about the script for Partners.[3]


Rex Reed, writing for the New York Post, panned the film, saying, "Hollywood's latest crime against humanity in general and homosexuals in particular is a dumb creepshow called Partners – stupid, tasteless and homophobic, this sleazy, superficial film implies that gay cops can't be trusted to work with straight cops because they might fall in love with them."[4] Gene Siskel was also offended and later called it one of the worst films of 1982.[5] O'Neal was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award as Worst Actor of the Decade.[6]

When asked if the film drew any complaints from gay men during filming, John Hurt said, "They didn't like it that I was wearing a lilac colored, track suit in it. They say homosexuals do not necessarily do that. And the person who saying this is sitting there in a pink track suit, It's a crazy world we live in."[7]

The film was a financial failure. Head of Paramount Barry Diller later said "Partners was the essence of a badly made movie, partly because it was rushed against a date."[3]


  1. ^ a b c Lee, Grant (8 July 1981). "RUSSO ON LIFE AFTER MIDLER". Los Angeles Times. p. g1. 
  2. ^ "Partners". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 2, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Harmetz, Aljean (23 May 1983). "How Paramount 'Seven' Fared at the Box Office". New York Times. p. C13. 
  4. ^ Russo, Vitto. "The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies". Harper & Roe, Publishers Inc. 1987 (Revised Edition). P282.
  5. ^ Sneak Previews: Worst of 1982
  6. ^ "Decade's Worst -The 80's". Golden Raspberry Award. Retrieved May 2, 2016. 
  7. ^ Rutledge, Leigh W. (1989). The Gay Fireside Companion. Alyson Publications, Inc. p. 166. 

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