Running Scared (1980 film)

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This article is about The 1980 American film. For other films of the same name, see Running Scared.
Running Scared
Directed by Paul Glickler
Produced by Paul Glickler
Written by David Odell
Starring Ken Wahl
Judge Reinhold
John Saxon
Bradford Dillman
Pat Hingle
Lonny Chapman
Annie McEnroe
Edited by Robert Q. Lovett
Distributed by Goodtimes Home Videos
Release date
  • November 17, 1980 (1980-11-17)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Running Scared is a 1980 action film directed by Paul Glickler and starring Ken Wahl, Judge Reinhold and introducing Annie McEnroe.


Taking place in 1961, prior to the proposed Bay of Pigs Invasion, two soldiers LeRoy Beecher (Judge Reinhold) and Chaz McClain (Ken Wahl) are just finishing a two year Infantry tour in the Army in Panama. They hitch a ride on a military C-47 back to their home state, Florida. LeRoy has stolen a footlocker full of surveillance equipment (punishable with time in Leavenworth) and during the flight to Florida the plane makes a brief stopover on some secret Caribbean island base. While at the island LeRoy goofing around unwittingly takes photographs of the base and of Chaz (thereby identifying him) with an infra-red camera and leaves the tear-off part of the negative on the C-47's floor. The plane then continues on to Florida where Leroy and Chaz disembark and workers (presumably anti-castrist Cubans) sweep up the aircraft and find LeRoy's camera tear-off. The workers take the negative to two superiors (John Saxon and Bradford Dillman) who are planning an invasion of Cuba from the secret island base. They develop LeRoy's negatives and now can visually ID Chaz.

The anti-castrists know the plane was heading to Florida and now think that LeRoy and Chaz are spies sent to give away the secret of the island base and presumed invasion. Saxon and Dillman assemble a large number of armed men and proceed to search for and locate LeRoy and Chaz throughout the Florida Everglades. When the boys return home they try to re-adjust to civilian life. They go to a diner where the latest music from Del Shannon ("Runaway") and Ronnie Dawson ("Decided By The Angels") is playing on a jukebox and they encounter two young high school girls with a stationwagon. The boys go to a secluded spot with the girls and 'score' with the girls before they go off to school. However the boys are not off the plane too long before Saxon's armed men, having identified them in the diner, are chasing and shooting at them in the night. LeRoy makes it out of the first ambush and gets back to his parents home. Chaz loses contact with him but survives the ambush. The next morning Chaz is searching for LeRoy when a fancy convertible driven by an attractive and rich young woman named Sallie Mae stops to give him a lift. Sallie Mae at first refuses to take Chaz to LeRoy's house and he then threatens to cut up her car seats if she abandons him on the road. Sallie Mae then consents to take Chaz to LeRoy's parents house where her car breaks down in the driveway. The soldiers track the men to LeRoy's parent home, spot Sallie's car, deep in the Everglades swamp where Mister Beecher (Lonny Chapman) runs an illegal Moonshine Still.

At this point a shootout occurs at the Beecher home, with Mister Beecher getting pissed off that his Moonshine secret is out, and curses his son LeRoy. LeRoy angered, along with Chaz and Sallie Mae, steal one of Mister Beecher's airboats and an exciting long chase continues through the swamp. Chaz later returns to his own father's (Pat Hingle) house and encounters his old girlfriend. The girlfriend seeing Sallie Mae thinks that Chaz has impregnated Sallie Mae. Sallie Mae also returns with Chaz to her parents (who are vacationing in Europe) palatial estate and the two clean themselves up. After much adventure eluding Saxon, Dillman and their men, LeRoy and Chaz eventually overcome them. A romance has developed between Chaz and the wealthy Sallie Mae.


This film is known under several titles for home video, cable TV and foreign market. Two are "Desperate Men" and "Back in the USA".


  • Judge Reinhold as LeRoy Beecher
  • Ken Wahl as Chaz McClain
  • Annie McEnroe as Sally Mae Giddens
  • Bradford Dillman as Arthur Jaeger
  • John Saxon as Captain Munoz
  • Pat Hingle as Sergeant McClain
  • Lonny Chapman as Pa Beecher (*billed as Lonnie Chapman)
  • Tom McFadden as Colonel Williams
  • Tim Brantly as Kid in Jalopy
  • Mary Lawson as Ponytail
  • Lisa Felcoski as Sandy
  • Francine Joyce as Robin Winston
  • Malcolm Jones as Storekeeper
  • Tom Tully as Pilot of C-47
  • Roger Pretto as Commando Lieutenant

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