Running Scared (1986 film)

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Running Scared
Theatrical poster
Directed by Peter Hyams
Produced by David Foster
Lawrence Turman
Written by Gary DeVore
Jimmy Huston
Music by Rod Temperton
Cinematography Peter Hyams
Edited by James Mitchell
The Turman-Foster Company
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • June 27, 1986 (1986-06-27)
Running time
107 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $38,500,726 (USA)

Running Scared is a 1986 action-comedy film directed by Peter Hyams, written by Gary Devore and Jimmy Huston, and starring Gregory Hines, Billy Crystal, with Steven Bauer, Jimmy Smits, and Dan Hedaya in supporting roles. Hines and Crystal play Chicago police officers who, after nearly being killed on the job, decide to retire and open a bar in Key West, Florida, only to get caught up in making one last arrest before they go.

The film was produced and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.


Ray Hughes (Hines) and Danny Costanzo (Crystal) are two police officers working on Chicago's North Side, known for their wisecracking demeanors and unorthodox police methods, which get results in their various cases. One such case involves trying to bust up-and-coming drug dealer Julio Gonzales (Jimmy Smits). After arresting Snake (Joe Pantoliano), one of Julio’s associates, they convince him to wear a wire in order to get the necessary evidence to put Julio away. When they approach the meeting place (a cargo ship) they find that Gonzales has acquired a large store of Israeli Uzi submachine guns. Snake is setting the detectives up, however, prompting the detectives to rush in by acting as though Gonzales was preparing to kill him. Gonzales reveals his ambition to be the next "godfather" of Chicago, but chastises Snake for letting the detectives get close, and Snake is shot dead by a subordinate. The pair look as though they will be killed for sure, but two undercover detectives in Julio’s gang step in to make the arrest. In the ensuing gun battle, most of Julio’s gang escape, but Ray and Danny capture Gonzales.

Back at the station Ray and Danny expect to be praised, but instead their captain (Dan Hedaya) chastises them for their sloppy work (as revealed by Snake’s wire) and orders them to take a vacation. On vacation in Key West, Florida, the pair begin to question their career choice after the experience and decide to retire and open a bar.

When they return to Chicago and inform the captain of their intentions, they find out that Gonzales has been released and is free on bail. Incensed, they vow to capture Gonzales before retiring, but by being a little more careful in the process. To add insult to injury, Captain Logan assigns them the additional task of training their replacements before they go. They must train detectives Anthony Montoya (Jon Gries) and Frank Sigliano (Steven Bauer), none other than the two undercover officers that saved them from being killed in the Gonzales bust. Logan wants the replacements to be "the best of the worst" and orders them never to let him catch them doing anything Ray and Danny teaches them.

During one of the attempts to capture Gonzales, Ray and Danny confiscate a large shipment of cocaine coming from Colombia. In order to get them back, Gonzales kidnaps Danny’s ex-wife Anna (Darlanne Fluegel), whom he still loves and has been trying to reconcile with, and says he will trade her for his drugs, otherwise he will kill her. Danny agrees, leading to the final confrontation inside the high-rise atrium of the James R. Thompson Center. During the ensuing fight, Danny and Ray ironically rescue their would-be protégés in a way similar to their own rescuing, and Gonzales is killed. Anna and Danny reconcile and he and Ray decide not to retire after all.



Hyams later recalled:

After 2010 MGM came to me with this script about two elderly cops in New York who retire. I said I wanted to make it about two young cops in Chicago who don’t retire. We went around a bit. There were a lot of cop movies around at that time, so I decided that if I wanted to be interesting I needed to do it with two actors you would not normally expect to see in an action movie. So I wanted Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines, and I got them and they were wonderful together. They just clicked.[1]

The movie was filmed in 1985.


Running Scared was a moderate box office success, earning over $38 million. Reviews were mixed, however, and the film has a current 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 20 reviews. Film critic Roger Ebert recommended it, saying that the film “transcends its dreary roots and turns out to be a lot of fun”.[2]

Vincent Canby of The New York Times, however, advised people to "stay home and watch Miami Vice or Cagney and Lacey" instead.[3]

Box office[edit]

The film debuted at #5 at the U.S. box office, with a weekend gross of $5,227,757.[4]


Running Scared
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released 1986
Genre R&B
Length 43:04
Label MCA Records
Producer Rod Temperton, Dick Rudolph, and Bruce Swedien

The Running Scared soundtrack was released in conjunction with the movie and contained a mix of songs and music featured in the film. The album sold well and produced three top 15 hits with performances by Klymaxx, Michael McDonald, New Edition, and Patti LaBelle. Producer Rod Temperton also contributed two songs with his band The Rod Temperton Beat Wagon.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Performer Length
1 "Man Size Love" Klymaxx 4:15
2 "Sweet Freedom" Michael McDonald 7:38
3 "I Just Wanna Be Loved" Ready for the World 4:55
4 "Running Scared" Fee Waybill 4:31
5 "Once in a Lifetime Groove" New Edition 4:05
6 "I Know What I Want" Patti LaBelle 3:56
7 "Say You Really Want Me" Kim Wilde 4:31
8 "El Chase" [Instrumental] (featuring Larry Williams) The Rod Temperton Beat Wagon 5:33
9 "Never Too Late to Start" (featuring Tommy Funderburk) The Rod Temperton Beat Wagon 4:11

Singles chart positions[edit]

Year Single Chart Position
1986 Man Size Love Billboard Hot 100 15[5]
Once in a Lifetime Groove Dance Music/Club Play Singles 9[5]
Once in a Lifetime Groove Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales 10[5]
Once in a Lifetime Groove Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks 10[5]
Sweet Freedom Adult Contemporary 4[5]
Sweet Freedom Billboard Hot 100 7[5]
Sweet Freedom Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks 17[5]
1987 Say You Really Want Me Billboard Hot 100 44[5]

Album chart position[edit]

Year Album Chart Position
1986 Running Scared R&B Albums 38[6]
Running Scared Billboard 200 43[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Peter Hyams Film by Film" Empire accessed 30 July 2014
  2. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 27, 1986). "Running Scared (1986)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  3. ^ Canby, Vincent (June 27, 1986). "Film: Running Scared". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-31. 
  4. ^ "June 27-29, 1986: Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 14 October 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "allmusic ((( Running Scared > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  6. ^ a b "allmusic ((( Running Scared > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". Retrieved 2010-06-17. 

External links[edit]