Tin Men

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For the unrelated novel by Michael Frayn, see The Tin Men.
Tin Men
Tin men poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Barry Levinson
Produced by Mark Johnson
Written by Barry Levinson
Music by Fine Young Cannibals
Cinematography Peter Sova
Edited by Stu Linder
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release dates
  • March 6, 1987 (1987-03-06)
Running time
110 min
Country United States
Language English
Budget $11 million
Box office $25,411,386

Tin Men is a 1987 American comedy film written and directed by Barry Levinson, produced by Mark Johnson, and starring Richard Dreyfuss, Danny DeVito, and Barbara Hershey.

It is the second of Levinson's four "Baltimore Films" set in his hometown during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s: Diner (1982), Tin Men (1987), Avalon (1990), and Liberty Heights (1999).


It is 1963. Ernest Tilley (Danny DeVito) and Bill "BB" Babowsky (Richard Dreyfuss) are door-to-door aluminum siding salesmen in Baltimore, Maryland. Working for different companies, the "tin men" are prepared to do almost anything—legal or illegal—to close a sale.

Their first meeting is when BB buys a new Cadillac and almost immediately crashes into another Cadillac driven by Tilley. The accident is caused by BB, as he reverses into the street from the dealer's forecourt. Tilley, though distracted, clearly has the right of way. Each vows to get even.

After they smash glass on each other's cars, BB takes it a step further. He sets out to seduce Tilley's wife Nora (Barbara Hershey) as an act of revenge. When he calls Tilley immediately after having sex with her, Tilley tells BB to keep Nora; he wants to be rid of her.

Exhausted by their rivalry, the two men decide to play a game of pool to decide who should get her. BB loses, but he does not honor the bet. He has fallen in love for the first time.

A newly formed Maryland Home Improvement Commission charged with uprooting corrupt sales practices in the home-improvement industry subpoenas both men and takes away their licenses. Reconciled to their fate, Tilley and BB begin sharing ideas for a new business.

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