V.I. Warshawski (film)

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V.I. Warshawski
V.I. Warshawski (film).jpg
Film poster
Directed byJeff Kanew
Produced byPenney Finkelman Cox
Jeffrey Lurie
Screenplay byEdward Taylor
David Aaron Cohen
Nick Thiel
Based onDeadlock by Sara Paretsky
Music byRandy Edelman
CinematographyJan Kiesser
Edited byDebra Neil-Fisher
Carroll Timothy O'Meara
Hollywood Pictures
Chestnut Hill Productions
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • July 26, 1991 (1991-07-26)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$24 million
Box office$11,128,309 (US)

V.I. Warshawski is a 1991 film directed by Jeff Kanew and starring Kathleen Turner.


Victoria Iphigenia "V.I" Warshawski is a Chicago-based, freelance, private investigator who lives the part of the hard-boiled detective, but below the surface, she is a softy. One night, while she is drinking at her favorite bar, she meets an ex-Blackhawks hockey player named Boom-Boom Grafalk (Stephen Meadows). The two connect and a romance appears to be in the making, but Warshawski is surprised when Boom-Boom appears at her doorstep later that night with his 13-year-old daughter Kat (Angela Goethals) in tow.

He asks Warshawski if she could watch her, and Warshawski agrees. Later that night, Boom-Boom is killed in a boat explosion, and Kat hires Warshawski to track down her father's killer. In doing so, she befriends the victim's daughter; together they set out to crack the case.

Principal cast[edit]

Actor Role
Kathleen Turner V.I. Warshawski
Jay O. Sanders Murray Ryerson
Charles Durning Det. Lt. Bobby Mallory
Angela Goethals Kat Grafalk, Bernard's Daughter
Nancy Paul Paige Wilson Grafalk
Stephen Meadows Bernard 'Boom-Boom' Grafalk
Stephen Root Mickey
Wayne Knight Smeissen



The film was based on a series of books by Sara Paretsky. Screenwriters Edward Taylor, David Aaron Cohen, and Nick Thiel adapted only one of Sara Paretsky's novels, Deadlock, for the script for this movie, which took at least one liberty with the story. Whereas Paretsky had written the novel as a serious mystery, the screenwriters took an almost comedic approach. Paretsky was especially angry over the original script that had the independent female detective subordinate to a male counterpart for fear that a female character could not hold the lead role.

The film's plot is very different from that of the original Sara Paretsky novel Deadlock. In the book the ex-Blakhawks player Boom-Boom was the protagonist detective's cousin and lifelong companion, rather than a chance-met stranger; he had no daughter; and "Grafalk" was the family name of another character altogether, a devious shipping magnate who had a major role in the book but was dropped from the film.


Initially, the producers wanted to set the film in Baltimore and cast either Amy Madigan, Bette Midler or Jane Fonda as Warshawski. Kathleen Turner reprised her character V.I. Warshawski in a series of radio plays on BBC Radio 4, the radio version of Deadlock itself being broadcast in 1993.


Principal production began in Chicago in November 1990. Scenes were filmed at Wrigley Field, Chicago; Green Mill - 4802 N. Broadway Avenue, Chicago, (used as the Golden Glow Cocktail Lounge); San Pedro, California, Long Beach, California; Fire Station 23 - 225 E. 5th Street, Los Angeles, and Warner Bros Studios. Completed shooting February 27, 1991.


Janet Maslin of The New York Times had mixed thoughts about the film but commended the acting: "It's too bad that V.I. Warshawski is itself a lot less glamorous than Ms. Turner's performance, since the character could easily be the centerpiece of a more appealing film...V.I. Warshawski has a breezy style and a serviceable, even surprising detective plot. And it has Ms. Turner, who makes the most of V.I. Warshawski's sardonic humor."[1]

Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 out of 4 stars and praised Turner's performance: "Kathleen Turner fits the character more closely than I would have imagined. Her laugh seems aged by whiskey, her smile is brave in the face of trouble, she kisses guys as if she'll never see them again, and she's usually right."[2]

The movie debuted poorly at the box office.[3] On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a rating of 21% based on 24 reviews.[4]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS on November 13, 1991; it was released on Laserdisc (4:3 rati) the following year and on DVD on June 4, 2002 (in a 1.85:1 ratio). It was released on Blu-ray in May 2011.


  1. ^ Maslin, Janet (July 26, 1991). "V.I. Warshawski". The New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2010.
  2. ^ "V.I. Warshawski". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. July 26, 1991. Retrieved September 2, 2010.
  3. ^ "Weekend Box Office : 'Mobsters' Is the Only Solid Opener - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. July 30, 1991. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  4. ^ "V.I. Warshawski (1991)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 29, 2018.

External links[edit]