6.9/10
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42 user 20 critic

The Onion Field (1979)

An LA police officer is murdered in the onion fields outside of Bakersfield. However, legal loopholes could keep his kidnappers from receiving justice, and his partner is haunted by overwhelming survivor's guilt.

Director:

Harold Becker

Writers:

Joseph Wambaugh (book), Joseph Wambaugh (screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Savage ... Det. Karl Francis Hettinger
James Woods ... Gregory Ulas Powell
Franklyn Seales ... Jimmy Lee 'Youngblood' Smith
Ted Danson ... Det. Ian James Campbell
Ronny Cox ... Det. Sgt. Pierce R. Brooks
David Huffman ... Dist. Atty. Phil Halpin
Christopher Lloyd ... Jailhouse Lawyer
Dianne Hull ... Helen Hettinger (as Diane Hull)
Priscilla Pointer ... Chrissie Campbell
Beege Barkette ... Greg's Woman (as Beege Barkett)
Richard Herd ... Beat Cop
Le Tari ... Emmanuel McFadden
Richard Venture Richard Venture ... Det. Glenn Bates
Lee Weaver ... Billy
Pat Corley ... Jimmy's Lawyer #2
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Storyline

Gregory Ulas Powell is a disturbed ex-con who recruits Jimmy Lee "Youngblood" Smith, a petty thief, as his partner in crime. Powell panics one night when the two of them are pulled over by a pair of cops for broken brake lights. Powell decides to kidnap the cops, and Smith, as always, reluctantly goes along with Powell's crazy scheme. The group drives out to a deserted onion field in Bakersfield, California, and one officer is shot while the other escapes. The remainder of the film explores the nature of the American justice system, as well as the devastating psychological effects of this event, and the trial on the surviving officer. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

What Happened In The Onion Field Is True. But The Real Crime Is What Happened After. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 February 1980 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Mord im Zwiebelfeld See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$9,890,597
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After the way his novel was adapted for its film version, The Choirboys (1977), Joseph Wambaugh decided to take more control of his literary works, which led him to have a much larger influence on the production of this movie and its successor adaptation, The Black Marble (1980). Joseph Wambaugh was credited as sole screenwriter on both films. See more »

Goofs

When Jimmy is seen watching television at Greg's house he is watching "General Hospital". This scene takes place in early March 1963 while "General Hospital" debuted April 1, 1963. See more »

Quotes

Det. Karl Hettinger: [while in the onion field seeing his partner crying] That's the onions. It makes you eyes water.
See more »

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User Reviews

True Story of Cops, Robbers and the justice system.
18 September 2000 | by yenloSee all my reviews

From the Joseph Wambaugh book of the same name comes a frighteningly true story of two police officers and two robbers whose career paths in life fatally cross one night in 1963 in a bizarre execution murder in Bakersfield Ca and the justice systems handling of it all. The film can't match the book but does hold up well. The casting of the various characters is amazing as they resemble in great detail the actual people they are portraying. The film airs on Television from time to time but be sure if you see it it's on a channel that will not edit it in the slightest. To be on the safe side rent it. James Woods and Franklyn Seales stand out in their performances.


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