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Winter Kills (1979)

aka Winter Kills

Directed By: 
Details: 97 mins · English · R (USA)


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Small Nick Kegan
Small Pa Kegan
Small John Cerruti
Small Joe Diamond
Small Z.K. Dawson
Small Emma Kegan
Small Frank Mayo
Small Yvette Malone
Small Gameboy Baker
No_movie_poster Keith
Small Keifitz
No_movie_poster Miles Garner
Small Captain Heller One
Small Lola Comante


No_movie_poster William Richert Director
No_movie_poster Richard Condon Novel
No_movie_poster Fred C. Caruso Production
No_movie_poster William Richert Writer
No_movie_poster Richard Condon Story Contributor
No_movie_poster David Bretherton Editing


Winter Kills is a 1979 film based on the novel by Richard Condon. Its cast includes Jeff Bridges, John Huston, Anthony Perkins, Eli Wallach, Richard Boone, Toshir? Mifune, Sterling Hayden, Dorothy Malone, Ralph Meeker, Elizabeth Taylor, Berry Berenson and Susan Walden.

Most of the film was lensed by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, and the production designer was Robert Boyle, who cited the film as one of his favorites. The director, however, was a relative novice named William Richert.

The production went so far over budget that it was shut down three times and declared bankruptcy. The film had been produced by two wealthy marijuana dealers — Robert Sterling and Leonard Goldberg. Goldberg was murdered by the mafia in the middle of production, for failure to pay his debts, and Sterling was later sentenced to 40 years in prison for marijuana smuggling. Richert and much of the cast went to Germany and filmed a comedy called The American Success Company which made enough money to fund a resumption of Winter Kills two years later.

Influential publications including the New York Times, Newsweek, and the New Yorker gave positive reviews, but it made little money when released. Condon and Richert hypothesized that distributor Embassy Pictures killed it deliberately in order to avoid threatening defense contracts elsewhere within the conglomerate. A later release (and distribution to video) fared better, and included scenes not shown on screen, with additional footage by Elizabeth Taylor.

The film simplifies the plot of the book somewhat, and emphasizes humor. It follows the events surrounding the assassination of President Kegan (patterned after John F. Kennedy). Several years later, the President's brother Nick (Bridges) discovers leads which suggest there may have been a plot to kill the Chief Executive. The ending of the movie is ambiguous, leaving it unclear whether President Kegan had been killed by his father (Huston), or the father's assistant, John Cerruti (Perkins).

Many of the film's interior scenes were shot in 1977 at the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, then home to the American Film Institute's film school.

Who Killed 'Winter Kills'? is a 2003, 38 minute documentary film about the production of Winter Kills.

Release Dates: