The Deer Hunter

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The Deer Hunter
Directed byMichael Cimino
Screenplay byDeric Washburn
Story byMichael Cimino
Deric Washburn
Louis Garfinkle
Quinn K. Redeker
Produced byBarry Spikings
Michael Deeley
Michael Cimino
John Peverall
StarringRobert De Niro
Christopher Walken
John Cazale
John Savage
Meryl Streep
See Full Cast
CinematographyVilmos Zsigmond
Edited byPeter Zinner
Music byStanley Myers
Distributed byUniversal Pictures (US)
EMI Films (Worldwide Sales)
Release date
  • December 8, 1978 (1978-12-08)
Running time
183 minutes[a 1]
CountriesUnited States
United Kingdom
Budget$15 million[1]
Box office$48,979,328 (Domestic)[1]
Academy Awards record
1. Best Supporting Actor, Christopher Walken
2. Best Director, Michael Cimino
3. Best Editing, Peter Zinner
4. Best Picture, Barry Spikings, Michael Deeley, Michael Cimino, John Peverall
5. Best Sound, Richard Portman, William L. McCaughey, Aaron Rochin, C. Darin Knight
Golden Globe Awards record
1. Best Director, Michael Cimino
BAFTA Awards record
1. Best Cinematography, Vilmos Zsigmond
2. Best Editing, Peter Zinner

The Deer Hunter is a 1978 American war drama movie. It is set from 1967 to 1975 and is about three friends from Pennsylvania affected by the Vietnam War.

The movie won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. It was named by the American Film Institute as the 53rd Greatest Movie of All Time. It was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay. In 1996, The Deer Hunter was picked to keep in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.[2][3]

Full cast[change | change source]

  • Robert De Niro as S/Sgt. Michael "Mike" Vronsky. Producer Deeley wanted De Niro for The Deer Hunter because he felt that he needed De Niro's star power to sell a movie with a "gruesome-sounding storyline and a barely known director".[4] De Niro prepared by talking with steelworkers in local bars and by visiting their homes. Cimino would introduce De Niro as his agent, Harry Ufland. No one recognized him.[5] De Niro said this was his most physically exhausting movie. He said that the scene where Michael visits Steve in the hospital for the first time was the most emotional scene that he was ever involved with.[6]
  • Christopher Walken as Cpl. Nikanor "Nick" Chevotarevich. His won his first Academy Award, for Best Supporting Actor.
  • John Savage as Cpl. Steven Pushkov. Savage was a last-minute replacement for Roy Scheider, who dropped out of the production two weeks before the start due to "creative differences". Universal kept Scheider to his three-picture contract for them by making him do Jaws 2.[7]
  • Meryl Streep as Linda. Before Deer Hunter, Streep had a small part in Fred Zinnemann's Julia and the eight-hour miniseries Holocaust.[8] In the screenplay, Streep's role was very small. Cimino suggested that Streep write her own lines.[9]
  • John Cazale as Stanley ("Stosh"). All scenes with Cazale, who had terminal cancer, had to be done first. Because of his illness, the studio wanted to get rid of him. Streep, whom he was dating at the time, and Cimino said they would walk away if the studio fired Cazale.[10][11] He died just after the movie was finished.[10]
  • George Dzundza as John Welsh
  • Chuck Aspegren as Peter "Axel" Axelrod. Aspegren was not an actor. He was the foreman at an East Chicago steel works visited early in pre-production by De Niro and Cimino. They were so impressed with him that they offered him the role. He was the second person to be cast in the movie, after De Niro.[5]
  • Shirley Stoler as Steven's mother
  • Rutanya Alda as Angela Ludhjduravic-Pushkov
  • Amy Wright as Bridesmaid
  • Joe Grifasi as Bandleader

Locations[change | change source]

Lemko Hall

Release[change | change source]

Deer Hunter was shown at one theater each in New York and Los Angeles for a week on December 8, 1978.[17][18][19] The release was to qualify the movie for the Oscars. And one week would build interest.[20] After the Oscar nominations, Universal widened the distribution to include major cities. A full-scale release was on February 23, 1979, just following the Oscars.[18][20]

Reception[change | change source]

The movie's first reviews were largely enthusiastic. Many critics said it was the best American epic since Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather.[21][22][23] Some people though did not like how the movie used Russian roulette.

Many people did not like Cimino's next movie, Heaven's Gate. Because they thought it was so bad, they also changed their thoughts on The Deer Hunter. Instead of liking the movie people said they did not like it anymore.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "The Deer Hunter (1978)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  2. "The Deer Hunter (1978) - Awards". IMDb. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
  3. "Films Selected to The National Film Registry 1989–2008". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
  4. Deeley, p. 168
  5. 5.0 5.1 Realizing The Deer Hunter: An Interview with Michael Cimino. Blue Underground. Interview on The Deer Hunter UK Region 2 DVD and the StudioCanal Blu-ray. First half of video on YouTube
  6. De Niro, Robert (actor) (June 12, 2003). AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Robert De Niro. [Television Production] American Film Institute.
  7. Kachmar 2002, p. 73
  8. Deeley, p. 170
  9. Parker, p. 128
  10. 10.0 10.1 Parker, p. 129
  11. "Richard Shepard Talks John Cazale Doc, Plus The Trailer For 'I Knew It Was You'". The Playlist. June 1, 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "The Deer Hunter (1978)" – via
  13. "LEMKO HALL". Encyclopedia of Cleveland History - Case Western Reserve University. 11 May 2018.
  14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2012-06-18.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. "Filming of The Deer Hunter". Archived from the original on 2012-11-29. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
  16. "Film locations for the Deer Hunter (1978)". Archived from the original on 2013-11-10. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
  17. Biskind, Peter (March 2008). "The Vietnam Oscars". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "The Deer Hunter (1978) - Release dates". IMDb. Retrieved 2010-07-25.
  19. Bach, p. 166
  20. 20.0 20.1 Deeley, p. 196
  21. Ebert, Roger & Siskel, Gene (hosts); Flaum, Thea & Solley, Ray (producers); Denny, Patterson (director). (1979). Sneak Previews: Oscar Preview for 1978. [Television Production]. Chicago, IL: WTTW.
  22. Deeley, p. 197
  23. Canby, Vincent (December 15, 1978). "Movie Review: The Deer Hunter (1978)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-20.

Notes[change | change source]

  1. The 2006 DVD release of The Deer Hunter clocks in at 3 hours, 3 minutes and 22 seconds.

Other websites[change | change source]