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Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones (1980)

The real-life story of the Peoples Temple cult led by Reverend Jim Jones and the events involving its move to Guyana and its eventual mass suicide.

Director:

William A. Graham

Writers:

Ernest Tidyman (teleplay), Charles A. Krause (book)
Reviews
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Powers Boothe ... Rev. Jim Jones
Ned Beatty ... Rep. Leo Ryan
Irene Cara ... Alice Jefferson
Veronica Cartwright ... Marceline 'Marcy' Jones
Rosalind Cash ... Jenny Hammond
Brad Dourif ... David Langtree
Meg Foster ... Jean Richie
Michael C. Gwynne ... Larry King
Albert Hall ... Otis Jefferson
Linda Haynes ... Karen Bundy
Diane Ladd ... Lynette Jones
Ron O'Neal ... Col. Robles
Randy Quaid ... Clayton Ritchie
Diana Scarwid ... Sheila Langtree
Madge Sinclair ... Mrs. Jefferson
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Storyline

Based upon the real life story of Reverend Jim Jones, a self-proclaimed prophet who founded the Peoples Temple. In the 1960s, he began as an idealist helping minorities and working against racism. After a move to San Francisco and increased power and attention, Jim Jones became focused on his belief in nuclear holocaust. He had a loyal following of over 1000 people, who had donated their entire life savings to him and to join his commune, before moving them to Guyana. When possible illegal activities came to the attention of the authorities, and once notified that some individuals are being held against their will, they began to investigate. Rather than face the charges against him, Jim Jones committed suicide, and convinced virtually most of his followers to do the same. Written by Brian W Martz <B.Martz@Genie.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The shocking true story written in blood!! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 January 1982 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Guyana Tragedy: The Jim Jones Story See more »

Filming Locations:

Atlanta, Georgia, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Konigsberg Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (CFI)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Despite prominent billing James Earl Jones does not appear at all in part 2 and only appears in one short scene in part 1. See more »

Goofs

In the film, more than 10 people die during the Port Kaituma airstrip shooting. In real life, five people died. See more »

Quotes

Richard Jefferson: You can't take my wife from me!
Rev. Jim Jones: I know you Richard Jefferson. You are a homosexual. That's why your wife has left you. You're one of those dirty little faggots who hang out in the men's room at the bus station. Sit down homosexual.
See more »

Crazy Credits

"The film you are about to see is a dramatization of the life of Jim Jones. Born - May 13, 1931 Lynn, Indiana - Died - November 18, 1978, Jonestown, Guyana. This is his story." See more »

Connections

Referenced in House on Haunted Hill (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Welcome
Performed by the People's Temple Choir
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Compelling and tasteful
21 April 2003 | by CocomabSee all my reviews

I read a few reviews of this TV movie which all said that the film dragged on for too long and that it was basically only sensationalistic entertainment. I agree that perhaps, the film goes on a bit too long (2h30 would have been enough...) but I certainly do not think it sensationalize the subject matter. Jim Jones' expansive power trip and slow degradation into mental illness, paranoia and drug abuse are never treated in a voyeuristic manner. The movie takes its time in showing how Jones recruited followers (Brenda Vaccaro's and Brad Dourif's character are stand-outs in that matter) but also in observing an uncanny shift in Jones' perception of reality. It is mind-boggling to see an egalitarian, left-wing and compassionnate preacher become such a destructive and cruel dictator. Perhaps the movie doesn't explore Jones' motivations enough, which can make the whole ordeal a bit superficial at times (may have to do with censorship as well...) But Powers Boothe's mesmerizing performance makes it all come true. I am not familiar with the details of the real Jim Jones' life, but Boothe sure makes the monster he plays believable and real. The movie features many strong scenes, among them the preaching messes of Jones, Jones's meeting with Father Divine (a remarquable James Earl Jones), Congressman Leo Ryan (Ned Beatty)'s visit to the Guyana camp and of course, the suicide scene. It is quite a gloomy spectable to watch and Boothe is quite commanding in those last moments. Madge Sinclair shines in this scene as one of the suddenly sceptic follower, and so do Veronica Cartwright (as Jones' wife) and Brad Dourif, especially when their time comes to drink the murderous potion. The relative calm of the end of this scene, the tasteful direction and the contrasting beauty of the natural surroundings all work in making those images quite impossible to erase from one's mind. A disturbing reflection on human nature and its weaknesses. Worth watching, if only to keep in mind one of the truly horrific events of the 20th century. Not to let it be repeated again. Like, ironically, the inscription in Jim Jones' camp: "Those who do not know the past are bound to repeat it".


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