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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)
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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:

What was it about Reverend Jim Jones that made men and women alike surrender to him, both spiritually and physically? How could he blind them to his adulteries and addictions? How could he create "miracles" to steal their pride and possessions? And why would 913 people put their lives in his hands, despite everything? 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

The cast includes one Oscar winner, Irene Cara, and seven Oscar nominees: Ned Beatty, Diane Ladd, James Earl Jones, Randy Quaid, Brad Dourif, Brenda Vaccaro, and Diana Scarwid. See more »

Goofs

The guards' AK assault rifles have blank firing adapters attached to the muzzles. 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 »


Soundtracks

Welcome
Performed by the People's Temple Choir
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User Reviews

Powers Boothe's Tour de Force
27 July 2002 | by AjtlawyerSee all my reviews

Certainly this is the best work Powers Boothe has done and he deservedly got an Emmy for it. As an aside, I can recall the awards night because there was a Screen Actors Guild strike or something and nearly all of the nominees failed to attend the ceremonies. But when Boothe's name was called out as a winner, he defiantly strode up to the podium to get his trophy.

People may want to read the book "Raven" which is a biography about Rev. Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple; this TV movie can only scratch the surface of the demonic goings-on in the Temple without demanding more censorship than a TV show could allow, at least back then.

Boothe is hypnotic as Jim Jones and you get the sense that he wasn't always whacked out and loony. A particularly good scene is when Jones stands in front of an abandoned synagogue in the black-ghetto part of town. The only white man there, he's soon surrounded by obviously skeptical blacks. "Will you pray with me?" Jones asks, and the bystanders do as Jones gives a heartfelt prayer that God will lift their burdens. The bystanders are impressed and in a short time the Peoples Temple is prospering.

Boothe perfectly recreates the candence and timbre of Jones' preaching and phony faith-healing and his lustful disposition towards the women of his congregation. Jones's sexual exploits don't end there and he later has an affair with drug-addicted Brad Dourif, as well (in fact, Jones had sex with plenty of his male followers). The end of the movie where the cult members all commit suicide is very frightening. All the more so because nearly all of the dialogue is exactly what was spoken---Jones had been tape recording his harangues and the tape ended probably not long before he was killed himself. By the way, Jones never took the cynanide-laced kool-aid, he was shot which led many to believe that Jones had no intention of going off into the hereafter but was planning his escape when one of henchmen decided to have Jones join his "flock".


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