6.1/10
27,088
88 user 34 critic

Tequila Sunrise (1988)

A former L.A. drug dealer tries to go straight but his past and his underworld connections bring him into the focus of the DEA, the Mexican feds and the Mexican drug cartels.

Director:

Robert Towne

Writer:

Robert Towne
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mel Gibson ... McKussic
Michelle Pfeiffer ... Jo Ann
Kurt Russell ... Frescia
Raul Julia ... Carlos / Escalante
J.T. Walsh ... Maguire
Arliss Howard ... Lindroff
Arye Gross ... Andy Leonard
Gabriel Damon ... Cody McKussic
Daniel Zacapa ... Arturo (as Garret Pearson)
Eric Thiele Eric Thiele ... Vittorio
Tom Nolan Tom Nolan ... Leland
Dawn Martel Dawn Martel ... Sin Sister
Lala Sloatman ... Sin Sister #2 (as Lala)
Budd Boetticher ... Judge Nizetitch
Ann Magnuson ... Shaleen
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Storyline

Mac Mckussic is an unlikely drug dealer who wants to go straight. His old and best friend Nick Frescia is now a cop who is assigned to investigate and bring him to justice. Mac is very attracted to Jo Ann, the owner of a stylish restaurant. Nick gets close to Jo Ann attempting to know more about Mac's drug dealing plans and his connections with the Mexican dealer Carlos, who the police believe is coming to town to meet with him. Nick also falls for Jo Ann's charms and his friendship with Mac is in danger. Written by Sami Al-Taher <staher2000@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Un cocktail explosif [French] See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

2 December 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Traición al amanecer See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$23,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,350,974, 4 December 1988

Gross USA:

$41,292,551

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$41,292,551
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

According to Thom Mount, Alec Baldwin was the original choice to play Nick Frescia, and had actually come back twice to audition for the role, but Robert Towne and Mount decided to go in another direction. See more »

Goofs

When Mel Gibson and Arliss Howard are talking about Kurt Russell's character, Arliss Howard says "You guys meet at Orville and Wilbur's once a year. You're wearing a gold Rolex and he's wearing a Timex. If he wasn't a cop, he'd have to hate you." Throughout the movie, Kurt Russell is clearly wearing a Rolex. See more »

Quotes

Carlos: With you, Mac, I trust with my life, but you keep me waiting all goddamn night without showing the slightest sign of worrying about me.
McKussic: Hey, I'm sorry, man.
Carlos: Forget it, you had your hands full. I could see that. What's more, you fuck like a world champion. Four fucking hours! Those cops out there are terrified their wives are going to hear about this. I got starved just watching!
[tastes Jo Ann's food]
Carlos: She can cook too, this girl. Believe me, if she'd be willing to take out the garbage, marry her...
See more »

Crazy Credits

As the end credits roll, the color of the text changes from dark orange (at the bottom of the screen) to yellow (at the top), mirroring the colors of a Tequila Sunrise cocktail. See more »

Connections

Referenced in What's Up Doc?: Episode #2.7 (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Do You Believe In Shame?
Performed by Duran Duran
Written by John Taylor, Simon Le Bon & Nick Rhodes
See more »

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User Reviews

 
vastly underrated noir
1 June 1999 | by kpd1See all my reviews

Robert Towne, best known as the writer of Chinatown, directed this backstabbing corkscrew of a film from his own script after several notable directors didn't meet interpretation. A dark brooding piece, that is as meditative and murky as it is tightly written for suspense and twists, Tequila Sunrise focuses on the expectations that conventional mores place upon our freedom to interct and even love whomever our heart bids us.

Gibson plays a drug dealer with, if not a conscience, at least a code of some sort of ethics. He is raising a son and wants to retire from illegal activities so that he may be a good role model.

Russel plays a narcotics cop bucking for a promotion. In order to get his promotion he needs to bust the area's most notorious dealer... guess who. Problem: he and Gibson and childhood mates.

Pfeiffer is a woman caught between them, each one wanting her for different reasons. Raul Julia and J.T. Walsh complete the central players in a fine ensemble on people with agendas that may be worth sacrificing the alliances they have made along the way.

As the various subplots tie themselves into impossible-to-unravel knots, every character will be forced to question what it is he or she holds sacred. Tough and even regretted decisions are made. Friendships are made and dissolved, hearts are broken, revenges plotted...

Gibson is at his best here, Pfeiffer brings great depth to what could easily have been little more than a trophy role. Walsh and Julia are so poker-faced that an audience member who succeeds in reading all the angles should account himself no more than a lucky guesser as they leave you very few clues to work with.

Ironically, despite the desires of Gibson and Towne, the ending had to be altered to please test audiences. Later critics would harp severely on the final shot, the reviews keeping away significant audience. While the ending may be unsatisfying to the typically cynical noir fan, it does not change the fact that this a far-above-average genre flick with an excellent cast and a superb script.

Worth a watch, worth several.


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