The Deer Hunter

EMI Released 1978


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Movie Summary

Michael Cimino (I)

The Deer Hunter is a drama about the effects of the Vietnam War on a group of friends from a small town in Pennsylvania. The film opens with the wedding of Steven and Angela. Steven and two friends, Michael and Nick are scheduled to ship off to Vietnam shortly after the wedding. When they arrive there, they are quickly captured by the North Vietnamese and forced to play a game of Russian roulette. They are eventually able to escape but become separated; each thinking the others are dead. When Michael gets back home to the States, he learns that Steven is alive but lost both of his legs during the escape back in Vietnam. He also learns that a mysterious benefactor has been sending money to Steven from southeast Asia. Michael goes there to determine who the benefactor may be, and is shocked when he discovers the truth. As The Deer Hunter shows us, even when a war is over it remains forever with those who participated in it.



Metacritic Score

  • 90

    The New York Times Vincent Canby

    A big, awkward, crazily ambitious, sometimes breathtaking motion picture that comes as close to being a popular epic as any movie about this country since "The Godfather."

  • 90


    Among the considerable achievements of Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter is the fact that the film remains intense, powerful and fascinating for more than three hours.

  • 90

    TV Guide Magazine

    Brutally memorable, The Deer Hunter is an emotionally draining production that draws a vivid portrait of its characters and their milieu--and succeeds in showing the devastating ef...

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (12)

    • Christopher Walken achieved the withdrawn, hollow look of his character by eating nothing but rice and bananas.

    • When Angela looks at herself in the mirror wearing her wedding gown, a mic hanging over her head is also reflected in the mirror.

    • In the bar before Nick, Steve and Michael are going off to Vietnam, Nick opens up a can of beer that he shook up, spraying its contents. In the next scene, Nick is opening the same can of beer a second time.

    • In the first hunting scene as they're changing their clothes, Michael and Stan are arguing about Mike's boots. Nicky is seen putting on a sweater and had both arms in when it cuts back to Mike who delivers his "This is this" lines. When it cuts back to Stan and Nicky, Nicky is once again putting the sweater on as if it was never on in the first place.

    • The level of Michael's beer while he is leaning against the post at the wedding reception goes up after he drinks.

    • When returning to the bar after the hunting trip, they are singing "Drop Kick Me Jesus (Through The Goalposts Of Life))" a Bobby Bare song released in 1976, long after the Vietnam War had ended.

    • In the original script, the roles of Mike and Nick were reversed in the last half of the film. Nick returns home to Linda, while Mike remains in Vietnam, sends money home to help Steven, and meets his tragic fate at the Russian roulette table.

    • First feature film depicting the U.S. involvement in Vietnam to be filmed on location in Thailand.

    • The deer hunting scene was actually shot in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. The mountain shown in the background is Mount Shuksan.

    • In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #53 Greatest Movie of All Time.

    • CBS paid $5 million for the exclusive network television broadcast rights for the film. The network (along with NBC and ABC) later backed out when the content was deemed inappropriate. The film made its television debut on election night, 1980, but not on any major network.

    • The church used in the wedding sequence was the Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral located in Cleveland, Ohio. One can clearly see the name plaque in one scene.

  • QUOTES (8)

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Classics, Military & War