Winter Kills

Released 1979




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Movie Summary

William Richert

Jeff Bridges stars in this one-of-a-kind pitch-black satirical comedy-thriller about the murder of a Kennedy-like American President and the discovery (by his very naive half-brother) that he was in fact killed by a conspiracy. As various suspects and witnesses begin to die around him at an alarming rate, as evidence disappears and ever more bizarre theories come to light only to be - seemingly - disproved, young Nick Kegan learns, the hard way, that America is not the country he and millions of others have always complacently supposed it to be, and that getting to the truth will mean searching in the dirty laundry of his own family.

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • The film gave veteran production designer Robert Boyle his only screen acting role, as a desk clerk (a role which has been cut from certain TV prints of the film) and also casts Gladys Hill, John Huston's long-time personal assistant and frequent script collaborator, as the Huston character's secretary. The wordless cameo appearance of Elizabeth Taylor was uncredited. Some sources have suggested that the murdered President Kegan (glimpsed very briefly in a couple of flashbacks where his face is not seen) was played by Taylor's then husband, the well-known Republican politician John Warner, but this has not been confirmed.

    • Richard Condon claimed that pressure from the CIA and various political figures made the major Hollywood studios nervous of filming his sensational best-seller, even though he regarded it as the most cinematic of all his books. This film was eventually made independently of the majors, and with the utmost difficulty; it was finally shown in the US in 1979, more than two years after filming began, and then had only a patchy release.

  • QUOTES (4)

  • NOTES (0)


    • Rather obviously, the Kegan family in this film is meant to remind viewers of the Kennedys, the murdered President Tim Kegan being an unflattering portrait of JFK and Pa Kegan being an even less flattering version of Joseph P. Kennedy. (Nick Kegan, on the other hand, is clearly not based on any actual person, but is an Everyman figure with whom viewers can identify). The name makes it clear that Joe Diamond" is rather similar to Jack Ruby, whilst Z.K. Dawson could represent a great many right-wing billionaires; H.L. Hunt has been suggested as a model for the character, but there are many possibilities. The various conspiracy theories suggested in the film all bear a close resemblance to real-life ones, whilst the "Pickering Commission" is meant to remind people of the Warren Commission.