Mississippi, 1964. After driving through the night from the north, three young civil rights activists – two white and one black – disappear without a trace. Young FBI agent Alan Ward and his partner, Mississippian Rupert Anderson, are sent to investigate. But their inquiries are met with resistance at every turn, by racist locals, intimidated African-Americans, and first and foremost, the local sheriff and the mayor, who at a bare minimum sympathise with the Ku Klux Klan, possibly worse. When the FBI agents find the missing activists’ burnt-out car, they assume murder … Willem Dafoe plays the younger fed as a hothead who fearlessly, but somewhat naively, trusts that good will prevail with the proper application of ideals and the penal code, leading his enemies to mock him as a ‘liberal pussy’. And yet it is largely his actions that keep the plot of the political thriller moving, until he turns over the reins to the initially cautious, then increasingly resolute Anderson. Dafoe’s performance is more than a match for that of Gene Hackman, who won a Silver Bear at the 1989 Berlinale.
by Alan Parker
with Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, Brad Dourif, R. Lee Ermey, Gailard Sartain, Stephen Tobolowsky, Michael Rooker, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Badja Djola, Kevin Dunn
USA 1988 English 120’ Colour Rating R12


  • Gene Hackman
  • Willem Dafoe
  • Frances McDormand
  • Brad Dourif
  • R. Lee Ermey
  • Gailard Sartain
  • Stephen Tobolowsky
  • Michael Rooker
  • Pruitt Taylor Vince
  • Badja Djola
  • Kevin Dunn


Director Alan Parker
Screenplay Chris Gerolmo
Cinematography Peter Biziou
Editing Gerry Hambling
Music Trevor Jones
Sound Danny Michael
Production Design Philip Harrison, Geoffrey Kirkland
Art Director John Willett
Costumes Aude Bronson-Howard
Make-Up David Craig Forrest
Producers Frederick Zollo, Robert F. Colesberry

Produced by

Orion Pictures Corp.