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Clay Pigeons is a 1998 crime-comedy film written by Matt Healy and directed by David Dobkin. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Vince Vaughn, and Janeane Garofalo.

Clay Pigeons
Clay Pigeons.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDavid Dobkin
Produced byRidley Scott
Tony Scott
Chris Zarpas
Written byMatt Healy
Music byJohn Lurie
CinematographyEric Alan Edwards
Edited byStan Salfas
Distributed byGramercy Pictures
Release date
  • September 25, 1998 (1998-09-25) (United States)
  • July 22, 1999 (1999-07-22) (Germany)
Running time
104 minutes [1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$8 million[2]
Box office$1.8 million[3]



Clay Bidwell is a young man in a small town who witnesses his friend, Earl, kill himself because of the ongoing affair that Clay was having with the man's wife, Amanda. Feeling guilty, Clay now resists the widow when she presses him to continue with their affair as if nothing has happened.

Clay's problems worsen when he inadvertently befriends a serial killer named Lester Long, who murders the nagging widow in an attempt to "help" his "fishing buddy". Clay is horrified, but does not go to the police for fear of his role in Earl's suicide coming to light. FBI agent Dale Shelby and her partner Reynard come to town and zero in on Clay as their prime suspect.



Clay Pigeons was developed under filmmakers Ridley and Tony Scott's company, Scott Free Productions.

Vaughn has described his character, Lester, as "a guy who isn’t necessarily from the West — that’s just an image he’s created of himself. Whatever his reality is — being badly hurt by women or whatever — he’s made it over, taking bits and pieces of things he’s seen in movies. He sees his life as a strange Western movie, with himself as the hero. He thinks he’s a sane person in an insane world."[4]

Dobkin said of the characters, "I wanted everyone to be different than what they appear to be — the FBI agent who smokes pot, the small town sheriff who seems slow but is the one who figures [the murders] out in the end."[5]


The film received mixed to positive reviews, holding a 62% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes,[6] and a 49/100 score on Metacritic, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[7]


  1. ^ "CLAY PIGEONS (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2003-01-28. Retrieved 2012-01-07.
  2. ^ "Clay Pigeons (1998) - Box office / business". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2012-01-07.
  3. ^ Clay Pigeons at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ Flatley, Guy (n.d.). "Vince Vaughn — The Man Who Wanted to Be Norman Bates". Archived from the original on 22 August 2004.
  5. ^ "Clay Pigeons Special". 1998. Archived from the original on 2 July 2003 – via
  6. ^ Clay Pigeons at Rotten Tomatoes
  7. ^ Clay Pigeons at Metacritic

External linksEdit