Deadly Hero

Deadly Hero is a 1975 American neo noir thriller film starring Don Murray, Diahn Williams, James Earl Jones, Lilia Skala, Treat Williams, and directed by Ivan Nagy from a screenplay by George Wislocki and Don Petersen. Released in limited locales in 1975 with an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America, the film was distributed by AVCO Embassy Pictures and is Treat Williams' film debut. Deadly Hero opened to mixed, mostly negative reviews by critics and was seen as a commercial failure.

Deadly Hero
Deadly Hero movie poster.png
Original 1975 movie poster
Directed byIvan Nagy
Produced byThomas J. McGrath
Written byGeorge Wislocki
Don Petersen[1]
StarringDon Murray
Diahn Williams
James Earl Jones
Lilia Skala
Conchata Ferrell
Music byBrad Fiedel
Tommy Mandel
CinematographyAndrzej Bartkowiak
Edited bySusan Steinberg
City Time Partners
Distributed byAVCO Embassy Pictures
Release date
  • December 14, 1975 (1975-12-14)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited States


Officer Lacy is an 18-year veteran of the New York City Police Department who finds himself demoted from detective back to patrol duty for his violent tendencies and trigger-happy behavior.[2][3] Responding to a call on Manhattan's West Side, he finds a young musician named Sally has been abducted by a mugger named Rabbit.[4][5] Rabbit has Sally at knifepoint in a hostage standoff but is persuaded to release her and surrender by Officer Lacy, who kills the unarmed Rabbit anyway. A grateful Sally is convinced by Lacy to lie to detectives to make Lacy seem like a hero. She later changes her mind and tells the truth about the shooting. This drives Lacy to try to silence Sally with escalating threats and violence before his career is ruined and he is tried for Rabbit's murder.[6]


The cast also includes performances by Josh Mostel as "Victor", Rutanya Alda as "Apple Mary", Charles Siebert as "Baker", plus Beverly Johnson, Chu Chu Malave, Danny DeVito, and an uncredited Deborah Harry, lead singer from the city's punk/new wave-ers Blondie as a singer.[7] Deadly Hero is Treat Williams' first motion picture appearance.[7][8]

Production infoEdit

Deadly Hero was directed by Ivan Nagy from a screenplay by George Wislocki and Don Petersen.[1][2] The film was produced by Thomas J. McGrath and distributed by AVCO Embassy Pictures. The film's cinematographer was Andrzej Bartkowiak, with editing by Susan Steinberg, music by Brad Fiedel and Tommy Mandel, and art direction by Alan Herman. Deadly Hero was filmed entirely on location in New York City.[4] The 102-minute film was released as R-rated (Restricted) from the Motion Picture Association of America.[5]


Critical reactionEdit

Gene Siskel wrote in the Chicago Tribune that the film is "a small triumph" but qualifying that praise by noting, "Of course, expecting nothing helps."[9] A reviewer for the Cineman Syndicate felt that "moments of suspense" helped elevate the "thin script and moody photography".[3] A.H. Weiler of The New York Times described Deadly Hero as a "fairly derivative Manhattan melodrama" with the supporting cast "wasted in brief, broad portrayals".[2] Los Angeles Times reviewer Linda Gross called the film "gritty" and "intriguing" but ultimately found it "predictable and pessimistic".[10] Modern critics have been kinder with VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever describing it as both "gripping" and "chilling" while rating the film three (out of a possible four) bones.[8]

Popular reactionEdit

A commercial failure, George Anderson wrote in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the violent film "suffered sudden death at the box office."[11]

Home mediaEdit

Deadly Hero was released on VHS in the 1980s by Magnetic Video and in 1986 by Embassy Home Entertainment. The film was released on DVD on August 7, 2007, by Trinity Home Entertainment. On December 22, 2015, it was released on Blu-ray by Code Red Entertainment through Screen Archives Entertainment Exclusive.


  1. ^ a b Guslow, Mel (May 3, 1988). "Don Petersen, 70, Playwright and Screenwriter". The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Weiler, A.H. (October 16, 1976). "Screen: 'Deadly Hero,' a Manhattan Melodrama". The New York Times. p. 13. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Mini Movie Reviews: Deadly Hero". Bangor Daily News. Cineman Syndicate. November 5, 1976. p. ME2. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  4. ^ a b Variety Staff (May 1976). "Film Reviews: Deadly Hero". Daily Variety. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Deadly Hero (1976)". TCM Movie Database. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  6. ^ "Television: Saturday Evening". Lakeland Ledger. November 19, 1977. p. 5B. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Maltin, Leonard (September 1992). Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide 1993. New York, NY: Signet Books. p. 285. ISBN 0-451-17381-3.
  8. ^ a b "Bad Charleston Charlie". VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever 1996. Detroit, MI: Visible Ink Press. 1996. p. 327. ISBN 0-7876-0626-X.
  9. ^ Siskel, Gene (May 5, 1976). "Six films with no Oscar hopes--or much of anything else". Chicago Tribune. p. C4. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  10. ^ Gross, Linda (December 8, 1977). "A Cop Cracks Up in 'Deadly Hero'". Los Angeles Times. p. H46. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  11. ^ Anderson, George (January 11, 1977). "Some Coming Attractions That Never Came". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 6. Retrieved December 3, 2010.

External linksEdit