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Henry Chinaski never cared for the American dream, the thought of needing to become 'something' and fit into the system disgusts him…

Release Year: 1987

Rating: 7.1/10 (8,078 voted)

Barbet Schroeder

Stars: Mickey Rourke, Faye Dunaway, Alice Krige

Henry Chinaski never cared for the American dream, the thought of needing to become 'something' and fit into the system disgusts him. He believes that life is free and yours to live like you see fit, and if that in some cases involves copious amounts of whiskey then so be it. Henry spends his days drinking and listening to the radio, and he spends his nights drinking and fighting against Eddy who he thinks personifies shallowness and shameless self promoting. Sometimes in the middle of this he finds the time to jot down a few lines of poetry or a short story. After fighting Eddy and winning for a change Henry is thrown out of his regular bar where Eddy is a bartender. This leads him to seek another watering hole where he happens to find Wanda who is a barfly, in her own words "if another man came along with a fifth of whiskey, I'd go with him". Henry is not fazed by this thou and moves in with her…


Mickey Rourke

Henry Chinaski

Faye Dunaway

Wanda Wilcox

Alice Krige

Tully Sorenson

Jack Nance


J.C. Quinn


Frank Stallone


Sandy Martin


Roberta Bassin


Gloria LeRoy

Grandma Moses

Joe Unger


Harry Cohn


Pruitt Taylor Vince


Joe Rice

Old Man in Bar

Julie 'Sunny' Pearson

Hooker in Bar

Donald L. Norden

Man in Alley

Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.

Release Date: 16 October 1987

Filming Locations: Bryson Hotel – 2701 Wilshire Boulevard, Downtown, Los Angeles, California, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $3,000,000


Opening Weekend: $45,900
(18 October 1987)
(2 Screens)

Gross: $3,221,568

Technical Specs



Did You Know?


This film was almost never made because the financially-strapped Cannon films was on the verge of bankruptcy at the time (it went out of business a little more than a year later). Producer Fred Fuchs brought his friend and producing partner Francis Ford Coppola's into the project and got the film made.


Henry calls an ambulance and gives address of apartment building as 334, while in scene earlier that day building is clearly marked 360.


It's hatred. It's the only thing that lasts.

User Review

One of Mickey Rourke's best performances in a darkly funny film

Rating: 9/10

"Barfly" was a fairly successful film when it was released and garnered
generally favorable reviews. Roger Ebert gave it four out of four, and
along with "Angel Heart," it helped solidify 1987 as the Year of Mickey

However, almost twenty years later it isn't talked so much about
anymore, and I feel it deserves to be. Rourke gives one of his finest
performances as Henry, a loner who walks hunched over like the
Hunchback of Notre Dame. Henry works at a bar as a runner – delivering
orders and such. But he's always getting into drunken brawls with the
bartender, usually losing.

One day Henry's life takes a turn when he meets a downtrodden woman
(Faye Dunaway) and they embark on a relationship.

"Barfly" is a great film. Rourke was vocal later on in his career about
his dislike of director Barbet Schroeder, but Schroeder's direction is
part of what makes this film so good.

However, the absolute best aspect of the movie is Rourke's performance.
Embodying the late writer Charles Bukowski (whose work this was based
upon, and who had a brief cameo in the film), Rourke is unrecognizable
– like Billy Bob Thornton in "Sling Blade," his entire demeanor and
physicality seems to change.

I highly recommend "Barfly" – it's funny, dark, witty, touching and
downright enjoyable. One of the best films of the '80s.