The Big Town (1987) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Big Town1987

The Big Town (1987)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Big Town Photos

Movie Info

The Big Town is Chicago, circa 1957. Matt Dillon stars as a small-town crapshooter who heads to the Windy City to seek his fortune. There he becomes the pawn of two high-rolling professional gamblers, played by Lee Grant and Bruce Dern. He later gets mixed up in a revenge scheme cooked up by Diane Lane, the embittered wife of strip-joint owner Tommy Lee Jones. Before he knows what's happened, Dillon is embroiled in two torrid romances, one with Lane and the other with "nice" girl Suzy Amis; he also nearly loses his life by ending up in the middle of a deadly feud between Dern and Jones. Based on The Arm, a novel by Clark Howard, Big Town tends towards uneveness, a result perhaps of the defection of its first director, Harold Becker.


Matt Dillon
as J.C. Cullen
Tommy Lee Jones
as George Cole
Bruce Dern
as Mr. Edwards
Tom Skerritt
as Phil Carpenter
Diane Lane
as Lorry Dane
Lee Grant
as Ferguson Edwards
Suzy Amis
as Aggie Donaldson
David Marshall Grant
as Sonny Binkley
Don Francks
as Carl Hooker
Del Close
as Deacon Daniels
Meg Hogarth
as Dorothy Cullen
Cherry Jones
as Ginger McDonald
David Elliott
as Cool Guy
Steve Yorke
as Garage Boy
Chris Owens
as Garage Boy
Sean McCann
as Roy McMullin
Kevin Fox
as Boss's Son
Marc Strange
as Madigan
Don Lake
as Patsy Fuqua
Chris Benson
as Shooter
Sarah Polley
as Christy Donaldson
Viki Matthews
as Gem Club Dancer
Cherie McGroarty
as Gem Club Dancer
Ken McGregor
as Bartender
Sandy Czapiewski
as Gem Club Dancer
Marie Siebert
as Gem Club Dancer
Julie Conte
as Gem Club Dancer
Alar Aedma
as Doorman
Sam Malkin
as Bernstein
Robert Morelli
as Sideburns
Lolita Davidovich
as Black Lace Stripper
Bill Colgate
as Gem Club Gambler
William Forrest MacDonald
as Gem Club Gambler
Len Doncheff
as Gem Club Gambler
Michael Caruana
as Gem Club Gambler
Richard Comar
as Gem Club Gambler
Lubomir Mykytiuk
as Gem Club Gambler
Robert Collins
as Gem Club Gambler
Errol Slue
as Friendly Guy
Gerry Pearson
as Baptist Preacher
John Evans
as Marvin Brown
Diane Gordon
as Mrs. Rogers
View All

Critic Reviews for The Big Town

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (1)

This story has been told a hundred times, and yet when it is told well it is always fun to watch it being told again.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

A disheartening formulaic story of a crap-shooter trying to stay ahead of the game.

March 20, 2015 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Offers little in the way of dramatic action and sputters even worse in its character developments.

August 25, 2004 | Rating: 1/5

Audience Reviews for The Big Town

"the big town" appears like a hommage to paul newman's 1961 "the hustler", an archetyped prodigal son tale people always enjoy to hear: a smug small-town boy with one special talent who hit big to the metropolitan city in his pursuit of fame and wealth, the essence of american dream, then he would bump into a lovely dame of maternal heart as well as the femme fatale who devours him alive with extreme sensuality. inevitably, he would sink into either booze or sex, or, both of them altogether. disillusioned, so he hits the road again to his home town with a broken heart. either he retracks to where he started or devastated by his presistant pursuit of dream. corny, right? but you just cannot quit it! whether it's the big-cocked dirk diggler in "boogie night", or billard master paul newman in "the hustler"...what counts is how the story is presented. "the big town" is predicable in every scenario but it's rendered so elaborately that you accept it with adoration anyway, especially when the fresh-faced matt dillion, who was one of the promising supernovella who's got sex appeal, charisma and most of all, genius of his fluent naturalistic actings which resurrect the remants of james dean, marlon brando and paul newman in their days of rebellious outrage, and dillion had the edge to pull them off in pratically any material about troubled youth, such as his "rumble fish"...he simply looks so damned attractive with a cigarette burning in his mouth, throwing a dice recklessly as if he's gonna win, he's got "the cool" to swoon you. it's a pleasant peep at the young, even more voluptuous diane lane as the femme fatale, and the sex scenes are surely a nice treat with elvis' "fever" in the background every time they mate. bruce dern as the obnoxious blind gambler boss and tommy lee jones as the tough-assed criminal, they're the villians alongside our prodigal charm-boy. every actor just fits into his/her part so seamlessly that makes this predictable story worth seeing. it's a compelling reminiscence of the hipster 50s with the best soundtrack of those songs which once hit the top notch of national sales. the process of viewing it is just one word to describe: smooth. paul newman's hustler has received the ruminations of his tragic flaw: excessive ego as his fingers are smashed and his sweetheart commits suicide for humiliation that leads him into finding his true self, "hustler" is more of a think-piece to tell you the doctrine that everything you gain easy has a price to pay. but dillion's dice-thrower just slides across the path of easy dough in the poise without harsh retribution as you wish for him. so "the big town" is more of a crowd-pleasing feel-piece without grits in a well-groomed nostalgic aura so all you've got to do is to flow along with protagonist like a 109 mins of hashish fantasy.

Veronique Kwak
Veronique Kwak

Super Reviewer

Have to give this one 4 Stars, I just can't believe I have never seen it till today. Matt Dillon plays an excellent part, and I will now read the book The Arm, which this film was made from. Reason I watched this is because of Suzy Amis, I am trying to see all films she played in, and she did a good job in this one playing the good girl role. Matt is a dice roller, making his living that way in Chicago, he meets Suzy and Diane Lane, and is trying to choose between the two, of course del is the bad girl, but I would have picked her anyway. Tommy Lee Jones was in this one and he play an excellent part. If you have passed this one up thinking its a junk film you couldn't be more wrong I was. You can find it in the $5.00 Bin at Wally World and the $3.00 Bin at Big Lots, Pick it up and be surprised. I was.

Bruce Bruce
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

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