The Pledge

January 19th, 2001


The Pledge

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Sam Shepard and Jack Nicholson starPatricia Clarkson, Michael O'Keefe and Jack NicholsonAndrew Stevens at event of The PledgeVanessa Redgrave and Jack Nicholson starJack Nicholson, Aaron Eckhart and Sam ShepardJack Nicholson stars as Detective Jerry Black

A retiring police chief pledges to catch the killer of a young child.

Release Year: 2001

Rating: 6.9/10 (27,044 voted)

Critic's Score: 71/100

Director: Sean Penn

Stars: Jack Nicholson, Benicio Del Toro, Patricia Clarkson

The night he retires as a Nevada sheriff, Jerry Black pledges to the mother of a murdered girl that he will find the killer. Jerry doesn't believe the police arrested the right man; he discovers this is the third incident in the area in the recent past with victims young, blond, pretty, and small for their age. So he buys an old gas station in the mountains near the crimes in order to search for a tall man who drives a black station wagon, gives toy porcupines as gifts, and calls himself the wizard: clues from a drawing by the dead girl. Jerry's solitary life gives way to friendship with a woman and her small, blond daughter. Has Jerry neglected something that may prove fatal?

Writers: Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Jerzy Kromolowski

Patricia Clarkson - Margaret Larsen
Beau Daniels - Rudy
Benicio Del Toro - Toby Jay Wadenah
Dale Dickey - Strom
Wendy Morrow Donaldson - Resort Owner
Adrien Dorval - Sheriff (as P. Adrien Dorval)
Aaron Eckhart - Stan Krolak
Shawn Henter - Bus Driver
Kathy Jensen - Store Clerk
Taryn Knowles - Ginny Larsen
Nels Lennarson - Hank
Costas Mandylor - Monash Deputy
J.J. McColl - Real Estate Agent
Gordon May - Criminologist #1
Gardiner Millar - Deputy #3 (as Gardinar Millar)

Taglines: Detective Jerry Black has made a promise he can't break, to catch a killer he can't find.


Official Website: Official site at |

Release Date: 19 January 2001

Filming Locations: Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada

Box Office Details

Budget: $45,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $5,765,347 (USA) (21 January 2001) (1275 Screens)

Gross: $29,419,291 (Worldwide) (2002)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | Argentina:

Did You Know?

This is an adaptation of a Friedrich Dürrenmatt novel that was based on a story he wrote for the 1958 German movie It Happened in Broad Daylight (which had a slightly different, not as dark ending). In that movie the murderer was played by Gert Fröbe who would six years later play Auric Goldfinger in the James Bond movie Goldfinger.

Revealing mistakes: When Jerry flips the light switches on when Lori comes to the station for the first time, the lights come on before he flips the switches.

[first lines]
Jerry Black: She said it. She said it. She did.

User Review


Rating: 7/10

Having seen "The Pledge" without knowing much about it, I got something other than what I bargained for. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

If you're looking for a good whodunit, avoid this movie. If you're looking for a fast-paced thriller, avoid this movie. But if you're into seeing an intense character study bolstered by impressive acting and clever directing (kudos, Sean Penn), you've come to the right place.

I read one IMDB review calling this film Nicholson's worst ever. This is not true -- that reviewer obviously never saw "Man Trouble" -- but I can see why some folks really don't like this movie. It doesn't deliver what you'd expect, and what it does deliver is neither conventional nor uplifting. In fact, it's pretty depressing. But if you ponder the story afterward, you realize there's a certain dark justice at work here. Like, blacklight dark.

So then, "The Pledge" is not a light and frothy piece, but if you're the type who thinks watching some poor b**tard's descent into madness is entertainment, have at it.


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