Where the Buffalo Roam

April 25th, 1980


Where the Buffalo Roam

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Semi-biographical film based on the experiences of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

Release Year: 1980

Rating: 6.4/10 (5,494 voted)

Director: Art Linson

Stars: Peter Boyle, Bill Murray, Bruno Kirby

The deranged adventures of Gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson and his attorney Oscar Acosta, referred to in the movie as "Laslow". Thompson attempts to cover the Super Bowl and the 1972 Presidential election in his typical drug-crazed state, but it continually and comically sidetracked by his even more twisted friend Laslow. Allegedly based on actual events.

Writers: Hunter S. Thompson, John Kaye

Peter Boyle - Lazlo
Bill Murray - Hunter S. Thompson
Bruno Kirby - Marty Lewis
Rene Auberjonois - Harris (as René Auberjonois)
R.G. Armstrong - Judge Simpson
Danny Goldman - Porter
Rafael Campos - Rojas
Leonard Frey - Desk Clerk
Leonard Gaines - Super Fan
Otis Day - Man #1 (as De Wayne Jessie)
Mark Metcalf - Dooley
Jon Matthews - Billy Kramer
Joseph Ragno - Willins
Quinn K. Redeker - Pilot (as Quinn Redeker)
Lisa Taylor - Ruthie

Taglines: Based on the twisted legend of Hunter S. Thompson

Release Date: 25 April 1980

Opening Weekend: $1,750,593 (USA) (27 April 1980) (464 Screens)

Gross: $6,659,377 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Ralph Steadman, who did illustrations for Thompson's books, drew the title cards for this movie.

Continuity: In the bathroom scene when Murray is washing his shoes out in the sink, then hits them repeatedly against the urinal to get the excess water out, he is wearing glasses but his reflection in the mirror behind the urinals isn't.

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson: You couldn't invent someone like Carl Lazlo. He was a... he was one of a kind. He was a mutant. A real heavyweight water buffalo type... who could chew his way through a concrete wall and spit out the other side covered with lime and chalk and look good in doing it.

User Review

Not true Thompson, but a fun film.

Rating: 7/10

Whether you like this film or not will depend heavily on how big of a Hunter S. Thompson fan you are.

On the plus side, this film is wickedly funny. Bill Murray (an actor who has been both great and terrible in his career) does a phenomenal job as the acid-drenched reporter, bringing chaos into the lives of the rigid and pretentious. The plot is peppered with "respectable" places being dragged into mayhem, and "respectable" folks trying (unsuccessfully) to cope behind plastic smiles.

It even ventures into some higher themes, such as innocent kids being jailed by a heartless criminal system, and Thompson's own struggles between being a practical reporter and a fun-loving idealist (notice how Lazlo repeatedly re-surfaces just when Thompson starts to take on "real" jobs).

It's biggest fault, however, was that it failed to achieve any of the higher accomplishments of HST's writings. What makes Thompson such a powerful writer (to me, anyway) is the way he'll often turn on a dime and deliver stunningly sober dialogs on the human animal and where he's gone wrong. Nestled in the midst of the wine, women, and song are soliloquies that drive home a more positive message, and none of those made it into this film (in fact, no significant chunks of actual text from HST's books appeared at all). It's like they shaved off the surface 50% of Thompson's work and discarded the rest.

Compare this to Fear and Loathing, which was darker and more counter-cultural, and contained whole narrations excerpted from the novel. The latter perhaps has less appeal to the average viewer, but I'd think more to a Thompson fan.

All-in-all, this film is a light-hearted romp into anarchy, and worth watching. But if you've never actually READ Thompson, do so, as this movie doesn't accurately represent him.


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