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Beat Details


William S. Burroughs' ill-fated performance of his "William Tell act" -- resulting in his wife Joan Vollmer getting a bullet in the brain with a shot glass atop her head -- soon became the stuff of Beat legend. This film, directed by Gary Walkow, traces this doomed romance from its inception to its bloody end. The movie opens in 1944 New York, where Columbia journalism student Vollmer is already living a bohemian life filled with pharmaceuticals and a host of future beatniks, including hunky Jack Kerouac (Daniel Martinez), a young Allen Ginsberg (Ron Livingston), and of course, Burroughs (Kiefer Sutherland). Also frequenting Vollmer's pad is Lucien Carr (Norman Reedus) whom everyone is enamored with, especially Dave Kammerer (Kyle Secor), who winds up dead after trying to jump the object of his affection. Seven years later, Joan and William have married in spite of Burroughs' obvious homosexual predilections. Their domestic bliss is strained when the two have to flee to Mexico City after they get slapped with a drug rap. Ginsberg and Carr, now correspondents for the UPI, visit the couple only to discover that Burroughs split town with his lover-for-hire. Vollmer and the boys decide to go on a road trip that is brimming with heterosexual tension. William eventually returns from his sex-binge suspecting that Joan had a fling with Carr. During that fateful night, Burroughs pulls out a gun that he was going to sell for drug money and performs one of the most spectacularly botched party-tricks in literary history. This film was screened at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi


Courtney Love
as Joan Vollmer
Norman Reedus
as Lucien Carr
Ron Livingston
as Allen Ginsberg
Kiefer Sutherland
as William S. Burroughs
Kyle Secor
as Dave Kammerer
Sam Trammell
as Lee
Lisa Sheridan
as Sadie


Gary Walkow
Donald Zuckerman
Alain Silver
Andrew D.T. Pfeffer
Gary Walkow
Ernest Troost
Composer (Music Score)
Peter B. Ellis
Rando Schmook
Production Designer
Heidi Levitt
Michael Beugg
Executive Producer
Danny Dimbort
Executive Producer
Avi Lerner
Executive Producer
Trevor Short
Executive Producer
Monika Mikkelsen
Heidi Levitt