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The Milagro Beanfield War Details


It's advisable to know from the beginning of The Milagro Beanfield War that "milagro" is the Spanish word for "miracle." The scene is a rundown Hispanic community in New Mexico, bordering a posh housing development. In full control of the local water rights, the powers-that-be are secure in the belief that they'll be able to expand their development without resistance from the locals. No one can foresee that impoverished farmer Joe Mondragon (Chick Vennera), during a burst of frustrated rage, will accidentally open a heretofore hidden sluice, thereby providing free water for his bean field. At first, the locals are against Mondragon's "insurrection," reasoning that the new housing development will provide jobs. But with the help of Charlie Bloom (John Heard), a burned-out '60s activist who now runs the community newspaper, Mondragon becomes the hero of the hour, the spiritual leader of an ever-growing "no development" movement. The evil land developers send their minions to intimidate or coerce Mondragon; each time, however, he is seemingly protected from harm by divine intervention. When Mondragon is forced to shoot a trespasser on his land, it looks as though his luck has run out. Chased into the hills by private detective Kyril Montana (Christopher Walken), Mondragon is once more rescued in the nick of time by what appears to be a miracle. And there are more wonders to behold before fade-out time!Whimsical, yes, but thanks to its hand-picked ensemble cast (including Sonia Braga, Rubén Blades, James Gammon, Daniel Stern, Freddy Fender, M. Emmet Walsh, and Melanie Griffith) the film remains totally credible throughout. Adapted by John Nichols and David Ward from Nichols' own novel, The Milagro Beanfield War may be the most likeable "liberal-tract" film of the 1980s. Robert Redford's appropriately Capraesque direction is matched by Dave Grusin's vibrant Oscar-winning musical score. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:March 18, 1988


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Dave Grusin Best Score 1988 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Dave Grusin Best Original Score 1988 Nominee


Rubén Blades
as Sheriff Bernabe Montoya
Richard Bradford
as Ladd Devine
Sonia Braga
as Ruby Archuleta
Julie Carmen
as Nancy Mondragon
James Gammon
as Horse Thief Shorty
John Heard
as Charlie Bloom
Melanie Griffith
as Flossie Devine
Carlos Riquelme
as Amarante Cordova
Daniel Stern
as Herbie Platt
Chick Vennera
as Joe Mondragon
Christopher Walken
as Kyril Montana
M. Emmet Walsh
as The Governor
Tony Genaro
as Nick Rael
Jerry Hardin
as Emerson Capps
Mike Gomez
as Milagro Townsperson
Rudy Fernandez
as Milagro Townsperson
Lynda Witz
as Governor's Office Staff
Margo Cutler
as Devine's Friend
Frederico Roberto
as Senile Brigade
Ronald G. Joseph
as Jerry G
Gene Ornales
as Governor's Office Staff
Patricio Chavez
as Devine's Friend
Basil Hoffman
as Governor's Office Staff
Tom Connor
as Dancing Angel
Nat Shipman
as Devine's Friend
Trinidad Silva
as Milagro Townsperson
Mario Arrambide
as Carl
China Bell
as Devine's Friend
Fredrick Lopez
as Milagro Townsperson
Pablo Trujillo
as Senile Brigade
Natividad Vacio
as Senile Brigade
Eric Treisman
as Devine's Friend
Ronald C. Frazier
as Governor's Office Staff
Eloy Vigil
as Senile Brigade
Sam Vlahos
as Governor's Office Staff
Alberto Morin
as Senile Brigade
Olga Merediz
as Milagro Townsperson
Philip L. Mead
as Governor's Office Staff


Robert Redford
Frank Pierson
David S. Ward
John Nichols
Book Author
John Nichols
Robbie Greenberg
Dave Grusin
Composer (Music Score)
Jim Miller
Stanley Frazen
Dede Allen
Joe Aubel
Production Designer
Joe Aubel
Art Director
Charles B. Mulvehill
Robert Redford
Moctesuma Esparza
Gary Hendler
Executive Producer
Thomas Roysden
Set Designer
Bernie Pollack
Costume Designer
Nancy Foy
David Wisnievitz
Production Manager
Kay Rose
Sound Editor
Tom Hoerber