This drama centers on Hank Chinaski, the fictional alter-ego of "Factotum" author Charles Bukowski, who wanders around Los Angeles, CA trying to live off jobs which don't interfere with his primary interest, which is writing. Along the way, he fends off the distractions offered by women, drinking and gambling.
A simple self-destructive drifter and tough small-time boxer with a brain injury that could kill him meets and falls for a cute beach carnival owner, Ruby, but also befriends a sleazy friendly criminal, Wesley, who's planing a big score.
Henry Chinaski never cared for the American dream, the thought of needing to become 'something' and fit into the system disgusts him. He believes that life is free and yours to live like you see fit, and if that in some cases involves copious amounts of whiskey then so be it. Henry spends his days drinking and listening to the radio, and he spends his nights drinking and fighting against Eddy who he thinks personifies shallowness and shameless self promoting. Sometimes in the middle of this he finds the time to jot down a few lines of poetry or a short story. After fighting Eddy and winning for a change Henry is thrown out of his regular bar where Eddy is a bartender. This leads him to seek another watering hole where he happens to find Wanda who is a barfly, in her own words "if another man came along with a fifth of whiskey, I'd go with him". Henry is not fazed by this thou and moves in with her. Of course Wanda immediately goes off and sleeps with Eddy, but after some clothes ...Written by
Erik Wallen <email@example.com>
Charles Bukowski wanted Sean Penn to star as protagonist Henry Chinaski, but Penn insisted that Dennis Hopper direct the film. Later, Hopper directed Penn in Colors (1988) without Hopper acting in it; then Penn would around three years later direct Hopper in The Indian Runner (1991) which Penn doesn't act in. Bukowski had written the Barfly (1987) screenplay for Barbet Schroeder, who had filmed him for French TV years before, and would not surrender it to Hopper, whom he despised as a gold-chain wearing Hollywood phony. Bukowski and Penn became friends for the rest of his life. See more »
When Henry gets out of bed, Tully has terrible bedhead as their conversation starts. When it cuts back to her a second later, her hair has been neatly brushed. See more »
I can't stand people, I hate them.
Do you hate them?
No, but I seem to feel better when they're not around.
See more »
Barfly is a rarity in American cinema: a character study that doesn't worry about telling a story with a beginning, middle, and explosive end. Mickey Rourke is excellent as Henry Chinaski, a writer and habitue of skid row who isn't so much slumming as soaking in it. The real surprise here is Faye Dunaway as his love interest: it's easily her best performance since Chinatown and proves she still has it. Also of note is Frank Stallone as Eddie, the barman who keeps getting into one sided fist fights with Henry. A triumph and one of the best American films of the eighties.
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