Warner Bros. Entertainment Wiki
Warner Bros. Entertainment Wiki
This page contains mature content. Continue on at your own risk.

Lone Star is a 1996 American neo-western mystery film written, edited, and directed by John Sayles and set in a small town in Texas. The ensemble cast features Chris Cooper, Kris Kristofferson, Matthew McConaughey and Elizabeth Peña and deals with a sheriff's investigation into the murder of one of his predecessors.


Sheriff Sam Deeds is the county sheriff in Frontera, Texas. He was born and raised in Frontera, and returned two years ago to be sheriff. Sam's late father had been the legendary Sheriff Buddy Deeds, who is remembered as fair and just. Sam had problems with his father and the pair routinely fought.

Sam is particularly disapproving of efforts by business leader Mercedes Cruz and Buddy's former deputy, Mayor Hollis Pogue, to enlarge and rename the local courthouse in Buddy's honor; he considers it an unneeded waste of taxpayers' money. As a teenager, Sam had been in love with Mercedes's daughter Pilar, but the courtship was strongly opposed by Buddy and Mercedes. After a chance meeting, Sam and the widowed Pilar, now a local teacher, slowly resume their relationship.

Colonel Delmore Payne has recently arrived in town as the commander of the local U.S. Army base. Delmore is the son of Otis "Big O" Payne, a local nightclub owner and leading figure in the area's African-American community. The two are estranged because of Otis's serial infidelity and abandonment of Delmore's mother when Delmore was a child. Relic hunters discover a human skeleton on an old shooting range along with a Masonic ring, a Rio County sheriff's badge, and a bullet not used by the military. Sam brings in Texas Ranger Ben Wetzel to help with the case. Wetzel tells Sam that forensics identify the skeleton as that of Charlie Wade, the corrupt sheriff who preceded Buddy. Wade had mysteriously disappeared in 1957, taking $10,000 in county funds, after which Buddy became sheriff.

Sam investigates the events leading up to Wade's murder. He learns that Wade terrorized the local African-American and Mexican communities, including numerous murders where he asks his innocent victims to dig out any weapon they might have, to then justify shooting them for "resisting arrest". Wade used this method to murder Cruz's husband, Eladio, in front of Deputy Hollis. Sam visits Wesley Birdsong, a Native American and a roadside tourist stand owner, who reveals that Buddy was a wild young adult who settled down after becoming a deputy sheriff and marrying Sam's mother – though he did have a mistress, whose name Wesley claims to have forgotten. Sam travels to San Antonio, where he visits his marginally mentally ill ex-wife Bunny and searches through his father's things, where he discovers love letters from Buddy's mistress.

Sam confronts Hollis and Otis about Wade's murder. Wade extorted money from a young Otis for running an illegal gambling operation in the bar, then was about to use his "resisting arrest" setup to kill Otis. Buddy arrived just as Hollis shot Wade to prevent Otis's murder. The three buried the body and took the $10,000 from the county and gave it to Mercedes – who was destitute after Eladio's recent death – to buy her restaurant. Hollis reveals that Buddy and Mercedes did not take up until some time later. Sam decides to drop the issue, saying it will remain an unsolved mystery. Hollis voices concern that, when the skeleton is revealed to be Wade, people will assume Buddy killed him to take his job, to which Sam states that Buddy's legend can handle it.

Sam learns that Hollis and Mercedes have recruited his own deputy to run against him in the next election. He decides to not run for re-election.

Sam tells Pilar that Eladio died 18 months, rather than "a few weeks", before she was born. Sam shows Pilar an old photo of Buddy and Mercedes, revealing that Buddy is her father. Both are hurt over the deception but decide that, since she cannot have any more children, they will continue their romantic relationship, despite the knowledge that they are half-siblings.


  • Kris Kristofferson as Charlie Wade
  • Matthew McConaughey as Buddy Deeds
  • Chris Cooper as Sam Deeds
  • Elizabeth Peña as Pilar Cruz
  • Míriam Colón as Mercedes Cruz
  • Clifton James as Hollis Pogue
  • Ron Canada as Otis Payne
    • Gabriel Casseus as young Otis Payne
  • Joe Morton as Delmore Payne
  • Eddie Robinson as Chet Payne
  • Frances McDormand as Bunny
  • Stephen Mendillo as Sgt. Cliff
  • LaTanya Richardson as Sgt. Priscilla Worth
  • Jesse Borrego as Danny Padilla
  • Tony Plana as Ray
  • Oni Faida Lampley as Celie
  • Eleese Lester as Molly
  • Tony Frank as Fenton
  • Gordon Tootoosis as Wesley Birdsong
  • Beatrice Winde as Minnie Bledsoe
  • Chandra Wilson as Athena Johnson


The movie was filmed in Del Rio, Eagle Pass and Laredo, Texas.[3]


Critical response

The film received highly positive reviews, with Rotten Tomatoes reporting that 43 out of 46 reviews were positive for a score of 93% and a certification of "fresh".[4] Two years after release, Jack Mathews of the Los Angeles Times declared it "critically acclaimed and darn near commercial".[5] In retrospect from 2004, William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said that the film was "widely regarded as Sayles' masterpiece", declaring that it had "captured the zeitgeist of the '90s as successfully as "Chinatown" did the '70s".[6]

Writing at the time of release, Janet Maslin of The New York Times said, "This long, spare, contemplatively paced film, scored with a wide range of musical styles and given a sun-baked clarity by Stuart Dryburgh's cinematography, is loaded with brief, meaningful encounters... And it features a great deal of fine, thoughtful acting, which can always be counted on in a film by Mr. Sayles".[7] "All the film's characters are flesh and blood", Maslin added, pointing particularly to the portrayals by Kristofferson, Canada, James, Morton and Colon.[7] Film critics Dennis West and Joan M. West of Cineaste praised the psychological aspects of the film, writing, "Lone Star strikingly depicts the personal psychological boundaries that confront many citizens of Frontera as a result of living in such close proximity to the border".[8] Ann Hornaday for the Austin American-Statesman declared it "a work of awesome sweep and acute perception", judging it "the most accomplished film of [Sayles'] 17-year career".[9]

However, not all contemporary critics were completely positive. While The Washington Post writer Hal Hinson characterized it as "a carefully crafted, unapologetically literary accomplishment", he said that Sayles' "directing style hasn't grown much beyond that of a first-year film student", declaring the director was "stagnant".[10]


  • Lone Star Film & Television Awards: Best Actor, Chris Cooper; Best Director, John Sayles; Best Film; Best Screenplay, John Sayles; Best Supporting Actor, Ron Canada; Best Supporting Actress, Frances McDormand; 1996.
  • Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics; Grand Prix
  • Independent Spirit Awards: Independent Spirit Award; Best Supporting Female, Elizabeth Peña ; 1997.
  • Bravo Awards: NCLR Bravo Award Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film, Elizabeth Peña; Special Achievement Award Outstanding Feature Film; 1997.
  • Satellite Awards: Golden Satellite Award; Best Motion Picture Screenplay - Original, John Sayles; 1997.
  • Society of Texas Film Critics Awards: Best Director, John Sayles; Best Screenplay, John Sayles.
  • Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards: SEFCA Award; Best Director, John Sayles; 1997.
  • Academy Awards: Oscar; Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, John Sayles; 1997.
  • Bravo Awards: NCLR Bravo Award; Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film, Tony Plana; 1996.
  • British Academy of Film and Television Arts: BAFTA Film Award; Best Screenplay - Original, John Sayles; 1997.
  • Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards: BFCA Award Best Picture; 1997.
  • Casting Society of America: Artios; Best Casting for Feature Film, Drama, Avy Kaufman; 1997.
  • Golden Globes: Golden Globe; Best Screenplay - Motion Picture, John Sayles; 1997.
  • Independent Spirit Awards: Independent Spirit Award; Best Feature, R. Paul Miller and Maggie Renzil; Best Male Lead, Chris Cooper; Best Screenplay, John Sayles; 1997.
  • Satellite Awards: Golden Satellite Award; Best Motion Picture - Drama, R. Paul Miller and Maggie Renzi; 1997.
  • Writers Guild of America: WGA Award (Screen); Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, John Sayles; 1997.


The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

  • 2008: AFI's 10 Top 10:
    • Nominated Western Film[11]


  1. Molyneaux, Gerry (19 May 2000). John Sayles: An Unauthorized Biography of the Pioneer Indy Filmmaker. St. Martin's Press, page 232. ISBN 978-1-58063-125-9. 
  2. "Lone Star (1996)". The Numbers. Retrieved on April 19, 2018.
  3. Imdb2.png Lone Star at the Internet Movie Database .
  4. Lone Star at Rotten Tomatoes
  5. Mathews, Jack (13 March 1998). "Sayles Again Goes His Own Way With Effective 'Guns'", p. F14. Retrieved on 19 August 2014. 
  6. Arnold, William (16 September 2004). "John Sayles' timely political lampoon aims squarely at George W. Bush". Retrieved on 19 August 2014. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Maslin, Janet (21 June 1996). "Sleepy Texas Town With an Epic Story". Retrieved on 19 August 2014. 
  8. West, Dennis; West, Joan M. (Summer 1996). Cineaste. Vol. 22 no. 3. p. 34. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Hornaday, Ann (28 June 1996). "'Lone Star' shines brightly", p. E1. 
  10. "'Lone Star': Stagnant Sayles" (12 July 1996), p. F6. Retrieved on 19 August 2014. 
  11. AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees (PDF). Retrieved on 2016-08-19.

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The article or pieces of the original article was at Lone Star (1996 film). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Warner Bros. Entertainment Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

v - e - d
Castle Rock Entertainment-logo.png
Winter People | When Harry Met Sally...
Lord of the Flies | Spirit of '76 | Sibling Rivalry | Misery | City Slickers | Late for Dinner | Year of the Comet | Honeymoon in Vegas | Mr. Saturday Night | A Few Good Men | Amos & Andrew | In the Line of Fire | Needful Things | Malice | Josh and S.A.M. | City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold | Little Big League | North | Barcelona | The Shawshank Redemption | Before Sunrise | For Better or Worse | Dolores Claiborne | Forget Paris | Beyond Rangoon | The Run of the Country | The American President | Othello | Dracula: Dead and Loving It | A Midwinter's Tale | City Hall | Lone Star | Striptease | Alaska | The Spitfire Grill | Extreme Measures | Ghosts of Mississippi | Hamlet | Some Mother's Son | Waiting for Guffman | subUrbia | Absolute Power | Zero Effect | Palmetto | My Giant | Sour Grapes | The Last Days of Disco | Mickey Blue Eyes | The Story of Us | The Green Mile
Bait | Best in Show | Lost Souls | Proof of Life | Miss Congeniality | Hearts in Atlantis | The Majestic | Murder by Numbers | The Salton Sea | The Adventures of Pluto Nash | Two Weeks Notice | Kangaroo Jack | Dreamcatcher | A Mighty Wind | Envy | Before Sunset | The Polar Express | Kangaroo Jack: G'Day U.S.A.! | Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous | For Your Consideration | Music and Lyrics | Fracture | In the Land of Women | No Reservations | Michael Clayton | Sleuth | The Bucket List | Chaos Theory | Did You Hear About the Morgans?
Flipped | Faster | Friends with Benefits | Bernie | The Magic of Belle Isle | Before Midnight | And So It Goes | The Rewrite | Being Charlie | LBJ
Daughter of the Bride | Pure | Shock and Awe