The Iceman Cometh

Synopsis: It's 1912 and the patrons of 'The Last Chance Saloon' have gathered for their evening of whiskey to contemplate their lost faith and dreams, when Hickey (Lee Marvin) arrives. Hickey is out to convince everyone that he can help them all find peace of mind by ridding them of the foolish dreams and by bringing them back to reality. Hickey is working especially hard on Larry Slade (Robert Ryan) a former anarchist who has lost his will for life and is awaiting the eventuality of death. Larry is not affected by the cajolings of Hickey but his young companion Parritt (Jeff Bridges) is strangely affected and this leads to revelations about his own mother and feelings of betrayal and loss. As the night wears on the mood changes as everyone has the their faith and dreams slowly destroyed by Hickey. As the anger builds everyone turns on Hickey about his wife and the iceman. This leads to more revelations and with Hickey having the faint questioning of his own new found convictions.
Genre: Drama
Director(s): John Frankenheimer
Production: American Film Theatre
  3 wins & 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
239 min


(liquid dripping)

(loud snoring)

Make it fast.

Don't want the boys

to get wise.



Ain't the old bastard

a riot

when he starts

that bull about

"turnin' over a new leaf"?

"Not a damn drink

on the house," he tells me,

"and all these bums have gotta

pay up their room rent

beginning tomorrow,"

he says.

(both men laughing)

I'm glad to pay up...


And I know my fellow inmates

will promise the same.

They've all

a touching credulity

concerning tomorrows.

It'll be a great day

for them tomorrow,

The Feast of All Fools.

And their ships will come in

loaded to the gunwales,

with cancelled regrets

and promises fulfilled,

and clean slates

and new leases.

Yeah, and a ton of hope!

Don't mock their faith.

You no respect

for religion,

you unregenerate Wop?

What does it matter

if the truth is

that their favoring breeze

will have the stink

of nickel whiskey

on its breath?

And their sea

will be a growler

of lager and ale?

And their ships will long since

be looted and scuttled,

and sunk

on the bottom?

The hell with the truth.

The history of the world

proves that truth

has no bearing

on anything.

It's the lie of the pipe dream

that gives life to the whole

misbegotten mad lot of us,

drunk or sober.

The old Foolosopher,

like Hickey calls you.

I suppose you don't fall

for no pipe dreams.

No, I don't.

Mine are dead and buried

behind me.

What's before me

is the fact

that death

is a fine long sleep.

I'm damn tired,

and it can't come

too soon for me.

Yeah, just hangin' around,

hopin' you croak, ain't you?

Well, I'm bettin' you have

a good long wait.

Jees, somebody'd have

to take an ax to croak you!

(both chuckling)

Yeah, it's my bad luck to be

cursed with an iron constitution

that even Harry's booze

can't corrode.

The old Anarchist wise guy

that knows

all the answers.

Forget the anarchist

part of it.

I'm through with

the Movement long since.

I saw that,

if men wanted to be safe

from themselves,

that would mean they'd

have to give up greed.

I wouldn't pay

that price for liberty.

So I said to the world,

"God bless all here

"and may

the best man win...

and die of gluttony."

I took a seat

in the grand stand

of philosophical detachment.

Fall asleep

observing the cannibals

do their death dance.

Ain't I telling him

the truth, Comrade Hugo?

Oh, for Chrissake!

Don't get

that bughouse bum started!

(thick Russian accent)

Capitalist swine!

Bourgeois stool pigeons!

Have the slaves

no right to sleep even?


Hello, little Rocky,

little monkey face!

Where are your little

slave girls?


Don't be a fool,

loan me a dollar!

Damned bourgeois Wop!

Buy me a drink!


He's out again.

He's lucky no one don't take

his cracks serious,

or he'd wake up every morning

in a hospital.

"Nobody takes him


That's his epitaph.

I've been through with

the Movement long since.

It's been through with him.

And thanks to whiskey,

He's the only one

that doesn't know it.

He's goin' to pull that

slave girl stuff on me

once too often.

Hell, you'd think

I was a pimp or somethin'.

A pimp don't hold a job.

I'm a bartender!

Them tarts,

Margie and Pearl,

they're just a sideline

to pick up some extra dough.

Strictly business,

like they were fighters

and I was their

manager, see?

I fixed the cops for them,

so they can hustle

without gettin' pinched.

And I don't beat 'em up

like a pimp would.

They like me!

What if I,

I take their money?

Tarts can't hang on

to dough.

But I'm a bartender

and I work hard

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Thomas Quinn Curtiss

Thomas Quinn Curtiss (June 22, 1915 – July 17, 2000) was a writer, and film and theater critic. He is also well-known for his relationship to author Klaus Mann. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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