Killer of Sheep (1977)

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Movie Info & Cast


Set in the Watts area of Los Angeles, a slaughterhouse worker must suspend his emotions to continue working at a job he finds repugnant, and then he finds he has little sensitivity for the family he works so hard to support.


  • Henry G. Sanders
  • Kaycee Moore
  • Charles Bracy
  • Angela Burnett
  • Eugene Cherry
  • Jack Drummond
  • Slim
  • Delores Farley
  • Dorothy Stengel
  • Tobar Mayo

Did You Know?


  • Completed in 1975, not released until 1977.
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  • After Stan and his friend load the engine block on the truck, they drive away and it falls out, and a car is then seen parked along the curb. The car was not there when they carried the engine out.


    • [holding a cup of tea]
    • Stan: Stu, what does it remind you of when you hold it next to your cheek?
    • [taking the cup and placing it to his cheek]
    • Stu: Not a damn thing but hot air.
    • Stan: Didn't it remind you of when you're making love and a woman 'fore it gets sometimes? Just like this?
    • Stu: Maybe so. I don't go for women who got malaria.
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Seeing Killer of Sheep is an experience as simple and indelible as watching Bresson's Pickpocket or De Sica's Bicycle Thieves for the first time. Despite its aesthetic debt to European art cinema, Burnett's film is quintessentially American in its tone and subject matter. If there's any modern-day equivalent for the movie's matter-of-fact gaze on the ravages of urban poverty, it's the HBO series The Wire.

Metacritic review by Dana Stevens
Dana Stevens

Burnett's documentarian empathy, coupled with his easygoing skill as a dramatic essayist, result in a film that doesn't look, feel or breathe like any American work of its generation.

Metacritic review by Michael Phillips
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune