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Devil’s Own, The (1997, Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford)



With a history eclipsing the drama and intrigue of its content, Alan J. Pakula’s terrorist thriller has a notoriety which long outlasted its brief theatrical residency. Shortly after Bloody Sunday, eight-year-old Frankie McGuire witnesses his father’s murder at the hands of loyalists. Two decades on, Frankie (Brad Pitt) has devoted his life to the Irish Republican Army, for whom he sails to New York to procure money and weapons.

Using the alias Rory Devaney, Frankie is accommodated at the home of Tom O’Meara (Harrison Ford), a cop who soon warms to his new lodger. Using money delivered from his Belfast connection, Megan (Natascha McElhone), Frankie procures armaments from club owner Billy Burke (Treat Williams), which he stores at O’Meara’s home.

After Tom sees his partner kill an unarmed man, and being unaware of the crimes perpetrated under his own roof, he starts to think of retirement but, when he finds Rory’s money, Tom heads for the handcuffs while Frankie moves to complete his mission, whatever the consequences…

If Ian Paisley had said, ‘It was the most irresponsible bit of filmmaking – if you can even call it that – that I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t believe it,’ few would have listened. When Brad Pitt said those words it aroused greater interest. The star attempted to exit the project but a $3 million sweetener above his $9 million contract and contractual obligations saw him stay.

Budget also went on script ‘polish’ from In The Name of the Father’s Terry George and Karate Kid sequel king Robert Mark Kamen. Director Alan Pakula made the headlines just months later when he was killed in a road accident.

Sight and Sound described The Devil’s Own as ‘Hollywood’s best shot to date at a famously intractable subject.’

production details
USA | 107 minutes | 1997

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Writers: David Aaron Cohen, Vincent Patrick, Kevin Jarre (from his own story)

Brad Pitt as Francis Austin McGuire, alias Rory Devaney
Harrison Ford as Sgt. Tom O’Meara
Rubén Blades as Officer Edwin Diaz
Treat Williams as Billy Burke
Natascha McElhone as Megan Doherty
Margaret Colin as Sheila O’Meara
Kelly Singer as Annie O’Meara
Ashley Carin as Morgan O’Meara
Julia Stiles as Bridget O’Meara
Simon Jones as Judge Harry Sloan
George Hearn as Peter Fitzsimmons
Mitchell Ryan as Chief Jim Kelly
Paul Ronan as Sean Phelan
David O’Hara as Martin MacDuf
David Wilmot as Dessie
Rob McElhenney as Kevin
Chance Kelly as Masked Burglar
Wilson Cleveland as Rory’s Friend