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Promotional movie poster for Bulworth
Directed by Warren Beatty
Produced by Warren Beatty
Pieter Jan Brugge
Written by Warren Beatty
Jeremy Pikser
Starring Warren Beatty
Halle Berry
Oliver Platt
Don Cheadle
Paul Sorvino
Jack Warden
Isaiah Washington
Christine Baranski
Amiri Baraka
Laurie Metcalf
Music by Ennio Morricone
Ol' Dirty Bastard
Cinematography Vittorio Storaro
Editing by Billy Weber
Robert C. Jones
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) May 15, 1998
Running time 108 min.
Country US
Language English
Budget $30,000,000[1]
Gross revenue $29,202,884

Bulworth is a 1998 American film which was co-written, co-produced and directed by the film's star, Warren Beatty. The film co-stars Halle Berry, Oliver Platt, Don Cheadle, Paul Sorvino, Jack Warden, and Isaiah Washington. The film follows the title character, California Senator Jay Billington Bulworth (Beatty), as he runs for re-election.


Plot summary

A veteran Senate Democrat, Bulworth is losing his bid for re-election to a fiery young opponent. Bulworth's liberal views, formed in the 1960s and 1970s, have lost favor with voters, and so he has conceded to moderate politics and to accepting donations from special interests. In addition, though he and his wife (Christine Baranski) have been having affairs openly for years, they must still present a happy facade in the interest of maintaining a good public image.

While planning to commit suicide, Bulworth negotiates a $10 million life insurance policy with his daughter listed as the beneficiary in exchange for a favorable vote for the insurance industry. Tired with the state of affairs and politics in general, he then contracts to have himself assassinated within two days' time. Afterwards, turning up in California for his campaign extremely drunk, Bulworth begins speaking his mind freely at public events and in the presence of the C-SPAN film crew following his campaign. After ending in a night club and smoking marijuana, he even starts rapping in public. His frank, potentially offensive remarks make him an instant media darling and re-energize his campaign. After becoming involved with young campaigner Nina (Halle Berry), Bulworth tries to set his sordid political track-record straight while he is pursued by the paparazzi, his insurance company, his campaign managers, Nina's protective drug-dealing brother, and an increasingly adoring public, all before his impending assassination.

Eventually Nina tells him that she is in fact the assassin he indirectly hired, but she will now not carry out the job. Bulworth happily accepts a new campaign for the presidency right before he is assassinated before a crowd of reporters and urban supporters by an insurance representative (Paul Sorvino) fearful of Bulworth's push for socialized medicine.


Political and social commentary

This film presents a great deal of controversial political and social commentary—often, but not always, through Bulworth's open, honest, and unusual campaign speeches. These speeches are often especially (and comically) controversial due to the demographic of Bulworth's audience, and many of the beliefs espoused by Bulworth closely mirror Beatty's actual political beliefs. Memorable scenes include his comments to the African American church near the beginning; his comments to the supposedly Jewish movie producers (which may also be a tongue-in-cheek comment on behalf of the writers); Bulworth's comments about corporations controlling the American political system, and the ongoing comments depicting Democrats and Republicans as being just as bad as the other. Nina also makes some insightful comments as to why there are no black leaders anymore, as does L.D. in justifying using children in his drug-dealing business, which Bulworth later repeats verbatim on CNN. The assassination of Bulworth is iconic in that the imagery of the scene is similar to the photo record of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in which the people present pointed to where the shot came from in the picture. This further illustrates the movie’s theme that the black leaders are dying. It can be inferred that Bulworth was destined to be the next great leader of the African American community. This can also be inferred by Nina’s family referring to themselves as Bulworth Democrats. However, the overall theme of the film is espoused by an anonymous vagrant (played by poet Amiri Baraka) who encourages Bulworth to, "Sing, be a spirit, Don't be no ghost!".


1999 Academy Awards Writing (Screenplay Written Directly For the Screen)

See also

External links




Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Bulworth was an American film released in 1998, which was written and directed by its star, Warren Beatty, and co-starred Halle Berry.

Written and directed by Warren Beatty.
Brace yourself. This politician is about to tell the truth!

Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth

  • All we need is a voluntary, free-spirited, open-ended program of procreative racial deconstruction. Everybody just gotta keep fuckin' everybody 'til they're all the same color.
  • Have a drink, Murphy. Live your life.


Bulworth: What is it exactly you're concerned about, Murphy?
Dennis Murphy: I'm concerned that you stood up in front of three hundred people in a black church and told them that they were not a factor and never would be as long as we remain in the pocket of the insurance lobby! I'm concerned that you went to a fundraiser in Beverly Hills and told various leaders of the entertainment industry that they make a lousy product, and since many of them also happen to be Jewish, you decided the PRUDENT thing to do would be to MOCK their Jewish paranoia! I'm concerned that we are in an after-hours club in Compton on the eve of the most important event of the campaign swing, where God knows how much illegal activity is taking place and YOU are SMOKING MARIJUANA! Now, Senator - I work for you. You call the shots. But I will be able to do my job so much better if you will just simply tell me ... what is this new strategy? Just tell me a little bit!
[Bulworth exhales smoke into Murphy's face]

Angry black woman: Are you sayin' the Democratic Party don't care about the African-American community?
Bulworth: Isn't that OBVIOUS? You got half your kids are out of work and the other half are in jail. Do you see ANY Democrat doing anything about it? Certainly not me! So what're you gonna do, vote Republican? Come on! Come on, you're not gonna vote Republican! Let's call a spade a spade!
[Loud, angry booing]
Bulworth: I mean - come on! You can have a Billion Man March! If you don't put down that malt liquor and chicken wings, and get behind someone other than a running back who stabs his wife, you're NEVER gonna get rid of somebody like me!

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