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Promised Land

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Hoffman
Produced by Rick Stevenson
Written by Michael Hoffman
Starring Jason Gedrick
Tracy Pollan
Kiefer Sutherland
Meg Ryan
Googy Gress
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Alexander Gruszynski
Ueli Steiger
Editing by David Spiers
Distributed by Vestron Pictures
Release date(s) January 22, 1988
Running time 102 min
Country  United States
Language English

Promised Land is a 1987 drama film, written and directed by Michael Hoffman, and it stars Kiefer Sutherland and Meg Ryan. It is set in Utah and is apparently based on a true story. It was the first film to be commissioned by the Sundance Film Festival, and uses the drama over economic class and manhood in order to offer a critique of the Reagan Administration. The film is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for some profanity and sexual situations.


The film opens following two American high school acquaintances a few years after graduation now suffering from deep anger and anguish over the fact that they are not as successful as they thought they would be. Hancock (Jason Gedrick) is the high school basketball star, that got into college on an athletic scholarship only to lose the scholarship to a better player. Unable to succeed in college based on his academic merit, he returns to his hometown, becomes a police officer and is slowly moving into a middle-class mediocrity with his cheerleader girlfriend, Mary, who is in college and plans to major in the arts. Hancock is still stewing over the fact that he is no longer the sports star and that his girlfriend is not only reluctant to marry him but may end up being more successful than he.

Danny (Kiefer Sutherland) is the academic "nerd" who was supposedly destined to be so successful that he earned the nickname "Senator". It was felt by some that one day he would become a decent and just politician. He has returned home with his overbearing wife, Bev (Meg Ryan).

After a quick Christmas Eve reunion with his parents, Danny learns that his father is dying. He is unable to come to grips with the fact that while he left town with great expectations, he has returned a poor drifter. His desire to run from his problems again, however, prompts Bev to mock his manhood in front of some of his high school friends at a bar and the two decide to hold up a convenience store perhaps as a means for Danny to prove his manhood or because that is just what "Hollywood white trash" would do.

Just then, Hancock, unaware that Danny has returned to town, drives into the store's parking lot arguing with his girlfriend about the future of their relationship. Interrupting the robbery, he fatally shoots Danny and wounds Bev. Hancock then suffers something of an emotional breakdown. Danny and Hancock are shown to really have little in common except that Danny once had a crush on Mary and perhaps a repressed crush on Hancock.

As other police officers and paramedics arrive on scene, Hancock drives with his girlfriend to an open field where he had previously shared, with his police partner, some of his frustrations. He screams to Mary how he feels he has been lied to while growing up. Later Hancock has to personally inform Danny's father that he has killed his son.

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