A trainer of fighting cocks takes a vow of silence and gambles his loves and possessions in a bid to win a championship.


Monte Hellman


Charles Willeford (screenplay), Charles Willeford (novel)





Cast overview, first billed only:
Warren Oates ... Frank Mansfield
Richard B. Shull ... Omar Baradansky
Harry Dean Stanton ... Jack Burke
Ed Begley Jr. ... Tom Peeples
Laurie Bird ... Dody White Burke
Troy Donahue ... Randall Mansfield
Warren Finnerty ... Sanders
Robert Earl Jones ... Buford
Patricia Pearcy ... Mary Elizabeth
Millie Perkins ... Frances Mansfield
Steve Railsback ... Junior
Tom Spratley ... Mister Peeples
Charles Willeford ... Ed Middleton
Pete Munro Pete Munro ... Packard
Kermit Echols Kermit Echols ... Fred Reed


Frank Mansfield has wanted to win the Cockfighter of the Year medal for ages. Frank never speaks. After shooting his mouth off one too many times then losing a champion rooster in a casual hotel room cockfight, he swore never to speak again until he's won that award... He makes a bet with old crony Jack to be settled at the upcoming meet. Frank puts his car and his trailer on the line; he loses. Jack gets the trailer, and Frank's part-time girlfriend who goes with it. Frank's long-time girlfriend Mary Elizabeth wants him to get serious and settle down. But Frank has to raise some money for a new cock - $500 - then he can form a partnership with fellow cocksman Omar Baradansky and make another try for that medal... Written by David Woodfield

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He came into town with his cock in his hand, and what he did with it was illegal in 49 states. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The film has never been released in the UK and was recently banned from public showing at the 2006 Edinburgh Film Festival following intervention by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA). According to the BBFC the movie would never receive a UK certificate as the film contravened the Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act 1937 because the cockfighting scenes were organized for the purpose of filming. See more »


Featured in Trailer Trauma V: 70s Action Attack! (2020) See more »

User Reviews

Oates is great, Hellman's been better
20 August 1999 | by BigComboSee all my reviews

Warren Oates is great. This isn't his best performance (he's better in BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA and TWO LANE BLACKTOP...maybe even RACE WITH THE DEVIL), but he's still fantastic. I love how he manages to convey so much without speaking (those who haven't seen the film - Oates barely speaks in this film).

Monte Hellman...does a good job, but this is not his best work. I prefer TWO LANE BLACKTOP, THE SHOOTING, and RIDE IN THE WHIRLWIND. There are some amazing moments in this, though, and the cockfighting footage is insane (and I'm sure this film didn't qualify for the "no animals were harmed..." tag, which wasn't in use then anyway, but you get the point).

And I love what Hellman does in the love scene by the lake between Frank and his girl. That was pure genius.

Ed Begley Jr. is also really fantastic, and Harry Dean Stanton is great. This movie actually made me want to go to a cockfight, so, I mean, yeah.

COCKFIGHTER...a must-see for Oates/Hellman fans. And, frankly, the video is impossible to find so unless you're a diehard fan you probably won't see this anyway. I found this in a video store in L.A. (Los Feliz). Video's out of print, but definitely worth seeing if you can find it.

I realize this review is rather poorly thought-out. Please forgive me.

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Official Sites:

Official site [Japan]





Release Date:

August 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Born to Kill See more »

Filming Locations:

Juliette, Georgia, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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