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Four Friends (1981)

This story of four working-class kids in a small industrial town--who go their separate ways after high school in the innocence of 1961 and come together again at the end of the turbulent ... See full summary »


Arthur Penn


Steve Tesich
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Craig Wasson ... Danilo
Jodi Thelen ... Georgia
Michael Huddleston Michael Huddleston ... David
Jim Metzler ... Tom
Scott Hardt Scott Hardt ... Young Danilo
Elizabeth Lawrence ... Mrs. Prozor
Miklos Simon Miklos Simon ... Mr. Prozor
Michael Kovacs Michael Kovacs ... Prozor Neighbor
Beatrice Fredman Beatrice Fredman ... Mrs. Zoldos
Pier Calabria Pier Calabria ... Conductor
Zaid Farid Zaid Farid ... Rudy
David Graf ... Gergley
Felix Shuman Felix Shuman ... Principal
George Womack George Womack ... Mr. Bellknap
Todd Isaacson Todd Isaacson ... Senior Kid
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This story of four working-class kids in a small industrial town--who go their separate ways after high school in the innocence of 1961 and come together again at the end of the turbulent Sixties--is as much about the coming of age of America as it is about the changes the characters go through. The four friends of the title are thoughtful Danilo, a Yugoslavian immigrant with dreams of being a writer and a scholar; Tom, good-looking and athletic, who is bound for the army; cautious David who has mixed feelings about staying in town and joining the family mortuary business; and lovely, ditzy, exasperating Georgia, who tries to inspire all of them with her longings for a life of Bohemian adventure. It is told through the eyes of Danilo, whose story is loosely based on the writer Tesich's own life growing up in Bloomington, Indiana. Written by babatjie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


All the boys love Georgia...and Georgia loves all the boys!


Comedy | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Filmed on the campus of Northwestern University (Evanston IL). See more »


As Danilo Prozor is fighting with Gergley in the bar, one can see the shape of knee pads worn under Prozor's trousers. See more »


Mr. Prozor: I'm tired and I have to go to work. That is America.
See more »


Featured in At the Movies: Winners That Were Losers (1983) See more »


Theme from Bonanza
Music & Lyrics by Jay Livingston & Ray Evans
© 1959 Livingston & Evans Music Inc.
Arranged by Jack Waldman
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User Reviews

All-Time Argument Starter
30 August 2008 | by PutzbergerSee all my reviews

Were the 60s a non-stop blast of idealism, hedonism and self-exploration? Were they a violent, divisive cataclysm that heralded America's decline? Well, this movie makes both points. And what's more, it makes them brilliantly, probably because it was made by one of the greatest directors (Arthur Penn) and screenwriters (Steve Tesich) in film history. Because of the talent involved, you never notice how epic and improbable this story is: four kids from a grimy Midwestern town (think Tesich' hometown of East Chicago, Indiana) experience every major social upheaval of the 1960s, from the civil rights movement to the Summer of Love to (of course) Vietnam. But what could be soapy, sappy and overblown in the hands of lesser filmmakers (think Zemeckis) is art thanks to messrs Penn and Tesich. Some of the images are so indelible that the dialog becomes superfluous: in an excellent sequence near the start of the film, teens bat around a beach ball with a picture of JFK and Jackie, so we know it's the 60s. When the protagonist sees the girl he loves having sex with his best friend, his eyes meet hers, so their estrangement is established without a word. And later, in a disturbing single shot, a bunch of white kids around a bonfire start pounding on a smaller group of black kids, shattering the idyll forever. Still, Tesich is a smart enough to understand that he's writing for an impressionistic film so he keeps his script minimal to the point of cryptic -- entire relationships start and end in three lines (what happens to Danilo's college roommate Louie will have you laughing and crying at the same time). After many travails and terrors, the movie ends on an unresolved but hopeful note and you're actually satisfied by the slight unease since that's how life works, and this film is a pretty effective albeit rather heightened approximation of how memory and experience actually function.

So why weren't there Oscars galore for this picture? Why isn't it heralded as a modern classic? Well, part of the problem is the cast of young unknowns, all of whom are excellent but couldn't get busted in Hollywood. (It's just as well -- better-known actors might have demanded longer, more floridly written scenes that would have thrown the film hopelessly off balance.) Another problem is the film's ambiguity -- neither Penn nor Tesich seem inclined to judge their characters, and modern filmgoers tend to get headaches when they're asked to make up their own minds. I know this firsthand, since this is the first "art" film I saw with friends, and we loved it so much and discussed it so long afterwards (we were pretentious teenagers so we had the time) that we couldn't help but rave about it to a hippie-dippy couple we knew, who LOATHED it for its lack of overt moralism. And finally, there's the character of sweet Georgia, the elusive object of desire for the other three friends. Georgia is a free spirit who idolizes Isadora Duncan, and she wanders across the 1960s having all kinds of different experiences, and despite some trauma she emerges more or less intact. Lots of people resent that, which is why mediocre films that torture and kill adventurous women (think "Forrest Gump") win Oscars while masterpieces like this can't get released on DVD. Find it, watch it, love it or hate it, one way or another you will be affected.

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Release Date:

11 December 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Georgia See more »

Filming Locations:

Chicago, Illinois, USA See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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