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Best Seller (1987)

A hitman approachs a writer to help him create the next best seller on his career, but the violent world he was a part of has other plans.


John Flynn


Larry Cohen
2 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
James Woods ... Cleve
Brian Dennehy ... Dennis Meechum
Victoria Tennant ... Roberta Gillian
Allison Balson ... Holly Meechum
Paul Shenar ... David Madlock
George Coe ... Graham
Anne Pitoniak Anne Pitoniak ... Mrs. Foster
Mary Carver ... Cleve's Mother
Sully Boyar ... Monks
Kathleen Lloyd ... Annie
Charles Tyner ... Cleve's Father (as Harold Tyner)
E. Brian Dean E. Brian Dean ... Taxi Driver
Jeffrey Josephson Jeffrey Josephson ... Pearlman
Edward Blackoff Edward Blackoff ... Thorn
Branscombe Richmond ... Longshoreman #1


Hit man Cleve approaches writer/cop Dennis about a story for his next book: How Cleve made a living, working for one of the most powerful politicians in the country. To get the story right, they travel around the country to gather statements and evidence, while strong forces use any means they can to keep the story untold. Written by Lars Skogan <si2_ls92362@debet.nhh.no>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Writing A Book Is Easy. Writing A Best Seller Is Murder. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


This was originally set up in 1980 as a starring vehicle for Paul Newman. See more »


After the taxi was blown up, mere blocks from the World Trade Center, both main characters chase after the taxi driver. The next cut is this foot chase, which is clearly in the Times Square/Midtown area of Manhattan, quite a long way away from the WTC down in the Financial District. Unless they're all gods of fitness, it is not believable that the foot chase covered this much ground. See more »


Cleve: Needs an ending.
See more »


Words and lyrics by Lamont Dozier
Performed by Ben E. King
Produced by Lamont Dozier
Executive producer: Joe Regis
See more »

User Reviews

You got yourself a bestseller.
5 July 2008 | by lost-in-limboSee all my reviews

What looks like a b-grade buddy film (there were plenty around this time and usually looking to be humorous), is far from it. Director John Flynn's 'Best Seller', which was written by Larry Cohen (who makes a crackerjack combination), is actually a stark, stinging and darkly witty and violent crime caper with an out-the-shadow concept. Novel writing (mainly the sharp exchanges and character inserts) and its zesty tempo couldn't be faulted. Even with its talky core, Flynn keeps it gustily hard-boiled and rancorous with its occasional action sequences and lean suspense. Knowing that it heavily relies on the performances to be successful, Flynn sets-up the film around the pairing of James Woods and Brian Denneby. Woods effortlessly vivid and unbalanced performance frighteningly commands attention and Denneby is sensationally rock-steady. The two worked off each other impeccably and build a sympathetic, but also conflicting edge that never feels forced. Cohen's biting script illustrates and develops quite a stimulating, random and unusual relationship between the two. While his usual social commentary (quite a familiar one) and plot devices playing second fiddle to the complex arrangement. The rest of the support cast don't quite have the same impression, but Paul Shenar and Victoria Tennant are good in their roles. The weak points would have to be that of Jay Ferguson's ugly sounding synthesiser score and a mishandled conclusion. A solidly rewarding crime thriller drilled home by two tremendous lead performances.

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Release Date:

25 September 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hard Cover See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$905,399, 27 September 1987

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hemdale See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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