An ex professor offers Adam $1,000,000 to "get" some plasma from a high tech company's lab. Adam asks his criminal grandpa for help. Can they convince Adam's now honest dad to join?


Sidney Lumet


Vincent Patrick (novel), Vincent Patrick (screenplay)





Cast overview, first billed only:
Sean Connery ... Jessie
Dustin Hoffman ... Vito
Matthew Broderick ... Adam
Rosanna DeSoto ... Elaine (as Rosana DeSoto)
Janet Carroll ... Margie
Victoria Jackson ... Christine
Bill McCutcheon ... Doheny
Deborah Rush ... Michele Dempsey
Marilyn Cooper Marilyn Cooper ... Rose
Salem Ludwig Salem Ludwig ... Nat
Rex Everhart ... Ray Garvey
James Tolkan ... Judge (as James S. Tolkan)
Marilyn Sokol ... Marie
Thomas A. Carlin Thomas A. Carlin ... Neary
Tony DiBenedetto Tony DiBenedetto ... Phil


Jessie is an aging career criminal who has been in more jails, fights, schemes, and line-ups than just about anyone else. His son Vito, while currently on the straight and narrow, has had a fairly shady past, and is indeed no stranger to illegal activity. They both have great hope for Adam, Vito's son and Jessie's grandson, who is bright, good-looking, and without a criminal past. So when Adam approaches Jessie with a scheme for a burglary he's shocked, but not necessarily uninterested. Written by Murray Chapman <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


There's nothing like a good robbery... to bring a family together.


Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Vincent Patrick, who wrote the screenplay based upon his novel, got the idea for the story when, as a new grandfather, he noted personality traits in his grandchild that had apparently passed over his own son. Patrick said: "I thought it would be fascinating to do a story about a grandfather, who had been a lifelong criminal, having a son who turns out not to be one, and a grandson who seems to have inherited some of the grandfather's criminal genes. The grandfather and grandson then put the father, who is the middleman of the drama, into a terrible dilemma." See more »


Adam said he went to college on a Westinghouse Scholarship, one of only 6 students to win one. The Westinghouse Science Talent Search selects 10 students per year, not 6. First prize is a $20,000 scholarship; second and third prize is $15,000. Needless to say, the prizes do not pay for the student's entire 4 years of college. See more »


Jessie: That's the whole show?
Adam: Yes, unless you want to tell the Pee Wee Grogan story again.
See more »


Referenced in Burn Notice: Family Business (2007) See more »


The Tenement Symphony
Written by Hal Borne and Sid Kuller
See more »

User Reviews

Three Stars Make A Preposterous Story Happen
1 January 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman, and Matthew Broderick have talent to spare and they manage to make an impossible story jell on the screen in Family Business.

The three men play grandfather, father, and son of the McMullen clan. Connery is an unregenerate criminal who offers to apologies for the life he's led. Hoffman is someone who went into that life during his youth due to Dad's influence, but he leaves that life and now works in the wholesale meat business which he hates, but more than pays the rent.

Matthew Broderick is his son who absolutely idolizes his grandfather. He's middle class and a Westinghouse scholar to boot, but lives for his time with his grandfather and the criminal tales he tells of his past.

Broderick's life as a Westinghouse scholar is about to intersect with Connery's habitual criminal background when Broderick's professor, B.D. Wong offers him a scam. He's to break in to a laboratory in Nassau County and steal the results of his research for a million dollars. Hoffman also goes along for the ride, mainly he says to watch out for his son.

These three have tremendous chemistry together and it is what makes this story float. Especially Connery because you have to believe in his character in order to enjoy the film.

Family Business is one of those movies that after I come away from it I say this is completely ridiculous. Yet when you watch you feel guilty enjoying it so much.

Sidney Lumet did a wonderful job showing the background of the Hell's Kitchen area where Connery resides. I recognize a whole lot of the neighborhood. Interesting that this area a decade later served as the background for the much more serious film Sleepers.

Look also for a good performance by Rosanna DeSoto as wife and mother to Hoffman and Broderick. What she puts up with in that family.

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Release Date:

15 December 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Family Business See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,130,024, 17 December 1989

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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