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A Killing in a Small Town (1990)

R | | Drama | TV Movie 22 May 1990
The gory ax-murder of one mousy, suburban Texas housewife by another is nearly as shocking as the excuse offered by the bespectacled defendant's attorney: self-defense. Could it be so?


Stephen Gyllenhaal


John Bloom (book), James Atkinson (book) (as Jim Atkinson) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Barbara Hershey ... Candy Morrison
Brian Dennehy ... Ed Reivers
John Terry ... Stan Blankenship
Richard Gilliland ... Dale Morrison
Lee Garlington ... Peggy Blankenship
Hal Holbrook ... Dr. Beardsley
Matthew Posey ... Norman Billings
James Monroe Black James Monroe Black ... Dr. Giles (as James Black)
Dennis Letts ... Chief McAlester
Marco Perella ... Rick Slocum
Norman Bennett ... Jim Ramsey
Jerry Haynes ... Judge Scott
Rodger Boyce ... Rex Staples
Daphne Eckler Daphne Eckler ... Dede Alexander
Jan DeWitt Jan DeWitt ... Connie Keating


In a quiet Texas town, Candy Morrison and her husband, Dale, seem to live an ordinary life -- but that all changes when she begins sleeping with her husband's friend Stan Blankenship. When Stan's wife winds up dead -- the victim of a brutal ax murder -- Candy's arrest leaves the community in disbelief. And, as her attorney Ed Reivers attempts to prove her innocence, he makes a shocking discovery about his client. Written by Jwelch5742

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R | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Based on the true story of the 1980 murder of Betty Gore by Candace (Candy) Montgomery in Wylie, Texas. See more »


The film establishes that the crime was committed on the Friday 13th January, 1980. However, that date fell on a Sunday not Friday. See more »

User Reviews

Gripping Psychodrama
21 September 2015 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

I don't know why actor Dennehy is pictured on the poster. True, he's got a feature role that he brings off well. But the film's really a Barbara Hershey showcase. It's she who has to do the dramatic heavy lifting, going from placid housewife to raging inner person. For the ex-Ms Seagull, it's a thespic tour-de-force. Her wife-mother seems so well adjusted, church, family, community, her smile so real. But then, she initiates an affair with a friend's husband, so we know she doesn't always repress her desires. So just how placid is she, really.

The shots of a barren Texas landscape are aptly conceived, mirroring Candy's (Hershey) unchanging demeanor, at least initially. But then her friend turns up dead, slaughtered in gruesome fashion, and we know the landscape is not as predictable as it seems. Hershey's perfect for the part, her youthful good looks beginning to fade into middle-age. Director Gyllenhaal's camera is riveted to her face, catching every nuance, in this gripping study of morbid psychology. No, I don't think the movie suits all tastes since it's really disturbing at a number of points. Still, it remains a fascinating case study, based on a factual occurrence. Too bad IMDb doesn't supply more of those factual details. Nonetheless, I'm glad to stumble across this obscure gem and it's two memorable last lines that sort of sum up the movie's ironic moral.

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Release Date:

22 May 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Axtm√∂rderin See more »

Filming Locations:

Dallas, Texas, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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