Thelma & Louise (1991)

R | 128 mins | Drama, Adventure | 24 May 1991

Directors:

Ridley Scott, Bobby Bass

Writer:

Callie Khouri

Producers:

Ridley Scott, Mimi Polk

Cinematographer:

Adrian Biddle

Editor:

Thom Noble

Production Designer:

Norris Spencer

Production Company:

Pathe Entertainment
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HISTORY

An article in the 3 Jul 1991 Time Out (London) stated that director Ridley Scott optioned Callie Khouri’s script in 1989. Although he initially planned to co-produce and hire someone else to direct, Scott eventually grew attached to the project and signed on to direct himself. The film cost somewhere between $16.5 and $18.6 million, according to various contemporary and modern sources, including the 18 Nov 1990 NYT, 21 Jun 1991 LA Weekly, 26 Feb 1993 Screen International, and 2 Feb 2003 LAT.
       Principal photography was set to begin in Jun 1990, as stated in a 25 Mar 1990 LAT item announcing the casting of Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon as “Thelma” and “Louise.” Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn had previously been named in a 26 Feb 1990 People item as “leading contenders” for the roles. Although Sam Waterston was hired to play a policeman in pursuit of Thelma and Louise, according to a 5 May 1990 Screen International item, Waterston did not appear in the final film.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files and a 12 Jun 1990 HR production chart listed the start of principal photography as 11 Jun 1990. Filming took place entirely on location in Southern California, Colorado, and Utah. Tarzana, CA, stood in for Thelma’s Arkansas neighborhood, while the Arkansas diner where Louise works was filmed at DuPar’s Restaurant in Thousand Oaks. The Silver Bullet Saloon in Long Beach, CA, doubled as the honky-tonk where Thelma and Louise encounter “Harlan Puckett,” and a roadside stop near an oil field was filmed in the San ... More Less

An article in the 3 Jul 1991 Time Out (London) stated that director Ridley Scott optioned Callie Khouri’s script in 1989. Although he initially planned to co-produce and hire someone else to direct, Scott eventually grew attached to the project and signed on to direct himself. The film cost somewhere between $16.5 and $18.6 million, according to various contemporary and modern sources, including the 18 Nov 1990 NYT, 21 Jun 1991 LA Weekly, 26 Feb 1993 Screen International, and 2 Feb 2003 LAT.
       Principal photography was set to begin in Jun 1990, as stated in a 25 Mar 1990 LAT item announcing the casting of Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon as “Thelma” and “Louise.” Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn had previously been named in a 26 Feb 1990 People item as “leading contenders” for the roles. Although Sam Waterston was hired to play a policeman in pursuit of Thelma and Louise, according to a 5 May 1990 Screen International item, Waterston did not appear in the final film.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files and a 12 Jun 1990 HR production chart listed the start of principal photography as 11 Jun 1990. Filming took place entirely on location in Southern California, Colorado, and Utah. Tarzana, CA, stood in for Thelma’s Arkansas neighborhood, while the Arkansas diner where Louise works was filmed at DuPar’s Restaurant in Thousand Oaks. The Silver Bullet Saloon in Long Beach, CA, doubled as the honky-tonk where Thelma and Louise encounter “Harlan Puckett,” and a roadside stop near an oil field was filmed in the San Joaquin Valley outside Bakersfield, CA. The Vagabond Inn on South Figueroa Street in Los Angeles served as the Oklahoma City, OK, motel where “Jimmy” surprises Louise. Other CA locations included Gorman and Lockwood Valley, which stood in for Arkansas; a road near the Tehachapi Mountains; and Shafter, where a train sequence was filmed. Production notes stated that cast and crew moved to Moab, UT, for the month of Aug 1990. Utah locations included the hills of La Sal and the ghost town of Cisco. In Colorado, Grand Junction and Paradox Valley stood in for Arizona and New Mexico.
       The production utilized five 1966 Ford Thunderbirds, including a “principal” and back-up car, a camera car with sections cut out for equipment, and two stunt vehicles.
       Principal photography ended 31 Aug 1990. Post-production was completed in London, England.
       Ridley Scott wanted the film to open on Valentine’s Day, 1991, the same weekend as The Silence of the Lambs (1991, see entry); however, MGM-Pathé reportedly had trouble securing the slot. Thelma & Louise was scheduled for release one month later, in Mar 1991, but MGM-Pathé ran into financial troubles and had to delay its entire slate of spring-summer releases pending availability of marketing and distribution funds that MGM chairman Giancarlo Paretti eventually secured from European investors, as stated in the 27 Feb 1991 HR. According to the 21 Jun 1991 L.A. Weekly, when MGM-Pathé received a green light from bankers, it chose Thelma & Louise as its early summer release, believing the film offered the studio’s best “alternative to the traditional summer-movie fare.”
       Critical reception was largely positive. The 24 May 1991 LAT review deemed the film “provocative, poignant and heartbreakingly funny,” and the NYT review of the same date stated that it “reveals the previously untapped talent of [Ridley] Scott…for exuberant comedy, and for vibrant American imagery.” The 6 May 1991 HR review predicted Thelma & Louise would be “MGM’s white knight.” By 15 Sep 1991, the film had taken in $42 million in box-office receipts, according to an LAT item of the same date, and MGM-Pathé planned to expand to ninety-nine additional theaters in its sixteenth week of release. On 27 Sep 1991, another 300 play dates were scheduled, primarily in college towns where the studio hoped to draw in a younger female audience, with advertisements in college newspapers urging younger women to “catch the phenomenon.” As of 4 Jul 1991, an estimated $14 million had been spent on advertising. The final box-office take was $45 million, according to the 2 Feb 2003 LAT. The film went on to become a “top video rental,” as noted in the 3 May 1992 LAT, with the help of a $2 million marketing campaign from MGM/UA Home Video, according to the 15 Oct 1991 DV.
       Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon appeared on the cover of the 24 Jun 1991 issue of Time magazine, with the headline: “Why Thelma & Louise Strikes a Nerve.” The picture was deemed “a real cult film for women,” and the final scene became iconic, with homages appearing in various television shows and commercials, including The Simpsons (Fox, 17 Dec 1989--present) and a television commercial for Bing.com, as noted in a 24 Aug 2010 LAT article. To commemorate the film, 200 fine-art movie posters, priced at $2,500 each, were printed on handmade paper by a stone lithograph, “in the style and technical tradition of the early movie posters,” by Venice, CA-based Angeles Press, according to a 3 May 1992 LAT article. Angeles Press owner Toby Michel, who was Callie Khouri’s neighbor, collaborated with artist Michael Elins on the design, and claimed that he and Elins were the first people in seventy years to create such a poster.
       The script, written in six months, marked Callie Khouri’s feature film screenwriting debut. Khouri won an Academy Award for Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen), a Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture, and a Literary Award from the International PEN writers’ organization, as noted in the 18 Mar 1992 LAT. Both Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon received Academy Award nominations for Actress in a Leading Role, while Adrian Biddle was nominated for Cinematography, Ridley Scott was nominated for Directing, and Thom Noble was nominated for Film Editing. A 5 Dec 1991 HR brief announced that Thelma & Louise won the Golden Spike, and an audience award, at the Valladolid Film Festival in Spain.
       Controversy arose over Thelma & Louise’s negative portrayal of male characters and the way Thelma and Louise treated them. According to a 16 Jun 1991 NYT article by Janet Maslin, columnists Liz Smith and John Leo, of U.S. News & World Report, accused the picture of espousing “toxic feminism.” Maslin, who called the film “transcendent in every way,” argued that some viewers were simply offended by the fact that “men in this story don’t really matter,” and claimed that a double standard had been placed on Thelma & Louise, when unethical behavior in male-driven road movies was never questioned. In his 25 Jul 1991 column in The Washington Post, humorist Art Buchwald called Thelma & Louise “the movie of the summer” but complained that it caused an argument between him and his wife. Buchwald stated that if the film represented “what women really want,” he would avoid highways in Oklahoma and Arizona until they got it. Callie Khouri responded to the outcry in the 5 Jun 1991 NYT, stating that the film was not hostile toward men, but toward “idiots.” She also claimed to have written the script in “a conscious effort to counter” Hollywood’s tendency to portray women as “bimbos, whores and nagging wives.”
       On 25 Aug 2011, AMPAS honored the film’s twentieth anniversary with a screening at its Samuel Goldwyn Theater, according to a 22 Aug 2011 LAT article. Actress Geena Davis, producer Mimi Polk Gitlin, and screenwriter Callie Khouri were scheduled to attend.
       “Thelma” and “Louise” were listed as the #24 heroes on AFI’s 2003 list, 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains. The film was listed #76 on AFI’s 2001 list, 100 Years…100 Thrills, and #78 on AFI’s 2006 list, 100 Years…100 Cheers. In Dec 2016, the Library of Congress announced the picture's inclusion in the National Film Registry.
       End credits include the following: “The Producers wish to give special thanks to: Bureau of Land Management, Utah and Colorado; Department of the Interior; National Park Service; Arches National Park; Canyonlands National Park; Bette Stanton & The Moab Film Commission; Dale Stapley, State of Utah Department of Transportation; Brett Palmer & The San Juan County Film Commission; Tony Lama Boot Company; Brooks Athletic Footwear; Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA; Patrick Sport Shoe Inc., USA; The Ghurka Collection; Alpine Electronics of America, Inc.; Amanda Temple.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 Jul 1990.
---
Daily Variety
6 May 1991
p. 2, 12.
Daily Variety
15 Oct 1991
p. 1, 8.
Daily Variety
8 Aug 2011.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Feb 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 May 1991
p. 5, 12.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 May 1992.
---
LA Weekly
21 Jun 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Mar 1990
Calendar, p. 28.
Los Angeles Times
24 May 1991
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
15 Sep 1991
Calendar, p. 23.
Los Angeles Times
18 Mar 1992
Section E, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
3 May 1992
Calendar, p. 21.
Los Angeles Times
2 Feb 2003
Section E, p. 32.
Los Angeles Times
24 Aug 2010
Section D, p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
25 Aug 2011
Calendar, p. 3.
New York Times
18 Nov 1990
Section A, p. 24.
New York Times
24 May 1991
p. 1.
New York Times
5 Jun 1991
Section C, p. 21.
New York Times
16 Jun 1991
Section A, p. 11.
People
26 Feb 1990.
---
Screen International
5 May 1990.
---
Screen International
26 Feb 1993.
---
Time Out (London)
3 Jul 1991
p. 13.
Variety
13 May 1991
pp. 104-105.
Washington Post
25 Jul 1991
Section D, p. 1.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Pathe Entertainment Presents
A Percy Mann Production
A Ridley Scott Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
Dir, 2d unit crew
1st asst dir, 2d unit crew
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Clapper loader
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Best boy elec
Elec
Elec
Generator op
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Dolly grip
Aerial dir of photog
Aerial cam tech
Cam op, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Asst set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Paint foreman
Standby painter
Labor foreman
Labor foreman
Greens asst
Leadman
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
COSTUMES
Key costumer
Set costumer
Set costumer
MUSIC
Mus supv
Pathe mus exec
Mus ed
Mus rec by
Solo guitar
Mus coord
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
Sd eff ed
Re-rec mixer
Asst re-rec mixer
Asst re-rec mixer
Addl re-rec, Warner Hollywood Studios
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Title des by
Titles & opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst to Mr. Scott
Asst to Ms. Polk
Asst to Ms. Sarandon
Casting assoc
Prod accountant
Payroll supv
Asst prod accountant
Accounting secy
Post prod supv
Post prod coord
Post prod accountant
Asst post prod accountant
Loc mgr (California)
Loc mgr (Utah)
Asst loc mgr
Loc asst
Loc asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Helicopter pilot
Helicopter pilot
Ground safety
Unit pub
Extra casting
The Casting Group
Dialect coach
Animal trainer
First aid
Projectionist
Video asst
Craft service
Craft service
Catering
Catering
Post prod facilities
STAND INS
"Louise" stunt double
"Louise" stunt double
"Thelma" stunt double
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt coord
"Thelma" stand-in
"Thelma" stand-in
"Louise" stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
Originated on
from Kodak
SOURCES
SONGS
"Little Honey," written by John Doe & David Alvin, performed by Kelly Willis, produced by Tony Brown, courtesy of MCA Records
"Wild Night," written by Van Morrison, performed by Martha Reeves, produced by Richard Perry, courtesy of MCA Records
"House of Hope," written by Toni Childs & David Ricketts, performed by Toni Childs, produced by David Ricketts & Toni Childs with Gavin McKillop, courtesy of A & M Records, Inc.
+
SONGS
"Little Honey," written by John Doe & David Alvin, performed by Kelly Willis, produced by Tony Brown, courtesy of MCA Records
"Wild Night," written by Van Morrison, performed by Martha Reeves, produced by Richard Perry, courtesy of MCA Records
"House of Hope," written by Toni Childs & David Ricketts, performed by Toni Childs, produced by David Ricketts & Toni Childs with Gavin McKillop, courtesy of A & M Records, Inc.
"I Don't Want To Love You (But I Do)," written by Paul Kennerly, performed by Kelly Willis, courtesy of MCA Records
"Mercury Blues," written by Robert Geddins & K. C. Douglas, performed by Charlie Sexton, produced by Jeff Lord - Alge & Charlie Sexton, re-mixed by Don Smith, courtesy of MCA Records
"Tennessee Plates," written by John Hiatt & Mike Porter, performed by Charlie Sexton, produced by Nile Rodgers, courtesy of MCA Records
"I Don't Wanna Play House," written by Glenn Sutton & Billy Sherrill, performed by Tammy Wynette, courtesy of Epic Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"Badlands," written by Charlie Sexton, performed by Charlie Sexton, produced by Nile Rodgers, courtesy of MCA Records
"Part Of You, Part Of Me," written by Glenn Frey & Jack Tempchin, performed by Glenn Frey, produced by Don Was, co-produced by Elliot Scheiner, courtesy of MCA Records
"The Way You Do The Things You Do," written by William Robinson & Robert Rogers, performed by The Temptations, courtesy of Motown Records Company, L. P.
"I Can't Untie You From Me," written by Holly Knight & Grayson Hugh, performed by Grayson Hugh, produced by Bernard Edwards, courtesy of RCA Records
"Kick The Stones," written by Chris Whitley, performed by Chris Whitley, produced by Dave Swanson with Chris Whitley for Pan Fish Prods., courtesy of Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"No Lookin' Back," written by Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald & Ed Sanford, performed by Michael McDonald, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Drawn To The Fire," written by Pam Tillis & Stan Webb, performed by Pam Tillis, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan," written by Shel Silverstein, performed by Marianne Faithfull, produced by Mark Miller Mundy for Airstream, courtesy of Island Records, Inc.
"Don't Look Back," written by Holly Knight & Grayson Hugh, performed by Grayson Hugh, produced by Bernard Edwards, courtesy of RCA Records
"I Can See Clearly Now," written by Johnny Nash, performed by Johnny Nash, courtesy of Epic Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"Better Not Look Down," written by Joe Sample & Will Jennings, performed by B. B. King, produced by Stewart Levine for Oliverea Productions Ltd., courtesy of MCA Records.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Thelma and Louise
Release Date:
24 May 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 24 May 1991
Production Date:
11 June--31 August 1990
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® cameras & lenses
Duration(in mins):
128
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31011
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Arkansas, best friends Thelma Dickinson and Louise Sawyer arrange a weekend fishing trip. Thelma, a subservient housewife, is too intimidated to ask her husband, Darryl, for permission to go. Instead, she packs her bags and leaves him a note. Louise picks Thelma up in her convertible Ford Thunderbird, and Thelma presents Louise with a handgun she brought for protection. Louise is disturbed by the gun, but tells Thelma she can stow it in her purse. That evening, Thelma persuades Louise to make a pit stop at a honky-tonk. There, a man named Harlan Puckett buys them a round of drinks. Louise fends him off, but Thelma encourages her to loosen up. She says Louise’s years of waitressing have hardened her against men, and suggests she break up with her absentee boyfriend, Jimmy. Louise counters that Thelma should ditch her “loser husband.” Thelma gets drunk and dances with Harlan. When Louise goes to the bathroom, Thelma tells Harlan she has the “spins,” and he takes her outside to vomit. Afterward, he pushes her onto the hood of a car and undresses her. She resists, but he strikes her and flips her onto her stomach. Just as he is about to rape her, Louise appears with Thelma’s gun. Harlan lets Thelma go but shows no remorse, saying that he should have gone ahead and raped her. Louise loses her temper and shoots him dead. Thelma runs to get the car. As they drive away, a shocked Louise stares at the gun in her hand. Thelma suggests they go to police, but Louise thinks no one will believe their alibi after seeing Thelma flirt with Harlan. They drive to a diner, ... +


In Arkansas, best friends Thelma Dickinson and Louise Sawyer arrange a weekend fishing trip. Thelma, a subservient housewife, is too intimidated to ask her husband, Darryl, for permission to go. Instead, she packs her bags and leaves him a note. Louise picks Thelma up in her convertible Ford Thunderbird, and Thelma presents Louise with a handgun she brought for protection. Louise is disturbed by the gun, but tells Thelma she can stow it in her purse. That evening, Thelma persuades Louise to make a pit stop at a honky-tonk. There, a man named Harlan Puckett buys them a round of drinks. Louise fends him off, but Thelma encourages her to loosen up. She says Louise’s years of waitressing have hardened her against men, and suggests she break up with her absentee boyfriend, Jimmy. Louise counters that Thelma should ditch her “loser husband.” Thelma gets drunk and dances with Harlan. When Louise goes to the bathroom, Thelma tells Harlan she has the “spins,” and he takes her outside to vomit. Afterward, he pushes her onto the hood of a car and undresses her. She resists, but he strikes her and flips her onto her stomach. Just as he is about to rape her, Louise appears with Thelma’s gun. Harlan lets Thelma go but shows no remorse, saying that he should have gone ahead and raped her. Louise loses her temper and shoots him dead. Thelma runs to get the car. As they drive away, a shocked Louise stares at the gun in her hand. Thelma suggests they go to police, but Louise thinks no one will believe their alibi after seeing Thelma flirt with Harlan. They drive to a diner, where Louise drinks coffee and tries to formulate a getaway plan. Thelma, whose nose is still bleeding from Harlan’s attack, becomes offended when Louise implies the murder was her fault because she put herself at risk. Back at the honky-tonk, Arkansas State Police detective Hal Slocumbe questions a waitress named Lena, who admits she saw Thelma dancing with Hal, but says the women were not “murdering types.” Thelma and Louise get back on the road. At dawn, Louise frets about money and asks Thelma how much she has. Thelma loses a $20 bill as she counts her cash, and announces she has $41. At a motel, Louise takes a shower and finds Thelma sulking on the bed. She accuses her of having a bad attitude and demands help, but Thelma says she already made her suggestion that they go to the police. Louise apologizes and says she is not ready to go to jail. She sends Thelma to the pool, calls her boyfriend, Jimmy, and asks him to wire her $6,700, which she promises to pay back from her savings. Although she won’t tell him what happened, he agrees to send the money to her next destination, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Hal Slocumbe receives orders to issue an all-points bulletin for Thelma and Louise, and to involve the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the search. Leaving the motel, Louise outlines her plan to go to Mexico. She coaches Thelma to call her husband, Darryl, and act is if everything is normal. When they talk, Darryl distractedly yells at Thelma while watching a football game on television. She tells Darryl he is her husband, not her father, and hangs up. Outside the payphone booth, she runs into J.D., an attractive young cowboy who asks for a ride. She wants to say yes, but Louise refuses. On the road, Thelma asks how long until they are in Mexico, revealing that she wants to escape with her friend. Louise asks her to find a route on the map that does not take them through Texas. Thelma argues that Texas offers the only direct route, and asks why Louise refuses to go there. Louise will only say that Texas is not a good place for women accused of shooting a man with his pants down. On a desolate strip of road, they pass by J.D., the hitchhiking cowboy, and Thelma begs to pick him up until Louise acquiesces. Back in Arkansas, Hal gets a tip that the women may be driving a Ford Thunderbird. With that information, he tracks down Louise’s apartment and place of work. He questions Darryl Dickinson, who reveals that Thelma took a .38 revolver on the trip. Meanwhile, Thelma bonds with J.D. She tells him she first started dating Darryl when she was fourteen years old, married him at eighteen, and has mostly tolerated his bad attitude. They arrive at a motel, where Jimmy surprises Louise by delivering her money in person. He encourages her to stay the night, and says he got Thelma a room of her own. Louise forces J.D. to leave, then gives Thelma the envelope with $6,700 for safekeeping. She spends the night with Jimmy, who proposes marriage out of fear of losing her. Louise confesses that she once wanted to marry him, but not under these circumstances. Later, J.D. knocks on Thelma’s door. She lets him in and they goof around. When she learns he is an armed robber, Thelma asks him to demonstrate how he conducts a robbery, and he recites a speech he gives during hold-ups. They kiss and make love. In the morning, Jimmy offers to run away with Louise, but she declines and kisses him goodbye. Thelma joins her in the motel diner, giddily revealing that she had good sex for the first time in her life. Meanwhile, she forgot to safeguard Louise’s $6,700, and they return to the room to find J.D. has stolen it. Louise crumples to the floor and cries. Thelma assumes an uncharacteristic cool and urges her to get up. They drive west to a convenience store, where Thelma leaves Louise in the car. Minutes later, Thelma emerges with a bag of stolen cash. As they drive away, she boasts that she executed the robbery like a professional. Elsewhere, Darryl watches security camera footage, in which Thelma recites J.D.’s hold-up speech. Further west, the women drive past a gasoline tanker truck, and the driver sexually harasses them. They stop at a bar, where Louise orders Thelma to call home and, if she detects anything strange, to hang up. Thelma does so and hangs up when Darryl is nice to her. Louise deduces that police have tapped his phone. She calls back and asks to talk to whoever is in charge. Hal gets on the line, urges the women to turn themselves in for questioning, and warns that they will not make it to Mexico. That night, as they drive through the desert, Thelma, who has always wanted to travel, marvels at the landscape. Later, she laughs hysterically when she recalls Harlan’s murder. Louise tells her it is not funny and Thelma becomes somber. She asks Louise if she was raped in Texas, but Louise will not discuss it. When a policeman pulls them over for speeding, they steal his gun and lock him in the trunk of his car. Afterward, Louise worries that she ruined everything by refusing to go to police in the first place. Thelma assures her she did the right thing, and says her life would have been much worse if Harlan had raped her; she only regrets not killing him herself. Louise calls Hal again, and learns that she and Thelma have been officially charged with murder. Thelma interrupts and hangs up the receiver. However, unbeknownst to the women, the call lasted long enough for police to trace their whereabouts in Arizona. Thelma suspects Louise might be considering a plea deal, but Louise promises she is not. Thelma admits she has crossed a line, and can never go back to her old life. Louise agrees. Later that day, they encounter the rude gasoline truck driver and lure him to the side of the road, where they demand an apology. The man refuses, and they shoot up his truck, causing it to explode. They drive further into the desert, where several police cars track them. They gain a momentary lead but are forced to stop at the edge of the Grand Canyon. A helicopter appears, along with more police cars. Hal emerges from the helicopter and approaches. Thelma sees all the guns trained on them and tells Louise to keep driving. Louise realizes she wants to drive into the canyon. She kisses her friend, and the women hold hands as they plummet over the edge. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.