Heaven's Prisoners

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Heaven's Prisoners
Heavens prisonersmp.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Phil Joanou
Produced byLeslie Greif
Andre Morgan
Albert S. Ruddy
Screenplay by Harley Peyton
Scott Frank
Based onHeaven's Prisoners
by James Lee Burke
Music by George Fenton
Cinematography Harris Savides
Edited by William Steinkamp
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date
  • May 17, 1996 (1996-05-17)
Running time
132 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$25,000,000 [1]
Box office$5,009,305 [2]

Heaven's Prisoners is a 1996 American dramatic crime thriller film directed by Phil Joanou and starring Alec Baldwin, Kelly Lynch, Mary Stuart Masterson, Teri Hatcher and Eric Roberts. It is based on a Dave Robicheaux homonymous novel by James Lee Burke. Harley Peyton and Scott Frank wrote the screenplay.


The film was followed by In the Electric Mist (2009), starring Tommy Lee Jones as Dave Robicheaux. In the sequel, Robicheaux still lives in Louisiana and has come out of retirement as an Iberia Parish sheriff's detective.


A former police detective and Vietnam veteran in New Orleans and a recovering alcoholic, Dave Robicheaux, is living a quiet life in the swamplands of Louisiana with his wife Annie. The couple's tranquility is shattered one day when a drug smuggler's plane crashes in a lake, right before their eyes.

Robicheaux succeeds in rescuing a lone survivor from drowning, a young Salvadoran female victim, whom Annie quickly pulled up onto the boat to administer mouth-to-mouth by covering the little girl’s nostrils with her right cheek while breathing into the airway. With the arrival of a DEA officer named Dautrieve and an inherent connection to Bubba Rocque, the leading drug kingpin in the area and Robicheaux's longtime friend from New Iberia, Dave becomes involved in solving the case and consequently finds himself, his wife, and their new adoptive daughter Alafair in danger.

Robicheaux is assaulted by two thugs as a warning. With help from his former girlfriend Robin, an exotic dancer who still has feelings for him, he continues to investigate. His longtime acquaintance Bubba denies any involvement, but Dave warns him and Bubba's sultry wife Claudette that he is going to find out who is behind all this and do something about it. He tracks down one of the men who attacked him, Eddie Keats, and splits his head open with a pool cue in Keat's own bar. Killers come to the Robicheaux home late one night. Robicheaux is unable to prevent his wife Annie from being killed. He falls off the wagon and neglects the young girl they adopted. Robin comes to stay with them.

Clearing his head, Robicheaux seeks vengeance against the three killers. He first goes after a large man called Toot, chasing him onto a streetcar and causing his death. Bubba and Claudette reassure a local mob boss named Giancano that they will not let this vendetta get out of hand, and Bubba gets into a fistfight with Robicheaux, falsely suspecting him of an affair with Claudette. Eddie Keats is found dead before Robicheaux can get to him. Going after the last and most dangerous of the killers, Victor Romero, he knows that someone else must be giving them orders.

He finds Romero and kills him. Then, going to Bubba's home, Robicheaux discovers that it is Claudette who planned the hit. After overhearing Claudette confessing her plan to take over the drug business, Bubba appears and shoots Claudette, and Robicheaux calls in the crime. When he returns home, Robin has left forever, and all Robicheaux has left in his life is his daughter Alafair.



The film opened in fifth place grossing $2,308,797 its opening weekend playing in a total of 907 theaters at its widest point. However the film was a box office failure, grossing only $5,009,305, far below its $25,000,000 budget. The film also received generally negative reviews with a 16% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 19 reviews. [3] Teri Hatcher's performance earned her a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Supporting Actress.

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  1. "Box office / business for Heaven's Prisoners (1996)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2016-10-22.
  2. "Heaven's Prisoners (1996)". Box Office Mojo. 1996-06-08. Retrieved 2011-06-11.
  3. "Heaven's Prisoners". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-06-11.