Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead

Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead is a 1995 American neo-noir crime film directed by Gary Fleder from a screenplay written by Scott Rosenberg. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Andy García, Christopher Lloyd, Treat Williams, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, Fairuza Balk, and Gabrielle Anwar.

The film's title comes from a Warren Zevon song of the same name, recorded on his 1991 album Mr. Bad Example, which he allowed under the condition that the song be played during the end credits. The lead character's name, "Jimmy the Saint," comes from the Bruce Springsteen song "Lost in the Flood" from the album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. It is referred to by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum as one of several of Pulp Fiction's clones.[1] The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival.[2]

Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGary Fleder
Produced byCary Woods
Written byScott Rosenberg
Music byMichael Convertino
CinematographyElliot Davis
Edited byRichard Marks
Distributed byMiramax Films
Release date
  • December 1, 1995
Running time
115 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$8 million
Box office$529,677


Trying to go straight, ex-gangster Jimmy "The Saint" Tosnia runs Afterlife Advice in Denver, where dying people videotape messages for their loved ones. His business isn't doing well and his former boss, a local crime lord known as "The Man With The Plan," has bought up his debt in order to command a favor involving the crime lord's son, Bernard, who has been arrested for child molestation. The Man With The Plan, who was left a quadriplegic after an attempt on his life, wants Jimmy to persuade Bernard's ex-girlfriend Meg to come back to him; The Man With the Plan believes this will cure Bernard of his pedophilia.

A reluctant Jimmy recruits his friends Easy Wind, Pieces, Big Bear Franchise and the rage-prone Critical Bill. The plan is to have Pieces and Critical Bill pose as police officers, intercept Meg's current boyfriend, Bruce, and intimidate him until he agrees to break up with Meg. Things go wrong when Bruce grows suspicious of the two men's identities and mocks them, whereupon Critical Bill stabs Bruce in the throat. The commotion wakes up Meg, sleeping in the back of Bruce's van. Meg's appearance startles Pieces, who accidentally shoots her dead. The Man With The Plan is furious at the outcome of their botched mission. He informs Jimmy that he will allow him to live, as long as he leaves Denver, but his crew have been sentenced to "buckwheats" – to be assassinated in a gruesome and painful manner.

Jimmy's friends come to terms with their impending deaths as they are stalked by a hit man, Mr. Shhh, who never fails. Pieces accepts his fate, with Mr. Shhh providing a quick death. Easy Wind goes into hiding with a gang lord called Baby Sinister, but is given up after Mr. Shhh infiltrates and kills most of Sinister's entourage. Because Franchise has a family to raise, Jimmy pleads with The Man With The Plan to spare his life. The Man With The Plan agrees to do so, then betrays Jimmy, having Franchise killed while attempting to flee with his family. The betrayal makes Jimmy vengeful; in turn, Jimmy is also sentenced to buckwheats.

Mr. Shhh finally locates Critical Bill holed up in his apartment, but is ambushed by Bill and the two end up killing each other. In the wake of Mr. Shhh's death, the contract on Jimmy falls to a trio of Mexican brothers. In his final hours, Jimmy says goodbye to a young woman he had fallen in love with, Dagney. Knowing that he will most likely be killed, Jimmy murders Bernard for all the misery he indirectly brought upon the group. He also impregnates Lucinda, a prostitute, in order to fulfill her wish of becoming a mother. As he narrates an Afterlife Advice video, Jimmy gives advice to his unborn child. The trio of killers catch up to Jimmy and he takes his death with grace. The Man With The Plan, broken by his son's death, never commits another criminal act and will now die bitter and alone. Jimmy and his friends are then seen together having "boat drinks" in the afterlife.



The film was met with negative reviews from critics, holding a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes from a sample of 27 reviews, but a 72% audience approval rating.

Produced on a budget of $8 million, the film made only about $530,000 upon its limited release.


  1. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "The World According to Harvey and Bob (Smoke, The Glass Shield)", Chicago Reader, June 16, 1995.
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead". Retrieved 2009-09-07.

External links

1995 Toronto International Film Festival

The 20th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) took place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada between September 7 and September 16, 1995. The Confessional by Robert Lepage was selected as the opening film and Devil In A Blue Dress by Carl Franklin was selected as the closing film.

Andy García

Andrés Arturo García Menéndez (born April 12, 1956) is a Cuban American actor and director who became known in the late 1980s and 1990s, having appeared in successful Hollywood films, including The Godfather Part III, The Untouchables, Internal Affairs and When a Man Loves a Woman. In the 2000s, he starred in Ocean's Eleven and its sequels:, Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen, and in The Lost City.

García was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Vincent Mancini in The Godfather Part III. He was Emmy Award- and Golden Globe Award-nominated for his titular role in For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story.

B-Sides and Otherwise

B-Sides and Otherwise was a collection of B-Sides and previously unreleased songs by Morphine, put out in 1997 by the Rykodisc label.

Bill Nunn

William Goldwyn "Bill" Nunn III (October 20, 1953 – September 24, 2016) was an American actor known for his roles as Radio Raheem in Spike Lee's film Do the Right Thing and Robbie Robertson in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man film trilogy.

Cathy Konrad

Cathy Konrad (born June 29, 1963) is an American film and television producer who has produced nineteen feature films including critically acclaimed films such as Golden Globe-winner Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, Girl, Interrupted, Kids and the Scream tetralogy. Since 2011, she has been working exclusively on TV. In 1999, she married film producer James Mangold; they have two sons. In 2014, the couple announced that they were divorcing.

Gabrielle Anwar

Gabrielle Anwar (born 4 February 1970) is an English actress known for her roles as Sam Black in the second series of Press Gang, Margaret Tudor on The Tudors, Fiona Glenanne on Burn Notice, Lady Tremaine in the seventh season of Once Upon a Time, and for dancing the tango with Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman.

Gary Fleder

Gary Fleder (; born December 19, 1965) is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. His most recently completed film, Homefront, was released by Open Road Films and Millennium Films in November 2013. In recent years he has been a prolific director of television pilots.

Jeffrey Downer

Jeffrey "Jeff" Downer is a movie and television producer and production manager. He was born September 16, 1957 in Glens Falls, New York.Downer was the co-producer/UPM on the hit comedy Never Been Kissed, starring Drew Barrymore. He also served in that capacity on the HBO movie Always Outnumbered starring Laurence Fishburne. As a line producer or unit production manager, Downer's credits include the films Speed 2: Cruise Control, Gang Related, Courage Under Fire, Dunston Checks In, Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, Mr. Holland's Opus and Love Potion No. 9. For television he was the UPM on the HBO telefilms And the Band Played On and Barbarians at the Gate, and the USA movies Dangerous Heart and Lies of the Twins.

Downer's most recent film credits include Runaway Jury (starring Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, John Cusack), Don't Say a Word (starring Michael Douglas), the TV show Lie To Me, and First Daughter (2004) (starring Katie Holmes, Michael Keaton).

In 2005, Downer produced his first television episode on the short lived ABC drama, Blind Justice. Afterward, he worked on another ABC drama, Commander in Chief starring Geena Davis.

In recent years, Downer has worked on CBS dramas such as Shark, Hawaii Five-0, MacGyver (2016), and Dynasty.

Jockey Full of Bourbon

"Jockey Full of Bourbon" is a song by Tom Waits released as the first single from his 1985 album Rain Dogs. It is featured in the films Down By Law (1986) and Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead (1995). Lyrics from the song were also referenced in the Cartoon Network show, Clarence (2015).

List of crime films of 1995

This is a list of crime films released in 1995.

Michael Convertino

Michael Convertino is an American musician and film score composer best known for his collaborations with director Randa Haines on films like Children of a Lesser God, The Doctor, Wrestling Ernest Hemingway, and Dance with Me, as well as The Hidden, Bull Durham, Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, and the Tim Allen comedies The Santa Clause and Jungle 2 Jungle.

Mr. Bad Example

Mr. Bad Example is the eighth studio album by American singer-songwriter Warren Zevon. The album was released on October 15, 1991.

Never Home

Never Home is the fourth album by singer-songwriter Freedy Johnston. It was released in 1997 on Elektra Records. Johnston credited producer Danny Kortchmar with imparting a more spontaneous, live-sounding feel to this album than its predecessor, This Perfect World.

The leadoff track, "On the Way Out," is a wry song about shoplifting. It's a re-recorded version of a song that appeared on the soundtrack to the movie Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead. (He had originally written it for the movie Empire Records, but it was not accepted.) It and "One More Thing to Break" are the only two songs on the album that have much of a rock edge.

"Western Sky" is about a man afraid to fly because of the death of his father in a crash. Johnston doesn't typically use events in the lives of friends as inspiration for his songs, but this is an exception. He was a little uncomfortable with the notion of having "exploited" a friend, although he noted that the friend had no problem with the song.Another highlight, "Gone to See the Fire," concerns a woman gradually working out a very disturbing secret about her boyfriend. "If It's True" wrestles with unplanned pregnancy.

"Something's Out There," a fairly light song about UFO abduction, is a rare collaboration for Johnston. He wrote it with Stan Lynch, the album's drummer, who is best known for his work with Tom Petty.

Cellist Jane Scarpantoni, a frequent Johnston collaborator, appears on two tracks.


Prolyphic is an American hip hop musician from Rhode Island. He is one half of the duo Stick Figures along with Robust and is currently signed to Strange Famous Records.

Richard Marks

Richard Marks (November 10, 1943 – December 31, 2018) was an American film editor with more than 30 editing credits for feature and television films dating from 1972. In an extended, notable collaboration (1983–2010), he edited all of director James L. Brooks' feature films.

Treat Williams

Richard Treat Williams (born December 1, 1951) is an American actor and children's book author who has appeared on film, stage and television. He first became well known for his starring role in the 1979 film Hair, and later also starred in the films Prince of the City, Once Upon a Time in America, The Late Shift and 127 Hours. From 2002 to 2006, he was the lead of the television series Everwood and was nominated for two Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Wiley Harker

James "Wiley" Harker (January 27, 1915 – May 1, 2007) was an American character actor who portrayed Crane Tolliver in the soap opera General Hospital in 1983. He also played Justice Harold Webb in First Monday in October (1981). He also appeared in Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead as Boris Carlotti, and The Straight Story as Verlyn Heller.

William Forsythe (actor)

William Forsythe (born June 7, 1955) is an American actor. He is best known for his portrayal of various gangsters and tough guys in films such as Raising Arizona, Once Upon a Time in America, Stone Cold, Out For Justice, Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, Dick Tracy, The Rock, American Me and The Devil's Rejects. He also played recurring characters in the series Boardwalk Empire, Justified, and John Doe.

Films directed by Gary Fleder
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Live albums
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