New York Times - 03/05/1986
"...Plenty of speed, grit and grime....But [Stone] has more on his mind than action..."
Variety - 03/05/1986
"...Stone has gotten a great deal of visual and political material up on the screen, and it's all worth grappling with..."
Oliver Stone's first overtly political film, SALVADOR is a passionate protest against the savagery unleashed by fascist thugs in El Salvador during the early 1980s with the complicity of the U.S. government. It stars James Woods as combat photojournalist Richard Boyle, an erratic, cynical character with a taste for all things chemical. Hearing rumors of war, he and Dr. Rock (Jim Belushi), another free spirit, head for El Salvador by car. After viewing a right-wing officer's collection of severed ears and photographing a corpse-strewn garbage dump with ace photographer John Cassady (John Savage), Boyle realizes that the situation is much worse than advertised in the American press. He recognizes familiar faces among the ubiquitous U.S. military brass and CIA personnel from his stint in Vietnam, but they're predictably reluctant to discuss the reasons for their presence, especially with the outrageous Boyle. As the journalist becomes involved with a Salvadoran native named Maria (Elpedia Carrillo) and observes the selfless dedication of his humanitarian worker friend Cathy (Cindy Gibb), compassion and outrage slowly begin to replace his cynicism. When Boyle swears to the dying Cassady that he'll get his crucial photos out of the country, he realizes that he must also try to get Maria out before she too becomes a statistic. Woods gives a brilliantly incendiary seriocomic performance in this wild, lacerating, and bitterly observant film.
A harrowing account of the experiences of American combat photojournalist Richard Boyle during the bloody El Salvador civil war of the early 1980s, SALVADOR marked Oliver Stone's emergence as a director with a passion for social and political issues. James Woods stars as the reckless Boyle, who takes off for Central America with his friend Dr. Rock (Jim Belushi) as the war heats up, fully equipped wth pharmaceutical enhancements. As the range and magnitude of the carnage become increasingly apparent and the extent of the Reagan administration's involvement revealed, Boyle begins to sober up both literally and physically.
Theatrical Release |
True Story |
Shot in Mexico.
Shown at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival February 28, 1985.
James Woods's confession scene was entirely improvised.
John Doe of the band X makes a cameo appearance as a restaurant owner. He later would play the owner of the Crashdown restaurant in the television series ROSWELL.