Best Seller (1987) - Rotten Tomatoes

Best Seller1987

Best Seller (1987)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Best Seller Photos

Movie Info

Brian Dennehy plays a Wambaugh-type cop who has flourished as a novelist. At the moment, however, Dennehy is suffering from a profound case of writer's block. Coming to the rescue, as it were, is professional hit man James Woods. Recently dumped by his boss, above-suspicion business executive Paul Shenar, Woods is anxious to tell his life story to Dennehy, in hopes of striking it rich with a tell-all bestseller. Shenar, however, takes a dim view of Woods' indiscretions, and for a while it looks as though it's curtains for both Dennehy and his teenaged daughter Allison Balson. Screenwriter Larry Cohen has claimed that Best Seller was based on Strangers on a Train. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Brian Dennehy
as Dennis Meechum
Paul Shenar
as David Madlock
Victoria Tennant
as Roberta Gillian
Allison Balson
as Holly Meechum
George Coe
as Graham
Anne Pitoniak
as Mrs. Foster
Mary Carver
as Cleve's mother
Harold Tyner
as Cleve's Father
E. Brian Dean
as Taxi Driver
Branscombe Richmond
as Longshoreman
Jenny Gago
as Woman in Laundry
Michael Crabtree
as Man in Bar
Ted Markland
as Man in Bar
Clare Fields
as Bartender
Claudia Stenke
as Woman at Bar
David Byrd
as Quentin
Loyda Ramos
as Female Officer
Obaka Adedunyo
as Man in Car
David Ursin
as Meechum's Lawyer
Jay Ingram
as Turner
Gary Kirk
as Jason
David Cass Sr.
as Cop in Depository
Bill R. Mitchell
as El Paso TV Anchor
John Howard Swain
as Man at Airport
Mark Venturini
as Bodyguard
Larry Holt
as Bodyguard
Bill Mitchell
as El Paso TV Anchor
Jeff Ramsey
as Bodyguard
James Winburn
as Supervisor
Dennis Acree
as 1st Bodyguard
Peter T. Stader
as Dock Worker
Martin West
as Mature Cop
Arlin Miller
as News Reporter
Sands Hall
as Teacher
Wally Burr
as Talk Show Host
Sydney Urshan
as Drug Kingpin
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Critic Reviews for Best Seller

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (2)

Best Seller wouldn't amount to much without Woods' foul, sadistic, gleefully profane edge.

March 30, 2015 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

The problem is that Best Seller is light on plot, real light. It doesn't have a compelling story at its center, only the original inspiration of the best-selling cop and the killer who wants to talk.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

Best Seller is an intelligent and intuitive movie. [Full Review in Spanish]

April 1, 2020 | Full Review…

[Larry] Cohen cannily mixes social satire and genre twists in his clever screenplay of an unlikely friendship between two men with more history than they realize...

May 22, 2016 | Full Review…

Ingenious big city cop film.

April 7, 2016 | Rating: B | Full Review…

Concentrate(s) on character interactions, shootouts, and chases, with things like plot and motivation taking a back seat. The slick, 1980s design does the rest.

March 27, 2015 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Best Seller


Best Seller is a stunning well crafted dramatic thriller that boasts a strong cast and great directing from director John Flynn. James Woods gives a blistering performance as Cleve a contract killer who tells his story to Dennis Meechum, a cop and true crime author. Meechum is also very well acted by Brian Dennehy. This is a well constructed film that is highly engaging from start to finish. The plot is very engaging and in the end it delivers a cat and mouse angle to the plot which is riveting. James Woods' performance alone makes this film worth seeing and he is simply psychotic with a certain charm that adds a lot to the film. Of course the film could have been better and it does fall flat in a few areas. For the most part however, Best Seller is a very good picture that showcases two standout actors at their best. I really liked the conflict that Dennehy brought to the role as he tries to balance the author and the cop part of himself. Best Seller has its flaws, but due to a very good script, it manages to overcome its shortcomings and deliver something quite memorable. This is a film that didn't deserve the flack it has received and it is one of the better dramatic thrillers of the latter half of the 1980's. Best Seller is a film worth checking out and is definitely a film that the critics were wrong about. The performances are great and with that being said, it's what makes this one standout above other movies in this caliber. Don't believe the critics, if you love James Woods, you'll surely enjoy this. Far from perfect, but it is nonetheless a well constructed picture that will grab your attention from the first frame onwards.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer


Another underrated gem from the 80s.

Wu Chouin
Wu Chouin

Super Reviewer

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