Theatrical release poster
Directed byMick Jackson
Written byJames Hicks
Produced byAaron Schwab
Faye Schwab
CinematographyAndrew Dunn
Edited byDon Fairservice
Music byJohn E. Keane
Distributed byHemdale Film Corporation
Release date
  • September 16, 1989 (1989-09-16) (TIFF)
  • April 20, 1990 (1990-04-20) (United States)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$259,486[1]

Chattahoochee is a 1989 American drama film directed by Mick Jackson and starring Gary Oldman and Dennis Hopper. The film is based on the real-life experiences of Chris Calhoun, who met screenwriter James Hicks, who then wrote a script based on his internment in a Florida state mental institution. It was turned down by several major studios before being accepted by Hemdale Film Corporation, a small British-owned, Los Angeles-based company that also produced Platoon, Hoosiers, The Last Emperor, and Salvador.


Emmett Foley is an American hero of the Korean War who attempts to commit suicide, first by provoking local police and then by shooting himself in the chest. After his recovery, he is sent to the Florida State Hospital, an institution in Chattahoochee, Florida, where he fights against doctors and staff who are terrorizing and torturing their patients. His efforts eventually led to sweeping reforms in the Florida mental health system.



The movie is based on Chris Calhoun. The main character, Emmitt Foley, is a fictional character based on Calhoun. Chattahoochee appeared in theaters nationwide May 11, 1990. (Theatrical Release Date: April 20, 1990)[2] This film was well-researched, and is a great resource for viewers who want to know what conditions were in state mental hospitals prior to the 1970s when radical legislative reform swept the nation.[citation needed] Another famous person institutionalized at Chattahoochee was Ruby McCollum, the African-American woman who shot state senator-elect, Dr. C. Leroy Adams in 1952. Her case brought many of these same practices to light.


The film holds a 13% rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 8 reviews, with an average score of 4.6/10. Oldman compared the responses to Chattahoochee and his 1986 film Sid and Nancy, feeling the former was underappreciated and the latter overrated. He described Chattahoochee as "really good" work.[3]

See also


  1. ^ "Chattahoochee". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved Oct 26, 2020.
  2. ^ "Variety: Chattahoochee". Retrieved Oct 26, 2020.
  3. ^ "The Spectacle Interview: The folks from Romeo Is Bleeding". Columbia Daily Spectator: 11. February 2, 1994.