Stakeout (1987 film)

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Theatrical release poster by Steven Chorney
Directed by John Badham
Produced by Jim Kouf
Cathleen Summers
Written by Jim Kouf
Music by Arthur B. Rubinstein
Cinematography John Seale
Edited by Michael Ripps
Tom Rolf
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • August 5, 1987 (1987-08-05)
Running time
117 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $14.5 million
Box office $65,673,233 (USA)

Stakeout is a 1987 American crime-comedy film directed by John Badham and starring Richard Dreyfuss, Emilio Estevez, Madeleine Stowe, Aidan Quinn, and Forest Whitaker. The screenplay was written by Jim Kouf, who won a 1988 Edgar Award for his work. Although the story is set in Seattle, Washington, the movie was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia. A sequel, Another Stakeout, followed in 1993. The movie later inspired a Malayalam language Indian movie Vandanam.


Detectives Chris Lecce (Richard Dreyfuss) and Bill Reimers (Emilio Estevez) are assigned to the night shift on a stakeout of Latina waitress Maria McGuire (Madeleine Stowe). Maria's former boyfriend Richard "Stick" Montgomery (Aidan Quinn) has escaped from a prison following a brawl with several guards. The FBI asks for their full cooperation in the capture of Montgomery. They also begin to realize that his cousin is helping him get to Seattle. Fellow officers Pismo and Coldshank start playing pranks on Chris and Bill during the day shift.

Montgomery telephones Maria, but the line gets cut off so that Chris and Bill can trace her calls. He has a large amount of money that he secretly hid in an armchair prior to his incarceration. Lecce and Reimers spy on Maria, hoping that Montgomery will turn up at her door so they can arrest him. Lecce is going through a divorce with his wife. He comes home and finds out that she moved out and took his furniture, leaving him in despair. Lecce pretends to be a telephone lineman, in order to get close to Maria. He also helps her brother Ray get a job, that way he'll stop doing criminal activities, and have a normal life without getting into trouble.

Fate takes a turn for the worse as Lecce falls in love with Maria and the Seattle police suspect him as one of Montgomery's allies. While asleep in Maria's bed, Montgomery breaks into her house and kills Lecce by shooting him in the face. Lecce wakes up and finds out it was a nightmare. Not only that, he finds out he slept in, and must leave the house without being seen. Chris runs through Maria's neighborhood without being captured by the police, until Bill saves him at the last minute. At the police station, Bill scolds him for sleeping with Maria, but Chris promises he will tell her the truth of who he really is. Bill reminds Chris that he's a good cop that made one mistake.

Montgomery and his cousin, Caylor, have a run-in with several officers waiting for them outside Seattle, causing a shootout and having their car to crash into the river. Montgomery escapes from the vehicle before it sinks. Lecce tells his secret to Maria, but she starts to get upset, only to run into Montgomery, who survived. Montgomery tells Chris and Maria that he stashed half-million dollars in a couch that he bought for her years prior. He was hoping that he and Maria would have a great life together in Canada, but Lecce ruined it for them. After capturing Reimers, Montgomery plans executing both him and Lecce. The climax of the film takes place at a paper mill, where Lecce and Montgomery have a shootout, resulting in Montgomery being shot in the chest. Chris thanks Maria for saving his life, just when Montgomery was going to kill him. Maria and Lecce begin to have a relationship.



Stakeout earned mostly positive reception from critics. As of June 2014, it holds an 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 23 reviews.

Box office

The film debuted at number one at the box office.[1][2] It went on to gross $65.6 million domestically, ranking as the eighth highest grossing film of the year.


  1. "Stakeout' Ranks No. 1 In Box-Office Sales". The New York Times. September 2, 1987. Retrieved November 17, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Stakeout in First Place In Week's Ticket Sales". The New York Times. August 27, 1987. Retrieved November 17, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links