But it is James Woods who stands out among everyone and despite the psychological suffering endured by the protagonist played by Savage, that makes up the emotional core of the story, it is Woods’ movie all the way. Woods has an uncanny way of taking affectations of Powell and making them seem so off-kilter that, even while being funny, seem menacing.
I wonder if/how often Errol Morris watched this movie before making The Thin Blue Line.
Anyway, The Onion Field includes on the most chilling, artfully-done-yet-sick-making scenes ever committed to film, in which the cop with what we would now call PTSD and survivor guilt finally snaps and smacks his infant son, who won’t stop crying.
(The unseen “baby” is below screen, out of sight, but I expect there are viewers who wouldn’t remember it that way, the sequence is so well done.)
Alas, when such lists are drawn up, that scene is never included.
Anyway, background here.