Miracle Mile (film)

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Miracle Mile
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySteve De Jarnatt
Written bySteve De Jarnatt
Produced byJohn Daly
Derek Gibson
CinematographyTheo van de Sande
Edited byStephen Semel
Kathie Weaver
Music byTangerine Dream
Miracle Mile Productions
Distributed byHemdale Film Corporation
Release dates
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3.7-4 million[1][2]
Box office$1.1 million[3]

Miracle Mile is a 1988 American apocalyptic thriller[4] drama film written and directed by Steve De Jarnatt and starring Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham. The film depicts the panic surrounding a supposed doomsday brought on by a sudden outbreak of war and its oncoming nuclear holocaust. The story takes place in a single day and mostly in real-time. It is titled after the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles where most of the events take place.[2]


Harry Washello and Julie Peters meet at the La Brea Tar Pits and immediately fall in love. They spend the afternoon together, and arrange to meet at midnight after her shift at a local coffee shop. However, due to a freak accident involving Harry's discarded cigarette and a pigeon, a power failure results and Harry's alarm does not go off until much later. Julie is unable to reach Harry at the hotel due to the power failure, so she leaves for home. When Harry awakes that night he realizes what has happened and rushes to the shop, arriving at 4 AM. Harry tries to call Julie on a payphone, but only reaches her answering machine, where he leaves an apology. The phone rings as soon as the previous call ends and Harry answers, hearing a frantic man named Chip urgently warning that nuclear war will break out in less than seventy minutes. When Harry asks who is calling, Chip realizes that he has dialed the wrong area code. He pleads with Harry to call his father and apologize for some past wrong before he is interrupted and presumably shot dead. An unfamiliar voice picks up the phone and tells Harry to forget everything he heard and "go back to sleep" before disconnecting.

Harry, confused and not entirely convinced of the authenticity of the information, wanders back into the diner and tells the other customers what he has heard. As the patrons scoff at his story, one of them, a businesswoman named Landa, places calls to politicians in Washington and finds that they are all suddenly heading for "the extreme Southern Hemisphere". She verifies that the launch codes Chip mentioned are real and, convinced of the danger, immediately charters private jets out of Los Angeles International Airport to a compound in a region in Antarctica with no rainfall. Most of the customers and staff leave with her in the owner's delivery van. When the owner refuses to make any stops, Harry, unwilling to leave without Julie, arranges to meet the group at the airport and jumps from the truck.

Harry is helped and hindered by various strangers, who are initially unaware of the impending apocalypse. In the process he inadvertently causes several deaths, which leaves him deeply shaken. When he finds Julie and tells her what is happening, she notes that there has been no confirmation of the attack. Desperate to reach the airport and not having a car, Harry finds a helicopter pilot and tells him to meet them on the roof of the Mutual Benefit Life Building, where Landa ordered a helicopter and a large amount of supplies to be delivered. Julie has also tried to find a pilot on her own, and in the moments it takes to find her, Los Angeles descends into violent chaos. There is still no confirmation any of this is real, and Harry wonders if he has sparked a massive false panic in the example of Chicken Little. However, when he uses a phone booth to contact Chip's father, he reaches a man who says his son is a soldier. Harry tries to pass on the message he was given, but the man hangs up before Harry finishes.

When they reach the top of the Mutual Benefit building they find the pad empty, with only Landa's drunk co-worker on the roof. Any doubts about a false alarm are eliminated when a missile can be seen streaking across the sky. As they fear the end, the helicopter suddenly returns with the pilot badly wounded but fulfilling his promise to come back for them. After they lift off from the roof, several warheads hit and the nuclear electromagnetic pulse from the detonations causes the helicopter to crash into the La Brea Tar Pits. As the helicopter sinks and the cabin fills with natural asphalt tar, Harry tries to comfort a hysterical Julie by saying someday their fossils will be found and they will probably be put in a museum, or that they might take a direct hit and be turned into diamonds. Julie, accepting her fate, calms down and takes comfort in Harry's words, and the movie fades out as the tar fills the compartment. A final explosion seems to imply a direct hit has taken place.



Before Miracle Mile was made, its production had been legendary in Hollywood for ten years.[5] In 1983, it had been chosen by American Film magazine as one of the ten best unmade screenplays.[5] Steve De Jarnatt wrote it just out of the American Film Institute for Warner Brothers with the hope of directing it as well. The studio wanted to make it on a bigger scale and did not want to entrust the project with a first-time director like De Jarnatt.[5]

Miracle Mile spent three years in production limbo until De Jarnatt optioned it himself, buying the script for $25,000.[5] He rewrote it and the studio offered him $400,000 to buy it back. He turned them down.[5] When he shopped it around to other studios, they balked at the mix of romance and nuclear war and the film's downbeat ending.[5] At one point, it nearly became the script for the eventual separately made Twilight Zone: The Movie.[6] Before Anthony Edwards was cast, production nearly began with both Nicolas Cage and Kurt Russell.[1] Of the script, Edwards said, "It scared the hell out of me. It really made me angry too ... I just couldn't believe that somebody had written this."[5] John Daly of Hemdale Films gave De Jarnatt $3.7 million to make the film.[1]

Edwards later recalled:

That was a script that everybody wanted to make, but they wanted him to change the ending. It was this great adventure, but they wanted it to have a happy ending. But he stuck it out, and luckily he stuck it out long enough that I was old enough to play the part. [Laughs.] So I got to do it, and we did it at a time when there really was no green screen for special effects. You had to shoot what was there. It's amazing how dated that film looks now, because of our ability to do things technically now. I mean, it really looks antiquated. Mare Winningham is one of the greatest actresses ever. It was eight weeks of night shooting, though, so you'd be driving home from work at, like, 6 in the morning, having had a wrap beer, and then you're suddenly going, "Oh my God, what do people think of somebody having a beer at 6 in the morning whenever everyone else is on their way to work? [Laughs.][7]

The following locations in Los Angeles were used: Johnie's Coffee Shop; La Brea Tar Pits; Miracle Mile District; Pan-Pacific Auditorium in the Fairfax District.[1]


1989 release[edit]

Miracle Mile
1989 CD cover
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedJuly 1989
GenreElectronic music
LabelPrivate Music
ProducerEdgar Froese, Paul Haslinger
Tangerine Dream chronology
Optical Race
Miracle Mile
Lily on the Beach
Professional ratings
Review scores
Q Magazine[8]

Miracle Mile is the thirty-sixth major release and twelfth soundtrack album by Tangerine Dream. Monty Smith in Q Magazine described it as an "euphonious mixture of gloomy melodic synthesizers and hypnotically insistent drum machines".[8]

Track listing[edit]

1."Teetering Scales"3:39
2."One for the Books"3:04
3."After the Call"5:11
4."On the Spur of the Moment"3:00
5."All of a Dither"3:24
6."Final Statement"3:14
7."In Julie's Eyes"3:15
8."Running Out of Time"3:30
9."If It's All Over"4:34
10."People in the News"5:10
11."Museum Walk"3:12


2017 release[edit]

The complete score in film sequence order was released in 2017 representing the score as delivered by Tangerine Dream to the director, essentially as heard in the film's mix with tracks 14 through 23 containing music effects.[9]

Music From The Motion Picture Miracle Mile (Original Score)
Film score by
Tangerine Dream
LabelDragon's Domain
ProducerEdgar Froese, Paul Haslinger

Track listing[edit]

CD1: The Complete Film Score

2."Pier/Trolley Montage"1:55
3."Cigarette, Bird, Sleep"3:12
4."Car Drive/Phone Call"2:46
6."Truck Scene"4:50
7."Wilson's Car/Gas Station"3:28
8."Police Car/Julie's Bedroom"3:41
9."Through The Dark/Run Across The Street"3:37
11."Gym: In-Exterior/Phone Call Theme"4:02
12."Helicopter/Back to the Tarpits"5:07
13."End Title"4:54

CD2: The Soundtrack Album

1."Teetering Scales"3:39
2."One for the Books"3:03
3."After the Call"5:11
4."On the Spur of the Moment"3:01
5."All of a Dither"3:24
6."Final Statement"3:15
7."In Julie's Eyes"3:15
8."Running Out of Time"3:30
9."If It's All Over"4:34
10."People in the News"5:10
11."Museum Walk"3:12



Miracle Mile received generally positive reviews among critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 91% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on 32 reviews and the consensus: "Miracle Mile brings about its small-scale doomsday tale with achingly rich bleakness and hypnotically nightmarish fervor."[10]

Roger Ebert praised the film, claiming it had a "diabolical effectiveness" and a sense of "real terror".[11] In her review for the Washington Post, Rita Kempley wrote: "It seems [De Jarnatt]'s not committed to his story or his characters, but to the idea that he is saying something profound—which he isn't."[12] Stephen Holden, in The New York Times, wrote: "As Harry and Julie, Mr. Edwards and Ms. Winningham make an unusually refreshing pair."[13] In his review for the Boston Globe, Jay Carr called it: "... a messy film, but it's got energy, urgency, conviction and heat and you won't soon forget it."[14] British film and television critic Charlie Brooker, in an article for the BAFTA web site written in September 2008, awarded Miracle Mile the honor of having the "Biggest Lurch of Tone" of any film he had ever seen.[15]




See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Bertrand, David (November 5, 2015). "Interview: Director Steve De Jarnatt Looks Back on Cult Classic MIRACLE MILE". comingsoon.net. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Miracle Mile at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  3. ^ "Miracle Mile". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 19, 2022.
  4. ^ "Tangerine Dream Soundtrack to "Miracle Mile"". ground and sky. Archived from the original on May 7, 2006. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Richardson, John H. (May 28, 1989). "Miracle Mile Made with Slowly Measured Steps". St. Petersburg Times.
  6. ^ Hunter, Rob (January 28, 2016). "35 Things We Learned from the Miracle Mile Commentary". Film School Rejects. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  7. ^ Harris, Will (February 15, 2013). "Anthony Edwards on Zero Hour, ER, and being Top Gun's "Mr. Lefty Liberal Peace Lover"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 14, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Smith, Monty (March 5, 1991). "Tangerine Dream - Miracle Mile OST". Q Magazine. 55: 80.
  9. ^ "Tangerine Dream – Miracle Mile (Original MGM Motion Picture Soundtrack)". Discogs. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  10. ^ "Miracle Mile". Rotten Tomatoes. Los Angeles: Fandango Media.
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 9, 1989). "Miracle Mile". Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago: Sun-Times Media Group (Wrapports LLC). Archived from the original on February 19, 2013. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
  12. ^ Kempley, Rita (June 14, 1989). "Miracle Mile to Nowhere". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Nash Holdings LLC. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
  13. ^ Holden, Stephen (May 19, 1989). "Waiting in California for the next Big Bang". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
  14. ^ Carr, Jay (June 9, 1989). "Miracle Mile". The Boston Globe. Boston: Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC. Archived from the original on September 11, 2016. Retrieved August 14, 2016.
  15. ^ Brooker, Charlie (October 1, 2009). "Six of the Best". Wayback Machine. San Francisco: Internet Archive. Archived from the original on September 15, 2010. Retrieved September 15, 2008.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  16. ^ "Miracle Mile (1988) Awards & Festivals". MUBI. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  17. ^ Cohen, David S. (June 23, 2016). "'The Force Awakens' Rings Up Eight Saturn Awards". Variety. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  18. ^ "25 Movies That Defined The Sundance Film Festival". IndieWire. January 21, 2014. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  19. ^ "1990 Nominees" (PDF). Film Independent. p. 51. Retrieved December 20, 2022.

External links[edit]