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Miracle Mile is a 1988 thriller film directed by Steve De Jarnatt, and starring Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham that takes place mostly in real time. It is named after the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angelesmarker, where most of the action takes place.


The film takes place in a single day and night, beginning as the two main characters, Harry (Anthony Edwards) and Julie (Mare Winningham), meet and are immediately attracted to each other. They make a date for later in the evening, but fail to meet due to a quirk of fate. While they are apart, Harry receives a wrong-number phone call, and is told that, unbeknownst to everyone else, nuclear war is about to break out in fifty minutes. He searches frantically for Julie, helped and hindered by various strangers, who are initially unaware of the impending apocalypse. Some of the strangers they meet arrange for a helicopter to ferry a few to the airport, to catch a plane to Antarcticamarker and safety. Harry makes arrangements with a pilot to meet them at the top of the building.

As the story reaches a climax, the news of the nuclear exchange breaks, and Los Angeles descends into violent chaos. Harry worries that he may be the cause of an unnecessary panic.

They reach the top of the building where the helicopter is supposed to be waiting to find the pad empty. After a missile streaks across the sky, confirming the war is real, the helicopter returns with the pilot badly wounded but fulfilling his promise to come back for them. After they lift off from the roof, three nuclear missiles hit L.A. and the EMP from the detonations causes the copter to crash into the La Brea Tar Pitsmarker.

As the copter sinks and the cabin fills with water, Harry tries to comfort Julie by saying someday they will be found and they will probably be put in a museum, or maybe they will take a direct hit and be turned into diamonds. Julie seems to take some hope in this, and the movie fades out as the water 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 Hollywoodmarker for ten years. In 1983, it had been chosen by American Film magazine as one of the ten best unmade screenplays. 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.

Miracle Mile spent three years in production limbo until De Jarnatt optioned it himself, buying the script for $25,000. He rewrote it and the studio offered him $400,000 to buy it back. He turned them down. When he shopped it around to other studios, they balked at the mix of romance and nuclear war and the film's downbeat ending. This is what drew Anthony Edwards to the script as he remembers, "It scared the hell out of me. It really made me angry too...I just couldn't believe that somebody had written this." John Daly of Hemdale Films gave De Jarnatt $3.7 million to make the film.


Miracle Mile received generally positive reviews among critics. Roger Ebert praised the film, claiming it had a "diabolical effectiveness" and a sense of "real terror." In her review for the Washington Post, Rita Kempley wrote, "It seems he's (De Jarnatt) not committed to his story or his characters, but to the idea that he is saying something profound - which he isn't." Stephen Holden, in the New York Times wrote, "As Harry and Julie, Mr. Edwards and Ms. Winningham make an unusually refreshing pair." 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." British film and television critic Charlie Brooker, in an article for the BAFTA website written in September 2008 awarded Miracle Mile the honour of having the 'Biggest Lurch of Tone' of any film he had ever seen.


  1. Roger Ebert, Miracle Mile review, June 9, 1989.
  2. Charlie Brooker, Six of the Best, September 15, 2008.

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