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Two-Minute Warning is a 1976 disaster film directed by Larry Peerce and starring Charlton Heston, John Cassavetes, Martin Balsam, Beau Bridges, Jack Klugman, Gena Rowlands, and David Janssen. It was based on the novel of the same name written by George La Fountaine, Sr. The film was nominated for an Academy Awardfor Best Film Editing.[1][2]



  • 1 Plot
  • 2 Cast
  • 3 Production
  • 4 Release
  • 5 Television version
  • 6 Critical reception
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links


An unknown sniper (Warren Miller) positions himself at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum prior to a professional football championship similar to The Super Bowl. He is spotted by a Goodyear Blimp camera. Police and SWAT team are immediately called in by the stadium manager Sam McKeever (Martin Balsam).

Police Captain Peter Holly (Charlton Heston), working with SWAT team Sergeant Chris Button (John Cassavetes), devises a plan to capture the sniper before the conclusion of the game.

Multiple fans attending the game are introduced. They include Steve and Janet (David Janssen and Gena Rowlands), an argumentative middle-aged couple; Stu Sandman (Jack Klugman), a gambling addict; a Catholic priest (Mitchell Ryan), who is a friend of quarterback Charlie Tyler; young married couple Mike and Peggy Ramsay (Beau Bridges and Pamela Bellwood); an elderly pickpocket (Walter Pidgeon) and football fan Al (David Groh), who begins flirting with Lucy (Marilyn Hassett) when he notices her date (Jon Korkes) is more interested in the game than in her.

Stadium's maintenance director Paul (Brock Peters) discovers the sniper's presence and attempts to confront him. The sniper strikes Paul with the butt of his rifle, and, undetected by fans, causes Paul to fall several stories, severely injured. SWAT team members position themselves on stadium light towers to take aim on the sniper's nest.

Mike Ramsay spots the sniper with his binoculars. He reports it to the police, but rather than thank him, they question him suspiciously and then physically overpower him.

Shortly after the game's two-minute warning, the SWAT team is given the green light to go after the sniper. Seeing that he is surrounded, the sniper opens fire, shooting randomly into the crowd. His shots cause a massive riot in which the panicked fans spill onto the field.

Many security men, Coliseum personnel, and spectators are killed or wounded. Marksmen perched atop stadium light towers fall or hang by their tethers after getting shot. Fleeing spectators are crushed or trampled underfoot while rushing towards exit tunnels. A few lose their footing while climbing down wall-ivy trestles. Steve, Stu, Chris, Peggy, and the pickpocket are among those shot (Chris and Peggy survive). Mike escapes from police custody during the riot and is reunited with Peggy and their children once the stadium empties of people. Ultimately, the sniper is killed by Peter, Chris, and other members of the SWAT team.

Searching through his wallet, the officers learn the sniper's name: Carl Cook. Cook dies, revealing nothing about his intent. Button points out that although they know nothing about Cook, over the next few weeks, the media will discover every irrelevant detail about Cook's life and question why the officers had to kill him.


  • Charlton Heston as Capt. Peter Holly
  • John Cassavetes as Sgt. Chris Button
  • Martin Balsam as Sam McKeever
  • Beau Bridges as Mike Ramsay
  • Marilyn Hassett as Lucy
  • David Janssen as Steve
  • Jack Klugman as Stu Sandman
  • Gena Rowlands as Janet
  • Walter Pidgeon as the Pickpocket
  • Brock Peters as Paul
  • David Groh as Al
  • Mitch Ryan as the Priest (as Mitchell Ryan)
  • Joe Kapp as Charlie Tyler
  • Pamela Bellwood as Peggy Ramsay
  • Jon Korkes as Jeffrey
  • Allan Miller as Mr. Green
  • Harry Northup as Lieber
  • Warren Miller as the Sniper
  • William Bryant as Lt. Calloway
  • J.A. Preston as Policeman
  • Robert Ginty as Vendor
  • Tom Bower as The S.W.A.T. Team - Decker
  • Carmen Argenziano as The S.W.A.T. Team - Jennings
  • Larry Manetti as The S.W.A.T. Team - Pratt
  • Joanna Pettet (TV version only) (uncredited)
  • Branscombe Richmond as Bystander with Blood on His Hands (uncredited)
  • Susan Backlinie as Pretty Blonde Woman in Crowd (uncredited)


When released in 1976, Two-Minute Warning was promoted as an entry into the disaster film genre, complete with an all-star cast attempting to survive an immense riot created by the sniper. Joe Kapp, a formerNFL quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings (and Boston Patriots), plays a small role as veteran quarterback Charlie Tyler.

The majority of the movie was filmed following the 1975 football season at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The game footage for the full stadium shots of the L.A. Coliseum was from the Pac-8 college footballgame between Stanford (4-3-1) and USC (7-1), played on November 8


Universal Studios devised a gimmick where moviegoers were not allowed to enter the theater at the moment the football game's two-minute warning began in the film.

Television version[edit][]

Due to the film's explicit violence and uncomfortable detail of a homicidal sniper acting alone and without apparent motivation, NBC negotiated with Universal Studios to film additional scenes for its television premiere in 1978. The new scenes would detail an art theft, with the sniper serving as a decoy so robbers could escape without detection. The additional scenes, totaling 40 minutes in length, were added for the film's TV showing while 45 minutes of the original version were removed. Director Larry Peerce disowned the TV version, which credits the pseudonymous "Gene Palmer" as director and Francesca Turner (who also helped doctor David Lynch's Dune for TV) for the "teleplay".[3] When shown on network television, this version of Two-Minute Warning is often shown rather than the original theatrical release.[4] The television version has never been released to video and DVD.

Critical reception[edit][]

Roger Ebert gave the film a negative review, writing, "I knew going in what the movie was about (few films have such blunt premises) and I knew Two-Minute Warning was supposed to be a thriller, not a social statement. But I thought perhaps the movie would at least include a little pop sociology to soften its blood-letting. Not a chance. It's a cheerfully unashamed exploitation of two of our great national preoccupations, pro football and guns."[5]