Reds is a 1981 epic film that was co-written, produced, and directed by Warren Beatty. It centers on the life and career of John Reed, the journalist and writer who chronicled the Russian Revolution in his book Ten Days that Shook the World. Beatty stars in the lead role alongside Diane Keaton, as Louise Bryant, and Jack Nicholson as Eugene O'Neill.

The supporting cast of the film includes Edward HerrmannJerzy KosinskiPaul SorvinoMaureen StapletonGene HackmanRamon BieriNicolas Coster and M. Emmet Walsh. The film also features, as "witnesses," interviews with the 98-year old radical educator and peace activist Scott Nearing (1883–1983), author Dorothy Frooks (1896–1997), reporter and author George Seldes (1890–1995), civil liberties advocate Roger Baldwin (1884–1981), and the American writer Henry Miller (1891–1980), among others.

Beatty was awarded the Academy Award for Best Director and the film was nominated for Best Picture, but lost to Chariots of FireWarren BeattyDiane KeatonJack Nicholson andMaureen Stapleton were nominated for Best ActorBest ActressBest Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively, the last time a film was nominated in all four acting categories until Silver Linings Playbook in 2012. Stapleton was the only one of the four to win, with Beatty and Keaton losing to Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn for On Golden Pond and Nicholson lost out to John Gielgud for Arthur.

In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its "Ten Top Ten" – the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres – after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community.Reds was acknowledged as the ninth best film in the epic genre.


The film covers the life of John Reed and Louise Bryant from their first meeting to Reed's final days in 1920 Russia. Interspersed throughout the narrative, several surviving witnesses from the time period give their recollections of Reed, Bryant, their colleagues and friends, and the era itself. A number of them have mixed views of Bryant and her relationship with Reed.

In 1912, married socialite Bryant encounters the radical journalist Reed for the first time at a lecture in Portland, Oregon, and she is intrigued with his idealism. Upon meeting him for an interview on international politics which lasts over the course of a night, she realizes that writing has been her only escape from her frustrated high society existence. Inspired to leave her husband, Bryant joins Reed in Greenwich VillageNew York City, and becomes acquainted with the local community of activists and artists, including anarchist and author Emma Goldmanand the playwright Eugene O'Neill. Later, they move to Provincetown, Massachusetts, to concentrate on their writing, becoming involved in the local theatre scene. Through her writing, Bryant becomes a feminist and radical in her own right. Reed becomes involved in labor strikes with the "Reds" of the American Communist Labor Party. Obsessed with changing the world, he grows restless and heads for St. Louis to cover the 1916 Democratic Convention. During Reed's absence, Bryant falls into a complicated affair with O'Neill. Upon his return, Reed discovers the truth about the affair and realizes he still loves Bryant. The two marry secretly and make a home together in Croton-on-Hudson, north of New York City, but still have conflicting desires. When Reed admits to his own infidelities, Bryant takes ship to Europe to work as a war correspondent. After a flare-up of a kidney disorder, Reed is warned to avoid excessive travel or stress, but he decides to take the same path. Reunited as professionals, the two find their passion rekindled as they are swept up in the fall of Russia's Czarist regime and the events of the 1917 Revolution.

The second part of the film takes place shortly after the publication of Ten Days that Shook the World. Inspired by the idealism of the Revolution, Reed attempts to bring the spirit of Communism to the United States, because he is disillusioned with the policies imposed upon Communist Russia by Grigory Zinoviev and the Bolsheviks. While attempting to leave Europe, he is briefly imprisoned and interrogated in Finland. He returns to Russia and is reunited with Bryant at the railway station in Moscow. By this point, Reed is growing progressively weaker as a result of his kidney disorder. Bryant helps nurse the ailing Reed, who dies.


Actor Historical character
Warren Beatty John Silas "Jack" Reed
Diane Keaton Louise Bryant
Edward Herrmann Max Eastman
Jerzy Kosinski Grigory Zinoviev
Jack Nicholson Eugene O'Neill
Paul Sorvino Louis C. Fraina
Maureen Stapleton Emma Goldman
Nicolas Coster Paul Trullinger
William Daniels Julius Gerber
M. Emmet Walsh Speaker – Liberal Club
Ian Wolfe Mr. Partlow
Bessie Love Mrs. Partlow
MacIntyre Dixon Carl Walters
Pat Starr Helen Walters
Eleanor D. Wilson Margaret Green Reed (mother)
Max Wright Floyd Dell
George Plimpton Horace Whigham
Harry Ditson Maurice Becker
Leigh Curran Ida Rauh
Kathryn Grody Crystal Eastman
Dolph Sweet Big Bill Haywood
Gene Hackman Pete Van Wherry
Nancy Duiguid Jane Heap
Dave King Allan L. Benson
Roger Sloman Vladimir Lenin
Stuart Richman Leon Trotsky
Oleg Kerensky Alexander Kerensky
John J. Hooker Senator Overman
Jan Triska Karl Radek
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