GenreBiography, Comedy, Drama NetworkHBO CountryUnited States
Release dateMarch 20, 1993 Based onBarbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco
by Bryan Burrough
John Helyar WriterBryan Burrough (book), John Helyar (book), Larry Gelbart (teleplay) CastJames Garner (F. Ross Johnson), Jonathan Pryce (Henry Kravis), Peter Riegert (Peter Cohen), Joanna Cassidy (Linda Robinson) Similar moviesCoherence, Earthsea, Descending Angel, Obsession, The Image, The Dead
Barbarians at the gate trailer 1993
Barbarians at the Gate is a television movie based upon the book by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar, about the leveraged buyout (LBO) of RJR Nabisco.
The film was directed by Glenn Jordan and written by Larry Gelbart. It stars James Garner as F. Ross Johnson, the CEO of RJR Nabisco, and Jonathan Pryce as Henry Kravis, his chief rival for the company. It also features Peter Riegert, Joanna Cassidy and Fred Dalton Thompson.
Barbarians at the gate
Self-made multimillionaire F. Ross Johnson decides to take the tobacco and food conglomerate RJR Nabisco private in 1988 after receiving advance news of the likely market failure of the company's smokeless cigarette called Premier, the development of which had been intended to finally boost the company's stock price.
The free-spending Johnson's bid for the company is opposed by two of the pioneers of the leveraged buyout, Henry Kravis and his cousin. Kravis feels betrayed when, after Johnson initially discusses doing the LBO with Kravis, he takes the potentially enormous deal to another firm, the Shearson Lehman Hutton division of American Express.
Other bidders emerge, including Ted Forstmann and his company, Forstmann Little, after Kravis and Johnson are unable to reconcile their differences. The bidding goes to unprecedented heights, and when executive Charles Hugel becomes aware of how much Johnson stands to profit in a transaction that will put thousands of Nabisco employees out of work, he quips, "Now I know what the 'F' in F. Ross Johnson stands for." The greed was so evident, Kravis's final bid is declared the winner, even though Johnson's was higher.
The title of the book and movie comes from a statement by Forstmann in which he calls that Kravis' money "phoney junk bond crap" and how he and his brother are "real people with real money," and that to stop raiders like Kravis: "We need to push the barbarians back from the city gates."
Tom Aldredge as Charles Hugel
Graham Beckel as Don Kelly
Joanna Cassidy as Linda Robinson
Matt Clark as Edward A. Horrigan, Jr.
Jeffrey DeMunn as H. John Greeniaus
Peter Dvorsky as George R. Roberts
James Garner as F. Ross Johnson
Mark Harelik as Peter Atkins
Joseph Kell as Nick Forstmann
Jonathan Pryce as Henry Kravis
David Rasche as Ted Forstmann
Peter Riegert as Peter Cohen
Leilani Sarelle as Laurie Johnson
Fred Dalton Thompson as Jim Robinson
Rita Wilson as Carolyne Roehm-Kravis
In popular culture
In the podcast Comedy Bang Bang, comedian Paul Rust refers to the film in the prologue to his popular segment "New No-Nos", while discussing a run-in with Nabisco concerning Chex Mix.