Thelma & Louise is a 1991 film co-produced and directed by Ridley Scott and written by Callie Khouri. It stars Geena Davis as Thelma and Susan Sarandon as Louise, with Harvey Keitel,Michael Madsen and Brad Pitt in supporting roles.
The film became a critical and commercial success, receiving six Academy Award nominations and winning one for Best Original Screenplay (Khouri). Both Sarandon and Davis were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, but lost to Jodie Foster for her role in The Silence of the Lambs.
Thelma Dickinson (Geena Davis) is a passive housewife, married to a controlling man, Darryl (Christopher McDonald). Louise Sawyer (Susan Sarandon) is a single waitress who appears strong, organized, and stern, with some unspecified trauma in her past. The two head out in Louise's 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible for a two-day vacation in the mountains that quickly turns into a nightmare before they reach their destination.
They stop for a drink at a cowboy bar, where Thelma meets and dances with Harlan Puckett (Timothy Carhart). She gets drunk and Harlan attempts to rape her in the parking lot. Louise finds them and threatens to shoot Harlan with a gun Thelma brought with her. Harlan stops, but as the women walk away, he yells profanity and insults them. Louise loses her temper and fires, killing him. Thelma wants to go to the police, but Louise says that because Thelma was drunk and had been dancing with Harlan, no one will believe he tried to rape her. Afraid that she will be prosecuted, Louise decides to run away and Thelma accompanies her.
Louise is determined to travel from Oklahoma to Mexico, but refuses to go through Texas. It is revealed that something happened to her in Texas years earlier, but she refuses to say exactly what. Heading west, they come across a young man named J.D. (Brad Pitt), and Thelma convinces Louise to let him hitch a ride with them. Louise contacts her boyfriend Jimmy Lennox (Michael Madsen) and asks him to send her life savings via Western Union. When she goes to pick up the money, she finds that Jimmy has come to see her. Thelma invites J.D. into her room and learns he is a thief who has broken parole. They sleep together, and J.D. describes how he conducted his hold-ups. Jimmy asks Louise to marry him, but she politely refuses.
In the morning, Thelma tells Louise about her night with J.D. Louise asks where J.D. is, and they find that he is gone with the money. Louise is distraught and frozen with indecision, so a guilty Thelma takes charge and robs a convenience store using the tactics she learned from listening to J.D. Meanwhile, the FBI are getting closer to catching the fugitives after questioning J.D., Jimmy, and Darryl. Detective Hal Slocumb (Harvey Keitel) discovers the event that Louise experienced in Texas, and during a couple of brief phone conversations, expresses sympathy for her predicament and pledges to protect her, but he is unsuccessful in his attempts to persuade her to surrender.
When a state trooper (Jason Beghe) stops them, Thelma threatens him with her gun, steals his gun, and locks him in the trunk of his cruiser. They encounter a truck driver (Marco St. John) who repeatedly makes obscene gestures at them. They pull over to demand an apology, but when he refuses, they fire at the tanker the truck is towing, causing it to explode.
Thelma and Louise are finally cornered by the police officers only 100 yards from the edge of the Grand Canyon. Detective Slocumb arrives on the scene, but he is refused the chance to make one last attempt to talk the women into surrendering themselves. Rather than be captured and spend the rest of their lives in jail, Thelma proposes that they keep going. Louise asks Thelma if she is certain. Thelma says yes and steps on the accelerator. As soon as the car starts forward, Detective Slocumb sprints after it in an attempt to save them, but the car drives over the cliff as the film ends.
- Susan Sarandon as Louise Elizabeth Sawyer
- Geena Davis as Thelma Yvonne Dickinson
- Harvey Keitel as Detective Hal Slocumb
- Michael Madsen as Jimmy Lennox
- Christopher McDonald as Darryl Dickinson
- Stephen Tobolowsky as Max
- Brad Pitt as J.D.
- Timothy Carhart as Harlan Puckett
- Jason Beghe as State Trooper
- Marco St. John as Truck Driver