AFI Movie Club: REDS – American Film Institute
Reds Film Still - Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty


AFI Movie Club: REDS

REDS appears on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions list of the greatest love stories of all time and was also included on AFI’s 10 TOP 10 list of the greatest epic films of all time in 2008. The film features the star power of three AFI Life Achievement Award recipients – Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson – and production designer Richard Sylbert received an honorary master’s degree from AFI!

Watch Eddie Redmayne announce the film:

Movie Trivia about REDS

-DID YOU KNOW that REDS is based on two real-life Americans who were passionate about changing the world for the better? Warren Beatty interviewed people who knew John Reed and Louise Bryant personally, and they appear in REDS as “witnesses.”

-DID YOU KNOW that Warren Beatty developed REDS for nearly 20 years? After reading John Reed’s autobiographical accounts of the Russian Revolution, Beatty traveled to the Soviet Union in the late 1960s to begin his research.

-DID YOU KNOW that Warren Beatty was asked to star in a Russian co-production about John Reed while he was developing REDS? He turned down the offer because he did not want political interference with the story.

-DID YOU KNOW that Elaine May worked on the screenplay? Although she is not credited onscreen, she revised the script to have a greater emphasis on the love relationship.

-DID YOU KNOW that REDS was Warren Beatty’s debut as a solo director? His success with HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1978) – which he co-directed with Buck Henry – encouraged Paramount to finance REDS.

-DID YOU KNOW that Warren Beatty initially considered casting John Lithgow in the lead role? Sam Shepard and musician James Taylor were among prospects for the part of “Eugene O’Neill” before Jack Nicholson was cast in the role.

-DID YOU KNOW that Polish author Jerzy Kosiński appeared in REDS? It was his first of only three screen roles. He famously stated that he learned to speak English by watching movies.

-DID YOU KNOW that editor Dede Allen also received onscreen credit as an executive producer? She and Craig McKay reportedly cut a record-breaking 2.5 million feet of footage.

-DID YOU KNOW that the Soviet Union denied requests for location shooting in Moscow? Exteriors were instead filmed in Finland and Spain, while Kremlin interiors were constructed on London soundstages.

-DID YOU KNOW that despite its controversial subject matter, one of the first screenings of REDS was in the White House for President Ronald Reagan? Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton were both in attendance.

-DID YOU KNOW that REDS received the most Oscar® nominations of any movie from 1981? The film went on to win three Academy Awards®, including Warren Beatty’s first Oscar® for directing.

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-REDS captures a moment in history that you may have been unaware of. What did you learn from watching REDS? Do you see any parallels to today’s world?

-Hailed by critics, REDS was compared to CITIZEN KANE as a masterpiece of storytelling. What comparisons do you see between the two films? How do they use journalism as a narrative device?

-REDS was released during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, in which Communism was widely feared by Americans. Why do you think REDS was so warmly received by audiences at this time?

-REDS depicts revolution as a vehicle of change in the world. Do the political sentiments of REDS seem dated to you? What does revolution look like in our world today?

-Louise Bryant struggled for equality before women had won the right to vote in America. How does this impact her character in the film?

-Do you believe this is the future the characters in REDS predicted?

-Interviews with “witnesses” adds an element of authenticity to the story. However, it also complicates the narrative by suggesting that history itself is based on fleeting memories, and the questionable reliability of those who are able to recount them. Why do you think this footage is included in REDS?

-Why do you think REDS is still so beloved after nearly 40 years?

-How would you rate REDS?


In this exclusive AFI Archive video, Diane Keaton talks about REDS at the awards ceremony for AFI Life Achievement honoree Warren Beatty:

New to AFI Movie Club? Want to learn more?

AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

Learn more in our FAQ section.


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