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Amber Waves (1980)

A drifter stranded in Kansas accepts a job offer from a wheat harvester who, in desperation over his cancer and financial woes, attempts suicide but becomes a father-figure to the young man.


Joseph Sargent


Ken Trevey
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dennis Weaver ... Elroy 'Bud' Burkhardt
Kurt Russell ... Laurence Kendall
Mare Winningham ... Marlene Burkhardt
Fran Brill Fran Brill ... Suze Winter
Wilford Brimley ... Pete Alberts
Rossie Harris ... Dougie Burkhardt
Grainger Hines ... Gregg Burkhardt
Eloy Casados ... Dwight Willits
Bill Morey Bill Morey ... Ansel Porter
Michael Talbott ... Tork Torkelson
Robert Weaver Robert Weaver ... Russ Hahn (as Robby Weaver)
Penny Fuller ... Fern Jensen
Ted Dykstra
Jack Goth Jack Goth
Kay Grieve Kay Grieve


Two seemingly disparate men experience powerful life lessons when a wheat harvester gives a hitch-hiking male model a ride on what feels to be the worst day of their lives, at the peak of the war in Vietnam. The harvester has just been diagnosed with cancer, but desperately needs to fulfill a reaping contract, while the male model got himself beaten up in a bar, leading to his firing, and stranding in Kansas. Written by David Stevens

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He was tough, he was hard 'til fate came searching.









Release Date:

9 March 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bursztynowe fale See more »

Filming Locations:

Alberta, Canada

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono | Mono (Ryder Sound Services)



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Dennis Weaver and the "TV Movie" - both at their best
5 February 2008 | by douggersSee all my reviews

Kurt Russell is a womanizing, irresponsible male model who is both full of himself and improbably on a shoot in the wheat fields of the Midwest, while aging Dennis Weaver works nearby with the barely profitable wheat harvesting company that he owns. Each man is having the worst day of his life, as Kurt is beaten up in a bar then fired for his now un-photographable looks and he ends up headed back to NYC with no money to get there. Meanwhile, Weaver's credit is caput at his bank, he can't find a buyer for his troubled firm and his doctor has just told him he has terminal cancer. Weaver picks up a young hitch-hiker, who happens to be Russell and when Weaver drops him off in the city the cops pounce on the young man for hitch-hiking and vagrancy, which will no doubt net him a term on a chain gang.

Weaver bails out the young model and at first his motive appears to be altruism, but his agenda becomes clear when he announces he's short of labor and that he's shanghaiing Russel to be a part of his crew. A duck out of water at first, the arrogant young pretty-boy/model gradually toughens up physically and even begins to develop character, thanks to the hard work and the good example set by straight-arrow Weaver. Against all odds Russell turns into a valuable member of the crew. Enter Weaver's daughter, played by Mare Winningham, who ends up falling for Russell, who discovers a noble streak he never knew he had, as he tells Winningham to save her love for "somebody who deserves it." This is a simple, beautiful film that puts to shame the noisy, head-rattling and cartoon-ish drivel that graces our movie theaters these days. The fine script features realistic parts for Weaver, Russell, Winningham and Wilford Brimley, who deliver uniformly fine performances. After watching this you will feel you've experienced a part of America you've probably never seen and gotten to know some people who speak and act straight from the heart.

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