Cockfighter (1974)

This life can be a long, rambling walk down a twisting highway.  Just ask Mr. Frank Mansfield (Warren Oates), the “junior birdman” who dreams of a cockfighting championship while he puts others to the side in his quest for the title. 

Just put the dead cocks in the bathtub, Cockfighter is back in action!

"this B-movie sets its tone right as roosters take center stage over one man’s quest for masculinity in the ring"

His long-time fiancée Mary Elizabeth (Patricia Pearcy) calls him “Stonewall” and she’s not wrong.  He is a bit of a puzzle, wanting women one moment and pushing them away the next.  Thing is, he’s always everyone’s favorite person . . . and few actors can pull him off the way Warren Oates does: silent but deadly.

You see, Frank Mansfield has walked away from a lot of things in his life.  The one thing he can’t pull himself away from is his cock.  You read that correctly.  And, like the tagline promises, what he does with it is illegal in 49 states.  Wait.  What are we talking about again?! 

It’s director Monte Hellman’s Cockfighter, the only movie which lost Roger Corman money in the 1970s.  And, for the life of me, I can’t understand why.  Hellman delivered with The Shooting and Ride the Whirlwind and he delivers once again with a very savage story in Cockfighter, but no audience ever turned out for it - no matter what it was titled.  Maybe the film was too naturalistic?Cockfighter (1974)

Starring the one and only Oates (Stripes) as the mute Mansfield, Cockfighter deserves a much better reputation than it currently has.  While both esoteric and mysterious in its rollout, this narrative - as it starts in the middle of things - tells the tortured tale of how Mansfield became mute by choice, why he fights cocks, and why he respects the birds, fighting to the death without making a sound. It also depicts just how everyone and everything falls second or third to his desire to constantly reinvest in chickens, raising chickens, and then training them to fight to the death.  Hell, he even sells the family home!

Co-starring the amazing Harry Dean Stanton, Richard B. Shull, Ed Begley Jr., and Laurie Bird, this B-movie sets its tone right as roosters take center stage over one man’s quest for masculinity in the ring . . . with his cock.  It is quite the journey, but - as a Roger Corman enthusiast - this movie is a bit of an anomaly in that Hellman strays a bit from the formula, double downing on the mute aspect of Mansfield, even as he narrates his journey to the championship.

Cockfighter is now on blu-ray thanks to Shout! Factory.  It is limited to 1500 copies.

4/5 beers


Cockfighter (1974)

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Shout! Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- April 26, 2022
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
: English
DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

A small-town Georgia man caught up in the illegal sport of cockfighting is the center of this action-drama from legendary producer Roger Corman.  Warren Oates (Stripes, The Wild Bunch) stars as Frank Mansfield, one of the most infamous trainers in the brutal world of cockfighting. His reputation in tatters due to his hubris, Frank becomes obsessed with making his way to the top of the game — against the wishes of his lover, Mary Elizabeth (Patricia Pearcy, The Goodbye Girl).  Featuring Richard B. Shull, Harry Dean Stanton, Ed Begley Jr., Millie Perkins, and Troy Donahue, Cockfighter is an impossible-to-resist Corman classic!


Framed in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, Cockfighter arrives with a problematic transfer.  This print is in rough shape and it has splotches that are just full of washed-out details.  While it is a noticeably vast improvement over the standard DVD, Shout! Factory’s transfer is constantly speckled from time to time with print damage and a weird halo effect in some of the black backgrounds, and a few brief scenes are a tad soft.   It doesn’t appear that the picture has been tweaked or modified in any way, and the grain structure is well maintained.  


The DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio Mono track is fairly strong, delivering the dialogue and the guitar and drum driven score with nice clarity.

Listen to Mansfield’s plea for a fighting chance thanks to the strong DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio track, delivering the dialogue, the sounds of the pit fights, and the acoustic guitar score with nice clarity.



  • None

Special Features:

There is only a theatrical trailer.

  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  2/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 1/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

2.5/5 stars

Film Details

Cockfighter (1974)

MPAA Rating: R.
83 mins
: Monte Hellman
Charles Willeford
Warren Oates; Richard B. Shull; Harry Dean Stanton
: Drama
He came into town with his cock in his hand, and what he did with it was illegal in 49 states.
Memorable Movie Quote:
Theatrical Distributor:
New World Pictures.
Official Site:
Release Date:
August, 1974
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 26, 2022.
Synopsis: A small-town Georgia man caught up in the illegal sport of cockfighting is the center of this action-drama from legendary producer Roger Corman.


Cockfighter (1974)