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The Subject Was Roses (1968)

A young man returning home from World War II finds himself caught up in his parents' turbulent relationship.




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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Don Saxon ...
Nightclub M.C.
Elaine Williams ...
Woman in Club


When Timmy Cleary (Sheen), comes home from soldiering, he's greeted by the open but strained arms of his two parents, John and Nettie, (Neal and Albertson). Once considered sickly and weak, he has now distinguished himself in the service and is ready to begin a new life. His parents, however, are still trapped in the bygone days of early and unresolved marital strife and begin emotionally deteriorating through several drama packed encounters. Now mature, the young Tim Cleary finally understands the family dynamics that has played all throughout his boyhood. By the simple act of bringing his mother roses on behalf of his father, Tim realizes he may have destroyed his family, but is helpless to obtain resolution which must come from both his parents. Written by Teresa B. O'Donnell <sun.moon.stars@worldnet.att.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Story of Three Strangers...A Mother...A Father...And a Son See more »




G | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 February 1970 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

A História de Três Estranhos  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Jack Albertson won the 1965 Tony Award (New York City) for Supporting or Features Actor in a Drama for "The Subject was Roses" and recreated the role in this production. See more »


When the family goes out on the town for the night, a marquee for We Were Strangers can be seen. However, that film was not released until 1949, well past the time when Timmy would have come home from the war. See more »


John Cleary: Hurry up with your breakfast.
Timmy Cleary: What for?
John Cleary: Mass starts in twenty minutes, you're not even dressed.
Timmy Cleary: Mass?
John Cleary: Mass.
Timmy Cleary: I haven't been to Mass in over three years. You know that.
John Cleary: Lots of bad habits you boys picked up you'll have to get over.
Timmy Cleary: Not going to Mass isn't a habit I picked up. It's a decision I came to after a lot of thought.
John Cleary: Now, what way is *that* for a Catholic to talk?
Timmy Cleary: I haven't considered myself a Catholic for quite a while.
See more »


References Flying Down to Rio (1933) See more »


Who Knows Where the Time Goes
Written by Sandy Denny (uncredited)
Sung by Judy Collins
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User Reviews

Coming Home....
20 March 2002 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

A powerful adaptation of Frank D. Gilroy's Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Timmy Cleary has just returned home to the Bronx after fighting in World War II. It doesn't take long, however, before he finds himself in the middle of his parents' bickering. His mother and father, Nettie and John, are stuck in an unhappy marriage that only seems to get worse with the passage of time. John has never rebounded from the Depression, when his business failed, and, as a result, the couple has only barely scraped by over the years. But being away at war has made Timmy grow up and, for the first time, he starts coming to terms with his troubled parents...

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