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The Subject Was Roses (1968)

G  |   |  Drama  |  12 February 1970 (Denmark)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 950 users  
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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 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Don Saxon ...
The Master of Ceremonies
Elaine Williams ...
The 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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"Deeply moving film!" See more »




G | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 February 1970 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

A História de Três Estranhos  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


By the shoulder patch on his uniform jacket and shirt, Timmy was in the 28th Infantry Divison - also known as the Keystone Divison, being made of units from the Pennsylvania National Guard. Later, it acquired the nickname "Bloody Bucket" from its intense combat in the Hurtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge, and its red Keystone insignia. 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: You don't know what you believe in?
Timmy Cleary: Do you?
John Cleary: Yes!
Timmy Cleary: Tell me. Go on...
John Cleary: I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. I believe God created Man in his own image...
Timmy Cleary: [Interrupting] Pop! If your faith works for you, I'm glad. Really, I'm very glad. I wish it worked for me, but it doesn't.
John Cleary: Do you believe in God - yes or no?
Timmy Cleary: I don't believe in heaven or hell or purgatory...
John Cleary: [Interrupting, shouting] YES or NO!
Timmy Cleary: I believe there is something bigger than myself. What you call it or what it is, I don't ...
See more »


References We Were Strangers (1949) See more »


Written by Judy Collins (uncredited)
Sung by Judy Collins
See more »

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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...

9 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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