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Adam at Six A.M. (1970)

 -  Drama  -  22 September 1970 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 175 users  
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A disenchanted young Professor of Semantics at a California college learns of a distant relative's death in Missouri. He journeys cross-country to the funeral, then decides to spend the ... See full summary »


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Title: Adam at Six A.M. (1970)

Adam at Six A.M. (1970) on IMDb 6.1/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Adam Gaines
Jerri Jo Hopper
Harvey Gavin
Louise Latham ...
Mrs. Hopper
Charles Aidman ...
Mr. Hopper
Inez Treadly
Marge Redmond ...
Van Treadly
Ed Call ...
Carolyn Conwell ...
Butch Youngblood ...
Timothy Blake ...
Girl at Party
Richard Derr ...
Mr. Gaines
Pat Randall ...


A disenchanted young Professor of Semantics at a California college learns of a distant relative's death in Missouri. He journeys cross-country to the funeral, then decides to spend the summer there and work as a laborer for a power-line company. In time, he meets a girl and falls in love but then faces an important decision as to which direction he wants his life to go. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

professor | summer | missouri | funeral | farm | See more »


The world changed for "Adam at 6 A.M." See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language and brief nudity | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 September 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Adam at Six A.M.  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to an interview with Lee Purcell, she was chosen for the main role (to be teamed with Michael Douglas) from among dozen of other young girls by Steve McQueen, whose company produced this movie. See more »

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User Reviews

Intelligent Theme
8 January 2005 | by (Kentucky) – See all my reviews

Although I can answer the question of what movie they watched at the drive-in ("The Reivers"-1969), there is no obvious explanation for the "Adam at 6A.M" title. Adam (played by Michael Douglas) does not do anything special at 6AM- maybe the title just symbolizes his impulsiveness, since 6AM could be considered the waking hour of each new day. Anyway, Adam is a newly minted linguistics professor at a California college. He comes from a wealthy California family (his father is a relatively famous musician turned house builder) with roots in small-town western Missouri. Adam has just received his PhD and an appointment as an assistant professor. Summer break has begun and it gives him an opportunity at age 30 to stand back and take a look at where he is and where he is going. He doesn't particularly like what he sees and upon learning of a distant aunt's death in Missouri he impulsively drives there for her funeral, in his Porsche 911 (if it was a Porsche 6AM it would at least explain the title).

Given its 1970 release, this film unsuccessully attempted to cash in on the box-office success of The Graduate and Easy Rider. While there are related themes it is considerably less imaginative and much more conventional in tone and production technique.

As the vaguely disgusted Adam drives east into the unknown his energy level increases with his forward motion. The awkward and uncomfortable moments at the funeral and the reception are the most authentic scenes in the film. A highlight is a discussion of the movie "Blow-up" with a disgusted relative who went to the film thinking from its title that it was a war picture.

Adam is about to move on when he is introduced to Jerri Jo (Lee Purcell). They go to a drive-in movie (see The Reivers comment above) and soon fall in love. Unfortunately the Douglas/Purcell romantic scenes are weak and only the hormonal aspect of their relationship is believable. Douglas decides to spend the summer in Missouri and gets a job clearing brush for the local power company. The work crew certainly looks authentic; since they only have a couple lines of dialogue they may have actually been some local hicks.

He thrives in his new job and sincerely enjoys the change of pace and the lack of complications. He becomes friends with Joe Don Baker (apparently the only other professional actor on the crew) and sees how his marriage and kids keep him trapped in a going nowhere life. For some reason this depressing situation inspires him to propose to Jerri Jo, who has a very different idea of what their marriage will be like. There was a little foreshadowing about this back when Adam was explaining his academic specialty (semantics) to one of his relatives; he cited the communication problems that occur between two people when they have different meanings for the same word. Adam's idea of marriage is traveling around together having adventures. Jerri Jo's idea of marriage is setting up house in her hometown with her husband teaching semantics at the local college.

It slowly dawns on Adam that he and his prospective bride do not share the same vision of marriage. This is done through a wonderful semi-montage sequence of engagement party decorations, father-in-law dressed in an apron, hair curlers, laughing relative, domestic discussions with Jerri Jo's girlfriends, and the ice cream fetching errand. Adam leaves the party and drives to the A&P for ice cream. You suspect that he is going to bail out on the whole Missouri thing so having him actually buy the ice cream was a stroke of genius. He could have just left town immediately but this builds suspense, puts a more positive slant on his decision to leave (i.e. it is not just an impulsive irresponsible act-he gives it careful consideration), and it provides a prop for a great final image.

What Adam is saying is that he does not want to be like most people, he does not want to construct a small world for himself where he can keep everything orderly. He does not know exactly what he wants but he does know for certain that he does not want the average. Although this is a low budget production with some major flaws, it is a very solid effort. The theme is compelling, the score communicates as much as the dialogue, Douglas and Baker do a good job, and Purcell is very pretty.

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