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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 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
The movie starts with Adam (Douglas) as a linguistics professor in California. During summer break, he takes the opportunity to look at his life. The movie doesn't really spend enough time developing the early Adam, but he sees something in his life he doesn't like. He finds out that an aunt that lived in Missouri has died and he takes this opportunity to drive across country for the funeral and maybe a better life.
Being somewhat disenchanted with California life, Adam enjoys what he saw in Missouri. He is introduced to Jerri Jo (Purcell) and as most guy meets girl plots go, they fall in love. Because of this, he decides to spend his summer break in Missouri. He gets a job and makes friends with the locals. Joe Don Baker plays a member of Adam's work crew, and is portrayed as the basic mid-western, small town family man. With a wife and kids he seems happy, but restricted from doing much else with his life.
Time progresses and Adam and Jerri Jo decide to get married. But not much later, he begins to see Jerri Jo and her family in a different light. He notices little snippets of the life he might be living, if he goes through with the marriage. It becomes more and more obvious to him that he and Jerri Jo don't share the same views of married life.
From interaction with Jerri Jo's family and friends, his concerns build until he seems to struggle with the choice he's made. He sees a "cookie cutter" way of life laid out for him, if he stays in Missouri. He's torn between two worlds. There are parts of Missouri life he would enjoy, but he also enjoyed parts of the free spirit life he had in California. The intensity builds until he finally has to choose.
I won't spoil the end, although some of the other reviews have already done that. I enjoyed this movie. I think I partly liked seeing the places I'm familiar with, the faces I know, etc. But I'm also very much a Michael Douglas fan. This film was before "The Streets of San Francisco", a series I loved. And you'll see a much younger Douglas in this movie, although you'll see his compelling persona has already begun to form.
To give you a bit of an inside, I grew up in Cameron, Missouri. It was one of the small towns this movie was filmed in. I was 17 at the time. The producers came to our high school, looking for extras. They wanted a fresh and naive mid-western look. Men with short cut hair and no mustaches or sideburns, women with wholesome, girl next door faces.
I don't intend to spoil the "look" of the movie for you, but it was obvious that they wanted Missouri to look vastly different than California's "hip" way of life. I thought they might have gone too far looking for the "hick" element in contrast. They even had a tractor driving down the main street of our town, in the film.
Other than some things that only a local might see, they did a pretty good job of showing how a small mid-west town was, back in the late 60s or early 70s. And although this production has some flaws, it shows a "coming of age" struggle that many young people deal with. I think this movie is worth your time.
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