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Jill St. John
Hackman plays a New York professor who wants a change in his life, and plans to get married to his girlfriend and move to California. His mother understands his need to get away, but warns him that moving so far away could be hard on his father. Just before the wedding, the mother dies. Hackman's sister (who has been disowned by their father for marrying a Jewish man) advises him to live his own life, and not let himself be controlled by their father. Written by
Kristian Krokfoss <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Richard Widmark was playwright Robert Anderson's first choice for the son role in both the theatrical and film versions of the play. One proposal had Fredric March as the father, another had it as a TV special with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn as the parents. See more »
Death ends a life. But it does not end a relationship;which struggles on the survivor's mind,toward some resolution,which it may never find.
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This is one film that has stayed with me since I first saw it; in spring, 1971; in a time before I had to shave everyday. The movie theater in which I saw it has long-since been turned into a touring-company playhouse...and the name of my date has long-since slipped my mind. Not really...but my wife might read this.
A friend of mine who is a physician told me that no one ages gracefully. As much as I value his friendship and judgment, Melvyn Douglas must be held as an exception to that dictum. Though his role here is little different from that of Paul Newman's father in "Hud," he plays it magnificently. One can scarcely imagine him as a romantic leading man, although he was...and opposite Greta Garbo, at that. His scene with Gene Hackman at the funeral home is too real and too devastating to pass off as "schmaltz." Gene Hackman has never given a bad performance, and his role here, as the dutiful, though semi-distant son, is (arguably) one of his best. He realizes he must live his own life...though, being a widower himself, he knows on an adult level what his father--suddenly all-too-human and frail--is suffering. He must choose between fealty to the man who gave him life and the woman who now gives his life meaning and passion. The bedroom scene, in which he discusses his doubts with her, is very real. Not every middle-aged adult has faced such choices.
I saw this film when I was 17 and have not seen it since. But as I grow older its meaning and significance grows ever-increasingly important. We, all of us, want to gain the approval of our father. Yet, our passions, those things that give meaning to our life, might not be what our father values...and so we share them with others and not with the one whose approval, love, and affirmation we most desire and most need.
Is it schmaltzy, as some have said?....Is life?
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