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The Neon Ceiling (1971)

TV Movie  -   -  Drama  -  8 February 1971 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 113 users  
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A housewife and her teenage daughter, fleeing their boring lives, stops in a diner in the California desert. She runs up against the diner's owner, a gruff, beer-drinking artist whose ... See full summary »



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Title: The Neon Ceiling (TV Movie 1971)

The Neon Ceiling (TV Movie 1971) on IMDb 7.6/10

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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »


Cast overview:
Carrie Miller
Paula Miller
Doctor Miller
Robert Pratt ...
Ferris Wheel Man
James McEachin ...
Highway Patrolman


A housewife and her teenage daughter, fleeing their boring lives, stops in a diner in the California desert. She runs up against the diner's owner, a gruff, beer-drinking artist whose life's work are the neon sculptures he creates and attaches to the ceiling. Written by

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

diner | sculpture | neon | housewife | desert | See more »







Release Date:

8 February 1971 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Somewhat esoteric drama with natural performances and dialogue...
1 October 2009 | by (las vegas, nv) – See all my reviews

Henri Simoun and Carol Sobieski wrote this teleplay from Sobieski's original story about the unstable, unfulfilled wife of a dentist who occasionally takes off with her thirteen-year-old daughter for adventures on the road; this time they end up in the desert near Nevada, at a roadside café run by a drunken cook/mechanic/loner who takes a shine to the two ladies and invites them to stay. The premise of this made-for-TV character study sounds formulaic, though the results are anything but. Loaded down with talent (including director Frank R. Pierson, producer John Badham, and actors Gig Young, Denise Nickerson, and Lee Grant, who won an Emmy), the film is sometimes scarily precise about the ways in which we interact with one another. It is predictable that the two adults will find solace with each other--and that the youngster will disapprove and want her father back--however the conversations which lead up to the final events are heartbreakingly real (if at times facetious). Grant's chronic irresponsibility and sadness isn't played for big melodrama, she's more like a wilted flower; Young, gaunt and grizzled, comes to appreciate her company and soon finds himself through helping her. Nickerson (who would go on to play Violet Beauregarde in 1971's "Willy Wonka") is a precocious kid who talks like a grown-up, carries around a self-help tomb about sex, and makes all the actual adults very uncomfortable with her probing questions. This is a sterling performance from the child-actress, although there's too much emphasis on her near the end and she becomes an unreal creation by virtue of her actions. I have no idea what the filmmakers were trying to say with their confounding conclusion--it is baffling, unsatisfying, and off-putting all at once; it will surely leave most viewers scratching their heads, wondering what the point of the whole exercise was. Still, for a television enterprise, "The Neon Ceiling" is pretty mature and impressive, with excellent cinematography and wry horse-sense. It's worth finding.

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