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The Pursuit of Happiness (1971)

A young college student is sent to prison as much for killing a pedestrian with his car as for not paying his parking tickets. When the opportunity presents itself he escapes and is ... See full summary »



(book), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
William Popper
Jane Kauffman
John Popper
Mrs. Popper
Daniel Lawrence
Melvin Lasher
Ruth Lawrence
James Moran
Judge Vogel
Terence Lawrence
Tom Rosqui ...
District Attorney Keller
Gilbert Lewis ...
Convict George Wilson
Albert Henderson ...
Convict McCardle
Detective Cromie


A young college student is sent to prison as much for killing a pedestrian with his car as for not paying his parking tickets. When the opportunity presents itself he escapes and is subsequently on the run with his girlfriend. But how long can this situation last? Written by Kevin Steinhauer <K.Steinhauer@BoM.GOV.AU>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"I don't want to run anymore..."


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexuality, nudity, drug content and brief violence | See all certifications »




Release Date:

25 March 1971 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Buscant la felicitat  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Ruth Gordon was originally announced for a role. See more »


Daniel Lawrence: Your behavior from here on in will be as much on trial as the details of the accident.
See more »


The Pursuit of Happiness
Music and Lyrics by Randy Newman
Performed by Randy Newman
See more »

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User Reviews

"I'm so young....I'm so young."
18 April 2009 | by (las vegas, nv) – See all my reviews

Uninvolved New York college student, estranged from his wealthy family and half-heartedly romancing his radical girlfriend, realizes just how empty and directionless his life has become after he accidentally strikes a jaywalker with his car and is sentenced to a year in jail for vehicular manslaughter. Intensely troubling material, based on the book by Thomas Rogers, given low-keyed, matter-of-fact treatment. Michael Sarrazin's dazed and confused young man doesn't mean to buck the system (i.e., the Establishment), necessarily--he refuses to play by the rules because, as he sees it, you have to lie to win. Not wanting to be dishonest to himself, he manages to get in much deeper trouble. Not a surefire crowd-pleaser (especially for this generation), the film is intelligent and smoothly handled, if unable to explore its themes adequately within this milieu. It doesn't want to be a cop-out and have the protagonist become "a better man" by being a model prisoner--and at the same time, it doesn't want to be explosive or dynamic and have the kid get away guilt-free. There's no happy ending (hence the irony of the title), but certainly the circumstances which arise here are thought-provoking. Sarrazin and young, lovely Barbara Hershey are very good; Arthur Hill also excellent as Sarrazin's surprisingly understanding father. The supporting cast is wonderfully filled with now-familiar faces: Sada Thompson, Ralph Waite, David Doyle, Robert Klein, William Devane, Rue McClanahan, Charles Durning. A forgotten picture worth-seeing...and worth discussing afterward. **1/2 from ****

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