IMDb > The Pursuit of Happiness (1971)

The Pursuit of Happiness (1971) More at IMDbPro »

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The Pursuit of Happiness -- An alienated social drop-out accidentally runs over a woman in a rain storm. Though he can prove it was an accident, he refuses to cooperate with "the establishment," and is sentenced to a year in prison. With only a week left to his sentence, he gets involved in a knifing and manages to escape. He looks up his old girlfriend and the two fly off to Canada.


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Down 12% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Thomas Rogers (book)
Jon Boothe (screenplay) ...
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Release Date:
25 March 1971 (West Germany) See more »
"I don't want to run anymore..."
A young college student is sent to prison as much for killing a pedestrian with his car as for not paying his parking tickets... See more » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
"I'm so young....I'm so young." See more (7 total) »


  (in credits order)

Michael Sarrazin ... William Popper

Barbara Hershey ... Jane Kauffman
Arthur Hill ... John Popper

Ruth White ... Mrs. Popper

E.G. Marshall ... Daniel Lawrence

Robert Klein ... Melvin Lasher

Sada Thompson ... Ruth Lawrence

David Doyle ... James Moran

Barnard Hughes ... Judge Vogel

Peter White ... Terence Lawrence
Tom Rosqui ... District Attorney Keller

William Devane ... Pilot
Gilbert Lewis ... Convict George Wilson
Albert Henderson ... Convict McCardle

Ralph Waite ... Detective Cromie
Joseph Attles ... Holmes
Beulah Garrick ... Josephine
Jack Somack ... Judge Palumbo
Maya Kenin ... Mrs. Conroy

Rue McClanahan ... Mrs. O'Mara
Ed Kovens ... 1st Guard

Charles Durning ... 2nd Guard

Ed Setrakian ... Policeman
Ted Beniades ... Traffic Cop
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Philip Larson ... Student (uncredited)
Jay Morran ... Student (uncredited)

Directed by
Robert Mulligan 
Writing credits
Thomas Rogers (book)

Jon Boothe (screenplay) and
George Sherman (screenplay) (as George L. Sherman)

Produced by
Ronald H. Gilbert .... producer
Alan Shayne .... associate producer
David Susskind .... producer
Original Music by
Dave Grusin 
Cinematography by
Richard C. Kratina  (as Dick Kratina)
Film Editing by
Folmar Blangsted 
Art Direction by
George Jenkins 
Set Decoration by
Ben Rutter 
Costume Design by
Ann Roth 
Makeup Department
Robert Laden .... makeup artist
Production Management
Terence A. Donnelly .... unit production manager (as Terence Donnelly)
Hal Schaffel .... production manager
Hal Schaffel .... production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Peter R. Scoppa .... assistant director (as Peter Scoppa)
Dwight Williams .... dga trainee (uncredited)
Art Department
John Jay Moore .... assistant art director
Sound Department
Dennis Maitland .... sound
Arthur Piantadosi .... sound

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, nudity, drug content and brief violence
93 min
Color (Eastmancolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Australia:M | Finland:K-12 | Sweden:11 | USA:PG-13 (certificate #22563) | USA:GP (original rating) | West Germany:16 (f)

Did You Know?

Ruth Gordon was originally announced for a role.See more »
William Popper:I have to go into court and play a part in a stupid charade to convince some judge that I'm not really me in order to receive some justice!See more »
The Pursuit of HappinessSee more »


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13 out of 13 people found the following review useful.
"I'm so young....I'm so young.", 18 April 2009
Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv

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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