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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Thomas Rogers (book)
Jon Boothe (screenplay) ...
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Release Date:
22 May 1971 (Japan) 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:
Not bad for its time 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)

Did You Know?

Mrs. O'Mara:Carelessness, accident, what difference does it make? She's still dead!See more »
The Pursuit of HappinessSee more »


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15 out of 20 people found the following review useful.
Not bad for its time, 28 November 2006
Author: vandino1 from United States

Usually these Young-People-against-The-System films from the late 60's-early 70's are populated with groovy-talking stoners, angry radicals, and even angrier authority figures (cops, parents, etc.) But this one dispenses with those cartoons. Sarrazin and Hershey play idealistic college students, but Sarrazin is realistic enough to understand he needs help from his family connections when he gets into trouble, and Hershey doesn't have a beat-the-system attitude when Sarrazin escapes from custody; in fact, she can't fathom why he was so stupid.

It all revolves around an accident involving Sarrazin hitting a pedestrian with his car. It has nothing to do with campus politics and no attitudes are posed. The filmmakers don't try and truckle to the youth crowd by having the establishment types be played over-the-top. When Sarrazin mildly mocks the justice system, his lawyer played by E.G. Marshall shuts him up fast with a well-written lecture that reasonably explains Marshalls' viewpoint. And, noticeably, it is Marshall's law assistant, of the same age as Sarrazin, who is played as far more hard-core establishmentary than Marshall, or Sarrazin's father, played by Arthur Hill. The film also features a young Robert Klein, who is quite good as Sarrazin's buddy. It also features a small but striking performance from William Devane as an airplane pilot hired to help Sarrazin. Devane is on screen no more than thirty seconds before he becomes more interesting than anyone else in the film (although Sarrazin's grandma is quite a kick, even though one note). And yes, Hershey does show off her very nice young figure in a couple of scenes. Unfortunately, the film also features Randy Newman drone-singing one of his boring songs at the opening and closing.

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