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Hank Stamper and his father, Henry Stamper own and operate the family business by cutting and shipping logs in Oregon. The town is furious when they continue working despite the town going broke and the other loggers go on strike ordering the Stampers to stop, however Hank continues to push his family on cutting more trees. Hank's wife wishes he would stop and hopes that they can spend more time together. When Hank's half trouble making brother Leland comes to work for them, more trouble starts. Written by
A lot of people seem to be down on this film for reasons I really can't understand. The film seem to stretch everyone's creative levels especially one performer I'll single out later.
Henry Fonda plays the head of the Stamper clan who own a lot of acreage in Oregon timber country and the family business is cutting logs. Enough to survive, but they do it on their own. But a strike by timber union loggers causes enmity between them and the Stampers who are seen as scabs.
There are some similarities between Fonda's character and the family patriarch he played in Spencer's Mountain. But whereas Spencer had a noble dignity to him, Ben Stamper is a dissolute old cuss who has enjoyed all the vices known and imparted a love for them unto his children. They would be half brothers Paul Newman and Michael Sarrazin who've also got issues between themselves that may prevent the Stampers from forming a united front.
Newman directed the film and he had a good eye for the scenery of the Oregon logging country. And he got some good performances from the rest of the cast. One of them Richard Jaeckel got his career role as a Stamper cousin. Newman reached his creative heights in Jaeckel's death scene which was played between him and Jaeckel. It's a long drawn out affair for reasons you'll know if you see the film. It will stay with you forever as it has me since I saw the film when it first came out. Richard Jaeckel got a nomination for Best Supporting Actor and the pity is that he was up against another popular character actor in Ben Johnson who won for The Last Picture Show.
Sometimes A Great Notion also got a second Oscar nomination for Best Song with We're All His Children by Henry Mancini and Alan and Marilyn Bergman. Bing Crosby recorded a fine version of it on one of his albums. It lost however to theme from Shaft.
Paul Newman deserved a lot more credit for this film than he got. I think if you see Sometimes A Great Notion you'll agree.
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