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My American Uncle (1980)
"Mon oncle d'Amérique" (original title)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  17 December 1980 (USA)
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Prof. Henri Laborit uses the stories of the lives of three people to discuss behaviorist theories of survival, combat, rewards and punishment, and anxiety. René is a technical manager at a ... See full summary »



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 12 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
René Ragueneau
Janine Garnier
Roger Pierre ...
Jean Le Gall
Nelly Borgeaud ...
Arlette Le Gall
Zambeaux, le représentant de la direction générale à Paris
Gérard Darrieu ...
Léon Veestrate
Philippe Laudenbach ...
Michel Aubert
Thérèse Ragueneau
Henri Laborit ...
Bernard Malaterre ...
Le père de Jean
Laurence Roy ...
La mère de Jean
Alexandre Rignault ...
Le grand-père de Jean / Jean's Grandfather
Véronique Silver ...
La mère de Janine
Jean Lescot ...
Le père de Janine
Geneviève Mnich ...
La mère de René


Prof. Henri Laborit uses the stories of the lives of three people to discuss behaviorist theories of survival, combat, rewards and punishment, and anxiety. René is a technical manager at a textile factory and must face the anxiety caused by corporate downsizing. Janine is a self-educated actress/stylist who learns that the wife of her lover is dying and must decide to let them reunite. Jean is a controversial career-climbing writer/politician at a crossroads in life. Written by Dragomir R. Radev <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Romance


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 December 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mi tío de América  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


(archive footage)| (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Alain Resnais:  [character name]  Pierre Arditi's character is named Zambeaux. See more »


Thérèse Ragueneau: I don't want to leave. I like it here. The house is almost paid for. I'm used to my job. I get along with the staff. There are good schools for the kids, a university nearby! All down the drain to go back to that hole?
René Ragueneau: You remind me of my father! If we talked about change, he talked about his uncle in America!
Thérèse Ragueneau: He died a bum!
René Ragueneau: That's what my father said! It was never proved!
See more »


Referenced in The Player (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

Despite All My Rage I Am Still Just A Rat In A Cage
28 April 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Its a lot like a Greek Tragedy, except the chorus is supplemented by evolutionary psychologist and pharmacologist Henri Labroit explaining the actions of the characters in terms of his ideas concerning human and mammal behavior; consumption behavior, escape behavior, combat behavior, and inhibition behavior. We trace the lives of three characters from birth through childhood, and into the drama of their adult lives. Their adult lives are full of struggles with career, family, relationships, intersecting at times, but only as dramatic as real life allows. Its the way Alain Resnais constructs the stories that makes them fascinating. We observe them largely as a scientist might, in terms of parents, environment, traits, and habits. At one point Labroit discusses shock experiments done on mice, in later scenes we flash back to the characters who have giant mouse heads, the effect is startling and funny, at once. The most complex human emotions are rendered as functions of the animal brain, human relationships are as simple as mice being given aversion therapy, or as complex, depending on how you look at it. Labroit and Resnais seems at odds at times, about the miraculousness and simplicity of it all, but it helps to make the movie more dynamic. Its educational and informational as a science documentary, but the drama is so well entergrated the intellectual stimulation is offset, by a real sense of attachment and catharsis for and with the characters. The problems of their lives are those everyone experiences, Gerard Depardieu is a devout catholic, raised on a farm, who works at a factory and is struggling with being downsized. Nicole Garcia is raised by communist parents, and becomes an actress and later a stylist, having an affair with the married...Roger Pierre, the head of the French Ministry of Radio, raised by an affluent family, who longs to write a book about the history of the sun. I've only seen two Resnais films, "Hiroshima Mon Amour" and "Last Year At Marienbad"(which I fell asleep while watching twice), and this is somewhere between the emotional fallout of the first and the experimental daring of the later, but its my favorite of the three. An enthralling, fascinating, and profound film, that's as emotionally disarming as it is intellectually engaging. Visually it's stunning as well. The final image of the Forest mural on the building speaks volumes. I need more Resnais in my life.

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